Haitian Vodou: A short reading list

Posted by on Sep 23, 2014 in Haiti, Vodoun | No Comments Tags: , , ,
Haitian Vodou:  A short reading list
Vèvè of Papa Legba - Master of the Crossroads, Guardian of the Pathways of Entrance & Exit

Vèvè of Papa Legba – Master of the Crossroads, Guardian of the Pathways of Entrance & Exit

Below is a selection of books on Haitian Vodou which I have read over the past 18 months.  The first two are the most valuable in understanding Vodou and its centrality to Haitian culture and history, it’s timelessness and continued lived connection to Africa – Ginen, Guinea – the place where the spirits are born and where all return on the final journey home.

“Nan Domi: An Initiate’s Journey Into Haitian Vodou” by Mimerose P. Beaubrun of Boukman Eksperyans.   Nan Domi is a journey into Vodou’s interior, it’s mysteries, and rituals  as told by Mimerose and her teacher, the marvelous wisdom and patience of  Manbo Tante Tansia.  Nan Domi is an incredible collection of knowledge and wisdom.  It is beautifully written with self-reflection as Mimerose Beaubrun takes us on the journey of her own decolonization.   I treasure this book more than any other I have read.

 

Nan Domi

Nan Domi

The Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti by Russian filmmaker Maya Deren, written in 1953.   Derin went to Haiti intending to stay a few months and ended up staying a few years and becoming an initiate herself.  In addition to the book, she shot 18,000 ft of film of Vodou ceremony.  Her work is one of the earliest account on Vodou and is detailed on ritual, music, dance, the Lwa, particularly as practiced in the rural Lakou’s of Haiti.

The Divine Horsemen

The Divine Horsemen

Vodou in Haitian Life and Culture: Invisible Powers by Claudine Michel & Patrick Bellegarde-Smith [Eds]  Invisible Powers is one of three academic books that focus on the role of Vodou in Haitian culture and history and it’s connections to other areas of the Caribbean.

Invisible Powers

Invisible Powers

 

Haiti, History and the Gods, by Colin Dayan  investigates the confrontational space in which Haiti is created and recreated in fiction and fact, text and ritual, discourse and practice. Dayan’s ambitious project is a research tour de force that gives human dimensions to this eighteenth-century French colony and provides a template for understanding the Haiti of today.

Haiti, History and the Gods

Haiti, History and the Gods

 

The Spirits and the Law: Vodou and Power in Haiti  by Kate Ramsey examines the how the law in Haiti has been applied at different times in history  to exclude, criminalize and regulate ritual and practices under a broad and contradictory notions of what has become to be known as Haitian Vodou / Vodoun.

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Healing in the Homeland: Haitian Vodou Tradition by Margaret Mitchell Armand  explores the possibility of attaining decolonization through reconnecting with the past and reclaiming knowledge, particularly for the Affranchi descendent / bourgeois / elite class in Haiti. This is achieved through a series of narratives of formally educated Haitians who have ‘transcended their class and elite status’ to openly embrace Vodou, Haitian Kreyol and African-Haitian culture.

Margaret Mitchel Armand

Margaret Mitchel Armand

Haitian Vodou: Spirit, Myth, and Reality by Patrick Bellegarde-smith Claudine Michel is a continuation of “Invisible Powers” and includes  essays on music, song, education, gender and one of my favorite, healing “The Holistic Medical System of Haitian People’ by Ati Max Beauvoir

 

Haitian Vodou: Spirit, Myth & Reality

Haitian Vodou: Spirit, Myth & Reality

 

Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica  A personal account of the author’s experience of Vodou in Haiti and Jamaica

Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica

Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica

Africa’s Ogun: Old World and New by Sandra T Barnes.  An exploration of the origins of Ogun, Ogou, his complexities and many forms and the cultural context within he presents himself.

9780253210838

Les Espirits du Vodou Haitien by Hans Ackermann, Maryse Gautier, Michel-Ange Momplasir – lists over 2,000 Lwa including their origin, their family and characters of each.  I’m told there are lots of errors though I would say ‘disagreements’  but still this is a comprehensive piece of work and not everyone agrees on everything.

Espirits du Vodou Haiten

Espirits du Vodou Haitien

Secrets of Voodoo by Milo Rigaud is one of the early books on Haitian Vodou and comprehensively traces the origins in Africa, across the Atlantic and in Haiti itself.  Rigaud is meticulous in explaining symbols, chants, prayers, the Lwa, roles of Manbo’s and Hougans and the rituals of Vodou

Secrets of Voodoo

Secrets of Voodoo

 

 

The Logic & Significance of the Haitian Revolution & the Cosmological Roots of Haitian Freedom by Clinton A Hutton 

Unknown

 

Mama Lola: A Vodou Priestess in Brooklyn by Karen McCarthy Brown

 

Fragments of Bone: Neo-African Religions in a New World, Patrick Bellegarde-Smith [Editor]

9780252072055

 

Haiti: The Beached Citadel, Patrick Bellegarde-Smith

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The Vodou Ethic and the Spirit of Communism: The Practical Consciousness of the African People of Haiti, Paul Camy Mocombe

 

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