March 26, 2012 17:24
"Terrible and dangerous Gulf of Benin, few people alive out there" — delayed sad song English sailors three hundred years ago. The bay is so unattractive presented in the song has become known primarily because its waters washed Slave Coast. In the XVIII century, more than 50 thousand people annually dejectedly on deck European galleasses to become slaves on plantations in Brazil, Haiti, Cuba, and, later, the United States. About half of Benin slaves sailed the bay: they bought the slave market uncrowned capital of the coast — the town of Ouidah.
Prisoners, Chained together, passed on through the narrow galleasses hole in the wall — "The gate of no return" and said goodbye forever to Africa, with their families, with freedom. The only thing left for these people, forcing them to live, was the belief — or rather, a religion. Religion of voodoo.
"He is so great — tells the High Priest of God — that he sees the common man. He does not hear the prayers addressed to him. Therefore, in the voodoo he did not spend any of the ritual. " Spirits, in contrast to God, according to belief, are actively involved in people's lives.
I must say, Hollywood pretty tried to make the concept of "voodoo" and "Black Magic" became synonymous. Voodoo dolls, hovering damage, bloody cruel rituals — witchcraft, in fact. But it is interesting that in the references of references to black magic is not "voodoo" in the language of the tribe background living in Benin, means "spirit", "god" and is positioned as the cult of ancestor worship. Adherents of voodoo in the world, more than 50 million, but almost as many people practice witchcraft wild.
To understand the paradox, I went to Uidu, where in January 1996 annual International Festival of Culture and Art of voodoo.
Ouidah, considered the cradle of voodoo, the age of which, according to experts, from four to six thousand years. The basis of voodoo — a mixture of traditional beliefs, legends, and prac-tic and rites of peoples background, Yoruba, Nagoya and others living in the ancient African kingdom of Dahomey. Voodoo is very popular in the area of settlement of these nations, which coincides with the territory of modern Benin, Togo, Ghana and Nigeria, in part. In Benin, 80 percent of the population (the population — about 6 million people) practice voodoo. And it does not stop many of them to believe in Christ or Prophet Mohammed.
"Voodoo — a religion of kindness, — says Dagbo, high priest of voodoo — it seemed to build a bridge between this world and the nature of the other world, deities, spirits of ancestors, helping believers to communicate with departed relatives. In the cosmogony of voodoo, no concepts of "heaven" and "hell." Its main purpose — spiritual healing believers in overcoming life's challenges. "
The first day I was in the local market from which to begin chetyrehkilometrovaya "Road slaves", leading to the ocean. Frankly, the common skepticism here recedes, and movies come to mind as well documented: dried skulls of dogs, crocodiles, rabbits and baboons svezhevypotroshennye bats, lizards, frogs and snakes. Eerie kind of voodoo fetish, generously piled on trade stalls, impressive. This product is designed exclusively for the initiated: Voodoo followers buy "gifts of nature" for decorating the altars. Even in the course are empty bottles, candles, and useless in the home with metal objects. Terrified tourists even pritsenivayutsya to fetishes — why tempt fate? — Just do a photo for memory. Smoking fetish shoot, but in Africa, I thought, no lien, which can not be circumvented by a small "kado» (cadeau in French — a "gift").
The market, however, only external attributes. To grasp the essence of voodoo, you need to go into the heart of religion — the residence of the High Priest. The residence is hidden in the central quarters Uidy where all life is full of fluids voodoo, and houses and monuments remind us of the history of religion or serve the interests of today's priests and followers. Here is the famous Temple of python (a sacred animal in Benin), located in front of the Catholic cathedral. In 1993, Pope John Paul II visited Benin, to officially recognize the right voodoo to exist.
This remarkable fact I proudly told the participants of the historic meeting Dagbo Unon, high priest of voodoo. "Voodoo — a religion of kindness, — says Dagbo — she seemed to build a bridge between this world and the nature of the other world, deities, spirits of ancestors, helping believers to communicate with departed relatives. In the cosmogony of voodoo, no concepts of "heaven" and "hell." Its main purpose — spiritual healing believers in overcoming life's challenges. "
According Dagbo, ceremonies are necessary to communicate the living and the dead, not to restore damage. I watched several of these ceremonies — of course, only as a spectator.
The first — the rite dovoloko. First, the priests sprinkled liberally altars with blood of sacrificial animals. Using a sacrificial chickens, sheep or goats, in very rare cases — the bulls. By my calculations, even for the most modest of the ritual requires a minimum of three animals or birds. Sacrificed as vegetables, fruits, sweets, wheat bread, local rum and beer, and even Coca-Cola. Sacrifices are casually, without exaltation and flashy effects. But then begins the real extravaganza.
Rite dovoloko in January conducting family Deguenonvo belonging to ethnic background. Catches the eye of a numerous family — a small town square packed with families entirely, including a bunch of kids. The ceremony was attended by all members of the clan, but a few — a group of female musicians and priests — were admitted to the temple, hidden under a canopy.
Voodoo spirits in many: in any existing in our world has a loa substance, whether man or a stone. Vuduisty give everything around — rivers, mountains, trees, minerals, fire, even some household items such as knives or axes — soul.
Sacrificial animal does not suffer: if I cut the throat of a goat with lightning speed. His pure life energy should go to one of the spirits (loa). As soon as most of the victim's blood was spilled on the altar, one of the men immediately pick up the body, bites his teeth into a fresh wound on his neck and jumped out of the church on the square, indulged in a wild dance. Some of the dancers, moving to the rhythmic beat of drums, a few minutes later stopped and, falling into a trance, began to settle on the land. Such rapidly picked up by the arms and carried away from the area. This meant only one thing: the ceremony reached its goal — the loa was installed in the dancer.
Here, incidentally, is one of the main differences voodoo from its nearest relative — our Siberian shamanism. Africans believe in trance soul does not come out of the body (as in the shaman ritual), and conversely, the loa (spirit) into the body of the believer, which in time becomes a knight loa, and the believer loses identity.
Voodoo spirits in many: in any existing in our world has a loa substance, whether man or a stone. Vuduisty give everything around — rivers, mountains, trees, minerals, fire, even some household items such as knives or axes — soul. And, of course, as in any religion, all commands only Almighty God. "He is so great — tells the High Priest of God — that he sees the common man. He does not hear the prayers addressed to him. Therefore, in the voodoo he did not spend any of the ritual. "
Spirits, in contrast with God and are actively involved in the lives of people. That is, for example, a costume ritual of "returnees", which I saw in one of the settlements of the Yoruba nation. Ceremony is held at certain times of the year and is dedicated to the souls of ancestors who return to earth for a short time. The dancers represent the "returnees". They are dressed in colorful costumes, decorated with beads and cowrie shells, which in ancient times there were money.
No mortal is allowed to see the face of returnees and newcomers to the touch from the world: the "returnees" to go for advice and help, but do not look at him. Therefore, the villagers, watching the dancers, keep them at a respectful distance, preferring not to play with fire.
Alas, no sacrifice, no communication with the spirits have not helped to dot the i. Question in the absence of black magic made me walk. One of the most famous attractions Uidy Voodoo — The sacred forest, which two decades ago was closed to outsiders. According to legend, in the XIV century, King Kpasse, founder Uidy embodying the iroko tree in the forest. Since then, the forest and is considered sacred. Anicet guide explained to me that "the king never dies, he just travel."
Young boy burned in his head a handful of phosphorus. In Benin sure: in a trance person does not feel pain.
In the forest, the abundance of voodoo spirits amazing. A stern guide the quietest and obedience to their instructions. Here there are still closed to place, here is the statue Chakat. Chakat, whispered to me anise, is the offering of the harm (evil eye, damage) to a person at a distance, but it is only by a powerful sorcerer-Bokor.
Naturally, I wanted to talk about the evil eye and spoilage with the High Priest Dagbo Unonom. But my attempts to get into the topic came up against his remarkable diplomatic skills and the ability to "pour water". True, Dagbo confirmed that in the early 1990s, during the presidential election in the country's future leader Nicephore Soglo was imposed damage. Say the Sorbonne graduate and Francophile Soglo literally melted in her eyes, despite the efforts of doctors. Saved his white priests, came in time to help. So in any case, voodoo is not joking.
This once again had to make sure to see the ritual coca: sprinkled with flour or chalk dancers go into a trance to communicate with a good spirit Ganbada, which can penetrate the soul of anyone, even further from the voodoo man. In this spirit of believers seek support to address everyday problems. Particularly impressive trance scene when the adept of voodoo — in my case it was a young man — burned in his head a handful of phosphorus without apparent harm to your health! I demonstrated what is absolutely sure everything was in a trance person does not feel pain.
No matter how I tried, vuduisty all the secrets of their religion not disclosed. It seems to be born with voodoo and absorb this faith from childhood not to feel like a stranger in a contradictory world of black and white rituals. In Benin, as they say: if you want to understand the secret voodoo, wait for the end of the world.
Photos provided from the personal archive Yastrzhembsky