Although the magical aspects of voodoo are related to beliefs and practices found throughout the world, the basic features of voodoo were brought by slaves from W Africa, particularly those from what is now Benin, where the beliefs are still widespread (as many as 60% of the people of Benin practice voodoo). Voodoo contends that all of nature is controlled by spiritual forces which must be acknowledged and honored through offerings and animal sacrifice; ecstatic trances (a means of communicating with the gods and spirits) and magical practices play an important role in its ritual. In the New World, Christian elements were introduced, and the African deities became identified with various saints. At various time attempts have been made to suppress voodoo, but voodoo survived and continues to flourish.
See A. Métraux, Voodoo in Haiti (tr. 1959); F. Huxley, The Invisibles (1966).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Miscellaneous Religion