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 African Spiritualism in New Orleans

      Vodoun, commonly known as voodoo, is a religion of West African origin. As it manifests in New Orleans, West African religious patterns and cosmology are connected with influences from Caribbean indigenous animism, Roman Catholicism, and French and American cultures. A priestess who referred to herself as the Black Venus, featured in this gallery folder, described her practice as African spiritualism. Vodoun rituals and charms may be used to assist in physical, emotional, spiritual, and communal healing and good fortune. Vodoun rituals may involve honoring Catholic saints and invoking West African spirits (loas) who may possess the priest, priestess, or other participants during trance dancing. Some scholars regard Vodoun as a type of shamanism (see the Shamanism in Korea folder).
      In this section of the gallery, you will find images from the Voo Doo Shrine; cemetery scenes depicting gris gris (magical marks) and the tomb of a famous Voodoo priestess; images of altars and shrines illustrating the integration of African Vodoun, Catholic, and other religious influences; and a blessing ritual. During the blessing ritual, the priestess danced with drumming accompanists, and waved branches over participants in an act of blessing. She also delivered messages from the spirit world. She invited me to take photographs to help educate others about her practice.