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Spiritualism in New Orleans
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.