• An actual religion, Vodun practiced in Benin, Dominican Republic, Ghana, Haiti, Togo and various centers in the US - largely where Haitian refugees have settled.
• An evil, imaginary religion, which we will call Voodoo. It has been created for Hollywood movies, complete with violence, bizarre rituals, etc. It does not exist in reality."1
Vodun's roots trace back 6000 years directly to the Yoruba people of sub-saharan Africa. They lived in Western Africa in The Kingdom of Dahomey from 1690 - 1901. Dahomey occupied parts of today's Togo, Benin and Nigeria. Enslaved Africans brought the Yoruba religion or Vodun with them when they were forcibly shipped to Haiti and other islands in the West Indies.
The Nok: Vodun's ancient practitioners
"In 1928, archaeologists unearthed artifacts from an amazing culture that flourished from about 500BC to AD200. The archaeologists referred to the ancient culture as the Nok, the name of a modern Nigerian village where they made their discovery."2
the first known art-producing civilization in sub-saharan Africa.
history, culture, technique and aesthetics of the Nok civilization." – mémoire d'afrique
Sub-Saharan Africa's [Nok] relation to ancient Egypt can be substantiated [for one] via sociological means such as: "religion, which reveals the Egyptian/Nubian pantheon replicated in Benin, Togo and Nigeria from the Fon, Ewé and Yoruba cultures."3 The Nok culture predates Ancient Egyptian, and evidence from artifacts of Nok civilization shows "that a shamanic religion was established in the Nok society. Certain representations of bird-men, half-sphinx and half-sphinge can be linked to the animism of ancient Egypt."4 Also, "archeology, with the excavations carried out in Upper Egypt and Sudan, highlight[ing] the southernmost origin of Egyptian civilization."3
How Vodun/The Ancient Egyptian Cult of Isis connect to Christianity's Cult of the Virgin Mary.
There are a number of points of similarity between Roman Catholicism and Vodun:
• Both believe in a supreme being.
• The Loa [Lwa] resemble Christian Saints, in that they were once people who led exceptional lives, and are usually given a single responsibility or special attribute.
• Both believe in an afterlife.
• Both have, as the centerpiece of some of their ceremonies, a ritual sacrifice and consumption of flesh and blood.
• Both believe in the existence of invisible evil spirits or demons.
• Followers of Vodun believe that each person has a met tet (master of the head) which corresponds to a Christian's patron saint.1
There is little doubt that early images of the Madonna & Child are based on that of Horus & Isis. "In addition to being the fertile wife of Osiris, Isis is honored for her role as the mother of Horus, one of Egypt's most powerful gods. She was also the divine mother of every pharoah of Egypt, and ultimately of Egypt itself. She assimilated with Hathor, another goddess of fertility, and is often depicted nursing her son Horus. There is a wide belief that this image served as inspiration for the classic Christian portrait of the Madonna and Child."5
(right) A famous mediaeval icon of Mary and Jesus.
"In the Roman Empire, the cult of Isis was very popular throughout the Mediterranean area. It focused on the celebration of the mysteries of the death and the resurrection of Osiris. Isis, had been the consort of Osiris, and after his murder she recovered the scattered parts of his body and restored them to life. Osiris then became king of the dead and his son Horus became king of the living. The story of Isis, Osiris and Horus parallels the Christian mysteries of the virgin birth and the resurrection. It is also the origin of the certain [sic] Christian symbol of the Madonna and Child."6