Sunday, February 25, 2007


The Haitian Vodou Handbook by Kenaz Filan (Houngan Coquille du Mer). Rochester Vt: Destiny Books, 2007. 283 pp.

The Afro-diaspora religions have ancient roots in Africa, which is probably one of four motherlands of civilization as we know it. Those four are regarded to be Egypt, Iraq [Mesopotamia], the Indus Valley in India, and China. Yoruba Land [including much of modern day Nigeria] is a bit east and south of Egypt. There was a vigorous slave trade going on there. Some tribes sold members of other conquered tribes to the French who carried their human cargo off to the West Indies [which included St. Domanique, or Haiti] and carried goods back into Europe on their return trip.

My euro-centric pagan views were recently tested by a spiritual problem. A man from a botanica helped me out of it. He told me what to do about it, I did that, and it was immediately effective. My interest in the loas of Iba and the lwas of Vodou was peaked by this experience, and so off to the bookstore I went where I located this gem of a book.

The Haitian Vodou Handbook examines Haitian Vodou within the context of history and is a valuable source of information-- particularly for paganfolk. It addresses such hot-button issues as the Haitian political arena, co-opting the religious practices of indigenous peoples, prejudice, the limitations of Euro-centricity, and poverty.

Houngan Coquille du Mer is very careful not to reveal any oath-bound secrets in his writing. He clearly states what he cannot tell the reader and he offers realistic alternatives. The writing itself is very personable. Chapters are sensibly organized and include the right mix of personal anecdotes and information. This book made me think. And because it did, I give it my highest recommendation. Great for anyone who has an interest in this subject.

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