Voodoo in Africa. Image by Édouard Riou/Wikimedia Commons

Vodun (meaning spirit in the Fon and Ewe languages) is practiced by the Fon people of Benin, and southern and central Togo, as well in Ghana, and Nigeria.

It is distinct from the various traditional African religions in the interiors of these countries, and is the main source of religions with similar names found among the African diaspora in the Americas, such as Haitian Vodou; Dominican Vudú; Cuban Vodú; Brazilian Vodum; Puerto Rican Vudú (Sanse); and Louisiana Voodoo.

Beliefs[edit | edit source]

Vodun cosmology centers around the vodun spirits and other elements of divine essence that govern the

Legba as he appears in West Africa

Earth, a hierarchy that range in power from major deities governing the forces of nature and human society to the spirits of individual streams, trees, and rocks, as well as dozens of ethnic vodun, defenders of a certain clan, tribe, or nation.

Patterns of worship follow various dialects, spirits, practices, songs, and rituals. The divine Creator, called variously Mawu or Mahu, is a female being. She is an elder woman, and usually a mother who is gentle and forgiving. She is also seen as the god who owns all other gods and even if there is no temple made in her name, the people continue to pray to her, especially in times of distress. In one tradition, she bore seven children.

Legba is often represented as a phallus or as a man with a prominent phallus. Known as the youngest son of Mawu, he is the chief of all Vodun divinities; in his Diasporic portrayal, Legba is believed to be a very old man who walks on crutches. Being old he is seen as wise, but when seen as a child he is one who is rebellious. It is only through contact with Legba that it becomes possible to contact the other gods, for he is the guardian at the door of the spirits.

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