Saturday, February 6, 2010

I know what to do, you do Voodoo.

Dance in a ring of flames, shadows fall the same, fire, love and pain. Do voodoo, voodoo, voodoo. ~Chris Isaak. 'Voodoo'.

Since the earthquake in Haiti "Voodoo" or more properly Vodou is a hot topic on people's lips - especially religious nutters who think it's demonic. Having originally come across Vodou through a simultaneous mix of reading Anne Rice books, buying the New Orleans Voodoo Tarot Deck by author and practitioner Sallie Ann Glassman, and film maker Maya Deren's book 'Divine Horsemen' in the early 1990s, when Vodou was a huge trend in Australia's occult scene (Religious Studies academic Lynne Hume discusses a "vodou ritual" she attended, in which I was one of a group of Hounsi, in her book 'Witchcraft and Paganism in Australia' - we had no idea how inauthentic we appeared!), I later went about reading more ethnographical works on the subject in an effort to understand it from that angle. I guess I'd say I was actively interested in Vodou for about five years and only moved on to other topics because, well, there are just so many things to know about. Seeing as it's now featuring in the news - especially the religious news, including Pagan religious news - I am inclined to Google it and see how it's going here in Oz these days. Of course there is still musician Kerri Simpson , a student of Glassman, who has some interesting things to say, there is also Mambo Racine in New Zealand, and I just discovered this group, Sancista, in South Australia. I'm mainly interested in Vodou nowadays from an art angle (sequined flags, vodou sculpture) as well as in regards to deified aspects of landscape and the natural world for the purposes of analogy with prehistoric Aegean religion(s) - not from the syncretistic angle of African religions and Catholicism of course, but from the possession angle. It seems poignant that the only tattoo I have is the Vodou veve of Ayizan, the first priestess (pictured above). It's a schematized palm frond mask and that is exactly where I'm currently going with my PhD research. We circle around, it seems.


Finn McMillan said...

Well, well ... here I am, trying to research Vodou in Australia, and who do I find? ;-)

Hope you're well Caz. Could you drop me a line at

Love to chat with you a bit about your experience.

Take care Caz


Caroline Tully said...

Well, well well yourself! Here you are Googling and indeed, what do you find! Yes, Googling does come up with some familar things doesn't it.

Elizabeth C said...

Woah -- I was looking for an online image of this exact veve and stumbled upon this post. I also have this tattooed on me. It`s not my only tattoo, I also have Glassman`s The World & Obatala, as drawn for the N. O. Voodoo Tarot book, as well as some other small, black-only, non-voodoo ink. It was my first, though!