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Author's Note: This Ezili Dantò essay, written in 2003, was in response to questions posed for discussion by Guy Antoine, the Haiti moderator at Windowsonhaiti.com. The entire thread may be accessed on Black Woman, Mother of all the Races at: Windowsonhaiti.com

Black Woman: Mother of All the Races
HOW THAT BLACK WOMAN CAME TO BE? by Ezili Dantò of HLLN, Sept. 24, 2003

If we are talking about who gave birth to the FIRST human being (s), and we are assuming, She is, the very oldest skeletal remains there is and She is the FIRST, then "How That Black woman came to be?" is beyond anyone’s real knowledge. Those answers lie in myths, legends, world cosmologies and religious dogmas.

So let’s quickly look at a few Haitian/African myths, legends and cosmologies that may address "How That Black woman came to be?"

MYTHICALLY - If we look at Haitian cosmology:

    1. Perhaps SHE came to be because "one plus one is three."

    2. Perhaps SHE was the original twin.

    3. Perhaps "One and one is three" as She is unseparated, indivisible, mysterious, unnamed. As She is a mystical marriage of some of the sacred trinities - mind, body and soul...past, present and future; moon, sun and light; mother, father and child, et cetera, simultaneously.
No matter. Before it became a scientific fact, Vodouist believed everyone, in their world, as they knew it, were related directly - like parent to child - like Lè marasa, lè mò and lè mistè; like zanset yo e ti moun yo."

Lè marasa, lè mò and lè mistè

    There are various ways of looking at the Haitian concept of Lè marasa, lè mò and lè mistè:

    The holy trinity of past, present and future;

    Of life as a circle;

    The moon and sun connecting to produce light;

    The elements - earth, water, air, fire - coming together in twos, connecting, colliding to build and support a new creation;

    Of everything, tree, animal, moon, stars, earth as containing Go(o)d’s enabling light;

    Of life as energies all connected and vibrating, molding, remolding and unmolding on unseen planes;

    Life as the serpentine movement of undulation, transforming multiplicity;

    Reaching for fusion, syncretism – synthesis;

    Culling "the Many" back to "the One;" and,

    Reaching for Black.

How SHE came to be has never been the Vodouists’ issue. It was how THEY (Lè marasa -the male and female twin) came to be that I learned about.

But, one and one is three. So, perhaps one must mold all the folklore and myths together to get the whole picture? Perhaps, after we look at the
    1) historical/chronological,

    2) the metaphysical,

    3) allegorical and spiritual/ritualistic we shall find a fuller picture in a way that simple compartmentalization cannot reveal?

But let’s compartmentalize for the moment and look at the historical/chronological aspects.

The African ancestors in Haiti brought the power of their spirits to the New World where it has been maintained and syncretized, for generations, in the rituals of Vodun. Thus, we know, the Vodouist foreparents in Haiti synthesized, molded all their Yoruba, Fon, various other West African, then Kongo and Angolan beliefs; reblended these pagan codes to fit their circumstances, wrapped it with a sprinkling of European and New World facade, and passed it on, to their descendants in Haiti today, as Vodun.

It’s plausible, I would say, though no one I know explains it quite this way, that: out of primordial darkness came the indivisible female TWIN. (Perhaps Ayida Wedo?) The TWIN had children becoming the first parent. The first parent died, eventually becoming the first Black goddess, Lwa (irreducible essence) – divinity/messenger /prophet/saint after time unremembered. In Vodun, this trinity is also represented by the cross symbol, which points to the cosmic crossroad/meeting place/kalfou/Poto Mitan of the trinity (Lè marasa, lè mò and lè mistè). This trinity cuts across dimensions, time and space. And more particularly, for our discussion, ALL peoples and all energies, everything is connected - through this trinity – all the races (ethnicities) on earth.

Except, we know the pagan Vodouists did not, in any way, create their cosmology to divide the world by gender, races or "chosen peoples" who are "superior" or "inferior" one group or gender to the other. Why would they? Africans peopled the earth alone, before dogmas of patriarchy and racism that I know about took hold.

So, as far as I can interpret, the ancient pagan Vodouists, in rituals, vèvès, dance and songs, talked of themselves and their connection to divinity only. We do know "manman mwen" is a natural prefix before many supplications to many of the lwa-yo for help, blessings and guidance. We also know, women were the first deities of all the ancient pagan peoples on planet earth. But, in Vodun, the origin of humanity is explained in terms of
Lè marasa, Lè mò and Lè mistè. In my view and best interpretation of the information available, I would say, "Gran mèt la" - The Creator or Go(o)d Eye - has no gender in Haitian cosmology to the best of my knowledge and no race is given as to the lwa-yo or spirits or living saints. BUT, as the Haitian Lwa (s) are direct descendants of the Africans telling the story, one naturally knows the Lwa-s are Black also, and look like their descendants. BUT, as only women give birth, and the pagan Vodouist was not known to be illogical, one may conclude, "Gran Mèt La" or "Bondye" is capable, of giving birth, like a female.

But if patriarchy won't allow this conclusion to stick, se bon, se bon - whatever rocks your boat. Danbala-Wedo or Ayida Wedo. It's all good! The most amazing thing I find, is that female and male are just accepted in Vodun, equally. No sweat. Wholeness requires both female and male energy in ONE. Yin and yang, Danbala-Wedo/ Ayida Dan Wedo.

Witness the most famous traditional-Haitian-Rada song of creation and wisdom: "Danbala-Wedo se bon se bon. Ayida Wedo se bon se bon. Lè ma monte chwal mwen gen moun k ap kriyè …" Does it give any hints? Perhaps so.

The most salient point to understand, perhaps, is that there is no inherent or unnatural (good vs evil) division, worthy of comment, for the Vodouist. "Se bon, se bon." It's all good - no original sin. Therefore, no inherent dualistic dichotomy.

Humanity - we - all came from the same sacred indivisible Twin. Images and structures are not as important to the Vodouist. Not like they are to the Western and Eastern global race hierarchy pundits, who, over time, syncretized and reinterpreted some of these original pagan beliefs and devised their Judeo-Christian and Islamic theologies and cosmologies, on divisions, based on gender, nationalism and race, for control and hegemonic purposes. That’s my interpretation.

METAPHYSICALLY: On the metaphysical level, the Haitian elder also explains the origin of humanity as follows:

Out of primordial space, Anba Dlo, a sound came. This first disturbance of cosmic silence/primordial space, caused an echo. That echo and the original sound together caused a third separate entity to be born. Allegorically this Haitian cosmology/mystical concept is explained with the phrase: "One plus one equals three" - 1 e 1 fè twa. For, from that first echo and original sound "the child" arose. Out of that first primordial movement and its echo, in an unseen dimension, "the other" was born. Mirrored-images. That "other" had issues, another was born of those two and on and on and on, ad infinitum. The world was thus created. Thus, the idea every action has a consequence is illustrated by the Vodouist. "One plus one equals three" tells a thousand tales to the Vodouist. It also allows for the acceptance of contradictions, in a way traditional European minds do not accept.

SPIRITUAL LEVEL On a mythical/spiritual level, one could say, the Haitian elder explains how that first Black woman came to be, thus: Out of Anba Dlo, (Lan Ginen), that is, out of cosmic space, came the first movement, or "breath" of Bondye, (or "ashe" the reservoir of all potentiality of infinite intelligence). It was like a zigzag, like your breath. It was like a coiling and uncoiling image undulating, shedding layers, Her rainbow colors along the way. It was like the action of birth – release/contract. It was as if Go(o)d’s first inhalation had its twin, the exhale. To the elder Haitian, overtime, the principle/archetype/lwa/element/wisdom or ACTION and BEING called "Ayida Dan Wedo" (or simply "Danballa" when colonialism erased the female from creation) or "one and one makes three" represents wisdom and this action of creation/birthing, of two of the elements becoming, of unity out of multiplicity, of the dimensions - the seen and unseen energy fields in the universe, vibrating, moving, molding, unmolding.
Not a linear but a serpentine path, like I explained, for instance, in many ways, in the performance piece Journeys of the Serpent & the Moon. Creation is the moon and sun connecting to produce light. The elements and the energies of - earth, water, air/wind, fire - coming together in twos, connecting, colliding, undulating, vibrating to build and support (one) creation, simultaneously on seen and unseen dimensions.

Understand well, in addition to all other compartmentalization mentioned herein,
that authentic "Black" of African is both a culture/a philosophy and a certain DNA "race" makeup. Haiti is the first and only modern nation to make this pronouncement and clarification at its inception. (See the Three Ideals of Dessalines, Haiti's founding father.)

Ok that takes care of the 3rd question.

In two Ezili Dantò posts above:

"The Black Mother - she's Moroccan too! It's true" and, "Haitians have a legacy to reach for..." I’ve already explored why patriarchy and racism was used to destroy the Black goddess.

Now, for my attempt at the first question: A Black woman is the mother of all the races. "What is the nature of this claim?"

I’ve written, in, numerous posts on this Forum, that:

    "Based on recent scientific studies of DNA, there is little dispute that modern humanity originated in Africa, that African people are the world's aboriginal people and that ALL modern humans can ultimately trace their ancestral roots back to Africa. Africa is the cradle of civilization….."
I’ve addressed the Black origin of all civilizations on earth at these posts and identified the nature of the claim at:
I’ve written
    "If not for the primordial migrations of early African people, humanity would have remained physically Africoid, and the rest of the world outside of the African continent absent of human life. This is our starting point." (The African Presence In India: A Photo Essay by Runic Rashidi.)"

Yet, one of the questions presented is "What is the Nature of This Claim? To start with I know this to be a rhetorical question sent out for "Ann Pale" debate. But, I will answer, again, as if I have not already stated the answer.

A Black woman is the mother of all the races. It’s not only allegorical, metaphysical, historical, it is based on the latest, known SCIENTIFIC facts.

But reality, to the African philosopher, cannot be divided in compartments.

A Vodouist knew, through centuries of observing reality, and listening to the griot tales of the Divine Black mother – Black Madonna. Creation was union -sexual, carnal, spiritual, metaphysical - not a sterile, taking a rib from Adam thing.

"Sitting on Isis' lap" was a phrase that illustrate the origin of the crown and royalty in ancient KEMET (Africa). Then, it was the Black woman who would choose the leaders in her society and family, by literally sitting him/her on her lap! What we know now as the Kings chair and crown could not be passed-on to an heir, by a male, only by the elder priestess/Manbo/woman. The embroidered crown (feather), scepter and royal red chair, in ancient Africa, were symbols of the Black woman’s divine decree. Evidencing that women were originally the primary religious figures, not the Pope, et cetera. Later on, patriarchic cultures, sprung up because of all-male migration throughout the world. These patriarchic cultures then took on these symbols of authority for their own, not knowing their original meaning….


Hence, it was Manbo Cecil Fatiman, mounted by the spirit of Ezili Dantò, who gave the scepter of leadership to Boukmann. His power came from source – a powerful, ancient, female source remembered. ( Bio of Ezili Dantò, 1791 and Divine Mother: Ezili/Aset/Isis and Photos-Ezili/Isis/Aset and Haiti Epistemology.)

But, let's leave, folklore and storytelling alone for a moment. Those "scientists" who say they live ONLY by "scientific" and data compartmentalization have come to agree that "all humans alive today can claim as a common ancestor a woman who lived in Africa some 150,000 years ago — dubbed, inevitably, uhmm "Eve." (See, the face of Eve) . Remember folks, the "Adam and Eve" names and naming of the "first" man and woman references only to HIS story of creation.

The Christian politicos, since before the Council of Nicaea in 325A.D., for instance, took the "color" out of the Divine Mother and ultimate healer, leaving her a pale version of the warrior mother. Their "Eve" is blamed for original sin and then their "Mary" becomes a powerless virgin, a "Goddess" to be used as vessel, a prop, trophy for her virtue and beauty without any ability to give birth to God, like to divine Jesus. For the Ayisyen-African comparative, think Ezili, Ezili Dantò - representing the earth, motherhood, the femine principle, love, and thus fundamentally the archetype or irreducible essence of the divine mother of all the races. She is, to Haitians, the love goddess, divine spirit of compassion, healing and warrior mother of the people of the Moon or the Sun people or simply, Pitit Ginen (Africa's people) - instead of the iconic "Eve" from the mythical "Garden of Eden." (Bio of Ezili Dantò, 1791)

We know neither the white European nor the Arab settlers in Africa where indigenous to the African continent. Thus, the notion of an African origin of the human family has grown to be accepted by most scientists, historians and scholars.

I’ve written, on this matter, in at least four posts, but probably in others. I wrote of this, not because I am a human being ordinarily categorized as a "Black woman," but in context to certain points I wished to make that are essential primarily because of the racists burdens heaped on the issues of human beings categorized as, of "the Black race of Africa."

    I wrote to say Blacks once peopled the earth, therefore we claim more than Africa as our "place."

    I wrote to say that Blacks, not whites, are the parents of civilizations. Thus, we are no one’s children, don’t need patronizing. Au contraire.

    Most importantly I point to the Black mother because of Haiti's unique relationship with Her original creed. And, to help liberate Haitian and Black minds in general. To cut our mental chains and give us a means to stop our strange associating with our former captors, where, similar to hostages exhibiting long-term psychological problems called, the "Stockholm Syndrome", we-Blacks also consistently exhibit these mental aberrations by identifying with whites, our former captors/colonial rulers, while actually FEARING those Blacks, amongst us, who seek to end our captivity. (See, the Stockholm Syndrome)

    I point to the Black mother of all the races to say we-Blacks don’t need to seek to win white favor, like sufferers of "Stockholm Syndrome" seek their captors approval, "in an almost childlike way." I point to the Black mother of all the races so we mostly miseducated Blacks may know we are more directly from the line of the original parents, are part of a cosmic archetype, an unborn divinity, the irreducible essence of the original parents. So that, if we understand this, we may begin to address the mental aberrations of Category Two (the institutionally powerful Black collaborators (bafyòti) to the planet's enslavement). For instance like neocons Condoleeza Rice, Colin Powell, Clarence Thomas, Ward Connelly, Armstrong Williams, et cetera and most of the African feudal lords working for Western corporatocracy, who, display strong attachment to their former captors/colonizer’s points of view, reference points, automatically defending their captors' interest to their own Black peoples' detriment. (See, the Stockholm Syndrome) Those are the reasons I wrote, in many posts that a Black woman is the mother of all the races. I can’t look for them all. But one also may look in the following posts at:

    1. "The Sacred Power of Words - A vision for Gifrants" : where I wrote, among other things:
      "I live and understand very well my paradoxes and purposes. Whosoever is not emitting energies that end up killing the Black woman’s issues have nothing to fear from Ezili Dantò, the spirit that guides me. And, I’ve already pointed out a Black woman is the mother of all the races. So think about those two sentences the next time you think I am anti-white. Perhaps it will help you decipher a few things. For, I mean what I say, in all its infinite variations. But most directly about liberating children that could fall down my thighs. I don’t pander to anyone who can’t get down with that."
    2. "Nature of Vodun" (at "The attack on Vodun Part 3 - Vodun keeps us together") where I revisited references I’d already made in other posts about the original Black mother issue. I wrote:
      "The time has come for us to STOP being confused, ashamed of our Black peoples and at frozen impasse… We know the truth and to know the truth and still remain "in confusion" is to deliberately collaborate with Category One – the imperialist, his white privilege and racist patriarchy."
    3. I also wrote in The Origin of Civilization:
      "…..(O)nly Black people peopled the earth once. Our history is not limited to just the one area called Africa but instead encompasses the entire planet Earth."

      "…we-Haitians must stop being stymied, apathetic or cynical. We could say no and empower ourselves. Knowing world history would be a good place to start with the empowerment. Most African leaders don’t even know Black people’s true glorious history on this planet."

      "We outnumber Category One by our sheer numbers (They only make-up 17% of the world population) and have survived a whole lot longer on this earth than their histories are even willing to acknowledge. As they say one drop of Black blood is enough to spoil a whole bunch of "whites" for generations to come. Their fear comes from our power over them, especially biologically. Otherwise why would they separate the Black woman and imprison the Black man so in U.S. prisons all over this planet, in job locations, on Islands and continents of pain et cetera….. Our problem as Black people is we don’t have this fear of biological extinction. We are too complacent, forgiving, kind and hospitable. All some white guy must do to get our admiration or vote is to drop a few Kreyòl words into his conversation. We have accepted just survival, not quality of life, or the treasure throves that are ours, as a people, for the taking.
      According to Herodotus, a Greek historian, who lived during the 5th century b.c.e., and whom the Europeans regards as the Father of history, all the people of Arabia, Egypt, Palestine, India, Western Asia, the Sudan and what we now call sub-sahara Africa were Black.
      The first Chinese were Black (See tricenter.com and J.A. Rogers’ book "Sex and Race and Sex, Vol. 1 and 2 and, according to the Los Angeles Times, Sept. 29, 1998,)

      "Most of the population of modern China--one fifth of all people living today--owes it genetic origins to Africa."

      Black people peopled, at sometime, all of Southern India and Indo-China. (See, book by J.A. Rogers entitled "Sex and Race" See also The African Presence In India: A Photo Essay by Runoko Rashidi.)

      In China, an Africoid presence in visible from remote antiquity. The Shang, for example, China's first dynasts, are described as having "black and oily skin." The famous Chinese sage Lao-Tzu was "black in complexion." or Study traces genetic origin of Chinese to Africa.
    I’ve written:
      The Japanese have a saying that a great samurai must have Black blood.

      "Although the island nation of Japan is assumed by many to have been historically composed of an essentially homogenous population, the accumulated evidence places the matter in a vastly different light. A Japanese proverb states that: "For a Samurai to be brave, he must have a bit of Black blood." Another recording of the proverb is: "Half the blood in one's veins must be Black to make a good Samurai." Sakanouye Tamura Maro, a Black man, became the first Shogun of Japan.
      Everybody knows by now that we Black people came to the Americas before Columbus (Read, Ivan Van Sertima’s book "They Came Before Columbus." Any of his or Lerome Bennets’ books, including "They Came Before The Mayflower.")

      There are Eskimos in Alaska and Greenland darker in pigmentation than the darkest African from equatorial Africa (See, Cheik A. Diop book "African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality")
      We-Haitians must open up our minds to our possibilities and then move forward towards those uplifting imaginings, letting the way be made out of no way. The "rational" does not include all that is "the possible." Just because our suffering still looks "inevitable", doesn’t mean we-Haitians couldn’t change the Euro/US oppressive blueprint/archetypes in a short 13-years as the Bwa Kayiman warriors did."
    I’ve written:
      "My point is, when I hear Haitians say they have nowhere to go. I know they don’t know Black people peopled the earth once and are natural travelers. I know no one has given them the vision of OUR PLACE on this earth as Black people; that they are imprisoned within the prisms of the fairly new, but very artificial Euro/US prototype Nation-States, with artificial borders and Euro/US draconian exclusionary passports and exclusionary-mostly-to-dark-peoples-entrance-laws. But examine our Haitian and even the recent African republics’ histories. And you’ll see these borders cannot and will not hold the Black spirit and thirst for travel, learning, upward mobility and for humane co-existence with all the peoples and cultures on earth."
      "It’s our glorious legacy as the original ancient world travelers, explorers and builders of civilizations. In ancient times, in Mexico, the Olmec Blacks left their great imprints. The Black "Indians" who gave birth to the Mayan, Aztec, Taino, Carib, Seminole, European and who were in the Americas before Columbus are discounted for this mythology that Africans only came to the Americas as enslaved chattel in the 15th century. All over South America our imprints haven’t faded over time. It is because we have not been taught "our glorious history", as Mbeki might put it, that we might cringe at the shenanigans of the Bafyòti - the black collaborator - as feudal lord for the self-appointed "Divine Kings" – as agent of imperial white power."
    I’ve written:
      "I briefly recount this world's Black history as a way to say neither this little Island called Ayiti nor even Africa (ancient Kemet) are our only place of abode. The white man wishes we-Blacks were "aliens" to the Americas. But, we had a history before these coarse white tribes of Western Europe and their settler’s barbarity started. (BEFORE, Islam decimated the traditionalist.) We don’t have to take on anyone’s biological fatalistic notions, their fear, chaos and confusion. To undo is a daily task I know. But I say give the fear back intact. Call up the power spirit of the ancestors. Our ancestors built every major civilization that ever existed on this earth. Look up and remember who you are my Black people."

To conclude, I made my statements within the context of empowering Black Haitians, liberating Black minds and uplifting us with truth about our place and connectedness one to another, on this planet earth. There's one human race, different cultures and ethnicities molded and differentiated by environment, values and psychological imperatives. If the white supremacist mindset or the profit-over-people oligarchs, don't know the futility of biological fatalism, forced assimilation and hoarding earthly resources, it's perhaps because all of us, from all the socially constructed races, have got work to be.

In all these posts, I believe I’ve given references where these fact may be further analyzed.

If, there are other, more reliable scientific and historical information, that civilization did not start in Africa; that human existence did not start in Africa; that the white race peopled the earth before the Black race; that a white European woman or an Asian or Native American woman gave birth to the Black race and all the races (ethnicities); that all the races cannot be traced back to Africa, and therefore back to BLACK. If Black doesn't encompass all peoples and Black is not "diversity" personified. If there is credible information out there that the European white woman’s is the mother of civilization; that the first Madonna and therefore first human attempt ever, at the Goddess, was white, not Black, please I’d like to read it?

For, from reading the most informed sources and writing on this topic for years now, it is my understanding, that DNA research, by modern scientist, reveal the human race can be traced back genetically, through tracing a woman’s genetic make-up back through her mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers and on to the woman’s line back to the beginning of known history.

And, that scientists have pretty much extrapolated that if this was done, with every human being on the planet, the original mother of any race line, as far as we have been able to go back, to date, is traced to a Black woman. (See, Eve explained: And the real Eve Rediscovered.

I’ve already addressed what it means to Haiti.

To the rest of the world, it states, simply, that the most up to date evidence, besides all the historical works on the issue, shows that the oldest skeletal remains found, on this earth, was a Black woman. This skeletal remains contains the genetic information of all the races. There's no such thing as a "pure white race." If you have different information that is more credible than the discovery channels two hour documentary on this, or any of the references I’ve noted above. Please, point it out so I may get better informed.

I say this especially since I am currently working on "Ezili Dantò in Africa before Islam and Christianity".- a multi-media project which will look at the Black goddess and African traditional cultures before racist patriarchy reared-up its ugly head. A work, which may be entitled, once completed – "Ezili Dantò: Claiming Afrika before Islam and Christianity."

I got this idea as I worked on pieces to answer M’beki’s challenged and to show why Haiti matters. In this work, I am examining the profound importance of the existence of Haiti. I am delving into what happened when, after 900 years of Islamic imperialism in Afrika, compounded by 300 years of European Christianity in the Americas, Blacks finally remembered their Black mother’s culture not their rapists/enslavers/captors’ dogmas and cultures and used that strength to tear their chains into smithereens, for the first time in almost 1200 years, reaching for source - traditional Afrikan source, as its been syncretized in the best amongst us today.

There in Haiti, my Black ancestors, for the first time cut through the cultural imperialism and confusion and found unity in Vodun. They found libète when they touched Vodun, their own source, and lanmò in the other imported cultures with their intolerant creeds.

It’s worth repeating:

On August 14, 1791, my ancestors, in Haiti remembered their dark, Afrikan mothers and honored Her culture. For their men warriors had been decimated during years of the various invaders brutality and co-option. But, on August 14, 1791 Boukmann remembered, not his Arab father or great-great-great-great fathers father’s culture/creed, relegating women to the inferiority-rank, et cetera, but Mother Afrika. The amalgamated tribes, in Haiti, found and took hold of, Ezili Dantò who said, "Kanga Mundele" on August 14, 1791.

They found legba, Danbala, Manman Lasirene, Ogou Feray, Atibon Legba, Gran Bwa, Simbi, Grann Ezili. Over two hundred delegation where present. A woman priest, Cecil Fatiman, a manbo, passed that message on to Boukmann, a marroon warrior.

As I’ve pointed out before, both Fatiman and Boukmann could have been Muslim converts. But, everyone at Bwa Kayiman, all, be they Muslim and Christians converts, went HOME that day, back to Vodun and, that, my friends, as I will explore, has been the road less traveled by any Afrikan nation to date.

That, has made ALL the difference to modern world history and to Afrikans in the New World and around the world, globally.

Again, "What does this mean:"

I’m thinking of not only Ezili Dantò: Claiming Africa before Islam and Christianity, but, why limit ourselves to Afrika, why not record: Ezili Dantò: The Rise Of the Black Goddess in the 21st Century?

There are probably other interpretations out there, I look forward to reading about them.

Ezili Dantò of HLLN
September 24, 2003

(See also info on: Ezili Dantò/Aset/Isis (photos) ; Bio of Ezili Dantò, 1791 ; Ezili, Aset, Isis ; The Goddess Remembered at Bwa Kayiman; RBM Video Reel and
Vodun: The Light and Beauty of Haiti; Haiti Epistemology ; Bwa Kayiman Links; Ibo Granmoun : The Roots of Haiti Democracy.)
"Dje blan-yo mande krim. Bon Dje ki nan nou-an vle byen fe."
        - Boukmann at Bwa Kayiman, August 14, 1791
(c) 2003 Ezili Dantò September 24, 2003




Jan 1, 2007 performance in New York
Ezili Dantò performing So Much like Here


The Ezili Dantò Vodun Remembrance
To Honor Quake Victim

"Jete Dlo - Djab La Di L ap Manje Nou, Se Pa Vre!" - February, 2010
Even on these ashes we continue to fight for freedom - Septemter, 2010

Ezili Dantò Vodun Remembrance
To Honor Quake Victims.
Over 300,000 Haitians gone in 33 seconds at 4:53 on the 12th of January. Pour libation. Beat the drums, beat the drums. Louder please. Louder for those alive and living under sheets, tarps, tents and old cardboard. Suffering still. Endlessly before January 12th. Unimaginably after. Our blood and suffering waters the Haitian soil, 517-years still...Never felt so much pain...Si kriye te leve lanmò, manman nou tout t ap la - If crying could raise the dead, every mother would still be alive...Jete dlo, jete dlo, jete dlo. Into the Ancestors' hands we place all our souls... Legba ouvri baryè a pou nou. Pitit Ginen, the next part is left to us. Gade byen wa wè. Nou la. Zanset yo e Timoun yo vini. Our love is stronger and survives every energy transformation. We Are The Haitians. Nou fè yon sèl kò." - Ezili Dantò of HLLN
| See also, Ezili Dantò Blog
Ezili Dantò of HLLN performs in Miami. See also Bwa Kayiman Ceremony ; RBM Video Reel and Carnegie Hall

The Divine Mother: Ezili, Aset and Isis

The herbal and energy healing, the lakou, viv and konbit way of life that is known as Vodun helped set the enslaved Afrikans free in Haiti (Lapriyè Boukman). And it's what's known as Christianity and white so-called supremacy that was used to justify enslaving our ancestors. Vodun is older than time and is the basis for most of the major religions. Vodun is not what is propagated by the enslavers of Afrikans.
Vodun is the light and beauty of Haiti. To learn about Haiti's Vodun culture, go to: Bio of Ezili Dantò, 1791 ; The Goddess Remembered at Bwa Kayiman; Haiti Epistemology ; Bwa Kayiman Links; Dessalines' Three Ideals; Vodun Konbit and Vodun Lakou ; The Pivotal Point; Ezili Dantò/Aset/Isis (photos) and, Black Woman: Mother of All the Races.

"Cut your chains and you are free. Cut your roots and you die" (Haitian Proverb)

In reaching back to re-capture Alkebulan (ancient Africa's) non-Western history, there is an overemphasis on North-Eastern empires along the Nile River by Black scholarship on pre-colonial Africa, ignoring that indigenous Vodun predates Kemet/Egypt and Nubian/Kush/Ethiopian systems, and sets the stage for the great spiritual practices out of Kemet, Nubia and on to the Greeks and Romans. Kemetcentricism is like Eurocentricism, in that it leaves out the rest of Afrika.

In the Fon language, Vodun means sacred energy. It's a path for Haitians to use their life force to extend SACRED ENERGIES. Vodun is older than time and most religious practices originate from Vodun.

The amalgamated Afrikan tribes in Haiti created Haitian Vodun. Its an amalgamation of indigenous practices from West, Central and Southern parts of Afrika. But Haiti's Vodun is a blended form coming mostly from beliefs systems out of the West Afrikan countries, the Kongo and Angola, where the enslaved of Haiti originated. In Haitian Vodun, a single divine unnamable creator referred to (in Kreyòl) as Bondye - the Good Eye, the Good God - or Granmèt la (the master of the universe), created all, starting with the cosmic twin, Lè Marasa. The TWIN had "children" who when they died became Lè Mò. And, in time unremembered, Lè Mò would become Lè Mistè -the living mysteries/Gods/messengers/ divine prophets/values/ archetypes/irreducible essences/highest vibrations/angel/spirit or best attribute culled from a person and the elements (earth, water, air, fire) which make up our visible and invisible being. In Vodun, this trinity is also represented by the cross symbol, which points to the cosmic crossroad/meeting place/kalfou/Poto Mitan of the trinity (Lè marasa, lè mò and lè mistè). This trinity cuts across dimensions, time and space. And represents how all peoples and all energies, everything is connected - through this trinity – all the races (ethnicities) on earth.

Like the Taoist, Haitian Vodouist don't domesticate the one God - Bondye - who created the universe, other than to say the Good Eye is all that's sacred, beautiful, joyful, good. ("The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.The name that can be named is not the eternal name.The nameless is the mother of heaven and earth. The named is the mother of the ten thousand things. Ever desireless, one can see the mystery. Ever desiring, one can see the manifestations. These two spring from the same source but differ in name. The unity is said to be the mystery. Mystery of mysteries, the door to all wonders." -- Chapter 1 of the Tao Te Ching.)

The Haitians enslaved by Catholic Spain and France, recognized the Catholic Saints as similar to Vodun's Mistè or Lwa. When forced into renouncing Vodun and to pray to the foreign saints, they recognized, for instance, the Catholic image of the Madonna and Child as representing their own Ezili Dantò Lwa, their own warrior queen-mother feminine archetype. They recognized Afrika's powerful warrior God of war, Ogou, as Saint Jacques on his horse with a sword (who after the Great Revolution also became symbol for Janjak Desalin the greatest warrior to ever live to Haitians) and never stopped their service to Ezili Dantò and Ogou even though the French priests thought the captured where praying to the Virgin Mary and Saint Jacques. This is how Vodun survives in Haiti.
But there are critical differences between Vodun Lwa which are living dieties and the dead Cathothic Saints. (For more info on the major differences between Vodun and Christianity, see Ezili's counter-colonial narrative on Vodun.)

"Vodun is the oldest spiritual tradition in the world and its mythologies have risen in all of the religions to be domesticated around the planet."

Vodun also survived in Haiti because it is surrounded by layers of secret societies, like the Bizango fighters, Chanpwel and others, protecting the Temples from Western evangelical and other encroachment. These cults protect and distract from attacks against the center of Vodun. Many family units who became protectors of the African way of life in Haiti, were originally traitors, thieves and collaborators who helped the Europeans capture and kidnap their brothers and sisters in Africa and put them into slavery, like the Bizango family of West Africa. In Haiti, remorseful of the betrayal, to find a respectful place again in the community and as penance, many former collaborators would become, for centuries and to this day, the protectors in their communities. Their practices and skull ' n bones rituals and fierce militarism resemble and may have predated the Knights Templars and Masonic secret societies of Europe. These cults are distinct from Vodun, which is ALWAYS the lifting up of SACRED SPIRIT or DIVINE ENERGIES.

Photo: Haupt & Binder
Haiti's Bizango Army
- Berlin Exhibit. Bizango Room & Altar - Vodun collection of Marianne Lehmann


Vodouist peasants are peaceful, fight in self-defense and do not evangelize. Have not held a Jihad or Holy crusade to save souls, colonize or conquer converts. They are also referred to as Ginen Fran. Ginen recognize their own beliefs within the established religions, intuitively understanding the fusing and naming by different nations of universal principles. They themselves had fused many disparate Vodun concepts from the twenty-one Afrikan nations that formed Ayiti at Bwa Kay Iman. (
Haiti Epistemology ; Bwa Kayiman Links; Bwa Kayiman, 2008: Reclaiming the Haitian People's Vodun Narrative at Bwa Kayiman ;What Ayiti Calls Forth and Dessalines' Three Ideals; Vodun Konbit and Vodun Lakou ; and The Pivotal Point.)

Haiti peasants live off small plots of land mostly in family compounds called Lakou and practice collaborative family-unit living and collective work system called the Konbit. The neocolonial system in place in Haiti by the Western powers seek to destroy Haiti's peasant system and small independent farmers at all costs. Besides the unremitting demonizing of Vodun, the US, for instance, has slaughtered their livestock - 1.3 million black Kreyòl pigs. And, to force peasants into assembly plant jobs paying less than .38cents an hour, making products to export and to use cultivated land from production of food for local consumption to production of export crops, also for consumers abroad, the US has put in place food "aid" and preferential trade laws for its corporations. In the last decades, US dumping large agribusiness subsidized rice and other foods, as free food or that sell at cheaper prices than the food the peasant's produce impoverished the peasant, caused massive migration to the capital, or to overloaded boats seeking life elsewhere, lost Haiti more than 830,000 rural jobs. Vodun provides strength from source to face existing in a hostile American Mediterranean.

The Divine Mother

The Black Goddess/Lwa/Orisha/Saint goes by many names (Fatimah, Yemeyah, Kali, Virgin Mary, et al...), but she is always present in every story of creation. Aset is her Kemetic (ancient Egyptian) name. Isis her Greek name. But, in Vodun, Ezili Dantò is her Haitian-Afrikan name. She is the original woman, mother of all the races, God of civilization, the primary warrior Goddess; the feminine energy of the divine ONE (father-mother-child) trinity (sun, moon, fire/ past, present, future /
Lè marasa, lè mò and lè mistè/ Aset-Asar-Heru/ Isis-Osiris-Horus /or, the all patriarchic, fragmented, without-womb/wholeness Western version known as - Father-Son-Holy Spirit.

The parallel connections between Kemetian concepts and pre-existing indigenous Vodun concepts of Afrika are clear. Similarly, Christianity, in its Afrikan form, was originally much like Vodun. Over thousands upon thousands of years and wide geographical spaces, there still remains close ritual similarities between Vodun and the major religions including the role of the blood, the Saints, spiritual possession, revelations, incarnation, resurrection -all of this was familiar to the Afrikan-Haitian and predates the European, Egyptian and Nubia versions.

According to Dr. Yosef A. A. Ben-Jochannan, the Christian Ten Commandments were taken from the Black spiritual concepts found in the 147 Negative Confessions. (See, African Origins of the Major Western Religions. For more on this topic, also go to African-Centered Lectures by Ashra/Merira Kwesi and MovemenTunes.com.) Just as all streams flow to the ocean, "all colors disappear in black, so all names and forms disappear in her' (Mahanirvana Tantra). See Ezili Dantò of HLLN's Journey of the Serpent and the Moon; Anba Dlo, Lan Ginen and Red, Black & Moonlight (text) and (RBM Video Reel).

The Virgin Mary is based on the Black Goddess, mother of all the races. Before the Egyptians re-named her Aset or the Greeks re-named her Isis, she was also known in parts of Alkebulan (Afrika) as Ezili Dantò. The Revolution which created the nation of Haiti was inspired by the divine decree of the warrior love goddess, known as Ezili Dantò, who danced in the head of the great Haitian priestess, Cecile Fatiman, on that famous Haitian night in 1791, on a red hilltop, at a forest thicket in Haiti called Bwa Kayiman.

Ezili Dantò is the feminine energy of the divine (mother-father-child) trinity (Lè Marasa, lè Mò e lè Mistè/ Aset-Asar-Heru/ Isis-Osiris-Horus /or, the all patriarchic Western version known as Father-Son-Holy Spirit. She begins with the beginning, predates the Aset-Heru, Isis-Horus and Mary-Jesus relationship and personalities based on the Ezili Dantò Black Madonna prototype.

Aset wearing her traditional moon headdress in this picture, parallels moon (crown) in back of Madonna and Child representing Ezili Dantò of the Ayisyen-Africans. Goddess Aset's outstretched arms and body (the pillar/Poto Mitan) illustrates a worldly cross grounded/wombed in the circle of eternal life. Aset forms the Ankh with her body, later also known as the Venus symbol. The arms outstretched combined and emphasized with the oversized Ma (Mother Moon) headdress, forms the Ankh, the key or symbol of life/light – the ritual "how" of creating and enlightenment, when Lwa yo come up. Allegorically, how life/light emanates up from the womb of creation, Mother Earth /Anba Dlo-Lan Ginen/or, out of primordial space up through the body - that vertical spiralling root - to (divine) consciousness. (See Isis wearing her traditional moon headdress.) The Ankh - also known as crux ansata, Latin for "cross with a handle" - was, for the ancient Egyptians, the symbol (the actual hieroglypic sign) of life.

Sitting on "the lap of Isis" or "throne of Isis" was language for the warrior/mother/goddess' right to choose the next warrior leader - King/Queen. Ezili Dantò of Haiti fame chose Boukmann to lead the Haitian Revolution. Isis wearing her traditional moon headdress in this picture, parallels the moon (crown) in back of Madonna and Child. (Consider also, The Red, Black & Moonlight Series by Ezili Dantò.)


The story of Lè Marasa, Lè Mò e Lè Mistè/ Aset-Asar-Heru/ Isis, Osiris and Horus also parallels and pre-dates the Christian mysteries of the virgin birth and the resurrection. After Osiris’ murder Isis 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.

Quote from Granneg Latortue*:

"If you go to Europe, or just to France and go to the Cathedral of Notre Dame, She had a temple right in the middle of Paris, France. She is the Black Goddess of Egyptian religion (Isis, descended from our African ancestors' Ezili). She is always portrayed with her infant son Horace - Horus - Oris.

Her temple at Ile de Paris was replaced by the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, now represented as Mary and her son Jesus. Same location, same image, in order to attract the local population to this new Christian religion that was replacing the original religion of France. Same foundation walls. The African Goddess of Paris."

If Haitians/Africans understood who they are. Their hidden history. They would know that their legacy is unparalleled. There is no need to adopt foreign prophets. No need for intermediary to touch the SOURCE of life, infinite intelligence. All human beings are divine, powerful and Haitians are GINEN. All the religions, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, fuse observations of the world that came from the Black autothones, the first peoples on planet earth, OUR Afrikan Ancestors. Vodun is remembrance, Haiti's form of resurrection. It teaches we are all ONE - Ginen Poze. The path to the spirit self is personal, cannot be definitively taught. Revelation comes from within, not without. Vodouist precepts and communal worshipping lifts up a consciousness that guides, points the way, helps a person get through daily life trials. But always bows before that which is a mystery - devan tout sa ki pli gran ke nou, tout sa n pa wè yo. (See, for instance, Going Back to the Source, the Root.)


The image recognized by the enslaved when brought in chains to Haiti as most like their symbol for Ezili Dantò

Original African-Haiti symbol (vèvè) for Ezili Dantò











Some brief Ginen knowledge:

Haitian cosmology contends that out of primordial darkness -
Anba Dlo, (Lan Ginen) - came the energy of inhale and exhale, the male/female, the hot and cold, Moon/Sun, Heaven/Earth, Petwo/Rada - this twin, or MARASA, contracted/expanded, contracted expanded (movement of Danbala and Ayida Wedo) and had children (Timoun) who, in time, became, Lè Mò. Those Timoun who lived their mèt tèt/purpose for materializing during temporal time on earth would mold Anba Dlo and humanity with their use of their energy - the highest form of which would become- Mistè (or, Lwa yo).

So, in Haitian cosmology - en e en fè twa - one and one is three. Sounds familiar? ONE God, issuing into three differentiated energies but each particularization of God sharing equally the powers of divinity, in being divine, in being God. Or, as restated in the Christian faith that believes God is one while being at the same time Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God is at the same time one and three. Except in Christianity, a person must go through "the Son" to reach God, while in Vodun there's no need for a middlemen, for we cannot be separated from our divinity. One and one is three, but paradoxically inseparable like the unshakable familial connection between Lè Marasa, Lè Mò e Lè Mistè.

It is not too difficult to also see the similarities between Lè Marasa, Lè Mò e Lè Mistè - the twins, the children/the dead and the mysteries - to Aset-Asar-Heru and Isis, Osiris and Horus. Or, that Aset-Asar-Heru/Isis, Osiris and Horus, descended from Lè Marasa, Lè Mò e Lè Mistè that inspired the Holy Christian Trinity.

Isis nursing Horus


The image of Isis nursing Horus served as inspiration for the classic Christian portrait of Madonna and child, both of which descended from Vodun's divine mother, Ezili Dantò of Afrika/Haiti, mother of all the nations/races and whose worship predates all the world's divine mothers/goddesses and religions.

Quote from Granneg Latortue:

"1) In Egyptian religious beliefs, descended from Vodun - What did the Pharaoh believe in? How did he worship?

Their main God, Horus (the Son of Isis of Osiris), was born in the forest with the animals. Isis was his virgin mother. Osiris, his father was an old bearded carpenter. Sounds familiar? THIS WAS 8000 YEARS BEFORE JESUS CHRIST. So any contamination of stories was from Vodun to Egyptian to Isis-Osiris-Horus down in time to the years of Jesus.

2) The Christian Cross, where did it come from? Consider this: When the Egyptian Pharaohs kneeled before his main God, Horus, he held a cross in his hands (Ankh), and crossed his shoulders with his hands while saying:

"In the name of the father, and the son, and the bird-God whose name is Amen"

Does this sound familiar? This was said for 8000 years before Christ."

The Ankh/the Cross
The Ankh - also know as crux ansata, Latin for "cross with a handle" - was, for the ancient Egyptians, the symbol (the actual Hieroglyphic sign) of life. It is an enduring icon that remains with us even today as a Christian cross. The Ankh was the Egyptian hieroglyphic character meaning "eternal life." It is an Ancient Egyptian symbol of life and fertility.
The Ankh's, circular oval head is also said to represent the female womb. The two wing or arm extensions represent the fallopian tube. The vertical column (pillar/Poto Mitan) below the oval head is said to represent the path of the birth canal. Egyptian gods are often portrayed carrying the Ankh by its loop, or bearing one in each hand, arms crossed over their chest.

Quote from Granneg Latortue:

" It is one of the most potent symbols represented in Egyptian art, often forming a part of decorative motifs. The ankh seems at least to be an evolved form of, or associated with the Egyptian glyph for magical protection."

"E. A. Wallis Budge postulated that the symbol might have originated as the belt-buckle of the mother goddess Isis, an idea joined by Wolfhart Westendorf with the notion that both the ankh and the knot of Isis were used as ties on ceremonial girdles." The Knot of Isis represent "the ideas of resurrection and eternal life. Also called Tyet, Tet, the Knot of Isis, Buckle of Isis, Girdle of Isis, and the Blood of Isis.

...It is also speculated that the Tyet represents the menstrual blood flow from Isis' womb and its magical properties. It is mentioned in the 156th spell for the Book of the Dead:

"You possess your blood, Isis, you possess your power, Isis, you possess your magic, Isis. The amulet is a protection for this Great One, which will drive off anyone who would perform a criminal act against him."
(Go to Tyet on Wikepedia.)

Quote from Granneg Latortue:

"3) Horus (the Son) preached against the Government, had to live in the desert, had to multiply bread and fish from the Nile to feed his flock!

4) Horus walked on water by crossing the Nile at will, with no boat, no visible support.

These coincidences occurred some 8000 years before Christ."

In Vodun, the circle of life is represented by the story of Lè Marasa, Lè Mò e Lè Mistè which parallels the story behind the circular handle/oval of the Ankh, the crown or moon behind Isis/Ezili/Aset. Vodun's Lè Marasa, Lè Mò e Lè Mistè culls "the Many" back to the "One" sacred twin - male/female, yin/yang, inhale/exhale, contraction/release, Moon/Sun, Earth/Sky. The Ankh predates the Christian cross. Lè Marasa, Lè Mò e Lè Mistè, the Haitian crossroad, Temple pillar/Poto Mitan and human body in Vodun (also cross forms) where the visible and invisible meet and the vèvè (Haitian-Afrikan/Vodun hieropglyphics) predates both the Ankh and Christian cross.

In Dahomey (Benin) mythology, from which parts of Haitian Vodun originates, "Mawu" (alternately: Mahu, meaning noble person to the Egyptians) is a creator goddess, associated with the sun and moon. Mawu parallels Lè Marasa, the sacred twin in Haiti's origin story. This myth is similar to the Yoruba (Ife/Nigeria) origin story of Yemaja and Aganju, parents of the Orishas. Lè Marasa are the parents of Mistè yo (Lwa-yo.) Out of primordial space came Lè Marasa.

But the equity, harmony, balance represented by the twin energy molding multiplicity into one is distorted by Patriarchy and biological fatalism (racism) and its parallel socio-economic systems.

It may be said that under the planet’s current socio-economic-religious belief systems, the significance of the Moon – the woman energy is erased and unhealthily replaced only by the Sun energy in, say, modern Christianity. Even before the conquest of America, the conquest of Europe’s own women; slaughtering, raping and burning Europe’s women healers and warriors as witches, demonizing their worshipping the Moon as a universal symbol of female energy that match the power of the Sun, this came before the 15th century European conquest/genocides in West, South and Central Africa and in the Americas. This destruction of Europe’s indigenous women herbal healers, midwives and warriors parallels the Judeo-Christian and Muslim destruction of the female creator-narrative. Unlike the Ankh, the Christian cross de-wombed the symbol of life. Some contend that back in 321AD, the eunuchs at the Council of Nicea institutionally erased the cosmic Mother/Father parents, left only the Father, reduced the creator-Mother (Ezili DantÚ/Aset/Isis) to the Virgin Mary.


The Return of the Divine Feminine - the Rainbow Warriors arising like Ayida and Danbala Wedo, together, always. No more reductionist scientific paradigms. No more biological fatalism. The return of the Goddess in modern times may said to have begun with the Haitian Revolution on August 14, 1791. Except for Haiti, all the present African nationalities are the results of colonial strategies. Haiti is not. At Bwa Kayiman the amalgamated African tribes, gathered together, named themselves from the echo they found inside, not outside. (The Return of the Goddess at Bwa Kayiman.)

They lifted up inner power -Alkebullan's people force, ancient African-Ginen knowledge - requiring the blood, flesh, spirit, thoughts and breath of the African Ancestors from the beginning of time, depi lan Ginen, and met the God within in harmony with nature and the forces of nature. Manman Ayiti is not the product of outside projections and echoes. The Haitian union with self has never wavered because it eschews the renting, dualistic mentality of one perspective on right and wrong, and a fear-based sense of separation and greed resulting from a deep, societal entrenched disconnection from the sacred oneness of life. There's quantum science now to show the unity in multiplicity, the interconnectedness of all life, all energy. Authentic cooperation to self is a being tolerant of diversity and holding space for multiple viewpoints, guided by conscious awareness of our precious interdependence, desiring to serve the whole. As we take into account the Quantum nature of reality, we remember that the way we observe our current planetary dream has a "creative potency" on how our shared situation manifests. Only Go(o)d sees Go(o)d.

Every person is a ray of the powerful, called by many names, but is eternally like a solar deity, the Lady of Flame, Avenger of Wrongs, The (One) Before Whom Evil Trembles, the Christ consciousness. Every ray is under grace, under the shelter of the moon - that is, always connected to source, to creation like Aset/Isis as the Mother of the Sun who gives birth daily to the sun (son-Horus/Ra). Sun/Moon always connected. "
There's no point where you're disconnected from wholeness." Gade byen ou ap wè - look closely, you'll see. Oneness, is symbolized by the Moon (crown) in back of Madonna and Child. The parallel is Ezili/Isis/Aset wearing her traditional moon headdress.

Goddess Aset


Ezili Dantò*
Zeb Ginen, depin lan Ginen
June, 2009
(updated, Sept. 2010)

*Credit: Some of the info on "coincidences" and the Anhk, as above noted, came from an email authored by Granneg Latortue.

(For more info, go to: Ezili Dantò/Aset/Isis (photos) ; Bio of Ezili Dantò, 1791 ; The Goddess Remembered at Bwa Kayiman ; Black Woman: Mother of All the Races ; RBM Video Reel and
Vodun: The Light and Beauty of Haiti.)

  Ezili Dantò/Aset/Isis– Symbols of the Great warrior mother and goddess
Vodun is as old as creation and it's the
Light and Beauty of Haiti


The story of Lè Marasa, Lè Mò e Lè Mistè/ Aset-Asar-Heru/ Isis, Osiris and Horus also parallels and pre-dates the Christian mysteries of the virgin birth and the resurrection. After Osiris’ murder Isis 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.

Moon (crown) in back of Madonna and Child parallels Isis wearing her traditional moon headdress

Ezili Dantò of HLLN performs in Miami with Sanba Yatande, Manno and TiRouj
  Catholic Church Officials Misrepresent Vodou by Jerry Gilles and Yvrose Gilles, June 10, 2009, Bookmanlit.com  

Catholic Church Officials Misrepresent Vodou

After the Haitian Catholic Clergy Solidarity Meeting in Miami, Frère Buteau, director of public relations, wrote the opinion of Church officials and broadcasted this statement on June 8, 2009:

« …Observez le vodouisant. Il offre un culte mais à quel dieu? Il s’agit d’un dieu très mal défini et souvent d’ailleurs de plusieurs dieux rivaux en guerre parfois les uns contre les autres. Pour plaire à ces dieux il faut toujours se fendre en quatre pour leur offrir des sacrifices, parfois de poulets, de cabris, de bœufs et même, tenez vous bien, des sacrifices humains. Le Vodou à cet égard n’est pas éloigné des pratiques des anciens grecs et romains. Eux aussi s’imaginaient qu’il y avait des dieux multiples pleins de caprices, des dieux puissants mais redoutables qu’il fallait constamment apaiser.

Nous chrétiens savons que nous n’avons plus de sacrifices d’animaux à offrir à notre Dieu. Jésus, l’Agneau immolé s’est offert une fois pour toutes pour abolir les rites anciens. Lui qui est “dans le sein du Père” par son sacrifice unique a sanctifié pour toujours tous ceux qui croient en lui. Son offrande est parfaite parce qu’il est Fils de Dieu. “Au commencement était le Verbe. Et le Verbe était avec Dieu et le Verbe était Dieu. Et le Verbe s’est fait chair et Il a habite parmi nous.” (Jean 1).. »

The statement misrepresents Vodou. Let it be clear, most Sèvitè or Vodouisant believe that God is Granmèt and God is Bondye. These descriptions of God embody the notion that God is all knowing, all-powerful, eternal, and benevolent. This belief is not new to Sèvitè. It is the documented belief of most Africans, going back centuries. The concept of God is a universal concept. Its meaning transcends geographical barriers, making the Catholic Church’s notion of our God versus their God propagandist and nonsensical.

The Church does not only misrepresent Vodou, but it also misrepresents its own beliefs. The statement insinuates that Church doctrines are derived from greater reasoning when indeed they are based on faith. God is not better defined in Catholicism then in Vodou. Belief in a man, Christ, as God and born of a virgin is a matter of faith and not of reason. It cannot be proven. It can only be believed. Such a situation should tame arrogance. To attempt to offer proof is a serious departure from the bedrock tenant of Christianity as a religion based on faith.

In the statement, church officials refer to Vodou as a cult and not as a religion.
Presumably, religion is a higher and more moral form of service. Yet officials of the Catholic religion speak of God as a male figure and refer to Christ as the son rather than as the child of God. This habit does not come from reason but from cultures that once believed that men were superior to women. Consequently, in many parts of the world, women were denied their basic human rights, like the right to an education and the right to vote.

Those who wrote the statement are poorly informed about Vodou. They proclaim Vodou to have many Gods despite the fact that Sèvitè only speak of God in the singular. Never do Haitians say “N a wè demen si Bondye yo vle.” Haitians believe that there is one God, but there are many Ancestral Spirits called Lwa. Such Ancestors, like Chango and Kadya Bosou, ruled the Nago Oyo empire of Nigeria in the 1100’s and Dahomey in 1708-1740, respectively. We Haitians have always honored our Ancestors as worthy spirits. In the centuries past, we could not depend on institutions like the Vatican to give our foreparents the status of saints. There are countless great European saints, just like there are countless great African Lwas. The two terms originate from different continents, but the basic idea is the same. To discount African Ancestors as worthy spirits is to espouse a Ku Klux Klan like attitude about the world of spirits.

Misguided by a flawed concept of Vodou, the statement goes on to say that human sacrifices are performed in Haiti. The Romans commonly made this same accusation against Christians, accusing them of drinking the blood of children. The only human sacrifices made by Christians were the lives lost fighting Roman persecution. Likewise, the only human sacrifices made by Sèvitè in Haiti are the 150,000 lives lost fighting against slavery imposed by the Christian Napoleon Forces. The Catholic Church supported slavery and has yet to apologize for its involvement in the selling of people as slaves.

The statement goes on to say that sacrifice is made to appease spirits when indeed sacrifices are a symbolic gesture to show appreciation for assistance that one believes comes from the Ancestors, the Lwas. Foods that a particular Ancestor favored when he or she was alive is what is offered. For example, the Nago people of Nigeria were known for raising ginen fowls (pentad) for that reason pentad is offered to Nago Ancestors. Sacrifice as a symbolic gesture is based on the moral principle of reciprocity. The idea of sacrifice is pervasive in religion, but unfortunately, some religions want to have a monopoly on what constitutes appropriate sacrifice. To argue that eating and drinking the blood of Christ is how sacrifice should be performed is a matter of faith and not of greater reason.

In matters of religion, there are many valid viewpoints. The church can speak its perspective without misrepresenting, vilifying, or silencing other voices. Otherwise we are doomed to live in a world where religious persecution, inquisition, and terrorism reign.

Jerry Gilles and Yvrose Gilles
Authors of Remembrance: Roots, Rituals, and Reverence in Vodou
Sevis Ginen: Rasin, Rityèl, Respè lan Vodou

June 10, 2009
Ibo Granmoun : The Roots of Haiti Democracy


Ezili Dantò of HLLN performs the Nago / See also Bwa Kayiman Ceremony ; RBM Video Reel and Carnegie Hall
Jazzoetry Audio clip of So Much Like HereCarnegie Hall Video Clip
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