benin vodun

topic posted Sun, January 24, 2010 - 3:04 AM by  lena
i found an interesting article today:
posted by:
  • One has to be very careful about these articles. These researchers come to Benin asking questions. Very few Vodunouns will give you straight up answers about their practices. Vodun often forbids this; and, it should! Spirits do not reveal themselves to everyone ...even in Benin. A person wants to learn about vodun....there is really no shortcut...go into temple!

    • i did not really come across mami wata during my stays in benin. but i know she is there and she gets served.
      wedosi i think the man who wrote article is fon. one cannot learn vodou from books but one can still read it and get some informations. i like specially the fonge-proverbs in the paper.
      how then does it come that mami-wata being a mina-spirit gets settled in benin?
      and why is koku moving from ghana to benin?
      • wedosi,
        what i saw in ouidha and cotonou was that vodu is as well a private buiness organized in a family. there are temples and if the spirits want one will got there. but this is not the only way practising vodu.
        • To understand vodun, in Africa, one must look at how ancient African families are structured. In each family is a family spiritual head (in Fon the Da). There may be other priestesses/priest in the family; but, he/she is head. Certain children are born to the vodun in that family. They serve in the temple. Within the temple itself are various functions. Each child may be born to a particular function in that family temple. If a person dies the Fa reveals the successor. In this way the ancestors are served as well as the divine spirits born into that family. The vodunsi often have inherited their voduns from previous relatives. For instance, my father's spirit is the Hindu spirit Dattatreya (Den'su in Fon). I inherited that spirit. My head spirit is Dattatreya (the Lord of Creation)....he told me that he was born in the Red Sea. It is my second spirit that is Ayidowedo. However, when divination was done, for my initiation, Dattatreya says that the woman doing my ceremony had no knowledge of how to do the ceremony for him; so, he hid himself. When he bowed his heads (he has three) the great ayidowedo (the rainbow serpent) rose up on her tail. That is why I am called Ayidowedohounon. However, once I do the ceremony for Dattatreya my name will again change. If that priestess had botched the ceremony for Dattatreya for me....I would be dead today! Later it was Ayidowedo who told me who my head spirit really was.

      • That is because Mami is a royal vodun. You can not just see her at will. If the national fete is happening (10 janvier) you will see her; or, if you are invited to a temple to witness a ceremony. Also during the month of the Mami fete you might see her at the beaches (mid-August - mid-September). You will also see her at the beaches once in June and once in December when the water spirits assend unto the heavens for a 16-day period. It is often the more open voduns that tourist see running up and down the villages of Benin. The royals you can not see like that. Mami is in Benin...why? Mami is pre-colonial times there were NO political borders. The territory for the Mina people begans close to the border of Togo and extends throughout Ghana. That is why during the Mami Wata fete the Mamis are crossing the borders of Benin and Ghana into Togo in their effort to get to the ancient ancestral temples of their people. Remember that Vodun pre-dates all African political borders as we know them today.

        • This is all very interesting, Wedosi! One question, you speak of "families." I am wondering if families ever "adopt" others who are not of their "blood"?

          Are there "tribal" spirits as well as "family" spirits?
          • Maggie says: "This is all very interesting, Wedosi! One question, you speak of "families." I am wondering if families ever "adopt" others who are not of their "blood"? "

            Yes, that has happened for some people! Others have been married to Africans and took on their husband's family voduns. This is allowed in that the two joined, in marriage, then becomes one! One of the greatest priestesses that West Africa has ever known was a white woman who married a Nigerian. Her name was Suzanne Wenger; and, she died at the age of 94 in Africa! This woman was awesome! She was so entertwined in African orish/vodun that I forgot that she was white. But I think she may be an inspiration to this forum!



            Tribal spirits? Yes! Mami is a tribal spirit of the Mina people (tribe). Skapata is the tribal spirit of the Fon people. Egun gun is the tribal spirit of the Yoruba. In otherwords, these spirits ORIGINATED with these people!


            • Maggie, I think you are going to like Suzanne Wenger. Try to find out as much as you can about her. I feel that her life and dedication to the spirits may be a shining light for you!

              • i think you are right wedosi.
                susanne wenger is great. by the way she is an austrian like me.
                i was paying her visit when she was alive in her house in oshogbo and the sacred hain is so beautiful.

                coming back to da:
                so the old mans name who gave me my spirit was da. i was thinking da is a name like my name is lena. he said in his dream the spirit told him that he want to stay with me.
                wedosi, do you have any explanations for that?
                • Great lena! I have not had the pleasure to visit that sacred forest. I hope so one day!

                  As for the term "Da". It is a title. However, anytime we are given vodun, by someone, he is our "father" or "mother" in the spirits. This could be to what he was referring. It is through the strength of his own spirits that you have your own. I really pray that one day you will be able to return to Africa! It appears that a part of you is STILL there!

                  • This is the maximum depth. Additional responses will not be threaded.
                    hahaha wedosi,
                    3 parts of them are here with me, making big noise from early morning until late in the night.
                    i will retourn, i have opened a banc-account yesterday for my ouidah-spirit.
            • Thank you Wedos, for telling me about Suzanne Wenger. I see she was an Artist, too! An Artist of the Sacred. She is truly inspirational to me! And it's good to know, too, that she was Austrian, Lena!!!

              • Sometimes I forget to mention this great woman because of the conflict between African American priestesses who practice Orisha. Some refuse to accept her; but, if the spirits accepted her....what have I to say!? I do not question God (the spirits). She had to be a special woman indeed! In Nigeria the spirits are demonized to the strongest degree! This woman helped to save something special!

                • people who cannot accept her status are useless.
                  spirits know themselves who they are choosing. it is easy to sit in us, but it is not easy to survive in nigeria.
                  i was in her house, very beautiful place:
                  • This is the maximum depth. Additional responses will not be threaded.
                    Wow! Nice....I wonder who has taken her place? I am sure she had a "second" (someone working with her)!

                    • maybe there were many seconds - IoI.
                      when i was there it was just like in a normal african house, many people coming and going and sitting around.
                      • Wedosi,

                        Thank you for the grounded wisdom you share here. I am especially appreciative of your affirmation that Vodun is best understood as a family structure. More precisely, it is an African family structure, wherein tradition is very prominent. Seniority, respect and service are of the utmost importance. None of the irreverence we Westerners cherish so dearly. In the West, everything is subject to mockery in the name of fun and informality. In the tradition, your father and your mother are god-like. They receive total respect, without having to demand it. And in exchange, they offer protection, belonging and access to power. The relationship is transferred to the temple, where your chief priest is the uncontested head of the community, like the head of household. So, I thank you for making such a rich contribution to the awareness and understanding of people outside of Africa, who wish to serve the divinities with sincerity.

                        May it be well with you. May you live long.

                        • Thank you Obafemi for your comments! They are precious to me! This irreverence is what Westerners simply do not understand? What person, in Africa, stands before a priest or priestess and argues at him/her as to what is correct and questions the actions of those instructions given to a priest/priestess by the "spirits" themselves?! it is ABSOLUTELY unheard of! If a "spirit" sends a message, to someone, via the priest(ess) what persons stands up and argues with the divine messenger?!

                          That is why, in Africa, one consults the spirits BEFORE anyone does ANYTHING in vodun; so, that the people who don't deserve to have voduns do not have them! Because, it is THEY (the spirits themselves) who know the hearts of man/woman!

                          Again, thank you for your comments!


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