Vodou Initiation - Formally Joining the Religion through Vodou Initiation Ceremony
A houngan or mambo will take the believer who is ready to become a full Voudouissant through initiation ceremony, where he or she will symbolically die and be reborn. This initiation cleanses and prepares the believer to live within the new framework of the Vodou religion. Many secrets, symbols, and crucial aspects of Vodou are imparted during initiation, and it is not to be taken lightly.
It is also important to note that there is no self-initiation into the Vodou religion. The tradition of the solitary practitioner is not well established in Vodou, mostly because Vodou is an oral tradition, passed on from one person to the next through storytelling and oral imparting of knowledge of the religion's traditions.
In the tradition of Haitian Vodou, initiation occurs in three stages. All are open equally to men and women - Vodou is an egalitarian religion, with women bearing at least equal importance to men.
The first degree of initiation is kanzo, and it defines a person as a part of the spiritual lineage of the houngan or mambo who is doing the initiating.
The next level is sur point, which places the initiate on the level of junior priest or priestess. At this degree of initiation, you can use herbal magic, lucid dreaming, spell casting, invocation of the loa, and various divination systems. This is an appropriate level of initiation for those who plan to practice the Vodou religion without becoming a full priest.
The final level of initiation is called asogwe, and this degree confers senior priesthood upon the initiate, who then is fully trained and eligible to be called a houngan or a priest.
Some people will go through the levels of initiation in steps, with time for study and practice in between. Others will earn the full level of priesthood all at one time. It all depends on what is the right path for you, and this can most easily be learned in discussion with the houngan or mambo you wish to initiate you. The houngan or mambo will do divination to help see the correct path, and he or she will also know which loa you will be working with.
The initiation period varies from priest to priest, but all follow a similar path. You will be required to spend up to two weeks at the location of the houngan or mambo's home, usually in Haiti. There will also be a period preceding the initiation during which you will need to follow strict dietary guidelines. You will also need white clothing and various other items, which you will learn about in consultation with your houngan or mambo.
If you do not feel quite ready to commit to Vodou initiation, there are ceremonies that are commonly done that can serve as a preliminary step while you learn more about Vodou. These include the lave tet, or ritual head-washing, which clarifies the initiate, removes negativity, and strengthens a connection with the loa. This can result in a feeling of freedom from old, constricting beliefs. Another ceremony you might consider is the garde, which will place you under the protection of a certain loa. Often the lave and the garde are undertaken at the same time.
Initiation into the Vodou faith is not something to be taken lightly, or done on a whim. It involves much responsibility and some sacrifice, and once you have been initiated, you have made a lifetime commitment to celebrate, practice, and uphold the tenets of this unique and profound religion.
[tags]Vodou initiation ceremony, Vodou initiation steps, initiation into Vodou, initiation into Vodou religion, vodou religion[/tags]