Peace be with you, my friends! Today I've decided to write about a very important aspect of Voodoo: reverence for the ancestors. We all have ancestors and we can all call on them for help and protection in our daily lives. Think of it this way-you have an entire spiritual army at your disposal, stretching back generations ready to help you achieve success and happiness in this realm until it is time for you to join them. All they require in return is a small offering and your prayers and kind thoughts.
Je vous bénis au nom du Bon Dieu et tous les ancetres!
It is a common belief in Voodoo that when we die we remain close to Earth, close to loved ones and it is the responsibility of those still living to care for the dead and elevate them closer to the light, to Heaven…toward God. We elevate our ancestors through prayer, having masses said, lighting candles and leaving glasses of water, flowers and perfume as offerings. We believe that the more we help the dead, the faster they shake off their sins and spiritual baggage and rise closer to God. They in turn will bless us with health, money and good fortune in this life.
In Africa, Voodooists had elaborate rituals to honor and feed the dead. Most of these ceremonies did not travel well to the New World, at least not to Louisiana, and were replaced by Catholic rituals regarding the dead or Faithful Departed. In the second half of the 19th century, the doctrine of Spiritism, penned by French penseur Allan Kardec, spread like wildfire throughout Latin America and eventually made its way to New Orleans where is was incorporated into the preexisting system of Voodoo. Spiritism and its American counterpart Spiritualism found favor with the upper classes in Louisiana and elsewhere in the Americas. Creole and African American servants would observe its practices which overtime fused with the preexisting African notion of feeding the dead and the Catholic practice of praying for the souls in Purgatory.
You can call on your ancestors anytime for help in matters of love, money or for any reason at all. It is as simple and lighting a white candle and making a small offering such as a glass of water or bottle of beer. Then just pray directly to them and ask for what you need and want. Also, more elaborate food offerings can be made to request help in a particularly difficult situation. This is known as a “mange-mo” in Louisiana Creole, which means “food of the dead.” During such a service specially prepared ceremonial foods are presented to one’s spirits and ancestors under the guidance of a Voodoo priest who invokes them for help in issue at hand. The results received from such a service can be most miraculous!
The most important and usually more elaborate feasts are made on November 2nd, the Feast of all Souls, the day on which the church throughout the world honors the Souls in Purgatory. Voodooists also make use of this day to feed their ancestors. While the Feast of all Souls is the most important of days for honoring the dead, you may have a service made any time you wish to request a special favor or general blessings. If you’d like me to make an offering to your ancestors or petition mine on your behalf, please contact me and I’d be happy to do so. I hope this article has been enjoyable and informative. As always, I wish you happiness, peace and success in all your endeavors!
James Duvalier is a master psychic and medium as well as a priest of New Orleans Voodoo. A practioner of New Orleans style Voodoo and Spiritism, he is dedicated to dispelling the myth that only ignorant, backward people believe in the supernatural. He holds a masters degree from Babes Boyai University, speaks 7 languages and has written many short stories ,as well as, a novel. Passionate about his work, he enjoys helping others.