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The majority of what is gleaned about the practice of Vodun in its native lands is from anthropological studies. This type of study is a modern day glance backwards through the study of recovered artifacts such as pottery, unearthed shrines, and excavation of religious sites and homes of practitioners of Vodun. Through this type of research a timeline as well as a picture of religious practices emerge, at least in its physical form. As they traced the archeological relics back through time a picture of Vodun emerged as being a traditional religion that was and still is practiced in much of west Africa. Countries where Vodun has had and still has a notable presence include Benin, Cote d’Iviore, Guinne, Ghanna and Nigeria. It is thought, through findings of symbols and pottery that Vodun in its earliest form was a religion that encompassed the worship of many dieties. Each diety had its own special power, or trade. This is similar to what was seen with the Egyptian and Greek gods, who had the god of the sun, god of war, goddess of love and so on. It is also believed that the gods which were worshiped by one tribe or family of people were not necessarily worshiped by other tribes and families. However, careful interpretation of types of pottery and symbols found in archeological digs shows the Vodun was a religion that allowed for flexibility in incorporating new dieties into reverance. This is to say that according to Neil L Norman in his article entitled, “Powerful Pots, Humbling Holes, and Regional Ritual Processes: Towards and Archeology of Huedan Vodun, ca 1650- 1727” that when peoples from one tribe interacted with another through trade or migration and they found a diety that held a power that they liked or was thought to be very generous or kind they would encorporate that diety into the fold of the ones they already worshiped. This according to the same article was not a replacement for any of the dieties that they already held to power, but was rather an inclusion of a new one in addition to the others. The findings that led them to this hypothosis were in the clay pots that were used in ceremonies as well as placed on alters. Each diety and offering had its specific type of pot, including shape, size and markings. When these pots were unearthed they found in some areas the same pot size, shape and markings as were common in other, distant places. Furthermore, it was found that the pots for some dieties in a specific area predated those of other pots for the same area, proving that these were used to worship dieties that were newly encorporated. With regards to the clay pots and other ceremonial offering pieces it was found through research and interviews that it was women who were postmenopausal that were responsible for the crafting of all pots and ceremonial offering plates. The reason given for these specific people’s roles in crafting these objects was due to the fact that the objects themselves were believed to hold very powerful majic. This majic could include things that may be harmful to fertility or unborn children. The actual ritualistic practices of the religion can only be gleaned from what people are willing to say about them. This is due to the fact that outsiders are not and have not been privy to observation of these practices. That is to say, they have neither been invited in to witness, nor welcomed when permission was requested. In modern times this may be a result of the negative stereotypes that are associated with these types of religions. Pschological studies have found that when a group is asked to participate in a study of behaviors or practices associated with their socioeconomic or ethnic group that if they feel the study will verify or validate negative stereotypes that are already present, they are slow to participate and interact with researchers. For this information it is necessary to rely on first hand accounts of those

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Ikon Volume 1 Issue 1  

This is the final project for my English 5080 special topics New Orleans Course

Ikon Volume 1 Issue 1  

This is the final project for my English 5080 special topics New Orleans Course

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