“Mirror, mirror upon the wall, break the spell or become a doll”(Vodou log2)

Let me start with where I have finished last time.

Damballa the great snake.

Most powerful of the entities in Voodoo cosmology.

Father of lwas.

Dangerous dude.

You don’t wanna come across Damballa… but I am afraid you already did. More than once.  He is quite common in our European culture although we know him under different names.

Lucifer. Satan. Devil.

Houngans – Voodoo priests communicate with him through mirrors.

You probably watched the horror The Mirrors, right? You also did hear of  this superstition so common around the world – the one which tells  that if you look at the reflection in the mirror with the edge of an eye, you can catch a glimpse of a ghost…

Well, now imagine that is not a fake story… At least not in Voodoo.

Those specially crafted mirrors, seem like an awkward piece of art, so surrealistic and grotesque in their design. Frames  carved with the images of the odd looking creatures hybrids of man and beasts.

There are also hair attached to it, human hair. As well as pieces of bones, nails, skin…

The gruesome ornamentations have their purpose. They make it easier to estabilish the connection.

Those mirrors, are kind of Voodoo IPhones, you see.

With unlimited contact list to the VIPs in the other world. No problems with the signal. Display better than 20 megpaixels,

And just one price for the user contract.

Your soul.

I have came across those mirrors once in Stockholm, on a special, temporary exhibition in the Museum of Etnography.

I was stuck in a long, shady hallway, watching my reflection in those damned artifacts.

I stood there with the camera in my hand, feeling the tempation hanging in the air. If I would make myself a photo in that mirror, would I catch on it, something I couldn’t see with my bare eyes?

I stood there with my finger frozen above the camera switch, when the words of the crazy, condemned philosopher trembled in my mind like an alarm siren.

“And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you…”

I walked away. No photos his time.

End of log

Vodou log1

Few are religions that would made such a deep impact on what we call pop-culture.

Voodoo or rather as spelled originally – Vodou with it’s black magic conotations, Voodoo dolls, and above all – zombies, conquered not only  Hollywood but also imagination of many artists, writers and game designers.

Becouse of this most of people know what the stereotype of Voodoo is.

But as I am not a person who likes to make his judgement on what people say, or what the stereotypes are, I was always wondering…

Is Voodoo really so frightening as it is used to be shown?

Once in Stockholm, in Etnographic museum visiting a special Voodoo exhibition from Hatiti, I had a chance to confront my previous assumptions with the reality.

And the conclusion were far more disturbing than I would expect.

If you want to feel the atmosphere before getting more into my story about Voodoo, see this:

Trailer for Voodoo exhibition from Etnografiska museet

One of the first things that the exhibition made me realise is that Voodoo is not a game of some dumb, adrenaline seeking teenagers who decided to do some black magic on Saturday night.

Voodoo is a real thing, and it makes an actual practice and influences the daily life of tens of thousands of people. Mainly in Haiti. But not only.

The roots of Voodoo come to 16th century, when European colonisators started bringing slaves from Africa to the New World.

Africans brought their beliefs to Haiti, and those were mixed with native mithology and catholicism.

That’s how Voodoo emerged.

Practicing Voodoo means to interact with lwas – spiritual entities or energies, which although dwell in a separate realm, can influence people in many ways. Lwas have many names and many powers, they are legions of them.

It is common for Voodoo practioners to become possesed by lwas, especially during the dancing ceremonies.

Below you can see  figures representing one of the lwas. The exhibition presented a few of them.

It was bit disturbing to get to  know that the artist that carved it, followed the images that haunted them in their dreams.

It got even more peculiar, when I got to know which of lwas is considered to be the most powerfull in Voodoo.

He is called Damballa – the great snake.

Europeans know him with a different name – Lucifer.

But this story will be continued in the next log.

End of Vodou log 1