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Chapter III

VOODOO IN HAITI

The Report of the Lords of the Committee of Council appointed for the consideration of all matters relating to trade and foreign plantations, published in London, in 1789, states, "Mr. Dalzell supposes that the number of slaves exported from the Dominions of the King of Dahomey amounts to 10,000 or 12,000 in a year. Of these, the English may export 700 to 800, the Portuguese about 3,000, and the French the remainder." This will explain how the Dahomans with their serpent cult became so centred in the French islands of the West Indies, and especially in Haiti.

William Snelgrave who, as we have seen, was the first to visit Whydah, after the conquest by the Dahomans, says of the slavery there: "And this trade was so very considerable, that it is computed, while it was in a flourishing state, there were above twenty thousand Negroes yearly exported thence, and the neighbouring places, by the English, French, Dutch, and Portuguese."[1] As he was in the trade himself, he may be regarded as speaking with authority.

It is with good reason, then, that Colonel Ellis states: "In the southeastern portions of the Ewe territory, the python deity is

[1. Snelgrave, A New Account of some parts of Guinea and the Slave-Trade, p. 2. Note:--On p. 159 of the same book, Snelgrave states that from the entire Guinea Coast, the Europeans of all nations "have in some years, exported at least seventy thousand."

Cfr. also, W. D. Weatherford, The Negro from Africa to America, New York, 1924, p. 33: "Dahomey, a small kingdom on the Slave Coast, has sufficient open country, to allow of cooperation and aggressive military operations. It is said that this state at one time had an army of 50,000 mien and its terrible fighting Amazons of 3,000 women were no inconsiderable military force. . . . This Dahomey kingdom flourished for centuries and was one of the most powerful allies of the slave traders during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It is supposed that this country alone, at the height of the slave trade, delivered an annual quota of fifteen thousand slaves, most of which were captured from neighbouring tribes."]

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worshipped, and this vodu cult, with its adoration of the snake god was carried to Haiti by slaves from Ardra and Whydah, where the faith still remains today. In 1724 the Dahomies invaded Ardra and subjugated it; three years later Whydah was conquered by the same foe. This period is beyond question that in which Haiti first received the vodu of the Africans. Thousands of Negroes from these serpent-worshipping tribes were at the time sold into slavery, and were carried across the Atlantic to the eastern island. They bore with them their cult of the snake. At the same period, Ewe-speaking slaves were taken to Louisiana."[2]

Elsewhere Ellis remarks: "That the term vodu should survive in Haiti and Louisiana, and not in the British West India Islands, will surprise no one who is acquainted with the history of the slave trade. The Tshi-speaking slaves (the Ashanti and kindred tribes) called Coromantees in the slave-dealer's jargon, and who were exported from the European fort on the Gold Coast, were not admitted into French and Spanish colonies on account of their dispositions to rebel and consequently they found their way into the British colonies, the only market open to them, while the French and Spanish colonies drew their chief supply from the Ewe-speaking slaves exported from Whydah and Badogry."[3]

Richard F. Burton had already asserted positively: "I may observe that from the Slave-Coast 'Vodun' or Fetish we may derive the 'Vaudoux' or small green snake of the Haitian Negroes, so well known by the abominable orgies enacted before the (Vaudoux King and Queen) and the 'King Snake' is still revered at S'a Leone."[4] He had previously stated: "Vodun is Fetish in general. I hardly know whether to write it Vodun or Fodun, the sound of the two labials is so similar."[5]

[2. A. B. Ellis, On Vodu-Worship, POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY, Vol. XXXVIII (1891), p. 651 ff.

3. A. B. Ellis, The Ewe-Speaking Peoples of the Slave Coast of West Africa, London, 1890, p. 29. Note:--The body-guard of Christophe was known as the "Royal Dehomays."--Cfr. Blair Niles, Black Hayti, New York, 1926, p. 289.

4. Burton, A Mission to Gelele, King of Dahome, Vol. I, p. 98.

5. Ditto, Vol. I. p. 79. Note:--In the opening number of the JOURNAL OF AMERICAN, FOLK-LORE issued in 1888, William W. Newell, under the caption Myths of Voodoo Worship and Child Sacrifice in Haiti, strives to annihilate the whole question of Voodoo in Haiti. He thus enunciates his purpose, p. 17 f.: "Although all the {footnote p. 58} writers who have alluded to these superstitions have assumed that they are an inheritance from Africa, I shall be able to make it appear first, that the Vaudoux, or Voodoo, is derived from a European source; secondly,, that the beliefs which the word denotes are equally imported from Europe; thirdly that the alleged sect and its supposed rites, have in all probability, no real existence, but are a product of popular imagination."

His own conjecture is even more fantastic than the most extreme tenets of his adversaries. He would have us believe that the word itself as used in Haiti was derived from the followers of Peter of Lyons who was condemned by the Council of Verona in 1184, and who came to be known as Waldenses or Vaudois. According to his theory, "the word vaudois, feminine vaudoise, had in fact come to mean a witch, as its abstract vauderie or vauldoverie signified sorcery," and was brought to Haiti in the seventeenth century when the rule of the island passed from Spain to France. He continues: "To establish my second proposition, that the characteristic practices ascribed to the alleged Haitian sect, as well as the name, are of European origin, it will only be necessary to compare the charges now made against the Vaudoux of Haiti with those which in the fifteenth century were made against the Vaudois of France and Switzerland." And as both accusations were groundless, according to his theory, although three centuries apart, the one must be the source of the other. It is difficult to see logic in such deductions. In fact in a subsequent issue of the JOURNAL OF AMERICAN FOLK-LORE, Vol. II, 1889, p. 41, Mr. Newell makes the suggestive confession: "A few days before the publication of the article in question appeared the third volume of a history of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages by Mr. H. C. Lee in which a like derivation of the name Voodoo is incidentally set forth." "Incidentally," too, Mr. Newell makes the further admission, p. 45: "Whatever opinion may be entertained about the worship, which I consider as probably imaginary, there can be no doubt concerning the habitual practice, even at the present day in the United States, of sorcery under the name of Voodooism." Further while quoting Mr. B. F. Whidden, United States Minister to Haiti, as saying that the trial and conviction of certain Voodooists at Port-au-Prince in 1864, was unfair, since the "evidence was extracted by torture," p. 41; he adds, seemingly with approval: "Mr. Whidden is of opinion that, if the truth were ascertained, there would be found no more cannibalism in Haiti than in Jamaica. On the other hand he thinks that there is no doubt concerning the existence of a Vaudoux worship and dance, which latter he has frequently seen and heard."]

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There is extent but one detailed account of Haitian Voodoo as it existed in the days of slavery, but that description, being by an experienced eye witness is invaluable for our present purpose. In fact it would be difficult to find a man better qualified than Moreau de Saint-Méry to place before us the true picture of the period. His youth in Martinique, his years as a legal practitioner and later as a Magistrate in Haiti, his executive and administrative ability as shown in the most trying days of the outbreak of the Revolution in France, all mark him out as a witness of the utmost reliability.[6]

[6. Note:--We must crave pardon if we seem discursive in giving a brief outline of the principal events in the life of our witness on the difficult question of Voodoo as it existed in Haiti immediately before the slave insurrection.

Médéric Louis Élie Moreau de Saint-Méry was a West Indian by birth and through marriage a distant relative of the Empress Josephine of France. Born {footnote p. 59} in Martinique, January 13, 1750, he came to Paris at the age of nineteen to enlist in the King's Gendarmes. During his three years of service he continued his studies and qualified as a barrister. To recoup financial losses, he took up the practice of law at Le Cap in Haiti about 1772, and some eight years later he entered the Superior Council of the Island. Thenceforth he devoted the hours of leisure afforded by his office of magistrate, to classify and arrange the laws of the French Colonies. In 1780 the fruits of his earlier labours had appeared in Paris as a five volume work, which immediately attracted much attention. Louis XVI called him to Paris to assist in the colonial administration and he was received with acclaim by the learned world and was honoured by men of letters.

With the outbreak of the French Revolution, Moreau de Saint-Méry took a leading part in the political life of Paris. As President of the electors assembled there, he was twice called upon to address the King, and, it is said, it was he who prevailed upon his colleagues to place Lafayette at the head of the National Guard. The appreciation of his efforts was shown when the Assembly unanimously voted him a medal.

In 1790, he represented Martinique in the Constitutional Convention where he made the affairs of the colonies his chief concern, and in the following year he was a member of the Judicial Council established by the Minister of Justice.

While a partisan of liberty, he was the uncompromising adversary of licence, and as such he incurred the enmity of Robespierre. A few days before the fatal August 10th, the latter's partisans attacked and seriously wounded Moreau de Saint-Méry, who was thus forced to retire to a seaport town in Normandy. This accident probably saved his life, as on the dissolution of the Constitutional Assembly, he was immediately proscribed, but escaped the scaffold through the devotion of one of the local guard to whom he had done some favour in the past. Making his escape to the United States, he remained there until 1799, when he returned to France, and held several state and diplomatic posts until in 1806 he fell into disfavour with Napoleon. Thereafter until his death at the age of sixty-nine, he scarcely kept body and soul together, and even that: was made possible solely through the charity of the Empress Josephine, and later through the bounty of Louis XVIII. He died at Paris on January 28, 1819.--Cfr. Nouvelle Biographie Générale, Paris, 1861, Vol. XXVI, p. 498; F. X. doe Filler, Dictionaire Historique, Lyon, 1822, Vol. CII, p. 546.]

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Moreau de Saint-Méry classified Voodoo among the various dances of Haiti which he thus describes.[7] "What enraptures the Negroes, whether they were born in Africa or America was their cradle, is the dance. There is no amount of fatigue which can make them abandon going to very great distances, and some times even during the dead of night, to satisfy this passion.[8]

[7. Note:--As the work that we are quoting is extremely rare, we feel justified in giving the entire passage especially as the description will enable us later in the final' analysis, to distinguish the other dances that are today so often mixed in with Voodoo in a most confusing manner. The full title of the work is: Description topographique, physique, civile, politique, et historique de la partie Française de l'isle Saint-Domingue. Avec des observations générales sur la population, sur le caractère et les murs de ses divers habitants; sur son climat, sa culture, ses productions, son administration, &c. &c. Accompagnées des détails les plus propres à faire connaître l'état de cette Colonie à l'époque du Octobre 1789; et d'une nouvelle carte de la totalité de l'isle. Par M. L. E. Moreau de Saint-Méry, Philadelphia, 1797-98. Our quotation is from Vol. I, pages 44 to 51.

8. Cfr. also Pierre de Vaissière, Saint Domingue: La Société et la vie Créoles sous l'Ancien Régime (1629-1789), Paris, 1909, p. 177. In reference to the only rest days of the slaves, namely Sunday and Feast-days, he remarks how "some {footnote p. 60} spent them in a complete stupor, stretched out before their doors," while the greater number "passed their leisure in drinking and dancing, the only distraction from work with which they were familiar. The dance especially is with them a real passion!"]

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"One Negro dance has come with them from Africa to San Domingo, and for that very reason it is common also to those who are born in the colony, and these latter practice it almost from birth, they call it the Calenda.

"To dance the Calenda, the Negroes have two drums made, when possible from the hollow trunk of a tree in a single piece. One end is open and they stretch over the other a skin of sheep or nanny-goat. The shorter of these drums is named Bamboula, because it is sometimes formed out of a very thick bamboo. Astride of each drum is a Negro who strikes it with wrist and fingers, but slowly for one and rapidly for the other. To this monotone and hollow sound, is joined that of a number, more or less great, of little calabashes half-filled with small stones, or with grains of corn, and which they shake by striking them on one of the hands by means of a long haft which crosses them. When they wish to make the orchestra more complete, they add the Banza, a kind of Bass viol with four strings which they pluck. The Negresses arranged in a circle regulate the tempo by clapping their hands, and they reply in chorus to one or two chanters whose piercing voice repeats or improvises ditties. For the Negroes possess the talent of improvising, and it gives them an opportunity for displaying especially their tendency to banter.

"The dancers male and female, always equal in number, come to the middle of a circle (which is formed on even ground and in the open air) and they begin to dance. Each appropriates a partner to cut a figure before her. This dance which has its origin on Mt. Atlas, and which offers little variation, consists in a movement where each foot is raised and lowered successively, striking with force, sometimes the toe and sometimes the heel, on the ground, in a way quite similar to the English step. The dancer turns on himself or around his partner who turns also, and changes place, waving the two ends of a handkerchief which they hold. The dancer lowers and raises alternately his arms, while keeping the

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elbows near the body, and the hand almost closed. This dance in which the play of the eyes is nothing less than extraordinary, is lively and animated, and an exact timing lends it real grace. The dancers follow one another with emulation, and it is often necessary to put an end to the ball, which the Negroes never abandon without regret.[9]

"Another Negro dance at San Domingo, which is also of African origin, is the Chica, called simply Calenda in the Windward Isle, Congo at Cayenne, Fandango in Spanish, &c. This dance has an air which is especially consecrated to it and wherein the measure

[9. Père Labat, Nouveau Voyage aux Isles de l'Amérique, Vol. II, p. 51 f., writing of the year 1698, devotes a lengthy chapter to the West Indian slaves. While resident in Martinique at the time, his remarks are general. He says of the Negroes: "The dance is their favourite passion. I don't think that there is a people on the face of the earth who are more attached to it than they. When the Master will not allow them to dance on the Estate, they will travel three and four leagues, as soon as they knock off work at the sugar-works on Saturday, and betake themselves to some place where they know that there will be a dance.

"The one in which they take the greatest pleasure and which is the usual one is the Calenda. It came from the Guinea Coast and to all appearance from Ardra. The Spaniards have learned it from the Negroes and throughout America dance it in the same way as do the Negroes.

"As the postures and movements of this dance are most indecent the Masters who live in an orderly way, forbid it to theirs, and take care that they do not dance it; and this is no small matter; for it is so to their liking, that the very children who are as yet scarcely strong enough to stand up, strive to imitate their fathers and mothers whom they see dancing, and will spend entire days at this exercise." He then describes the two drums used as accompaniment in the Calenda, the larger to beat the time and direct the dance, while the smaller is beaten much more rapidly as all undertone with a higher pitch. Seemingly the one really directs the dance, the other arouses the passions. The dance itself is thus described by Père Labat. "The dancers are drawn up in two lines, one before the other, the men on the one side and the women on the other. Those who are waiting their turns and the spectators make a circle around the dancers and the drums. The more adept chants a song which he composes on the spur of the moment, on some subject which he deems appropriate, the refrain of which, chanted by all the spectators, is accompanied by a great clapping of hands. As regards the dancers, they hold their arms a little after the manner of those who dance while playing the castanets. They skip, make a turn right and left, approach within two or three feet of each other, draw back in cadence until the sound of the drum directs them to draw together, striking the thighs one against the other, that is to say the man against the woman. To all appearances it seems that the stomachs are hitting, while as a matter of fact it is the thighs that carries the blows. They retire at once in a pirouette, to begin again the same movement with altogether lascivious gestures, as often as the drum gives the signal, as it often does several times in succession. From time to time they interlock arms and make two or three turns always striking the thighs and kissing. One easily sees from this abbreviated description how the dance is opposed to decency." It will be noticed that this is not the real Calenda but rather a modified form of the Chica which as stated by Saint-Méry in the next paragraph of the text, was called Calenda in Martinique as one of the Windward Islands.]

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is strongly marked. The proficiency in the dance consists in the perfection with which she can move her hips and lower part of the back while preserving the rest of the body in a kind of immobility, that even the slightest movement of the arms which balance the two ends of a handkerchief or her petticoat does not make her lose. A dancer approaches her, all of a sudden he leaps into the air, and lands in measured time so as almost to touch her. He draws back, he jumps again, and excites her by the most seductive play. The dance becomes enlivened and soon it presents a tableau, of which the entire action at first voluptuous afterwards becomes lascivious. It would be impossible to depict the Chica in its true character, and I will limit myself to saying that the impression which it produces is so strong, that the African or Creole, it does not matter of what shade, who comes to dance it without emotion, is considered to have lost the last spark of vitality.

"The Calenda and the Chica are not the only dances in the Colony derived from Africa. There is also another which has been long known there especially in the western part, and it is called Voodoo.

"But it is not merely as a dance that Voodoo deserves consideration, or at least it is accompanied by circumstances which ranks it among those institutions where superstition and bizarre practices have a considerable part.

"According to the Negro Aradas,[10] who are the real devotees of Voodoo in the Colony, and who keep up its principles; and rules, Voodoo signifies an all powerful and supernatural being on whom depends whatever goes on in the world. But this being is the nonpoisonous serpent, or a kind of adder, and it is under its auspices that all those assemble who profess the same doctrine. 'Knowledge of the past, realization of the present, foreknowledge of the future, all pertain to this adder, which, however, agrees to communicate

[10. Saint-Méry, Vol. I, p. 29, explains that the word Arada is a corruption of the pronunciation of Ardra, the name of a kingdom on the Slave Coast, which was prior to its conquest by the Dahomans located between Dahomey and Whydah. The term Aradas, then, applies specifically to the people of Ardra, but generically to any tribes from the Gold or Slave Coasts. Here it seems to signifiy {sic} Dahomans, including those from Ardra proper and Whydah.]

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its power, and make known its wishes, only through the medium of a high priest whom its devotees select, and even more so through that of the Negress, whom the love of the other has raised to the rank of high priestess.

"These two ministers who claim themselves inspired by their god, or in whom the gift of inspiration is really manifested for the devotees bear the pompous names of King and Queen, or the despotic ones of master and mistress, or finally the touching titles of papa and mama. They are, for life, the chiefs of the grand family of Voodoo, and they have the right to the limitless respect of those who compose it. It is they who determine if the adder approves of the admission of a candidate into the society, it is they who prescribe the obligations, the duties which he must fulfil; it is they who receive the gifts and presents which the god expects as a just homage; to disobey them, to resist them, is to resist God himself, and expose oneself to the greatest misfortunes.

"This system of domination on the one side, and of blind obedience on the other, once well established, they meet at fixed intervals at gatherings where King and Queen Voodoo preside, according to those usages which they may have brought from Africa, and to which Creole customs have added many variants and traits which disclose European ideas; for example, the scarf or the rich belt which the Queen wears in this assembly, and which she sometimes varies.

"The reunion for the true Voodoo, that which has least lost its primitive purity, never takes place except secretly, when the night casts its shadows, and in a secure place, and under cover from every profane eye. There each initiated puts on a pair of sandals and fastens around the body a more or less considerable number of red handkerchiefs or at least of handkerchiefs in which this colour is strongly predominant. The Voodoo King has more beautiful handkerchiefs and in greater numbers and one which is entirely red and which he binds around his brow is his crown. A girdle, usually blue, puts the finishing touch to display his striking dignity.

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"The Queen clad with a simple luxury, shows also her predilection for the colour red, which is most frequently that of her sash or belt.

"The King and Queen take their place at one end of the room near a kind of altar on which is a box where the serpent is kept and where each member can see it through the bars.

"When they have made sure that no busy-body has gained admission to the enclosure, they begin the ceremony with the adoration of the adder, by protestations to be faithful to its cult and submissive to whatever it may prescribe. With hands placed in those of the King and Queen, they renew the promise of secrecy which is the foundation of the association, and it is accompanied by everything horrible that delirium has been able to devise to make it more impressive.

"When the devotees of Voodoo are thus disposed to receive the impressions which the King and Queen desire to make them feel, they finally take the affectionate tone of compassionate father and mother, boasting to them of the good-fortune which is attached to whoever is devoted to the Voodoo; they urge them to confidence in it, and to give proof of this by following their advice as to the way they are to conduct themselves in the most important circumstances.

"Then the crowd scatters, and each according to his needs, and following the order of seniority in the sect, come to implore the Voodoo. For the most part they, ask of it talent to direct the mind of their masters; but this is not enough. One asks for more money, another the gift to please an unresponsive one; this one wishes to recall a faithless mistress; that one desires a speedy cure, or a long life. After these, an old hag comes to conjure the god to end the disdain of him whose happy youth she wishes to captivate. A maid solicits eternal love, or she repeats the malediction with which hate inspires her against a preferred rival. There is no passion which does not utter a vow, and even a crime does not always disguise those who have for object its success.

"At each of these invocations, the Voodoo King is wrapped in thought; the spirit is working in him. All of a sudden he takes the

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box wherein the adder is, places it on the ground and makes the Voodoo Queen stand upon it. As soon as the sacred ark is under her feet, the new pythoness is possessed by the god. She shivers, her entire body is in a convulsive state, and the oracle speaks by her lips. At times she flatters and promises happiness, again she inveighs and breaks out in reproaches; and according to her heart's desire, or her own interests, or her caprice, she dictates as obligatory without appeal whatever it pleases her to prescribe, in the name of the adder, to the imbecile crowd which opposes not even the smallest doubt to the monstrous absurdity, and which only knows to obey all that is despotically prescribed.

"After all the questions have received some sort of an ambiguous answer from the oracle, they form. a circle, and the adder is replaced on the altar. This is the time when they bring to it a tribute, which each one has tried to make most worthy of it, and which they place in a covered hat, that a jealous curiosity may not cause anyone to blush. The King and Queen promise to make this acceptable to it. It is by the profits of these offerings that they pay the expenses of the assembly, that they obtain help for members absent or present, who are in need, or from whom the society expects something for its glory or its renown. Suggestions are made, measures are determined, actions are prescribed which the Voodoo Queen always declares to be the will of god, and which have not as invariably good order and public tranquillity as an object. A new oath, as execrable as the first, engages each one to silence as regards all that has passed, to give assistance to whatever has been determined, and sometimes a vessel wherein is the blood of a goat, still warm, goes to seal on the lips of the congregation the promise to suffer death rather than reveal anything, and even to inflict it on anyone who forgets that he is thus solemnly bound to secrecy.

"After that, there begins the dance of the Voodoo.

"If there is a candidate to be received, it is with his admission that the ceremony begins. The Voodoo King traces a large circle with some substance that blackens, and places therein the one who wishes to be initiated, and in his hands he puts a packet of herbs,

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horse-hair, pieces of horn, and also other disgusting objects. Tapping him lightly, then, on the head with a little wooden wand, he intones an African chant which those who surround the circle repeat in chorus; then the candidate begins to tremble and to dance; this is what is termed to 'make Voodoo.' If by mischance the excess of his transport makes him leave the circle, the chant ceases at once, the Voodoo King and Queen turn their backs on him to avert misfortune. The dancer recovers himself, reenters the circle, begins anew, drinks, and finally becomes convulsive. Whereupon the Voodoo King orders him to stop by tapping him lightly on the head with his wand, or stirring stick, or even with a blow of the voodooistic whip if he judges it fitting. He is conducted to the altar to take the oath, and from that moment he belongs to the sect.

"The ceremonial finished, the King places his hand or his foot on the box wherein is the adder, and soon he becomes agitated. This condition he communicates to the Queen, and by her the commotion is spread around, and each one goes into contortions in which the upper part of the body, the head and the shoulders seem to be dislocated themselves. The Queen above all is a prey to the most violent agitations; she goes from time to time to seek new frenzy from the Voodoo serpent; she shakes the box, and the little bells with which it is decorated produce the effect of a fool's bauble. The delirium increases. It is even further aroused by the use of spiritous liquors which in the intoxication of their imagination the devotees do not spare, and which in turn keeps them up. Fainting fits, swoonings follow for some, and a kind of madness for others; but with them all there is a nervous trembling which they seem unable to control. They ceaselessly whirl around. And finally it comes about that in this sort of Bacchanalia, they tear their clothes and bite their own flesh; others who become senseless and fall to the floor, are carried, without interrupting the dance, to a nearby room, where in the darkness a disgusting prostitution holds the most horrible sway. Finally, weariness puts an end to those demoralizing scenes, but for a renewal of which they have taken good care to fix a time in advance.

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"it is most natural to believe that Voodoo owes its origin to the serpent cult, to which are particularly addicted the inhabitants of Juida (Whydah), who it is said come originally from the Kingdom of Ardra, of the same Slave Coast, and when one has read to what an extreme these Africans carry the superstition for this animal, it is easy to recognize it in what I am about to relate.

"What is unquestionably true, and at the same time most remarkable in Voodoo, is that sort of magnetism which prompts those who are assembled to dance to insensibility. The prepossession in this regard is so strong that even the Whites found spying on the mysteries of this sect, and touched by one of the members who have discovered them, are sometimes set to dancing, and have agreed to pay the Queen Voodoo, to put an end to this punishment. Nevertheless, I cannot refrain from remarking that never has any man of the constabulary who has sworn to fight Voodoo, felt the power which forces one to dance, and which has doubtlessly preserved the dancers themselves from the necessity of taking flight.

"Without doubt, to assuage the fears which this mysterious cult of Voodoo causes in the Colony, they pretend to dance it in public, to the sound of drums and with the clapping of hands; they even have it follow a repast where they eat nothing but poultry. But I affirm that this is nothing more nor less than a scheme to escape the vigilance of the magistrates, and the better to assure the success of these dark conventicles which are not a place of amusement and pleasure, but rather a school where feeble souls go to deliver themselves to a domination which a thousand circumstances can render baneful.

"One cannot believe to what an excess extends the dependence in which the Chiefs of the Voodoo hold the other members of the sect. There is not one of these latter who would not choose anything in preference to the misfortune with which he is threatened if he does not go regularly to the assemblies, if he does not blindly obey whatever the Voodoo commands him. One has seen that the fear of it has been sufficiently aroused to deprive them of the use of reason, and those who, in a fit of frenzy, have uttered shrieks,

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shun the gaze of men and excite pity. In a word, nothing is more dangerous, by all accounts, than this cult of the Voodoo, founded on this extravagant idea; but of which one can make a truly terrible force where the 'ministers of being' whom they have honoured with the name, know and can do everything.

"Who will believe that Voodoo gives place to something further, which also goes by the name of dance? In 1768, a negro of Petit-Goave, of Spanish origin, abusing the credulity of the Negroes, by superstitious practices, gave them an idea of a dance, analagous to that of the Voodoo, but where the movements are more hurried. To make it even more effective the Negroes place in the rum, which they drink while dancing, well crushed gun-powder. One has seen this dance called Dance to Don Pédro, or simply Don Pédro, induce death on the Negroes; and the spectators themselves, electrified by the spectacle of this convulsive exercise, share the drunkenness of the actors, and hasten by their chant and a quickened measure, a crisis which is in some way common to them. It has been necessary to forbid dancing Don Pédro under grave penalty, but sometimes ineffectually."[11]

[11. Moreau de Saint-Méry, l. c., Vol. I, p. 44 ff. Note:--Moreau de Saint-Méry, Loix et Constitutions des Colonies Françoises de l'Amérique sous le Vent, Paris, 1780, Vol. I, p. 4,5, shows that the Code Noir, published in March, 1685, by Article II prescribes that slaves must within a reasonable time be instructed and baptized as Catholics. By Article III, Masters who permit their slaves to gather for religious purposes other than Catholic service are as liable as if they took part themselves in such gatherings. By Article XVI, Gatherings of slaves belonging to different masters are forbidden "either by day or night, under pretence of weddings or otherwise, either on the premises of one of the masters or elsewhere, and even more so if on the public highway or in hidden places." Corporal punishment is prescribed for the first offence, with the death penalty for repeated infractions. By the next Article, Masters who permit such gatherings are liable to fines, etc.--Cfr. also: Vol. V, p. 384: Official Orders for the Police of Port-au-Prince, issued May 23, 1772. Article II forbids all kinds of assemblies and gatherings of slaves under pain of corporal punishment. And Article VI forbids even free Negroes and persons of color from holding night-dances or the Calenda. Even the dances that are allowed to them must stop at 9 P. M. Vol. IV, p. 234: On August 5, 1758, Sieur Lebrun, manager of the Carbon Estate at Bois de L'Anse is fined 200 pounds "for having permitted an assembly of Negroes, and a Calenda on the 23rd of July preceding, on the said Estate." Vol. IV, p. 829: Order of the Governor General dated January 15, 1765, for the formation of a Corps of Light Troops, to be known as the "First Legion of San Domingo." It assigns as one of their duties: "To break up the assemblies and Calendas of the Negroes."

That the Calenda was danced despite all legal restrictions, we have ample evidence. Thus for example, the Baron Wimpffen, who spent two years in the island during the period of unrest that immediately preceded the actual uprising of the slaves, records in his diary in August, 1789, that the day of the {footnote p. 69} arrival of the French mail was celebrated as a festival for the Negroes who were dispensed from work, feasted and allowed to dance a Calenda. In the same entry of the diary we read that baptism meant practically nothing for the Negroes generally except a change of name, which was frequently thereafter ignored--the sole motive being to please the master and nothing else.--Cfr. Albert Savine, Saint-Domingue à la Veille de la Révolution, Paris, 191I, p. 93.]

{p. 69}

According to Moreau de Saint-Méry, then, four kinds of dances were indulged in by the Haitian slaves before the insurrection. The Calenda and the Chica have accompaniments of drums, etc. and the Voodoo and Don Pédro in which there is no mention of such instruments. In fact, drums and the clapping of hands are actually introduced at the pretended Voodoo which was invented as "a scheme to escape the vigilance of the Magistrates and the better to assure the success of these dark conventicles which are not a place of amusement and pleasure," as we are expressly told. Here we have the first main distinction-the presence or absence of drums.

Don Pédro, being an outgrowth from Voodoo with even the year of its origin, 1768, clearly defined, may be passed over for the present with the single remark that in place of the goat of Voodoo, the pig becomes the particular animal of sacrifice.

Voodoo itself as described by Moreau de Saint-Méry bears a close resemblance to its prototype of Whydah, making due allowance for local conditions, and it clearly satisfies all our requisites to be classed as worship in the strict sense of the word, as distinct from a mere Cult.[12] Furthermore, despite the rankling controversy

[12. Dr. Price-Mars, in setting out to prove that Voodoo is a religion, accepts as his definition of the word religion, that adopted by the "sociological school of Durkheim."--Ainsi Parla L'Oncle, Compeigne, 1928, p. 30. Then follows a quotation from J. Bricourt, Où en est l'Histoire des Religions, Paris, 1912, p. 15, which is ultimately taken from Durkheim's chapter on "Definition of Religions Phenomena and of Religion"--Emile Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, London, 1926, p. 37. The words quoted really form no part of Durkheim's definition which is only formulated towards the end of the chapter, where it runs as follows: "A religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden--beliefs, and practices which unite into one single moral community called a Church, all those who adhere to them."--p. 47. However the two are perfectly compatible and Voodoo satisfies them both as well as most of the other definitions of religion, enunciated by standard authors. Thus for example, "Religion may be defined subjectively and objectively. Subjectively, it is the knowledge and consciousness of dependence upon one or more transcendental personal Powers, to which man stands in a reciprocal relation. Objectively, it is the sum of the outward actions in which it is expressed and made manifest, as prayer, sacrifice, sacraments, {footnote p. 70} liturgy, ascetic practices, ethical prescriptions, and so on."--W. Schmidt, The Origin and Growth of Religion, New York, 1931, p. 2.

Dr. Price-Mars, Ainsi Parla l'Oncle, p. 32, advances his claim as follows: "Voodoo is a religion because all the adepts believe in the existence of spiritual beings who live in part in the universe in close touch with human beings Whose activity they control. These invisible beings constitute a numerous Olympus of gods, of whom the highest among them bear the title of Papa or Great Master and have the right to special homage.

"Voodoo is a religion because the cult developed to its god, demands a hierarchical sacerdotal body, a congregation of faithful, temples, altars, ceremonies, and in fine, altogether an oral tradition which certainly has not come down to us unchanged, but thanks for it, has transmitted the essential part of the cult.

"Voodoo is a religion because through the medley of legends and the corruption of fables one can disentangle a theology, a system of representations, thanks to which, primitively, our African ancestors had an explanation for the natural phenomena and which in a hidden way lays the foundation of the anarchistic beliefs on which rests the hybrid Catholicism of the masses of the people."

Then after considering the other side of Voodoo which consists of magic or witchcraft, concludes, p. 37: "And now, if we summarize the results of this he brief discussion, we may draw a first conclusion, to wit, that Voodoo is a very primitive religion, founded partially on the beliefs in all powerful spiritual beings--gods, demons, disincarnated souls--partially on the beliefs in witchcraft and magic. If we evaluate this double character we will disclose in proportion to our researches the state more or less pure in its country of origin, and on our soil, modified by its more than a century of juxtaposition to the Catholic religion adapted to the conditions of life of our rural masses, fighting against legal statute of the nation which wished to free itself of all contact with this form of beliefs, from which it has nothing else to expect. And there you have in brief the position which Voodoo occupies in our social status."]

{p. 70}

concerning modern Voodoo in Haiti, all disputants seemingly accept Moreau de Saint-Méry's account, at least substantially. We are safe, then, in making this our starting point in our study of Haitian Voodoo.

It is also generally agreed, that the slave insurrection was fostered and made possible by nocturnal assemblies that have been commonly ascribed to Voodoo.

This uprising of the slaves which resulted in the first massacre of the Whites in Haiti, in 1791, is thus described by Dr. Dorsainvil: "It was then that Boukman entered on the scene and determined to arouse the imagination and the senses. Born in Jamaica, Boukman was a N'Gan or priest of Voodoo, the principal religion of the Dahomans. His tall statue, his herculean strength, had attracted the attention of the Master of the Plantation, Turpin, who had him appointed successively an overseer and a coachman. Over all the slaves who came in contact with him he exercised an ascendancy which became extraordinary.

{p. 71}

"To put an end to all hesitation and to arouse complete devotion, he gathered together on the night of August 14, 179I, a large number of slaves in a clearing in the Caiman woods, near Morne-Rouge. All were assembled when a tempest broke. The jagged flashes of lightning illuminating a sky of low and sombre clouds. In a few minutes a torrential rain flooded the ground; at length under the repeated assaults of a violent wind, the trees of the forest writhed, moaned, and even their heavy branches, torn away, fell with a crash.

"In the midst of this impressive setting, the bystanders, motionless, seized with holy terror, saw an old Negress arise, her body shaking with prolonged shivers; she chants, spins around, and whirls a large cutlass above her head. Rigid stance, gasping breath, silence, blazing eyes fixed on the Negress, the audience is fascinated. Then is brought in a black pig, whose grunting is lost in the uproar of the storm. With a quick movement, the inspired priestess plunges her cutlass into the throat of the animal. The blood gurgles forth, it is collected foaming, and distributed round about to the slaves, all drink of it, all swear to carry out the orders of Boukman."[13]

Since Boukman was a Jamaican it would be reasonable to suppose that he introduced Jamaican features into the cult as he practiced

[13. J. C. Dorsainvil, Manuel d'Histoire d'Haïti, Port-au-Prince, 1925, p. 81 f. Note:--Cfr. also Thomas Madiou, Histoire d'Haïti, Port-au-Prince, 1922, vol. I, p. 102, who states briefly: "On the night of August 14, 179I, 200 delegates from the ateliers of the northern province assembled in the Lenormand plantation. There a coloured man harangued them about a pretended decree whereby the King granted them three days of freedom each week. It was decided then the 22nd of the same month the insurrection should be general."

Concerning the originator of the Don Pédro, Dorsainvil asserts, Vodou et Névrose, Port-au-Prince, 1931, p. 46: "Popular tradition, well after Independence, speaks among others of a certain Don Pédro, a being of flesh and bone, who, at a certain time, had come from the Dominican Republic to take up his abode in the mountains of the Commune of Petit-Goave. This Don Pédro was the introducer of that violent dance which by corruption the people call: the Pétro. At his death, Don Pédro did not delay in taking all honourable place in the Voodooistic pantheon, drawing in his train an entire progeny, such as Jean Philippe Pétro, Criminel Pétro, etc."--Cfr. also, D. Trouillot, Esquisse Ethnographique: Le Vaudoux, Port-au-Prince, 1885, p. 28: "It was from the Dominican Republic, at the time a Spanish Colony, that there came to Haiti in the last century, the famous Don Pédro, an African who founded at Petit-Goave the infernal sect, known under the same name as its author. The Don Pédro is a dance of Vaudoux where the most unbelievable orgies are perpetrated; this sect, diminishing daily, is only found in the hills of the place of origin."]

{p. 72}

it. In all probability he had been banished from Jamaica for complicity in previous unrest there. His administering of the solemn fetish oath bears resemblance to the Myalistic ceremonial that will be discussed in a later chapter. In any case the sacrificial victim was a pig, the rite strictly speaking belonged to the Don Pédro and not to Voodoo proper. This fact alone suggests that Don Pédro, which had started only twenty-three years previously, in its very origin, may have been devised precisely in preparation for such an uprising.

Very little notice was paid to Haitian Voodoo by the outside world until 1884, when there appeared a book which has caused no end of controversy from that day to this. It was entitled Hayti or the Black Republic, and the author was Sir Spencer St. John. His claim to credibility was based on the following facts. Before becoming her Majesty's Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Mexico, he had been England's Resident and Consul-General in Haiti for more than two decades. Secondly, as he says himself, he had personally known "the Haitian Republic above twenty-five years."[14] Again writing from. Mexico, November 13, 1888, in the introduction to his Second Edition, he says of his original work: "The most difficult chapter to write was that on 'Vaudoux-worship and Cannibalism.' I have endeavoured to paint them in the least sombre colours, and no one who knows the country will think that I have exaggerated: in fact, had I listened to the testimony of many experienced residents, I should have described rites at which dozens of human victims were sacrificed at a time. Everything I have related has been founded on evidence collected in Haiti, from Haitian official documents, the press of Port-au-Prince, from trustworthy officers of the Haitian Government, my foreign colleagues, and from residents long established in the country,--principally, however, from Haitian sources."[15] And: "As my chapter on Vadoux-worship and Cannibalism excited considerable attention both in Europe and the

[14. Spencer St. John, Hayti or the Black Republic, London, 1889, Introduction, p. vii.

15. Ditto, p. xi.]

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United States, and unmitigated abuse in Haiti, I decided again to look into the question with the greatest care. The result has been to convince me that I underrated the fearful manifestations; I have therefore rewritten these chapters, and introduced many new facts which have come to my knowledge."[16] In view of this last statement all our quotations will be taken from this Second Edition of the work.

Let us, then, carefully weigh the testimony of Sir Spencer St. John. At the very outset, he states: "I must notice that there are two sects which follow the Vaudoux-worship--those who only delight in the flesh and blood of white cocks and spotless white goats at their ceremonies, and those who are not only devoted to these, but on great occasions call for the flesh and blood of 'the goat without horns,' or of human victims. It is a curious trait of human nature that these cannibals must use a euphemistic term when speaking of their victims, as the Pacific Islanders have the expression of 'long pig.'"[17]

We must here remark the careful distinction between the cults in Haiti, and while the author does not also distinguish them by name, the legitimate cult, if we may so term it, is Voodoo proper, while the cannibalistic element belongs to Don Pédro. Further, it should be noted that while the human sacrifice is called the "goat without horns" it is really substituted, not for the goat of Voodoo, but for the pig of Don Pédro: just as in those Pacific Islands that are referred to, where the term "long pig" is used.

But to resume St. John's narrative: "When Haiti was still a French Colony, Vaudoux-worship flourished, but there is no distinct mention of human sacrifice in the accounts transmitted to us. In Moreau de Saint-Méry's excellent description of the island, from whose truthful pages it is a pleasure to seek for information, he gives us a very graphic account of fetishism. as it existed in his day, that is, towards the close of the last century." He means of course the eighteenth century. Then follows a lengthy citation from the very passage that we have already quoted.

[16. Ditto, p. xiii.

17. Ditto, p. 192.]

{p. 74}

At the close of the quotation, St. John observes: "In studying this account, freely taken from Moreau de Saint-Méry, I have been struck how little change, except for the worse, has taken place during the last century. Though the sect continues to meet in secret, they do not appear to object to the presence of their countrymen who are not yet initiated. In fact, the necessity of so much mystery is not recognized, since there are no longer any French magistrates to send these assassins to the scaffold."[18]

A few pages further on, we read: "After studying the history of Haiti, one is not astonished that the fetish worship continues to flourish. The Negroes imported from the west coast of Africa naturally brought their religion with them, and the worship of the serpent was one of its most distinguishing features. Saint-Méry writes of the slaves arriving with a strange mixture of Mohammedanism and idolatry, to which they soon added a little Catholicism. Of Mohammedanism I have not myself observed the faintest trace. When the Negroes found the large, almost harmless serpent in Haiti, they welcomed it as their god, and their fetish priests soon collected their followers around them. The French authorities tried to put down all meetings of the Vaudoux, partly because they looked upon them as political, but they did not succeed. Many of the tribes in Africa are to this day cannibals, and their ancestors no doubt imported this taste into the French colony."[19]

Sir Spencer St. John had already remarked, "I have been informed on trustworthy testimony that in 1887 cannibalism was more rampant than ever,"[20] and now in the body of his work he writes: "There are in Haiti, as I have before noticed, two sects of Vaudoux-worshippers; one, perhaps the least numerous, that indulges in human sacrifices;-the other, that holds such practices in horror, and is content with the blood of the white goat, and the white cock. . . . In the country districts the Catholic priests say these fetish-worshippers call themselves 'Les Mystères,' and

[18. Ditto, p. 199.

19. Ditto, p. 229.

20. Ditto, Introduction, p. xii.]

{p. 75}

that they mix Catholic and Vaudoux ceremonies in a singular manner; the name probably refers to the rites they practice."[21] And, "I have been informed that, besides the goat and cock, the Vaudoux priests occasionally sacrifice a lamb. . . . It is carefully washed, combed, and ornamented with bunches of blue ribands before being sacrificed."[22]

Let us come now to a spectacle that is even more revolting than any of those already described-one, in fact, where we are told that the rites actually included human sacrifice. The following letter appeared in the NEW YORK WORLD of December 5, 1886. The writer of it is personally vouched for by Sir Spencer St. John who quotes the letter in full.

"I spent some weeks in Cap Haitien, one of the largest and most important cities in Haiti, and while there I met a number of Dominican gentlemen, who for various reasons had been compelled to spend a long time in the sister republic. These gentlemen talked a great deal about the existence of cannibalism, and insisted that its existence was not, as all Haitians claim, merely in the minds of the writers who desire to publish sensational stories. I had shut my eyes and ears to the customs of the country people, and moreover I never allowed myself to think it possible that such horrible practices, as these gentlemen assured me were common, existed. Therefore I tried in every way to disabuse them of the illusions which I thought they entertained. Among these Dominicans was one who, irritated by my constant denials, determined to prove to me that his assertions were true. In April (1886) the workers on one of the coffee-plantations near Le Cap intended to have some kind of demonstration in honour of one of their superstitious observances, and my friend learned that, incidental to the Vaudoux-worship (which by the way, unaccompanied by human sacrifices no Haitian will deny exists), there would be a human sacrifice. In some manner my friend had ingratiated himself with certain of the Negro labourers who were to attend the sacrifices, and induced them to allow him and me to be present, also. On the

[21. Ditto, p. 130.

22. Ditto, p. 231.]

{p. 76}

evening of April 19 he came to my house, where both of us dressed ourselves in the ordinary country working-man's costume, and then had our hands and faces well blacked by the Negro who was to conduct us to the Vaudoux temple. To reach the temple we rode out over the smooth wagon-road which runs to and through the place called Haut-du-Cap, and when we had gotten about three miles beyond the little tavern on that place, where everybody stops for refreshments, our conductor suddenly left the highway, and by a little winding bridle-path led us up the big mountain to a spot about half-way up the side.

"Here the Negroes had constructed a rude wooden shanty among the trees and where it could be hardly noticed by any passer-by, if such there might be in that lonely quarter. Into this miserable hut we were ushered by our guide, who to obtain admittance, uttered some signal words to the two brawny Negroes who stood guard at the entrance, and who closely interrogated every person who entered. We were apparently a little late. In the single room there was a motley crowd of Negroes, men and women, congregated round a sort of wooden throne erected in the centre of the room. On this throne arranged in many coloured long gowns and adorned with tawdry finery, there sat on chairs draped with flaming red cloth, a mail and a woman. They were the Papaloi and Mamanloi, or priest and priestess, of the order of the Vaudoux. At their feet was the box which contained the 'holy serpent,' which was being worshipped by this ungodly assemblage. Behind the throne was stretched across from wall to wall a red cloth partition, which divided the room, or rather which made another and smaller apartment behind it. As we entered the people were singing a chant low and monotonous, and at a sign from our mentor, we, my friend and I, joined it. When this chant had been finished, there succeeded an interval of deathly quiet during which the worshippers appeared to be engaged in prayer. Suddenly the silence was broken by the priest, who with violent gestures, and almost shrieking his words, harangued his audience for ten or fifteen minutes. He told them there was but one thing to do by which they might obtain spiritual as well as temporal

{p. 77}

reward, to adore the serpent and obey implicitly and without question its slightest order. The attitude of the people showed that they comprehended the injunction and would obey. When he had wrought the crowd to a sufficiently high pitch of enthusiasm, the priest suddenly dropped his talk, and bursting into a chant again, was immediately joined by the others. A weird dance followed, the people singing as they danced, and gradually becoming almost delirious in their fervour. The place was soon in ail awful tumult, some of the women, who especially seemed to have lost all control over themselves, even climbing up to the rafters, wriggling their bodies, hissing, and trying in every way to imitate the movements of the snake.

"This ghastly dance was continued for two hours more, when silence was again produced by the appearance from behind the red curtain of two men leading by the hand a little trembling Negro boy in white robes. The child was led to the throne, and mounting it, he prostrated himself twice before the man and woman seated there. The Papaloi, holding his hands over the boy's head, blessed him in the name of the sacred serpent, and then asked him in pompous language what he most desired in the world. The little fellow, glancing up into the faces of his two conductors, replied (and the reply had evidently been taught him), 'That object above all other objects in the world which I most desire is the possession of a little virgin.' Hardly had he spoken when from the encurtained apartment came two women leading a Negro girl of four or five years, also dressed in the purest white. The second child was led to the throne and stood confronting the boy. Again the boy was asked what he most desired, and when he had repeated his former answer, both he and the girl were at once thrown down on their backs and bound band and foot.

"A burly Negro, knife in hand, separated himself from the crowd, who had been watching the proceedings with breathless interest, and mounted the throne. Reaching the boy, he said something to the men, who with their hands over his mouth was trying to stop the little fellow's cries, and they held their victim

{p. 78}

by the feet up in the air. With a single slash across the little throat, the brutal executioner killed the child, and the others held him whilst the life-blood gushed into the receptacle placed below to receive it.

"At this moment an involuntary exclamation of horror escaped me, and immediately all eyes were turned towards me, looking with distrust and suspicion. The horrible proceedings on the throne were suspended, and a hasty consultation was held among the people on it. Fearing for my life, and obeying a slight signal from our guide, I somehow got out of the door, mounted my horse and rode as hard as I could to the town. The worshippers did not suspect that I was a white man. They assumed probably that I was a novice and not yet hardened to the sight. At any rate I was not pursued, and my friend was not interfered with. He remained until the end, joined me that night, or rather morning, and told me that the little girl had been killed in the same manner as the boy, and that then the bodies had been cut up, cooked, and eaten by the wretches. The whole awful orgy was ended only when every person present had become helplessly intoxicated."[23]

[23. Ditto, p. 203 ff. Note:--St. John further quotes p. 243 from THE EVENING POST Of New York, for February 25, 1888: "Port-au-Prince, February, 1888. Recently the body of a child was found near this city; an arm and a leg had been eaten by the Vaudoux. During Christmas week a man was caught in the streets here with a child cut up in quarters for sale. Cannibalism still prevails, despite all the forced statements to the contrary. President Salomon, to please the masses, the Negro element, allows them to dance a Vaudoux dance formerly prohibited."

He also cites many "fully-authenticated" cases, some of them falling under his own observation, of the administering of drugs to induce apparent death. Subsequently the victims were brought back to consciousness, not infrequently after burial and disinterment, that they might be murdered and certain portions of them at least used in the ungodly sacrifices of Don Pédro. He concludes: "It was by these means that the Papalois probably were enabled to obtain their victims during the French colonial period."-1. c., p. 241.

The following quotation from St. John, p. 232, should also be noted: "Moreau de Saint-Méry, in naming the different tribes imported into Haiti during the last century, says:--'Never had any a disposition more hideous than the last (the Mondongoes) whose depravity has reached the most execrable of excesses, that of eating their fellow creatures. They bring also to Santo Domingo those butchers of human flesh, for in their country there are slaughter-houses where they Sell slaves as they would calves, and they are here, as in Africa, the horror of the other Negroes.'" Here we have additional evidence that whatever cannibalism may have existed in Haiti in connection with the Don Pédro rites, must not be {footnote p. 79} ascribed to Voodoo, but rather to other agencies, even as it was noticed in the decadent cult of the serpent at Grand Popo.]

{p. 79}

James Anthony Froude, writing in 1888, refers to Sir Spencer St. John's account, "Which," he says, "they cry out against with a degree of anger which is the surest evidence of its truth."[24]

Of his own visit to Port-au-Prince, he writes:--"Immorality is so universal that it almost ceases to be a fault, for a fault implies an exception, and in Haiti it is the rule. . . . So far they are no worse than in our own English islands, where the custom is equally general; but behind the immorality, behind the religiosity, there lies active and alive the horrible revival of the West African superstitions; the serpent worship, and the child sacrifice, and the cannibalism. There is no room to doubt it. A missionary assured me that an instance of it occurred only a year ago within his own personal knowledge. The facts are notorious; a full account was published in one of the local newspapers, and the only result was that the president imprisoned the editor for exposing his country. A few years ago persons guilty of these infamies were tried and punished, now they are left alone, because to prosecute and convict them would be to acknowledge the truth of the indictment."[25]

Two years later the accusation was renewed by Hesketh Prichard in the following words: "Vaudoux, according to its more elect disciples, is an all-powerful deity, but the idea of the masses does not rise above the serpent, which represents to them their god and which presides, in its box, over all their services . . . Vaudoux is cannibalism in the second stage, In the first instance a savage eats human flesh as an extreme form of triumph over an enemy; so the appetite grows until this food is preferred to any other. The next stage follows naturally. The man, wishing to propitiate his god, offers him that which he himself most prizes. Add to this sacrifice the mysteries and traditions of the ages, and you have the Vaudoux of today. . . . Cannibalism has been brought as a very general accusation against the Haitians, but

[24. James Anthony Froude, The English in the West Indies; or, the Bow of Ulysses, London, 1888, p. 343.

25. Ditto, p. 344.]

{p. 80}

although there is no doubt that the child sacrificed in the worst Vaudoux rites is afterwards dismembered, cooked, and eaten, I do not think of recent years the practice of cannibalism, unconnected with sacrifice, is in any degree prevalent, although it is equally certain that scattered instances do still come to light. Haiti is the sole country with any pretence to civilization where a superstition contaminated by such active horrors exists."[26]

Such scathing accusations, whether true or false, could not fail to attract the notice of friends of Haiti, and many official and unofficial answers or rather refutations have been attempted. Notable among these defenders of the reputation of the Black Republic may be cited J. N. Léger, who, while Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of Haiti to the United States, in 1907 published simultaneously in French and English a work entitled Hayti. Her History and Her Detractors.[27] However, his partisan and exaggerated view is betrayed by his statement: "The island which is now called Haiti is the only one in the West Indies where cannibalism has never prevailed."[28] No doubt his ire has been provoked by the assertion of Prichard, "Haiti is the sole country with any pretence to civilization where a superstition contaminated by such active horrors exists," which we have recently quoted. But in any case, the very aspersion which he so indignantly repudiates in the case of his native island, he gratuitously cast against all the rest of the West Indies. This in itself might well make us cautious about accepting his reliability as a witness. And further on the very page where we find this bald accusation, he admits on the authority of Moreau de Saint-Méry[29] that of the Blacks imported to the Island of Haiti as slaves, one tribe at least was anthropophagous. This he terms "the small tribe of the Mondongues," but seeks to show that the gentle influence of the Congo Negroes entirely tamed this unnatural instinct and

[26. Hesketh-Prichard, Where Black Rules White: A Journey across and about Hayti, Westminster, 1900, p. 76 ff.

27. French Edition; Haïti. Son Histoire et ses Détracteurs, New York, 1907.

28. English Edition, p. 346; French Edition, p. 345.

29. Moreau de Saint-Méry, Description de la Partie Française de Saint-Domingue, Vol. I, p. 33.]

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blotted out the practice. But where has it been recorded of savages, that those of gentler traits prevailed over the warlike and the blood-thirsty?

To Sir Harry H. Johnston more attention must be paid when he comes forward as a defender of Haiti's fair name and reputation. He writes: "At least two out of the three millions of Haitian Negroes are only Christians in the loose statistics of geographers. They are still African pagans, with a vague recognition of the Cross as an unexplained but potent symbol. They believe in a far off scarcely heeding Deity and a multitude of spirits, ancestral and demiurgic. Magic or empirical medicine ('Wanga') is, of course, believed in; and ranges in scope from genuine therapeutics to sorcery, mesmerism, and poisonings. As to Vuduism, much exaggeration and untruth have been committed to paper on this subject, so far as it affects Haiti. Snake worship is of doubtful occurrence, owing to the rarity of snakes in Haiti.[30] Such harmless snakes as do exist are tolerated in some villages or fetish temples for their rat-killing propensities. The idea has therefore got abroad that they are 'kept' as sacred animals by the Vudu priests or priestesses. Sacrifices of eggs, rum, fowls, possibly goats (white fowls or white goats preferred) are offered to ancestors or minor deities presiding over the fertility of crops, rainfall (nature forces in fact), and various small animals (perhaps even human remains) are deemed useful in sorcery. . . . Isolated instances--about four or five--of cannibalism (the killing and eating of children)

[30. Note:--Wilfrid D. Hambly here takes exception as follows, Serpent Worship in Africa, p. 59: "Johnston (1910) says that snake worship in Haiti is of doubtful occurrence owing to the rarity of the snakes there. Such harmless snakes as do exist are tolerated in some villages and fetish temples for their rat-killing propensities. The idea has therefore got abroad that they are kept as sacred animals by the voodoo priests and priestesses. Those seeking scientific truth on voodooism should doubt much of what has been written on this subject. Johnston rather negatives his own cautionary remarks by stating that the python worship of Africa was no doubt introduced by slaves into Haiti, Cuba, Louisiana, Carolina, Jamaica, the Guianas, and Brazil. If this is admissible, it is difficult to understand why the evidences of St. John respecting the survival of snake cults in Haiti (1889) should be discountenanced. Furthermore, Johnston's idea that snakes are rare in Haiti is a misconception, as snakes are both abundant and conspicuous oil the island, though there are only a few species, and Haiti, like the rest of the Greater Antilles, has no poisonous snakes. There are boas, blind snakes, and also some Colubrine snakes."]

{p. 82}

have occurred in the criminal records of Haiti during the last twenty years, but the convicted were, in nearly all cases, punished with death; the one or two not executed had been proved to be mad, and were confined in prison or asylum. These acts of cannibalism were mostly examples of mad religious exaltation. Haiti 'Vuduism' has absorbed elements of Freemasonry and Christianity. It predicts the future, investigates crime, arranges love affairs. . . . The 2,500,000 Haitian peasants are passionately fond of dancing, will even sometimes dance almost or quite naked. And following on this choreographic exercise is much immorality. It is for these dances and not for mystic 'Vudu' purposes that the drums may be heard tapping, tapping, booming, rattling at night. No secret is made, nor is any shame felt about these village dances, in which many young people take part."[31] Of the neighboring island of Cuba, Johnston writes: "The white Cubans charge the Negroes with still maintaining in their midst the dark Vudu or Hudu mysteries of West Africa. There seems to be no doubt that the black people of Cuba (not the mulattoes) do belong, to a number of secret or Masonic societies, the most widely-heard-of being the NYANNEGO; and it is possible that these confraternities or clubs are associated with immoral purposes. They originated in a league of defence against the tyranny of the masters in the old slavery days. Several of them (as described to me) sounded as harmless as our United Order of Buffaloes. But those seeking after scientific truth should discount much that may be read on Vuduism. This supposed Dahomean or Niger cult of the python or big serpent (Monitor, lizard, crocodile or leopard), with which are associated frenzied dancing, mesmerism, gross immorality, cannibalism or corpse eating, really exists (or existed) all over West Africa, from Sierra Leone to Tanganyika, and no doubt was introduced by Inner

[31. Harry H. Johnston, The Negro in the New World, London, 1910, p. 193 f. Note:--He is giving the "official" explanation for the sound of the drums. As we have noted there should be no drumming at real Voodoo or Don Pédro rites, although in practice a dance usually precedes the Voodoo function to "disguise" the purpose of the gathering, as an alibi for the local authorities who may have given tacit permission for the meeting which officially they should contravene.--Cfr. Seabrook, Magic Island, p. 54: "There was no reason to suppose that we might be disturbed, but as an extra precaution a gay danse Congo was immediately organized to cover the real purpose of our congregation."]

{p. 83}

Congo, Niger Delta or Dahomey slaves into Haiti, Cuba, Louisiana, South Carolina, Jamaica, the Guianas and Brazil. Where Christianity of a modern type has obtained little or no influence over the Negro slaves and ex-slaves, these wild dances and witchcraft persist.[32] They are fast becoming a past phase in the life-condition of the American Negro, and much of the evidence to the contrary is out of date, or is manufactured by sensation-mongers for the compilation of magazine articles."[33]

Of the kindred cult in Cuba, Johnston further states: "The last vestige of noxious witchcraft lingering among the Cuban Negroes is (said to be) the belief that the heart's blood of the heart of a white child will cure certain terrible diseases if consumed by the sufferer. The black practitioners who endeavour to procure this wonderful remedy are known as 'Brujos' or 'Brujas' (i. e. male or female sorcerers). At the time I was in Cuba (December, 1908), there were four or five Negroes awaiting trial on this charge at Havana. Other cases--said to have been proved beyond a doubt--have occurred in Eastern Cuba within the last two or three years. But all these stories and charges are vague hearsay, and during the short time at my disposal I was not able to get proof of one. There is little doubt that occasionally in the low quarters of the old Spanish towns little white girls do disappear. It is too readily assumed that the Negro is at fault."[34]

Scarcely had these words of Johnston in defence of Haiti been written before a new attack was launched. Stephen Bonsal asserts without hesitation: "The truth is, that while you need have no fear whatever of eating human flesh in Haiti disguised as roast or as a round of beef, there is no place in the world where you could so easily satisfy a cannibalistic craving as in this land. . . .

"Voodoo is not a written creed over which a house of bishops presides publicly, a fact which should account for the many and

[32. Note:--Is not this condition verified, then, in Haiti, where Johnston's own estimate was, as noted above, The Negro in the New World, p. 193: "At least two out of the three millions of Haitian Negroes are only Christians in the loose statistics of geographers. They are still African pagans, etc." It really looks as if Johnston had done more harm than good to Haiti's cause.

33. Johnston, l. c., p. 64 f.

34. Ditto, p. 66 f.]

{p. 84}

extremely varied versions of its practices which are in circulation through the world. It is certainly not a mere veneer or an old garment from the Congo days of the black race which has not yet been cast away. But it is a substantial edifice of West African superstition, serpent worship, and child sacrifice which exists in Haiti today, and which undoubtedly would become rampant throughout the island were it not for the check and control upon native practices which the foreign residents exercise.

"Several Roman Catholic priests, who have long resided in the heart of Haiti, told me that one of the hardships and difficulties of the combat against African darkness upon which they are engaged, is the extreme reticence not only of the active Voodooists themselves, but of all blacks in regard to the fetish-worshipping rites.

"A Haitian is often absolutely lacking in that form of self-respect which is the last to depart from the most ignoble white. 'All will confess the most despicable crimes,' said my priestly informant, 'and admit having sunk to the lowest form of human degradation, but even should you see him at the dance under the sablier tree at night, all smeared with the blood which may have flowed in the veins of a cock, or goat, or even a human child, he will deny having anything in common with the Voodoo sectaries."[35]

Again: "Of course, the real charge against Haitian civilization is not that children are frequently stolen from their parents and are often put to death with torture, and subsequently eaten with pomp at a Voodoo ceremony, but that Haitians officials, often the highest in the land, not only protect the kidnappers, but frequently take part in the cannibalistic rites which they make possible. This is the charge which I bring and which I am prepared to substantiate in every particular upon evidence which appears to me, and to many others to whom I have submitted it, to be absolutely unimpeachable."[36]

Finally: "Every moonlight night in Haiti you hear in the woods the tom-toming of the Voodoo drums and you know that the devil's priests are astir. On the horizon burns a great campfire, and around

[35. Stephen Bonsal, The American Mediterranean, New York, 1912, p. 88 f.

36. Ditto, p. 90.]

{p. 85}

it dance weird and shadowy forms. Now and again a piercing shriek rends the air, whether of joy or pain or uttered at the sight of death, you know not, and your friend and mentor, acclimated by twenty years of residence and sophisticated by much study of this strange people, takes you by the hand and says, at least so did mine; 'It is time, high time, to go now.'

"So I never saw the dark frenzy of the African rites descend to the level of the cannibalistic feast which, at least in the last generation, became so frequently a matter of court record, and I believe that today there is only one white man in Haiti, a French priest, who has seen the Voodoo rites carried out to their ghastly conclusion. The little green serpent, the ruling spirit of the abject Guinea coast sect, is often worshipped and the feast terminates in scenes of the most vile debauchery, the 'goat without horns,' however, is not always being sacrificed.

"The cannibalistic feed is only indulged in on rare occasions and at long intervals, and is always shrouded in mystery, and hedged about with every precaution against interlopers; for, be their African ignorance ever so dense, their carnal fury ever so unbridled, the papalois and mamalois, the head men and head women of the serpent worshippers never seem to forget that in these vile excesses there should perhaps be found excuse enough for the interference of the civilized world to save the people of the Black Republic from the further degradation which awaits them.

"Within the last fifteen years human victims have been sacrificed to the great god Voodoo in the national palace of Haiti. Last February there was assembled in the national palace what might justly be called a congress of serpent worshippers. During the life of Mme. Nord, which came to an end in October, 1908, not a week passed but what a meeting of the Voodoo practitioners was held in the executive mansion, and her deathbed was surrounded by at least a score of these witch doctors.

"General Antoine Simon, who recently achieved the presidency, may be the intelligent man he is represented to be by not a few White residents who have come in close contact with him during the years of his government of the southern arrondissements of the

{p. 86}

island. But one thing is quite sure: if he wishes to remain in the Black House and rule, he must share his sovereignty with the Voodoo priests. If he should exclude them from power and banish them from his presence, his term of office will be of short duration." This prophecy was only too well verified. President Simon ruled about two years and a half, from December 17, 1908 to August 2, 1908, when he made his escape to Jamaica.

Bonsal continues: "There is generally, in fact invariably, much diversity of opinion in Haiti about things Haitian and a host of contradictory counsellors, but upon this point there is practical unanimity. No government can stand in Haiti unless it is upheld by the Voodoo priests or by foreign bayonets. At least two governments in the last fifty years, that of Geffrard and that of Boisrond-Canal, have tried to dispense with the priestly poisoners of men's minds and bodies without at the same time inviting the active support of the civilized world, and in each instance these governments ended in disaster and in bloodshed which lasted for years.

"But while few, if any, of the white men who are at present residents of the island have witnessed the sacrifice of the 'goat without horns,' it is the easiest thing in the world to assist at the preliminaries at least of a Voodoo feast. While my two visits to Haiti, taken altogether, do not cover quite a month, I have without great difficulty attended Voodoo feasts in town and country, in the open air under the moonlit heavens, and in the slums of the capital under the, pallid glare of the electric light."[37]

This would almost indicate that even as visitors to Chinatown are said at times, to be allowed to visit some stage-set opium dive, where the actors for the occasion play up to the part with grewsome reality, so too, perchance the Haitian brethren of the cult may not be averse to turn an honest penny by staging, in the hopes of a small consideration, a Voodoo spectacle to satisfy the demands of tourists who in all good faith fancy that they have been admitted to the most secret mysteries. This would explain much that Seabrook has reported.

Bruce W. Merwin, Assistant Curator at the University of

[37. Ditto, p. 101 f.]

{p. 87}

Pennsylvania Museum, writes in THE MUSEUM JOURNAL,[38] under the caption "A Voodoo Drum from Hayti" as follows: "During the first three centuries of colonization of the New World many of the native customs and beliefs of West Africa were introduced and retained by the slaves. Of these fetish worship with considerable development or modification survives even to the present time. In Haiti, as the Voodoo cult with its human sacrifices, this worship is the most primitive and degraded in the two Americas. Attention was drawn to the cult recently by a Voodoo priest's drum presented to the University Museum by Mr. J. Maxwell Bullock, who had received it from 'Major Alexander Williams of the United States Marines. During the insurrection in 1916 in Haiti it had been confiscated and its head punctured because the beating of a drum was the signal to assemble the Voodoo devotees and to incite them to a religious race war." This statement must be accepted with restrictions. The term Voodoo is here employed not technically but in its broadest possible sense. Moreover, anyone familiar with the famous talking drums of Africa might suspect here that during the Haitian troubles messages were actually transmitted through the island by drum language. While I have never found among West Indies the slightest vestige of what must now be a lost art among them, certainly their ancestors were most proficient in this regard and it is still actively practiced in Africa. This much, however, is certain; that the average drummer of the West Indies is as proficient as any army bugler in the conveying of conventional calls and commands.

Merwin further states: "The incessant booming of the drum, the sight and taste of blood, and the great amount of rum drunk cause a religious form of hysteria to sweep over the audience. At the close of the sacrificial ceremony the worshippers begin a dance called the 'loiloichi,' or stomach dance, which is well known in West Africa. The dance gets wilder and. wilder and more degraded until it ends in an orgy of the worst description which lasts until daylight. . . . In Haiti the basis of Voodooism is the frank worship

[38. Vol. VIII (1917), p. 123 f.]

{p. 88}

of the sacred green snake that must be propitiated in order to keep off the evil duppies."[29]

We have here to all appearances the Chica dance of slave days with a title that combines the old name with the Voodoo "loi." Hence we may conclude that it was presumably a Voodoo feast at which the Chica was danced.

George Mannington, in 1925 published a work on the West Indies in which he tries to sum up the whole question dispassionately. His book boasts a Foreword by the Rt. Hon. Baron Olivier, a former Governor of Jamaica. The following statement is of interest: "Voodooism or serpent worship, is a degraded form of religion commonly practiced by the ancestors of the present Negroes in the forests of Africa, and was the only religion known to the slaves in the early days. It is said to be followed still in the remoter parts of some of the islands-especially Haiti. It is only fair to say, however, that the more self-respecting of the people indignantly deny that such practices are now followed even among the most backward of the race. But reports to the contrary still persist. It is certain that the Haitian Negroes still assemble in groves or clearing in the forests and dance until they are exhausted to the accompaniment of tom-toms and wild chantings; rum-drinking adds zest to the proceedings. These scenes are occasionally witnessed by spectators concealed from view; it would not be safe to show themselves openly. Whether or not the more degraded forms of Voodooism are associated with these gatherings cannot be positively stated, though such an assertion is made by many. The belief of the Voodoo (or Vaudoux) votaries appears to be that an all-powerful non-venomous serpent controls all human events, knows all things past, present and future, and communicates his power and will to the priest and priestess who administer the rites, and who are called Papaloi and Mamaloi, loi being the equivalent of the French roi and stands in the Negro terminology--which is without gender--for both king and queen. This 'deity' is supposed to require the sacrifice of 'a goat without horns.' Accordingly the sacrifice of goats accompanied by incantations was the common

[39. Ditto, p. 125.]

{p. 89}

practice, the animals being afterwards cooked and eaten. It is alleged that the phrase 'goat without horns' was also interpreted to mean a child, that small children were killed and eaten in secret groves, and that the mothers were proud that their children should be chosen for sacrifice. The victim's blood was mixed with rum and drunk."[40]

Dr. Price-Mars, whom we quoted at length when considering Seabrook's Magic Island, gives us an extended view of Voodoo as be sees it. Being a devoted and loyal son of the little isle that was once so glorious as the proudest boast of Colonial France, he may be partial in his views at times, but his sincerity cannot be questioned.

Of the rise of the Haitian community, he tells us: "We know, it is true, what elements have made up the Haitian community. We know that a drove of slaves, imported to San Domingo from the far-stretched western coast of Africa, presented in its entirety a microcosm of all the black races of the continent. We know how from the promiscuous intercourse of the white with his black concubine, and from the artificial conditions of a society governed by the law of castes, there developed a group intermediate between the master and the body of slaves. We know further how the clash of interests and passions, how the confronting of egoisms, and how the principles evoked by the strange revolution, all brought about the insurrection which led the erstwhile slaves to found a nation. Such in a few words is the origin of our people."[41]

Concerning the days that preceded the slave uprising, Dr. Price-Mars writes: "We have at hand two documents whence we may gather valuable information. The first is entitled L'Essai sur l'Esclavage et Observations sur l'État Présent des Colonies. It treats of the anxiety which was aroused among the whites by the frequent nocturnal gatherings of the slaves, where they fomented their plots, against the colonial regime. In this connection, the author makes the following remark: 'Their designs would have

[40. George Mannington, The West Indies with British Guiana and British Honduras, New York, 1925, p. 267 f.

41. Dr. Price-Mars, Ainsi Parla l'Oncle, p. 107.]

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been undiscoverable if they had not been betrayed by the women concubines of the whites to whom they were generally very much attached. The dance called at Surinan, Water Mama, and in our Colony the Mere de l'eau, is rigidly forbidden. They make it a great mystery and all that can be said of it is this, that it greatly excites the imagination. They work themselves up to debauchery when they keep the mind fixed on evil purposes. The leader of the conspiracy goes into an ecstasy so as to lose all consciousness; on returning to his senses, he pretends that his god has spoken to him and has commanded some undertaking, but, as they do not adore the same god, they hate him and they spy one on another,--and their projects are nearly always denounced.'

"From this curious document may be drawn an important conclusion. It is that at the period to which it makes reference, probably about 1760, the religion of the slaves had not yet been unified, and without questioning the fact, the author of the Essay gives the reason when he informs us that the Negroes do not adore the same god."[42]

Dr. Price-Mars goes on to state that while at this time, probably about 1760, there could have been no uniformity of religious cult among the Negro slaves, yet "less than thirty years later, we find under the name of 'Voodoo' a religious establishment of which Moreau de Saint-Méry was the first to give a detailed analysis and which has remained famous, and has become the theme, enlarged and borrowed, of most of the accounts which have been given of the cultural ceremonies of Voodoo by writers who have not themselves had the occasion of observing them."[43]

Dr. Price-Mars remarks elsewhere: "The great mass of Negroes gathered from different parts of Africa and brought to San Domingo were from pious races attached to Mohammedanism, Dahoman religion, and a few Catholics."[44]

However, "With many of the slaves Christianity was little more than an external formality to be observed during the hours of the

[42. Ditto, p. 113f.

43. Ditto, p. 114.

44. Dr. Price-Mars, Une Étape de l'Évolution Haïtienne, p. 127.]

{p. 91}

day. By night they met in small groups to practice surreptitiously their old tribal Customs."[45] Gradually "These nocturnal meetings became regular occurrences under the indomitable influence of tile Aradas, the Ibos and the Dahomans."[46]

Showing that during the long formation period there steadily developed a composite religious cult by a process of assimilating the various animistic beliefs of Africa, Islamism included, he observes: "But there was only one religion which retained a solid framework of disciplinary traditions, a sacredotal hierarchy, capable of imposing some of its rites upon the composite beliefs, and this was the Dahoman."[47]

In connection with his criticism of Seabrook's Magic Island, Dr. Price-Mars asks a question and then answers it: "Is there a Voodoo initiation whereby a neophyte, it matters not who he is, thanks to the good will of the hougan,[48] may be admitted to the congregation? It seems not. Listen, however. If anyone believes in the rites of Voodoo and he desires actually to take part in some ceremony, rites of exorcism, of annual commemoration, expiatory rites, etc., be he white or black, he has only to address himself to the first hougan met, who will give him the mode of procedure. As a general rule, the one officiating will not trouble himself to find out how far the applicant is sincere. His mere application is

[45. Ditto, p. 139.

46. Ditto, p. 141.

47. Ditto, p. 142 f. Note:--After observing that the Dahoman rites have undergone great chances and adaptations in the process of absorption, he adds, p. 144: "One may remark, in passing the ritual gesture of the Mohammedan in the habitual salaam of the official who holds his hands towards the east before beginning each Voodoo ceremony. One finds there, too, taboo of the forbidden foods and the unlucky days." And he sums it all up on the next page, p. 145: "It is nothing less than a syncretism of beliefs."

Cfr. also, D. Trouillot, Esquisse Ethnographique: Le Vaudoux, p. 28: "The Creole Vaudoux is a syncretism of the different sects of the primordial Vaudoux and of the superstitions as well African as Aryan mingled together by slavery. It is certain that if an old Guinean was to return, he would not know what to do in the midst of the dance and Vaudoux ceremonies of today."

48. Note:--Dr. Price-Mars tells us that the word Hougan signifies fire or the warmth of fire, p. 144. It is derived from the Habbes of the Central Nigerian Plateau so well described by Louis Desplagnes.--Cfr. La Plateau Central Nigérien, Paris, 1907. Referring to the Hougans as "magico-religious leaders of our rural population of the north and southwest," he continues: "These leaders are constrained by the ceremonies of initiation to a life of austerity which bespeaks the great moral authority which they enjoy."--Cfr. Dr. Price-Mars, l. c., p. 130.]

{p. 92}

sufficient guarantee of good faith. Seabrook was in a position to make such an application, and I believe that nothing more unusual was done for the sake of making sport.

"On the contrary, is the individual a menial who is ignorant of his own prerogatives? I mean to say supposing that he is an individual, who thus far has been shut out from all participation in the ritual obligations of the Voodoo, and who has suddenly become aware of them, and has been inspired by 'the mysteries.' He may wish 'to renounce,' to wit, to make up the arrears due to the gods, and take a more intimate part in the congregation. Then the hougan proceeds to those ceremonies which are more or less the rites of initiation-baptism of 'loi bossales,' and of the 'hounsis' and of the 'hougainikons.'

"But these initiations are all esoteric. They are accomplished only by degrees. In the case suggested, the first order of the hougan to the neophyte, is a severe penance, sexual and dietary abstinence, penance as regards clothing; then there is the rigorous retreat and the fast, followed by the ceremony of initiation and finally the trials.

"As regards this part of the rite, the initiation is in every way secret. Moreover the ceremony allows variations. Sometimes the hougan keeps himself in a darkened room where he has a pool, the candidates, clothed in white, are stretched on couches in the adjacent room, having each a wide-mouthed pitcher full of water which is supposedly ready to receive the 'Mystery' with which the hougan is going to converse. In fact, the congregation outside the enclosure can hear at a given moment a kind of conversation between the one officiating and the pretended 'Mystery' which, having come at his call, may converse with the subject whom he has honoured with a fellow-feeling towards him, the 'Mystery.' To my mind, this conversation--a probable effect of ventriloquism---is the boldest of trickeries and it is on that account that there is so much need of obscurity and of solitude as is claimed by the hougan. When, at last, the 'Mysteries' have taken possession of the elect, these come forth from the enclosure in procession, carrying their pitchers on head and shoulder, make the round of the arbour

{p. 93}

where the bulk of the congregation is gathered, taking part in the feverish ecstasy of the dances and submitting to the ordeal of the 'Canzo' which consists in plunging the hand into a boiling pot of mess intended for the cult meal. The aroused congregation cries out at this moment: 'Aie Bobo! Aie Bobo!'

"At other times, it is at a spring, or occasionally on the bank of a river, or, if in a locality where there is neither water course nor Spring, it is beside a large cistern, or even a half-cask that the hougan establishes a 'shrine,' made of a trellis of reed, on which are spread large white cloths. There the gods are thought to establish their temporary domicile. The one officiating enters alone. By his interpretation, the gods, whom certain ones who have died 'serve,' constrain the voice of the dead to converse with their kindred, their friends among the congregation which is kept at a respectful distance. In this variant, the rite assumes a character, half-expiatory, half -initiatory, as it is assumed that the hougan can transfer to the living 'the Mystery' of his departed parent."[49]

Throughout these initiation functions, we notice in clothing and draperies the entire absence of red, which is the characteristic colour of Voodoo. If the rites described really belong to present-day Voodoo, then a marked change has been effected in the whole cultural ritual. As a matter of fact, the entire ceremony as described by Dr. Price-Mars suggests Ashanti origin rather than Dahoman or Whydah.

After a lengthy quotation from Moreau de Saint-Méry, Dr. Price-Mars observed in his earlier book: "This page of Moreau de Saint-Méry assumes in our eyes an importance of the very first order, not only because it is the only authentic document which contains serious facts on the religious manifestations of the Negroes of San Domingo, but on account of the fulness of details, the precision of delineation, the character of the whole work, one recognises at once the evidence of the truth. Well does the author tell us that the sect was secret--and it is still so in our day--his relation actually gives us the impression of a deposition of an eye-witness. However, if as we believe, and as we shall prove later, the ritual of

[49. Dr. Price-Mars, l. c., p. 172 f.]

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cult is sensibly modified since the colonial epoch, many of the distinctive details in the celebrated description have remained unchanged even today. They help us to establish the primordial elements of Voodoo."[50]

Dr. Price-Mars now makes a very serious mistake by assuming that Voodoo, as he sees fit to portray it at the present day, is substantially unchanged in one hundred and fifty years, and that it is specifically the same rite as it was in slave times. Rather, since he admits that Moreau de Saint-Méry has described accurately the real Voodoo of Colonial times, it would be more profitable to us if he had simply pointed out the present variants; perhaps, however, it would be more accurate to say that it has been so radically changed that the term Voodoo can be applied to it only by an extension, if not distortion, of its meaning. That is, of course, providing that Dr. Price-Mars is actually describing present-day Voodoo to us and not some kindred rite, when he says: "Of these traits the most characteristic is the state of trance in which the individual possessed by the god finds himself enthralled." This is certainly more like an Ashanti function than one from Whydah as noted previously. "The second trait," we are told, "which gives its tone to the ceremony is the dance, a rhythmic dance, to the sound of a trio of long drums to the cadence of the 'assons,' executed on the syncopated airs which a leader improvises, his voice being echoed multifold by the enthusiastic congregation." Drums at a Voodoo ceremony! And what of his assertion that "the initiation is in every way secret." And: "Well does the author tell us that the sect was secret--and it is still so in our day." What secrecy, or even privacy can be had with the blatant summoning of the drums?

"As regards the rest," he continues, "what seems to be the essential of the belief--we speak of the adoration of the adder--this part of the rite has been eliminated from Voodoo or relegated altogether to the background of the ceremonial. We believe it is almost abolished. On this point we may be permitted to give our personal testimony. In the course of our investigations, we have had occasion to assist at numerous Voodoo ceremonies-a hundred

[50. Dr. Price-Mars, Ainsi Parla l'Oncle, p. 117 f.]

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at least--of which some were celebrated in the most remote districts, we have never seen, not even once, homage rendered to the adder. And, a remarkable coincidence, the writers either Haitians or foreigners, who have seriously devoted themselves to the question, are unanimous in remarking the same, whether they say it explicitly or they fail to make mention of such a ceremony."[51] With all due respect to the experience of Dr. Price-Mars, one cannot refrain from making the reflection:--Either he was fully initiated into the cult, or he was not. If he was, then he has taken the oath to conceal the true facts; if he was not, then from his own statements, being an uninitiated, he would never be admitted to the full ceremonies.[52]

Furthermore, if the present state of Voodoo in Haiti, is precisely as Dr. Price-Mars describes it, with the serpent eliminated, there must have been a very radical change quite recently. Some twenty years ago, I was assured personally by Haitians in Jamaica, whom I certainly considered worthy of credence, that to their own knowledge, the mixture of Voodoo and Catholicism in Haiti had given rise to many altars with regular tabernacles, such as are commonly found in Catholic churches, but in each case the tabernacle was reserved by the owner for the use of the serpent.

This view is further confirmed by the personal experience of one

[51. Ditto, p. 118 f.

52. Note:--Prichard is not far wrong in his conclusions, Where Black Rules White, p. 81: "Vaudoux is so inextricably woven in with every side of the Haitian's life, his politics, his religion, his outlook upon the world, his social and family relations, his prejudices and peculiarities that he cannot be judged apart from them."

Arthur W. Holly, Les Daïmons du Culte Voudu, Port-au-Prince, 1918, starts his Preface with a blatant profession of faith: "Without vanity or false shame, or cowardice, I declare that I am an esoterist--that is to say one initiated to the sciences whose roots are deep set in Ethiopic-Egyptian antiquity--sciences which allow one to recognize in the priestly writings the cosmogonic beginnings, to disengage from a symbol, a sign, a given letter the value of the idea, its metaphysical sense or its true scientific character." The work itself is merely an esoteric pretence of the most amateur type and of practically no real value. However, Dr. Holly stresses one point that may be significant, Preface, p. x: "Definitively I have good reason for asserting that the Negro initiated in the true Voodoo cult, in conformity with pure traditions, enters into no relations whatever with Satan. The demons to whom they accuse him of sacrificing are not tile spirits of darkness, and therefore malevolent. They are rather the Daimons according to the Greek concept, that is to say 'bright spirits.' Witchcraft, sordid magic, is incompatible with the great principles preconized {sic} by Voodoo morale."]

{p. 96}

who spent many years in Haiti and Jamaica. While not free to disclose the name of the party in question, whom we may refer to as Madam X., the writer can unreservedly attest her honesty and sincerity. She was a lady of education and refinement, and the exemplary mother of a family. Of her stay in Haiti she subsequently told a missionary in Jamaica: "When I first moved there, I was told that I must be very careful about my baby, because the natives often stole babies, white babies especially, to use them in their obi rites or services." By obi is here meant witchcraft in its generic form; though, of course, Voodooism would be specifically more correct. Madam X. continues: "Soon after I arrived, a woman living next door, whose husband had been a notorious Obeah man and had died just a short time before, came to visit me. She was very friendly, and when she saw my chapel, she said; 'You know I have a chapel, you must come over and see me and see my chapel which I have for my services; my husband was a great Obeah man and all the great people came to him.' When I went to see her, she showed me a room generously fixed up like a chapel; there was a box corresponding to our tabernacle, an altar and two statues. . . . There was a white goat there which was used in Obeah rites, she used to dress up this goat in the most costly robes; there was a barrel in which was a large snake which was dressed in ribbons. She showed me lots of costly presents which had been given her by rich people, costly robes for the goat, wine, jewels, etc. After her husband's death she had kept up his work. She said that all the people from the president down, even practical Catholics, went to the ignorant Obeah men and women. She added, that in order to get sacred particles the Obeah men and women used to go to communion, keep the Hosts dry in their month, and bring them home to their Obeah chapel and keep them in their tabernacles."[53]

Despite his perfervid descriptions, Seabrook has much of real value and particularly as already noted in the second portion of his book. Thus for example: "Voodoo in Haiti is a profound and vitally alive religion . . . . Voodoo is primarily and basically a form of worship, and . . . its magic, its sorcery, its witchcraft

[53. A. J. Emerick, Obeah and Duppyism in Jamaica, Woodstock, 1915, p. 192 f.]

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(I am speaking technically now), is only a secondary, collateral, sometimes sinisterly twisted by-product of Voodoo as a faith."[54] And "Voodoo is not a secret cult or society in the sense that Freemasonry or the Rosicrucian cult is secret; it is a religion, and secret only as Christianity was secret in the catacombs, through fear of persecution. Like every living religion it has its inner mysteries, but that is secretness in a different sense. It is a religion toward which whites generally have been either scoffers, spyers, or active enemies, and whose adherents, therefore, have been forced to practice secrecy, above all where whites were concerned. But there is no fixed rule of their religion pledging them to secrecy, and Maman Célie was abrogating nothing more than a protective custom when she gave me her confidence."[55]

Again he says: "Although Damballa, the ancient African serpent god remains enthroned as its central figure, this Voodoo ceremony is not the old traditional ritual brought over from Africa, but rather a gradually formalized new ritual which sprang from the merging in earliest slave days of the African tradition with the Roman Catholic ritual, into which the slaves were all baptized by law, and whose teachings and ceremonials they willingly embraced, without any element of intended blasphemy or diabolism, incorporating modified parts of Catholic ritual--as for instance the vestments and the processional--into their Voodoo ceremonials, just as they incorporated its Father, Son, Virgin, and saints in their pantheistic theology."[56]

[54 Seabrook, Magic Island, p. 12.

55. Ditto, p. 3 1.

56. Ditto, p. 34. Note:--Gr. also Seabrook, p. 89: "In America the word Voodoo has come to mean indiscriminately any Negro sorcery, secret ceremony, or old African witch-doctor practice. In Haiti the word is similarly loosely used sometimes even by natives, so that when they wish to distinguish sharply they are likely to use the word Rada as the name of their religion, and Service Petro, or Service Legba for their ceremonial religious rites." P. 295: "Petro or Service Petro is the name given to the blood-sacrificial Voodoo ceremony. It derives from the name of a slave who was a famous papaloi in colonial times." p. 308: The following literally translated, is one of the formulas pronounced by the sorcerer over a death ouanga before hiding it in the secret place where it is to lie rotting: "Old master, now is the time to keep the promise you made. Curse him as I curse him and spoil him as I spoil him. By the fire at night, by the dead black hen, by the bloods, throat, by the goat, by the ruin on the ground, this ouanga be upon him. May he have no peace in bed, nor at his food, nor can he hide. Waste {footnote p. 98} him and wear him and rot him as these rot." But this is not Voodoo, it is undiluted witchcraft.]

{p. 98}

We rather suspect that the following passage is, partially at least, ascribable to Dr. Price-Mars from whom much of Seabrook's technical information was gathered. "The worship of the snake in Haiti," he declares, "is by no means so literal as commentators have supposed. It is true that on every Petro altar in Haiti there is a serpent symbol, sometimes painted on the wall, sometimes carved of wood and elevated on a staff. It is true also that living snakes are regarded as sacred objects, not to be injured or molested. One of the commonest and handsomest is a harmless green tree snake which grows to three or four feet in length, but all snakes are held sacred. But the serpent is worshipped symbolically, and not because they believe he has any power of his own; he represents the great god Damballa. . . . So far as I am aware no living serpent is kept 'in a box' or otherwise on any Voodoo altar to-day in Haiti. A negro friend has told me, however, of an Obeah ceremony which he had seen in Cuba in which a living snake was the central object. He said that a large, non-poisonous snake was kept in a big earthern jar on an altar, that some ten or fifteen negroes made a sort of circular endless chain beginning and ending at the rim of the jar by lacing their arms around each others shoulders: that the snake was then drawn from the jar and induced to crawl over their shoulders, making the circuit and returning to the jar."[57]

Finally Seabrook tells us: "It is not my intention to gloss over the fact that actual human sacrifice is also an occasional integral part of the Voodoo ritual in Haiti. . . . That human sacrifice in Voodoo today may seem strange and to many persons horrible, but only, I think, because they consider it in terms of 'time.' . . . I have described no human sacrifices on the pages of this book solely for the reason that I never saw one. If I had lived for many years instead of months with Maman Célie in the mountains, it is probable that I should have seen one. Such sacrifices, however, Maman Célie tells me, are rare and performed only under stress of

[57. Ditto, p. 311.]

VOODOO IN HAITI 99

seeming necessity. That they never reach the courts or public notice is due to the fact that when they are pure authentic Voodoo, the sacrificial victim is never kidnapped, stolen, or procured by other criminal means, but always voluntarily offered from within tile religious group. Occasionally also, however, occurs some extraordinary criminal abuse of this practice, followed by denunciation and prosecution. In this category was the case of Cadeus Bellegarde which occurred in 1920. He was a papaloi turned criminal, a pathological monster."[51]

Dr. J. C. Dorsainvil, a Haitian physician of standing, in an address to the Historical and Geographical Society of Haiti stated in 1924: "Ten years ago, in a study published by the review HAITI MEDICALE, we asserted that Voodoo in its psycho-physiological effects consists in this, it is a racial psycho-nervous disorder, of a religious character bordering on paranoia. Our opinion has in no way changed. But as you see the question was then viewed from a medical standpoint.[59]

"We are permitted today to present to you the same question under another aspect, the philological viewpoint. This will be nothing else but a study chapter wherein we trace our origins.

"As much if not more than our revolution, Voodoo has tended to destroy the reputation of our country. The imagination of well-meaning chroniclers, such as St. John our latest visitor, to pass over Alaux, Texier and others, who does his utmost to discover in the frequently inoffensive ceremonies of this cult, the most repugnant

[58. Ditto, p. 319 f.

59. Cr. also, J. C. Dorsainvil, Vodou et Névrose, p. 48: "We affirm that Voodooism satisfies a nervous racial habit firmly established by the belief in secular practices among many Haitian families. The proofs of such a condition are plentiful, if one will only take the trouble to observe well the facts." However, we cannot endorse Dr. Dorsainvil's explanation of a "dual personality" even in the broad sense in which he uses the term.

Trouillot, Esquisse Ethnographique: Le Vaudoux, p. 10, thinks that excessive alcoholism and feverish excitement induces a sort of hypnotic effect at the Voodoo dances so that it makes the participant insensible to pain as when he plunges his hand into the boiling caldron. He further observes, p. 10 f.: "It is a fact that the financial return of a dance and the orgiastic pleasures which it furnishes to dancers and spectators are the only and real perpetuation of Vaudoux. It is no longer a religion with its dogmas and rites, it is only a gross indulgence having preserved the empty form of a vanished belief." And it was as far back as 1885 that these words were written!]

{p. 100}

scenes of cannibalism and orgies. Some of our journalists even speak of it with that inconsideration and absence of study, with which one can too frequently reproach them.

"We have then a deep interest in shedding the clearest light on the origins of this mysterious cult. This work is easy today, for the activity of investigators has left unturned no corner of the vast moral world of humanity."[60]

Taking up the meaning of the word, Dr. Dorsainvil asserts: "Voodoo . . . is simply a generic term of the fongbe dialect. . . It is the most important word of the dialect since it includes nearly the whole moral and religious life of the Fons and is the origin, or rather it is the invariable root, of an entire family of words. What is the precise meaning of the world in fongbe? It designates the spirits, good or evil, subordinate to Mawu and, by extension, the statue of one of these spirits, or every object that symbolizes their cult or their power, protective or malevolent."[61] Again, "The most celebrated expression of the religion of the Voodoo is the cult of the serpent or of the adder Da, pronounced Dan, incarnating the spirit Dagbe, pronounced Dangbe." He is writing as a Frenchman. "The two principal sanctuaries of this cult were found in the sacred woods of Somorne near Allada and at Whydah. Among us by contraction, the Dahoman expression Dangbe Allada has become the loa (a Congo word) Damballah, of which the symbol still remains an adder."[62]

Of the establishment of the cult in Haiti, Dr. Dorsainvil has this to say: "By comparison with other African tribes, the Aradas, Congos, Nagos, etc. the Fons have been very much in the minority in San Domingo. How, then, explain the strong religious impress with which they have marked the people? It is here that shows forth all the importance of the Voodoo cult in San Domingo. Whether it is pleasing or not, Voodoo is a great social factor in our history. The colonials tolerated all the noisy dances of the slaves, but feared the Voodooistic ceremonies. They instinctively

[60. J. C. Dorsainvil, Une Explication Philologique du Vòdú, Port-au-Prince, 1924, p. 14 f.

61. Ditto, p. 18 f.

62. Ditto, p. 20.]

{p. 101}

dreaded this cult with its mystical movements, and felt in a confused way that it could become a powerful element of cohesion for the slaves. They were not mistaken, for it was from the heart of these Voodooistic ceremonies that the great revolt of the slaves of San Domingo developed. Toussaint himself knew this so well that when he became the first authority of the colony, he no longer tolerated this kind cult"[63] He adds later: "Religion so hierarchic, so enshrouded in mystery, should, it is clear, exercise a powerful attraction in the other African tribes represented in San Domingo. It offered them a body of religious beliefs which were not in the least to be found in the superstitions practiced by themselves. But in branching out, Voodoo divested itself of its original characteristics. It overburdened itself with parasitic beliefs, Aradean, Congoleon, etc."[64]

Dr. Parsons thus begins her article on the Spirit Cult of Haiti, "During a recent folk-tale collecting tour to the south coast of Haiti, I had opportunities to observe combinations in cult of African paganism and French Catholicism of much interest to the student of acculturation, as well as to West Indian folklorist or historian. That this cult has heretofore passed undescribed in Haiti is probably due to the diversion of interest to one of its reputed features, ritual cannibalism or, in journalistic term, voodoo human sacrifice, the folklore of which is wide-spread among all foreigners, white and coloured, in Haiti, as well as among Caribbean neighbours. Some St. Lucia boys shipwrecked in San Domingo told me there that they had become afraid of going on to Haiti, as they once thought of doing, since they had heard how they killed and ate people in Haiti. It was the same story I had heard fifteen years before from the French wife of a Syrian merchant at the Haitian town of Ganaives. This lady felt outraged against the Island 'sauvages.' . . . If human sacrifice occur or has ever occurred in Haiti, it is in connection with the Taureau Criminel, the Criminal Bull, one of the spirits or loi of which there is a large number, both Catholic and African. Between patron saint and West Indian fetish

[63. Ditto, p. 29.

64. Ditto, p. 37.]

{p. 102}

no distinction is made in the cult which may be described as a theory and practice of possession by spirits. There is little or no philosophic or religious expression of the theory to be heard in Haiti, but descriptive details of the practice abound."[65]

Perhaps the most dispassioned account of Voodoo comes from the pen of one who had lived for years in Haiti towards the close of the last century and had sought to study the question scientifically. Eugène Aubin, in giving the results of his researches, dissociates himself from the partisans of every phase of sentiment. His narrative is simple and to the point."[66] Thus: "In the settlement as in the home, Negro life is dominated by old African superstitions, that is to say by the Voodoo cult. Although they point out many traces of it in the United States and in certain islands of the Antilles, it is nowhere more prevalent than in Haiti where its development remains unimpeded. Elsewhere it restricts itself to the exploitation of witchcraft for the profit of some shrewd individuals, which they call Obeah in the English colonies. The historic development of San Domingo is sole cause for the difference in Haiti. Whereas in the other islands fetishism tends, if not to disappear, at least to disguise itself under the influence of Christianity, supported by external force; the independence of Haiti encourages parallel progress, even the confusion of the two beliefs. . . .

"The study of Haitian fetishism is not easy. Those who treat of the subject do so with prejudice or inaccurately. The Fathers Du Terte and Labat scarcely touch on it. The latter restricts himself to a mere expression of distrust. 'The Negroes,' he writes, 'do without scruple what the Philistines attempted; they associate the ark with Dagon and secretly preserve all their old idolatrous worship,

[65. Elsie Clews Parsons, Spirit Cult in Hayti, Paris, 1928, p. 1.

66. Note:--Cfr. Seabrook, The Magic Island, p. 316 f.: "Eugène Aubin, a French writer who lived in Haiti for a number of years prior to 1898, interested himself in the study of Voodoo without ever apparently having wished to witness or participate in its sacrificial ceremonies. It is possible that he was restrained by moral scruples. He wrote, however, an excellent book called En Haïti, published in Paris in 1910, which shows he was on the friendliest terms with the leading papalois and hougans of that period. He discussed sympathetically and at length with the more intelligent ones the nature of their creed and was admitted to a number of their temples."]

{p. 103}

with the ceremonies of the Christian religion.' A 'trusty and intelligent Negress' understood little of anything at Descourtelz. As ever Moreau de Saint-Méry was the best informed of colonial writers. The educated creoles pretend complete ignorance of things so gross; unconsciously there survives in them the old prejudices of times when the planter felt himself insecure in his isolation among the Negroes, dreaded their mysterious cult, their secret meetings, their witchcraft and their poisons. For his part, the Negro remains attached to his practices, observant of his initiations.--Z'affe mouton pas z'affe cabrite.--The affairs of the sheep are not those of the nanny-goat, says the creole proverb; the things of the blacks do not concern the whites.

"However uncouth may seem the cult sprung from Haitian fetishism the fault is in no way due to the fundamental principle of their beliefs, which restrict themselves to seeking out the manifestations of the Divinity in the forces of nature. It is a pantheism, as any other, classified by the same standard as ancient paganism or the religions of India. The great wrong of the Negroes was to overindulge life, in exaggerating the evil character of the supernatural world and in conceiving the universe as peopled with predominantly evil spirits, among which the lois and the ancestors freely enjoyed an aggressive rôle as regards suffering humanity. They came to the conclusion that it was necessary to conjure these evil influences by witchcraft, gifts and sacrifices; to the papalois or sorcerers, people well versed in the mysteries, fell the charge and the profit of these conjurations. . . .

"According to the tribe, the rites and the traditions differ. just as the Negroes of San Domingo came in great numbers from all coasts of Africa, Haitian Voodoo results from the confusion of all the African beliefs. However, there stands out two principal rites, each constituting a distinct cult, the rite of Guinea and the 'Congo rite.' Although the blacks of this colony came in greater numbers from Congo than from Guinea, the followers are divided about equally, according to the origin or the convenience of the families. But, nevertheless, the superstitions of Guinea exercise a prepondering influence on the actual doctrines of Voodoo. In each

{p. 104}

of the two rites, experts remark a series of subdivisions, corresponding to the different tribes of the north and of the middle coast of Africa. Arada, Nago, Ibo belong to the rite of Guinea; it seems that the north coast has had more agreeable fetishism and freely admits good spirits. The Arada would be the simplest and purest cult of all, knowing nothing whatever of witchcraft. The spirits venerated on the southern coast are more frequently wicked: these latter frequent the subdivision of the Congo rite, the Congo Franc, the Petro, and the Caplaou.

"The scenes of cannibalism which occur even now at times (an example of this kind was tried in 1904 by the criminal court of Port-au-Prince) would be the work of the adherents, fortunately few in number, of the particular divisions of the Petro and the Caplaou; some may be ascribed to the Mondongue, of which the character is a little out of the ordinary, although belonging to the Congo rite.

"The paraphernalia of all these rites have created a veritable mythology in Haitian Voodoo. The lois, saints, the mysteries found in nature, have received the names of ancient African kings or indeed of the localities where they have been deified. They add the title of Master, Papa or Mister. Legba, Dambala, Aguay, Guede, derived from the rite of Guinea, are the object of an almost universal cult; Master Ogoun, Loco, Saugo, Papa Badère . . . and they have also no end of others. The King of Engole (Angola) and the King Louange (Loango) belong to the Congo rite. . . .

"All the lois wish to be 'served'; and their service belongs to the papalois. Do these ministers restrict themselves to the good lois, namely to the rite of Guinea and to those elements of the Congo, as they say 'who serve with one hand alone'? 'To serve with two hands' implies no less the cult of the evil lois, pitiless deities, craving for blood and vengeance. The houmforts, sanctuaries of these multiple spirits, are on every hand in the plains, where the people, better circumstanced, take care to surround their fetishism with elaborate ceremonies, unknown in the uplands.

"The papaloi is a man versed in the rites, by heredity or study, who has gradually risen in the Voodoo hierarchy. He has sometimes

{p. 105}

attended the famous houmforts of the plains of Leogane and Arcahaye, received the most secret initiations and undergone the ordeal of an ordination. When these final ceremonies are concluded, the new papaloi presents himself to the faithful, and possessed by the spirit, he intones the chant proper to the loi who, during his life, will be the Maître-caye, the Maître-tête, and to whom will be consecrated the houmfort which he is about to enter.

"The foundation of the Voodoo cult is found in the family. Each familyhead, clothed with a family priesthood, honors the spirit of the ancestors and their protecting lois."[67]

To our way of thinking, then, Voodoo as first found in Haiti was substantially the serpent worship of Whydah; and in the beginning at least, it was but slightly modified by local conditions.

As the children of the African "bush" were ruthlessly torn away from their native haunts, they naturally carried with them the practices and superstitions that served as cherished memories of the past, and thus introduced to their new surroundings the diverse forms of perverted worship or sorcery, as the case might be, and for a time at least clung to their own peculiar customs.

Those who had practiced Ophiolatry in Africa, had a great advantage over the rest. Seemingly they had not lost their deity after all. For the non-poisonous python was waiting their arrival in Haiti. It was the one familiar object to meet their gaze. It was the one connection with the past. Naturally any of the priests and priestesses who were among them would not be slow to put the incident to good account.

In any case, Voodoo quickly became the dominant form of worship among the slaves, but as was to be expected it gradually suffered modifications and even split tip into various sects according to the whim and fancy of some new leader who gained influence among the general body of the slaves.

Thus in 1768, Don Pédro came into being, as seems probable, directly as a means of stirring up the slaves to insurrection. At Whydah the serpent was consulted about the undertaking of war, and in a sense represented the god of war. But now something

[67. Eugène Aubin, En Haiti, Paris, 1910, pp. 43-51.]

{p. 106}

more aggressive and emotional was required. The serpent naturally was retained, but in the ritual not only were the dances quickened in their tempo, but the pig was substituted for the goat as the sacrificial animal.

With the arrival of Broukman from Jamaica, the Don Pédro cult in Haiti developed further, as it began to take on more and more the form of sorcery. Its religious element is gradually transferred from the service of the good spirits to that of evil spirits, and in course of time it becomes the cult of blood par excellence and finds its climax, at least on rare occasions, in human sacrifice and cannibalistic orgies.

As regards Voodoo proper, the account of Moreau de Saint-Méry, it must be admitted, might seem to indicate that the cult had become formal idolatry. But we should remember that the atheistic tendencies of that day would probably influence the point of view of one who subsequently was to take such an active part in the events that led up to the French Revolution.

There are equally strong indications from the testimony of later observers, that Voodoo in the nineteenth century could still be classed as formal worship, substantially unchanged though modified in many details.

However, it appears that the religious element in the cult was gradually yielding to social influences. Voodoo feasts are introduced, probably at first as a disguise for the secret session that will follow later. But in time, more and more is made of the accompanying dance, with the consequences that Voodoo in the strict sense of the word begins to wane. And unless Dr. Price-Mars is entirely wrong in his estimate of conditions, the present century finds the cult so modified and changed that it is now Voodoo in name only.

Meanwhile we have a general conglomeration of all the old cults, combined with dances of every description, all imbued with every form of witchcraft and sorcery, posing under the generic term of Voodoo. The religion of the Whydahs has become the witchcraft of the Haitians!

As regards the much resented accusation of human sacrifice

{p. 107}

and cannibalism, the weight of evidence would indicate that while these abuses are by no means common in Haiti, nevertheless, at times there are sporadic outbreaks. And it would be strange if the orgies of nerve-racking debauchery and dissipation so peculiar to tropical dances when the strong arm of the law does not intervene, did not at times evolve a paranoiac state of irrational craving, and subsequent surreptitious gratification of the lowest instincts in degraded human nature-the animal-like gratification of the "goat without horns" in Haiti and the "long pig" in the distant Pacific Islands.

It must not be supposed, however, that these disgusting orgies are countenanced by the present Government authorities, or that they are of frequent occurrence. Certainly within the coastal districts which are watched over by the American Marines, public Voodoo is non-existent. But back in the hills there must still be many a secret gathering as in the days of slavery, where Voodoo and even Don Pédro at times find outlets for pent-up energy and orgiastic excesses.

Nor on the other hand must this abnormality on the part of a few be held as a reflection on the Haitians as a people. The chapters of recent crimes in our own country, which may bespeak degeneracy and moronism on the part of individuals, would not ascribe these reproaches to the entire nation.

{p. 108}


Next: Chapter IV: Origin of Obeah