Thoughts On Ebola
By Patricia Doyle
|Hello, Jeff - The situation is so desperate in W Africa.
I just read your article about the kissing of corpses over in Africa.
The big problem of spread is the risky behaviors which these people do not
have the capacity to change.
They won't give up bush meat eating snake, bat or primate and they won't give up the ritual funeral either. My guess is that the rituals, eating animals and the voodoo Lucmi rituals are why we see the virus spreading wildly. Jeff, I have provided a url of some voodoo information below. It is no wonder they are infected. Voodoo is also risky for contracting mad cow diseases or CJD. The burial ritual was the reason Kuru spread in New Guinea.
It is my belief that when we see Ebola outside the continent of Africa the first places that it may take hold will be Brazil and/or Haiti. The risky ritual behaviors of African traditional religions will add case numbers of any outbreaks. Even in communities in the US that have enclaves of people from Africa, Haiti and the Caribbean or South America there is a chance that when Ebola is identified in cases those areas will be hardest hit. Containing Ebola where African Traditional religions are practiced is going to be extremely difficult.
The purpose of rituals is to make contact with a spirit, to gain their favor by offering them animal sacrifices and gifts, to obtain help in the form of more abundant food, higher standard of living, and improved health. Human and Loa depend upon each other; humans provide food and other materials; the Loa provide health, protection from evil spirits and good fortune. Rituals are held to celebrate lucky events, to attempt to escape a run of bad fortune, to celebrate a seasonal day of celebration associated with a Loa, for healing, at birth, marriage and death.
Vodun priests can be male (houngan or hungan), or female (mambo). A Vodun temple is called a hounfour (or humfort). At its center is a poteau-mitan a pole where the God and spirits communicate with the people. An altar will be elaborately decorated with candles, pictures of Christian saints, symbolic items related to the Loa, etc. Rituals consist of some of the following components:
* a feast before the main ceremony.
* creation of a veve, a pattern of flour or cornmeal on the floor which is unique to the Loa for whom the ritual is to be conducted
* shaking a rattle and beating drums which have been cleansed and purified
* dancing by the houngan and/or mambo and the hounsis (students studying Vodun). The dancing will typically build in intensity until one of the dancers (usually a hounsis) becomes possessed by a Loa and falls. His or her ti bon ange has left their body and the spirit has taken control. The possessed dancer will behave as the Loa and is treated with respect and ceremony by the others present.
* animal sacrifice; this may be a goat, sheep, chicken, or dog. They are usually humanely killed by slitting their throat; blood is collected in a vessel. The possessed dancer may drink some of the blood. The hunger of the Loa is then believed to be satisfied. The animal is usually cooked and eaten. Animal sacrifice is a method of consecrating food for consumption by followers of Vodun, their gods and ancestors.
The houngan and mambos confine their activities to "white" magic which is used to bring good fortune and healing. However caplatas (also known as bokors) perform acts of evil sorcery or black magic, sometimes called "left-handed Vodun". Rarely, a houngan will engage in such sorcery; a few alternate between white and dark magic.
One belief unique to Vodun is that a dead person can be revived after having been buried. After resurrection, the zombie has no will of their own, but remains under the control of others. In reality, a zombie is a living person who has never died, but is under the influence of powerful drugs administered by an evil sorcerer. Although most Haitians believe in zombies, few have ever seen one. There are a few recorded instances of persons who have claimed to be zombies.
Sticking pins in dolls was once used as a method of cursing an individual by some followers of Vodun in New Orleans; this practice continues occasionally in South America. The practice became closely associated with Voodoo in the public mind through the vehicle of horror movies.
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