Most people associate Voodoo with the practice of cursing people through sticking pins in dolls and evil sorcery. In the time of slavery the Catholic Church portrayed the slaves’ traditional religion (known as Vodun) as evil in their attempt to convert them to Christianity. This image of Voodoo also made its way into the horror movies in Hollywood and has contributed to prejudice and misrepresent of the religion of Vodun. Vodun is actually the world’s oldest known religion. It goes back to the dawn of civilization in Africa, and is today practiced by more than 60 million people worldwide.
Vodun is an official religion of the small country of Benin in West Africa, and an estimated 60 percent of the population reportedly follows it. The name comes from the god Vodun used by the Yoruba people that lived in the kingdom of Dahomey (todays Togo, Benin and Nigeria). The West African religion spread and took many new forms (Candomblé, Umbanda, Macumba) in the new world. The people who practice Vodun define it as positive magic. In a Vodun ritual the priest or priestess communicate with the world of spirits. The spirits can give guidance, protection or good heath to those seeking it.