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Natural World in Vodou

Frater Vameri

Pic by Bessi.

There is a current of thought that affirms that the West and its secularization have significantly contributed to the desacralization of nature and, thus, to the ecological crises that the world is facing. Thinking about this question, I thought it would be interesting to also demonstrate through this bias, how Haitian Vodou distances itself from the more traditional Western religions.

The idea is relatively simple – the emphasis on science for the immediate benefit of humanity has put everything else on the background, including spiritual life. In what was left of spirituality, the West also worked its influence, taking the power of nature and placing it only in man. Put in the background on all fronts, man started to treat the natural world only as a tool. The resulst are crystal clear.

There are supporters and critics of this theory. It certainly makes for an excellent discussion, and while the general idea is easy to understand, several complexities are derived from it. However, I will not discuss them here. It is not within the scope of this short article.

I have already commented several times on how secularization is a phenomenon that affects Haitian Vodou very little and is not welcomed in its essence. It is not possible to separate, within Vodou , layers of life. In the office, in the street, in the restaurant, everywhere the servant of the Lwas will see the agency of these spirits and everything else that makes up the invisible.

Furthermore, the natural world is an integral part of this dynamic. The leaves, roots, animals and forests are sources of power and mysteries, they are habitatins for the Lwas and also for other spirits and are, therefore, absolutely fundamental within the concept of sacred in Haitian Vodou .

The most obvious examples are Lwas that inhabit certain trees or Lwas that are directly linked to nature, such as rivers, forests and wild beasts. Attacking nature, within Vodou , is, therefore, destroying the very bowels of reality. It does not make sense. The natural world is not a tool at the service of humanity, but it is, together with humanity, part of a dynamic in a (ideally) balanced scenario.

Not that individual servers cannot improve their awareness of the natural world. That's not the discussion. The topic here is about the essence of spirituality. When we discuss how it is actually practiced, we will always find variations and deviations. The same goes for Western religions, in which there are some people concerned with the reintegration of the natural world into the sacred, to be fair.

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