Voodoo in Haiti

Study Religion in Haiti

The history of Haiti is complex. Enslaved Africans were brought to Haiti to work for French colonists and horribly abused and Haitians still suffer from stark inequality. Add an impact to your trip to study religion of Voodoo by working with an NGO that helps educate underprivileged Haitaian children.

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Sojourn – Gain a better understanding of the community you’re visiting. Learn about different religions or spiritual practices. How do these impact the communities? How does religion or spirituality influence local traditions?

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Savor – Will you choose sweet or savory? Take the time to visit local markets and discover unique local ingredients. Learn how to prepare traditional meals & local favorites.

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Tip of the Tongue – Each morning, take the time to learn a few basic greetings and phrases in the local language. Learn how to write greetings & your name in the local script.

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A Wrinkle in Time – History influences our present. Discover the history of the country you visit. Hear the stories of your guides & their family history. Where do they come from?

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Journal Journeys – Take some time to reflect on the day’s events and document your journey. Spend a moment journaling about the day had & day ahead. These are memories for a lifetime!

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Culture – From local dances, festivals, or simple gestures to communicate – all of these make up a country’s culture. Learn and practice cultural norms & how to show respect in the culture you visit.

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As you drive to your hotel keep your eyes open. Voodoo is not always clearly seen unless you’re looking for it in Haiti. Pay close attention to the paintings on the walls and carvings on the trees for symbols to summon loa – or Voodoo spirits. 

Once you arrive at your hotel, take some time to relax and talk to your local guides. You can learn more about the history, culture, and unique religious practices of the Haitian people. Enjoy a local meal and be ready to start an incredible journey.

Marché de Fer, or the Iron Market is a public open-air market where you can get your first glimpse of Voodoo trinkets such as sculptures, art work, sacred herbs, and carved icons. While some may seem gimmicky, you’ll find authentic spiritual items that represent a hidden culture in Haiti. The loa will not appear without incentives and require offerings that you can find in this market. 

While you’re here, shop around and enjoy yourself! The Iron Market is filled with a variety of different items and sometimes they have open-air art displays or museums. So make sure to walk around and check everything out.  

Remember, you have to dig deep to find Voodoo in Haiti. While it’s everywhere, it’s often hidden from immediate view. The cemetery is a great place to find Voodoo practices. Even with Christianity being the prominent religion, you’ll still see evidence of loa on Christian graves. You may see graves marked with burnt candles at their bases and empty bottles of rum, offerings for Baron Samedi, the loa of the dead who guards passage between our world and the next. 

You may also see food left out on graves of the recently deceased. This food helps the spirits on their journey. While at the cemetery, you’ll witness the combination of Voodoo and Christianity blended together. This is because loa have counterparts in Catholicism. For example, the Virgin Mary’s counterpart is Ezili Freda, the loa of love. Make sure to look around and see what other Christian/Voodoo counterparts you can find!

On this day you’ll truly be able to enjoy the natural beauty of Haiti. As you’re arriving to the waterfall you’ll see lush trees and greenery everywhere, a beautiful sight to see. When you arrive, the waterfall is sure to take your breath away. This natural wonder is 100 feet tall; the tallest waterfall in Haiti. 

The Saut-D’Eau Waterfall became a holy place in the 19th century when the Virgin Mary was said to have appeared on a nearby palm tree. Ever since, Haitians journey here from miles around on the feast day of Our Lady of Carmel to ask for the Virgin Mary or the Ezili Freda’s blessings. Often, the sick or needy will let the water from the falls wash over them to help with their ailments. The people perform both Catholic and Voodoo rituals during this three day long religious festival.

On this day as well, you’ll be able to marvel at Haiti’s natural beauty. The Jubilee Voodoo Monument stands proudly atop a hill and represents another melding of Christianity and Voodooism. The stories surrounding this monument vary depending on where you hear or read it from. However, while there are many inconsistencies, the general belief is that a Cross was built 200 years ago or so by the Catholic Church. 

Years later (or weeks depending on the story you hear), lightning struck the cross which caused the top of the monument to topple over the cliff. Locals believe that their gods were reclaiming the hill and has been held in reverence since. 

Daily, locals trek up to the monument for worship and you can see the burnt rock where candles have been placed. Worshippers bring candles to burn and pray around as part of their religious practice.   

While you’re standing on the hill, make sure to take a look around. You can see shore lines with pristine waters, a village below, and miles and miles of beautiful nature. Haiti has a way of enchanting visitors with its unique culture and natural beauty.

Spend your last day in Haiti talking with your local guides and ask them to tell you stories about this great country. It may be your last day, but you still have a lot to learn about Haiti! After journeying through the streets of Haiti from Port-Au-Prince to the Saut-D’Eau Waterfall, you’ll have a greater understanding of the unique spirituality that is embedded into Haitian culture.

Welcome to Haiti! There’s an old adage that says Haiti is 90 percent Catholic, 10 percent Protestant, and 100 percent Voodoo. As you enter into this incredible country, you’ll see that it’s true. While churches and Christian relics and phrases are prominent, aspects of Voodoo are everywhere, especially if you know where to look. Unlike many churches you may see, Voodoo in Haiti more low-key with small temples tucked away from view. So let’s start this journey and learn more about Voodoo in Haiti. 


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