The thing about darkness that makes it so bad is that it is dark! I have had the opinion of many missionaries that come to Haiti that voodoo is false religion that is full of lies and based on fear. Now I have changed my opinion somewhat. I still believe that lies are fear are much of voodoo but it is not a false religion. For the people in Haiti it is an everyday way of life. Whether you are a Christian or not it is a regular part of your life and a reality. Let me share a few of the things that have been hardest for me to understand and believe but are taken as facts and reality to practically everyone I know in Haiti- including pastors and our closest friends. I want to understand these issues better- not out of curiosity, but out of a need to be able to minister to our people. I have to understand the depth of their belief and what areas I can help them see the light. It does me no good to curse the darkness without shedding light (thanks pastor Ruffin). This hits home for me because our two boys that live with us both come from voodoo practicing families and so it is total reality to them.
Here is how the information comes to me. I am stating it as fact because that is how it is believed.
First there are a few terms you need to be familiar with. A voodoo priest or witch doctor or sorcerer as we would say in English is called a Bokor (Bo'- ku) if he is male and a Mambo if she is female. They are said to practice magic "with both hands". Meaning good magic and bad magic.
A Loogau is someone that has been turned into a soceror by a Bokor and is bad. They are usually a normal person by day but are responsible for killing babies. If you go to the Bokor's house too often they will turn you into a Loogau. It is possible to be a loogau and not know it. If you are the first one to cry at your grandmother's funeral and she was a Loogau, then you will be a loogau. A loogau turns into an animal at night to do bad things. The most common are bats, rats, and cats. But even pigs, dogs, or donkeys are known to be loogau. The most common thing they do is to enter a house and make a baby sick or kill it. Then the baby goes to the bokor for a healing or it dies and the bokor digs it up to eat it and use it for spells. Some villages have thousands of loogau. If you know your baby was made sick by a loogau, you can take it to the loogau and threaten to kill them. If you do they can make a tea to give your baby and they will be instantly healed. But to do that makes you a target to be killed too. A loogau turns into an animal but leaves his human body somewhere secret. If another loogau knows where the body is it can come and put hot peppers and salt on the body and the loogau can't reenter the body and it dies. If you kill the loogau while it is an animal and you burn the animal completely, the human body dies where it is at sunrise. A loogau only enters houses of non-Christians because of fear of being defeated by the good spirits that guard the house of Christians.
Bokor make loogau so that they will go around making people sick so the bokor will have business. Sometimes bokor make people sick with an evil spirit so that the people have to come to them and pay for a healing. If one bokor can't heal you, he will send you to a bokor specialist for the healing.
A zombie is someone that the Bokor kills and then raises from the dead to be his slave. When someone is a zombie he or she does not remember anyone from before. They cannot speak but they can do work. If you see someone that you know died and they are now alive working at the house of the bokor, you cannot say anything to them or anything or the bokor will turn you into a zombie too. You have to act like you never saw them. You can't tell anyone because the bokor will know. There was a documented case on Haitian T.V. that included the police and ivestigators and the zombie was made after the person spent a few days in the morgue before being buried. The father of the deceased waited at the grave for the bokor to come and then attacked him after he raised the son from the dead. He then tied the son up and took him home. After some time the son can't walk and can't talk but he is alive. It aired on St. Marc T.V. several times.
A "flash"- Young people cannot be in the streets after 11 or 11:30 pm because the bokor will "flash" them and they will soon die. Then they are zombified. The flash is just with a light of some kind but it labels you for the evil spirit to know you. It is like marking you with a mark to let the spirit know to possess you and kill you. Sometimes if you know you were flashed you can take off your clothes before you go into your house and the spirit will not enter the house and you will not die. If you get possessed you can ask for intercession and sometimes the spirit can be cast out and you will live.
Powder is a concoction made from corpses of dead people or dried puffer fish (some confusion here) and is used to kill people. It can be bought from the bokor. You can put it in the top of a coke bottle and when it is opened the powder puffs out and the person gets sick and eventually dies. Any way to get the person to inhale or step on or in some way touch the powder. Powder is the most common way that people use the bokor to kill people. Although you can just pay him to send an evil spirit to kill or make someone sick too.
You have to be careful who you talk to if you do not know them. They may be a loogau and if you tell them where you live they can go ahead of you to your house and turn into a bad animal and kill you then go in your house and rob you. Loogau also turn into animals to enter houses of young non-Christian women to rape them. They also suck the blood of young children for power.
Now this is not the story as it comes from those who practice voodoo. This is the belief of practically every single person I know. It is all taken as fact. I spent 3 hours today talking to a pastor at my house along with a good friend and they confirmed everything I had been told. They also agreed with me that the bokor has power because people believe it. They agreed with that. But if you say I am not going to believe in the bokor any more because I do not want him to have power... it is too late. You already believe. He already has the power. You can't not believe so that he won't have power.
So there is Haitian voodoo 101. Most Haitians do not want outsiders to know what they believe. They do not like to even talk about it because of the power it has. So there is our battle. To shine light into darkness. We hold to 1 John 4:4- "Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world".