Vodou is primarily practiced in Haiti, New Orleans, and other locations within the Caribbean. There is great variation within Voodoo beliefs and practices. Many Vodou practitioners also consider themselves Catholics. Voodooism involves spiritual beings.
As well as being the priest or priestess, the houngan acts as confessor, confidential and financial advisor, prophet and healer for the people in the community. But the houngan is more a folk healer with a considerable knowledge of herbal remedies who treats minor illnesses. While selling love potions and protective charms, including small bags to be worn for protection or for good luck, may be a lucrative side business for a priest or priestess, the primary occupation is still as a spiritual leader of his community. Voodooists especially places value on the strength of community for support.
Loa or Spiritual Beings
The spirits of death, The Guédé are really an enormous group of the loa who are the spirits of formerly living people. He is the one who controls the passage between life and death. In ritual, he is often offered black goats or chickens. The most frequently performed ritual in Voodoo is one that invokes a particular loa (supernatural beings) to offer food to him and seek his presence on earth.
The most important components of a human body, however, are the two parts of the soul, the ti-bon-ange (‘little good angel’) and the gros-bon-ange (‘great good angel’). The gros-bon-age keeps the body alive, and after death, it returns to the reservoir of energy in the cosmos. Without the gros-bon-ange a person loses his/ her life-force. The ti-bon-ange makes up the half of a person’s soul and it is the source of a person’s personality. Furthermore, it is responsible for determining an individual’s characteristics, personality and will.
In Voodoo belief, death is not seen as the end of life, but as a change. The soul – the gros-bon-ange and the ti-bon-ange – endures after death in a different form. The gros-bon-ange returns to the high solar regions where it joins the other loa (supernatural being) and is itself transformed into a loa. Approximately a year after the death, the houngan (priest) performs a ritual, to ensure that the ti-bon-ange is put to rest. This ritual is very important because otherwise the ti-bon-ange may wonder the earth and bring illness and disaster on others.
A Distinctive Human Soul
A human person is a UNIQUE INDIVIDUAL BEING with a spiritual soul and a material body. Human beings alone are created in the image and likeness of God; and therefore, possess rational and spiritual souls: a human person is a body/soul composite.