What Is Voodoo Possession? Exploration of Rituals 

Updated August 24, 2021
Voodoo Dolls, Akodessawa Fetish Market

Voodoo is a religion wrapped in mystery and misconception, which causes many people to fear it. So, it's natural to think that Voodoo possession is like the movies when a person is possessed and turned into a zombie, but it's not. A true Voodoo possession is part of a religious ritual. The possessed person deliberately chooses to and allows a spirit to take control.

How Voodoo Possession Happens

Voodoo possession by spirits is a sacred act of the Voodoo religion. If you practice Voodoo, then you can ask a spirit to possess you during a Voodoo ceremony. The purpose of Voodoo possession is to receive advice or a healing from the spirit. During a Voodoo ceremony, a spirit (Loa) will enter (ride) the individual. If you're possessed, then as a Voodoo practitioner, you consider being chosen by the spirit to ride you like a horse into the physical world as the highest spiritual honor you could have.

Before you enter the ceremony circle, you must offer a prayer-request to the spirits. Whatever you need help with is what you should pray for. You'll then enter the circle and begin to dance to the rhythm of the drummers. Those not inside the circle will chant. You'll quicken your dance to match that of the ever-increasing drumbeat.

While you're dancing, the priest or priestess will decide what spirits to invite into the ceremony circle. She/he will draw the spirit's symbol onto the ground inside the circle, using rum and cornmeal to entice the spirits while paying homage to them with food and drink. These spirits are the go-betweens for humans and God (Bondye). They are known as the invisibles and referred to as Loa or Lwa.

These spirits have very distinct personalities with strong likes and dislikes. They can be quirky and eccentric. For example, most require specific object be used to conjure them, such as a conch shell. Before you ever enter a ceremony circle, you should know as much as you can about the spirits being invited into the circle to ensure you're successful.

How Spirits Interact With the Possessed

If the spirits accept the invitation into the circle and one chooses you, the moment the spirit possesses you, you'll most likely fall to the ground under the power of their energy. Others in your circle will need to help you regain your footing as the spirit rides you. When this happens, you'll be aware that you're possessed by the spirit, but you won't have any control over your body. You'll watch as your body moves under the spirit physically possessing you.

If you do something out of character, it will be the spirit, not you, that is responsible. Not every spirit acts the same. Some spirits are quite gentle, and you won't be as aware of their presence as you will if one of the more energetic and aggressive spirits rides you. As the spirit reigns over your body, your voice will also belong to it. You'll experience glossolalia (speaking in tongues). After all, the whole purpose of the spirit possessing you is to communicate with you. This is the point where you should be most attentive. The spirit you summoned with your prayer has chosen to respond, so it will impart knowledge, prophecy, a warning, or a healing to you. The most common purpose anyone requests spirit possession is to either diagnose an illness or fulfill a request for a healing.

Priestess Miriam Holding Snake Voodoo Spiritual Temple

Voodoo Possession With Black Magic

You may still be wondering about those Hollywood movies about Voodoo possession. You know, the ones where the Voodoo dolls have pins jabbed into a tender part of the person's body. While Hollywood enjoys exploiting the Voodoo black magic, in truth, the doll isn't necessary for a black magic possession spell. The doll is simply a visual prop. In order to cast a spell, all the priest or priestess needs are personal items, such as a piece of your clothing, hair, and/or fingernail clippings. In fact, it used to be customary for people to keep their fingernail clippings and destroy/bury them along with the hair from their hairbrush so no one could cast a black magic spell on them.

While black magic rituals for possessing another person aren't impossible, they aren't part of mainstream of Voodoo. Black magic and white magic are two distinct practices. Most Vodou priests and priestesses practice white magic and avoid black magic completely. However, there's always a few who do. Of course, the magic itself is neutral. It simply exists. It's the intentions of the individual wielding it that transforms it into either black magic or white magic.

Signs of Black Magic Voodoo Possession

Some people claim to be cursed or possessed by Voodoo black magic. There is a litany of symptoms for black magic Voodoo possession. A few of those include:

  • Career setbacks
  • Dry mouth at night
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Financial losses
  • Forgetfulness
  • Insomnia
  • Lack of interest in life
  • Obesity or weight loss
  • Onset of fear
  • Severe fatigue
  • Tightness in body parts
  • Unable to dream or recall dreams
  • Unfounded anger and irritation

There are other stages in a Voodoo possession process that take the person in a downward spiral of bad health, illness, disease, and eventual death.

What Is Voodoo Possession?

Voodoo religion is a blending of the spiritual world and the physical world with the goal of assisting in individual spiritual growth. The spirit world in Voodoo is invited to "ride" the individual like a horse, to eat the foods prepared, and to impart wisdom, advice, and healing energy to the ill and suffering.

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What Is Voodoo Possession? Exploration of Rituals