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10 Questions with Kenaz Filan

Kenaz Filan is an author of books on Haitian Vodou, trance possession, New Orleans Vodou, and the shamanic uses of poppies. In this article, he is interviewed by Rebecca Elson–Mak

1. For my readers who may not be familiar, what is Voodoo?
Voodoo is a family of spiritual and magical practices which draw inspiration from the religions of Dahomey – an area comprising modern-day Benin and parts of Togo. Both in Africa and in the African Diaspora, they have incorporated many other traditions as well: there is a strong influence from Kongo and Bantu (central/southern African) and Yorubaland (modern-day Nigeria), combined with a large helping of Freemasonry and Roman Catholicism. Among the traditions which arise from this root are Vodu Dominicano and Vodu Cubano (Cuban and Dominican Vodou), Haitian Vodou, Beninois Vodun, and New Orleans Voodoo.

2. What drew you to Voodoo?
In 1994 I encountered a spirit who identified himself as “Legba” and who told me I was going to become an initiate in Haitian Vodou. At that time Vodou was not really accessible to non-Haitians living in the US, and so I was skeptical.

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