Spirited Things: Sacred Arts of the Black Atlantic

A UVM blog

Video Vodou TONIGHT!

The third “Video Vodou” film screening takes place TONIGHT (11/14) at 6:30 in the Champlain College Alumni Auditorium.

The film this week will be Judith Gleason and Elisa Mereghetti’s The King does not Lie: the Initiation of a Shango Priest

The film focuses on the elaborate rituals of initiation which confer priesthood in the religion called la Regla Lucumi  – more widely known as “Santeria” –  a New World recension of traditional Yoruba religion practiced in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and in urban centers throughout the United States and Europe.   The film offers an unprecedented and intimate view of initiation in these traditions.  The viewer follows the initiate into the very heart of the igbodu – the initiation chamber – where human and divine worlds intersect.

As we follow the initiate through a series of ritual events, a new perspective on ancient rites is revealed. The religion originated in Africa and the chants are sung in Yoruba. Rituals like these are the basis of ceremonies performed in churches and temples of established religions. Sacred stones washed in sacred, leafy waters become the energy for ritual purification and empowerment.

The anointment of head, feet and stones with the blood of sacrifice ensures atonement. On the third day the community gathers to witness the divination session in which the initiate receives his new name, “Oba Ko Puro,” translated from Yoruba as “The King Does Not Lie.” With the name, comes the story of the initiate’s transfer of allegiance from an outer/worldly to inner/spiritual authority. Combining ritual narration with poetic translation from Lucumi/Yoruba chants provides the viewer with an understanding of the literal and figurative dimensions of the ceremony. A film of special interest to students of comparative religion, ritual, and Afro-Caribbean culture.
Please join us for the viewing and a lively discussion to follow!

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