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by Alan G. Hefner
Voodoo, a group of superstitious beliefs and practices including sorcery, serpent worship and sacrificial rites amongst the Western Indians. Voodoo, or Vaudoux, is said to be derived from a Dahomey word vodu meaning "gods", as a modification of African beliefs. The practice of voodoo is the national folk religion in Haiti, and also in the United States legitimate voodoo worship is permitted 1. It is basically a form of spiritualism in which gods are invoked to take possession of the priests, protect the worshippers, and perform feats of divination and magic. As with African tribal religions from which voodoo stems, illness and misfortune are considered involving hostility of neighbors or spirits, and it is the task of priest to discover the source of the hostility then to neutralize it.

1. Some states and communities have attempted to ban voodoo by prosecuting under animal-cruelty or anti-fortune telling statutes. However, the right to practice voodoo as a religion is guaranteed by the Constitution, and the ACLU and other religious-freedom groups have fought these prosecutions and won.

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