Metalloween Pt. 2: The Voodoo Playlist
As a faith, Vodou (used in Haiti), or Voodoo (a common spelling used by French and Louisianan practitioners), is fascinating. The idea that voodoo is simply a form of unholy witchcraft was perpetuated by slavers who were scared of nontraditional religion (and whose shittiness probably meant they were only introduced to vodou when a pin was plunged into a doll).
Voodoo is a syncretized religion, meaning it is a combination of various beliefs and philosophies, and a major one is Catholicism. The loa, voodoo’s core pantheon of spiritual beings, aren’t so much gods as they are communicators between humanity and the Supreme Creator, called Bondye. That said, voodoo does involve a lot of sorcery, has several awesome death gods, and introduced the Western World to one of its favorite monsters, the zombie.
The word zombie was first popularized in William Seabrook’s The Magic Island, a travelogue of Haiti that focused heavily on the weirder practices of voodoo. Zombies are corpses raised by a bokor, a sorcerer or witch doctor, and are usually those forsaken by Baron Samedi, the lord of the dead. Primarily, zombies acted as cheap and inexhaustible labor, though they were also useful in murdering troublemakers and enemies. Their dead eyes, terrifying figures, steely demeanors, and sinister purposes made them popular horror villains in classic horror movies like 1932’s White Zombie and 1966’s Plague of the Zombies. It was only later, thanks to George Romero, that zombie became associated with hive-minded flesh-eaters (and for the record, Romero originally called his walking corpses ‘ghouls’).
More metal perhaps than zombies (if anything can be more metal than a walking corpse) are the loa themselves. The invisibles appear on earth via possession, riding humans they call “horses”, and they range from kindly and relaxed to vulgar, violent, and sexual. Their tastes are also very human; common offerings to Baron Samedi include cigars, rum, and coffee (in American Horror Story, the Samedi equivalent is offered a fat bump of coke). Papa Legba, the god of the crossroads, likes pipe tobacco, sparkling water, and dogs, while the snake god Damballah enjoys honey. Meanwhile, the loa most closely associated with Satan, Kalfu, will accept any offer so long as it’s made with respect, but will bring you to your knees if he senses you disrespecting him (he’s sort of the Hatebreed of the loa).
In honor of the loa, here are thirteen tracks about voodoo, spiritual possession, and the living dead. Enjoy, and stay out of the swamps when you hear the beating of drums.