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Sex and Voodoo

Do that voodoo sex you do so well.

Cast a spell in New York, have sex with a voodoo doll, make someone have an orgasm in Los Angeles. Perhaps with future studies of Haitian Vodou spirituality, this kind of fantasy can someday be available online. Voodoo sex spells and magic have become the thing of legends, yet they are still practiced by Voodoo priestesses and shysters alike. A once powerful and mystic folkway, the Americanized incarnation of voodoo has bled its way into pop culture.

The origins of sex in Vodou, the predecessor of Louisiana Voodoo and the inspiration for films such as Angel Heart, starring Lisa Bonet, are steeped in spiritual folkways. Vodou promotes fertility, and Haitian culture encouraged male polygamy. Conversely, Vodou is quite explicit in regards to sex in ceremonial settings. Vodou forbids sex in the context of spiritual ceremonies. Vodouisants often observe sexual abstinence on sacred nights and before or after particular ceremonies. New initiates to the Vodou way are sometimes required to abstain for up to 41 days after initiation. The American entertainment industry's version of Voodoo explicitly intertwined sex and ceremony, most famously in the Mickey Rourke, Robert DeNiro, and Lisa Bonet film Angel Heart

Angel Heart

The film pushed the envelope as far as ratings were concerned. There is no question that nothing can do justice to this film like the unrated version. The film industry’s official rating was a big X, a rare and unusual situation in the movie industry. The board was so evenly split, but to properly appeal, Alan Parker would have needed a ⅔ majority, and did not bother appealing. The ultimate R rating was due to a toned-down erotic element in a graphic sexual scene between Mickey Rourke and Lisa Bonet, more famous for having costarred with the notorious Bill Cosby then anything else.

Angel Heart has been a darling of critics and is still fiercely debated today for its unique contribution to film history. Wired magazine has called it one of the top 25 best horror films of all time. Forbes named it on their list of the best cult classic horror films of all time. Den of Geek referred to it as one of the most under-appreciated films from the 1980s. The movie is consistently ranked as one of the top movie plot twists in movie history. Little known fact, modern cinema illusionist and director Christopher Nolan said the film was a direct influence on Memento, his 2000 masterpiece.

Numerous actresses auditioned for the juicy role of Epiphany Proudfoot, and Lisa Bonet's casting in Angel Heart created significant controversy. Alan Parker had never heard of Bonet, he based his decision solely on her audition. He said he never saw an episode of The Cosby Show. Bonet has said of her role, "I did a lot of meditation and a lot of self-inquiry. I did some research on voodoo. My earnest endeavor was really to let go of all my inhibitions. It was really necessary for me to be able to let go of Lisa and let Epiphany take over." The Author of Falling Angel was both a fan of Parker and the transition from novel to film. Angel Heart's ironic footnote to the entire state of sexuality and hypocrisy in America from the late 80s through the 21st century rests in Bill Cosby’s official statement on Bonet's role. He said the film is "a movie made by white America that cast a black girl, gave her voodoo things to do and have sex." Where would we all be without his pearls of wisdom? The centerpiece scene of the film was put together by Louis Falco, who had previously choreographed the film Fame by director Alan Parker and starring Irene Cara. The erotic scene between Rourke and Bonet was filmed in an abandoned building on Royal Street in New Orleans. At over four hours of shooting, the audience was limited to a handful of people. Parker broadcast music and encouraged the actors to improvise on top of a finely choreographed scene by Falco. The result is a masterpiece of pop culture voodoo eroticism but a far stretch from the reality of Vodou Lwa ceremonial spirit sex.

Photo via Reuters

Vodou Loa Spirit Sex

Vodou reserves the most explicit sexual behavior for the spirits of the dead. Among the sexually active are Baron Samedi, his wife Maman Brigitte, and their children the Loa Guédé. The sexual mimicry in ceremonies with these "animated cadavers" borders on grotesque, and at the same time is wildly sexual and often funny. The signature dance is called the banda. It is a very accurate visual mime of the Loa having sexual intercourse full of over exaggerated gestures moving to a staccato rhythm. Though this ritualistic behavior has been popularized in main stream movies and TV, actual participants in authentic vodou ceremonies avoid looking directly at one another to avoid sexual arousal. 

The banda ritual dance is meant to more individual and less intimate. It should feel like the individual is in a rhythmic state of heightened sense. The eyes are opened when the Loa is in your mind, and the spirits have assumed control of the body. The vodou dancer is serving the Loa. Practitioners believe the Loa can do what it wants with their body, and are immune to pleasure or pain. No one comes to a vodou dance for sexual stimulation. In fact, many observants explain that men are supposed to avoid erection while deep in the banda, and women are to avoid masturbation. The dance is an expression of strength and health as well as a mindful exercise in movement and song. Anything sensual in nature is actually discouraged while in the service of the Loa.

The Voodoo Style

Vodou dance attire is unusually mundane. The men tend to wear their everyday clothing, such as jeans and a white shirt. The women wear soft full skirts and colored kerchiefs on their head. Some island worshippers dress more formally in African style, but more contemporary practices are without care for such concerns as appearance and ego. Men keep the shirts on and women keep their skirts down. Clothing gets drenched, as ritual dancing can go on for hours. The drummers who maintain the beat are often shirtless. Otherwise the intense beat, the heat, and exhaustion becomes physically dangerous. Rituals are religious in nature, non-sexual and non-violent, and for the most part have a spiritual vibe. The absence of violence or bodily harm gets twisted in pop culture from such films as Steven Segal’s action hit Marked for Death, where a voodoo priest by the name of Screw Face leads a posse of voodoo drug dealing thugs. Drug dealers come in all sort of styles. Voodoo is not the typical drug dealer style. Voodoo has a chill light side and a darker, more complex nature. Voodoo's darker elements are dramatized and fictionalized by Hollywood films and characters like Martin Sheen playing a psychiatrist in New York, who discovers a Voodoo cult. Again based in a manipulation of voodoo folk lore, The Believers distorts and confuses the centuries-old practice. Child sacrifice leads Sheen into a bloody world of voodoo nonsense.

Photo via Doktor Snake

Sex Magic

Sex and magic have a spiritual connection. But commercialization and advertisements boldly declaring voodoo magical powers again twist the centuries-old folkway. "By sticking a needle in a representational magic doll, the practitioners of voodoo can physically hurt an enemy. This is called sympathetic magic. And by giving a hard jab to a sex doll, believers in voodoo can have magical, remote sex with their distant object of desire. The sex doll symbolizes the intended lover. After pricking the life size voodoo doll, physical orgasms have been known to occur."

The reality is voodoo sex magic is the work of the Mambos and the Houngans. Clients of these practitioners sometimes wish to attract a specific lover and secure the fidelity of a spouse. There are spells often referred to as wanga that may ensure love and the sexual prowess of an individual. There are perhaps more wanga love spells then there any other type of spells in vodou. Clearly this is part of the pop culture association of voodoo and sex. These spells do not involve pricking a needle into a doll. An example of a spell involves putting particular food items in a clay pot, tying a sting around a cloth wrapped around the clay pot. While wrapping and tying, the practitioner invokes the spiritual influence of the desired love interest.

For example, one very simple wanga involves filling a clay pot with certain food items and then wrapping it tightly with a cloth and then again with string, while invoking for influence over the desired person. While rubbing and stroking the top of the clay pot, the person spiritually projects rubbing the head of the desired lover, thereby making the desired person susceptible to a spell’s influence and filled with desire.

There are very helpful herbal baths that are used to attract the passions of a sex partner. Sex organs are sometimes utilized in small ways to ensure the Mambo’s love wanga is successful.

Many of the love spells are attributable to the important role fertility plays in determining sexual behavior. Men are encouraged to father children. Homosexual men, while not judged for sexual preference, are expected to father children. The importance attached to fertility was at the heart of the popularity of polygamy in Haitian culture.

Photo via lonely planet

Festival of Sex

Held in the middle of July, the Saut d'Eau Vodou festival is a celebration of fertility. The festival is held outside the town of Mirebalais on the central plateau of Haiti, near waterfalls that are sacred to the Loa spirits of love and luxury. The water from the falls is believed to contain powers and promote fertility. Many attend the festival specifically to help them bear children. The festival encourages the pleasures of ones sexuality and women enjoy a relatively decent amount of sexual latitude during the festival in order to procreate.

"A famous Houngan of Bel Air, in Port-au-Prince, the late Dieu Bon, once took a young woman to Saut d'Eau. The young woman then astonished Dieu Bon by having sexual relations with a whole series of men! Dieu Bon lamented, 'If she had gone and had fun with one or two, I wouldn't have said anything. Let her have her fun, it's Saut d'Eau! But so MANY!' Sexuality is celebrated and facilitated as the normal physical manifestation of a healthy adult; Yet it is completely subordinated to service of spiritual principles during vodou ceremonies"

Hoodoo Sex Potions

Grouping a number of sexually oriented superstitions with voodoo traditions of Louisiana is hoodoo magic. These spells and practices make for fascinating subjects of discussion. Voodoo sexuality from hoodoo magic appeals to many open-minded lovers of kink. A popular hoodoo concoction is to take jimson weed, then mix it with honey and sulfur. The resulting potion is poured into a glass. The glass is then rubbed against the fur of a black cat. Incantations are recited. Drinking it before sex is said to create a level of spiritual eroticism rarely experienced.

The apparent relationship between voodoo and sex is steeped in the long history of the mysterious spiritual tradition. Still practiced by almost half the Haitian population, the practice of the religion has faded in the United States to a small group of people. Practice has been replaced with recognition and pop culture status. The sexualization of voodoo in TV, film, and photo shoots driven by mainstream media entranced the public during the later 20th century. For generations to come, the once secret and mystical religion has become synonymous with kinky sexual practices.

"Let me live beneath your spell. Do that voodoo that you do so well, because you do something that nobody else can do.—Cole Porter & Hedley Lamarr     

Practice Voodoo at Home

Whether you're looking to inflict pain upon your enemies or reward your lover, buying a voodoo doll is the first step for the beginning voodoo enthusiast. The Voodoo Doll by Accoutrements is a great start to this complex and age-old art form.

Voodoo Doll by Accoutrements

The stuffed Voodoo Doll by Accountrements stands 9" tall, and is endorsed by a couple of witch doctors and a guy named Stan. It contains five white pins (used to bestow favor upon people) and five black pins, (used to punish your enemies). Put a smile, or a pin, on someone's face with this beginner voodoo set.

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