Pagan News of Note: Update on Vodou in Haiti, Maxine Sanders Interview, and More!

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  July 23, 2012 — 14 Comments

Welcome to the working week! I hope you’re all having as good a Monday as possible. Let’s start off with an important update on a previously reported story, and then move on to some Pagan news of note.

Haitian Government Reassures Vodouisants in Wake of Constitutional Changes: Last week I reported on the newly-amended Haitian constitution, and an assertion from Euvonie Auguste, head of the National Confederation of Haitian Vodou (KNVA), that it removes legal protections for Vodou practitioners.

Haitian Vodou Ceremony (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty).

Haitian Vodou Ceremony (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty).

“Voodoo would be no longer protected by the Constitution amended. The Priestess Euvonie Auguste, Head of the National Confederation of voodoo in Haiti, deplores the abrogation of Article 297 of the Constitution which, accrding to her protected the sector voodoo against all forms of discrimination. Recall that Article 297 abrogated amongst other things the Decree-Law of 5 September 1935 on superstitious beliefs that restricted arbitrarily the fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens. Given this new constitutional situation, the priestess Euvonie Augustus, stated that now, the vodoo practitioners will have to use their own means to protect themselves from any attacks against them.

At the time I cast some doubt on this assertion, noting that Haitian President Michel Martelly wants to build a tourism industry around Vodou, making a new crackdown on the faith unlikely. Now, Joël Turenne, Director of Legal Affairs of the Directorate General of Ministry of Religious Affairs, who apparently was stunned by these accusations, has released a statement denying that Vodou is in any way unprotected or endangered by the new constitution.

“…with stupefaction the apprehensions of Voodoo sector concerning the abrogation of Article 297 of the amended Constitution” brings to the attention of all concerned, that “the constitutional amendment is and can not be prejudicial in any way, nor to the functioning of voodoo, or the rights of its adherents”. Especially, he specifies that “the presidential decree of April 4, 2003 make of the Voodoo a religion recognized which should in no way be confused with a superstitious practice.”

The Director went on to claim that the infamous 1935 anti-Vodou law concerning superstitious practices is not applicable under the law as it has “never been promulgated.” This sentiment was echoed by American Haitian Vodou practioner Mambo Racine, who noted that the “definition of Vodou as a “superstitious practice” has gone out the window, that’s why the amendment regarding the prohibition of “superstitious practices” promoted during the long-ago regime of Haitian President Stenio Vincent is no longer needed.”  It remains to be seen if this clarification from the government will mollify the National Confederation of Haitian Vodou. I’ll keep you posted of any further developments.

Witchtalk Talks to A Witch Queen: Karagan Griffith’s Witchtalk interviewed Maxine Sanders on the most recent episode, and you can now listen to it on Youtube.

“Maxine was initiated into the Circle of Witchcraft in 1964. The High Priest of that Coven was Alex Sanders, known throughout the world as ‘King of the Witches’. Maxine and Alex were Handfasted in 1965, and legally married in 1968. The Sanders became household names during the sixties and seventies, dramatically bringing Witchcraft, its practices and reality into global consciousness.”

Sanders released a autobiography entitled “Fire Child: The Life & Magic of Maxine Sanders ‘Witch Queen'” back in 2007, and truly is an important figure in the history of modern Paganism. This interview is a must-listen, so share widely!

In Other News:

That’s all I have for now, have a great day!

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

    Eating fried chicken, pizza or hot dogs with a fork and/or knife is likely to make me doubt your character. It is barbaric behavior in my kitchen!

    • PhaedraHPS

       Oprah’s never been to an Ethiopian restaurant? Shame on her! There’s a couple of good ones in Chicago, as I recall.

      • Mia

         Yes, and they were at the Taste as well, one I think.

    • Lēoht Sceadusawol

      As far as I am concerned, cutlery has two purposes – food that will burn fingers and soup.

    • Guest

      Unless someone’s got a set of asparagus forks, fingers are easier for that too

      • The Real Jersey Girl

        According to Miss Manners it is perfectly acceptable to eat asparagus using your fingers.

        • Guest

          Then Miss Manners is welcome at my table anytime :)

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    If I’ve threaded my way properly through the Haitian news, the new constitution drops a bar to enforcement of a 1935 law against “superstitious practices,” but Vodou is not defined as a superstitious practice, so the religious freedom of its followers are safe.

    But that 1935 law is still on the books, and (one assumes) could be deployed against other practices. It sounds like some of the anti-fortunetelling laws we recently read about.

    I would feel safer about religious freedom in Haiti if that law were rescinded. But I’m an American, not a Haitian, so I’m trying to curb my impulse to export the First Amendment.

    • kenneth

      The wording of laws is only part of the equation in any case. An even bigger factor is the legal and political culture. We have a First Amendment, and that does not prevent governments from trying to screw us out of our freedoms. 

      • Lēoht Sceadusawol

         Don’t forget the religious/spiritual culture that will inform both politics and law.

        We may or may not agree with their stance/legislation/policies, but it is their culture not ours.

  • Guest

    Thank you Sallie Ann Glassman, and thank you Joan Rivers!  

  • Malaz
  • Krystal H.

    My parents get upset with me when we eat out and I start eating french fries with my hands. I just exclaim “Finger food! Finger food! It’s finger food!”

    My mom eats pizza with a knife and fork. I constantly tease her about it.

  • Obsidia

    Thank you for listing the interview with Maxine Sanders.  It is a treasure!  I’ll have to check out more of Karagan Griffith’s show!  I love his playful questions, and yet I can tell he has deep respect for this beautiful Elder.