Voodoo Spiritualism and Ecology

By: Alan S. Weber  

Although Haitian Voodoo–a syncretic new world religion based on West African cults such as the Vodun of the Ewe and Fon – has been well documented by sociologists and theologians, the practices of Voodoo have not received sufficient attention in ecocritical and ecotheological scholarship. The religion’s relationship to fetishes and nature worship is founded on the worship of ancestral spirits, called the Lwa (Loa) who “have dominion over natural elements, such as fire, water, wind, trees, and plants, including the secrets of the medicinal properties of these elements and illnesses and their cures.” Ironically, Haiti has suffered some of the world’s greatest anthropogenic ecological disasters in the modern period – deforestation from charcoal production, soil erosion and degradation, water pollution, and unregulated solid waste accumulation. Thus the question arises of how a theology rooted in the natural world should confront unwise stewardship of natural resources that results in real-world human harms such as malnutrition, over-population, disease, and poverty.

Voodoo-Vaudou, Comparative Ecotheology, Haiti
Religious Community and Socialization
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Dr. Alan S. Weber

Professor, English, Cornell University

Dr. Alan S. Weber is a Full Professor of English who teaches in the Pre-medical Program at WCMC-Q, a satellite campus of Cornell University in the Middle East. Dr. Weber previously taught literature, writing, and the history of science and medicine at Cornell University, Ithaca, The Pennsylvania State University, and Elmira College. His research interests include language, healthcare communication, history, and the social and cultural dimensions of science and medicine. He is the editor of 19th Century Science (2000), and Because It's There: A Celebration of Mountaineering Literature (2001), and is the author of specialized publications on Shakespeare, women in medicine, and 17th century medicine.