Dolls and spirits: a Voodoo ceremony in Togo

12 December 2017 

In a remote village of Togo not marked on maps, we attend a voodoo ceremony where people possessed by spirits fall into a trance. Village healers, fetishes and amulets, voodoo dolls and voodoo divinities. Let's discover more about Voodoo and its related ceremonies.

Voodoo fetish Voodoo sanctuary
In southern Togo there are villages still not marked on most maps and without a precise road to get there. Today we will try to learn more about a Voodoo ceremony, attending a real Voodoo ritual and explaining everything through photos and some videos. So, let's start from the entrance to one of these villages, where a fetish (a kind of voodoo doll representing a divinity) is covered and surrounded by offers brought by the followers of the voodoo religion, the most important faith in this part of the country.
Clay house Traditional houses in Togo
Rural Togo Togo
Togo village Village in Africa
Children in Africa Village in Togo
This village in southern Togo is not far from the capital of Lome, but it is not reported on most maps. The buildings are mainly made of raw clay and have a thatched roof: they are probably among the most traditional and picturesque we encountered during our whole tour in West Africa.
Children in Togo
Children are always very curious and happy to meet tourists, an event that certainly does not happen frequently.

Before attending the Voodoo ceremony, we continue to explore this beautiful village among buildings showing a very traditional architecture.
Woman in an african village
Fetishes Hanging a fetish on a wall
Fetish protecting the house
Outside the houses, fetishes protect the building and its occupants from negativity and evil spirits. A fetish is prepared with various items and made more powerful adding parts of animals. A voodoo priest consecrates them, conferring the desired properties through specific voodoo rites and intercessions with the deities.
Cassava flour Tapioca
How to make the tapioca
One of the village's activities is the production of tapioca, a starch derived from cassava flour. The minced manioc is put to decant in large containers, then the solid part that settles on the floor is dried by covering it with ash. Besides an excellent food, the local population also attributes to it aphrodisiac properties.
Voodoo dance Woman in trance during a voodoo ceremony
Voodoo Voodoo rituals
Near the main square of the village, we finally come across a voodoo ceremony, for which we get the permission to attend to, from the village's chief. During the celebration, under the constant rhythm of the drums, the participants to the voodoo ceremony dance all around, while others fall into a kind of trance as soon as a voodoo spirit takes possession of the person.
Voodoo ritual Voodoo ceremonies
Voodoo ceremony Voodoo spirit in a woman
State of trance Attending a voodoo ceremony
Person in trance Possessed person
Voodoo celebrations Voodoo ceremony
Voodoo spirit Person possessed by a spirit
Photos of voodoo celebration showing some people in a state of trance while possessed by a spirit. The voodoo religion is actually based on spirits, on which the ceremonies are centered: the adepts ask the deities for favors, offering in exchange gifts and food. The rituals are then repeated in the form of thanksgiving when the favor requested, such as recovering from an illness, finding a job or having a child, is satisfied.

A video showing a woman in a trance possessed by a voodoo spirit.
Voodoo dolls Voodoo divinity
The voodoo ritual takes place around a small temple where a huge Voodoo doll, actually and more properly a "fetish", represents the divinity.
Village healer Voodoo doll
Fetish on the wall The meeting with the village healer is very interesting as well. Since the Voodoo is a religion based on spirits, it is not surprising that the treatment of an illness or a sickness, starts just from the spiritual aspect, rather than from the physical one. The healer knows the power of medicinal herbs, but above of all he knows the deities with whom he intercedes to consecrate, through specific voodoo rites, dolls and amulets prepared with the most odd ingredients. His home is full of fetishes, adored and honored with food and gifts, while a large fetish of crocodile, the main healing divinity, is cared with perfumed talcum powder and with eggs placed in his mouth (his favorite food). Naturally, if voodoo rituals, voodoo dolls, fetishes, amulets and medicinal plants are not enough to heal the patient, the same village healer send him to a normal hospital.
Scorpion-like fetish
A scorpion-like fetish in the village healer's house.

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