Dominican Vudú

Dominican Vudú, also known as Las 21 Divisiones (21 Divisions), is a syncretic religion of Caribbean origin which developed on the island of Hispaniola.

Dominican Vudú
RegionDominican Republic and Dominican diaspora
Colonial Hispaniola


Dominican Vudú is composed of three main divisions and an annexed extra: Rada Division also known as the white or sweet division, whose spirits are of African origin (usually Fon, Ewe and Nago spirits); the Petro Division also known as the fire or bitter division (mostly of Bantu origin spirits); the Gede Division also called black division (whose spirits deal with death and the ancestors); and lastly the Native American Division also called the water division, whose spirits are of Pre-Columbian origin (usually refers to Taíno ancestral spirits of the island). Most spirits are syncretized with a catholic saints image. These are some of the main features that distinguishes Dominican Vudú from other forms of Vodoo. Some major deities venerated in Dominican Vudú include:

  • Anaisa Pye, the loa of love and happiness. She is syncretized with Saint Anne.
  • Belie Belcan, the loa of justice and protection against demons. He is syncretized with Saint Michael the Archangel.
  • Candelo sé Difé, Loa of fire, also a warrior and protector spirit. Considered to be one of the Ogou, syncretized with Charles Borromeo.
  • Santa Marta Dominadora, or Filomena Lubana, the loa responsible for dominion over men. She is syncretized with Saint Martha.
  • Ogun Balenyo, the loa of warriors and soldiers. He is syncretized with Santiago.
  • Baron, the loa of death. He is syncretized with San Elías.
  • Metresili, the loa of love, beauty and wealth. She is syncretized with the Mater Dolorosa.


Dominican Vudú music uses Afro-Caribbean percussion, a lot of times it is played with drums popularly known as "Atabales or Palos", which are of Kongo origin; along with it a Guira (metal scraper). The drummers are known as "Paleros", the ceremonies which they perform are usually referred to as "Fiesta de Palo" or "Maní". Some of the most popular artists to record this music are Enerolisa Nuñez [1] and Bembesito.


Dominican Vudú is practiced through a Tcha-Tcha (“maraca” – which means rattle) lineage.[1] In Haiti, Vodoo has come about and become more popular through another lineage known as the Asson. However, before the Asson, the Tcha-Tcha lineage was the prominent lineage in Haiti. Thus the Tcha-Tcha lineage is one of the oldest lineages within the Vodou tradition all over the island.[1]

Dominican Vudú practitioners are often called "Caballos”, "Brujos" or "Servidores" but they are also known as Papa Bokos and Papa Loa (masculine); and Mama Mambos and Mama Loa (feminine). One who has obtained this title has gone through the last and highest level of initiation that can take anywhere between 3 and 9 days and nights as well as have spent a time working for the community.[1]

Differences with Haitian Vodou

Dominican Vudú is less uniform in comparison to the popularly known Haitian lineage called "Assogwe". There is much regional variation in the Dominican Republic and parts of Haiti, one will still surely find a base structure throughout the island that defines and connects all lineages. Altars or shrines range from shacks, to compounds, or even dedicated temples. There is also variations in how ceremonies are conducted or how "caballos" (horse of the spirit) may mount a specific Loa. In conclusion Differences depend on lineage and or region of practice no matter if in Haiti or the Dominican Republic. It is said that Vodou on the island is a big tree with many branches.


  1. ^ a b c Las 21 Divisiones ~ Dominican Vodou
Afro-American religion

Afro-American religion (also known as African diasporic religions) are a number of related religions that developed in the Americas in various nations of Latin America, the Caribbean, and in the state of Louisiana in the Southern United States. They derive from traditional African religions with some influence from other religious traditions, notably Christianity.


Afro-Dominicans are Dominicans of predominant Black African ancestry. They represent 5.26% of the Dominican Republic's population, according to the 1996 electoral census based on Dominican identity cards data, or 10.9% of the Dominican population, according to the 1960 population census (the last one in which race was queried).The majority of Black Dominicans descend from West Africans and Central Africans who arrived from the sixteenth to the early nineteenth century as a result of slavery, while many others descend from black freedman who came from the United States during the 19th century and black immigrants from the Anglo and French Caribbean islands who arrived during the 20th century. Currently there are also many black migrants, particularly from Haiti, who can be included within the Afro-Dominican demographics if they are legal citizens and have Dominican naturalization.

Black Dominicans make up a significant minority of the country's population, but there is a lack of recent official data and it is not possible to quantify their numbers because the National Office of Statistics (ONE) has not released racial data since 1960, though the Central Electoral Board collected racial data until 2014. According to a 2011 survey by Latinobarómetro, 26% of the Dominicans surveyed identified themselves as black.

Anaisa Pye

Anaisa Pye (alternatively, Anaisa Pie, Anaisa Pie Danto, or Anaisa La Chiquita) is a very popular loa within Dominican Vodou. She is considered the patron saint of love, money, and general happiness within the 21 Divisions. She is often considered extremely flirtatious, generous, and playful by her devotees. She, as well as other worshipers, are concerned for other female Loas, as they consider themselves able to provide for anything a person could request. In Roman Catholicism, she is syncretized with Saint Anne and her altars are often decorated with pictures and statues of Saint Anne and the child Mary. She is said to work very well with Belie Belcan, another popular Loa who is associated with Saint Michael the Archangel. Therefore, one will always find icons of Saint Anne next to icons of Saint Michael in Vodou households and temples. Her feast day is celebrated on 26 July and her favorite colors are yellow and pink. Some people consider Cachita to be one of her "puntos" (or incarnations).

Belie Belcan

Belie Belcan is a very popular loa within 21 Divisiones (Dominican Vudú).


Candomblé (Portuguese pronunciation: [kɐ̃dõmˈblɛ], "dance in honour of the gods") is an Afro-Brazilian religious tradition, practiced mainly in Brazil by the povo de santo ("people of saint"). Candomblé originated in Salvador, Bahia at the beginning of the 19th century, when the first temple was founded. Candomblé is practiced primarily in Brazil, and is also practiced in other Latin American countries, including Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Venezuela, having as many as two million followers.Candomblé developed in a creolization of traditional Yoruba, Fon, and Bantu beliefs brought from West and Central Africa by enslaved captives in the Portuguese Empire. Between 1549 and 1888, the religion developed in Brazil, influenced by the knowledge of enslaved African priests who continued to teach their religion, their culture, and language. In addition, Candomblé absorbed elements of Roman Catholicism and includes indigenous American traditions.As an oral tradition, it does not have holy scriptures. Practitioners of Candomblé believe in a Supreme Creator called Oludumaré, who is served by lesser deities, which are called Orishas. Every practitioner is believed to have their own tutelary orisha, which controls his or her destiny and acts as a protector. Music and dance are important parts of Candomblé ceremonies, since the dances enable worshippers to become possessed by the orishas. In the rituals, participants make offerings like minerals, vegetables, and animals. Candomblé does not include the duality of good and evil; each person is required to fulfill their destiny to the fullest, regardless of what that is.

Candomblé Jejé

Candomblé Jejé, also known as Brazilian Vodum, is one of the major branches (nations) of Candomblé. It developed in the Portuguese Empire among Fon and Ewe slaves. Jejé is a Yoruba word meaning stranger, which is what the Fon and Ewe slaves represented to the Yoruba slaves.


The Caribbean (, locally ) is a region of the Americas that consists of the Caribbean Sea, its islands (some surrounded by the Caribbean Sea and some bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean) and the surrounding coasts. The region is southeast of the Gulf of Mexico and the North American mainland, east of Central America, and north of South America.

Situated largely on the Caribbean Plate, the region has more than 700 islands, islets, reefs and cays (see the list of Caribbean islands). Island arcs delineate the eastern and northern edges of the Caribbean Sea: The Greater Antilles on the north and the Lesser Antilles on the south and east (which includes the Leeward Antilles). They form the West Indies with the nearby Lucayan Archipelago (the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands), which are sometimes considered Caribbean despite not bordering the Caribbean Sea. On the mainland, Belize, Nicaragua, the Caribbean region of Colombia, Cozumel, the Yucatán Peninsula, Margarita Island, and the Guyanas (Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, Guayana Region in Venezuela, and Amapá in Brazil) are often included due to their political and cultural ties with the region.Geopolitically, the islands of the Caribbean (the West Indies) are often regarded as a region of North America, though sometimes they are included in Central America or left as a region of their own. and are organized into 30 territories including sovereign states, overseas departments, and dependencies. From December 15, 1954, to October 10, 2010, there was a country known as the Netherlands Antilles composed of five states, all of which were Dutch dependencies. From January 3, 1958, to May 31, 1962, there was also a short-lived political union called the West Indies Federation composed of ten English-speaking Caribbean territories, all of which were then British dependencies. The West Indies cricket team continues to represent many of those nations.

Cuban Vodú

Cuban Vodú, also known as La Regla de Arará, is a syncretic religion of Caribbean origin which developed in the Spanish Empire. It is a religion formed from the blending of Fon and Ewe beliefs and Dahomey religion along with influences form Haitian Vodou. Loa are worshiped by the religion's practitioners. Even though much of the practices come from Haitian immigrants bringing Haitian Vodou to Cuba the Cuban practices differ in some ways. For instance: feats of strength are more common in ceremonies and dance movements differ. Cuban Vodú is composed of three divisions: the Indigenous American Division, whose spirits are of American origin (usually refers to Taíno spirits); the African Division, whose spirits are of African origin (usually Fon and Ewe spirits); and the European Division, whose spirits are of European origin (usually Spanish spirits).

Hoodoo (folk magic)

Hoodoo is a traditional African American folk spirituality that developed from a number of West African spiritual traditions and beliefs. Hoodoo is a mixture of various African religious practices created by enslaved Africans in the New World. These religious practices were held in secret away from white slave owners. Following the Great Migration, hoodoo practice spread throughout the United States.

Louisiana Voodoo

Louisiana Voodoo, also known as New Orleans Voodoo, describes a set of spiritual folkways developed from the traditions of the African diaspora. It is a cultural form of the Afro-American religions developed by the West and Central African populations of the U.S. state of Louisiana, though its practitioners are not exclusively of African-American descent. Voodoo is one of many incarnations of African-based spiritual folkways, rooted in West African Dahomeyan Vodun. Its liturgical language is Louisiana Creole French, the language of the Louisiana Creole people.

Voodoo became syncretized with the Catholic and Francophone culture of New Orleans as a result of the African cultural oppression in the region as part of the Atlantic slave trade. Louisiana Voodoo is often confused with—but is not completely separable from—Haitian Vodou and Deep Southern Hoodoo. It differs from Haitian Vodou in its emphasis upon gris-gris, Voodoo queens, use of Hoodoo paraphernalia, and Li Grand Zombi. It was through Louisiana Voodoo that such terms as gris-gris (a Wolof term) and "Voodoo dolls"' were introduced into the American lexicon.


Mysticism is the practice of religious ecstasies (religious experiences during alternate states of consciousness), together with whatever ideologies, ethics, rites, myths, legends, and magic may be related to them. It may also refer to the attainment of insight in ultimate or hidden truths, and to human transformation supported by various practices and experiences.The term "mysticism" has Ancient Greek origins with various historically determined meanings. Derived from the Greek word μύω, meaning "to close" or "to conceal", mysticism referred to the biblical, liturgical, spiritual, and contemplative dimensions of early and medieval Christianity. During the early modern period, the definition of mysticism grew to include a broad range of beliefs and ideologies related to "extraordinary experiences and states of mind".In modern times, "mysticism" has acquired a limited definition, with broad applications, as meaning the aim at the "union with the Absolute, the Infinite, or God". This limited definition has been applied to a wide range of religious traditions and practices, valuing "mystical experience" as a key element of mysticism.

Broadly defined, mysticism can be found in all religious traditions, from indigenous religions and folk religions like shamanism, to organised religions like the Abrahamic faiths and Indian religions, and modern spirituality, New Age and New Religious Movements.

Since the 1960s scholars have debated the merits of perennial and constructionist approaches in the scientific research of "mystical experiences". The perennial position is now "largely dismissed by scholars", most scholars using a contextualist approach, which takes the cultural and historical context into consideration.

Outline of the Dominican Republic

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to the Dominican Republic:

Dominican Republic – sovereign state occupying the eastern five-eighths of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean region. Its capital, Santo Domingo, was Western Europe's first permanent settlement in, and the first seat of Spanish colonial rule in the New World. For most of its independent history, the nation experienced political turmoil and unrest, suffering through many non-representative and tyrannical governments. Since the death of military dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina in 1961, the Dominican Republic has moved toward representative democracy.

Religion in Africa

Religion in Africa is multifaceted and has been a major influence on art, culture and philosophy. Today, the continent's various populations and individuals are mostly adherents of Christianity, Islam, and to a lesser extent several traditional African religions. In Christian or Islamic communities, religious beliefs are also sometimes characterized with syncretism with the beliefs and practices of traditional religions.

Tambor de Mina

Tambor de Mina is an Afro-Brazilian religious tradition, practiced mainly in Brazilian states of Maranhão, Piauí, Pará, and the Amazônia.


A veve (also spelled vèvè or vevè) is a religious symbol commonly used in different branches of Vodun throughout the African diaspora such as Haitian Vodou. Veves should not be confused with the patipembas used in Palo, nor the pontos riscados used in Umbanda and Quimbanda since these are separate African religions. The veve acts as a "beacon" for the Loa, and will serve as a loa's representation during rituals.

West African Vodun

Vodun (meaning spirit in the Fon and Ewe languages, pronounced [vodṹ] with a nasal high-tone u; also spelled Vodon, Vodoun, Vodou, Voudou, Voodoo, etc.) is practiced by the Fon people of Benin, and southern and central Togo; as well in Ghana, and Nigeria.

It is distinct from the various traditional African religions in the interiors of these countries and is the main source of religions with similar names found among the African diaspora in the Americas, such as Haitian Vodou; Dominican Vudú; Cuban Vodú; Brazilian Vodum (candomblé jeje and tambor de mina); Puerto Rican Vudú (Sanse); and Louisiana Voodoo.

Diverse roots
By geography
Wide issues


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