Earlier this year I did some research on Ifa/Orisha/Orisa, Voodoo/Vodun, Santeria and the relationship with the worship rituals of the African diaspora, especially in the US. Some of my exploration came from my personal spiritual quest.
Voodoo comes from Orisha, the Yoruba word for "saints". The roots of Voodoo go back to the West African Yoruba people who lived in 18th/19th century Dahomey (parts of Nigeria, Togo, Benin). Now, Voodoo is practiced primarily in the West Indies and Haiti.
Going back to Orisha...in order to preserve the religion, slaves syncretized the orishas with Catholic saints. After the Cuban revolution in 1959, Santeria and Voodoo spread to the US and South America.
A major part of Orisha worship is play and transformation or journeys from one realm to another. Voodoo, like Christianity, is a religion of many paths. It is based on the cult of the serpent and channeling (transformation). Some points of similarity between Christian faith and Voodoo are a supreme being, "Loa" as saints, afterlife, ritual sacrifice, the consumption of flesh and blood, and evil spirits.
The comparison between the ancient religions and Black worship, especially in the South is significant. Transformation and channeling became getting the spirit and speaking in tongues (Baptist and Apostolic/Pentacostal). I always wondered why Black church service was different from White service, even in the same religion. Now I know that the way we worship has a deeper connection to our past or where we originated as Africans (most descendents of slaves can trace their ancestry back to West Africa).
Also, it is apparent that the African Diaspora carried religious worship in more than one direction: towards India and the so-called New World. Slavery literally destroyed African/Yoruba religion but descendants still honor the ancestors from within the boundaries of Christian belief.
I am in awe of how, after all we have went through over the centuries, Africans in the "New World" blended Yoruba into Catholicism (Voodoo) and other Christian faiths. Even our soul, r&b, hip-hop music came from the slaves who were allowed to perform at places like Congo Square in New Orleans. Ever wonder why we call our music soul music?
In order to transcend the madness that is the reality for many in the early 21st century, we need to look back and "open to spirit" like our ancestors did in order to overcome.
"No matter who you are or what your age may be, if you want to achieve permanent, sustaining success, the motivation that will drive you toward that goal must come from within." - Ultramagnetic MCs