Today, Vodon, Voodoo, and Hoodoo are often taken to be synonomous with each other. And while it is true that all of these to stem from another and interelate together, they are not in fact all the same thing. There are subtle yet important differences between each of these terms which should not be cast aside.

So what distinguishes them from each other?

Vodon is a West African religion which is based upon the belief of the existence of many different spirits within this world and follows the practice of worshiping a pantheon of spirits known as Loa. Of course, some of the practices of the Vodon can vary between different tribes, and may follow different pantheons of spirits. But one of the most important and central aspects of the practice of Vodon is the act of making contact with these spirits, to call upon them for help and also to present to them gifts and honor them in order to ward off bad tidings.

Voodoo is ultimately the Americanized and now popularized pronunciation of Vodon, but more than just that, the practice of Voodoo as it is most well known today and particularly its practice within America, as well as in Haiti does vary from the traditional West African Religion of Vodon. Voodoo as it is now most commonly practiced, because of the slave trade has become synchronized with Catholicism. So in modern day Voodoo Christian iconography may be incorporated into Voodoo rituals and beliefs. It would not be out of the question for Catholic saints to be called upon and used within Voodoo altars along with Loa and other more traditional Vodon spirits.

Hoodoo on the other hand, is not in fact religion or system of beliefs, but rather is the practice and performance of Voodoo spells and rituals without truly following the Vodon path or being a part of the Vodon religion. A Voodoo spell performed by someone who is not an actual practitioner of the Voodoo faith is thus performing Hoodoo. Hoodoo is folk magic that was drawn from Voodoo but does not require one to be of the Vodon faith.

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