The Vodun Masterly Medical system basically boils down to a simple
principle: that of the dynamism of a certain concept of Life named Energy. The mythical
genesis of Vodun teaches that the Universe includes two worlds, that of the Visible and
that of the Invisible. These two worlds are by no means seen to be distinct: quite to the
contrary, they are assumed to interpenetrate one another, mingling continually. Much
larger than the Visible world, the Invisible one is replete of energies, including the
spirits of all those who have existed since the beginning of times. It also includes the
the forces of the universe. Of a finite number, these 401 spirits constitute what one
might call "God" or even "Spirits of the Ancestors". They constantly
intervene in human matters and "mount" people by a process which is defined as
trance or possession. These spirits play a very important role in the diagnosis of illness
which is often revealed through dreams, along with the appropriate treatments.
The 401 facets of the divine referred to as "lwa" are
systematically categorized as elements of earth, water, air and fire (Petro
divinities). The individual "lwa mèt tèt" therefore belongs to these
401 divinities. Possession by the lwa most currently occurs during vodun
ceremonies; but it may also take place at any time – especially in stressful situations -.
Furthermore, a frequent type of possession is associated with sleep. Recognized as a valid
and legitimate form of cultural expression, possession is considered a means to free the
individual of inhibitions and frustrations. It acts as a psychic outlet.
Typically, there are two sorts of possession. The first is called
"bossal" (or "rough"): here, the person releases all excess
energies built-up within him – or herself, often through violent thrashing of the body and
generally disorganized, "wild" behavior which is nevertheless understood,
interpreted and considered to be of great significance to all. The second, more
controlled, implies a re-organization of the self to achieve harmony within self and with
the various forces of nature in the universe. In this case, the individual tibonanj
is understood to be displaced and replaced by one of the 401 lwa. The person then
is re-equilibrated by the very process of his/her absorption within these higher forces.
Indeed, at this moment, individual identities disappear making way for the total
affirmation of the divinity who may choose to soothsay, sing, dance, carry out amazing
feats such as glass or fire-eating. Or to cure illnesses.
The human being is also seen as a Force, or as an energy of a lesser
dimension, which explains why each possession is specifically modulated according to the
individual’s personal nanm. Furthermore, at times these personal
energies’ functioning needs to be synchronized, so as to fit within the range which
is considered to be that of harmony.
Animals, plants and everything else that possesses life are also seen
as energy. Unlike the phytotherapeutic type of medicine which utilizes herbs for its
chemical contents, herbs used in this type of medicine are rather seen as energy
channelers, though they may also contain biologically active substances.
As a matter of fact, the Masterly type of Medicine should be viewed as
an Energetic system of Medicine since the human being is considered a cosmic or
energetic Force constantly swimming in a cosmic or energetic world. The herbs acts then as
energy providers or retrievers that may be absorbed by the skin in the form of ointments,
baths, frictions or taken internally in the form of food, infusion or tea.
Of course, in these particular situations, knowledge one may have
acquired of anatomy and physiology becomes rather irrelevant. All that matters is to learn
how to recognize a state of disorder or of energetic disequilibrium and to learn the
appropriate manner to act upon it in order to increase or to decrease the energy level of
that person, that is to say to reequilibrate the person. Nevertheless, one should note
that usually this medical system is adjoined to the phytotherapeutic one for optimal
results. These combined treatments are carried out by the same person who, as we stated
earlier, is considered to be the professional healer.