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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.


©Max Beauvoir 1998
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