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Legacy of the Spirits

1985, 52 mins.

Legacy of the Spirits

For centuries, the religion of Vodou (commonly called “voodoo” by outsiders) has been thought of as sticking pins in dolls or witchcraft. It has been kept underground and practiced in secret, giving way to much misunderstanding and sensationalism. This film – the first of its kind – shows how Vodou is a valid and serious belief system.

LEGACY OF THE SPIRITS traces the religion from Africa to Haiti to New York City. The film interweaves exciting Vodou ceremonies, important scholarly information, beautiful music, and montages of colorful ritual objects. It explains the theology of the religion, the meaning of the rituals, the pantheon of spirits, possession, the sacred drawings (called ve-ve), the Catholic influence, and more. This is all explained by the priests and priestesses themselves…who give the film the quality of being both informative, yet personal.

Filmed entirely in the Caribbean communities of New York City, participants speak of what the religion means to them and their families, how the spirits have helped them, and why they continue to practice these ancient traditions today. Since the religion has always been kept underground (the reasons for this are explained in the film) this is the first time practitioners have spoken openly about it on camera.