Revisiting Milo Rigaud’s “Secrets of Voodoo”

I first read Milo Rigaud’s “Secrets of Voodoo” around late 2008/early 2009 when I first started down this path. It was maybe the third book on Vodou that I read and, in retrospect, I don’t think I was ready for it. At the time it seemed dry, difficult to understand and full of strange terminology that I was never going to remember. Rigaud was born in Port au Prince, Haiti, and first published the book in 1953.

What a difference a few years makes.

I finished my third Murry Hope book earlier this week (“The Sirius Connection”) and was trying to decide what to read next. At first I picked up Kenaz Filan’s “Vodou Money Magic” and then remembered that I am starting a candle magick workshop and did not feel like working on spells while also reading a book on magic. My brain craves variety. So instead I opted for Rigaud’s book. I’d had the urge to review it earlier this year, and now seemed like a good time.

I reread the first chapter on Tuesday, and the writing no longer seemed dry or difficult to understand, even though many of the Haitian words are spelled differently than what I am used to seeing these days. What I found really interesting is that I am seeing some connections between aspects of Vodou and Egyptian deities/symbolism. I am gaining a deeper personal understanding that both of my religious paths (Vodou and Sekhmet/Egyptian) are indeed harmonious (at least for me).

For example, Rigaud says that Vodou is rooted in solar worship. (It’s also interesting to note that, in Vodou services, when we salute the four directions we are not saluting any particular deities or elementals. We are acknowledging the path of the sun.) He described Legba, my main lwa, as a solar prototype, and Sekhmet is a solar deity as well. (And this is ironic, me being a night person. But this could refer to the cosmic influence of Sirius and/or our sun.) Rigaud says that Legba’s color is gold (associated with the sun), while other sources state they are red and white. Sekhmet is also associated with gold and red.

The symbolism of the poteau mitan, which is the center post in the peristyle (a Vodou temple, more or less) is  familiar. The post is decorated from floor to ceiling with a spiral design representing the two serpent lwa, Damballah and Ayida Wedo. The image of two serpents spiraling around a post is very similar to the Caduceus, a symbol of the Egyptian god Thoth. Equally interesting is his translation of Rada as “the royal rite of the sun.” I could not help but wonder if the terminology is related to the Egyptian sun god Ra.

I will likely have more comments as I continue rereading.

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