From the essay 'Vodun, trying to grasp the ungraspable'
"Instead of regarding ‘primitive religion’ as a falsification of the true nature of matter, as compensation for and even as antagonistic to a true understanding of the physical universe, it might be useful to assume, as a hypothesis at least, that such religious systems propose ideas which are essentially correct and in harmony with the true nature of the physical universe." - Maya Deren
The town of Ouidah - Benin is the spiritual capital of Vodun in West Africa. Vodun is their national religion. Presently there are an estimated 50 million worshippers worldwide. An important aspect of the religion is spirit possession, through which the spirits speak to the devotees only for a short time during the ceremonies. This trance mechanism is a way to heal and get advice about daily matters. From a western point of view, Vodun is seen as mystique religion often associated with black magic, giving way to much misunderstanding. I stayed with the 'Hounongan Zanzan Zinho Kledjé' family who adheres the Gambada fetish or the serpent spirit, the basis of the well-known Damballah cult in Haïti. In Vodun and related African diasporic traditions a primordial way to obtain a spiritual experience is by being possessed by the Iwa or spirit. I was fortunate to encounter and document this intense experience. During a ceremony I witnessed the individual trance of two devotees. The numerous uncontrollable muscle spasms, vocalizations and peculiar eye gazes showed me this was an unfeigned event.