Voodoo leaders in the Caribbean nation of Haiti announced they have taught their fellow priests (houngans) and priestesses (mambos) how to concoct a secret remedy to treat COVID-19. They also said they have set aside sacred initiation chambers in their temples to treat patients, Reuters reports.
“Voodoo practitioners – the Houngans and Mambos in particular – have the responsibility to look after the wellbeing of the population,” Haitian Voodoo supreme leader (Ati), Carl Henri Desmornes, said. “They have received the powers and the knowledge to put in practice.”
The practice of voodoo in the island nation is steeped in its history and tradition, tracing its roots and origins back to enslaved West Africans, who were brought to the island to work on French plantations centuries ago. And being one of the poorest countries in the world with a considerable number of its population not being able to afford healthcare in hospitals, people often turn to traditional remedies and the religion to cure their ailments.
After the first cases of the virus was reported in the country, the Houngans and Mambos took to serving teas with moringa, eucalyptus, ginger and honey to help boost the immune system, Reuters further reports.
“We live in a country where the health system is not able to respond to the challenge of the pandemic, so we rely on natural remedies instead,” a Mambo said. “I consider my temple a clinic.”
Aside virtually training the Houngans and Mambos on how to prepare and apply the secret COVID-19 remedy, they also announced they have located a thousand temples with sacred chambers used for initiation rituals that can admit and isolate at most 15 patients.
Once considered as sorcery, voodoo practice was banned in 1934 in Haiti’s penal code, and the 1940s saw widespread persecution of voodoo practitioners in what was known as “anti-superstition” campaigns.
This was even after Haiti had gained self-government and remained so until 1987. In 2003, voodoo worship was recognized as one of the official state religions.