The Faces of the Gods: Vodou and Roman Catholicism in Haiti / Edition 1

Paperback (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $3.99
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 89%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (11) from $3.99   
  • New (3) from $32.19   
  • Used (8) from $3.99   


Vodou, the folk religion of Haiti, is a by-product of the contact between Roman Catholicism and African and Amerindian traditional religions. In this book, Leslie Desmangles analyzes the mythology and rituals of Vodou, focusing particularly on the inclusion of West African and European elements in Vodouisants' beliefs and practices. Desmangles sees Vodou not simply as a grafting of European religious traditions onto African stock, but as a true creole phenomenon, born out of the oppressive conditions of slavery and the necessary adaptation of slaves to a New World environment. Many observers have referred to such New World religions as fusions of religious practices. Desmangles instead uses the concept of symbiosis, which he defines as the juxtaposition of diverse religious traditions, coexisting without fusing. Desmangles uses Haitian history to explain this symbiosis, paying particular attention to the role of the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century maroon communities in preserving African traditions and the attempt by the Catholic, educated elite to suppress African-based "superstitions." The result is a society in which one religion, Catholicism, is visible and official; the other, Vodou, is unofficial and largely secretive. Both religions continue to play a part in Haitian politics, and Desmangles chronicles the role of Vodou and Catholicism in the fall of Jean-Claude Duvalier and the rise of Father Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
With this book Desmangles has made a significant contribution to providing a scholarly understanding of Vodou.

Sociology of Religion

An accessible, comprehensive overview of the folk religion of Haiti known as Vodou. . . . Highly recommended.


Likely to be the authoritative study on this topic for years to come.

Stephen D. Glazier, University of Nebraska at Kearney

Library Journal
Vodou is an integral part of life for Haitians, providing a system of beliefs and practices that give meaning to life. The author (religion and area studies, Trinity Coll., Hartford) offers a historical perspective to Vodou in Haiti that shows the blending of Vodou with European and African religious traditions to create a religion indigenous to Haiti. Desmangles details four periods within Haitian history during which the process of ``symbiosis'' has allowed various religions to coexist without becoming one religon. He illustrates this point through the conceptual use of mythology in which Vodou deities are compared with Roman Catholic saints. Thus Haitians are able to attend Catholic Mass to talk about God and attend a Vodou ceremony to honor one of its deities. Recommended for more specialized collections.-- L. Kriz, Sioux City P.L., Ia.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807843932
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 12/14/1992
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.22 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Leslie G. Desmangles is professor of religion and international studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. He was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

1 Cultural Setting: Religious Paradox or Symbiosis 1
2 Historical Setting: The Shaping of Two Religions in Symbiosis 17
Religion in the Colony: 1492-1790 17
Religion and the Revolts for Independence: 1790-1804 28
Religion and the Shaping of the Republic: 1804-1860 38
Religion in Haitian Life: 1860-present 47
3 The Faces of Myth: Symbiosis and the Changing Self 60
Participation: The Communal Self 64
Rites of Passage: The Transfigured Self 68
4 The Faces of the Cosmic Gods 92
The Nanchons: Classifications of the Lwas 94
Vodou Cosmology 99
The Cosmic Lwas 108
5 The Faces of the Gods and Public Life 131
The Lwas of Public Life 131
6 Conclusion 170
Vodou and Catholicism 174
Glossary 183
Notes 191
Bibliography 199
Index 211
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)