Why, how lovely:
Link: Benin | Voodoo still wins | Economist.com (subscribers only)
A WOMAN in a bright dress dances round in a tight circle, the pumping artery of a headless chicken pressed to her mouth. Nearby, another woman carries a slaughtered goat on her shoulder, sucking on its red neck as she cavorts around. Benin’s national day of voodoo, earlier this month, may not be how Hollywood would have portrayed it, but it comes close. “The women are not drinking the blood,” a voodoo expert, Martine de Souza, explains. “The animals have been sacrificed to the spirits, and the women have been possessed by the spirits, who are accepting the sacrifice.”
Since 1996, voodoo has officially been a national religion of Benin, a small west African republic, where more than 60% of the people are said to believe in it. Slaves from this corner of Africa brought the religion to the New World, most notably to Haiti. Its tenets echo those of many African religions. There is a supreme god, Mahu, and a number of smaller gods or spirits, with whom humans can negotiate.