Now, centuries later, the connection between witchcraft and slavery has fizzled out. It is still sought only by Western culture, which still considers witchcraft as a religion of former slaves. In Hollywood movies, voodoo and ancestor worship are often portrayed as dark and ancient, and therefore illegitimate and not as noble as other world religions. Everyone knows that voodoo practices sacrifice, but I was wondering how this “barbaric” ritual differs from the more brutal European traditions. To understand another culture, you have to get rid of stereotypes and try to live the lives of people who have known them since childhood. This is what I did.
I was lucky: I was received as a guest, not as a stranger. It’s all thanks to the fact that Naomi’s family wields a lot of power in Benin’s communities. I could not only photograph the ritual, but also participate in it, as well as talk with the sect leaders.
On top of ancestral worship is the Bokonon. He is a Fa priest and has the highest “qualification” for communication with spirits. Fa is the underworld filled with deities and ancestral spirits who can predict the future. People turn to Fa for help when they are facing difficult choices or going through difficult times. You can ask your question directly to the bokonon, or you can whisper it to the banknote, which he will place next to other ritual objects during the celebration.
To get a response from Fa, the bokonon throws a rosary on the ground and sees the shapes they form. It also recites the prayer in Yoruba language. After a few iterations, you get an answer to your question – sometimes in the form of a metaphor, sometimes in the form of specific instructions. When I called the Fa myself to find out how the planned business trip would go, Bokonon said it would be successful, but I should read the contracts carefully.