Drums/ drummers: Drum beats are used to invite the lwa to visit a ceremony. Different drumming styles and rhythms correspond to distinct Vodou traditions. It is used in conjunction with songs, dance, and prayers in the lwa’s honor.
Lakou: A compound or courtyard where families live communally. Vodou temples can be associated with the lakou that they are a part of. *
Lwa: Vodou spirits created by Bondye (God) to intervene in the everyday affairs of life. This indicates the distance which Bondye places between himself and humanity, allowing on the lwa to converse with followers. The lwa are entreated to participate in Vodou ceremonies, most notably through the possession-performances. There are several distinct families of lwa (known as nanchon) with different characteristics, including Rada, Kongo, and Nago.
Mambo: A female priest. In Haitian Vodou men and women can both be spiritual leaders.
Oungan: A male priest.
Peristil: The roofed structure supported by four poles in which ceremonies are held. *
Possession: (also referred to as possession-performances) occurs when a Vodou lwa takes over the body of the sèvitè, in essence, speaking, walking, and interacting through the vessel of servant. This is called “mounting the horse”, where the body of the sèvitè is a horse ridden by the lwa.
Poto Mitan: The central pole in the peristil, which functions as a major avenue to the spiritual world.*
Sèvitè- One committed to serving the lwa through ritual practice.
Syncretism: The combining of two or more spiritual systems into a single religious paradigm. This is especially evident in Haitian Vodou, in which religious practices of the West African slaves melded with the Catholic practices and saints of the French colonizers of the colonial Haiti (known as Saint-Domingue).
Vèvè: sacred designs made from cornmeal on the ground to invite lwa to appear in ceremonies.