Popular Culture Review Vol. 24, No. 2, Summer 2013 - Page 20

16 Populär Culture Review o f a Voodoo priestess and priestess herseif. While performing what Salgado calls the “danse loa,”5 Epiphany sings, utters loud chants, moves, and lifts and lowers her white robe in order to address the spirits. As soon as she establishes connection with the spiritual world and becomes “the vessel through which the gods make their wishes known,” her body Starts twisting to the extent that she looses control over herseif and falls on to the ground (Bell 279). Salgado describes such a spiritual possession as “crise-loa” a state o f trance. Ethnologist Lilas Desquiron defines this state o f trance in more detail. She understands it as “un mode de contact maitrise, voulu, necessaire, [et] p o sitif’ (a form o f controlled, wanted, necessary, [and] positive contact) (Desquiron 125). “Cette communication religieuse et benefique est” (This religious and beneficial communication is) between the medium— in our case, Epiphany Proudfood— and the deities that speak in the language o f her twisting body (Desquiron 125). To honor the Bondye and the respective Iwa, Epiphany ends the ceremony with the sacrifice o f a chicken whose warm blood and flesh she first consumes then shares with the congregation. Two things need to be noted: First, according to Brenda Marie Osbey, New Orleans native and writer in residence at Louisiana State University, New Orleans’ Voodoo “has never included public ritual or anything resembling group worship” as illustrated in Parker’s film (Osbey 4). Osbey also States that “whatever ritual takes place” it is held between “the seeker and nature” (4), between the seeker and what she calls “the mother,” to whom historians, folklorists, anthropologists, and Voodoo followers refer to as priestess or mambo. Second, even though animal sacrifice is a common custom to honor and to appease the Gods in Benign, Africa— the birthplace o f the African religion— blood sacrifice, as visualized in Angel Heart, is “rarely seen or performed by the W estem ers” and is not part o f present-day Voodoo rituals in America ( Voodoo Rituals 00:19:03). The “drankenness [... ], blood drinking, the devouring o f live chickens” as shown in Parker’s film and also falsely declared in Robert Tallant’s book, Voodoo in New Orleans (1984) are fictional (Long, New Orleans xxxiv). Moreover, they misrepresent what African Voodoo followers widerstand as one o f the religion’s most divine rituals, the appeasement o f the ancestral spirits through animal sacrifice. According to Osbey, misrepresentations o f the Voodoo religion should be understood as the remains o f “peculiar prejudices o f the [French and Spanish] colonial mind” (5). I agree with Osbey in that