Vodou Glossary of Terms

papa legba

I am just beginning my study of Vodou/Hoodoo, so I found this glossary of terms quite helpful. I thought it might help someone else, too.

Voodoo Glossary of Terms

boko (baw-kaw)

:A Vodou priest who practices black magic; different from an oungan or mambo.



Bondye (bohn-dyay)

:The supreme being; derived from the French “bon Dieu”, meaning “good God.”



gris-gris (gree-gree)

:In New Orleans voodoo, the most powerful charm, which combines black and white magic.



hoodoo (who-doo)

:An African-American tradition of folk magic, herbal medicine and conjuring; not related to Vodou.



juju (joo-joo)

:In New Orleans voodoo, a charm used mostly in good, or healing, magic.



kalfou (kahl-foo)

:The crossroads where good and evil intersect; the sacred place where offerings are made.



lougarou (loo-gah-roo)

:A black magician who can shape-shift into an animal; a vampire who sucks blood from children.



lwa (l-wah)

:Or “loa,” the supernatural, immortal spirits who oversee different areas of the natural world and human experience. Similar to saints, humans can petition them for help.



mambo (mahm-bo)

:A fully initiated priestess of Vodou.



mojo (mo-jo)

:In New Orleans voodoo, a charm that brings to its holder a specific benefit, such as money, love or protection.



ouanga (oo-on-gah):

:A malevolent charm used by a boko in black magic. Also spelled wanga.



oungan (oon-gon)

:A fully initiated priest of Vodou.



Papa Legba (pah-pah leg-ba)

:The most powerful lwa, he guards the gateway between the material and spiritual worlds. Those wishing to communicate with other lwa first must honor him through ritual and offerings.



zombi (zom-bee)

:A body without a soul that a boko has raised from the dead to use as slave labor.


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