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Vodou Lave Tet / Hoodoo Spiritual Bath

To: alt.religion.orisha,alt.magick.tyagi,alt.lucky.w
From: catherine yronwode 
Subject: Vodou Lave Tet / Hoodoo Spiritual Bath
Date: Fri, 29 Jun 2001 20:19:31 GMT

Mambo Racine Sans Bout wrote:

Because there are some similarities between the lave tet and the
old-syle African-American hoodoo practice which, in my youth, was called
a "rub" or a "spiritual bath" by some folks, and also called a
"blessing" by others.  I thought it might interest some folks here if i
interpolate a few comparisons. 

> A lave tet is performed in order to cleanse a person's head,
> facilitate possession, remove negativity, and for other reasons as
> well. 

Same with a rub or bath -- it often takes the form of a head-blessing.
Hoewever, if the client's issue is magico-medical, a full body bath or a
foot rub or a rub of the affected part will be performed in a downward
motion, to expel the evil. 

> A lave tet does not make a person a member of a Vodou sosyete
> (society, congregation).  Anyone can have a lave tet done, and then
> never go back to that Houngan or Mambo again.  Furthermore, lave 
> tets are often enough done by uninitiated practitioners called 
> "Houngan djakout" or "Houngan kwakwa" who have no congregation at 
> all, usually.

Same in hoodoo -- having a spiritual bath in no way obligates or bonds
the client to the root worker. 
> If a person wants they can combine other ceremonies,
> such as an "Action de Grace" (a prayer service for the general
> well-being of the individual invoking their lwa and ancestors) or a
> "gad" (from the French "garde", a type of protective magic) with the
> lave tet, and that can take more time

The conbination of a rub or bath, a prayer service, making a protective
or lucky mojo, and also preparing and administering the first dose of a
medical tea to be drunk by the client for a set number of days
afterwards was common in urban hoodoo in my youth. Such practices are
much less common today. One bigt difference between old-style urban
hoodoo and a Haitian lave tet is that in the former, all the work took
place on one day. However, in reading Hyatt's oral histories and
Johnson's book on Dr. Jim Jordan, which describe older, *rural* hoodoo
practices (circa 1900 - 1935 in Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, and
Maryland, for instance) it is obvious that people travelling a long way
to see a root doctor, on foot or by mule, often stayed over and received
a two-day or longer course of treatment. 
> A lave tet is done starting at sunrise.  

This is absolutely true in hoodoo -- the work begins "fore day," a fact
that annoys many teen-witch readers at my web site to no end! (They want
to perform a "spooky" ceremony at midnight!) 

> The washings should be complete by noon, the person receiving the 
> lave tet remains in the peristyle for the rest of the day and sleeps 
> in the Rada badji (small room consecrated to the service of the Rada 
> lwa) that night, and that is it.

This description corresponds fairly well with the older, rural form of
hoodoo -- but, as i said, in an urban environment, everything moves
faster, so the person would not stay overnight. And, of course, root
workers have no special room cnsecrated to the Rada lwa -- usually just
a side room with a small altar, usually Christian. 
> Furthermore, it is not the number of different kinds of herbs that 
> is significant, it is the type of herbs, the particular species, 
> which is important.  

In hoodoo, the rub or bath consists of both a certain number of herbs
(always odd, usually 3, 7, 9, or 13) and a certain combination of
species. Examples which i was taught to prepare include 
   the 7-Herb bath for blessings and good luck in love and money, 
   the 9-Herb bath for spiritual wisdom and to aid decision-making, and 
   the 13-herb bath to remove crossed conditions or break a jinx. 

> A person who concludes their lave tet and goes home the next morning
> is usually advised to avoid sexual contact that night, and to avoid
> shaking hands with people.  
This is similar to the proscriptions in old-style urban hoodoo as
practiced in my youth -- i was told to not shake hands with anyone for
the rest of the day. 

Thanks for the post, Racine -- and i hope you found these comparisons of

cat yronwode 

Hoodoo in Theory and Practice --

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