One The Vodun Trail - Benin. A voodoo priest with a python wrapped around his head, Temple of Pythons, Ouida, Benin, West Africa. Image ©Jason Florio

On The Vodun Trail – Benin. Images ©Jason Florio

On the Vudon Trail - Benin. A Voodoo temple at the stilted village of Ganvié, Lake Nokoue, Benin. The walls are decorated with voodoo symbols ©Jason Florio
A Voodoo temple at the stilted village of Ganvié, Lake Nokoue, Benin. The walls are decorated with voodoo symbols. Image ©Jason Florio / The New York Times

On the Vodun Trail – Vodun practitioners in Benin worship a pantheon of gods and lesser deities that inhabit objects ranging from stones to waterfalls. They believe that the spirits of their ancestors dwell among them, and they employ talismans, or “fetishes” like dried animal parts, for spiritual and physical rejuvenation as well as for protection against spells cast by malevolent sorcerers.

A Voodoo temple at the stilted village of Ganvié on Lake Nokoue, Benin. The Voodoo priest Salako Hannyi in his temple, Benin, West Africa. Image © Jason Florio
A Voodoo temple at the stilted . Voodoo priest, Salako Hannyi, in his temple, in the village of Ganvié on Lake Nokoue, Benin, West Africa. Image ©Jason Florio/The New York Times

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“Le vodun is Africa. It is the faith of our ancestors,” I was told by Dagbo Hounon Houna II, the spiritual chief of vodun in Benin, where 20 percent of the population, or a million people, practice pure vodun and another 40 percent embrace a form that incorporates Christian iconography. A retired civil servant in his 50s, he received me in a rondavel, a circular hut, inside a compound on the outskirts of Ouidah…

Excerpt from: ‘On the Vodun Trail’ in Benin Published in The New York Times Words by Joshua Hammer and photographs by Jason Florio

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One The Vodun Trail - At the entrance of the Thron voodoo temple in Ouida, Benin a small hole is dug where a package is placed at the Thron temple, Ouidah,Benin. Image ©Jason Florio
One The Vodun Trail – At the entrance of the Thron voodoo temple in Ouida, Benin, a small hole is dug where a package is placed. Image ©Jason Florio/ The New York Times
One The Vodun Trail - Benin.A priest at the Thron voodoo temple and devotees handle a wrapped object they call 'The Source' at the Thron temple, Ouidah,Benin. Image ©Jason Florio
One The Vodun Trail – A priest at the Thron voodoo temple and devotees handle a wrapped object they call ‘The Source’ at the Thron temple, Ouidah, Benin. Image ©Jason Florio/The New York Times

See more of these images by Jason Florio

A female voodoo devotee dances and sings, with others who beat drums at the Thron temple, Ouidah,Benin. Image ©Jason Florio
Voodoo devotees dance, sing and beat drums at the Thron temple, Ouidah,Benin. Image ©Jason Florio/The New York Times

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