Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: January 26, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412964623 | Print ISBN: 9781412936361 | Online ISBN: 9781412964623| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Douglas Edwin Thomas
Desounen (also sometimes written dessounin) is an important ritual of death that is observed by Vodu practitioners in Haiti. It has its origins, like much of the Vodu religion practiced in Haiti, among the Fon people of Dahomey (Republic of Benin), West Africa. It is the first among several rituals performed after the death of a Vodu initiate and can only be conducted by a Houngan (priest) or a Mambo (priestess). This entry looks at the belief and practice and its roots in Fon cosmology. The word desounen is French in origin and implies the extraction of sound from a voice and, by extension within the world of Vodu, the removal of the life substance from the body. The life substance or spiritual entity is removed or extracted immediately following the death of a Vodun practitioner. This delicate ritual is meticulously carried out by a priest who is familiar mèt ...