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An American Vodou House

Sosyete du Marche, Inc’s Library

Reglemen of Vodou: The Proper Order for Life and Service

lib_reg_01Regleman( from the French for regiment) is the language,  gestures, rituals and protocol of Vodou. Since everything is Vodou, it  would be hard to say what is not. Regleman governs all aspects of a  vodousant's life. When you wake, you thank the rising sun for another  day of life and give water to the living, and to the dead, for they  accompany you everywhere you go. All your gestures, your words,  everything is under the guidance of regleman.

When you initiate into a Vodou house, it is the job of  your Mama and Papa kanzo to begin teaching you regleman. It is not  something you can learn in one day or one week. It is a lifetime of  work, and therefore must be learned by example and doing as well as by  word of mouth. Many folks think it can be gleaned from a book, or a few  essays. This is not so. Regleman is a lifetime of effort and  achievement, but the rewards are substantial to those with the stamina  to endure.

In Vodou service regleman governs the "ordering" of the  Lwa. In the way of old time Dahomian royalty, a Vodou service is like a court, where all the various dignitaries assembled may be recognized  and acknowledged. Through prayers such as the Priyere Ginen and the  Priyere Djo, all the saints, Lwa and family members are correctly  called, acknowledged, saluted, fetted and enjoined to participate in the event. Such a huge undertaking wouldn't be possible without proper  Regleman.

fetgede_veveRegleman also governs the mean by which the ceremony progresses. The foods that are offered, the proper way to address the Lwa. It's not unlike  attending a big family reunion. You wouldn't give bourbon to an elderly  aunt if her preferred drink was sherry, right? It the same with the  Lwa. Each one has a preference in food, drink, colors, clothing and the way to be addressed. I had two elderly aunts. One liked being called  by her family nick name, Aunt Babs. The other insisted upon being called by her proper name, Aunt Louisa. I would no more call her "Lou" than I  would address the Lwa as something other than their preference. It's  just plain rude. If I called Aunt Louisa "Lou", she would have ignored  me. It's the same for the Lwa. Call them something else -- and they  simply won't appear. Address them properly, and you'll always be good  company.

Regleman also guides the vodousant's daily life and  personal as well as spiritual practices. The setting up of altars, the  prayers and offerings for your Met Tet. Your meditations, your  "internal" work as well as your external, all is under the guidance of  regleman. It's a big job, and that's why is a serious commitment to  practice Vodou.

You can begin proper Regleman by setting up an ancestral  altar. Family comes first in Vodou. The most important Lwa you will ever work with is your family, your Ancestral Lwa. They have a vested  interest in you, to see that you do well, that you are happy in this  life. So many people tell me that they had a problem with this family  member or that family member. I say get over it. Your family is  interested in you, good, bad or otherwise. Make the most of your good  connections and let the bad ones go. No one is saying to worship the  wife beater or the thief! In fact, we do not worship family lwa! We  merely ask for their guidance and their help. After all, they are  between us and the Divine, so they are a little closer to the source. By getting them involved in your affairs, you have a closer connections to the that source and to getting a better life here. Set your altar, pour water once a week, say their names out loud and talk about your week,  your day, whatever. Regleman begins at home and there's no better way  than with a family or ancestral altar.

And remember, proper regleman - correct names, accurate  offerings, genuine devotion - is always rewarded and rightly so. Vodou  is also about balance. The universe abhors a vacuum. Serve with an open  heart and you will reap the benefits.


Copyright 1995 - 2016.  Sosyete du Marche, Inc. is a Federally recognized 501c3 church, operating in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Your donations are tax deductible, and go towards supporting Sosyete du Marche, its mission to provide a safe haven for all worshippers, and to help those who need it most. To date, we have led medical missions to the Caribbean, supported Native Americans after Katrina and currently support our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.