Voodoo is a Fon word that has acquired various spellings and interpretations. From Vodou (introspection, into the unknown) to Voudon (the power, that who is invisible, creator of all things).
Priestess Miriam personally defines Voodoo as a name from someone’s mind, concentrated with accumulated thoughts, brought on through experience, ascending first to a lower degree of self, be it nature or human, in a different order of activities, which bring on a sense of enlightenment, arranging its energy in a systematic structure, creating a symbolical and principled order and title.
Originating in Africa, Voodoo is one of the oldest religions still in existence. It spread throughout the world with the slave trade, encountering the same injustice that its practitioners faced. The Americans mistook their rituals as Satanism and went to cruel and drastic measures to end all Voodoo practices. Perpetuating the racist views, filmmakers in the 1970s made the religion appear to center on gory sacrifices and zombies. These misconceptions still echo today in the predominant ethnocentric perspective on Voodoo.
Voodoo is still practiced in many locations throughout the world, passed down through oral tradition resulting in slight variations and titles between cultures. Belief revolves around the mixing of energies of the universe with an omnipresent creator, and that which is manifested within ourselves. The Loa act as intermediaries between the creator and human world to maintain a spiritual balance.
There are various aspects of Voodoo:
The purpose of the Voodoo Spiritual Temple is to educate the community about Voodoo and to dispel the myths and misconceptions associated with Voodoo since time immemorial.
Priest Oswan and Priestess Miriam were both born in 1943, living parallel lives until their paths crossed in Chicago 1989. In 1990, they came to New Orleans and founded the Voodoo Spiritual Temple. Four years later they expanded the foundation, and in 1995, Oswan passed away. One month after Oswan's death the Cultural Center began its evolution. The Cultural Center was added, and today the Voodoo Spiritual Temple includes the altar room, the herb apothecary and botanica, and the gift shop.
The Voodoo Spiritual Temple serves the purpose of conducting services of worship and petition for people of all races whose spiritual needs can be ministered through Afro-centric American Voodooism, the Grand Spirits of New Orleans Voodoo, and the Great Universal Spiritual Tradition. The temple strives to present both education and clarification on the beliefs and practices associated with voodoo, in hopes of furthering enlightenment and dispelling misconceptions.
Since establishing the Voodoo Spiritual Temple, Priestess Miriam has appeared in documentaries from all over the world. Some of her TV appearances include the BBC, NBC, Discovery, CBS, ABC, TeleMundo, Sci-Fi, MTV, and Entertainment Tonight. She has also been featured in articles in Spin, Playboy, The New York Times, and many more.
Priestess Miriam's expertise in Voodoo resulted in a group of interested Russians to campaign for her assistance and wisdom. In 1999, she was recruited to the city of Rybinsk for three weeks to serve as Voodoo Ambassador for 14 Russians from all different ages and professions. She provided education and helped them start their own spiritual temple. Priestess Miriam is currently making arrangements to return to the temple she inspired.
Priestess Miriam had a sense of mysterious forces around her ever since her childhood. She became consciously active in spiritual studies and began practicing in 1975. Though born and raised in Mississippi, She studied spiritual and occult work in Chicago, Illinois. She was ordained a Bishop after many years of preaching the ministry at the "Angel Angel all nations Spiritual Church" in Chicago.
Oswan Chamani, born Richard J. Williams, grew up in Belize where he studied the Central American form of Voodoo, Obeah, from several teachers, some of which were African Diviners. During his education, he spent long periods of time exploring the jungle to learn more about various trees and plants and their healing properties, as well as how to handle snakes.
"Behind living and dreaming lies the
most important thing, waking up."
-Oswan Chamani, 10/2/87