This could have been a truly terrible book. Vodou often gets misrepresented, not only in Hollywood, but even in how-to books, especially those that focus on spells. And love magic? Well, we all know just how skewed books on that subject can be.
Thankfully, Kenaz Filan is just the right author for treating this topic sensitively and with thorough contextual backup. This follow-up to The Haitian Vodou Handbook has its predecessor’s aim toward education on what Vodou really is about, as well as an awareness of the potential cultural clashes when Vodou branches out into the mainstream. The spells, while being—well, spells—are written both for those who already know about Vodou and may be practitioners, as well as those who are new to the whole thing and who may need information besides movies featuring dark, scary rituals. And Filan does a great job of giving background on each of the lwa who may be called on for their help, as well as how to do so respectfully, before even getting into the spells themselves.
Just as importantly, the book includes very useful and crucial information on love and relationships themselves. Rather than promising to get your lover back, Filan offers a plethora of troubleshooting information to try before doing spellwork, everything from discussing codependency issues to shooting holes in myths about love that can be potentially dangerous to a relationship and the people in it. Plus I have to cheer about the inclusion of some information on polyamory!
There may be those who complain that only working with the lwa for spells without being dedicated practitioners of Vodou is disrespectful. Yet if anything Vodou comes from a highly practical, often needs-based background where the lwa were (and still are) called upon for help with everyday problems—and not always the nice kind of help. The book contains enough background info and context to keep this from just being an exploitation of Vodou—and who knows? It may even entice some casual spellcrafters to do more research and find out more.
Good stuff all around.
~review by Lupa
Author: Kenaz Filan
Destiny Books, 2009
pp. 200, $14.95