The Voodoo Encyclopedia: Magic, Ritual, and Religion. Edited By Jeffrey E. Anderson. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2015. 438 pages. Acid free $100 (ISBN 978-1-61069-208-3). Ebook available (978-61069-209-0), call for pricing.

The most striking feature of this volume is its focus on Voodoo or Vodou as a belief system, replete with all the trappings one expects: rituals, ethical considerations, practitioners, and a full history. The preface immediately recognizes the stereotypes and connotations that have become entrenched in the word itself, and promises information on the “full-fledged” religion of Vodou. This resource delivers on its promise.

In preparing to review this work, I set out to discover similar reference works. A search of the catalog at my library, a private, Catholic liberal arts college (with a theology program), proved disappointing. The only incidences of Voodoo or Vodou I encountered were short entries in encyclopedic works on world religions. A search in the consortia catalog yielded mixed, though not surprising, results: fiction, folklore, and several works with a singular focus on New Orleans and a few on Haiti. The most comparable item I discovered, authored by this volume’s editor, Jeffrey E. Anderson, Hoodoo, Voodoo, and Conjure: A Handbook (Greenwood, 2008) was nearly eight years old. This volume proves the most current and serious scholarly treatment of this topic to which I have access. Further, the larger focus of this work encompasses Haitian and African roots of Vodou in addition to that which evolved in New Orleans. Additionally, this volume also covers the influences these traditions have exerted upon other cultures, belief systems, and modern practice which expands the usefulness of this volume. The volume contains alphabetically arranged, signed entries, a preface, a user-friendly list of entries by topic, a section of primary documents, and a fascinating collection of visual representations of Vodou and Voodoo. The bulk of contributors possess scholarly credentials in expected areas like anthropology, folklore, history, sociology, dance, and more. Notably, contributions were also made by practitioners of Vodou. It also includes an extensive bibliography that will assist researchers requiring more in-depth information. This volume will be a valuable addition to any undergraduate library, and particularly those serving programs in theology, comparative religion, anthropology, sociology, and history.—Anita Slack, Reference and Instruction Librarian, Ursuline College, Pepper Pike, Ohio


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