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Cultural Approaches to Pediatric Palliative Care in Central Massachusetts: Voodoo

This subject guide is a collaborative project with the Children's Medical Center Pediatric Palliative Care Team, the Lamar Soutter Library, and Interpreter Services.



*There are many variations of Voodoo…the following describes Voodoo Spirituality found in the United States


  • There is one God, Bondye, and many other spiritual beings, called Iwa
  • Iwa are the ruling force of the world, they decide the fate of everything. They are asked for help and for change


  • Include drums, dancing and animal sacrifice. Animals are sacrificed to please and thank the spirits.
  • Because many Westerners are afraid of Voodoo culture, ceremonies may be held in secret.


  • Originated in West Africa.  It has spread to the Caribbean, the Philippines, North and South America


  • Spiritual healing may include herbs, ritual, and faith healing


 Reproduced by permission from George Handzo, BCC at 

Dictionary of Patients' Spiritual & Cultural Values for Health Care Professionals were developed by the Pastoral Care Leadership and Practice Group of HealthCare Chaplaincy, New York, NY. (Revision and update of earlier work by the Rev. Susan Wintz, BCC and the Rev. Earl Cooper, BCC)