Controversy surrounds the history of the ceremony held at Bois Caiman in 1791 on the eve of slave revolution against the white colonists. Those wishing to speak ill of either revolutionaries or Vodou practitioners encouraged the notion that this ceremony involved a pact with the Devil, although there is no evidence that such a demonic ritual ever occurred.
Some academics are questioning whether anything happened at Bois Caiman at all, although the more widely accepted view is that it was witness to a Vodou ceremony, which included invocations calling for the blood of their white oppressors. The following revolution frequently involved wholesale slaughter of Europeans, a backlash against the particularly brutal form of slavery exercised in Haiti.
The CeremonyA Petro lwa, possibly Erzulie Danto, was invoked during this ceremony. As is customary, a pig was sacrificed as part of the ritual, and the traditional telling includes drinking of the blood by participants. Petro lwa are often angry, violent and spiteful beings, but rather than being mindlessly destructive, they were born out of the rage of the Haitian slaves.
The PrayerAccording to traditional recounts of the evening, the presiding houngan (priest), revolutionary Boukman Dutty, included the following prayer as part of the ceremony:
The god who created the earth; who created the sun that gives us light. The god who holds up the ocean; who makes the thunder roar. Our God who has ears to hear. You who are hidden in the clouds; who watch us from where you are. You see all that the white has made us suffer. The white man's god asks him to commit crimes. But the god within us wants to do good. Our god, who is so good, so just, He orders us to revenge our wrongs. It's He who will direct our arms and bring us the victory. It's He who will assist us. We all should throw away the image of the white men's god who is so pitiless. Listen to the voice for liberty that sings in all our hearts.Yes, Boukman blames the crimes of the white man on their god, who would be the Christian God, but this vision was formed through the lenses of brutal repression. Clearly the revolution is aimed against mortal men, not divine beings. Furthermore, his vision of his own god (called Bondye in Vodou) is clearly a being of goodness who wants his people to survive and escape oppression, and in their understanding bloody revenge is the only way of accomplishing this.