From my first visit to the Caribbean, I was hooked. I love the culture, the sway of steel drum bands, the colorful cottages, the turquoise waters, soft sand, sun, delicious seafood, rum beverages…and spine-chilling vodou. (And that is the right spelling for the Haitian tradition.)
Two years ago, when I moved to the Tampa area, I was delighted to feel the vibe of the Caribbean seeping into the local atmosphere, and it inspired me to write. The result is my new book Tears on a Tranquil Lake.
Several scenes in my book Tears on a Tranquil Lake involve Haitian vodou. I dug up some interesting finds in my research which I’d like to share.
The vodou worship centers around deities known as Loa, subordinates to a god called Bondye. The Loa are intermediaries, connecting their god with humans. Vodou often seeks to venerate the dead and protect persons against evil witchcraft. Veneration of the dead is based on the belief that the deceased, often family members, continue to exist and influence the fortune of the living.
The type of vodou practiced in Haiti draws from faiths of the African disapora, Louisiana Voodoo of New Orleans, Santeria and Arara of Cuba, and Umbanda of Brazil.
When vodou practitioners came in contact with Roman Catholicism, their supreme being, the Bondye was associated with the Judeo-Christian God, and their loa become the saints.
Vodou followers regard Bondye as the creator of everything. The name is French, meaning “good god.” Bondye is distant from its creation. Because of this, he is aloof from everyday matters and the faithful don't believe they can contact the god for help. Instead, they aim their prayers to lesser entities, the spirits known as loa. The most notable loa include guardian of the crossroads, spirit of love, spirit of rain and magicians, spirit of agriculture, and divine twins, considered to be the first children of Bondye. These loa can be divided into groups: Petro, Rada, Congo and Nago. The Petro and the Rada are the most opposite, because Petro are hot or aggressive and restless, whereas Rada are cool or calm and peaceful. The Petro loa are the most feared.
In my book, a character Teega, a vodoun Mambo, plays an important secondary role. Mambos (Female Voodoo Priest) or Houngans (Male Voodoo Priest) are usually people who were selected by the dead ancestors (loas) and received divination while he or she was possessed. He or she is expected to do good by helping and protecting others from spells, however they sometimes use their supernatural power to hurt or kill people. Many in those parts both revere and fear the Mambo or Houngan.
This is certainly the case in my book, Tears on a Tranquil Lake. Teega commands authority. No one wishes to be on her bad side. Come read how her web of vodou weaves a magical adventure around the characters she meets.
Publisher: MuseItHOT Publishing
What a surprise for a young woman, to find herself suddenly transformed into a mermaid.
Ciel’s first thought – track down the merman who changed her and make him reverse his magic.
Unable to find him, survival in her new world becomes paramount. She eagerly accepts help from a dashing pirate captain who takes a fancy to her, lavishing her with finery. When her merman does show up, he competes for her affection. One look into his eyes makes her life more complex -- he is her soul mate.
Which man will she choose – pirate captain or merman? Which life – human or mermaid? Caribbean adventures and dangers chase Ciel as she searches for decisions and the key to her happiness.
Warning: This book contains Haitian vodou, sultry wenches, foul-mouthed scalliwag pirates, overindulgence of fine Caribbean rum, and amorous encounters on deserted beaches.
Marsha A. Moore is a romantic and a writer of fantasy romance/soft erotica. She loves being creative and enjoying the creativity of others in all art forms. Her other artistic pursuits include watercolor painting and drawing. She moved from Toledo to Tampa in 2008 and is happily transforming into a Floridian. Crazy about cycling, she usually passes the 1,000 mile mark yearly. She is learning kayaking and loving it. She’s also a yoga enthusiast and never has enough days spent at the beach, usually scribbling away at new stories with toes wiggling in the sand.
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Tears on a Tranquil Lake excerpt, Chapter Ten
The Black Hawk made port and its crew secured her to a dock. In every direction I looked were pirate ships.
Sam sidled up to me. “Feast yer eyes, lass. There be every type of privateer vessel here today.” He pointed them out, one by one. “Next to us be a square-rigger, massive enough to store plenty of booty . . . over there be a nimble sloop fitted with its dress canvases . . . and there, a two-masted brigantine workhorse . . . and farther back, a fleet of schooners with shallow drafts to make swift course in shoal waters.”
“Amazing! And all fly the skull and crossbones flag,” I said.
“That be the Jolly Roger, the buccaneer mark displayed aside their own war pennants, like ours be a black hawk set on a red field.”
What a sight, seeing dozens of fine sailing vessels docked or anchored in the tropical cove.
With the gangplank finally lowered and secured all hands anxiously waited for the captain to come on deck to dismiss them. Although only a few moments passed, the men grumbled.
Black Sam shot them a long, fierce glare before Raphael appeared.
The captain grinned from ear-to-ear, his booming voice full of excitement, “Aye, ye scallywags, the Hawk sets sail again midday tomorrow. Be here or be left behind. Now get yourselves ashore.”
They all scampered onto the dock like mice, yelling and laughing in anticipation of merriment and adventure.
Raphael proudly extended me his arm. “Ciel, you look lovely. Let me now show you the wonders of Tortuga.”
Along the promenade that followed the shore I struggled to match his gait. I was impeded by my less than agile tail flipper, and glad for his arm.
He sensed my dependence upon him and beamed, in high spirits. Smiling to familiar faces, he tipped his three-cornered black hat, its billowing white plume waving in the breeze. He looked dashing, outfitted in a purple waistcoat and gold brocade jacket. Slim black trousers and knee-high dress boots with shiny silver buckles accentuated his trim physique.
I smiled at him, pleased to be on his arm for reasons more than for physical support.
Everywhere I looked strode the most bizarre beings and unusually dressed people imaginable. At the sides of the promenade, men swallowed blades of any cutlass, dagger, or sword passing buccaneers might volunteer. In amazement I paused to try and discover their secrets, while Raphael pulled me along by the arm with my head turning back over my shoulder, mystified.
Scantily clad women preformed miraculous contortions, happily accepting gifts of doubloons tucked into any edges of their skimpy clothing or body orifices the seafarers wished to leave tips within. Their spines seemed boneless and I wondered if they were truly human.
Many merfolk, both male and female, accompanied pirates, while others sauntered alone or mingled in groups of their own kind. The mermaids all looked so beautiful, wearing lavish golden jewelry and their hair gleamed in the sunlight. I felt rather plain in comparison with only sea baubles for adornments.
The pirate captains and their staff all dressed in an eccentric array of finery. They lent a festive atmosphere, in their bright colors, fancy hats, and tall boots. Garb from around the world proudly boasted, of their travels in the Caribbean, as well as remote destinations of the Far East and Africa.
Amongst the mariners I caught a glimpse of one extremely odd creature strolling past who made me gasp. I could not help but stare. I knew not whether the being was male or female. I could see human legs, covered with pants and shoes, but also the upper body of a seal. I whispered to Black Sam beside me, “What is that sea creature?’
Noticing my bewilderment, he chuckled. “One of the bizarre wonders of the abyss. Pure magic. That be a common sight only on the land of this isle. He's a selkie who's not donned all his sealskin.” He pointed to draw my attention, which was unnecessary, since my eyes were already fixed to the sealman. “See that brown mass danglin' down behind him? That be the rest of it. Left out his legs, likely, so he can walk.”
“I envy him. I wish I could pull my scaly skin back to find some feet to walk upon.”
Raphael was smiling and listening to our conversation. “Don’t forget I can solve that problem for you, Ciel,” he whispered in my ear.
I sensed pressure to make my decision conveyed in his tone, and a wave of panic swept over me, taking my attention from the selkie.
The captain tightened his grasp upon my arm and looked imploringly into my eyes for that answer.
My pulse raced, unable to grant him the choice I knew he expected, yet also unable to leave his world behind for the sea.