On August 21st 1791, leaders in the North gathered for God's blessing and for the blessings of the Ancestors, Lwa Ginen yo.They gathered on the Choiseul plantation in the wooded area called Caiman (Dalmas, 1813). Little is known about the details of the religious service. Having been forbidden to learn to write, in general, the attendees could not write about the event. However, through the testimony of several peopleenslaved by La Gossette and captured by French colonial forces, we know that a pig was sacrificed and a decision was taken to start the Revolution earlier than previously planned. Animal sacrifice is a common feature of Traditional African Religions and sacrifice in general is a common feature of all religions.
The leaders held a Religious Service because they were religious people. But they did not depend on the service alone to end slavery. They understood that they needed weapons to fight their war. Like their later adversary, Napoleon Bonaparte said, "God fights on the side with the most artillery" (Huberman, 2007). Although some of the Revolutionaries made use of wanga and pwen -religious charms, they knew well that their success depended on acquiring weapons and on their methodic work. They planned their Revolution mostly by organizing a rebellion- yomare konplo.They did so because konplo fò pase wanga- organized planning is more dependable then religious charms.
Numerous revolutionary leaders utilized Vodou to galvanize people to battle for freedom. In1841, Celigny Ardouin, a French writer, interviewed Paul Ali,an ex-Revolutionary soldier and personal friend of Toussaint Louverture who informed him that Boukman attended the Religious Service (Geggus 2002).Biassou, Amethyst, Hyacinthe, LaProfetèz are all freedom fighters reported to have used Vodou to motivate their followers. Many Revolutionaries were captured or killed in battle and various religious amulets were found in their pockets. Vodou beliefs clearly played a role in the lives of African people and their descendants and some of what they carried with them to battle reflected that. As humans, their behavior was no different from the numerous colonists and enslaved Christian Africans who wore or carried a Christian cross to battle.
Vodou's greatest contribution to the war against slavery, was that its practitioners believed that they could change their lot.The people viewed their enslavement not as a condition imposed by God but rather as one imposed by man.People everywhere recruit the help of spirits before engaging in potentially perilous events. In Haiti, Sèvitès as well as Christians turned to their faith and asked God and their Ancestors to accompany them on the perilous journey toward freedom. This is captured in such Vodou songs as Feray o, m pwal fè yon wout o, ann ale avè m-. The song appeals to Ogou, a revered African Nago leader and warrior. The song says, Ogou I am heading out on a road, come along with me. Although emboldened by their faith, in the end, it was people who fought and not spirits. The people of Haiti mare ren yo, mare vant yo, and fought their tormentors to gain their freedom.
The people who rebelled were those who seized their freedom and that gave them the liberty to practice their religion as they saw fit.They honored the loss of Boukman with a Kalinda, a Vodou service, lasting 3 days (Dalmas 1813, Fick 2004). Likely, each day was symbolic of one of the 3 worlds of spirits.