Have you been forced to wear secular scents since running out of the signature perfume of your favorite patron saint? Well then, it's time to make a run to Trois Rivieres, a friendly, handy Haitian voodoo supply store in North Miami. There you can replenish all your heavenly parfums at reasonable prices.
If the word vodou strikes fear in your heart, relax. It's not like all
dolls that represent their loathsome mother-in-laws. It's also not like
Vodouisants merge Roman Catholic, West African, and indigenous West Indian
(Arawakan) beliefs and practices. They believe in one main God named Bondye
and many subordinate deities called lwa
). This divine hierarchy was present in many West African religions; when the slave trade brought West Africans to Haiti in the 16th century and slave owners forced them to accept Roman Catholicism, their supreme God became associated with the Judeo-Christian one, and in many cases, the lwa
were replaced by the saints.
Trois Rivieres has a little of everything for the vodou-doer in you. "We have all kinds of products, but they all for the same thing. They all about vodou," said Jeanty Claude, friend of owner Giordani Ronald. "People think differently about voodou, but it's not really true. Depends on the way you use it. You can use it for good, you can use it for bad."
Among the items used for "good" are colored scarves that represent different saints and can be carried around for protection against evil spirits ($10), colorful printed representations of St. Anne, St. Patrick, and Lazarus ($2), candles ($2), with or without pictures of religious figures on the glass, and icons of the same array of saints or lwa.
The shop also supplies some items of interest for those who don't practice vodou. We, for example, found the hand-woven Haitian basket bags to be pretty cool totes to take to the farmer's market or the beach, or of course to carry your vodou dolls around in, should it be that kind of week. (Claude did advise us that the bags could also be used for the practice of vodou; for example, you might carry items that represent a spirit you are soliciting favors from.)
The traditional Haitian bowls ($5 each), mortars and pestles (which are used to crush herbs for voodou rituals), and pottery would also add a rustic, multicultural flair in your living room or kitchen.
The shop sells incense and soaps in scents that promise to bring you money, love, luck, and more. Near the door, you'll find a bunch of brooms that can be used to sweep your house clean of dust, and also of evil spirits, according to Claude. To the non-vodouisant, these hand-made brooms would make great Halloween accessories.
Trois Rivieres has rows and rows of what looks like bottled water tinged with food coloring. Claude assures us these are "wines" used during rituals, but in the same breath tells us they're non-alcoholic. We ask if that means that they're grape juice, and he says "yes," but not very confidently. Extensive Google searching has not yielded any more information on these vodou "wines." If anyone can offer more info on this, we'll be happy to update.
Claude tells us that rituals can be performed at any time, for almost any reason, including honoring the lwa, asking them for assistance in scoring a job or healing a relative, counteracting or removing evil spirits, and escaping a run of bad luck. "Okay, every morning you wake up, and you praise God and you light your candles. It's not really a big deal," Claude says in his strong Haitian accent.
Almost all the items in the botanica can be used to build a personal voodou shrine in an individual's home; Claude tells us that to vodouisants, these shrines are the equivalent of churches.
If the lwa
are calling you, there's no better time to get initiated. The Voodoo New Year
is coming up on November 1st, followed by Fe't Ge'de
, a day to honor dead ancestors, on the 2nd.
Trois Rivieres (12303 NE 6th Ave, North Miami) is open seven days a week, usually from 10 a.m. to around 8 p.m. Call 786-343-1992.