Gabriel Knight – What Do You Know About Voodoo?

by on Sep.04, 2014, under featured, gabriel knight

The story of Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Father focuses on a voodoo cult situated in New Orleans, Louisiana. Voodoo’s roots are in Africa as a paganistic religion that focuses their worship on “loas”, or the spirits of their ancestors and gods. It was brought to the American colonies as part of the slave trade where the African slaves continued to practice in relative secrecy. Over time Christianity started to seep into the culture and rituals and a sort of blending of beliefs occurred. By the start of the game, “Louisiana Voodoo” (as it’s known) is rather different from its African forebears.

Despite the way voodoo is sensationalized in the modern media, its followers don’t practice the dark arts. One of the most popular misconceptions is the use of dolls to curse or hex their victims. While they do use dolls to represent others and do stick pins in them, the focus is on blessing not cursing. In fact, modern voodoo borrows heavily from the altruistic beliefs of Christianity mixed with tribal customs of the past.

Jane Jensen gives us a glimpse into both the reality of voodoo and how it’s often portrayed today. A lot of the characters encountered are either tied to the mysticism of the religion or are of a superstitious bent and believe that the evil is real. Whether trying to purchase gris-gris (or voodoo charms) to ward off the bad mojo or to increase their personal luck, these people often believe in the magic they represent. In reality, these charms and potions are no more magical than other religions. But that doesn’t stop savvy entrepreneurs from making a profit off of these fears.

Since the early nineteenth century, the voodoo culture in the South was essentially ran by what is popularly known as a “Voodoo Queen”. These queens ran everything in New Orleans. Even legitimate business in selling gris-gris, potions, and pretty much anything that tourists would be willing to purchase. The most notable queen was Marie Laveau, who to this day is revered by all practitioners of voodoo. It was she who urged her followers to adopt Catholic practices that are still held today. In fact, her tomb in St. Louis Cemetery is part of a pilgrimage for both tourists and believers.

The voodoo link in Sins of the Father is on a very martial and violent tribe that supposedly started in South Africa and was brought to North America during the colonization of the continent. This specific cult is very different from what we actually see today. There are no “cabrit sans cor” sacrifices, at least certainly not in the open as shown in the game. If dark rituals are done, they are almost certainly done in private and in hidden areas where the average joe isn’t likely to come across.

Serena Nelson
Social Media Intern
Phoenix Online Studios

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