Eluding Darkness

Eluding Darkness

by Raguel S Charles


Publisher Mill City Press, Inc.

Published in Biographies & Memoirs/Memoirs, Biographies & Memoirs, Nonfiction

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Book Description

In Eluding Darkness, author Raguel Charles reveals some of the island's secrets. Growing up in Haiti, Raguel was quite familiar with voodoo. He was taught to not pick up objects left in the street, to not give a stranger the correct time of day, and to never trust anyone.

But Raguel's journey through Darkness became one of victory. Through a voyage fraught with the ups and downs of moving to the US, learning how to responsibly provide for himself, and living through the agonizing deaths of several family members and friends, Raguel learned the life-giving secret of true power and joy. And, within Eluding Darkness, he shares that secret with you.

Sample Chapter

When I was fourteen years old I owned a shirt that read, “You’ve come a long way, baby.” It was one of my favorite shirts and it spoke volumes about my life. A former crush of mine from the seventh grade, reading the statement on it, posed the question, “Where did you come from?” Before I could answer, she guessed my hometown, Gonaives. Then she said, “That’s not very far.”

“Farther than that,” I answered. She sighed before walking away. Her sigh implied that we weren’t on the same page. The truth is, she had no idea where I had come from. It wasn’t a physical place that could be found in any country in this world, yet it was here in this very world that I traveled that long path. For me, the implication of the statement on that shirt was the descriptive nature of the spiritual path I had traveled. It’s a path traveled by many, yet unique to each. It’s a dimension that separates Darkness from Light.

I was born in a small town in Haiti called Bwa Deyor on July 14, 1972—a fact that I have denied quite often. I think if you were to visit this town today, you’d understand my reason for that. I am the last of the three children of my parents. My dad had another five children, each from a different mother. Yes, you are right—he was a very busy man.

My father was the only tailor in the town and one of only two in a twenty-mile radius, a profession that allowed for many acquaintances. My mom was a homemaker. My father had a twelfth-grade education. My mom was home schooled to perhaps a sixth-grade level in her adulthood.

Haiti is a country primarily of West African descent. It’s a small, heavily populated island about the size of Massachusetts. Eighty percent of the population identifies with the Catholic religion. Sixteen percent are Protestant. Half of the people will practice voodoo at some point in their lifetime. Don’t bother to do the math.

Voodoo originated in West Africa. West Africans were captured from their homeland and forced into slavery. Some were taken by their so-called masters to the new world, in which lay a strange land known today as Haiti. They brought with them their customs, cultures, and religion.

During slavery, white French masters forbade the pursuit of voodoo as a religion. In 1685, King Louis XIV of France issued a decree known as Code Noir. The Code Noir determined the conditions of slavery in Haiti, put restrictions on the activities of free Negroes,andprohibited any religion other than Roman Catholicism. It also demanded that all slaves be baptized and instructed in the Roman Catholic faith. The slaves, who were deeply rooted in their own religion, were forced to use the images of Catholic saints in order to keep practicing their ceremonies. They pretended to pray to saints while in reality calling out to their own gods. These ceremonies took place frequently.

Conditions for slaves in Haiti were the most brutal in the world. Slaves were treated inhumanely until they finally revolted, no longer able to endure the savage treatment of the white French masters. Jamaican voodoo priest, or houngan, Dutty Boukman and voodoo priestess, or mambo, Cecile Fatiman, organized one of the biggest revolutions in history.

Boukman was a Jamaican-born slave who had been traded by British to French slave owners because of his attempt to teach other slaves how to read and write. Fatiman was born as the result of a rape of her slave mother by a French slave owner. The decision to revolt took place at Boukman’s house in a famous meeting known as the ceremony at Bwa Kay Imam (or some call the ceremony “the woods at Imam house”). Belief regarding the name of the ceremony differs among historians. During that ceremony they sacrificed a black pig to their god, who they believed empowered them to take on the powerful slavemasters. Fatiman was possessed by the spirits that night. The slaves killed thousands of slavemasters. Their orders were to take no prisoners except women and children.

Because of their belief in spirits, many Haitians felt that they achieved their freedom through voodoo. Some critics have labeled that revolution as a “pact with the Devil.”

Despite strong feelings of indebtedness to the spirits, it took a struggle of many years to keep the voodoo rituals alive. The wealthy, powerful few didn’t want to be associated with it and sought to oust it. Despite many attempts to destroy it, however, voodoo continued to hang on. It was widely believed that Francois Duvalier rose to power by means of voodoo. The Duvalier regime brought voodoo back, in part to tighten its grip over the Haitian people. During the years of his presidency, Duvalier succeeded in infiltrating the most powerful voodoo houses in the country. His acceptance of voodoo opened the door for its extensive practice.

Although at times as many as half the people of the country have practiced voodoo, few publicly admit to it. Ironically, when Jean Bertrand Aristide, a former Catholic priest turned politician, was elected president in 2003, he declared voodoo an official religion.


Excerpted from "Eluding Darkness" by Raguel S Charles. Copyright © 2017 by Raguel S Charles. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Author Profile

Raguel S Charles

Raguel S Charles

I was born and raised in Haiti, where I lived until December of 1984. I accompanied my siblings to the United States after my father’s request for us to join him was granted. After a three hour flight, we landed in New York where my dad drove us to New jersey where I currently reside with my wife and our three children.

View full Profile of Raguel S Charles

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