At Akodessewa Fetish Market, Ancient Voodoo Meets Modern Globalization

In Lomé, the capital of the West African country of Togo, sits the Akodessewa Fetish Market. There, you'll find an enormous collection of items you'll be hard-pressed to find anywhere else—love charms, life enhancements, and cures, most in the form of dead animal parts. All of it is made possible by the blessings and rituals of the resident voodoo priests.

The Fetish Market is full of animal heads for purchase to use in voodoo rituals.

Name Your Need

What do you want out of life? Whatever it may be, there's a good chance they'll have something for it at Akodessewa Fetish Market. The market centers on vodoun, an animist religion with origins in West Africa that's more commonly known as voodoo. Voodoo is comprised of many different gods that each communicate with individual priests through fetishes, or objects attributed with supernatural power. As Atlas Obscura explains, customers once had to consult the gods at the home of the local fetish priest, then travel to a market to buy whatever items the gods required. In 1863, the Fetish Market streamlined the process by establishing religious meditation stations alongside commercial stalls, creating a sort of one-stop voodoo shop. Today, people come to the market to pick up everything from skulls and horns to fur-covered hides to powdered lizards and insects, which aid in blessings and rituals to help them with all sorts of issues. Whether that's a need for a medical cure, a wish for a special power, or a desire to win over an object of their love, Akodessewa Fetish Market offers things few other places can accommodate.

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Akodessewa Fetish Market, the Voodoo Superstore.

An Ancient Religion, Made Modern

From the outside, the practice of voodoo may seem exotic and ancient. But just like most things, globalization and modern culture have made their way into the practice. If you visit a voodoo priest, you'll likely receive their business card, complete with a cell number and email address where you can direct any questions. Many have framed certifications in traditional medicine and other practices hanging from the walls. And while parts of animals like lions, elephants, and hippos were once available, endangered species laws and other regulations have changed the market's offerings considerably. But that's no problem, fetish priest Elias Guedenon tells Atlas Obscura. "It's like Western medicine. When you don't find a specific product, you can use the generic version."

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Written by Curiosity Staff May 16, 2017

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