“I don’t have all my makeup on yet.”

It’s the first thing musician Azizaa Mystic says when she picks up my call.

“That’s okay, I don’t either.” My weekend has been an indoor one.

It’s a ritual, face painting. For women and men alike in many cultures: before war and before ceremonies. Even today, people practice this ritual: sitting together and applying makeup before going out on the town. It’s a symbol of community and of togetherness, of like-mindedness that accepts differences. Maybe you can wear that merlot-tinted, wine-stain of a blush and I can’t. And that’s cool.

I push my glass of apricot brandy to the side and pull my makeup bag closer. “We can do it together.”

And we do. It’s like being with a good girlfriend, doing my face as we chat, creating an atmosphere of comfortable acceptance, where I ask about her return to pre-colonial Vodoun, in light of the fact she was raised a Christian.

“I was always curious. I asked questions. My parents and my grandparents told me I asked so many questions that I was going to go crazy. My spirit was never in the church. What they taught never made sense to me.”

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Her words ring out, hearkening me back to the Triangular Trade, when slaves were brought from Africa to the West Indies, and subsequently on to the Americas as part of the Atlantic slave trade. Azizaa wonders why we as “people of the sun” are such dedicated Christians, since Christianity was forced on us. “If someone enslaves you, why would they tell you the truth? They would want to displace you.”

Mystic says she has gone though many other religions, practiced them, but has always returned to Vodoun because it resonates with her more than anything else has. It’s a way of life, not a religion. African Spirituality goes hand in hand with morality.

As I’ve seen Azizaa’s video “Black Magic Woman,” where two male missionaries pressure a young woman to convert to Christianity, I can see and hear her influences. It’s traditional Ghanaian music—from the Ewe people of Southeast Ghana, specifically—which focuses on beat, taking most of the sound from percussion instruments like the talking drum and the gourd rattle. To bring this traditional sound to a modern audience, Mystic blends it with brass and triangle Trap music from the Dirty South and low-frequency boom-kick 808 drums. On top of that, it’s Azizaa’s rich voice through her megaphone.

How does Vodoun translate into music? It doesn’t. Music is Vodoun. Drums are a known way to communicate with the living and the beyond. It was this communication that lead American slave masters to ban all drum use among African slaves in an attempt to destroy what was seen as a savage practice.

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And it may have worked.

Azizaa is fresh from a trip to New Orleans, the American hub of voodoo, and she was sorely disappointed. “It is set up as a business—a market—a front; I was so hurt. Why didn’t we fight to keep what was ours? The Marie Laveau store is owned by a Caucasian man and his wife. It was a watered-down memory of a legend.”

With this disappointment, she is still hopeful her music will have the ability to reach the African and African-American communities, even though people seem to fear Vodoun, a practice that is part of pre-colonial life for many. Her hopes lie mainly with the youth of today, and their keen sense of loss of community. “There is no Black community; it’s just neighborhoods. We don’t eat together, watch eat other’s kids, heal each other. It’s why our kids are so lost. I can feel their pain.”

When I ask if there’s a way to bridge this divide—Azizaa believes we as Blacks have been given religion, but have had our spirituality taken away—she quickly and heartily says there is. “African-Americans are afraid of Vodoun, but it can help heal. We can’t be afraid to go for an alternative.”

Azizaa’s Twitter profile has this mini-bio: Vodushie. Witch. Mami Wata. Words many fear. But Mystic embraces these terms of female strength. “I was always extremely honest—the kid that said what no one else would say.”

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She is from the Ewe tribe in Ghana, feared for their strong Vodoun, to the extent they are not allowed near the political scene. They’re rumored to have “Death from a look” down pat. Mystic says a friend of hers told her once that he doesn’t mess with Ewe girls. When she asked why, he said, “Because they got a voodoo pussy. They have power.”

This conversation inspired her upcoming single, “Voodoo Pussy,” of which I was lucky enough to get a sample. Mystic was in the shower in Ghana, thinking about the beat for the track. The lyrics came to her in that moment and she ran out to write, hair dripping onto the computer. In an hour, the song was finished. “It’s not edited. I wrote it how it was given to me.”

“Voodoo Pussy” is about embracing female strength, and has become a way for Azizaa to shove off her own personal mental slavery and accept her traditions, her Vodoun. “I was finally happy with me and able to love myself.”

As a result of this self-acceptance, Azizaa Mystic is a crafter as well as a musician. As such, she is beginning a line of products that you will want to have, including: Voodoo Pussy apparel, potions, spells, yoni eggs— for your voodoo pussy, of course— herbal remedies, oils, special baths, witch’s brews and most important: The Voodoo Pussy juice. No idea what this is yet, but I feel the need to know.

Check out Azizaa’s Go Fund Me page to stay up-to-date on released products and maybe contribute to the cause.

Eden Royce

Eden Royce

Eden is an author, editor, ex-debutante, and part-time hoodooienne. She makes a mean cheesecake.
Eden Royce
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