Bondye, the Good God of Vodou

Possessed Pilgrim
David Stewart-Smith / Contributor

The Vodou (or Voodoo) religion is monotheistic, meaning that followers believe in a single god. In this case, it is Bondye who is also known as "the good god." While Vodouisants interact more with the spirits they call lwa (or loa), they hold Bondye as the supreme being.

Who is Bondye?

According to Vodou beliefs, Bondye is the highest principle in the universe and is the creator god. He is responsible for both universal order and human activity.

He is the wholeness of the human community and is the origin of all life, which ultimately belongs to him.

He is sometimes referred to as "the good god" although there is no corresponding "evil god" in Vodou. Goodness is measured by how much an action increases or decreases Bondye's power in the world. Thus, things such as freedom, prosperity, and happiness that strengthen community and protect life are good, while things that destroy either are bad.

The word 'Bondye' is Creole. It is a derivative of the French "bon dieu," meaning "good god." On occasion, Vodouisants may use the term Gran Met-la ('Great Master') to refer to Bondye.

Bondye and the Lwas

Like many other monotheistic deities, Bondye, is a remote being. He is too far beyond human understanding for direct interaction. Instead, Bondye manifests his will through the lwa. These spirits manifest as forces that impact the lives of humanity on a daily basis.

Vodou ceremonies, therefore, focus upon the lwa rather than on Bondye. Bondye never manifests through possession as lwa commonly do. 

Vodou is most known for its lwa. These are the spirits with which Vodouisants regularly interact. They make offerings to them and are often possessed by them so that the visiting lwa can directly interact with the community.

Outsiders sometimes mistakenly label the lwa as gods, but this is incorrect. They are spirits who in many ways act as intermediaries between the physical world and Bondye, the single god of Vodou.