Priestess Katy drinks klerin, a strong Haitian moonshine made from sugar cane, during a Vodou ceremony. All photos by Stephanie Meiling.

Exploring a Vodou Priestess's Spirited World, in Photos

Haiti's passionate and spirited culture is unlike any other in the world. Witness a ceremony of the dead through the lens of photographer Stephanie Meiling.

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Apr 27 2016, 1:00pm

Priestess Katy drinks klerin, a strong Haitian moonshine made from sugar cane, during a Vodou ceremony. All photos by Stephanie Meiling.

About This Project
Support for Broadly in Haiti and the 360˚ filming of this project comes from Vaseline.
Watch in Virtual Reality
We've partnered with Vrse to bring you Manbo Katy's Vodou work in virtual reality. Download the Vrse app to immerse yourself in this experience. Learn more about how to watch VR.

As it's usually told, the story of Haiti is a story of setbacks, corruption, poverty and natural disaster. That's what we see from a distance, anyway: an earthquake that struck a country already aching from centuries of struggle, that killed more than 160,000 and left close to 1.5 million people without a home. Upon closer inspection, we see that the story of Haiti is more than one of loss, it's also one of vibrant resilience and rich culture.

Photographer Stephanie Meiling traveled to Haiti with Broadly in search of healing and attended Vodou Priestess Katy's first Vodou ceremony in five years. Priestess is a rich collection of photos that encapsulate the palpable energy of the ceremony. Her photos introduce us to the electric atmosphere leading up to the event and invite us into the thick of the ritual.

Manbo Katy (Priestess) doesn't only lead the fet Gede, she also helps prepare with her Vodou family.

Join Vodou healer Katy in 360º as she prepares for a celebration of the dead - a transformative ceremony that will call on the spirits to protect the community. The 360˚ experience can be viewed in Chrome, Safari or Firefox. Or, if you are on a mobile device, click here to view on YouTube or download the YouTube app or the Vrse app for the immersive experience.

Symbolism in Haitian Vodou plays a vital role, a community member prepares a veve (ritual drawing) to invite the presence of the spirits.

The vodou ceremony starts with a string of Catholic prayers to honor the saints and spirits of the house (the Lwas). It's called the "Priye Ginen" or the African prayer.

Get the 360º Experience
The 360˚ experience can be viewed in Chrome or Firefox. Or, if you are on a mobile device, click here to view on YouTube or download the YouTube app.
How to Watch in Virtual Reality
We've also partnered with Vrse to bring you Manbo Katy's Vodou work in virtual reality. Download the Vrse app to immerse yourself in this experience. Learn more about how to watch VR.

Vodou has strong colonial influences. Every saint of the Catholic church is celebrated by Vodou practitioners and has a Haitian name. Western influences can also be seen in other aspects of Haitian culture such as fashion.

The rhythm of the drums guide the spirits and bring the members into a receptive and meditative state.

Katy drinks klerin, a strong Haitian moonshine made from sugar cane.

Katy and another community member in the heat of the ceremony.

Katy has left her body and the spirit speaks through her.

A community member helps Katy stay hydrated.