Photos A priest carries out of his shrine a flaming urn filled with powerful potions belonging to his deity.King Daagbo Hounan arrives under a twirling appliquéd umbrella for his inauguration as the eleventh Voodoo king on November 4, 2006, in Ouidah, Benin.The Voodoo King Daagbo Hounan at his coronation, which is attended by thousands of the thirty million followers of Voodoo in West Africa.A mural painting in the Houhoué Palace of the king, depicting the dynasty of Voodoo kings that dates back to the fifteenth century.A palace portrait of King Daagbo Hounan, whose name means “The One Who Owns the Sea.” He is depicted arriving in a boat protected by a turtle symbolizing the longevity of the kingdom.A portrait of the mermaid deity Mami Wata, who has the power to influence the beauty, success, and well-being of women.During the inaugural procession, a palace courier carries a staff depicting all of the continents where Voodoo is practiced, revealing its widespread influence.The Atlantic slave trade brought Voodoo from West Africa to Cuba, Haiti, and Brazil. In Cuba, Voodoo is known as Santería. In Matanzas, east of Havana, two male Santería novices undergo their initiation into priesthood, wearing veils, crowns, and carrying white fans.In the town square of Ouidah, an elaborate carved tree trunk depicts the history of Voodoo, including Yoruba Egungun figures with ancestral powers.Devotees of Meko Koku, the god of war, absorb his spirit into their bodies. When in this altered state, they claim to be able to perform superhuman feats.A man rolls over a prickly cactus until it is embedded in his back. He feels no pain and his back is unharmed due to the highly protective power of the Koku deity.A follower of Koku spins into a state of possession to a rhythm of drums specific to his deity. He wears an alatsi grass skirt for protection and his body is covered with yellow palm oil paste.Followers of Mami Wata, the mermaid deity who protects women, sculpt her image in the sand at the site of the inaugeration of King Daagbo Hounan.A priestess’s face is covered with red ocher and her hair and body with a yellow paste of palm oil and flour to attract the spirit of her deity.A young Voodoo priestess wears a red parrot feather that signifies her connection with the spirit world.The Mami Wata Priestess, Amingansi Djabassi, perfoms a ritual divination using kola nuts and white powder at the entrance of her shrine.Tucked into the headband of a Voodoo priestess, a red parrot feather signifies her powerful connection with the spirit world.At the shrine of Gambada, dedicated to the deity Zanzan Zinho, a priest pours a libation over his fetishes and then sets off a magnificent display of fireworks, displaying the power of his deity.The Voodoo followers of Flimani Koku, the ancient warrior deity who provides defense against witchcraft and evil, gather together to celebrate their deity. They spin themselves into intense trances to the accompanyment of pulsating Voodoo drum rhythms. In these altered states, they are able to perform superhuman feats, enduring pain or exerting strength that would ordinarily appear impossible.Legba, the fetish that addresses fertility, emotional distress, and sexual dissatisfaction, enjoys cigarettes. In order to elicit his powers a lit cigarette is placed in its mouth.