Thresholds

By Eileen Moyer
University of Amsterdam (formerly University of Iowa)

Unidentified peoples, Benin, crossroads near Savi. Photo by Dana Rush.

People all over the world depend on religion to create order in an otherwise disorganized universe. Philosophical thought is utilized rationally to imagine a world where things happen for a reason. Oppositions seem naturally to emerge in the effort to establish a balanced dialogue between humans and nature, man and woman, living people and the spirit world. The spaces that humans inhabit become physical metaphors of sacredness when a place and time for worship is required. Throughout the world the cross represents the intersection of worlds. It should not be surprising, then, to learn that in many parts of Africa the crossroads are seen as holy places, as thresholds between the spirits and humans. Near Savi in Benin, a stake has been planted at the intersection of three footpaths. Known as a vosisa, it serves as a personal offering that was placed here under the direction of a bokonan (diviner) following a Fa consultation (Rush 1997: personal communication).