September 24, 2021

Voodoo Priest Max Gesner Beavoir

We are continuing our exploration of famous (and infamous) Voodoo Priests and Priestesses with the first member of this collection who is still living today with Max Gesner Beavoir, a gentleman who combines scientific study with religious

practice. As ever, it is our hope that you will increase your own understanding of the art of voodoo by engaging with these stories from throughout the ages and help you to contemplate the power you are wielding when asking our own priest to perform a ceremony in your favour.

Beavoir was born on August 25 in 1939 in Haiti and was one of many Haitian children of that generation who benefitted from having greater mobility as a result of increased social and financial benefits which continued to improve throughout his life, filtering down to include more and more people. He moved to America and studied at the City College of New York. He graduated in 1958 with a basic qualification in Chemistry which he then built on with a further degree in biochemistry from another University about 4 years later.

He continued his work as an academic by lecturing and supervising teams with a variety of briefs, specialising in the synthesis of plants. Despite the public nature of his life, little is known of the involvement he had in voodoo at this stage, but once his father died in 1973 he moved back to Haiti and it is from that point on that his involvement in religion noticeably increased. We may speculate that (and it seems likely) that there is some connection between a desire to remain spiritually connected to the world around him and the passing of his father (remember, true Voodoo is not about talking to the dead despite what films may tell you). Perhaps he wanted to have more of a positive influence on the community through taking care of their spiritual health but it is purely speculation given the very private way in with Beavoir conducts his personal affairs.

He founded a Hounfour (Voodoo temple) in his home town which also served as the medical clinic for the local residents. There has always been links between healing and voodoo with the belief that illness comes through actions of malicious Ioa. It was a busy and difficult time to be a priest as the ruling Duvalier family were involved in a somewhat tumultuous regime. In truth, Beavoir would have been in the firing line were it not for the fact that he was houngan, as a major agitator he would almost certainly been one of those to pay with their lives, but the respect for his power and the religion in general is such that nobody would lay a hand on him.

At the same time he continued pushing for academia to be taken seriously by more Haitian residents and set up the Group for Studies and Research on the African Tradition. Knowing that one of the few things likely to inspire his community to embrace study was their history, and it also meant that they were able to engage with the religious aspects of their past which of course included Voodoo. It was an odd marriage of science and religion from a man who embodied the spirit of both, knowing from his own experience the benefits of being open to both of the apparently juxtaposed stances. Beavoir was lucky by Haitian standards throughout his life, but this softly spoken man of both academics and voodoo has been a loud voice for positive change throughout his life for all people with African heritage.