When you think of the Care Bears, do you think of them as nothing more than annoying characters in an overly preachy children's cartoon? Or do you find them vaguely unsettling, perhaps because your inner eye can sense some of the truth behind these chubby brightly colored 'friends' - the truth of Voodoo masquerading as children's entertainment.
One of the characteristics of the spread of Voodoo in the Western Hemisphere is the adaptability of the paradigms of Voodoo worship and magic to the host cultures and religions. This has been demonstrated in the accommodation of Voodoo to the native cultures of Brazil in the form of Macumba (Candomble and Umbanda), and in the adaptation of Catholic religious iconography to Voodoo in the practice of Santeria, where saints have been adapted to substitute for specific voodoo gods. These examples are well known and publicly recognized. The Catholic Church has even been quietly tolerant of both Voodoo and Santeria for many years.
What fewer are aware of is the introduction of Voodoo symbology and worship into the culture of the United States through the medium of children's cartoons. Voodoo has always been syncretic and adaptable, and through the work of a few Boccor/Animators and sympathetic Voodoo practitioner producers in Hollywood the Lwa have found new forms and gained unprecedented access to generations of young television viewers. While recent attention has been focused on the popularity of the Kabbalah and ritual Jewish magic in Hollywood, the Lwa and Voodoo were there first and have already permeated the culture to a depth which few suspect.
Voodoo's invasion of children's animation began in the 1950s with the tentative work of early media-voodoo pioneers such as Art Clokey whose character Gumby clearly derives from the Jamaican festival spirit Goombay or Big Bwoy, an amorphous and confused buffoonish character who heralds the start of festival season. The similarity of the exaggerated features of the two characters is hard to miss.
Another tentative effort to introduce some Voodoo elements into a children's cartoon can be found in the popular 1980s cartoon Rainbow Brite which features a horse - a traditional symbol of Legba - which has a rainbow tail - clearly symbolic of Damballah. In the enormously popular Smurfs you can also see Voodoo themes portrayed, especially in the character of Smurfette whose position as a unique and powerful female figure surrounded by male cohorts clearly echoes the role of Irzuli in Voodoo mythology.