Few religions are as misunderstood and as steeped in often-cartoonish misapprehension as Haitian Vodou. Countless people around the globe, shown images of a ceremony, might confidently say, “Yes, that is Vodou.” But very few, when pressed, could coherently discuss the core tenets of the belief.
For photographer Anthony Karen, who has traveled extensively in Haiti over the years, Vodou is at once a fascinating subject and — in a very real sense — the gateway to his vocation.
“About 13 years ago,” he told LIFE.com, “I was in a difficult, transitional point in my life. Out of nowhere, I felt Haiti calling to me. I traveled there, and saw two Vodou ceremonies in person. On the same trip, I discovered my passion for photojournalism.” Here, LIFE.com presents previously unpublished pictures of a June 2011 Haitian Vodou ceremony, along with Karen’s insights into so-called “marginalized” groups and his own work as a photographer.
see more — Inside Haitian Vodou