Max Gesner Beauvoir
August 25, 1936
|Died||September 12, 2015 (aged 79)|
|Other names||Houngan of the Stars|
|Alma mater||University of Paris|
City College of New York
|Occupation||Houngan, biochemist, chemical engineer|
|Known for||Vodou leader|
|Title||Supreme Chief, High Priest|
Max Gesner Beauvoir (August 25, 1936 – September 12, 2015) was a Haitian biochemist and houngan. Beauvoir held one of the highest titles of Voudou priesthood, "Supreme Servitur" (supreme servant), a title given to Houngans and Mambos (Voudou priests and priestesses) who have a great and very deep knowledge of the religion, and status within the religion. As Supreme Servitur, Max was seen as a high authority within Vodou.
Beauvoir was born on August 25, 1936, in Haiti. He left Haiti in the 1950s and graduated in 1958 from City College of New York with a degree in chemistry. He continued his studies at the Sorbonne from 1959 to 1962, when he graduated with a degree in biochemistry. In 1965, at Cornell Medical Center, he supervised a team in synthesizing metabolic steroids. This led him to a job at an engineering company in northern New Jersey, and later to a period as engineer at Digital Equipment Company in Massachusetts. His interest in steroids led him to experiment with hydrocortisone synthesized from plants; however, the death of his father led him to move back to Haiti in January 1973 and become a voodoo priest.
In 1974, he founded Le Péristyle de Mariani, a Hounfour in his home (which also served as a village clinic) in the village of Mariani. He had a troubled relationship with the ruling Duvalier family. While he urged that they do more to meet the medical needs of the poor, his status as a houngan kept him from being subjected to much of the wanton violence exacted by the Tonton Macoutes against critics.
During this period, he founded the Group for Studies and Research on the African Tradition (French: Groupe d'Etudes et de Recherches Traditionnelles, GERT) with a group of scholars, and later founded the Bòde Nasyonal in 1986 to counter the effects of the post-Duvalier dechoukaj violence which had targeted both Vodou practitioners and the Tonton Macoutes paramilitary, both of which had been used by the Duvalier regime to oppress the Haitian people.
In 1996, Beauvoir founded The Temple of Yehwe, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization for the promotion of education concerning Afro-American religion. In 1997, he became involved with the creation of the KOSANBA group at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Involvement with KNVA
In 2005, he launched the Federasyon Nasyonal Vodou Ayisyen, which he later renamed in 2008 as Konfederasyon Nasyonal Vodou Ayisyen; he serves as "chef Supreme" or "Ati Nasyonal" of the organization, which is an attempt to organize the defense of Vodou in the country against defamation.
- Beauvoir was interviewed in 1982 by Canadian ethnobotanist Wade Davis for his 1985 book The Serpent and the Rainbow.
- Beauvoir held a patent on the process of obtaining hecogenin from plant leaves until 1993.
- Lacey, Marc (4 April 2008). "New head of voodoo brings on the charm". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 September 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- What is The Temple of Yehwe
- "Priestly spirit". The Economist. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved 2020-03-07.
- "Max Beauvoir, King, but of Grand Voodoo Priests, Ordinary Voodoo Priests"
- US application 3981867, Max G. Beauvoir, "Process for obtaining sapogenin particularly hecogenin from plant material such as agave sisalana leaves", published 21 Sep 1976 .