Louisiana Voodoo – Part 2

Voodoo Queens

Despite an attack on the followers of this religion it managed to survive and still held many people in it’s ranks. In 1808 the Embargo act was enlisted meaning that no more Africans could be imported into the United States as slaves and within time New Orleans would begin to see more free people of colour. At the time there were many male Europeans living in the area though not so many females. It was because of this that intermingling between races became more common which attributed to the higher number of freed people of colour. Life of course was still not easy for these, with the country still being far from equal rights. Voodoo however was respected by many people in the area, especially in a time where most suspicions were simply truth, it was this that led certain people of colour to achieve major influence in the area despite the common beliefs of the time.

Some of the most powerful and influential voodoo practitioners in the city were the ‘voodoo queens’. There were fifteen of these throughout the various districts of New Orleans, they were religious leaders, much like a vicar, who would offer advice, charms and amulets to those who sought their council. The most famous example of these women was Marie Laveau.

Marie Laveau

Laveau was an extremely influential woman who came from a mixed background of African, Native American and French descent. Supposedly people from all sorts of backgrounds came to her for advice and blessings, the wealthy elite would often seek her advise before making large transactions or big decisions, as well as the poor and even the enslaved. It was noted that she may have favoured helping the later, many runaway slaves were certain that her potent charms granted them their freedom which only helped to serve her reputation more. It wasn’t long until she became the most respected and praised ‘voodoo queen’ in the area. She was also a hairdresser, this allowed her to further garner influence amongst the people and was the perfect place to hear the towns gossip, making sure she knew everything that was going on. She too helped the integration of Catholic practises in voodoo by encouraging her supporters to attend catholic mass. Despite the often-foreboding tones the religion has been linked to in modern popular culture Marie Laveau is remembered not just for her string connection to its mystic forces but also for her compassion and kindness towards the people of New Orleans.

Just like voodoo itself, Laveau’s presence has not left the city of New Orleans. Her grave in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is a top tourist attraction for those interested in the religion and its history, often offering are still placed here and prayers given in hopes she will still help those who need it. New Orleans also has an excellent small museum dedicated to the practise, The New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum is place where you can learn all about voodoo, where it came from, Marie Laveau and so much more.