Encountering Voodoo In New Orleans

When West African slaves arrived in New Orleans in the early 18th century, they brought their religion, Vodun, with them. Popular Catholicism’s influence on the slaves’ faith eventually gave birth to a Voodoo that is peculiar to the region, and you can still encounter it today.

The city is dotted with vestiges of and memorials to its Voodoo history, and to one of its most famous inhabitants, the great Marie Laveau. Visit the following places when you are in the Big Easy and discover the entrancing faith.

New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum

The best place to begin is at the French Quarter’s New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum. The name is a mouthful, but it sets the stage for the other sites.

In the museum, you can learn about the religion’s history, rituals, altars, and some of its famous practitioners. You also can see artefacts from not only the city, but from Haiti and Africa as well.

Congo Square

Every Sunday afternoon during the 1800s, hundreds of African slaves converged on Congo Square in the Tremé neighbourhood. There, they traded, drummed, sang, danced, and performed Voodoo rites in which Marie Laveau would sometimes lead the dance.

You can hear echoes of the site’s past in the drum circles and other rites and ceremonies that are held there from time to time.

Voodoo Shops

If you want a lucky charm for those times you enjoy spinning online slots at Canadian casinos, New Orleans’ Voodoo shops would be the place to look for one. You can find them all over the city, but the highest concentration of them is in the French Quarter.

Shops such as Island of Salvation Botanica and Voodoo Authentica: Cultural Centre and Collection stock mojo bags known as gris-gris, as well as potions, herbs, and hand-made dolls. Both shops are run by practitioners, so consultations and tarot readings are available as well.

The Voodoo Spiritual Temple

Painted a cheerful yellow, the Voodoo Spiritual Temple is headed up by Priestess Miriam Chamani. The temple provides a place for its community to meet and worship, and it provides opportunities to learn more through talks, lectures, and literature.

If you plan to visit, it is best to visit the website or to email or call ahead of time and find out if there are any events or tours you can attend. The temple is not far from Louis Armstrong Park.

Marie Laveau’s Tomb

Known as the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, Marie Laveau lived in the city for almost the whole of the 19th century. Although she devoutly attended Mass at the cathedral, she also was a Voodoo priestess, an herbal healer, and a midwife.

Laveau lived a life dedicated to doing good. In addition to adopting orphans with a home, she also visited prisoners, gave food to the needy, and provided nursing care to many people during the yellow-fever epidemic. You can pay homage to her legacy and make a wish like countless others have done by joining a tour that takes you right to her tomb in the French Quarter’s St. Louis Cemetery.

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About the Author: Mercedes Sanchez