Posted by: danielfee | November 17, 2012

Weekly Photo Challenge: Mystical 11-17-2012

Marie Laveau’s Voodoo Shop – New Orleans, Louisiana

Marie Laveau was born a free person of color on September 10, 1794 in the French Quarter of New Orleans. She died on June 16, 1881 at the age of eighty-six. She was a Louisiana Creole and a renowned practitioner of Voodoo in New Orleans. Her daughter, Marie Laveau II, also practiced Voudoo. Louisiana Voodoo, also known as New Orleans Voodoo, describes a set of religious practices which originated from the traditions of the African diaspora. It is a cultural form of the Afro-American religions which developed within the French, Spanish and Creole speaking African American population in the state of Louisiana. The main focus of Louisiana Voodoo today is to serve others and influence the outcome of life events through the connection with nature, spirits, and ancestors. True rituals are held “behind closed doors” as a showy ritual would be considered disrespectful to the spirits. Voodoo methods include readings, spiritual baths, specially devised diets, prayer, and personal ceremony. Voodoo is often used to cure anxiety, addictions, depression, loneliness, and other ailments. It seeks to help the hungry, the poor, and the sick, as Marie Laveau once did. If you are running low on your voodoo supplies, stop into one of the shops selling charms, gris-gris, candles, and powders that cater to both tourists and practitioners.

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Responses

  1. Great post and cool story!

  2. Yet Voodoo has such a siniser connotation to it which doesn’t seem to jive with your commentary – where did the attachment to sinister come from?

    • I am not sure where the sinister connotation originated, but I suspect it was the movies and literature that propagated this concept. Because voodoo is set of religious practices that were practiced by free people of color and slaves in the south, and these rituals originated from the traditions of African cultures, I think there is a strong undercurrent of racism and suspicion of “the others” that lead to the sinister connotation. One of the interesting things I learned about Marie Laveau is that she was a devout Catholic and encouraged her followers to attend Catholic Mass. But if you think back to when she lived (1794-1881) the Catholic religion itself was considered to be cultish and suspicious. However the Catholic religion continued to grow, and wasn’t limited to just people of color, so it became a mainstream and an accepted religion in the U.S. in the last half of the twentieth century. Not to start a big religious discussion, but I think all religions have the same basic “mystical” characteristics. However, once they grow to a size where they become mainstream in a culture people tend to ignore or forget the mysticism involved in their own religion.


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