Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Queen

Marie Catherine Laveau was a Francophone Creole who’s renowned in New Orlean and is also known as the Voodoo Queen. Although there was 15 “Voodoo queens” scattered around New Orleans neighborhoods throughout the 19th-century, she was known as “The Voodoo Queen” and still bear that title today. She was said to be the most powerful of all the Voodoo queens. Described as a beautiful woman, warm and compassionate, she was said to be a kind and a sort of saintly figure who nursed the sick and spread compasion.

Historical records say she was born free in the French quarter of New Orlean, September 10, 1801. Her father was Charles Laveau Trudeau a surveyor, politician and became a mayor of New Orlean in 1812. And her mother was Marguerite Henry a free woman of Native American, African and French descent and a Voodoo practitioner. She would go on to marry Jacques Paris, a French immigrant and white refugee who survived the black Haitian revolution of 1791-1804 and later worked as a carpenter in the French quarter of New Orlean . As she was raised a Catholic their wedding took place in the Saint Louis Cathedral in New Orlean August 4, 1819 and was performed by the Capuchin priest Antonio De Sellada (Pere Antoine). However in certain sources he was recorded dead in 1820 or went missing in 1824 which led to Marie Laveau to speak of his death and claim she was a widow. Dough it could be possible that Jacques Paris simply deserted and that she didn’t want to admit it. They had two daughters, Félicite Paris in 1817 and Marie Angèlie/Angele Laveau who both disappeared from the records in the 1820s.

After her husband’s death, Marie Laveau started a beauty parlor as a hairdresser for the wealthier white and Creole womens of New Orlean. While working woman’s would confide all kinds of information to her such as their intimate secrets and desires or information about their family affairs and husbands. It helped her rise up the social ranks and become a businesswoman. As a businesswoman she frequented Louisiana personalities such as Rosette Rochon, Jean Lafitte, Laurent Ursain Guesnon and Jean-Louis Dolliole. Around that time she also entered a domestic partnership with Christophe Dominick Duminy de Glapion (a man of French descent) and ended up having fifteen kids with him with only two of them surviving into adulthood. Marie Philomène Glapion born

in 1836 and Marie Euchariste Eloise Laveau born in 1827.

Certain sources indicates that she started to take interest in her mother’s Voodoo practices and traditional african beliefs after her mother’s death while other sources say it was after her husband’s death. She was taught most of her craft by Dr. John Bayou a Voodoo doctor from New Orlean and was skilled. Marie Laveau Practiced Louisiana Voodoo also known as New Orleans Voodoo. It’s a set of traditional spiritual African beliefs infused with Catholic influence. Voodoo was imported to Louisiana during the colonial period by enslaved sub-Saharan Africans and enslaved Africans from the Caribbean sea. It is Louisiana Voodoo that is responsible for the popularity of Voodoo dolls and Gris-Gris. It would incorporate holy water, incense, statues of saints and even Catholic/Christian prayers to make it more appealing to those of upper class and appealing to those devoted to Catholic/Christianity. Rituals were achieved with a mixing of music, dancing, singing and even the use of snakes. Marie Laveau was said to have a pet snake called Zombi after the Deity Damballah Wedo.

People would seek out for her help for spiritual intervention or protection and ask favors concerning love to political affairs. Politicians, lawmans, businessmans, wealthy figures would come before making important financial or political decisions. She would also help the poor and enslaved for free. Marie Laveau would sell Gris-Gris bags. Talismans that originated from africa, they would bring good fortune, love and protect wearers from evil. She would also do spiritual readings, tell fortune and cast spells such as cures, charms or even curses for the right price.

Once a wealthy man’s son was accused of rape and was to face a long jail sentence. Desperate to save his son from going to jail, the wealthy man went to Marie Laveau for her aid in exchange of a house. She accepted and hosted a Voodoo ritual in which she underwent a kind of self torture. She put three ridiculously hot guinea pepper (said to be hotter than the Hades) in her mouth and held them there for hours as she appears to the spirits. In Voodoo, the spirits and gods take pity under those who are in great suffering and so she would use her pain to get the spirits out and grant her what she desired. The day of the conviction she snuck into the courthouse and place the three spiritually enhanced peppers that had been in her mouth under the seat of the judge. The wealthy man’s son was then set free and he granted her the house he promised her.

Marie Catherine Laveau Paris Glapion died from natural cause aged 79/80 June 15/16, 1881 in New Orlean and was said to have a smile on her face when her body was found. Her funeral was luxurious, being attended by many peoples including members of the white elite and not long after her death was announced to the public on June 17, 1881, several people reported sighting her or her spirit walking around the city. One of Marie Laveau’s daughter, Marie Euchariste Eloise Laveau later assume the position of Voodoo queen, took the name of Marie Laveau II and carried on her magical practice. It was said that she did not possess the kindness and compassion of her mother, that she would inspire fear.

Today Marie Laveau is buried in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 in New Orlean and  according to a decades-old tradition many tourists visit her tomb draw X marks on it, then turn around three times, knock on the tomb, yell out their wish, and if it was granted, come back, circle their X and leave an offering for her. Marie Laveau continue be one of New Orlean’s most renowned historical figure and one of the most famous Voodooist that ever lived even to this day.