Sep 10, 2020

September 10: Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau is born Twice

Born on September 10th in 1794 was the renowned practitioner of Louisiana Voodoo Marie Laveau in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Laveau was born to a free creole woman and one time acting Mayor of New Orleans (about 5 months), Charles Laveau Trudeau  (AKA Don Carlos Trudeau).
   In 1819 She married Jaques Paris, a French Creole, who had fled as a refugee from the black Haitian massacre during the Haitian Revolution of 1791-1804. He disappeared soon after their wedding and was presumed dead. She then took up with Louis Christope Dominick Duminy de Glapion, a white man of noble french descent and lived with him until his death in 1835. They had 7 children, but only two lived to adulthood; 2 girls both also named Marie.
   Laveau and her daughter, Marie Laveau II, had both earned the title of Voodoo Queen, most accounts are nearly indistinguishable between the two Laveaus, as many regarded them as the same person. Voodoo Queens had great power in their communities, and had the role of leading many of the ceremonial meetings and ritual dances.
   As many as 12,000 people at a time (both black and white) would attend Laveau's St. John's Eve (June 23) rituals, usually held in the Voudoun (Haitian Voodou) tradition.
Voudoun is a religion of belief in "mysterious forces or powers that govern the world and the lives of those who reside within it." rooted in African religious practices and is similar to but separate from Louisiana Voodoo, which incorporates elements of Catholicism as well as the Francophone culture of south Louisiana. The South Eastern American religion of Hoodoo is also similar to Louisiana Voodoo as it also uses elements of Catholicism including the Holy Bible.
   It is said that Laveau tended more toward Louisiana Voodoo and Marie Laveau II more to Voodoun practices, But the first Laveau often carried a snake named after Li Grand Zombi (or Damballa), an important spirit in Voodoun.

Marie Laveau died on June 17, 1881, but many witnessed her walking through New Orleans in the days following. Some of this may be on account of Laveau II taking her place as Voodoo Queen, but to this day Many seek the magical help from Marie Laveau by visiting her grave at Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1 in New Orleans. By local folklore, a visitor can mark an "X" on her tomb, turn around three times, knock on the tomb, yell a wish, and if it was granted  come back, circle their X, and leave an offering for Laveau including jewelry and drink.
   As of March 1, 2015 there is no longer public access to St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. without a tour guide due in large part to protecting Laveau's mausoleum. There have been several highly publicized vandalizations of her grave including the Horror Punk band The Misfits being arrested for attempting to rob her grave as well as an event in 2013 of someone painting the entire mausoleum pink.

Photo credit: Marie Laveau's mausoleum in Saint Louis no. I, New Orleans
 (public domain photo).