Marie Laveau, The Voodoo Queen Of New Orleans!

No one in the world of the paranormal in New Orleans is more famous (or infamous) than Marie Laveau. She was the most significant Voodoo Queen of all time. Born in the Vieux Carre in 1794 (although some say she was born in the Caribbean), she was believed to be the daughter of a wealthy planter and a slave; perhaps she was also part Native American. Much of her life remains a secret though it is known that she was a “freewoman of color” who was married to a “freeman of color” in a Catholic service.

Later she lived on St. Ann Street. As the story goes she was given a house by a grateful client whom Marie helped with her Voodoo charms called gris-gris (pronounced “gree-gree”) — a magical potion of various crushed herbs concealed in a small bag.

The Voodoo Queen was known for her involvement in Black Magic. But it is likely she mixed magic with spying and blackmail to get her way. The elite of the city would seek out Marie Laveau for advice. A very clever woman, she personally knew many of the servants of the city’s most influential citizens; from them she would obtain her information to “work her magic.” Marie, who had once been a hairdresser to the ruling class of the city, knew how servants could obtain information on their masters. However, it was most likely that her belief in Voodoo was real; and it was certain that many in the city of all races feared both Voodoo and the Voodoo Queen.

New Orleans Voodoo was based in animism (nature belief) from Africa and was modified in Haiti to include a belief in zombies and the spirit world, including demons and ghosts. Additionally, it contained elements of Roman Catholicism, to make it more acceptable to local authorities. As an example of the fear that some had for Voodoo, in 1782 during the Spanish regime, Governor Galvez forbade the import of slaves from Martinique in the Caribbean to New Orleans because the slaves’ belief in Voodoo made them too dangerous.

Voodoo had been practiced in Congo Square (now Louis Armstrong Park) behind the Quarter, but Marie Laveau is recalled for her Voodoo meetings on the banks of Bayou St. John. Large numbers, perhaps hundreds, of all classes and races (even in antebellum days) would attend the sensual rituals at the so-called “Wishing Spot” on the bayou, where the blood of decapitated roosters was consumed. There the erotic snake dance was performed (the snake being the symbol of the Voodoo god), and a bizarre belief in zombies was quite real.

In later life, the Voodoo Queen rejected her belief in evil magic and embraced Catholicism. She visited the convicts on death row in the city’s jail, bringing them comfort and food. Usually she brought them gumbo; it has been suggested she sometimes laced the gumbo with natural medicinal herbs that soothed the convicts’ physical and mental pain. Some speculated that at least once, Marie actually drugged the gumbo with a substance which caused the premature death of a prisoner who had a date with the hangman, sparing the victim the trauma of execution. During the Yellow Fever epidemic of the 1850s which devastated the population of New Orleans, prominent citizens called upon Marie Laveau to help heal the sick and fight the plague.

Marie Laveau was buried in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 in 1881.Her ghost lives on in the minds of her faithful worshipers. Even today, they come to her grave asking for aid and making chalk marks on her tomb in the shape of a cross or an “X.” Some say that if you mark an X on her grave and knock three times, she will grant you a wish. And many believe the ghost of the Voodoo Queen rises from the dead on St. John’s Eve, June 23, and holds court over a spectacular Voodoo ritual.


About Andrew

Co-founder & lead investigator of Paranormal Encounters. I've experienced the paranormal all my life, having encountered ghosts, angels and demons. I live in a haunted house and when not exploring and researching the unknown, I enjoy single malt Scotch whisky & potato chips (though not necessarily at the same time).