LOUISIANA VOODOO

Embedded in New Orleans Culture

THE ORIGINS OF LOUISIANA VOODOO

Origins and Early Practioners
Voodoo mask and statue

New Orleans Voodoo was born from the marriage of African Traditions and Creole Culture, merging French, Spanish, Catholic and Native beliefs, and later, a strong Haitian influence. No two solitary practitioners are alike, nor are the local formal Houses. Each group or individual works with their court of spirits and ancestors and sees to the needs of their communities outside strict doctrine or canon.

In New Orleans, the word ‘Voodoo’ can be seen on t-shirts, food, in music, street signs, and heard on any street corner in the French Quarter in a rainbow of different contexts. It is part of the living history of the city.  And as no two people are alike, most definitions of this eclectic term will not be the same. However, one thing each explanation will probably all have in common is ‘Magic’. Interestingly, not so often do we hear ‘religion’, even though the term originated in Dahomey for God or Spirit, and is in fact a profound spiritual tradition with rich history.

Religious and Spiritual practices such as New Orleans Voodoo, Haitian Vodou, Santeria, Candomble, Obeah and Hoodoo exist in their current forms through the resilience of the displaced peoples of the horrific practice of slave trade. Through the strength of their spirits, the old gods of the African continent were brought into the ‘New’ World and took root. Practices in each region where enslaved people were brought differed depending on many things including the available resources for offerings and ritual, percentage of similar beliefs of the enslaved people, colonialist religions present, as well as native traditions.

Catholic And Pagan Influences
Jackson Square in New Orleans Louisiana

At Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo, you will see many Catholic supplies, saints, and elements of the Christian religion. Initially used as a mask for the worship of African gods, Christianity, and specifically Catholicism and it’s iconography, have been intrinsically linked with modern voodoo practice.

The image of Saint Lazarus or Saint Peter -is- Papa Legba in our traditions, inversely Saint Michael is used widely as a protector spirit on his own, and not necessarily linked with the Ogou of sister traditions. You will also see a variety of western pagan elements and influences that are used by current rootworkers. Modern New Orleans Practitioners do not judge tools by their origin but their efficacy in magic.

Voodoo In Pop Culture

Voodoo is an umbrella term that has been widely misunderstood as relating to black magic or devil worship thanks to sensational ideas of Hollywood and publishing in the 1800s and beyond. Even outside of manufactured pop culture, it is still used by many as a wide-ranging descriptor for African based New world religions.

Most modern practitioners have a deep and beautiful relationship to spirit and ancestors, and a belief that one’s circumstances can be made better with help from the former and ritual practice.

The Living Tradition of New Orleans Voodoo

In our House, we carry items relating to a myriad and mixing pot of distinct religious and spiritual practices not limited to the type of Magic Marie Laveau herself would have practiced. That is the legacy of New Orleans voodoo and her practitioners. In the spirit of the founders of all the African diasporic traditions, practitioners in New Orleans use all tools available to attain their ends. ‘Voodoo’ practiced today may look very different from one-hundred years ago but the purpose and spirit remain the same.

Using a planetary symbol or poppet adopted from Western occult traditions(voodoo doll), a modern voodoo practitioner may have the same spiritual resonance as her predecessor casting a love spell using a simple lock of hair, sugar and red ribbon. The technology of magic has changed, just as the technology of electricity has, and this is important to remember when speaking about a living tradition.

And just like the forebears of New Orleans Voodoo, it is typical to see prayers, devotional rituals, use of natural elements worn or carried in the form of talismans or charms, cleansing baths, and group rituals involving drumming and spirit possession as part of modern day practice.

Modern Voodoo
Marie Laveau's and Reverend Zombie's signs

The Magic of New Orleans Voodoo lies in the practitioners of today as well as the colorful characters of the city’s past, such as our honored namesake, Marie Laveau. Some may use terms like Rootwork, Hoodoo or Conjure to describe aspects of their craft. Some may use western magic principles and tools to enhance their workings. Some Houses hold private rituals to honor deities such as Li Grand Zombie, Papa Limba, and others in the city hold lineage to Haiti or Cuba.

Modern New Orleans Voodoo has come full circle from separation of traditions to the remelting of many African Diasporic Traditions with Indigenous American and western occult influence. Further, some practitioners of voodoo in New Orleans are divorced from the spirits of the old world and prefer to work with the healing remedies of natural medicines of folk-magic.

The Root to our colorful tree remains in Africa and the truth to our colorful practice remains in ancestral reverence and transmuting circumstance.

Voodoo in New Orleans is living and breathing change through the souls who work magic through her.

To learn more, please visit our shops and peruse our extensive collection of books on the many traditions that have influenced modern New Orleans Voodoo. We also have titles dedicated to various modern spiritual practices and spell work, including tarot, herbology, witchcraft, ceremonial magic, astrology, dream work and many more.