The Voodoo Queen
of New Orleans

MARIE LAVEAU

1801 - 1881

WHO WAS MARIE LAVEAU?

The Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, Marie Laveau

Marie Laveau was born a free woman of color in New Orleans in 1801 and became known as The Voodoo Queen during her lifetime through acts of community service, and through the spiritual rites she helped lead in the greater New Orleans area. After her death, her fantastic legend continued to grow throughout the United States and beyond as ‘Queen of the Voodoos’, having songs and newspaper articles featuring her as well as local lore that continues to this day. At the age of 80 Marie passed into the spirit realm. She is buried at Saint Louis Cemetery #1 and is honored in many households as a spiritual ancestor.

Marie was the daughter of Charles Laveaux and Marguerite D’Arcantel, both free people of color born to mixed families. In a cottage on Saint Ann in the French Quarter, she was taught by her mother the practice of alternative and holistic healing methods for the family and their community. They were well known practitioners of spiritual charms and Marie grew into the public title of hoodoo doctor and later a leader of the voodoo spiritual community.

Despite Marie’s social position in a group marginalized in society, she gained followers and clients from all classes of life, from social-elites to prison inmates and all in between. She was a devout catholic and in between her frequent trips to Saint Louis Cathedral, Marie specialized in making gris-gris and doing spell work to fix the positions of her clients.

She held a great deal of notoriety and respect locally, but not nationally until her obituary was published in the New York Times in 1881. Her Legend continued to grow as talk of exotic religions and voodoo entered public awareness during the US occupation of Haiti from 1915-1934 . Today, Marie Laveau has become synonymous with Voodoo and the attitudes toward this African based practice.

Marie was a beautiful and dynamic woman who balanced her devout Catholic upbringing and belief with the ‘roots’ of her voodoo practice. Her gris-gris was sought after and her counsel was important to French Quarter residents from homemakers to a few local politicians, according to legend.

As her story has been told, additions to her legend were added or uncovered. Part of her folklore includes the story that her title as Marie Laveau Queen of New Orleans Voodoo, passed seamlessly to her daughter of the same name. This apparent eternal youth added to her mystery and power to outsiders who believed she could never grow old.

In Hatian Voodoo an Ancestor with great works can ascend to status of Loa. Some believe that the spirit of Marie Laveau has entered into this realm as an intercessor to God, a Saint, to assist in petitions of her Followers. Read more about Altars here.

Portrait of Marie Laveau