On June 16th 1881, 134 years ago today, the New Orleans Times Picayune printed the obituary of recently deceased Marie Laveau, the infamous Voodoo Queen of New Orleans. Stick with me while I commemorate her death by re-visiting the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum – I swear it’s not as weird as it sounds! Voodoo is pretty popular in New Orleans as an alternative religion and belief system, and this little museum is a really great place to start if you want to learn a little more about it (for a start, Voodoo is not traditionally used to “hurt” or “curse” people!). It was created by New Orleans Creole native and cultural preservationist Charles Massicot Gandolfo in 1972, and is basically a little old house full of all things Voodoo.
It’ll cost you only USD$5.00 for entry, and we were given an information guide before we ventured in, which had a great FAQ page, as well as a run down of the four big focuses in the museum, which I’ve drawn from for the information below:
The Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, Marie Laveau was a free woman of colour and a well known healer and leader of the city’s Voodoo community.
The entrance to the museum is via a small, old, creaky hallway with a few pieces of note on the walls. There are pictures of popular Voodoo practitioners, a map showing the Voodoo journey, and something I found really amazing was the original passport; wooden masks used by tribes on the move to indicate who they were and where they were from, passport masks!
A “gris-gris” is both the act and the object of a magical superpower, but it is rarely used for evil as per common misconceptions. The four main areas of gris-gris use are for love & sex, power & domination, fortune & luck, and undoing another gris-Gris.
This room was not only gorgeous to look at, but functional as well. Both Voodoo practitioners and visitors leave offerings at the altars (photos, personal items like cosmetics and hair clips, jewellery, etc) as offerings to the Voodoo spirits for gris-Gris favours. You’ll also notice some Catholic saints who have merged over the centuries in function, name and image with ancient Voodoo spirits.
It doesn’t take long to wander through the few rooms, but if you do have the time and the interest in it, there’s so much to read about on your way through, and some really fascinating objects and photos to accompany it all. Worth the visit if you have a bit of time to spare between drinks and po boys!