One of my favorite places in the US is New Orleans. And of course no trip to New Orleans would be complete without a stop at the grave of Marie Laveau
Marie Laveau, also known as the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans is still one of the most renowned figures from the city. She is estimated to have been born in the early 1790’s and died in 1881. She was born a free woman of mixed color and raised a devout Catholic. Much has been written on the life of Marie Laveau, although the challenge over the years has been separating the facts from the fiction.
Marie is said to have been born sometime in between 1791 to 1794 depending on the source. She was the illegitimate daughter of Charles Laveau a white planter and Marguerite Darcantrel and black woman.
At the age of 25 in 1819 Marie married Jacques Paris from Saint Dominque, Haiti at the St. Louis Cathedral. Around one year after the marriage Jacques Paris disappeared and is presumed to have died. Although some think he might have moved back to Haiti. Marie became known as "The Widow Paris" after Jacques assumed death.
Not long after the death of her husband Marie met and became the lover of Christopher Glapion. They never married officially, but were considered married under common law. Together they had 15 children, including a daughter also named Marie who had a striking resemblance to her mother. Besides looking like her mother Marie II also practiced voodoo and helped feed the mythology of her mother’s life.
Marie was a hairdresser by trade, and it was through this that she was able to learn about the secret lives on the wealthy white families of New Orleans. She used this information in her voodoo when white patrons would come to her with requests for love, power, or revenge.
As a Catholic, Marie mixes many of the traditions of Catholicism with those of her voodoo rituals. Marie and her daughter would arrange elaborate ceremonies that would be put on display. These rituals involved snakes, music, drinking, and dancing. As well as, various forms of idol worship popular within Catholicism.
Towards the end of her life Marie began to withdrawal from her world of a voodoo queen, leaving the majority of the practice up to her daughter Marie II. Since Marie II looked so much like her mother, this only contributed to the mysticism of Marie Laveau as a long living voodoo queen.
Marie died quietly in her home surrounded by family at the estimated age of 79. Marie is said to be buried at St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 and her tomb can still be visited today. And is one of the most visited graves in the United States, according to one of the tour guides.
It is believed that it’s possible to visit her tomb and ask for favors with gifts of money, cigarettes, or rum as offerings. The appeal must be made three times, which is visible on the tomb by the triple X marks left by many of the visitors. In the St. Louis Cemetery No 2, there is another tomb bearing the name of Marie Laveau. This tomb also has crosses on it and is called the "wishing vault." Young women often come when seeking husbands.