by Molly Jo Realy @MollyJoRealy
Marie Laveau was born September 1, 1801. She practiced Creole Voodoo.
Because of my early reading habits [read: Two Books to Read This Week], I’ve always known her.
When I started writing NOLA, there was no question she would be a character. I just didn’t know what kind of character. Oh, sorry. I guess all y’all will have to wait til it’s published to find out the details. #sorrynotsorry
When SuperGirl went to New Orleans last spring, she captured some beautiful photos and has given me permission to share them here. Now, they’re not Ms. Laveau’s tomb, but with the stormy skies and the reaching branches, the effect is still wonderfully creepy. So, you know. Thanks, Cara.
Marie was known for her, shall we call them, abilities to help people out of tricky situations. She was a great people-reader. Scholars believe, while she practiced Louisiana Voodoo, it was actually her talent for understanding people that brought her the recognition she now has. She’s been rumored to have been a hairstylist, mistress, midwife, and nurse. All the kinds of professions where people share their secrets. It could explain her vast knowledge of her community.
Then again . . .
It’s also said she had a daughter who looked like her twin. This gave rise to the rumor that Marie had died and lived again. It’s also been rumored she never had a child.
So what is the truth?
Marie was a troublemaker who never got into trouble. She disrupted her neighborhood more than once with her wild Voodoo parties. When the police were called, they rarely found reason to arrest her. The few times they did, she was known to be released against unreasonable odds.
She sold gris-gris (Mojo bags), cast spells, laid (and lifted) curses, told fortunes, and mixed potions. People sought her help when their situations seemed helpless.
Even as a Voodoo priestess, Marie was a strong practicing Catholic. New Orleans blends the two religions without shame or apology.
During her life–that’s her real life, not the I-don’t-know-if-she’s-undead-or-not life–she cultivated a reputation that reigns to this day. She’s known as the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, and people still flock to her tomb in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 to pray for her interventions.
Her death house is marked with triple X’s. To petition her, a person must draw three X’s, turn around three times, knock on the tomb, and yell out their wish. If the wish is granted, they’re to come back, circle their own X’s and leave an offering for Marie. The offering can be as simple as flowers, coins, Mardi Gras beads, candles, and other trinkets. As long as it shows appreciation for Marie and her works.
Due to recent bouts of vandalism, the cemetery (also known as the City of the Dead) no longer allows visitors without a tour guide.
In a culture rich with a haunted past, Marie Laveau lives on in modern-day New Orleans.
With some disbelief and a questioning mind,
And Frankly, My Dear . . . That’s all she wrote!
Learn more about New Orleans Cemetery Tours: