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Voodoo Priestess, Marie Laveau (Siana in NOLA)

For centuries the word "Voodoo" has caused a lot of fear. The Voodoo practice has been demonized and misunderstood by many people. So before I go into talking about my interest in Madame Marie Laveau I first want to educate you on the Voodoo spiritual practice. Voodoo derived from the Afro-Caribbean religion that originated in Haiti called Voudon. Voudon originated with slaves who combined elements of their West African traditions and beliefs with the Roman Catholicism imposed upon them by their masters in a process called syncretism. A 1685 law forbade the practice of African religions and required all masters to Christianize their slaves within eight days of their arrival. Slavery was condoned by the Catholic Church as a tool for converting Africans to morally upright Christians. Slaves were forced to adopt Catholic rituals thus gave them double meanings, and in the process many of their spirits became associated with Christian saints.

The event that sparked the Haitian Revolution was a Petwo Voodoo service. On the evening of August 14th Dutty Boukman, a houngan and practitioner of the Petwo Voodoo, held a service at Bois Caiman. A woman at the service channeled the warrior sprit of Ogoun. During this ceremony the spirit named those who were to lead the slaves and free blacks to revolt and seek a stark justice from their oppressors. This uprising began on the evening of August 21st. This revolution went on for the long period of 13 years of which several events took place that lead to the creation of the independence of Haiti, which lead to the Independence Day January 1, 1804., making Haiti the first all black republic in modern history.

It makes sense that people that have no interest in the freedom or liberation of blacks would demonize, attach lies, hate, & fear onto our original spiritual practices to draw us away from remembering our connection to the powers that govern this world. The truth is once we remember our power we can no longer be oppressed.

Voodoo had been secretly practiced by blacks around New Orleans since the first boat load of slaves. New Orleans was more French-Spanish than English-American, and the slaves had came from the same parts of Africa that had sent blacks to work the French and Spanish plantations in the Caribbean. After the blacks had won their independence in Haiti in 1803-1804, the Creole planters brought their slaves with them to friendlier shores of southern Louisiana, from Saint Dominique and other West Indian islands. The slaves were avid practitioners of the ancient religion, and it grew rapidly.

Marie Laveau was born in New Orleans in 1794 and was considered a free woman of color. Being a mulatto, she was of mixed black, white and Indian blood. She was a Voodoo priestess who was also a well known hair dresser. Marie Laveau's charismatic nature caused Voodoo to be more acceptable in the public eye. She was one of the first priestess to open secret Voodoo celebrations, rituals, and ceremonies to the public. She had both white and black followers. And was able to make a healthy amount of money by inviting all who wanted to come and participate in her events while charging a cover charge. She has become one of the most famous people known to the history of New Orleans by making the Voodoo practice mainstream. Still to this day people travel from all over to visit her Voodoo Shop and Tomb. It is said that if people wanted Laveau to grant them a wish, they had to draw an "X" on the tomb, turn around three times, knock on the tomb, yell out their wish, and if it was granted, come back, circle their "X," and leave Laveau an offering.

Marie Laveau's Tomb is located in Saint Louis Cemetery. Because of my goal to fully embrace my calling as a high priestess and Shamanistic songstress; bringing to light the beauty of ancient spiritual systems and bridging the gap that has been wedged between our African roots. I had a deep desire to learn about Marie Laveau and how she was able to bring a different perspective about Voodoo practitioners. So on of my main goals while in New Orleans was to visit her grave. It was actually a lot harder than I expected.

Because of Vandalism as of March 1st 2015 there is no longer public access to St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 the only way one can enter is with a group of tourist and a tour guide. The Laveau Family tomb has just undergone extensive restoration. The practice of marking an X on any tomb is a federal crime and an act of disrespect to the dead and people are no longer allowed to leave offerings.

So how did I get in the Cemetery?

For about 30 minutes I was searching for Marie Laveau's Tomb in the wrong cemetery. St. Louis Cemetery No. 2. I had no clue I was in the wrong cemetery and got to the point where I was ready to give up. As I walked out of the cemetery a local stopped me and asked if I needed help. I told him what I was on a search for and he told me I was at the wrong Cemetery and gave me directions to the correct one. Once I got to the cemetery its was gated and block with about 5 men who said I cannot enter without purchasing a tour. I told them that I didn't want to go as a tourist but as someone who wants to pay homage to the spirit of Marie Laveau. They said about 5 times "Sorry ma'am we can't let you do that." At that point I kept advocating for myself and then one of the workers at the Cemetery came out and said "What is it that you want ma'am" I replied "I just want to visit her tomb and say a prayer." He looked around and told me to wait for the tour to finish. Once the tour ended he escorted me to her gravesite. As I saluted her and payed my respect I was reminded of the power of conviction, commitment, and persistence. Thank you Marie Laveau for showing me that when one commits to their purpose no matter how different or misunderstood it is one will prevail.

“It's only those who are persistent, and willing to study things deeply, who achieve the Master Work” ― Paulo Coelho #LivingTheAlchemist

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