History of New Orleans’ Voodoo
Voodoo—A word that conjures spirits of fear and curiosity; Black Magic, selling your soul to the devil, evil curses, voodoo dolls and orgies! Too long have we been told what is good and what is evil and many now prefer to search for truth. A truth that if not realized quickly may end in apocalyptic proportions predicted in Revelations and the mark of the beast will be upon us. A truth about Voodoo is amiss when preached only though the Hollywood pulpit, movies like: " I walked with a Zombie", "Serpent and the Rainbow", "Angel Heart" OR even James Bond's "Live and Let Die" sell sinister underworld outlooks reinforcing fears of the unknown. Now these are entertaining fiction and have a few historical facts sprinkled on top for credibility but are more misleading than not. It seems that only Voodoo and Witchcraft or Wicca are the 2 religions that people experience their dogma through the all seeing eye of a camera lens, whose contents are a 2 dimensional format viewed from a stereotypical and ritualistic communion with a big screen commanded from a distance by the intermediary sprit in charge of a remote control!
The truth is that Voodoo is a religion, a philosophy, and a way of life for many people in the world especially in Louisiana. There are as many varieties of Voodoo as there are of Christianity, and they are all right in their theory. So those who debate the facts of Voodoo being a Cult or a Religion--may need to check that mirror once again and wake up to find the center and forget the fight among the many paths that lead us home.
New Orleans has its own tradition-forgotten by most—perhaps, encoded in our culture through
customs, cuisine, music and Lore—for Sure!
Within the soul of all religions, evolution is inevitable—they adapt as years go by and one would hope progression. Creole Voodoo is her own breed and so ingrained into our culture here that many know not that they do do Voodoo.
Do you believe in Voodoo?
That question to me is as silly as saying do you believe in Catholicism, Judaism or any accepted “ism.” It is indeed a faith system—some say the oldest in existence—one does not have to be a member to know of a system and believe its existence.
On the other hand the most commonly reported definition of Voodoo from the Fon language—the word Vodoun translates to mean GOD.
So is the question, "do you believe in God?"
Hey, By any other name…
Of course many will come back that there is God and the Devil.
So is Voodoo Devil Worship?
Devil defined—a latter culmlmination of evil personified, prescribed by dogma of the Christian faith, strengthened by the fears of fundamentalists without their knowledge, but with their consent; a devolution from the Judaic tester; their district attorney, scapegoat for life's tests and trials;
AN ASPECT OF GOD WHO EXISTS BEACAUSE OF AND WITH PERMISSION OF GOD;
Dualities left hand balance; Mainstream excuse to put down any tradition but their own; evil egregor etc.
Voodoo has no spirit of incarnate evil but both aspects (good and evil, Hot and cool, right and left: polarized opposites exist in all spirit(s).) We need to achieve the balance.
What is Voodoo then?
Traditionally one would say a religion of fertility, Creation and love with a great respect for nature and
the spirits within, the divine archetypes, the ancestors and each other.
Voodoo is an ecstatic religion, a danced religion, a musical religion and more!
Is it Black Magic?
No, not in the mainstream version for that would include the Devil again.
But is magic involved?
Yes the bending of energy—shamanistic, physics related and even witchlike too!
Is it for evil?
NO the prescription of Voodoo is more for protection and the betterment of mankind.
Does everyone in any faith listen?
NO! as in all religions
Do they let their egos and power posses them?
Yes, some do but tis Something apparent throughout the history of man and all religions.
How many people practice Voodoo?
Everyone—that is as good an estimate as any survey, for aspects of all older religions exist in all modern faiths, rituals and in our DNA!
What about Voodoo dolls?
Every culture has a doll in their closet!! A Doll is a focusing and meditational device that can be personalized for sympathetic healing or harming-you only hear about the latter via Hollywood who donned them Voodoo dolls to begin with. I teach proper focusing and charging in workshops around the country and here in New Orleans for positive uses only. Historic multicultural techniques are explored and utilized. Hey and its fun from the craft side too, take that as you Will.
Is it the same as Haitian Voodoo?
The African slave trade came directly to the New World to Louisiana —not by way of Haiti, which is mistakenly claimed. Though slaves were taken from the same areas of Africa, the long trip was made here direct so as to avoid pirating of the slaves resulting in a long hard journey with a majority on board suffering greatly and dying. The survivors managed to bring their spirits (loas) and beliefs safely ashore. Both New Orleans and Haiti were under French rule but both had a totally different attitude towards slavery. New Orleans allowed Voodoo to hold root here earlier and more openly due to the slave autonomy that existed in Louisiana that did not exist in Sainte Domingue till after the revolution of 1797. Haitian refugees fleeing the revolution, both black and white poured into New Orleans after 1804—they had been disallowed under Spanish and French rule. Even with the acceptance of Haitian planters and their slaves by the new Americans the immigration was cautious –people were still carefully screened for the fear of revolutionary’s and poisoners that they may be. In a time period when Louisiana was under new American rule tens of thousands of people poured into this port town form all over the country. New Orleans was on its way to becoming the richest town in the country--creating an ever increasing need for the skills of voodoo. The demand arose out of both need and fear.
The Haitian migration made Voodoo more newsworthy than the everyday practice that was already a part of Creole life and new Americans wrote and covered this curious and feared practice. With a series of ritual coverage and voodoo reportings, to the untrained eye it looked like a new phenomenon. Haitian Voodoo then mixed her magic into the Creole traditions but La Grande Zombi (BiKongo great ancestral God) prevailed as the Great God through the 19th century Voodoo hey day. The Congo square voodoo rituals grew in number and popularity to become the first tourist spot in the south. Due to the increasing popularity of the worship and the fear of revolution in our own land the new American government found it necessary to make a law permitting these gatherings which had continuously been going on there already since the 1740’s. At first glance it appears historically like the Americans were being benevolent by legalizing such things in 1817, when in actuality it was put in law so that they could control it. This was the only free meeting place for the slaves to gather in the western hemisphere on their day off of Sunday and with the law now written, adding the stipulation that it had to be supervised there was a way for future control. Supervision was never necessary for the past 77 years and eventually the Americans outlawed the gatherings all together. This of course simply spread Voodoo more overtly into other areas of town.
Records from the beginning of Louisiana show Voodoo as an existing and a contributing factor of Creole (native born) survival especially from its healing knowledge. Death toll high, travel difficult there grew
a form of interdependency—plantation voodoo provided healing and magical assistance for survival for many. Creole Voodoo was experienced and shared multi-culturally from the beginning of the slave trade in Louisiana. By the time of the Great Marie Laveau—1820’s to the 1870’s Voodoo was associated with the name New Orleans the world over.
Voodoo was also explored in some cases as a negative as noted in cases from the earliest of Superior Council and the Cabildo government records, the infamous “GRIS-GRIS CASE” which concluded that the government would not acknowledge magical powers but could opt to prosecute poisoners-though this sems to a borrowed Haitian tale then new Orleanians who blended voodoo into life, fearing it only occasionally. Magic’s mingled here-traditions blended and became a part of everyday life-then and now!
How is Voodoo Different in Louisiana?
The retention of some of the old ways still exists-like dancing with the snake, the fact that the queen was the spiritual leader-- Voodoo here is very matriarchal approximately 80% and very multicultural; these are a part of her uniqueness.
We are at heart still a port town-- mixing it all way back when made us survive; fighting in between is still what is destroying us. New Orleans is an open book and a place where people feel safe to explore their occult or hidden side; they ask questions, drink, dance, tour, explore and attend rituals that they may never think of doing at home. Now many think they are doing these things just for fun-- in actuality there is no such thing as just an observer-when you watch, an impact is made and you are an observer/participant. This
Cause and effect has created an energy, a spirit that has kept Voodoo alive since the days of Congo Square—from 1730’s on. This seemingly commercial aspect of Creole Voodoo that is so put down by those who are not here is part of the Spirit of Place as well as her greatest ally and teacher. It is one of the jobs of New Orleans.
New Orleans Voodoo is a special magic born here in this port town. There is a special tradition lurking under the surface that is closer to the concept of a family tradition than that of which you read about. Voodoo came with the slave trade in the 18th century, directly from Africa, . Dahomey and Congo traditions survived; culture, religion and customs adapt and depend on the social environment and spirit of the place in which they transfer. The Africans by nature were survivors. They embraced many magicks-those born here and brought here later. This was an entirely different environment—socially and geophysically than some of the more widely read about sister and brother religions who fall under the scope of voodoo. All these things determine the sprits called upon and the things that take their root. New Orleans was the perfect breeding ground to host a tradition that has earned her the reputation of Voodoo Capital of America. Our tradition-Creole Voodoo—native born! To open up to the Mystery you must grasp the history…
post katrina updates
message from Bloody Mary
Holding traditions of New Orleans Voodoo and Haitian Vodou I am a teacher and healer form the Source through which all religions , philosophies and sciences flow. Many believe source of life is from Africa and in the peoples many journeys, all religions have passed through and remained forever embedded within the stream .Somehow through the millennia this religion has survived , as we as a people have survived , yet instead of destroying new ideas that introduced their truth , Voodoo decided to listen in. A valuable lesson hence prevails, where in pure form without human greed and envy there lies "The Truth." The truth however includes human greed and envy which is an opponent that disillusions devout spirit workers and humans in general who may succumb to peer pressure looming all around but yet the same time mirrors a microcosmic reality of which forever a shield must hold in place so we can grow.
"The history of Voodoo I hold , yet tis the mysteries which are true gold. Magic , miracles and mysticism are not a cumulative aggregation to horde for ego sake but a gift with trap doors to responsibly embrace. The essence in itself is pure but for a priestess and queen , all in all is a heavy job to endure. Be ready for the responsibilities that come with the power , beware the power does not overcome!", The Queens (channeled through Bloody Mary)
Having said that , i must add that fear holds you back and you have the true power all around you as you see with more than your eyes-embrace it and teach.
Betwixt and between is my hometown's crossroads ley, ever more apparent since '05 post-K There is much work here still to be done and my path is to facilitate and process. perhaps, perchance to orchestrate that flow. With all the workers attached to this sight i solicit your prayer, energy and physical presence to help this plight. Indeed, you may say-this is just the City of New Orleans but she is a wounded microcosm from where there is so much more. Your connection is accepted, appreciated, and amalgamated.
"St John's Eve Voodoo Ritual on June 23rd is open to the public and baptisms in the bayou are my aim .Please join in the healings, in spirit and flesh if you may, at this solstice celebration from here or away!"
"we are the riverbed through which energy flows, a channel of the source, a hollow bone."
Beware of those who claim to be the only Path or the only real ones for that is a sign that Ego is their true Master i.e.: (another definition for the Devil)