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MARKS THE SPOT!

 

 

 

DEDICATION OR DESECRATION?

CALLING ON THE QUEEN

OF THE

CITY OF THE DEAD

 

THE FACTS ABOUT THE MARIE LAVEAU LEGEND

The following is excerpted from the book City of the Dead: A Journey Through St. Louis Cemetery #1, New Orleans, Louisiana by Robert Florence © 1996, The Center for Louisiana Studies, University of Southwestern Louisiana, @ pages 60-63:

Marie Laveau Offerings

 

“Marie Laveau (c. 1794-1881)

Marie Laveau was the reigning Voodoo priestess of the nineteenth century. New Orleans Voodoo as a social phenomenon came into its heyday during the 1800’s. Under Marie Laveau’s guidance Voodoo thrived as a business, served as a form of political influence, provided a source o[f] spectacle and entertainment, and was a means of altruism. But what Voodoo is in its pure form is religion: forms of worship brought to Caribbean and American colonies through the slave trade.

Due to slavery, the entire life of the transplanted African was tragically altered. Naturally the religious beliefs and practices would change. This mutation of West African religion under the strain of slavery ultimately gave rise to the New-World phenomenon known as “voodoo.” More than any one person, Marie Laveau transformed the religious practices of African slaves into a major social and cultural institution of nineteenth-century New Orleans. On many levels, her life was an embodiment of New Orleans Voodoo.

To begin with, New Orleans Voodoo is steeped in Catholicism. Marie Laveau, the most renowned Voodoo figure in the history of North America, has been buried in a Catholic cemetery which has a separate section for Protestants. She was a devout Catholic who attended Mass at the St. Louis Cathedral nearly every day. First public record of her appears at the Cathedral, where she was married to Jacque Paris on August 4, 1819. To a greater extent than her predecessors, Marie Laveau would mix holy water, Catholic prayers, incense, and saints into the African-based Voodoo rites.

Marie Laveau by New Orleans artist Ricardo Pustanio

New Orleans Voodoo, like New Orleans culture, is a mixture. Marie Laveau herself was a mixture: She was a free person of color, born to Charles Laveau, a wealthy French planter, and a mother who sources indicate could have been a mulatto slave, a Caribbean Voodoo practitioner, or a quadroon mistress. Marie may also have been part Choctaw. The objects and actions employed in the practice of New Orleans Voodoo are called “gris-gris.” “Gris” is the French word for grey, signifying a mixture of black and white magic, magic which can be used for different purposes. Gris-gris, the basis of New Orleans Voodoo practice, is a concept which is based upon mixture.

Marie Laveau’s gender is indicative of New Orleans Voodoo. Hers was a matriarchal sect, like the African religion upon which it is based. Marie Laveau also embodies New Orleans Voodoo as an impresario. Voodoo ceremonies in Marie Laveau’s day were looked upon by some people as entertainment; she was the one who introduced this show-biz element. She understood theatrical staging, possessing a good sense of what people would line up and pay to see. These performances, and her general voodoo practice, were highly lucrative. Aspects of nineteenth-century New Orleans Voodoo were also business-oriented, and she was a consummate businesswoman.

Marie Laveau could very well be the person who eternally solidified the connection between the City of New Orleans and the practice of Voodoo. But despite her historic significance, much confusion surrounds her life, and this tomb. For example, the commemorative plaque states that this is the “reputed” burial place of this woman. Some of the information on the headstone corresponds with what is known about her: Marie, nee ‘Laveau’, married carpenter Jacques Paris. He dies within six years and she has become the “Widow Paris.” She thereafter became common-law wife to ship captain Christopher Glapion, who had distinguished himself in the Battle of New Orleans. The names Laveau, Paris and Glapion are all accounted for on this family tomb.

 

Yet the date of death, 1897, is not hers, but closer to her daughter’s, Marie Laveau II. So the question is, which one of them is buried here? Some say they were both buried in this tomb; others believe neither are here. Many people think their remains were switched between the St. Louis #1 and #2 cemeteries. The answer to this question is unclear and perpetually debated, as there are endless discrepancies in recorded information about her, much of it being legend. Yet even if Marie Laveau had been buried here, her remains would not necessarily be inside. Since bones are one of the most popular forms of gris-gris, it is likely that a Voodoo practitioner cleared them out of the vault shortly after her entombment.

 

In a sense, it does not really matter if Marie Laveau was buried here, because the tomb has been accepted as her final resting place and for generations the devoted and the curious have been visiting this site, conducting all kinds of rituals, leaving all kinds of gris-gris. You never quite know what you will find upon visiting this gravesite, anything from a statue of a monkey and a cock to a wedding cake couple circled in coconut, cayenne, and honey, to a freshly dead rat wearing Mardi Gras beads.

But you will always find the innumerable “X’s” blanketing this tomb and several others. The origins of this proverbial New Orleans Voodoo practice are unclear, but contrary to popular belief, it is not rooted in age-old local ritual. Judging from the sheer amount of X’s scrawled throughout the cemetery, it would appear the legions of Voodoo practitioners make their way through the City of the Dead on a regular basis. Although more Voodoo is practiced at this one tomb than any single tomb in the United States, many people who worship through Voodoo and genuinely live it as a lifestyle have never left a mark on the structures of the City of the Dead.

XXX and offerings of devotion and thanks. Marie laveaus living legacy survives 100 years after her death.

The thousands of X’s are largely the result of tour groups, who have paid to learn how to practice Voodoo. Their instructions always include breaking a brick off of other tombs (notice the neighboring tombs depleted of their bricks) and a combination of steps which involve spinning around three times, scratching three X’s on the tomb, knocking on it, or rubbing a foot on it or hollering at it or kicking it, etc., (everyone does it slightly, if not very, differently from everyone else) and then leaving an offering to get a wish granted.

So is this or is this not real New Orleans Voodoo? It is, in that there is no doctrine or reasonable dictionary definition of Voodoo. Practitioners create ritual as they practice. However, the Glapion family who owns the tomb does not call this “Voodoo” but rather “vandalism,” and have complained that they can no longer read the inscriptions through what one family member considers “graffiti.” There are also tourist brochures and hotel concierges instructing wish seekers to scratch three X’s on her tomb, and even travel books which recommend the practice. But one of the most striking accounts of this practice appearing in a major supermarket tabloid, the story of a woman winning two million dollars in the Missouri State Lottery after scratching X’s on Marie Laveau’s tomb.”

Editor’s Note: In recent days a controversy has arisen regarding the legend and practice of marking the alleged final resting place of Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau with X’s in the infamous “wish spell” ritual popularized throughout the past several decades by certain companies, groups and individuals working in the New Orleans tourism industry.

At the center of the controversy are attacks on this web site for posting stories about the legacy of Marie Laveau and the enduring legend of the "wish spell" X-marking practice. We have been repeatedly accused of encouraging what has now been designated a criminal activity. To clarify, the threats have only come from one individual within the industry who is not a native of New Orleans or the South, yet who, ironically, makes a living by the daily exploitation of the legends and folklore of this City.

The X practice is now so well-known, having been documented in hundreds of books, newspaper reports, web sites, local histories and travel books and brochures over the years, that what began as well-intentioned attempts to stop what some see as desecration have been given more "teeth" with the threat of arrest, prosecution and imprisonment.

Those caught in the act of marking on the Laveau tomb, or any other edifice within the historic New Orleans cemeteries, may be subject to police action.

The markings are, understandably, frowned upon by the owners of the tomb -- the Glapion family -- who have complained literally for years for the appropriate authorities to put an end to the activity. Now that regulatory action has at last been taken in response to the family's ongoing appeals, the local tourism industry seems to suddenly be singing a different tune.

At no time has this web site or any member of its editorial staff encouraged or endorsed the marking practice that is associated with the infamous alleged burial place of Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau. The goal of this web site is foremost to help record and preserve the colorful local legends and folklore that make our region so unique; we do this in a manner that is deliberately entertaining and light-heartedly informative. This web site and our associated sites are envisioned as a supplemental "virtual tour" providing visitors with unique alternatives to add to their schedule when they visit this City. With our many offbeat stories, we also appeal to many "locals in exile" who now live in other cities across the US and who enjoy "revisiting" their hometown whenever they get online.

Every great legend is based in fact and a responsible folklorist or story-teller will acknowledge this, even when the legend is more colorful than the truth. To admit this would be folly to many of the people whose stock and trade is tourism for the sake of tourism, but in the interest of true preservation, the facts should not be forgotten and wherever possible should be provided so that the Intelligent Traveler is able to better appreciate the merits of a really good tale -- and will know when he or she is hearing just that.

Beginning with this page, and on other pages to come, wherever possible, we will provide not only the legend and lore as it has been passed down through generations of Old New Orleans folk, but also the facts, where known, that formed the root of the legend to begin with. In this way we honor not only our goal to inform and entertain but we also demonstrate a respect for you, our virtual and perhaps one day real-life visitors, and for the legends and lore that have made the City of New Orleans so beloved the world over.

We choose to inform rather than defend. You may be the judge of whether or not we have been successful.

Jane J. Wichers, Editorial Director

New Orleans, May 2005.

 

Ghost Articles & Haunted Stories

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In Search of Marie Laveau

The following are some places of interest that any fan of Marie Laveau must include for a perfect visit to the haunts of this most famous Voodoo Queen

 

1801 Dauphine Street Marie -Laveau's Father's Home

1900 block of North Rampart Street (in Faubourg Marigny) - Dowry House

1016, 1028, 1022, 1020 St. Ann (originally 152 Rue St. Ann)

St. Louis No. 1, Crypt No. 3 - Alleged Burial Site of Marie Laveau

723 Rue Dumaine - New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum

729 Bourbon Street - Marie Laveau's House of Voodoo

Marie Laveau Statue By Artist Ricardo Pustanio

(Here for more)

 

MARIE LAVEAU PAGES

MARIE LAVEAU VOODOO QUEEN

A MIDSUMMER CELEBRATION
IN HONOR OF MADAME MARIE LAVEAU A HAUNTED NEW ORLEANS TOURS EXCLUSIVE!! (Here for more)

XXX MARKS THE SPOT: DEDICATION OR DESECRATION? CALLING ON THE QUEEN OF THE CITY OF THE DEAD, ( Here for more)

MARIE LAVEAUS' HOUSE OF VOODOO NEW ORLEANS

Marie Laveau Voodoo Secret Society Curios

Real Marie Laveau Tomb Ghost Pictures

 

 

 

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So Please read a collection of ghost facts and fictions surrounding these urban legends and haunted real ghost filled tales that hauntedamericatours.com has compiled from our readers as our Readers selection of the" Top Ten Most Haunted List in The United States of America 2005-2006".

Haunted America Tours does not necessarily endorse any of the groups or web sites listed, and cannot be held responsible for their views or actions. We also do not necessarily endorse any of their evidence, opinions, or claims in any manner whatsoever.

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HAUNTED AMERICA TOURS Official Web Site is a ghost tour information site; our information is only as reliable as readers' contributed ghost and haunted reports. We assume no credit for your adventures, and accept no liability for your misadventures. Use common sense. Read our ghost hunting recommendations. Before visiting any "haunted" site, verify the location, accessibility, safety, and other important information. Never trespass on private and/or posted property without permission from the proper authorities.


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The Monkey and The Cock is said to grant to it's Lucky owner three significant wishes over a three year period . Passed virtually unchanged in form, generation to generation, comes this strange,"Monkey and Cock" curio statue as Voodoo dolls

Witch Doctor Spell Kits
Find out how to "Be Seen" in the above spot

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