NEW ORLEANS Hurricane
Sallie Ann Glassman has lived in New
Orleans for over 25 years and owns the
Voodoo shop, Island of Salvation Botanica
in the Bywater Neighborhood. She is a
Vodou Manbo, or priestess, and received
her initiation in Haiti.
But at this time of year, when public
officials hold conferences about the potential
threat of hurricanes and local news media
raise the issues in print and on TV, getting
hit by a hurrican is just not something
Manbo Sallie Ann will spend a lot of time
being concerned about.
"I always just give it up to Danto
and try not to worry about it," she
said. "Worry is a pretty useless
emotion. This will be the year, or it
won't. It's up to her."
This is the Seventh Year that the Hurricane
Protection Ceremony was performed In the
center of the Street at her Piety Street
botanica in the heart of the New Orleans
So far, the Vodou, the Manbo, or something,
has worked. The city has never taken a
direct hit from a category 4 or 5 hurricane.
This Voudou ritual is specifically designed
to summon the protection of the spirit
world against the devastating hurricanes
that often plough in from the Gulf of
Mexico. It is dedicated to the Catholic
Lady of Prompt Succor and to Ezili Danto,
the Vodoun Lwa of Storms and Passion.
Manbo Sallie Ann begins each
ritual with a description of the powers
of each intercessor describing how, in years
past, the Catholic priests of local churches
adjacent to the Mississippi River would
bring out a blessed statue of Our Lady of
Prompt Succor to literally face down the
threatening hurricane and turn it in its
path, keeping the city safe.
Ezili Danto, on the other
hand, is delighted by storms and the mayhem
they can cause, however, if she is appeased
with offerings and ritual, she will divert
the storm's fury and protect those who acknowledge
her power. Neither intercessor should be
taken lightly, says Manbo Sallie Ann, and
especially if Danto is called it is wise
to leave her offerings in thanks for her
appearance and continued protection.
The crowds of 80 plus gathered
this night at the corner of Piety and Burgundy
streets. With them they have brought a hodgepodge
of significant offerings: white candles
and flowers for the Holy Mother; and to
adorn her Vodou Altar, red candles and brightly
dressed dolls for Danto. Nearly everyone
has doned the appropriate white and red
Manbo Sallie Ann and her
devotees begin the ceremony by calling first
upon Ellegua, or Papa Legba as he is affectionately
called in the old Kreyol, to meet them at
the crossroads between the worlds and to
open the way that they may celebrate and
honor the intercessors in both the physical
and spirit worlds. A mock battle between
the emissaries of the spirit world and the
Manbo ends in the Mambo's victory and for
a brief time she becomes the bridge between
Once this is achieved Manbo
Sallie Ann makes offerings to the spirits
and the intercessors, while her devotees
sing and drum up the power of Vodoun. Soon
all begin to sway and respond to the call
of "Ayibobo!" which roughly means
"Amen!" in the old Kreyol tongue.
Offerings are presented to the intercessors
by all the Manbo's devotees and then the
audience is asked to come forward with their
personal offerings. These are placed upon
the altars while the drummers continue to
the drum up the power of the two worlds.
Following this, Manbo Sallie
Ann bends down to the ground where she begins
to draw in corn meal the intricate and powerful
"veve" -- the otherworldly symbol
that in this world is the mirror of the
power of the spirit world. As she draws,
pinching out the corn meal, her devotees
will sing and circulate bottles of blessed
water in which the audience is invited to
wash their hands.
Once the veve is drawn the
ceremony begins in earnest to summon the
intercessors to accept the offerings and
bless the devotees.
This is the part that nearly
everyone associates with voodoo ceremonies,
where devotees and unsuspecting spectators
alike become possessed by the power of the
spirit world and begin to whirl and gyrate
to the maddening drums. This night, several
people succumb to the power of the Lwas,
dancing wildly and collapsing into the arms
of friends nearby. Pigeons are released,
set free to call to the spirit intercessors
to come down from the lofty heights and
join the passion of their servants. And
this hot July night in the Bywater of Old
New Orleans is no exception.
The ceremony concludes with
a "cool down" period of gentle
drumming and friendly conversation as amazed
spectators disperse into little cells to
talk or assemble to meet the Mambo herself.
Manbo Sallie Ann has performed
this ceremony each July for the last seven
years and in all that time New Orleans has
been spared the devastation of a major storm.
Although in September of 1998 the city came
close to being overrun by hurricane Georges,
and was even evacuated because of the certainty
of the storm's course, at the last moment
Georges turned away from New Orleans and
ploughed into the nearby Mississippi Gulf
When asked if she thinks Our
Lady of Prompt Succor or Ezili Danto had
anything to do with this, Manbo only smiles.
Anyone who has experienced
the passion and zeal of this Vodoun Hurricane
Protection rite would have no doubt whatsoever
that there's something to it. Manbo Sallie
Ann's next scheduled event is a ritual ceremony
to commemorate El Dia de los Muertos (the
Day of the Dead) to honor the dead and the
souls of those departed ancestors we would
like to recall. This event is by reservation
only. For more information, please contact
Manbo Sallie Ann Glassman at Island of Salvation
Botanica or visit www.feyvodou.com.
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every year, there is a pre-approved
list of names for tropical storms
and hurricanes. These lists have
been generated by the National Hurricane
Center since 1953. At first, the
lists consisted of only female names;
however, since 1979, the lists alternate
between male and female.
are named alphabetically from the
list in chronological order. Thus
the first tropical storm or hurricane
of the year has a name that begins
with "A" and the second
is given the name that begins with
"B." The lists contain
names that begin from A to W, but
exclude names that begin with a
"Q" or "U."
are six lists that continue to rotate.
The lists only change when there
is a hurricane that is so devastating,
the name is retired and another
name replaces it.
tropical storm with winds of 74
miles per hour or greater is called
MAMBO SALLIE ANN GLASSMAN HERE>>