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Voodoo Cemetery Gates Of Guinee

Ghede is the god of the dead in voodoo, but it is also the name of the group of deities who belong to his retinue. He is a very wise man for his knowledge is an accumulation of the knowledge of all the deceased. He stands on the center of all the roads that lead to Guinee, the afterworld.

The Secret Portal To The Afterworld

Story by C. Kirsham Artwork by Ricardo Pustanio © 2006 All photos by Harriet Cross

One old tradition still observed in New Orleans today was to search for Secret Voodoo Cemetery Gates Of Guinee, The Mysterious Portal To The Afterworld. Bringing something as an offering, (a piece of King Cake, Mardi Gras Beads etc.). The dead love sweets and gifts, and even more so they love King Cake in New Orleans. In Voodoo, the soul continues to live on earth and may be used in magic or it may be incarnated in a member of the dead person's family. This belief is similar to Catholicism in that the soul is believed to be immortal. Elaborate burial customs have been established to keep the dead buried in the ground. It is believed that corpses, or a persons spirit bottle* that have been removed from their tombs may be turned into zombies, who then serve the will of their masters.

Once accepted into these secret New Orleans Voodoo societies, you will be able to know the power of the death and will be well versed in the stories concerning the myths, prayers, chants and secret to find the gates, and of course the magical practices to each community differs in explanation of them. Most believe that a Voodoo family has a spirit protector whose role is to protect its members from the malevolent powers of other spirits. Voodoo worship centers in family groups or secret societies and cult groups headed by a hougan or mambo or Voodoo Queen. Ceremonies are performed annually for such events as Christmas and the harvest and also for specials occasions such as initiations and memorial services. Believers have obligations for the worship of their loa and their ancestors. Expert help is called in to help with the ceremonies which consist of Roman Catholic prayers, drumming and dancing, and the preparation of feasts. Each group of worshipers is independent and there is no central organization, religious leader, or set of beliefs. Beliefs and ceremonies often vary, depending upon secret Society family traditions.

New Orleans Voodoosant celebrate Christmas Day, New Year's Day, Carnival or Mardi Gras, All Saints' Day, and All Souls' Day on the days that are traditionally celebrated in other parts of the world. Flag and University Day is the most celebrated national holiday and is held on May 18. Other important holidays are Ancestors Day (January 2), Twelfth Night Day (January 6), St. Johns Eve (June 23) the Anniversary of Dessalines' (1) Death (October 17), and Discovery of Haiti Day (December 5). All these are important times when it is said the gates are wide open and should not be sought out.

All that you do not know is greater than you

The exact location of the haunted cemetery gates isn't really ever told to outsiders of the Secret Societies. New Orleans Tour Guides and Haunted Cemetery or ghost tours will skirt around the issue, or just look at you like they don't know what your talking about, so never mention it (seriously). They say just to talk about the accursed cemetery gates spells doom to those that ask or search for it or speak of it openly to anyone. Those who know feel it is inviting them , "The Ghede" to take you away. Only someone pure of heart with only one burning question to be answered by the dead is ever told the whole truth. A unnamed New Orleans Voodoo priestess says quite bluntly, search and you shall find them rusted shut, or worse they will certainly find you and be wide and opened. Its primary goal is to both enlighten and bridge the worlds of the dead and the living, considered the most sacred and the profane.

The tomb of Marie Laveau becomes the visual and living manifestation of the gates tothe afterworld, both good and evil.

Some believe that the X crossed tomb of Marie Laveau (2) is this hidden legendary portal. And truly believe it is not wise to visit her tomb all alone. They will warn you that you may be pulled into the after world with no hope of escape. A person can instantly die and be taken back to the afterworld. Still worse you or taken there alive!

Those who practice Voodooism believe in a pantheon of gods who control and represent the laws and forces of the universe. In this pantheon, there is the Supreme Deity, the master of all gods, the loa who are a large group of lesser deities, and the twins known as marassas. Twins are believed to have special powers and once a year special services are held for them.

Ghede' is a very wise man for his knowledge is an accumulation of the knowledge of all the deceased. He stands on the center of all the roads that lead to Guinee, the afterworld. To find these mysterious gates in the city of New Orleans might take a little detective work. Some Locals say if their open when you find them... beware! If you then enter you will never return to the real world.

To find these gates, they say is to find the way to communicate openly with the dead. And not just the spirits of those that have died in New Orleans. Local Voodoo followers of Marie Laveaus' Secret Society profess that anyone can come to these gates of Guinee if you can find them.

To find the gates one need only listen... Deep within the gates there can be heard a distant sound, the pulse of the rhythmic beat of dancing drums beckoning you to come closer.

Speak the name of the deceased you wish to speak to aloud five times through the bars, and they will come and speak to you from the other side. One real warning though, if the rusted shut heavy gate opens do not enter. For you will be one of the living trapped in the world of the dead forever. If you arrive and the Guinee gates are open turn and walk away crossing yourself three times as fast as you can and don't look back.

In New Orleans voodoo-religion, Guinee is the legendary place of origin and abode of the voodoo gods. It is here that the souls of the deceased go after their death. On their way to Guinee, they first have to pass the eternal crossroads which is guarded by Ghede.


" Although one is pure of thoughts and in heart, searches for the gates of the truly dead. You never know when the winter winds (November) blow, If the cursed gates are searching for you too."

"If you enter the gates backwards you might have a small chance, to flee with your life all intact. But if your motives are untrue then the living death calls your name , then there is nothing you can do."

Attributed to Madame Marie Laveau, 1800's New Orleans

Ghede is represented as an undertaker, dressed completely in black wearing dark glasses. His followers disguise themselves as corpses and they dance the Banda Mardi Gras Day. Other members of his retinue are Baron la Croix (Baron of the Cross) is the mystical Baron responsible for the reclamation of souls, and Baron Cemetière a spirit of the dead. And they say he loves nothing more then a slice of King Cake left for him at any cemetery gate. Waiting to possess people gathered to watch, the Ghede can be considered very dangerous. If touched by these powerful deities, a person can instantly die and be taken back to the afterworld.

Voodoo Life and Death in New Orleans

With the opening of the gates, which is said to happen annually on their own, that marks the end and beginning of the sacred year each November 1st-2n. The Gates have performed their task of keeping the forces of life and death in balance. The gates again have demanded their toll, namely the responsibility that every human appease the forces of the spirit world beyond their control and be well behaved for the next year.

Death in New Orleans goes far beyond the immediate family. It includes the various loa (lesser deities) and the many dead relatives and ancestors. Some New Orleans Voodoosants believe that the dead live in close proximity to the loa, in a place called "Under the Water." Others Societies hold that the dead have no special place after death. Many believe that a dead person will become a loa. Sometimes the spirits of the dead do not go quietly but remain behind to annoy the living. This is why their spirits are then trapped in Zombie bottles. Some secret societies actually do a ritual to capture a persons soul at the moment of death placing it in a special jar or sealed bottle which is then decorated and carried with the family then placed in the grave or coffin ensuring that the person does not linger.

Burial ceremonies vary according to local tradition and the status of the person. Relatives and friends expend considerable effort to be present when death is near. The family does not express grief aloud until most of the deceased's possessions have been removed from the home. Persons who are knowledgeable in the funeral customs wash, dress, and place the body in a coffin .Voodoo Mourners always wear white clothing which represents death. A priest, priestess or Voodoo Queen may be summoned to conduct the burial service. The burial usually takes place within 3-4 days after the death.

Voodoo Funeral wakes are usually very different and not open to the public. They are usually held at the home of the family with only the voodoo spirit bottle present. Each person talking to the bottle as if it was the live person. With wild Ghede Banda dancing and formal rituals participant possession and a feast to honor the spirit.

A key to understanding the relationship and interplay between Catholicism and Voodooism is the fusion of the two belief systems. Children born into New Orleans families are generally baptized twice, once into the Voodoo religion and once in the Catholic church. Voodoo means many things. It means an attitude toward life and death, a concept of ancestors and the afterworld, and a recognition of the forces which control individuals and their activities.

In New Orleans Voodoo the major gods are classified into the four natural elements: water, air, fire and earth. There is also a god of love, of death, etc. These lesser gods (loas) are analogous to the saints of the Catholic Church and those of African gods.

These gods are not only expected to protect people, but they are also expected to accord special favors through their representatives on earth which are the hougans (priests) and mambos (priestesses).

The Ghede and the secret gates are the affirmation of the elusive world of the Voodoo spiritual world and of the powerful magic that lies within New Orleans' modern psyche.

NOTES

*In New Orleans real zombies are also considered to be a soul trapped in a decorated bottle.

1. On the 8th of October, 1804, Dessalines was proclaimed Emperor of Hayti, with the title of Jean Jacques the First.

2. Marie Laveau (1794? - June 16, 1881?) was an American practitioner of voodoo. Very little is known with any certainly about the life of Marie Laveau. She is supposed to have been born in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana in 1794, the daughter of a white planter and a black woman. She married Jacques Paris, a free Black, on August 4, 1819; her marriage certificate is preserved in Saint Louis Cathedral in New Orleans.

NEW ORLEANS REAL ZOMBIE VOODOO DOLLS ACCEPT NO IMITATIONS
A Very Rare New Orleans Marie Laveau Voodoo Curio

 

 

VOODOO DOLL HISTORY

It’s safe to assume that everyone has heard about voodoo dolls and thinks they’ve pretty much grasped the concept. After all, what could be more simple? A little cloth cut to look like a person, a little stuffing (preferably some rotting Spanish moss), some twine, a Sharpie marker to make the features, and a big box of shiny new pins can provide hours of nasty, furtive fun to the discontented or just mischief-minded among us.

Or, perhaps you’ve encountered them dressed in Mardi Gras hues, complete with feathers and primitive features, glued to magnets and grinning from the refrigerator door as a little memento of a visit to New Orleans.

But is this all that’s behind the mystique and seduction of these popular little creatures? Mostly harmless and merely decorative?

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The Seven African Powers

The Seven African powers are the most well-known and celebrated divinities of the Yoruba Pantheon, and are common to all Yoruba faiths, although they are not always considered to be the same deities. In Macumba traditions (Candomble, Umbanda), they are called Orixa; in Vodoun, they are called Lwas (Loas); in Palo, Nkisi. In all of these traditions, the Orishas have many aspects (Caminos), which are often quite diverse.

(For more Visit here about the Seven African Powers Visit Here Now)

New Orleans Real Voodoo Dolls

 A highly sought afterVoodoo Mardi Gras Doll by aartist Ricardo Pustanio.

 

New Orleans Artist, Sallie Ann Glassman who is a Voodoo Priestess, Connie Born, and Krewe Of Mid City float designer Ricardo Pustanio and others all artfully capture the real spirit of New Orleans in their fantastic and exciting Mardi Gras Voodoo dolls creations. These dolls are fashioned of carefully selected fabrics and original designs each unique to the artist. They are often dressed in skirts and necklaces made of real Mardi Gras beads. Each one-of-a-kind doll represents New Orleans' richly diverse and fascinating culture and these artist are the most sough after dolls to purchase.

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