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
All that you do not know is greater
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.
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.
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
*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.
A Very Rare
New Orleans Marie Laveau Voodoo Curio