Marie Laveau, New Orleans, LA, USA | Addresses - 425 Basin Street - MAP

VOODOO QUEEN MARIE LAVEAU

Queen | Saint | Devil | Legend & Ghost

In 1801 a black girl is born free during much slavery, racism and fear.

Charles Laveaux and his love Marguerite D’Arcantel named her Marie Laveaux (later spelled Laveau).

Marie came from free people of color parents. Charles was high society and owned a New Orleans grocery store. His father (her grandfather) was famous surveyor Charles Trudeau, credited with designing Lafayette Park and serving as interim mayor of New Orleans in 1812.

Not much is known about Marguerite. She was once a “domestic partner” to Frenchman Henri D’Arcantel. A relationship of convenience many free woman of color exploited with white men.

Marie was born out of Marguerite’s affair with Charles was she was still married.

Legends say Marguerite was a spiritualist. Just like her daughter would become, maybe led into it by her mother. This is not confirmed.

“Free people of color” pre-dated slavery in the United States. This law would be used in Louisiana by Creole men (original French settlers) who fell in love with mixed-race women.

Children bore from these unions were given a good education and life.

Marie Laveau was too, declared a “natural daughter” of two free people made her and her children also free.

The Voodoo Queen

Unlike the stereotype of fear we hear of the voodoo queen Marie Laveau, she was actually beautiful, kind and adored by the public. This gave her lots of attention and she never shied away.

In 1819, just 24 years old, Marie Laveau married Jacques Paris.

It ended in 1820 when Jacques disappeared. He vanished and it was a mystery. No body was found. Some say Jacques ran away and returned to Haiti.

He was eventually declared dead, and Marie started calling herself the “widow Paris” before moving on.

Marie Laveau met Christophe de Glapion.

Christophe was from a pioneer French family, a Creole and free person of color even though many were unable to tell he was black due to very pale skin.

Christophe’s kind nature and endless respect for Marie made him a perfect match.

They had 5 kids. Not the rumoured 15. This confusion was common due to tricks being played by Marie and her daughter, also named Marie. There were 15 kids, but this includes grandkids.

Christophe died in 1835, and just like Jacques, it was in mystery. No details how he died, just his death left Marie and her kids in debt.

She was kicked out of her beloved home on St. Ann Street, made more depressing because the house belonged to Marie.

The gift of a house on St. Ann --
The cottage on St. Ann Street was once owned by a rich local man who had it built in 1730 from clay and moss.

One day, the rich man’s son was arrested and put in jail for reasons lost to history.

The rich man went to Marie Laveau. She helped, spending nine days inside St. Louis Cathedral. She kneeled in prayer and spoke to God for the boy while hot peppers burned under her tongue.

Pain was the penance, they soaked up the “magic”. Marie arranged for those peppers to be placed under the Judge’s chair right before the rich man’s son’s trial.

The boy was freed that same day and his father grateful.

He gave Marie Laveau the St. Ann cottage as payment.

House on St. Ann where Marie's cottage once was, New Orleans

Christophe’s death caused debt and the house to be taken from Marie, but respect for her gave it right back. A “friend” purchased it and allowed Marie and the family to remain rent free.

This is where Marie Laveau died in 1881.

The St. Ann cottage was demolished in 1903, and today the house at 1020 St. Ann Street marks its approximate location, and is a tourist attraction.

When did Marie die - -
On Thursday June 16th, 1881, Marie died peacefully in bed… or as some local papers reported, she was accidentally beheaded in the house… or she didn’t die and was still walking the streets.

Marie Laveau walked the streets of the French Quarter for years after her death. It wasn’t her. It was Marie Leavau the 2nd (or Marie Laveau II), her daughter. One of many tricks to prove Marie was immortal and forever young.

It’s believed her remains are in the famous crypt, in Saint Louis #1, actually the Glapion family crypt but you’d never know it. No one knows for sure but confusion doesn’t stop fans.

Tradition steeped in Catholic and African lore lead followers to New Orleans seeking the voodoo queen.

How to Raise the Ghost of Marie Laveau

The number 3 and the letter X.

3 is significant to Voodoo, appearing in many spells and folklore. For example, do wrong on others and it’s visited back 3-fold.

X is an African symbol for crossing over from life to death, and back again.

If you…

  1. Deface the grave of Marie Laveau with X X X in black chalk
  2. Knock three times to make your presence known
  3. That same night Marie’s angry spirit will visit you

It’s rumoured just touching the grave will bring bad luck.

A friend of ours, and local paranormal investigator, tried this on a visit to New Orleans. She’s okay!

Marie the Saint

Confusion follows Marie Laveau to current day. We know for sure she was connected to Voodoo. It’s hacked magic from different traditions finding its way to Louisiana via the slave population from Haiti.

Demonized by organized religion, Marie Laveau was a living example of how Voodoo is valuable.

Many believed Marie know everyone’s secrets from slave quarters to high society. They said it was Voodoo, but maybe it was gossip.

Marie was a hairdresser for high-society women who gossiped back and forth, commonly forgetting Marie was listening. The women spilled secrets, about friends, family and the powerful in New Orleans.

Then through Marie’s network of slaves and servants in every household. She offered the poor rewards for any information. Over time it’s been said Marie Laveau knew more about the people of New Orleans than the government.

She was the centre of attention, this beautiful woman with “powers”. Citizens turned to her for help.

In 1853, Yellow Fever killed many. Marie the Saint saved many and helped others to die comfortably. She was always there, in hospital wards and the streets, using her knowledge of herbs and Voodoo prayer.

The church hated how she was loved. They couldn’t stop her, but still spread rumours of her dark influence.

Ironic considering Marie Laveau was very religious. She turned to the church after Christophe died, and acted as a Christian advocate and converted many.

But she was a rebel. Marie Laveau turned away from popular-at-the-time religious morality, such as the church’s acceptance of slavery.

Being free meant Marie could have slaves, and she did… but not to work them. She freed them.

A slave named Alexandrine - -
Alexandrine came to Laveau household after being purchased by Jean Jacques Christophe Paris.

A fake name combining Marie’s two husbands, and acting through the fake name she secured ownership of Alexandrine for ten days.

She was then sold to plantation owner Mr. Dumartrait in exchange for 1000 Spanish Piasters. But Piasters didn’t exist in 1800’s New Orleans, so no money was passed and through the loophole Alexandrine was now free.

Mr. Dumartrait was real and in very much in love with Alexandrine. Since both of them were free, any children they had were free, as were grandkids and so on.

Marie Laveau the Devil

The dark council of Marie Laveau was sought by powerful men.

They’d sit with her, in the St. Ann cottage discussing business matters. After understanding, Marie gave advice. She was always right.

Many questioned how a free woman of color could know the business of powerful men. So they called it Voodoo, and these men were selling their souls to the devil, Marie Laveau was the messenger.

Many people would be insulted by such a reputation, but not Marie. She welcomed the fear this created in a superstitious French Quarter.

This fear began the reign of a Voodoo Queen.

Doctor John - -
Marie disappeared for a time.

Legend states she went to train with Doctor John, a famous Voodoo priest. He was a free man of color with experience in dark magic. Some think this magic kept him from the public eye. Little is known of the man.

If Doctor John did exist, he was born in 1800 and was only 30 when Marie visited (6 years younger than her).

Or Doctor John was Jean Montanet, a Senegal man born in 1785. Saying he was a Voodoo priest practicing in the historic slave gatherings in Congo Square (now Louis Armstrong Park).

Years later after Marie Laveau’s death, her daughter referred to Doctor John not as a person. She said he was an African ghost assisting with her rituals.

Living the image - -
In 1830 Marie returned from Doctor John as a Voodoo Queen. She loved the publicity it brought.

A Kim Kardasian of her time (but with a talent), she played the part with public rituals while wearing her snake, Zombi, over her shoulders. Snakes are important to Voodoo, and Li Grand Zombi (Zombi to his friends) spent much time with Marie.

Many saw her swaying and dancing with Zombi lovingly wrapped around her shoulders.

Marie Laveau’s eternal youth - -
Marie Laveau II was Marie Laveau’s daughter, which was confusing for a reason.

This remains one of the greatest tricks ever played on the people of New Orleans. Marie Laveau made them think she was immortal and eternally young.

Marie II looked just like her mother. When Marie Laveau got old, Marie II took over public duties and told people she was her mother.

They’d ask, “how do you look so young?” and she’d smiled.

They all believed Marie Laveau found youth through magic, easy because Marie II was also a brilliant Voodoo priestess.

Marie Laveau did die in 1881, peacefully in her bed inside the St. Ann cottage.

Marie II died in 1897 while crossing Lake Pontchartrain in a boat during a flood. She fell in and drowned.

The Fiction of Marie Laveau

She’s “evil” because many writers say so.

This included Robert Tallant, a columnist for a New Orleans’ paper who released a book in 1946 called “The Voodoo Queen: A Novel”.

It said Marie conducted violent and bloody rituals and described her as leader of a satanic cult.

Robert Tallant died in 1957 in strange fashion. If happening to someone else, Robert would have considered it the work of Marie Laveau.

He dropped dead at just 48 years old while drinking a glass of tap water in his apartment. The coroner deemed it natural causes. No other explanation was given.

The Legend & Ghost of the Voodoo Queen

Marie Laveau lives on through tales of magic and ghosts.

Some locals of New Orleans think she still walks around as the reanimated dead.

What the vagrant saw - -
During the Great Depression, a homeless man passed through New Orleans. Finding a comfortable place to sleep inside Saint Louis #1 Cemetery, he laid down beside the crypt of Marie Laveau.

Near the witching hour, 3am, he woke to sounds of chanting and drums.

People danced, all naked and in the centre was a beautiful black woman who stood stick still. A large snake wrapped around her shoulders.

The ghost of Marie - -
People claim to see Marie Laveau near her former beloved St. Ann cottage.

She’s dressed in white with a seven-knotted handkerchief around her neck and iconic wrap over her head. It would be strange fashion today, but Marie was known for it in the 1800’s.

Others say Marie Laveau transforms into a black crow and flies into Saint Louis #1.

Daniel's experience in Saint Louis #1 - -
“We took an early tour of the cemetery as people are only allowed in during the day, before 3pm as it’s in a bad neighbourhood.

“About to enter and I noticed a man sneak through the gates. He looked suspicious, but nothing to fear in a large group. I forgot about the man until finding what he left behind.

“Down an aisle near Marie Laveau’s crypt, a large black crow lay on the ground. The head was removed, placed an inch from the exposed neck and its wings spread out.

“This disgusting act was done moments earlier. I believe the man did it, maybe to represent Voodoo or simply the act of a disturbed mind.”

Elmore Lee Banks - -
This story comes from the book by Robert Tallant (see above).

In the 1930’s, Elmore Lee Banks walked into a local drug store. While browsing he heard the bell ring over the door as a customer entered.

He saw the cashier and noticed the man’s fear. Elmore thought it was a robbery, nervously waiting for a yell or to see the cashier duck.

Elmore calmed when seeing the elderly woman, walking up and she turned towards him.

“Don’t you know me?”, the old woman asked

Elmore said “No” and she slapped him across the face.

The woman jumped up and flew out the door. Elmore running after, out the door and the streets were empty, until he looked up.

Watching in shocked silence as the old woman flew through the sky, over the wall of Saint Louis #1 Cemetery.

Elmore ran back into the store to find the cashier passed out in the backroom.

He shook the man who woke and yelled, “That was Marie Laveau!”

Marie’s mercy - -
When Marie was still alive, two men were convicted for killing a slave girl.

The hanging was set days later and drew a large crowd. They gathered around double gallows setup for both men.

It was calm until the executioner arrived, the crowd nervous as the scene progressed.

Everything stopped as rust coloured clouds covered the once blue sky. Thunder exploded as lightning crawled across the clouds. The crowd scared.

As quick as it came, the storm was gone.

The executioner gained his wits and still pulled a lever to release the trap door and the condemned men fell… both of them right through the tight noose and safely to the ground.

The men walked back up and hanged successfully the second time, however the message was clear.

Marie Laveau wasn’t happy about such a violent display. That justice is not decided by courts and executioners, but by the power of nature.

The great Voodoo Queen’s power is respected today as much as it was back then.

I’m sure this makes Marie Laveau very happy.

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Marie Laveau, New Orleans, LA, United States of America