A spiritual community leader, known as a Voodoo Queen.
Marie Laveau is an iconic spiritual figure in the history of New Orleans, with her life stories as famous and colorful as a fictional tale. She offered her ceremonies and consultations, a combination of Voodoo and Roman Catholic beliefs, to people of all races.
In the black community, in particular, her practice and position were considered politically empowering. She was described as both a good businesswoman and a charitable person, and enjoyed an exceptional position of respect and power, rare for a woman of color in her time.
Long after her death, a local tradition has developed around her – tourists would be directed to her tomb in the St. Louis Cemetery #1, and mark an X on it for good luck. The pilgrimage was very popular even though there is no certainty that it is her grave. The custom was criticized as unwelcome behavior which is damaging the tomb. Recently, an International Shrine of Marie Laveau was built to honor her legacy.
“Lawyers, legislators, planters, and merchants all came to pay their respects and seek her offices” – The New York Times obituary.
More Interesting Anecdotes:
- In addition to her spiritual career, she worked as a hairdresser and a nurse.
- She is said to have kept a snake named Zombi.
- Angela Bassett plays her in the TV series “American Horror Story: Coven”.
- Her date of birth is disputed, in different places, it is written that she lived 80 years, 86 or 98.
- She gave birth to nine children, only two surviving to adulthood, and had two relationships with male partners.