Redbone’s Witch Queen of New Orleans

voodoo queen

Marie, Marie, da voodoo veau, she’ll put a spell on you
Marie, Marie, da voodoo veau, she’ll put a spell on you
Marie, Marie, da voodoo veau
She’s the witch queen of New Orleans, of New Orleans

I’m gonna tell you a story, strange as it now seems
Of zombie voodoo gris gris and the Witch Queen of New Orleans
She lived in a world of magic, possessed by the devils skew
From a shack near the swamplands made of mud-pile brick
Marie stirred her witches brew

Marie, Marie, da voodoo veau, she’ll put a spell on you
Marie, Marie, da voodoo veau, she’ll put a spell on you
Marie, Marie, da voodoo veau
She’s the Witch Queen of New Orleans, of New Orleans

Dime or a nickel, anyone could buy voodoo of any kind
She had potions and lotions, herbs and tanna leaves
Guaranteed to blow your mind
Early one mornin’ into mucky swamp dew, vanished Marie with hate in her eyes
Though she’ll never return, all the Cajuns knew, a Witch Queen never dies

Marie, Marie, da voodoo veau, she’ll put a spell on you
Marie, Marie, da voodoo veau, she’ll put a spell on you
Marie, Marie, da voodoo ve veau
She’s the witch queen of New Orleans, of New Orleans

Marie, Marie, da voodoo veau, she’ll put a spell on you
Marie, Marie, da voodoo veau, she’ll put a spell on…

Picture: Frank Schneider

Cher’s Dark Lady

DARK LADY – from Cher’s Half Breed Album       Marie_Laveau[1]

The fortune queen of New Orleans,
Was brushing her cat in her black limousine
On the backseat were scratches from
The marks of men her fortune she had won
Couldn’t see through the tinted glass,
She said “home James” and he hit the gas
I followed her to some darkened room,
She took my money, she said “I’ll be with you soon”

Dark lady laughed and danced and lit the candles one by one
Danced to her gypsy music till her brew was done
Dark lady played back magic till the clock struck on the twelve
She told me more about me than I knew myself

She dealt two cards, a queen and a three
And mumbled some words that were so strange to me
Then she turned up a two-eyed jack,
My eyes saw red but the card still stayed black
She said the man you love is secretly true
To someone else who is very close to you
My advice is that you leave this place,
Never come back and forget you ever saw my face

Dark lady laughed and danced and lit the candles one by one
Danced to her gypsy music till her brew was done
Dark lady played back magic till the clock struck on the twelve
She told me more about me than I knew myself

So I ran home and crawled in my bed,
I couldn’t sleep because of all the things she said
Then I remembered her strange perfume,
And how I smelled it was in my own room!
So I sneaked back and caught her with my man,
Laughing and kissing till they saw the gun in my hand
The next thing I knew they were dead on the floor,
Dark lady would never turn a card up anymore

Dark lady laughed and danced and lit the candles one by one
Danced to her gypsy music till her brew was done
Dark lady played back magic till the clock struck on the twelve
She told me more about me than I knew myself

John Robert Durrill

 

 

Doctor John Bayou: Voodoo Man

Voodoo 6

The “Last of the Voodoos” in New Orleans was the infamous tattooed Jean Montanet, commonly known as Doctor John, Voudoo John, and Bayou John.  Born a free member of the noble Bambaras Tribe from Senegal, John was kidnapped by Spanish slavers and shipped to Cuba.  After earning his freedom from a friendly master he worked as a ship’s cook, finally settling in Louisiana.

Doctor John seemed to possess mysterious Obi powers.   He began telling fortunes – and must have been skilled at reading people because he soon had enough money saved to buy a house.  Then he set up as a conjure man, and at the height of his fame was estimated to be worth $50,000.

John kept a harem of at least fifteen “wives” that he claimed to have married according to African tradition.  Most of these women were bought as slaves and they bore him many children.  At one time he teamed up with Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau to sell potions, charms and spells.

Although Doctor John often looked after the poor in his neighborhood – and gave away food to the needy – he was tricked several times by unscrupulous business men who stole away his fortune.  He ended up broke, living with one of his daughters.

But how powerful was this Voodoo conjure man?  He seemed to have a charismatic personality and a sound understanding of herbal lore.  There are many first-hand accounts that his medicines actually worked.

However, he also liked to take advantage of the gullible white women who came to him out of curiosity.  One lady paid him $50 for a potion he later confessed was merely a few common herbs boiled in water.  His rationale was, “if folks want to give me fifty dollars, I take the fifty dollars every time!”

Sources:

“Haunted New Orleans” at http://www.nola.com/haunted/voodoo/?content/history.html

Hearn, Lafcadio.  “The Last of the Voudoos” at http://www.sacred-texts.com/afr/hearn/lastvdu.htm

New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum

Voodoo or Hoodoo?

Voodoo 1

What is the difference between Voodoo and Hoodoo?  I recently visited the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum to find out.  Here is a brief account of my discoveries:

Voodoo is a religion (led by initiated witch doctors) that has split into two branches – Haitian Vodou and Louisiana Vodoun.

Hoodoo, however, is a form of folk magic (that anyone can practice) which originated in West Africa and thrives predominantly in the southern USA.

They are complimentary aspects of a supernatural belief system from similar ancient roots.

Voodoo 2

Voodoo comes from West African Vodun – “spirit”- and was made popular in Haiti.  It has since spread to many other places, most notably Louisiana, Puerto Rico, Cuba, The Dominican Republic, Ghana, Togo, and Nigeria.  Voodoo is a way of life  built around the supreme being Bondye, a remote creator god.  But there are many spirits called loa that can be worshipped on a personal level.  To connect with the spirit world a believer can invite the loa to enter their body and possess them during religious ceremonies.

Voodoo 3

Hoodoo is also called conjure, witchcraft, working the root, and root doctoring.  It is closely aligned with the form of African spirituality known as Ggbo.  As part of the Obeah folk tradition it spread from Haiti and Jamaica to New Orleans and along the Mississippi Delta.  In many way it is an American form of Voodoo.

Voodoo 5

Constantly changing as it comes into contact with other cultures, Hoodoo has many Roman Catholic elements.  When African American slaves were forced to convert to Christianity by a law of 1685 they replaced the loas with saints from the Bible.  God became the archetypal Hoodoo doctor who controlled fate and destiny, while Moses was the first man who performed magic and miracles.  The Bible is the greatest conjure book in the world and many of the Psalms are used in their spells.

Hoodoo also draws on Spiritualism.  People are able to harness supernatural forces to assist in their daily lives and they can connect with the other world in different ways, often involving rituals and sacrifices.

Bottle Trees are a popular garden feature.  These glass bottles are used to trap evil spirits until the morning sun destroys them.

If you are ever in New Orleans then pay a visit to the Voodoo Museum.  It is a fascinating experience!

Voodoo 6

Additional Sources:

Knowledge Nuts, “The Difference Between Voodoo and Hoodoo” at http://knowledgenuts.com/2013/12/26/the-difference-between-hoodoo-and-voodoo/

Wikipedia, “Hoodoo” at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoodoo_(folk_magic)

Wikipedia, “African Vodun” at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_African_Vodun

 

Marie Laveau: Voodoo Queen

Marie Laveau (1794-1881) was  a Louisiana Creole free person of color who developed a reputation as The Voodoo Queen of New Orleans.

Marie_Laveau[1] Laveau was born in the French Quarter, the illegitimate child of a wealthy plantation owner.  She worked as a liquor importer, hairdresser, occultist, herbal healer, and also ran a brothel.   Much of her power was said to have come from her carefully-cultivated network of spies who gave her the information she used to impress her patrons.  One rumor claims that Laveau originated from a long line of voodoo priestesses in West Africa.  Cynics, however, suggest she learned her skills from fellow practitioner, Doctor John Bayou.

At the age of 18 Laveau married Jacques Paris.  He died in mysterious circumstances leaving her with two young children.  Later, she took a younger man as a common-law husband and bore him fifteen children.  Only one – a daughter also called Marie – reached adulthood.  Marie continued her mother’s legacy when she retired from the public in old age.

Laveau supposedly had a snake called Zombi, named after an African God.  She staged elaborate ceremonies where the dancers became possessed by voodoo spirits called loas; danced naked around bonfires; sold charms or gris-gris; saved several men from the gallows; told fortunes; and stayed eternally youthful.  She passed peacefully in her sleep, but her ghost has often been seen in the graveyard where she is buried.

Laveau’s tomb is in St. Louis Cemetery, Number One.  According to legend, if you draw an X on the tomb, turn around three times, knock on the tomb and shout your wish – it will be granted.  Once this is done you must return to the tomb, circle the X you made, and leave an offering of thanks.

If anyone has tried this – please let me know if it worked!

Sources:

CSI, “Secrets of the Voodoo Tomb” at http://www.csicop.org/sb/show/secrets_of_the_voodoo_tomb/

The Mystica, “Laveau, Marie” at http://www.themystica.com/mystica/articles/l/laveau_marie.html

Voodoo On the Bayou, “Marie Laveau” at http://www.voodooonthebayou.net/marie_laveau.html

Wikipedia, “Marie Laveau” at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marie_Laveau

Photo:

Angela Bassett playing the role of Marie Laveau in American Horror Story