Marie Laveau (1794-1881) was a Louisiana Creole free person of color who developed a reputation as The Voodoo Queen of New Orleans.
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!
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
Angela Bassett playing the role of Marie Laveau in American Horror Story