October 30, 2007

Joyeux Halloween, La Toussaint et Le Jour des morts vivants

I mentioned Marie Laveau once before when I suggested, a few posts ago, that everyone spend this holiday in New Orleans ~ SO, I thought today I would honor her spirit in the hopes she will roam and bring all good luck! I had printed out for myself some background material on her and what freaked me out, and also let me know I was indeed doing the right thing by paying homage to her, was that the only remaining portrait of Marie (by George Catlin) did not print on the pages. The wording is underneath, as well as the square it should have appeared in, but the actual image did not print. OH! You may be saying, coincidence! Maybe! But the other photos associated with the information came out just fine!!! I took that to mean she is up and around, doing what she does best! Probably haunting the halls of the Hotel Monteleone right as we speak! Maybe she is right there next to you as you are reading this!!!

At any rate, Marie Laveau's birth is dated anywhere from the 1790's to 1801. Some list her birthday as September 10, 1801.It is very well documented that she was born in the French Quarter, the daughter of a white planter and a free Creole of color. She was raised a devout Catholic. Like other octoroons in her era, she was often trained and selected for the annual Quadroon Ball at the Theatre d'Orleans. Men often fought duels for famed octoroon mistresses behind St. Louis Cathedral.

It is documented that she married Jacques Paris, a free Creole of Color, August 4, 1819. Their marriage certificate is preserved in Saint Louis Cathedral.
When Jacques Paris died of unknown causes in 1820, Marie became a hairdresser who catered to wealthy white clientele. She was soon lovers with Cristophe Glapion. They remained together until his death in 1835. Between the two relationships, Marie bore 15 children.

Marie Laveau's great passion for Voodoo was most noted by her infamous gris-gris rituals on the banks of bayou St. John or near her cottage (Maison Blanche) near Lake Pontchartrain. Using vegetable recipes, candles, knuckle bones from baby skeletons and candle-drip markings, Marie would incorporate parts of the Catholic high mass before be-heading a white cock and drinking its blood! She would then dance with her snake, Zombie, who was alleged to have great powers!

Marie was also known for her impassioned humanitarian assistance. It is said she wielded her great power to lend influence or networking for the downtrodden, sick or any one in need. To this very day, the mausoleum of her said burial in Saint Louis Cemetery #1 is the site of scratched crosses (xxx) and (+++), flowers and other memorials. Thousands visit her each year with the hope that her spirit will grant their wish as legend holds.

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