This had to have been the hardest section to write on the entire site. What does one say about themselves? Do clients and customers even want to know about the founder & owner? I’m still not sure, but, given the numerous emails and requests from people asking me who I am, what is my background and how did I begin Erzulie’s, I felt compelled to introduce myself to anyone who wants to take the time and say hello!
My name is Anna and I was born and raised in Providence, RI – that’s “Rho – Diland” for us native New Englanders on Thanksgiving Day 1970! Due to my “funny” accent, I am often made fun of down here in the Big Easy – as if I am the only one with strange colloquialisms – ha ha! Raised primarily by my Grandparents from Portugal and Armenia, who were the most amazing people on the planet, my Grandmother is deeply devoted to Catholicism and raised me as such; baptized as an infant, educated at parochial schools, first communion, etc., these rites were non-negotiable with my family.
This of course was one of my many entrées into spirituality and cultivated my great curiosity of the unknown, mysteries, forensics, ancient cultures and traditions. Although my Grandmother is very a devout Catholic, she is also very mystical and highly skilled in herbology due to her long family lineage of medicinal healing in Madeira, Portugal, highly knowledgeable of just about every ancient tradition (she’s a walking encyclopedia) and very open and respectful to anything spiritual.
This was my initial basis for connecting to ancient paths and spiritual traditions but this isn’t where my life traveled initially. I began my career in Broadcast media, working at film-post production houses for Universal Studios and HBO. During this time, I was attending college on a partial scholarship to the prestigious and private Rollins College, and received a Bachelors of Arts, Magna Cum Laude in Economics and a minor in International Affairs. In 1993, I founded and built a successful advertising agency based out of Orlando, FL, listed as the top 25 by the Orlando Business Journal for 4 years.
In 2000, when I became a licensed pilot; I flew all of my check rides to commercial specification and became FAA certified for single engine, high performance and complex aircrafts – one of my most crowning achievements. I received additional training in IFR and multi-engine aircrafts as well.
As a side note, I could fly every day if I had the time and miss flying 3 days a week dearly. Talk about an exercise in awe and humility and the realization literally, you are such a tiny piece of the universe, is never more apparent than when flying an aircraft by yourself. The time alone, the silence, the peace you feel at 8,000 feet above the Earth awakens something inside of you that is indescribable. Personally, I think everyone should fly airplanes.
For the past 20 years I’ve traveled extensively to study and learn about these traditions in North America, South America, Africa, all over the Caribbean often, (spent almost a full year in Dominican Republic & Haiti while filming for Major League Baseball in 1997-1998), Europe (just about everywhere) and even spent a little time in Asia recently (2017). Essentially, by 1996, Erzulie’s was beginning to develop, but I had no idea what or how spirit was aligning this concept.
Oddly, it was in Europe (Italy) that I discovered Bikram’s Hot Hatha Yoga and studied under various instructors for past 20 years at the Bikram’s Yoga College of India and still go to any hot yoga studio wherever I am located. Personally, I have found Bikram’s Hot Hatha yoga or any Hatha or Vinyaya Yoga for that matter to align just about everything from the physical, to the emotional and of course, the spiritual. Also, to me, sweat is also magic, I truly believe covering yourself with sweat is also sacred and grants wishes and do incorporate much of what I learned during this time into my spiritual practice at the store as well, along with many other ancient traditions from the Middle East and Far East.
I also am madly in love with Tango, Salsa and Boxing; with Tango being one of my greatest personal passions! I spend most of my down time between the boxing club (best stress relief ever!) and a dedicated focus on my Tango practice with renowned Tangueros here in New Orleans, Argentina, Los Angeles and Columbia and try to do major Tango festivals around the world as my schedule allows. I truly believe movement is magic, movement is sacred, movement connects your mind to your soul and to the Divine. Without moving in one form or another daily, I believe I would be completely off balance, disconnected from the Divine and totally out of sorts.
As you probably guessed, Ancient philosophy, wisdom, techniques, belief systems and cultures have always fascinated me, especially indigenous traditions since I am part Native American, and the knowledge that something greater than ourselves is out there, a bigger picture we can’t always see is taking place, the dynamics and forces of the unknown shaping our lives, somehow, kept me grounded, balanced, inspired and forced me to evolve and grow from very painful and difficult times throughout my life. This is where I was so drawn to Vodou; as it is all one, all connected, all spirituality, universal wisdom and strongly believe since it is one of the world’s oldest religion, all paths are born from these ancient belief systems.
During that time, I was constantly studying the great wisdom and methods of the ancient Vodou tradition and I decided to apply some of this knowledge to spiritual items that have proven beneficial for thousands of years. I was asked by several friends to help with certain situations with specialty oils, herbs, formulary, ritual work, and, most importantly listening to their problem and offering some thoughts or philosophies if possible. It was at that time I was asked to create a little line of items for my friend’s spiritual store in Orlando, FL – ergo, the birth of Erzulie’s officially in 1997! At that time, the intent was to just help as needed and not focus on this as my entire life since I already had a full blown career.
It was around that point in time, it became apparent that there was much need for spiritual help and that perhaps I should consider a full retail store, not just offering a few items on the website. This was quite challenging as I had already had a well established Advertising Agency in Orlando, FL of 10 years, and for all intents and purposes, dual residency between Orlando and Boston – so how could I uproot my entire life, move to New Orleans where I knew no one, a complete stranger to the city and culture and simply open a Voodoo store? Is this even possible or rational? I thought I was insane to even consider a feat of this magnitude. That was the question for a couple of years and boy, did I straddle that fence as long as I could!
As with all paths, when you are on the correct one, everything aligns seamlessly, and, in all honesty, it truly did for me for which I am grateful for every day of my life. I purchased a lovely home in the French Quarter and leased a store front in the French Quarter all within the month of December 2000, I felt very welcome by the locals and was brought the most incredible support, talent, resources, friendships, Mambos, Hougans, Vodun Chiefs, Paleros, Santeros and Practitioners from all over the world to contribute, teach, support, push and protect me from any outside interferences that may take me off course.
Even in the beginning phases, Erzulie’s was founded with one vision and one vision only: have the world meet the Lwa, the divine forces behind Voudou, using the finest, handcrafted spiritual items available! Have people understand this is a beautiful religion with amazing spirits available to step in and help anyone at anytime. Find the balance needed for this busy, disconnected, imbalanced, modern world to connect back to the ancient paths and spirits for comfort, relief, understanding and balance in a format they can relate to and incorporate into their lives.
Since I believe there are an infinite amount of paths to God, I try to draw from other spiritual experts to offer several paths such as Ancient Egyptian Tradition, European Witchcraft Tradition, Homeopathic Remedies, to name a few at Erzulie’s in hopes someone out there will connect to something to enhance and God willing, improve their lives.
It is difficult in a modern society to learn about ancient traditions, their complexity, ritual work, spiritual work, meditative focus and spiritual devotion mainly due to the cultural conditioning and extremely busy schedules, so my intent was to somehow, bring these spiritual truths and assistance to them in a manner they can understand, wrap their arms around and apply to their daily lives.
It was a tremendous honor and privilege to be selected as the first American by the European Museum Council, to install my handcrafted Vodou creations, sacred objects, jewel encrusted altar pieces and ritual items, and work with numerous museums throughout Europe for their touring Vodou exhibitions since 2012. This was such an inspiring experience, I decided to obtain my Masters of Arts from Johns Hopkins University in 2018-2019 in Curatorial and Museum Studies to find a way to incorporate more African Traditional Religions into the art world. Like I said, I had no idea what I was about to embark upon so long ago, and some days I still don’t, I only hope I am serving this purpose well.
As for the “Root Queen™” title, I picked that to honor my family who were highly skilled “root workers” from Portugal and all of the people who contributed with their vast and expert knowledge to support my vision. “Root Queen™” represents my family in its totality, a family that transcends this dimension, the family in this dimension and most specifically, the family that gave every bit of their knowledge, experience, advice, assistance, spiritual expertise freely and lovingly because they believed in me, believed in the need to preserve the ancient spiritual paths, present these belief systems to the world and most importantly, because they believed in Spirit.
Erzulie’s Authentic Voudou is indeed a collaborative effort on the part of so many amazing and devout practitioners, spiritualist, healers and “magicians.” It is a mystical journey for everyone involved, one without any end, a constant cycle of growth and evolution. We welcome and invite you to peruse our website, meet our spiritual experts, learn about their specialties, uncover the mysteries of ancient traditions, spirituality and most importantly, meet the Lwa!