Louisiana Voodoo Religion History and New Orleans Voodoo

Louisiana Voodoo Religion History and New Orleans Voodoo

Louisiana Voodoo religion history and the roots of Voodoo in New Orleans by Erzulie’s Voodoo in the French Quarter of New Orleans.  We are proud bring you this introduction on the Voodoo Religion as it is practiced in Louisiana and New Orleans.

This overview of the Louisiana Voodoo religion and New Orleans Voodoo is not intended to cover the entire and vast history of New Orleans and the Voodoo religion. It is to provide a glimpse into the history and an educational overview on the roots, magic, myths, and legendary practitioners who influenced the distinct Voodoo religion of Louisiana and New Orleans, a religion which is still practiced today.

To learn more about the Louisiana Voodoo religion and New Orleans Voodoo History, Roots of the Vodou Religion, Vodou Beliefs and Marie Laveau the New Orleans Voodoo Queen, browse our vast collection of educational articles prepared by caring, initiated Vodou practitioners at Erzulie’s.   Because of these deep and magical roots of the Voodoo, learn what a psychic reading or spiritual consultation with an initiated Vodou practitioner can provide you in your spiritual session with this informative article. Alafia from all of us at Erzulie’s in New Orleans!

Louisiana Voodoo Religion and New Orleans Voodoo:

Historic map of the African Voodoo Kingdom of Whidah or Ouida, the roots of the Voodoo religion. This historic map of the ancient African Kingdom show the roots of the Vodou traditions, now practiced throughout the new world due to the slave trade. This historic map is from the private Voodoo archives of Erzulie's Voodoo in New Orleans.
Historic map of the African Voodoo Kingdom of Whidah or Ouida, the roots of the Voodoo religion. This historic map of the ancient African Kingdom show the roots of the Vodou traditions, now practiced throughout the new world due to the slave trade. This historic map is from the private Voodoo archives of Erzulie’s Voodoo in New Orleans.

While Vodou developed in Haiti its story doesn’t end there. Louisiana and New Orleans has its own religious traditions stemming from Vodun. While a complete overview would take volumes, we hope to acquaint you with the history, myths, magic and legendary Vodouisants.

About Louisiana Voodoo and the New Orleans Voodoo Religions:

Anyone acquainted with late night horror films knows the Hollywood version of New Orleans Voodoo (note the Americanized spelling), including curses, snake dancing, secret cults, and moonlit rituals on the bayou. Whether it’s Voodoo dolls or Voodoo queens, New Orleans has captured the world’s imagination.

Vodou rituals and Vodou Ceremonies in Haiti with our Mambos and Hougans at Erzulie's Voodoo of New Orleans, serving the Divine Vodou spirits.
Vodou rituals and Vodou Ceremonies in Haiti with our Mambos and Hougans at Erzulie’s Voodoo of New Orleans, serving the Divine Vodou spirits.

The traditions of Louisiana Voodoo and New Orleans Voodoo focus on conjuring and magic rituals as opposed to religious orthodoxy.

The Vodouisants of New Orleans work to aid people in ways similar to Haiti’s Manbo and Hougan. Works include candles, herbs, and traditional medicine as well as communication with saints, Orisha and Lwa, not to mention the famed Voodoo dolls.

Mojo Bags, Voodoo Mojo Bags, Mini Mojo Bags, Conjure Bags, Fetish Wangas, Voodoo Magic, Magical Pakets, Gris-Gris, Magical Amulets, Magical Charms
Voodoo Gris-Gris and Voodoo Mojo Bags for Love, Luck, Protections and Blessings. Voodoo Charm Amulets, Talismans and Authentic New Orleans Gris-Gris bags, handcrafted by initiated Vodou practitioners at Erzulie’s Voodoo New Orleans.

Gris-gris talismans are perhaps New Orleans Voodoo’s most famous Voodoo work. Gris-gris doesn’t come from the French word for “grey,” but rather from the African Mandé tribe’s word greegree or grigri. This word refers to magician, fetish priest or witch doctor.

The practice of Louisiana Voodoo and New Orleans Voodoo has a heavier Congolese influence than Haitian Vodun, in addition to input from Native American magic and European religious traditions.

History of the Louisiana Voodoo Religion and New Orleans Voodoo:

Map of the Roots of Vodou: a historical map of Haiti as filmed by Erzulie's Voodoo in New Orleans from their private archives.
Map of the Roots of Vodou: a historical map of Haiti as filmed by Erzulie’s Voodoo in New Orleans from their private archives.

The origins of Louisiana Voodoo and New Orleans Voodoo remain the subject of controversy, with much conflicting information available. One thing is certain, however: Louisiana Voodoo and New Orleans had the most African-influenced slave culture in colonial America. Thus, many traditions survived that were elsewhere eradicated. New Orleans also had more oversight from the Catholic Church than Haiti, where the revolution allowed practice to continue unmolested.

However, with the purchase of Louisiana by the United States in 1803, much of the religious expression went underground while more practical work could continue in private. Further, slaves were prohibited by religious laws from working on Sundays where they were relegated to gather in Place Congo or better known as Congo Square.

Congo Square and the sacred, spiritual ground where Voodoo Spells, Rituals and Ceremonies took place in New Orleans, the City of the Dead, by Erzulie's Voodoo of New Orleans.
Congo Square and the sacred, spiritual ground where Voodoo Spells, Rituals and Ceremonies took place in New Orleans, the City of the Dead, by Erzulie’s Voodoo of New Orleans.

While more public Voodoo rituals took place there, slaves seeking further privacy worshiped in other places such as Lake Pontchartrain and Bayou St. John. These locations displayed more traditional practice than the performance-oriented Congo Square rituals. After the Haitian Revolution of 1804, Voodoo was suppressed due to the fear of slave uprisings.

Voodoo and the Catholic Saints:

Altar of Baron Samedi, Ghede Altar and Altar of the Dead where a Vodou priestess prays and communes with the Voodoo Spirits, for psychic readings, divination, conjure rituals and Voodoo magical ceremonies, at Erzulie's Voodoo of New Orleans
Altar of Baron Samedi, Ghede Altar and Altar of the Dead where a Vodou priestess prays and communes with the Voodoo Spirits, for psychic readings, divination, conjure rituals and Voodoo magical ceremonies, at Erzulie’s Voodoo of New Orleans

In New Orleans, many traditional Voodoo altars are decorated with Catholic saints. This is because, to avoid persecution, many practitioners syncretized the Lwa and Orisha with the saints. This practice has also led to the incorrect belief that Voodoo is descended from Catholicism, even though the African religions it is based on predate Christianity by thousands of years.

Voodoo Queens and Root Doctors:

The first known Voodoo Queen was Sanite De De, a mysterious figured who is said to have purchased her own freedom through Voodoo rituals. Her public rituals triggered an 1811 ban on all non-Catholic worship in the city. Less than ten years later in 1820, Voodoo priestesses gained quite a following, the most famous of all being the legendary Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau. Feared and respected, she was known as a devout Catholic, powerful magician and shrewd businesswoman.

Marie Laveau, New Orleans Voodoo Queen! New Orleans Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau and New Orleans Voodoo History at Erzulie's Authentic Voodoo of New Orleans!
Marie Laveau, New Orleans Voodoo Queen! New Orleans Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau and New Orleans Voodoo History at Erzulie’s Authentic Voodoo of New Orleans!

Voodoo Queens aren’t the only legendary practitioners in the city. Root doctors also taught and practiced the powerful arts of magic and conjure. The most famous of these was Dr. John “Montenet,” also known as Bayou John, an African priest and freedman. Dr. John struck a fearsome pose with red and blue snakes tattooed on his face, representing the royal Senegalese house he came from. The famous New Orleans root High-John the Conqueror bears his name.

Louisiana Voodoo and New Orleans Voodoo Today:

Voodoo Rituals and an authentic New Orleans Voodoo Ceremony in the French Quarter of New Orleans, with the legendary Mama Lola. Serving the Voodoo Spirits on the streets of the French Quarter, New Orleans style by Erzulie's Voodoo of New Orleans.
Voodoo Rituals and an authentic New Orleans Voodoo Ceremony in the French Quarter of New Orleans, with the legendary Mama Lola. Serving the Voodoo Spirits on the streets of the French Quarter, New Orleans style by Erzulie’s Voodoo of New Orleans.

After the Civil war, Voodoo went underground in Louisiana and New Orleans, guarded from outsiders. While unwritten, much of the Louisiana Voodoo and the New Orleans Voodoo tradition has been passed down through oral tradition and family lore. Gris-gris and other talismans found today are based on one family or another’s particular practice. Louisiana and New Orleans will always be rich with Voodoo mystique, legends, and lore.

We have more comprehensive information on Louisiana Voodoo, History of New Orleans Voodoo and an entire, dedicated section on the Voodoo spirits and their Catholic counterparts in the Meet the Lwa section of our Vodou app on iTunes & Google Play.  To learn more about Voodoo Spells & Rituals, New Orleans Voodoo History and the Marie Laveau the New Orleans Voodoo Queen, click here to read more historical articles written by native, New Orleans Voodoo Practitioners at Erzulie’s Voodoo.

We truly hoped you enjoyed this primer on Louisiana Voodoo and New Orleans Voodoo. We invite you to learn more about Haitian Vodou, Sacred Vodou Words and Roots of the Voodoo by browsing Erzulie’s Voodoo other fascinating articles on the Vodou Religion in our in our Voodoo Articles archives!