Marie Laveau Limited? How Is This Going To Work?

Marie Laveau Limited? How Is This Going To Work? January 27, 2015


Marie Laveau's Tomb and offerings photo by Lilith Dorsey. All rights reserved.
Marie Laveau’s Tomb and offerings photo by Lilith Dorsey. All rights reserved.

Marie Laveau, was a Voodoo legend and Queen of New Orleans. While she was always present in the minds of New Orleans Voodoo and Vodou worshipers, the rest of the world remembered who she was last year when Angela Basset portrayed her in the popular television series American Horror Story: Coven, and then again unfortunately when her tomb was painted pink by a vandal back in December 2013.

Most agree that the final resting place of the Voodoo Queen is St. Louis Cemetery Number One. Now the Archdiocese of New Orleans is restricting access to St. Louis Cemetery Number One in an effort to stop further vandalism of the graves there. Susan Langenhennig of reported on the story yesterday. So How is this going to work? The ban is scheduled to go into effect on March 1st 2015 and  no surprise to anyone, money is involved. Individuals will now have to be accompanied by a licensed tour guide, the guides and tour companies will then in turn need to pay a monthly fee to gain access. The Archdiocese has given many reasons they have decided to proceed this way : vandalism, unlicensed tour guides giving damaging information, stolen security cameras, and more.

Marie Laveau candle photo by Lilith Dorsey. All rights reserved.
Marie Laveau candle photo by Lilith Dorsey. All rights reserved.

Restoration, preservation and protection are important, that is not up for debate. As much as we could all lament the fact that in most cases the Jackson 5 were wrong when they sang “one bad apple don’t spoil the whole bunch,.” a negative element has ruined it for everyone. New Orleans, like much of the U.S., is a city plagued by serious crime. With all the recent reports of violence it does not surprise me that the previous measures like security cameras and restricted hours have not protected the graves in St. Louis Cemetery Number One. But will these new measures protect the graves? No offense, but New Orleans is having serious issues protecting living people, and this measure will deny access to many who worship and revere Marie Laveau. Are there going to be guards? fines? arrests? Couldn’t they just increase security, maybe that’s naive ? Or is it? There are some well meaning and devoted tour guides out there, I am proud to even call some of them my friends. That said, I have also experienced some guides that were, for lack of a better term, some “ignorant mo-fos.” There is a test that guides must take, very extensive compared to some other cities, but nonetheless that is not an education about the practice of a religion. One of my most extreme memories was of one ritual I did at Marie Laveau’s tomb. A ritual voodoo drummer and I had traveled to the cemetery to leave offerings of flowers, music, and dance. We had just started to get the mojo going when a tour group came through, the guide loudly stated “ This is  just a supposed Voodoo ritual, because for one thing it is during the day.” In New Orleans tourism is big business, competition for resources is fierce. Everyone is an expert on Voodoo because, quite frankly, it pays. These measures implemented by the Archdiocese will limit access not only to the negative element, but also to thousands of worshipers who feel a deep connection to the Voodoo Queen. What do you think ? I would love, love, love to hear opinions from my fellow authors like Carolyn Long, Denise Alvarado, Dorothy Morrison, and others, as well as tour guides and practitioners alike.

For more information about Marie Laveau please check out –

Marie Laveau Musicology

The Real Voodoo Queen : Marie Laveau


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About Lilith Dorsey
Lilith Dorsey M.A., hails from many magickal traditions, including Afro-Caribbean, Celtic, and Indigenous American spirituality. Their traditional education focused on Plant Science, Anthropology, and Film at the University of R.I, New York University, and the University of London, and their magickal training includes numerous initiations in Santeria also known as Lucumi, Haitian Vodoun, and New Orleans Voodoo. Lilith Dorsey is also a Voodoo Priestess and in that capacity has been doing successful magick since 1991 for patrons, is editor/publisher of Oshun-African Magickal Quarterly, filmmaker of the experimental documentary Bodies of Water :Voodoo Identity and Tranceformation,’ and choreographer/performer for jazz legend Dr. John’s “Night Tripper” Voodoo Show. They have long been committed to providing accurate and respectful information about the African Traditional Religions and are proud to be a published Black author of such titles as Voodoo and African Traditional Religion, 55 Ways to Connect to Goddess, The African-American Ritual Cookbook, Love Magic, the bestselling Orishas, Goddesses and Voodoo Queens and the award winning Water Magic. You can read more about the author here.

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