A subject of many voodoo tours in present day New Orleans, Marie Laveau was a well-known woman who lived in the city in the nineteenth century. In her time, as well as today, Marie Laveau was known as the infamous Voodoo Queen. She was extremely wise, but also wielded a magical and mysterious power that bewildered those around her.
In the French Quarter of New Orleans, Marie grew up, the illegitimate child of a merchant and a Creole woman. When she was eighteen, she married a man named Jacques Paris, but they were only married a short couple of years before he disappeared, leaving Marie to become known as “Widow Paris.” The talk of the town was that Marie was abused by Jacques, so to be rid of him, she used a powerful magic. It also moved her into a position of slightly more power, because she was given all of his belongings after his presumed death. However, no corpse was ever found, so no trial was ever held against the Voodoo Queen.
During the same timeframe that the townsfolk spread rumors and hearsay of Laveau and her evil incantations, Marie was building relationships with prominent people in New Orleans, including Father Pere Antoine of the St. Louis Catholic Church. It is said that Antoine even went as far as to allow Laveau to perform her Voodoo magic in front of the church, which outraged religious citizens. However, enough of the community had been helped by Marie Laveau’s mystical magic that her services became known more as unique, and less as blasphemous. Rather soon, she began congregating her followers for voodoo circles, which would be attended by everyone from slaves to the wealthy. Witness accounts of these gatherings would speak of towering bonfires and people dancing wildly around the embers, sometimes covered in snakes, an animal popularly carried by Marie Laveau.
Although her rituals and reputations could be a bit disturbing, and possibly even terrifying, to some, she wasn’t only known as a monster. People of the town would travel to her for help, whether it be healing, protection, advice, or whatever else their heart desired. Her wisdom and power were displayed during these meetings and became the new talk of the town years after her late husband’s disappearance.
For years to come, Marie Laveau built her reputation as a woman to be feared, loved, and listened to, but in 1881, she died in her home at the age of seventy-nine. However, she was never forgotten. Even today, she is known as one of the most influential women of all time, especially in New Orleans. Her grave, located in the well-known St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, is often visited by curious people taking ghost tours in hopes of seeing her apparition. Although she has been dead for over a hundred years, her spirit still roams the graveyard, watchfully and knowingly.