Where else but in the borderlands of New Orleans can you visit the spiritual borderland of voodoo? Last year I visited the town’s Voodoo Museum, which boasts that it is “the ORIGINAL and ONLY actual VOODOO MUSEUM in New Orleans, and the World.”
Beyond the starkness of the claim, much else is in flux. The brochure, for instance, grants “Voodoo is neither scriptural, nor does it have any central authority, therefore, the only consistency in Voodoo is inconsistency.”
Originally from West Africa, voodoo’s local history interests: its earliest record in NOLA is from 1713, when the first slaves arrived. By 1773 the term “gris-gris” (an object and/or act of “magical supernatural power”) was recorded when a slave was accused of killing his overseer. By the early 19th century, voodoo dances in Congo Square were common on Sundays. The Louisiana Purchase of 1803 helped to mainstream the Creole (mixed breed) culture.
The most famous practictioner, Marie Laveau, known as the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, was a practicing Catholic (as syncretism abounds) and specialized in affaires d’amour and love potions until her death in 1881.
Even if in need of love potions, caution in the museum is advised, as “one does not choose Voodoo, it chooses you!” [please hover over images for captions]