Marie Laveau

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Marie Laveau
MarieLaveau (Frank Schneider).png
Portrait by Frank Schneider, based on a painting by George Catlin (Louisiana State Museum)
Marie Catherine Laveau

(1801-09-10)September 10, 1801
DiedJune 15, 1881(1881-06-15) (aged 79)
Resting placeSaint Louis Cemetery No. 1
OccupationOccultist, voodoo priestess, midwife, nurse, herbalist
Known forVoodoo Queen of New Orleans
Spouse(s)Jacques Paris, Christophe Glapion
Marie Laveau
Voodoo Queen of New Orleans
Born(1801-09-10)September 10, 1801
New Orleans, Louisiana (New France)
DiedJune 15, 1881(1881-06-15) (aged 79)
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
Venerated inLouisiana Voodoo, Folk Catholicism[1]
Major shrineInternational Shrine of Marie Laveau , New Orleans Healing Center circa 2015
FeastJune 15th, September 10th
AttributesWater, Roosters,
PatronageMothers, Children, Fevers, Love, Volunteerism
Tradition or genre
Folk Catholicism[1]
Louisiana Voodoo

Marie Catherine Laveau (September 10, 1801 – June 15, 1881)[2][3][nb 1] was a Louisiana Creole practitioner of Voodoo, herbalist and midwife, who was renowned in New Orleans. Her daughter, Marie Laveau II, (1827–c. 1862) also practiced rootwork, conjure, Native American and African spiritualism as well as Louisiana Voodoo.[5] An alternate spelling of her name, Laveaux, is considered by historians to be from the original French spelling.[2]

Early life[edit]

Historical records state that Marie Laveau was born free in colonial New Orleans (today's French Quarter), Louisiana (New France), Thursday September 10, 1801.[2] She was the biological daughter of Charles Laveau Trudeau, surveyor and politician, and Marguerite Henry (also known as Marguerite D'Arcantel), a free woman of color who was of Native American, African and French descent.[6]

On August 4, 1819, she married Jacques Paris (also known as Jacques Santiago in Spanish records), a French immigrant who had fled as a white refugee from the Haitian Revolution in the former French colony Saint-Domingue.[7] Their marriage certificate is preserved in the St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans.[1] The wedding mass was performed by Father Antonio de Sedella, the Capuchin priest known as Pere Antoine.[8] Jacques was part of a large French immigration of refugees to New Orleans in 1809, after the Haitian Revolution of 1791-1804.[1] They had two daughters, Felicite in 1817 and Angele in 1820. Both disappear from the records in the 1820s. Jacques Santiago Paris worked as a carpenter. The death of Jacques Paris was recorded in 1820.[4]

Personal life[edit]

The background of Marie Catherine Laveau was approximately 1/3 each African, Native American and European.[8] Laveau's only two children to survive into adulthood were daughters. The elder named Marie Euchariste Eloise Laveau (1827–1862), the second daughter was named Marie Philomene Glapion (1836–1897).[9] It is not known which of these daughters went on to become Marie II.

Following the reported death of her husband, she entered a domestic partnership with Christophe Dominick Duminy de Glapion, a nobleman of French descent, with whom she lived until his death in 1855.[10] They were reported to have had 15 children (it is unclear if that includes children and grandchildren).[11] They had seven children according to birth and baptismal records.[9]

Marie Laveau is confirmed to have owned at least seven slaves during her lifetime. [12]


Marie Laveau was a dedicated practitioner of Voodoo, as well as a healer and herbalist.[13] "Laveau was said to have traveled the streets like she owned them" said one New Orleans boy who attended an event at St. John's.[14] Her daughter, Marie Laveau II displayed more theatrical rubrics by holding public events (including inviting attendees to St. John's Eve rituals on Bayou St. John).[3] It is not known which (if either) had done more to establish the voodoo queen reputation.[8]

Marie Laveau I started a beauty parlor where she was a hair-dresser for the wealthier families of New Orleans.[3] Of Laveau's magical career, there is little that can be substantiated, including whether or not she had a snake she named Zombi after an African god, whether the occult part of her magic mixed Roman Catholic saints with African spirits, or whether her divinations were supported by a network of informants she developed while working as a hairdresser in prominent white households. She excelled at obtaining inside information on her wealthy patrons by instilling fear in their servants whom she either paid or cured of mysterious ailments.[8]

Laveau was also known as a female religious leader and community activist.[13]


Plaque at the grave of Louisiana Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau

Marie Catherine Laveau Paris Glapion died on June 15, 1881, aged 79.[2][15] The different spellings of her surname result from many different women with the same name in New Orleans at the time, and her age at death from conflicting accounts of her birth date.[3]

On June 17, 1881, it was announced in the Daily Picayune that Marie Laveau had died peacefully in her home.[8] According to the Louisiana Writer's Project, her funeral was lavish, and attended by a diverse audience including members of the white elite.[13] Oral tradition states that she was seen by some people in town after her supposed demise.[1]

At least two of her daughters were named Marie, following the French Catholic tradition to have the first names of daughters be Marie, and boys Joseph, then each use middle name as common name. One of her daughters named Marie possibly assumed her position, with her name, and carried on her magical practice, taking over as the queen soon before or after the first Marie's death.[5]


Laveau's name and her history have been surrounded by legend and lore. She is generally believed to have been buried in plot 347, the Glapion family crypt in Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1, New Orleans,[16] but this has been disputed[17] by Robert Tallant, a journalist who used her as a character in historical novels.[8] Tourists continue to visit and some draw X marks in accordance with a decades-old tradition that if people wanted Laveau to grant them a wish, they had to draw an X on the tomb, turn around three times, knock on the tomb, yell out their wish, and if it was granted, come back, circle their X, and leave Laveau an offering.[17]

In 1982, New Jersey-based punk rock group The Misfits were arrested and accused of attempting to exhume Laveau from her grave after a local concert. The arrest took place in nearby Cemetery No. 2 and there are conflicting accounts of the incident.[18]

The tomb in Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1 was vandalized by an unknown person on December 17, 2013, by being painted over with pink latex paint. The paint was removed because the structure is made of old plaster and the latex paint would seal in moisture that would destroy the plaster. Some historical preservation experts criticized the decision by officials of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, who maintain the cemetery, for their decision to use pressure washing rather than paint stripper to remove it.[19][20]

As of March 1, 2015, there is no longer public access to St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. Entry with a tour guide is required because of continued vandalism and destruction of tombs. This change was made by the Archdiocese of New Orleans to protect the tombs of the Laveau family as well as those of the many other dead interred there.[5]

Although some references to Marie Laveau in popular culture refer to her as a "witch," she has also been called a "Voudou Priestess"[21], and she is frequently described as a 'Voodoo queen'.[21] At the time of her death, The New York Times, The New Orleans Daily Picayune, the Daily States and other news sources describe her as "woman of great beauty, intellect, and charisma who was also pious, charitable, and a skilled herbal healer."[13]

The mausoleum where Marie Laveau is said to be interred, in Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1

Artistic legacy and popular culture[edit]

Because of her prominence within the history of Voodoo in New Orleans, Laveau has inspired a number of artistic renditions. In visual art, the African American artist Renee Stout often uses Laveau as a visual motif.[22]

Numerous songs about Marie Laveau have been recorded, including "Marie La Veau" by Papa Celestin; "Marie Laveau" written by Shel Silverstein and Baxter Taylor and recorded by Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show (1972), and Bobby Bare (1974); "The Witch Queen of New Orleans" (1971) by Redbone; "Dixie Drug Store" by Grant Lee Buffalo; "X Marks the Spot (Marie Laveau)" by Joe Sample; "Marie Laveau" by Dr. John; "Marie Laveau" (2013) by Tao Of Sound; "Voodoo Queen Marie" to the minstrel tune "Colored Aristocracy" by The Holy Modal Rounders; "The Witch Queen of New Orleans" by Total Toly; and "The Widow Paris" by The Get Up Kids; "Marie Laveau" by the Danish metal band Volbeat. Marie Laveau is mentioned in the song "I Will Play for Gumbo" (1999) by Jimmy Buffett and "Clare" by Fairground Attraction. Two of Laveau's nephews, banjo player Raymond Glapion and bassist Alcide "Slow Drag" Pavageau, became prominent New Orleans jazz musicians.[23]

A musical from 1999, Marie Christine, is also based on the life of Laveau.

Laveau has offered inspiration for a number of fictional characters as well. She is the protagonist of such novels as Robert Tallant's The Voodoo Queen (1956); Francine Prose's eponymous Marie Laveau (1977); and Jewell Parker Rhodes' Voodoo Dreams: A Novel of Marie Laveau (1993). Laveau appears as a supporting character in the Night Huntress novels by Jeaniene Frost as a powerful ghoul still living in New Orleans in the 21st century. She also appears as a background character in Barbara Hambly's Benjamin January mystery series, set in New Orleans. Marie Laveau appears in Neil Gaiman's novel American Gods, under her married name, Marie Paris. Marie Laveau's tomb is the site of a secret, fictional underground Voodoo workshop in the Caster Chronicles novel Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. Laveau's grave site is the setting of a pivotal scene in Robert J. Randisi's short story, "Cold As The Gun," from Foreshadows: The Ghosts of Zero. The mother of Hazel Levesque, one of the characters from Rick Riordan's The Heroes of Olympus book series, was known as "Queen Marie," a famous fortune teller who lived in New Orleans. In Charlaine Harris' True Blood (Sookie Stackhouse novels) book series, the character Hadley is lured to her death at the site of Marie Laveau's tomb.

A character named Marie Laveau, based loosely on the real Marie Laveau, appears in Marvel Comics. She first appeared in Dracula Lives #2 in 1973.[24] She is depicted as a powerful sorceress and Voodoo priestess with great magical powers and knowledge of arcane lore, including the creation of a potion made from vampire's blood that keeps her eternally youthful and beautiful.[25] A character named Marie Laveau also appears in the Italian comic book Zagor.

In television, a heavily fictionalized Marie Laveau (portrayed by Angela Bassett) appears as a character in American Horror Story: Coven and American Horror Story: Apocalypse.[26] She also appears in the Canadian television series Lost Girl (portrayed by Marci T. House) in episode 11 of season 4, Young Sheldon (portrayed by Sharon Ferguson) in episode 7 of season 1, and Legends of Tomorrow (portrayed by Joyce Guy) in episode 7 of season 4.

In Gothic Harvest, Marie Laveau curses a French family after their youngest daughter has an affair with her fiancé, and becomes pregnant.

Marie Laveau is mentioned in the youth novel Voodoo Moon by Wendy Corsi Staub, when the Halliwells visit New Orleans and check out a voodoo museum.


  • Long, Carolyn Morrow. A New Orleans Voudou Priestess: The Legend and Reality of Marie Laveau, Gainesville: University Press of Florida (2006), (ISBN 9780813029740).
  • Tallant, Robert. "Voodoo in New Orleans", The MacMillan Co. (1946), (ISBN 978-0882893365)
  • Ward, Martha. Voodoo Queen: The Spirited Lives of Marie Laveau, Oxford: University of Mississippi Press (2004) (ISBN 1578066298).
  • Long, Carolyn Morrow "The Tomb of Marie Laveau" Left Hand Press (2016) (ISBN 9780692766866)
  • Bloody Mary "Hauntings Horrors and Dancing with the Dead. True Stories from the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans" Weiser publishing (2016) (ISBN 1578635667),

See also[edit]


  1. ^ As for the date of her birth, while popular sources often say 1794, the records indicate 1801.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Marie Laveau | History of American Women". History of American Women. 2012-07-01. Retrieved 2018-07-06.
  2. ^ a b c d Fandrich, Ina J. (2005). "The Birth of New Orleans' Voodoo Queen: A Long-Held Mystery Resolved". Louisiana History: The Journal of the Louisiana Historical Association. 46 (3): 293–309. JSTOR 4234122.
  3. ^ a b c d Marie Laveau The Mysterious Voudou Queen: A Study of Powerful Female Leadership in Nineteenth-Century New Orleans by Ina Johanna Fandrich
  4. ^ a b Loustaunau, Martha, Denmke. Marie Laveau. Salem Press Enclycopedia. p. 1. Retrieved 9 February 2015.
  5. ^ a b c "Marie Laveau: Separating fact from fiction about New Orleans' Voodoo queen". Retrieved 2018-07-06.
  6. ^ "Dictionary of Louisiana Biography - L - Louisiana Historical Association". Retrieved 2018-07-07.
  7. ^ Vitelli, Dr. Romeo. "The Marie Laveau Phenomenon". Retrieved 2018-07-06.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Tallant, Robert (1946). Voodoo in New Orleans (1984 reprint). New York: Macmillan Company - reprint Pelican Publishing. ISBN 978-0-88289-336-5.
  9. ^ a b Morrow., Long, Carolyn (2006). A New Orleans voudou priestess : the legend and reality of Marie Laveau. Gainesville: University Press of Florida. ISBN 0813029740. OCLC 70292161.
  10. ^ Vitelli, Dr. Romeo. "The Marie Laveau Phenomenon". Retrieved 2018-07-08.
  11. ^ Ward, Martha. Voodoo Queen: The Spirited Lives of Marie Laveau (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2004).
  12. ^ Carolyn Morrow Long: A New Orleans Voudou Priestess: The Legend and Reality of Marie Laveau, 2018
  13. ^ a b c d Long, Carolyn Morrow (2005). "Marie Laveau: A Nineteenth-Century Voudou Priestess". Louisiana History: The Journal of the Louisiana Historical Association. 46 (3): 262–292. JSTOR 4234121.
  14. ^ Duggal, Barbra Rosendale (2000). Creole, The History and Legacy of Louisiana's Free People of Color. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press. pp. 157–178.
  15. ^ Long, Carolyn Morrow. A New Orleans Voudou Priestess: The Legend and Reality of Marie Laveau, Gainesville: University Press of Florida (2006), (ISBN 9780813029740).
  16. ^ "Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau's tomb in New Orleans, LA (Google Maps)". Virtual Globetrotting. 2014-09-10. Retrieved 2018-07-12.
  17. ^ a b Webster, Richard A. (December 30, 2013). "Repair of Marie Laveau's tomb to take months, potential suspect attempted to paint another tomb one month ago". The New Orleans Times-Picayune. Retrieved 2014-01-05.
  18. ^ "When the Misfits got arrested in a New Orleans cemetery: a 1982 story from our crypt". Retrieved 22 January 2017.
  19. ^ Webster, Richard A. (January 2, 2014). "Marie Laveau's tomb suffering significant damage during restoration process, nonprofit says". The New Orleans Times-Picayune. Retrieved 2014-01-05. But when Angie Green, executive director of Save Our Cemeteries, a nonprofit group that works to preserve historic cemeteries throughout the city, saw someone blasting Laveau's tomb with a high-pressure water gun she said she immediately called the Archdiocese. "Pressure washing is terrible for any old building," Green said. "When I first saw them doing it they had two sides done and there were chips of brick and plaster from the tomb all over the ground. I asked them to stop and everyone (at the Archdiocese) said they would stop but they are still doing it." [Sarah McDonald, director of communications for the Archdiocese,] said Green's allegation that the pressure washing is inflicting significant damage is "inaccurate."
  20. ^ "Grave disquiet; Briefs." Irish Independent. (January 29, 2015 Thursday ): 64 words. LexisNexis Academic. Web. Date Accessed: 2015/02/12.
  21. ^ a b Dessens, Nathalie (2008). "Reviewed Work: A New Orleans Voudou Priestess: The Legend and Reality of Marie Laveau by Carolyn Morrow Long". Caribbean Studies. 36 (1): 166–170. doi:10.1353/crb.0.0008. JSTOR 25613150.
  22. ^ North, Bill (January 2003). build up a rich collection...:Selected Works From the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art. Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art. p. 110. ISBN 1-890751-11-1.
  23. ^ Rose, Al (1987). I Remember Jazz: Six Decades Among the Great Jazzmen. Baton Rouge and London: LSU Press. p. 7. ISBN 0-8071-2571-7.
  24. ^ Laveau, Marie – Marvel Universe Wiki: The definitive online source for Marvel super hero bios
  25. ^ "Marvel Universe Appendix - Marie Laveau".
  26. ^ "FX's John Landgraf on 'American Horror Story: Coven:' 'It's really funny this year'". Retrieved 22 January 2017.

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