Marie Laveau

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Marie Laveau
MarieLaveau (Frank Schneider).png
1920 portrait by Frank Schneider, based on a lost 1835 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
Parent(s)Charles Laveau and Marguerite Henry (known as D'Arcantel)
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 23
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 Catherine Laveau was born a free woman of color in colonial New Orleans (today's French Quarter), Louisiana (New France), Thursday, September 10, 1801.[2] Marie Laveau was the biological daughter of Charles Laveau Trudeau, a white Frenchman and politician, and her mother Marguerite D'Arcantel, a free woman of color who was of white, black, and Native American ancestry.[6] Some historians claim that Marie Laveau's father was a black man named Charles Laveax, however this claim is false due to lack of evidence to support this theory.

On August 4, 1819, she married Jacques Paris (also known as Jacques Santiago in Spanish records), a Quadroon free man of color who had fled as a 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 White and Creoles of Color 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 records in the 1820s. Jacques Santiago Paris worked as a carpenter. The death of Jacques Paris was recorded in 1820.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Following the reported death of her husband Jacques Paris, 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.[9] They were reported to have had 15 children (it is unclear if that includes children and grandchildren).[10] They had seven children according to birth and baptismal records: François-Auguste Glapion, Marie-Louise "Caroline" Glapion, Marie-Angelie Paris, Celestin Albert Glapion, Arcange Glapion, Felicite Paris, Marie-Philomene Glapion, and Marie-Heloise Eucharist Glapion.[11] The only two children to survive into adulthood were daughters: the elder named Marie Eucharist Eloise Laveau (1827–1862) and the younger named Marie Philomene Glapion (1836–1897).[11]

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

During her life Marie Laveau was known to have attended to prisoners who were sentenced to death. Rumors circulated that some prisoners would receive poisons or other substances before going to the gallows, but this was never proven.[13] A reporter from the New Orleans Republican detailed one such visit in an article published on May 14, 1871, in which he describes Marie Laveau as a “devout and acceptable member of the Catholic communion."[14] Following her death, her daughter Philomène confirmed during an interview with a reporter from the Picayune that only Catholic traditions would take place during these visits, and that her mother would also prepare the men's last meal and pray with them. Marie Laveau also sought pardons or commutations of sentences for those she favored and was often successful in her efforts.[15]

She was known to care for the sick in her community during the yellow fever epidemic of 1878 by providing herbal remedies and prayers for the afflicted.[16][17] Her other community activities included visiting prisoners, providing lessons to the women of the community, and doing rituals for those in need without charge.[18]


Marie Laveau was a dedicated practitioner of Voodoo, healer, herbalist, and entrepreneur.[19] Laveau was also known as a prominent female religious leader and community activist.[19]

Laveau started a beauty parlor where she was a hair-dresser for the wealthier families of New Orleans.[3] She excelled at obtaining inside information on her wealthy patrons at the beauty parlor by listening to ladies gossiping, or from their servants whom she either paid or cured of mysterious ailments.[8] She used this information during her Voodoo consultations with wealthy Orleanian women to enhance her image as a clairvoyant; and used this intel to give them practical advice. She also made money by selling her clients gris gris as charms to help their wishes come true. [20]

In her role as a Voodoo practitioner, customers often appealed to Laveau for help with family disputes, health, finances, and more. Laveau performed her services in three main places: her own home on St. Ann Street, within Go Square, and at Lake Pontchartrain. She was the third female leader of Voodoo in New Orleans (the first was Sanité Dédé, who ruled for a few years before being usurped by Marie Salopé). Marie Laveau maintained her authority throughout her leadership, although there was an attempt to challenge her in 1850. Due to her strong influence, New Orleans Voodoo lost a large number of adherents after her death.[21] 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]

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, and Native American Spiritualism.[citation needed]


Plaque at the grave of Louisiana Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau

Marie Catherine Laveau Paris Glapion died on June 15, 1881, aged 79.[2][22] 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.[19] Oral tradition states that she was seen by some people in town after her supposed demise.[1] News of her death was featured in a number of newspapers, including the "Staunton Spectator" in Virginia,[23] the "Omaha Daily Bee" in Nebraska,[24] as well as several newspapers published in Minnesota.[25]

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 the 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,[26] but this has been disputed[27] 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.[27]

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.[28]

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 the moisture that would destroy the plaster. Some historical preservation experts criticized 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.[29][30]

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 the 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",[31] and she is frequently described as a 'Voodoo queen'.[31] 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."[19]

Some followers of Louisiana Voodoo pray to Laveau as if she were an Lwa spirit, asking her for favors and channeling her via spirit possession, though not all Louisiana Voodoo believers do this.[32] Some leave offerings of hair ties by the plaque at her former home at 1020 St. Ann Street, gifts which honor her fame as a hairdresser.[32]

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

Artistic legacy and popular culture[edit]

Due to 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.[33]

Numerous songs about Marie Laveau have been recorded, including "Marie La Veau" by Papa Celestin;[34] "Marie Laveau" written by Shel Silverstein and Baxter Taylor and recorded by Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show (1972),[35] and Bobby Bare (1974);[36] "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;[37] "Marie Laveau" (2013) by Tao Of Sound;[38] "Voodoo Queen Marie" to the minstrel tune "Colored Aristocracy" by The Holy Modal Rounders;[39] "The Witch Queen of New Orleans" by Total Toly; and "The Widow Paris" by The Get Up Kids;[40] "Marie Laveau" by the Danish metal band Volbeat.[41]

Laveau is mentioned in the songs "I Will Play for Gumbo" (1999) by Jimmy Buffett, "Clare" by Fairground Attraction, and "Rabbits Foot" by Turbowolf. Two of Laveau's nephews, banjo player Raymond Glapion and bassist Alcide "Slow Drag" Pavageau, became prominent New Orleans jazz musicians.[42] The Los Angeles blues band Canned Heat featured a five-minute instrumental called "Marie Laveau" on their second album Boogie With Canned Heat (1968), written by and featuring their lead guitarist Henry Vestine.[43]

A musical from 1999, Marie Christine, is also based on the life of Laveau.[44]

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 gravesite 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's True Blood (Sookie Stackhouse novels) book series, the character Hadley is lured to her death at the site of Marie Laveau's tomb.[citation needed]

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.[45] 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.[46] A character named Marie Laveau also appears in the Italian comic book Zagor.[citation needed]

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.[47]

She 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.[citation needed]


  • 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 Voodoo 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 Tallant, Robert (1946). Voodoo in New Orleans (1984 reprint). New York: Macmillan Company - reprint Pelican Publishing. ISBN 978-0-88289-336-5.
  9. ^ Vitelli, Dr. Romeo. "The Marie Laveau Phenomenon". Retrieved 2018-07-08.
  10. ^ Ward, Martha. Voodoo Queen: The Spirited Lives of Marie Laveau (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2004).
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ Carolyn Morrow Long: A New Orleans Voudou Priestess: The Legend and Reality of Marie Laveau, 2018
  13. ^ Ward, Martha. Voodoo Queen : The Spirited Lives of Marie Laveau, University Press of Mississippi, 2004. ProQuest Ebook Central,
  14. ^ “Death Punishment for Murder: The Execution Yesterday.” New Orleans Republican, 14 May 1871, p5.
  15. ^ Ward, Martha. Voodoo Queen : The Spirited Lives of Marie Laveau, University Press of Mississippi, 2004. ProQuest Ebook Central,
  16. ^ "In the late 1800s, devastating yellow fever epidemics forced New Orleans to confront its sanitation problem | The Historic New Orleans Collection". Retrieved 2022-07-22.
  17. ^ Long, Carolyn Morrow (2006). A New Orleans voudou priestess : the legend and reality of Marie Laveau. Gainesville: University Press of Florida. ISBN 0-8130-2974-0. OCLC 70292161.
  18. ^ "Marie Laveau". Retrieved 2021-04-12.
  19. ^ 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.
  20. ^ Long, Carolyn Morrow (2006). A New Orleans voudou priestess : the legend and reality of Marie Laveau. Gainesville: University Press of Florida. ISBN 0-8130-2974-0. OCLC 70292161.
  21. ^ Lewis, Shantrelle P. "Marie Laveau". Britannica. Retrieved 12 April 2021.
  22. ^ Long, Carolyn Morrow. A New Orleans Voudou Priestess: The Legend and Reality of Marie Laveau, Gainesville: University Press of Florida (2006), (ISBN 9780813029740).
  23. ^ "Staunton Spectator. [volume] (Staunton, Va.) 1849-1896, July 12, 1881, Image 4". 12 July 1881.
  24. ^ "Omaha Daily Bee. (Omaha [Neb.]) 187?-1922, June 22, 1881, Image 6". 22 June 1881. p. 6.
  25. ^ "Chronicling America | Library of Congress".
  26. ^ "Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau's tomb in New Orleans, LA (Google Maps)". Virtual Globetrotting. 2014-09-10. Retrieved 2018-07-12.
  27. ^ 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.
  28. ^ "When the Misfits got arrested in a New Orleans cemetery: a 1982 story from our crypt". Retrieved 22 January 2017.
  29. ^ Webster, Richard A. (January 2, 2014). "Marie Laveau's tomb suffering significant damage during the 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."
  30. ^ "Grave disquiet; Briefs." Irish Independent. (January 29, 2015, Thursday ): 64 words. LexisNexis Academic. Web. Date Accessed: 2015/02/12.
  31. ^ 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.
  32. ^ a b New Orleans Voodoo (A Virtual Tour), retrieved 2022-10-06
  33. ^ 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.
  34. ^ "Oscar "Papa" Celestin Biography, Songs, & Albums". AllMusic.
  35. ^ "Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show | Songs". AllMusic.
  36. ^ "Bobby Bare Best Songs List: Top, New, & Old". AllMusic.
  37. ^ "Dr. John | Songs". AllMusic.
  38. ^ "Tao of Sound | Songs". AllMusic.
  39. ^ "The Holy Modal Rounders | Songs". AllMusic.
  40. ^ "The Get up Kids | Songs". AllMusic.
  41. ^ "Volbeat | Songs". AllMusic.
  42. ^ 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.
  43. ^ Rose, Stephen. "Canned Heat – On The Beat with Totally Guitars". Totallyguitars. Retrieved 12 April 2021.
  44. ^ Isherwood, Charles (3 December 1999). "Marie Christine". Variety. Retrieved 12 April 2021.
  45. ^ Laveau, Marie – Marvel Universe Wiki: The definitive online source for Marvel superhero bios
  46. ^ "Marvel Universe Appendix - Marie Laveau".
  47. ^ "FX's John Landgraf on 'American Horror Story: Coven:' 'It's really funny this year'". Retrieved 22 January 2017.

External links[edit]