Contributor: Harmony Richards
Marie Laveau, the legendary Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, remains an enigmatic figure whose life was shrouded in mystery and intrigue. If you've wondered who our Marie strap is named after, it's her! Our founder Shilpa is sporting it in this Marie Laveau inspired costume.
Born in the French Quarter of Louisiana in 1794, Marie Laveau's journey from the daughter of an illegitimate union to becoming one of the most powerful and respected figures in the realm of Voodoo is a captivating tale of resilience and determination. In this article, we delve into the life of Marie Laveau, exploring her early years, her fascinating career as a Voodoo priestess, her complex love life, her enduring legacy, and the intriguing rumors that continue to surround her even after her death.
Marie Laveau's life began in the heart of New Orleans, where she was born as the illegitimate daughter of Charles Laveau and his mistress Marguerite. Marguerite was reportedly of black and Choctaw Indian descent, which would later influence Marie's deep connection to African traditions and spirituality.
After the loss of her first husband, Marie Laveau transformed her life. She became a hairdresser to the elite Creole women and white men of the city. It was within the confines of her salon that these wealthy women confided their secrets, troubles, and desires. Simultaneously, Marie worked part-time as a nurse, offering care to the sick and even performing minor surgeries in her home.
While in a common-law marriage, Laveau became a stay-at-home mother to care for her large brood (estimated to be between 9-17 children). Marie delved deeper into her African roots, embracing traditional beliefs and practices. By 1830, she emerged as one of the prominent Voodoo Queens of her time, known for orchestrating ceremonies where participants became could receive excorcisms, dispensing charms and potions, foretelling destinies, and healing the diseased.
She was well known for hosting ceremonies in Congo square, one of the few locations where it was acceptable to interact with people from different societal casts.
Marie Laveau's connections to the elite served her well. She amassed wealth through the sale of amulets, powders, charms, and fortune-telling. She was an influential Voodoo Queen who blurred the lines between Catholicism and African spirituality.
Marie's love life was marked by both tragedy and intrigue. She married Jacques Paris in 1819, with whom she had two children. However, Paris disappeared in 1824, leading to rumors of desertion. Subsequently, Marie adopted the name Widow Paris, and declared her husband as dead.
Around 1826, she entered into a common-law marriage with Louis Christophe Dumesnil de Glapion, with whom she had numerous children. Although they never formally married due to the interracial marriage laws of the time, they remained committed partners for 30 years.
Marie Laveau passed away in 1881 at the age of 86. She was renowned for her humanitarian efforts, caring for the sick and praying for the condemned. Her final resting place can be found in St. Louis Cemetery #1 on Basin Street, New Orleans.
Marie Laveau's legacy lived on through her daughter, Marie Laveau Glapion II, who continued her work as a priestess. Known for her fearlessness and ability to procure the desires of wealthy white men, she carried on her mother's tradition by hosting lavish, albeit illegal, parties. It's rumored she even wore her mothers clothing which added to the rumors that Widow Paris found a way to stay young forever.
Business or Priestess?
Marie Laveau's life story raises intriguing questions about her true nature. Was she primarily a shrewd businesswoman who leveraged her connections and gossip from her hairdressing and nursing career, or was she genuinely a powerful Voodoo priestess? Perhaps both a true. Legend has it that she often blurred the lines between Catholicism and African religious practices, adding to the mystery surrounding her.
Marie Laveau's life remains a captivating tale of a woman who defied societal norms and expectations to become a powerful and respected figure in the world of Voodoo. Her legacy endures through her influence on the culture and spirituality of New Orleans, and the rumors and mysteries that continue to swirl around her life only add to her enduring mystique. Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, will forever be remembered as a complex and enigmatic figure in American history.
PS - If you liked the shoes in our Marie Laveau inspired costume, you can find them here: Black V Mule + Red Velvet Marie