VOODOO QUEEN is the first biography of Marie Laveau—the name given to two women, mother and daughter, who founded and led the spellbinding American-born religion of Voodoo.
When the priestesses used their spiritual gifts to fight slavery and injustice and to aid the Creole citizens of New Orleans in matters of love, luck and the law, white men in power stalked them and accused them of witchcraft and sorcery.
Original drawing by Carol Peeples, copyright 2001
Praise for Voodoo Queen
"Marie Laveau is the most interesting woman in America."
"Your stories of Marie Laveau have the power to heal."
Sallie Ann Glassman, Priestess of Voodoo; author of Vodou Visions
Carolyn Long, author of Spiritual Merchants
"A love story to New Orleans"
Dr. Kay Tiblier, Sociologist
"I am in awe of what you have written."
Corinne Barnewell, Community Activist
"I had chills."
Michelle Pichon, Creole Scholar
Visitors to Marie Laveau's Tomb leave their mark: Xs in sets of three.
"People think about her, see her, have visions of her, dream about her, talk to her. I know because these people are showing up on my doorstep almost every day," reports Martha Ward in a New York Times interview.
University Press of Mississippi
6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches,
224 pages (approx.),
3 halftones, w/ maps,
1 genealogy chart,
The two most powerful spiritual women in Creole New Orleans
Each year, thousands of pilgrims visit the celebrated New Orleans tomb where Marie Laveau is said to lie. They seek her favors or fear her lingering influence. VOODOO QUEEN: THE SPIRITED LIVES OF MARIE LAVEAU is the first study of the Laveaus, legendary leaders of religious and spiritual traditions many still label as evil.
The Laveaus were free women of color and prominent French-speaking Catholic Creoles. From the 1820s until the 1880s when one died and the other disappeared, gossip, fear, and the fierce affection swirled about them.
Marie Laveau's Tomb, New Orleans, St. Louis #1, copyright 2001 by Michael P. Smith.
From the heart of the French Quarter, in dance, drumming, song, and spirit possession, they ruled the imagination of New Orleans.
“Here comes Marie Laveau—the most powerful women there is” citizens of New Orleans said to each other when the drums of Congo Square sounded the call to dance. Everyone in town knew the public Marie Laveau, the ceremonial name of both mother and daughter. In private, however, the two women used names that carried potency and protection of a different kind.
How did the two Maries apply their "magical" powers and uncommon business sense to shift the course of love, luck, and the law?
Who really is buried in the famous tomb in the oldest "city of the dead" in New Orleans?
What scandals did the Laveau family intend to keep buried there forever?
By what sleight of hand did free people of color lose their cultural identity when Americans purchased Louisiana and imposed racial apartheid upon Creole creativity?
Author answers questions about the Spirited Lives and Times of Marie Laveau
1. What color was Marie Laveau?
Red, yellow, brown, black, golden, rosy brick, peach, banana, apricot, light, bright, and fair—or so people in New Orleans swore. They themselves and all their family members insisted to their dying breaths that they were Creole—multiracial, multi-cultural, French-speaking, Catholics.
2. Why are you, a white anthropologist and much-published scholar, writing about the two Maries, French-speaking, multi-racial Catholic Creoles in 19th century New Orleans?
Because New Orleans is a magnificent and inclusive city, and I have loved her longer than I ever loved a man.
3. Why do people still think Voodoo is evil?
This is the real mystery. Lots of people shudder when I say I’m working with the Voodoo community or with Marie Laveau. But I have found compassion, competence, brilliant ceremonies, and healing stories.
4. What kind of Voodoo does Hollywood do?
Don’t get me started. Black woman bites head off chicken—animal sacrifices—grisly midnight ceremonies in graveyards—sexy, half-nude Creole dancers. Hexes, fixes, curses, double-crosses.
5. How is this different from what Marie Laveau did?
Not much. Some of the stereotypes and accusations are true—but are only the beginning of the tale of the two priestesses, a tale far more magical and hair-raising than the Hollywood imagination can produce.
For more information about the Spirited Lives and Times of Marie Laveau, go to the FAQs page (see the menu at top of page).
Voodoo Queen author, Martha Ward, is quoted in New York Times article on Voodoo:
"Something very real is happening," said Martha Ward, a professor of anthropology at the University of New Orleans who wrote one of the forthcoming books about Laveau. "Americans today are hungry for spiritual fulfillment, and voodoo offers a direct experience with the sacred that appeals to more and more people.
"This is especially visible in New Orleans, which has always been a center of those beliefs," Ms Ward said, "Marie Laveau rules the imagination of this city. People think about her, see her, have visions of her, dream about her, talk to her. I know because these people are showing up on my doorstep almost every day."
from "Interest Surges in Voodoo, and Its Queen," New York Times, November 30, 2003
Created by The Authors Guild
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