An anonymous person once said, ““He who influences the thoughts of his times, influences all the times that follow. He has made his impress on eternity.” 1. In one sentence, this quote can perfectly define the life of Marie Laveau. To this day, Marie Laveau is still known as the Vodou Queen of New Orleans. Because of her, Vodou was brought out of the shadows and into popular American culture. She was able to greatly contribute to of the history of African continuities and has had a profound impact on the lives of many African Americans. Along with being a very influential Vodou priestess, she was also a humanitarian. She was a very charitable person known for working tirelessly for the welfare of others. Even though she died in 1881, the spirit of Marie Laveau is present even in this present day. In her 79 years and beyond, Marie Laveau was able to have a great influence on the lives of many through her religious practices and humanitarian efforts. 2. The Early to Mid Life of Marie Laveau
On September 10th, 1794, Marie Catherine Laveau was born free in the French Quarter of New Orleans. She was considered a mulatto, which means she was of mixed white and black blood. People described her as very tall, with black curly hair and reddish skin. She was the daughter of a free Creole woman of color named Marguerite Darcantel and a wealthy white planter named Charles Laveau. Her parents had her baptized under the Catholic faith at the St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans. She was baptized by Pastor Pere Antoine who is also known as Father Antonio de Sedella; a beloved catholic priest. 3. At the age of 25, she married Jacques Paris. Their wedding took place on August 4th, 1819 at the St. Louis Cathedral. The wedding ceremony was performed by Pastor Pere Antoine; the same pastor who baptized her. To this present day, their marriage certificate is still preserved in Saint Louis Cathedral. Her husband, Jacques Paris, was a free person of color who immigrated to the United States from Haiti in 1809. Paris, along with many other Haitians, immigrated to New Orleans after the Haitian Revolution of 1804. Unfortunately, Jacques Paris died recently after their marriage but not before they had two children. The cause of his death is unknown but considered to be mysterious and due to unexplainable circumstances. 4.
Shortly after the death of her first husband, Marie Laveau began a plaçage with Christophe Glapion. If a couple could not have their marriage legalized because of circumstance such as race, the plaçage system allowed interracial couples to have the equivalent of a common-law marriage. Once again, the marriage did not last long because of the death of Glapion in 1835. Before his death, the couple reportedly had 15 children, including Marie Laveau II. 5. Marie Laveau and Vodou
After the deaths of her husbands, Marie Laveau became a hairdresser for the upper-class women of New Orleans. This enabled her to listen in on gossip and collect a lot of information. Her clients confided in her and told her intimate secrets and fears about their husbands, lovers, estates, and business affairs. Scholars believe that this was the beginning of her Vodou powers. They say that her powers were based her client networks that she developed while working as a hairdresser. 6.
During the time Marie Laveau was working as a hairdresser, she was also training with the famous Dr. John. Many regarded Dr. John as the most powerful Vodou practitioner in New Orleans. With him as her teacher, she was able to learn how to make gris-gris, potions, and charms. He also spent time teaching her about natural healing remedies and herbs. 7.
After studying with Dr. John, she combined her knowledge of Vodou with her hairdressing career. She was now able to provide her wealthy clients with much more than a haircut. Her new extra services included telling...