I have only been to New Orleans twice. At just an 8 hour drive from home, I hope to visit annually or more often. I am not a party gal, not even close. Any bar-hopping night life is not my regular cup of coconut water. I prefer the sight-seeing, historical aspect. Next time I go, which I hope will be soon, I plan to incorporate my exploratory side with more outdoor adventures.
On my first visit during the NOLA tri-centennial, I participated in a two-hour walking group tour around the French Quarter. We visited the Church, parks, the waterfront, and the back of the café where they make beignets. Part of the tour took us to the cemetery that is the final and mortal resting place of Madame Marie Laveau, The VooDoo Queen of New Orleans. I learned about an aspect of slavery previously unknown to me. By law, slave owners here were required to give enslaved humans Sundays off. Many of them would congregate in Congo Square for music, dancing, fellowship, and to listen to the teachings of Madame Marie Laveau.
Although she was Catholic, in VooDoo she included teachings and deities borrowed from multiple religions from Africa, the Catholic Church, and Native/Indigenous belief systems.
A woman of color, Madame Laveau had several enslaved humans of her own, which was not uncommon…
If I am going to talk about history and strive for balance, I have to acknowledge the whole picture.
After my walking tour, I went to one of the many VooDoo museums. The curator claimed it was her ring that Angela Bassett wore when she played Marie Laveau as a character. I listened and watched with an open mind in the tiny room as she sold goods to other patrons. One man bought 10-15 VooDoo dolls. It was October of 2018. Either he was grabbing stocking stuffers for the impending Yule time, or he had some vendettas to work on.
But that’s his business…
I paid for the tour to walk around the small museum with narrow halls, looking at the artifacts as “The Witch Queen of New Orleans” played on repeat in the background. After I paid, the curator gave me a small slip of paper to “Make a Wish” when I got to a certain room.
I remained skeptical from a spiritual perspective. To me and maybe just me, I take this stuff extremely, over-the-top seriously. Wishing is a touchy affair, and my first thought was, “This VooDoo woman should know that.”
But that’s her business…
And the business of anyone that chooses to wish for whatever they choose. I am not meant to judge; I am meant to observe and learn. So I walked slowly, contemplating what to wish for where I would not harm my future self, or if I was going to make a wish at all. It is difficult to have enough foresight in this arena.
Words have power.
When I got to the room, there were wishes, offerings, and legal tender from American to international, on every surface. Respectfully, I did not want to disturb anyone else’s wish, because I hoped theirs would come true in this spiritual place of power. It took me several moments to pick a spot and form the words as carefully as I dared.
I wish to continue to be thankful.
Guess what? To this day my wish has come true.