If you’ve followed me and my adventures here at The Magical Buffet, you know that I dabble all over the spiritual and magical landscape. I’ve only ever had one rule, don’t f*ck around with Voodoo. Not because I thought Voodoo was scary or evil or any other lazy media nonsense, but because my rudimentary understanding led me to see that the devotional relationship between practitioners and their deities was hardcore, very transactional, and if you didn’t pay what you owed, you got the spiritual beatdown. Essentially, not a practice designed for lazy, build your own spirituality/magic types like me. All that said, I’ve always loved learning about Voodoo, and my most favorite thing of all is reading about religious leaders and magical practitioners. That made “The Magic of Marie Laveau: Embracing the Spiritual Legacy of the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans” by Denise Alvarado a must read.
What a fantastic book! Marie Laveau lived and flourished as a businesswoman and Voodoo leader during this perfect era of some record keeping, but not enough to diminish the magic and legend building that can take place in history when historical documentation is scarce. This gives Alvarado a chance to provide scholarly research, fantastical legend, and the space to use both to make some educated guesses to fill in gaps. The first part of the book is devoted to exploring the life of Marie Laveau from birth to the Laveau style of New Orleans Voodou that is still practiced today. At this point Marie Laveau is treated as an elevated ancestor at minimum, all the way up that ladder to full blown loa, with shrines devoted to her in New Orleans and other locales. I could have a book three times the length just about Laveau. Her life is a fascinating one to read about, and Alvarado does an excellent job of making her academic research an accessible and entertaining read.
The second part of “The Magic of Marie Laveau” is about becoming a devotee of Laveau, and what it entails; creating an altar, or altars, to her, how to petition her, and how to develop a relationship with her. The third, and final part of the book, is all about the MAGIC of Marie Laveau. Alvarado takes her academic research from elders of the New Orleans community and nineteenth-century newspaper articles and follows those to the modern-day practitioners of Laveau Voodou, to define 12 types of Laveau Voodou magical workings. For those of you who are curious, they are: bottle spells and container spells, candle magick, Catholic conjure, coffin conjure, death conjure, fetishism (doll baby conjure and ju ju), front porch conjure, graveyard work, magick lamps, supplications, and water rituals.
After reading this book, I’m inclined to still maintain my “don’t f*ck with Voodoo” philosophy. However, when it comes to Marie Laveau, well that’s a different kettle of fish. I feel she could happily live on my already existent home goddess altar. Marie Laveau fits right in with the other goddesses I venerate. “The Magic of Marie Laveau” by Denise Alvarado is a fantastic and inspiring look at the undisputed Queen of Voodoo.
You can learn more here.
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