Friday, April 6, 2012

The Tomb of Marie Laveau


The tomb of Marie Laveau - the famous voodoo priestess of New Orleans - is in the Saint Louis Cemetery #1 - a short walk from the French Quarter. According to the plaque outside Saint Louis Cemetery #1 the cemetery is “[t]he oldest extant cemetery in New Orleans. Established by royal Spanish land grant August 14, 1789.” The plaque on the Marie Laveau tomb reads:

This Greek revival tomb is reputed burial place of this notorious “voodoo queen”. A mystic cult, Voodoism, of African origin, was brought to this city from Santo Domingo and flourished in the 19th century. Marie Laveau was the most widely known of many practitioners of the cult.

Laveau’s tomb is a pediment-style tomb. For more on the types of tombs you will find in New Orleans cemeteries, go to New Orleans Cemeteries.

According to our guide (on the very interesting and highly recommended walking tour: Mondo Creole), this tomb is the second most visited tomb in the US, after the Elvis tomb. Pop culture rules. Also according to our guide, the X marks are part of a tradition to get a wish granted: get a brick from another tomb, spin around, and mark three X’s on the Laveau tomb - or something to that effect. Not something we would do, but the graffiti on the tomb caught our eye as interesting to look at – although much to the dismay of the owners of the tomb - and then this note written on the wall:

To a sister who walked this Earth. Be one, be peaceful, rest as you will and enter the cycle as it pleases you. Thank you for being. I offer my hands to share in your work as I do my own work.
In the back of our minds, on repeat was the Grant Lee Buffalo song Dixie Drug Store from the great 1993 album Fuzzy. In the song, the singer spends a night with Laveau or does he? Here are the lyrics towards the end of the song:
I shouted out for Marie
I darted out the door
An old man on the wooden porch said
What you in there for

Son you got no business
The hoodoo store's been closed
Long as I remember
A century I suppose

But Mister I just spent the night
With a young gal named Laveau
He said the Widow Paris
Done had a little laugh on you

I said you mean to tell me
That was the voodooin'
He nodded yes none other
The Queen of New Orleans


Ooh Jambalaya
Ooh Jambalaya

“Widow Paris” refers to the fact that Marie Laveau married a man named Jacques Paris. He died under unexplained circumstances - ooh jambalaya.

Marie Laveau Tomb Plaque (Left) and Saint Louis Cemetery #1 Plaque (Right)
Marie Laveau Tomb Plaque Saint Louis Cemetery #1 Plaque

Words of Widsom and Beads on the Marie Laveau TombWords of Widsom and Beads on the Marie Laveau TombWords of Widsom and Beads on the Marie Laveau Tomb

Nearby Tombs – Missing Bricks Used to Etch an X on Marie Laveau’s Tomb?Nearby Tombs – Missing Bricks Used to Etch on X on Marie Laveau’s Tomb?Nearby Tombs – Missing Bricks Used to Etch on X on Marie Laveau’s Tomb?

Voodoo Practitioners or Tourists at Marie Laveau Tomb?
Voodoo Practitioners or Tourists at Marie Laveau Tomb?Voodoo Practitioners or Tourists at Marie Laveau Tomb?

X Marks the Spot on Marie Laveau’s TombX Marks the Spot on Marie Laveau’s Tomb

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