It has always been entertaining to watch witches and beings with supernatural powers acted out in movies or television shows. However, have you ever wondered if these ‘witches’ actually existed? There have been several accounts of experiences with the paranormal all around the world; however, most of these accounts have been disregarded because they lacked any real proof of authenticity. One of such accounts is that of Marie Laveau who many believed was a witch.
Marie Laveau was one of the most feared and influential women in 19th century Louisiana. She practiced her faith openly and in public until the 1860s. Truthfully, Laveau practiced voodoo but didn’t actually label herself a witch or queen of voodoo. The names were given to her by those who met her or heard about her. There have been varying stories on who Marie was – while others saw her as evil and responsible for the death of some people others regarded her as a saint who healed the sick and ministered to condemned men in their final hours.
Background and Married Life
Marie Catherine Laveau was born on September 10, 1801, to Marguerite Henry and Charles Laveau Trudeau. She was born in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana. Her maternal grandmother was brought to America as a slave and Marie’s generation marked the first in her lineage to be born free. Her mother was of Native American, African and French descent while her father – who never married her mother – was of French descent. He was also a surveyor and politician.
There were rumors that Marguerite Henry (also known as Marguerite D’Arcantel) also practiced voodoo before her death. At the age of 18, Marie got married to Jacques Santiago Paris, a French immigrant who fled from the black Haitian Revolution in the former French territory of Saint-Domingue. He was a carpenter who practiced his trade at the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana. The couple had two children together. Soon after their second daughter, Jacques is said to have died in 1820. After this, Marie began to refer to herself as Widow Paris.
Her children (with Jacques) were both daughters – Felicite and Angele – born in 1817 and 1820 respectively. However, both died soon after from mysterious circumstances. When the death of Jacques Santiago Paris was confirmed, Marie Laveau entered into a relationship with Christophe Dominick Duminy de Glapion, another French man. She lived with Glapion until his death in 1855 and they had 7 children together.
It is said that Marie had 15 children altogether, all died except two daughters who lived to adulthood – Marie Euchariste Eloise Laveau (1827-1862) and Marie Philomene Glapion (1836-1897). However, only one was popularly heard of and she was called Marie II as she continued to practice voodoo after her mother. Interestingly, it is not known which of her surviving daughters was Marie II.
How Marie Laveau Got Famous
New Orleans has been a city that encapsulates the Old world and the New. It even houses a museum for voodoo where tourists visit often, hence it is no surprise that Marie practiced her beliefs there. Marie Catherine Laveau is best known for being a voodoo practitioner. Prior to this, she was a hairdresser who catered to the hair care needs of elite white women. A lot of speculations have gone out on how she practices her voodoo and not much can be substantiated.
Some said she possessed mystic powers which she used to harm or heal who she willed while others referred to her as a skillful entrepreneur who knew how to feed her audience with a nice show that would keep them coming. Whatever it was, Marie Laveau had a faithful following. She was patronized by a lot of people, both the rich and poor, who attended her ceremonies in white clothes.
Marie has also been said to have access to inside information about her wealthy clients. It is not certain if she knew this by her divinations or through paid or threatened slave informants.
Marie Laveau’s Final Years
Marie Laveau died on June 15, 1881, at the age of 79. No one knows the cause of her death, as she had no records of illnesses. She probably died as a result of old age. Her death brought a lot more information about her to light. It was told that she opened her doors to all, day and night. She was described as a skillful nurse who was able to heal a lot of ailments with herbal concoctions.
The New Orleans’ witch and queen of voodoo was also somewhat of a preacher and activist. She ministered to condemned prisoners before they were executed and was anti-capital punishment. It was also reported that she begged for mercy for the prisoners. To the amazement of many, Marie was a devout Christian and follower of Jesus Christ as testified by a local paper.
After her death, she was laid to rest at St. Louis Cemetery, Louisiana. Her tomb is visited by people seeking one blessing or the other. They bring flowers and other gifts in exchange for supernatural blessings. If any of their requests were met after their visit, they would carve three Xs on her tomb.