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Louisiana / New Orleans / North America / Traveling / United States

The Famous Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, Marie Laveau

St Louis Cemetery - New Orleans | It's The Little Things travel blog

The powerful Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau, has been engrained in New Orleans history since the early 1800s, and she facilitated the rise of the still thriving voodoo culture of New Orleans. The practice of voodoo has African roots and is believed to have originated during the slave trade, when the slaves participated in spiritual practices to ease their oppression. Marie Laveau became a symbol of voodoo in New Orleans, but was also a devoted Catholic and is currently buried in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1.

St Louis Cemetery - New Orleans | It's The Little Things travel blog

St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 – New Orleans

Visiting the cemetery is about as eerie as you might imagine. Being the oldest cemetery in New Orleans that still exists, the old tombs with chipped paint and crumbling bricks appear as a flashback of people and families from long ago. There are plenty of influential people buried in the cemetery, but Marie Laveau is typically the most intriguing for visitors.

Back when I first visited the cemetery it was open for free to the public, but due to frequent vandalism it is now only accessible via guided, licensed tours (unless you are family of course).

Not knowing quite what I was looking for, it took a little while but I eventually found the tomb that marks Marie Laveau’s final resting place. The tomb had mysterious qualities to it, making me feel as if it was some sort of magnetic force drawing me in.

Marie Laveau's tomb

Marie Laveau’s tomb

Among other writing and objects left as gifts, the tomb was covered with X’s scribbled all over the tomb. It turns out, these markings are largely a result of tourist groups that stroll through the cemetery every day. The belief is that one must break off a piece of brick from another tomb, spin around three times, scrape three X’s onto the tomb, and do some sort of knocking on the tomb. Then an offering should be left at the tomb and your wish will be granted. X’s that are circled are said to mean that the wish had come true.

*Please do not try this yourself.* In fact, it is a criminal activity and is a form of vandalism. Those who practice true Voodoo do not deface property in order to do so.

People come from all over to leave offerings of various kinds as a part of this ritual or as a sign of gratitude to Laveau for granting a wish. A wide assortment of these offerings can always be found all around the tomb, such as candles, coins, small statues, beads, flowers, notes, and more.

Even today, people still claim to have wishes granted by Laveau. She was allegedly powerful enough to cure the ill, solve romantic situations, and aid condemned prisoners, and her powers are believed to still live on today. The full story of Laveau’s life and death is unclear, and there are many different accounts that attempt to rationalize the occult happenings said to be associated with Laveau. Regardless of these variations, one thing is clear: Marie Laveau had something special about her. No one will ever know exactly what was behind Laveau’s so called powers, but after a visit to her tomb I like to think they still remain strong today.

Marie Laveau - New Orleans | It's The Little Things travel blog

Could it be, despite these popular tourist notions, that there is some magical voodoo association with this tomb? It seems to me that the city has a particular “spirit” that continues to draw me in to the mystery and magic that is New Orleans. You’ll have to go and check it out for yourself!

33 Comments

  • Lunaguava
    October 26, 2014 at 8:04 pm

    Fascinating story. New Orleans still lies undiscovered by us (watching “Treme” doesn’t count, right?”), but we’d love to change that at some point in the future. Good luck!

    Reply
    • Marissa Sutera
      October 26, 2014 at 10:01 pm

      Definitely a great place to add to the travel list! One of my favorites 🙂

      Reply
  • Constance - Foreign Sanctuary
    October 27, 2014 at 7:10 am

    What a great story! New Orleans is such a fascinating place that I hope to visit someday soon!

    Reply
    • Marissa Sutera
      October 27, 2014 at 8:07 am

      It sure is! All the history and culture there is so amazing to me. Hope you get to visit soon!

      Reply
  • Tim
    October 27, 2014 at 10:07 am

    I have been to New Orleans a couple of times and find it fascinating. Can’t wait to return. There is so many levels to the city and its surrounding areas. Great post.

    Reply
    • Marissa Sutera
      October 27, 2014 at 12:30 pm

      Thanks Tim! That is so true – every time I return I still feel like I need so much more time there!

      Reply
  • Vasudha Aggarwal
    October 27, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    Great Post, Marissa.
    NOLA is such an intriguing place & absolutely, one of my favorite cities. I have been to the Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 in Garden District and the guide did have a few strange stories associated with it as well.

    Reply
    • Marissa Sutera
      October 27, 2014 at 12:34 pm

      Thanks Vasudha! I can never seem to get enough of NOLA. There is always more to learn about their interesting history and culture!

      Reply
  • samiya selim
    October 30, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    Wow! What a fascinating eerie place to visit! You describe the place really well, have to visit if we are ever in new orleans!

    Reply
    • Marissa Sutera
      October 30, 2014 at 1:36 pm

      Thanks Samiya! It’s one of my favorites 🙂 Would love to hear about your experience if you ever get a chance to visit NOLA!

      Reply
  • Carmen (CarmensTravelTips)
    October 31, 2014 at 6:37 am

    I’ve never been to New Orleans but I have heard stories from people who have and they say that voohoo is still being practiced today. People claim that they still see her spirit in the cemetary. Thanks for sharing and linking up to #WeekendWanderlust.

    Reply
    • Marissa Sutera
      October 31, 2014 at 3:52 pm

      It is crazy to think, but that is what they say! I do enjoy hearing all the stories about people’s experiences though. Thanks for stopping by Carmen!

      Reply
  • Sarah Ebner
    October 31, 2014 at 10:58 am

    What a great story and intriguing place to visit. New Orleans sounds such a fascinating destination. I’d love to go

    Reply
    • Marissa Sutera
      October 31, 2014 at 3:53 pm

      It’s definitely one of my favorites! A destination worth a visit!

      Reply
  • Katie
    October 31, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    I wouldn’t want to get on her bad side somehow, so I think I’ll pass…!

    Reply
    • Marissa Sutera
      October 31, 2014 at 3:54 pm

      I don’t blame you Katie! I sure wouldn’t want to be on her bad side either 🙂

      Reply
  • San
    October 31, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    Sounds like a faszinating place, especially the sense behind the X is interesting, you would think it’s forbidden to do that…^^

    Reply
    • Marissa Sutera
      November 1, 2014 at 9:15 am

      Yeah you would think! NOLA mesmerizes me every time 🙂

      Reply
  • Fairlie
    October 31, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    Interesting story. It’s fascinating how these ritual traditions develop and are passed on from person to person.

    Reply
    • Marissa Sutera
      November 1, 2014 at 9:15 am

      It sure is! And I love hearing about them. Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
  • Anda
    November 1, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    I visited this cemetery some years ago and I was as impressed by it as you were. I love the mystery that surrounds the old cemeteries. People think I am crazy, but I am fascinated by them.

    Reply
    • Marissa Sutera
      November 1, 2014 at 4:24 pm

      NOLA is the perfect place for mystery and unique stories. I love learning about them and the history there!

      Reply
  • Vlad
    November 1, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    I’ve heard the story before but it sounds eerie every time I hear it. 🙂

    Reply
    • Marissa Sutera
      November 1, 2014 at 6:10 pm

      I can never get enough of it! Thanks for stopping by Vlad!

      Reply
  • Roma
    November 1, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    Cemetery’s have so much character don’t they? | There’s always a good story to tell from a stroll through them. Good read.

    Reply
    • Marissa Sutera
      November 2, 2014 at 1:13 pm

      They sure do! There is always something interesting to learn. Thanks for reading! 🙂

      Reply
  • Michele {Malaysian Meanders}
    November 3, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    I have New Orleans on my mind today, so I was especially interested in reading this. While I’ve heard of Marie Laveau and her oft-visited tomb, this is the first I’ve heard of the XXX tradition. How interesting.

    Reply
    • Marissa Sutera
      November 3, 2014 at 10:20 pm

      It is very strange, but certainly interesting! I love hearing about how these kinds of traditions came about. Thanks for reading Michele!

      Reply
  • Lydia C. Lee
    November 3, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    Great story! Fascinating culture

    Reply
    • Marissa Sutera
      November 3, 2014 at 10:24 pm

      Thanks Lydia, this is one of many reasons why I love NOLA!

      Reply
  • Kimberly Rivero
    May 2, 2017 at 8:32 am

    This cemetery is no longer open to the public. You can enter it with a licensed tourguide. Price at gate are 20$ for a 45 minute tour. Other tour companies prices vary on times and prices.

    Reply
  • Lisa
    September 11, 2020 at 4:12 pm

    Stop encouraging people to deface graves. It’s disrespectful and also the reason why you can no longer enter this cemetery unless you pay a licensed tour guide or if you have family buried there.

    Reply
  • Marissa Sutera
    September 11, 2020 at 9:05 pm

    My apologies! I certainly do not (and have never) endorsed vandalism. As travelers, we all have a responsibility to be respectful to the places we visit. This post was intended simply to share the history of the wish-making traditions that have been shared over the years. However, it was written back in 2014 and much has changed since then, so I have amended it to reflect these changes.

    Reply

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