Tomas Zagoda

New Orleans locals know that voodoo is far more than just a tourist attraction here. If you only have one day spare in the ‘Big Easy’, then listen up – this is your guide to making the most of Louisiana’s greatest city.

alligator head

Voodoo traditions are still followed around the world, with estimates of almost 50 million practitioners. Sure, in New Orleans there are plenty of tacky gift shops and garish photo opportunities available for tourists, but for the curious and adventurous traveller, there is an exciting voodoo underbelly to discover.

New Orleans is a fascinating melting pot of French, American and African cultures, the latter of which introduced voodoo to the city. Just outside the historic French Quarter is St. Louis Cemetery #1. Home to the most famous Voodoo Queen of them all, Marie Laveau, visitors and locals leave offerings outside her tomb in the hopes it will gain her favor. The other historic cemeteries of New Orleans are well worth visiting and are much less morbid than you might think. Walking down the narrow paths between tombs in scenic Lafayette Cemetery could easily occupy an hour of your time, as you see the interesting mix of old and new engravings next to large withered trees.

voodoo store

Modern-day New Orleans still has a voodoo high priestess by the name of Sallie Ann Glassman, who can be found at the New Orleans Healing Center. This community center is like no other, with over twenty small businesses selling everything from organic food, coffee, massages, jewellery and even Glassman’s own business, the Island of Salvation Botanica. Here you can purchase legit voodoo candles, Haitian beaded flags, natural home remedies and gris-gris (a talisman intended to help, heal or harm).

Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo is on the opposite spectrum, catering for the curious traveller, thirsty for an unusual curio to take home. Here you can pick up ready-made spells, charms and incense. Genuine voodoo practitioners are not left out though, with a well-stocked back room and genuine advice for believers.

For a more educational experience that are by no means boring, visit the Voodoo Spiritual Temple. Established in 1990 and run by Priestess Miriam in a rickety building within the French Quarter, this is the real deal. After a small entrance fee, Priestess Miriam will usher you in to explore two tiny rooms and a hallway filled to the brim with voodoo pieces, severed alligator heads, skulls and shrines. This is a temple first and a museum second, so arrive knowing that you will probably have more questions leaving the building than when you went in. Photos are welcome here and guests are encouraged to leave offerings at the shrines to seek favors from the spirits.

voodoo dolls

So next time you are in New Orleans, join the believers and the strangely curious in experiencing the unusual world of voodoo.

 

Tomas Zagoda is an Australian based media producer, filmmaker, writer, coffee addict and tall person who does not play basketball. Follow him on Instagram @TomasZagoda to keep up with his latest adventures.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the Policy Documents available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.