as The Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, Madam Marie Laveau really was not so much "evil" as she was mysterious. Voodoo,
or Voudon, is largely known as a culture of beliefs and practices, followed in some parts of Africa, South America, and the
West Indies, especially Haiti. In fact, much of it has roots in the Catholic Church.
Only because Voodoo has been misunderstood and wrongly regarded
by some as "devil worship", as opposed to a cultural expression, we will include Madam Laveau in our chapter of
"Evil" Women. I suspect, however, that
she was not evil at all, but a very intelligent woman who simply depended on her wits to survive and prosper in an age
when women of color were susceptable to misfortune, to say the least.
Evil, no. Powerful, yes. And
It is generally accepted that she was born in 1794 in Vieux
Carre - a Creole neighborhood in New Orleans, although some say she was born in 1794 and arrived in New Orleans after the
slave revolt in Saint Domingue in the Caribbean in 1809 - a former French colony today known as Haiti. The confusion is not
surprising, as there were very strong ties between the development of Voodoo in Haiti and in New Orleans.
Her father, Charles Laveau, is said to have been a wealthy
white planter and her mother, Darcantel Marguerite, a mulatto with a strain of Indian blood. Marie herself is described as
being mulatto -- and more often as a quadroon (African, Indian, French and Spanish). She was said to
be a statuesque woman, with "curling black hair, good features, dark skin which had a distinct reddish cast, and fierce
Marie was raised as a Roman Catholic, the religion of most
French and Spanish at the time. New Orleans had been owned by the French from 1718 to 1762, then by the Spanish until 1803
when it became French again. It was then bought under the American flag through the Louisiana Purchase.
|Marie Laveau's House of Voodoo
Marie Laveau married a free man of color by the name
of Jacques Paris on August 4, 1819. The ceremony was performed in St. Louis Cathedral and her marriage license can still
be found in the files there.
There is no evidence that either she or Jacques were practicing
Voodoo during their marriage. Marie and Jacques had both been raised Roman Catholic and she still practiced it devoutly, attending
a daily worship service at St. Louis Cathedral. Shortly after the wedding, Jacques disappeared and Marie began calling
herself the Widow Paris. A certificate of death did not appear until several years later.
It was after the "death" of Jacques that Marie became a professional
hairdresser and began visiting the homes of wealthy white women. During this time, she became involved with Louis Christophe
Duminy de Glapion. Glapion eventually moved into her home and lived there until he died in 1835.
All that is known of Glapion and his relationship with
Marie is that he was a quadroon from Santo Domingo who had fought in the Battle of New Orleans and that he and Marie had fifteen
children one of which (Marie Philomene Laveau Glapion) walked in her footsteps
and became almost as powerful as her mother.
Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Queen - Page Two