The drumbeats of voodoo did not die when its legendary leader, Marie Laveau, did. A century of hostile policemen who raided its gatherings, City Council members who passed foolish laws against it, and credulous newspaper reporters who libeled it did not stop it.
Slavery and segregation only made it stronger. Voracious tourists and the media invasions that contribute so much to the city’s economy will not harm it, either. Voodoo remains as much a part of New Orleans as jazz. I am frequently asked, what is voodoo? Is it evil? Can it help me with my problems? Who is doing it today? How can I participate, attend a ceremony or learn more about it?
Despite what many books and Web sites claim, voodoo has no single origin, and no single definition of it will work, just as no single spelling of its name is the right or only one. Something like voodoo (in a variety of spellings) occurred each time the sufferings and vast dislocations of people through the slave trade met the pageantry and practical saints of Catholicism.
So New Orleans voodoo is a sister or cousin to, but not the same as vodou in Haiti, Santeria in Cuba or Afro-Brazilian religions such as Candomblé and macumba. Journalists, filmmakers, TV producers and other media people contact me, wanting to learn more about contemporary voodoo.
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