The past few weeks a mentally ill man has been stalking me on a certain website and has attempted to attack me left and right regarding the subject of "New Orleans Voodoo" and his claims that it is a traditional, practice of black people from New Orleans.
Now, my readers should know very well what my position on this subject is. Let me make some clarifications for those who are new to my blog.
What is called "New Orleans Voodoo", was invented by white people in the 1950s. It is not a traditional practice of New Orleans. Instead, it was invented by white shop owners and authors in New Orleans as a means of drawing tourism to New Orleans, and thus, drawing tourist money as well.
Factual points of interest:
1. Zora Neale Hurston, famed African-American folklorist and author, traveled to New Orleans in the 1930s and 1940s in search of "Voodoo". She found no trace of it. What she did find was hoodoo and she documented it extensively.
2. Jelly Roll Mortin, the self-described inventor of Jazz music and Creole native, said in an interview (paraphrased), "What you people [white people] call "Voodoo" we [creole and black people] call hoodoo."
3. Harry Middleton Hyatt traveled the South in the 1930s, 1940s and 1970s, compiling traditional Southern, magical folklore and practice. He employed black informants and interviewed black practitioners. Not a single person ever told him about Voodoo in New Orleans or about Voodoo Queens, Loas, or anything else to do with the religion of Voodoo. Instead, they all spoke to him about hoodoo, and of their knowledge of professional hoodoo men and women operating in New Orleans, Algiers, and other places in Louisiana.
4. Many promoters of "New Orleans Voodoo" have traveled to Haiti in order to undergo initiation into the Voodoo religion. They then return to New Orleans and then use this in order to prop up the myth that New Orleans Voodoo is a real, valid tradition. If New Orleans Voodoo was a real tradition there would be no need to travel to Haiti in order to be initiated. The rituals of initiation would have been adapted to the local area and appropriate herbal substitutions would have evolved to replace traditional plants used in initiation but which do not grow in Louisiana.
5. New Orleans Voodoo practitioners are almost universally opposed to animal sacrifice. Animal sacrifice is a crucial aspect of traditional African religions. It is a vital component of the true and valid Voodoo religion.
6. The majority of practitioners of New Orleans Voodoo are white. Now, there is no problem with white people wanting to join an African religion. However, in New Orleans Voodoo, black people are so under represented that it can be viewed as a sign of the true origin of this practice, i.e., an invention by white people.
7. New Orleans Voodoo is far too eclectic in nature. Practitioners take, steal or borrow whatever they fancy from other traditions, cultures and religions and then try to claim that is part of their tradition. For example, it is very common for the New Orleans Voodoo crowd to mix and match pantheons, mixing the Voodoo Loa with the Orisha of Yoruban derived faiths, as well as pagan gods having no African history at all. In fact, even Wicca itself has been thrown into the mix. Recently foreign spirits such as Santa Muerte are now claimed by the New Orleans Voodoo crowd as being a part of their tradition.
8. There is no evidence that Marie Laveau was ever initiated into an African Traditional Religion. In the lore, she was taught magic (hoodoo) from Dr. John. Being taught magic and how to make gris-gris does not a priestess make. Instead, it appears that Marie Laveau used the exotic appeal of "Voodoo" in much the same way that people in New Orleans are doing today, to make a name for herself and to acquire money from the gullible.
9. When practitioners of New Orleans Voodoo are confronted with these facts their number one go-to excuse is "That's because the religion went underground and only recently resurfaced!" This is the same excuse that many Wiccans give when confronted with the cold, hard fact that their religion was also invented in the 1950s and is neither ancient nor "the old religion".
For more information, do read Cat Yronwode's take on New Orleans Voodoo. It's actually a good little essay.
Now, just to be clear here. I do no hate nor am I opposed to people who want to practice what they call New Orleans Voodoo. Just like I don't hate or are opposed to Wiccans. What I am opposed to is the lies, the mythology that is spread which threatens to wipe out native, traditional practices, the true traditions of an area, as well as to deceive people as to what their heritage actually is. So if you self-identify as being a practitioner of New Orleans Voodoo then we are cool UNLESS you start lying and claiming that what you do is the traditional practices of black or creole people in New Orleans or Louisiana. Because it's most definitely not. The true tradition of New Orleans and Louisiana is hoodoo, a.k.a. rootwork or conjure. You want to do your own thing and call it New Orleans Voodoo? Cool. Knock yourself out. Just don't threaten the native practices by lying and deceiving people into thinking that what you do represents the history of the people of that area.
Since I'm speaking out on this subject, yet again, let me take the time to recommend a show. It's called The Originals. It airs on the CW. It's about vampires, werewolves and witches, all fighting each other and themselves for control of New Orleans. Check it out. It's been on the air for several years now and it's a good show. I love how the practitioners are referred to as witches and not belonging to New Orleans Voodoo. So far only one character was described as being Voodoo but he was only a temporary character that was soon killed off. The rest are definitely witches, and bad ass witches at that. The Originals is a spin off of The Vampire Diaries. In The Vampire Diaries, witches are portrayed as the weak slaves of their vampire masters. So I do love how on The Originals the witches are a force to be reckoned with. If you can, try to watch the series from the beginning. I do believe it's on Netflix, if that helps.
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Davina Kills The Witches Hunting Her