June 2007

Marie Laveau's Grave

Marie LA veau grave © Aris Dervis 2004 New Orleans voodoo Marie Laveau Grave offerings to the Voodoo queen at St. Louis cemetery no. !

© Aris Dervis 2004

Marie Laveau is the most famous Voodoo Queen of New Orleans. People travel from around the world to visit her grave at St. Louis Cemetery #1. Although there is speculation that she may not actually be buried there, when enough people gather to direct energy and prayer to a specific place, it becomes holy by default. Marie's gravesite is a very peaceful spot if you can time your visit to avoid the incessant tour groups marching by, the leaders spouting inaccuracies to the wide-mouthed tourists.

It is fascinating to watch what people leave as offerings. The "sacrifices" are left on the grave all day, then swept away when the cemetery closes. I have left rum and cokes, pecan pies, Indian corn, Mardi Gras beads, a snake ring, coconut macaroons, and a bottle of anisette (rumored to be Marie's drink of choice). I left a plaque saying "Eternal Love" after I had been cured of a 14 month long stomach ailment. I have seen offerings of Advil bottles, condoms, bouquets of flowers, pennies, gourds, ristras, candles, photographs- the detritus of people's simple dreams.

Until recently, when it was "outlawed" by conservationists, the ritual was to make 3 X's on the grave with a hunk of red brick, then make a wish. When your wish came true, you were expected to return to the grave and draw a circle around your 3 X's.

Since 1988, Aris and I had been pilgrimaging to New Orleans every year. Sometimes for 2 weeks, and in a good year, for a month. Sadly, we have not returned since Katrina. Our few remaining friends in New Orleans urge us not to come. The image shown here is of Valentine Mardi Gras beads that I hung on Marie's grave on my last visit in November 2004.

I truly know what it means to miss New Orleans. We dedicate this to all the great people we have had the pleasure to know in New Orleans- Angie and Cherie, Ava and Lynwood, Carolann, Steven, Lynn and Greg, Bill and David- in sincere hopes that we will meet again very soon.

Marie Laveau's Grave is available as an 8x10 print, greeting card, candle, and t-shirt.

Serving Spirits Monthly Spirit © Aris Dervis