If you’re interested in the spirits, New Orleans is home to many Voodoo (also known as Vudon) practices that first made their way to the city through Haiti, although its roots can be traced back to 15th century African culture. Often misconstrued by pop culture as the dark arts, Voodoo is actually a life affirming practice that encourages its followers to better understand nature and their own spiritual presence. About 15% of New Orleans residents practice Vodoo and with the touristic interest, it’s become big business - it's possible to see Voodoo everywhere from sacred tombs to street chalk art Voodoo on the sidewalk.
So if a chicken paw (claw), monkey hand, bag of gris gris (a sacred amulet) or the like turns up on your doorstep, that's probably something you're going to want to look into.
See the Future
New Orleans Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau was rumored to live for well over a century, a legend that her lookalike daughter Marie Laveau may have helped inspire. She traded secrets with high-powered informants throughout the city while working as a hairdresser. The Creole queen had access to everyone from top socialites looking for love advice to fellow Voodoo practitioners who gathered along Bayou St. John to perform dances and rituals with her male counterpart, high priest Dr. John (no relation to the bayou or the rock star). Today, you can visit Marie Laveau’s House of Vodoo in the French Quarter for a reading to learn about your potential fortune or misfortune.
Stock up on Potions and Oils
Located in the Treme neighborhood, F&F Botanica for Spiritual Products and Religious Artifacts offers a mix of everything from Santeria statues to candles dedicated to Voodoo deities. There are aerosol sprays to rid your home of bad luck, bath salts for the lovelorn, door opening incense, gris gris ingredients, different types of waters for specific rituals – they literally have it all when it comes to Voodoo supplies. Much like Fight Club (as in don't talk about it), if you want to get deep into specific spells, make it a point to meet the shop's knowledgeable proprietor Felix Figueroa. It’s believed though that in order for it to work, you have to burn an entire candle in one sitting so clear your calendar because that can take awhile.
Authentic Dolls and Spirits
To find the more authentic Voodoo shops, steer clear of anything on Bourbon Street or anywhere the items seem to be “made in China.” The Voodoo Spiritual Temple of Mother Miriam Chamani on Rampart Street has focused on herbal healing practices for 25 years. Make your way past the courtyard and into the sacred shop where loa alters burn exotic incense around you. As a high priestess, Dr. John selected Miriam as his queen in the Krewe du Vieux Parade – as good a Voodoo Queen as you're going to find. Today, she makes Voodoo Dolls, herbal sachets and mojo bags and whatever you take home from the shop will be authentic, including the experience.