10. New Orleans: Voodoo History Guided Walking Tour
Every New Orleans newcomer wants to learn about voodoo. Shrouded in mystery, driven by beating drums, and populated by some of the most fascinating—and virile—deities in modern theology, voodoo has been intriguing outsiders since it first arrived in New Orleans from the decks of slave and trade ships. But there’s a problem: Voodoo is a deeply misunderstood, ridiculously fetishized, religion, one intentionally painted as “demonic” by Christians and colonizers throughout Louisiana’s history. And so many popular tours and books on the subject are packed with lies our forefathers told, which makes historians and practitioners super sad.
Given this city was home to Queen Marie Laveau herself, HH couldn’t just stand idly by while our city’s history was buried under BS. We designed this tour to set the record straight while celebrating the mashup of religions which were woven together to created modern, stateside version of “voodoo” you cannot find outside the Crescent City.
You’ll meet your guide on Basin Street, just steps away from the famous tomb which allegedly holds the remains of Marie herself. After a brief lesson on the differences between Haitian Voodoo, New Orleans Voodoo, Santeria, and Hoodoo, guests are led to Congo Square, site of Laveau’s countless ceremonies and rituals. From this sacred ground you’ll make your way to Laveau’s old home, the place she raised her children by day and practiced spiritual workings with a bigass snake around her neck by night. Zombie lore, pandemic history, and the some old timey propaganda await you on Dauphine Street, where your guide will reveal the truth about voodoo dolls and traditional Afro-Caribbean medicine. (Which, fun fact, was often way more effective than Western medicine.)
Your guide will then introduce the group to Sanite Dede, the woman who paved the way for Marie Laveau, and the person to make voodoo so popular in the city it had to be banned from the French Quarter entirely. You’ll also learn about secret love affairs, documented miracles, radical healings, spirit summoning, shocking racial crimes, and the very beginning of the abolition movement, all through the lens of ancestor worship and “magic” in America’s Most Haunted City.