Located on Bourbon Street in the Vieux Carré, Marie Laveau's House of Voodoo is one of New Orleans' most famous tourist attractions. It sells a wide variety of candles, oils, roots, beads, blood, bones, charms and other material supplies for practicing the voodoo religion. It also offers tarot card readings and an assortment of literature and promotional items for sale.

The most famous name in New Orleans voodoo legend is Marie Laveau. During the first half of the 19th century, this devout catholic mulatto woman cast and lifted spells, brewed up love potions and predicted people's futures. Prominent politicians sought her help, as did many citizens during the yellow fever epidemic. One of her fifteen children, Marie II (who was a voodoo priestess as well), briefly lived in the French Quarter house where the voodoo shop now resides.

Current voodoo practices in New Orleans range from candle, herb, and oil hoodoo to full-scale religious rituals involving blood sacrifice. Some elements of Santeria have been incorporated, although the female-dominated voodoo is viewed by many as the sister religion of the male-dominated Santeria. Most everything a practitioner of these faiths would need, within the limits of law and just short of livestock, can be bought inside this small clapboard house, including the infamous "Black Death" brand of cigarettes.

There is a shrine built to honor the Widow Paris inside the shop, and custom dictates that visitors should pay their respects by leaving a piece of fruit or candy for Msl. Laveau, and something shiny (ie: a coin or spare key) or a cigarette for Papa Legba. It's a touristy ritual, but it's kind of cool.

If amulets and hexing tools are on your shopping list but you don't have time to make it down to the Quarter, there is another Marie Laveau's House of Voodoo shop in the Riverwalk Mall that opened during the late 1980s. Can't find that perfect gift for your Goth friend at Spencer's? Marie Laveau's sells the cheapest rosaries in the city, and carries a lot of skull-themed items. The mall store sells the same stuff as the original store, but without the rustic character and gutter fumes.

739 Bourbon Street, New Orleans LA 70116
(504) 581-3751

Sources: some information obtained from terra.com

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