Voodoo Museum and Cemetery Walking Tour in New Orleans, Louisiana
The Voodoo Museum at 724 Rue Dumaine in the French Quarter of New Orleans is the original and only actual voodoo museum in New Orleans and the world. It was created in 1972 by New Orleans Creole native Charles Massicot Gandolfo.
The museum and tour is a must see for any tourist that wants to truly understand voodoo and what it means to New Orleans.
Before the tour, visitors walk around the museum which is included in the tour price admission. The museum is small but gives a rather large punch of culture and information about voodoo.
It features a section about Marie Laveau - "The Voodoo Queen of New Orleans." She was a free woman of color and a very famous healer and leader of those who practiced voodoo in New Orleans. It is said that she never turned away those who knocked on her door for help, and in death she still helps those who ask while visiting her tomb.
The "History Hallway" portion of the museum explains the origins of voodoo coming to New Orleans directly from Western Africa in Benin. The first record of it coming into Louisiana was in 1719 when the slaves started coming in.
The "Gris-Gris Room" explains what gris-gris means. It is "both the act and the object of a magical supernatural power." Most of the gris-gris are love potions and is only very rarely used for evil purposes. There are four categories of gris-gris uses: 1. love and sex, 2. power and domination, 3. fortune and luck and 4. uncrossing, or undoing another gris-gris. This room also has a life-size alligator creature called a "rougarou" which is a "zombie like creature that is a cross between a French loup-garou (werewolf) and an African Reine Flambeau (vampire) and the omnipotent swamp creature."
The last room is the "Altar Room." This room is used as display and is also functional in that it is used by practitioners and others to leave small objects as offerings. Most commonly seen as offerings are photos, money, pieces of clothing, lipstick, (unused and wrapped) condoms, mardi-gras beads, and other small pieces of jewelry.
Jerry Gandolfo gives the Voodoo-Cemetery walking tour. He is the museum's primary researcher and historian since it opened by his brother. He has been called "Mr. Voodoo" by MSNBC and "the walking encyclopedia of New Orleans" by Gambit newspaper. It is well worth the time and money to go on one of his tours. Don't even think about going on another Voodoo tour because this is the best and 100% authentic.
The tour starts at the museum where Mr. Gandolfo explains about everything in the museum and also goes into the basics about what voodoo is. He allows those on the tour to ask questions and takes the time to fully answer them. He also really does have an extensive knowledge about voodoo and all of New Orleans.
The highlight of the tour is visiting Marie Laveau's tomb while in St. Louis Cemetery #1 also known as the original "City of the Dead." The tour also stops at Congo Square where voodoo rituals were practiced and gave birth to jazz music. Another big highlight of the tour is stopping at a real voodoo spiritual temple and getting the chance to meet and talk to Priestess Miriam Chamani. The tour also stops at a Catholic Church where Mr. Gandolfo explains more about the relationship that voodoo has with the Catholic Church.
The Voodoo Museum and Voodoo-Cemetery walking tour are both fascinating. Anyone who visits New Orleans should take the time to do both of these to see just what voodoo is really all about.