The First Voodoo Queen In New Orleans

| Monday, April 9, 2007 | |
The First Voodoo Queen In New Orleans Cover The first Voodoo Queen in New Orleans was Sanite’ DeDe, a young woman from Santo Domingo who bought her way to freedom in New Orleans. She would hold rituals in her courtyard on Dumaine and Chartres Streets, just blocks away from the Cathedral. The rhythmic beat of the drums could be heard in during mass! It was because of this that in 1817, the church decided that any religion that was not Catholic would not be allowed to practice within the city limits. Congo Square, now Armstrong Park was the location that the early Voodouns held their rituals. In February 1932, the Times Picayune printed an article about these rituals telling of “wild and uncontrolled orgies” and “serpent worship”.

Police who actually arrested participants frequently broke up rituals! In 1863, the Times Picayune recorded the trial of one such arrest. Approximately 400 women were arrested and tried for the crime of “dancing naked” at a Voodoo ritual. A young woman had reported the crime to the police after accidentally walking into the area. After three days of trials, the women were released for “lack of evidence”. It seems that the girl who reported the “crime” had become strangely confused and was unable to testify properly against them. The charges were dropped. Many believed that the Voodouns hexed the girl and then charmed the judge. Due to such incidents, many a ritual was relocated in secret to the swampland on Bayou St. John, near what is now City Park. Today, Voodouns continue to hold rituals in Congo Square.

New Orleanians feared nothing more than the dreaded Voodoo curse! It is the worst of all fates. Evil magic in other parts of the country paled in comparison. Practitioners today generally will not do negative magic but back in 1944 when Robert Tallant wrote about Voodoo in New Orleans, he spoke to elders in the community who gave a different account of the way things were!

It was not uncommon then for crosses of death, tiny coffins, and strange concoctions or voodoo dolls to be found at dawn on the doorsteps and galleries of residents here. Sometimes there would be just a black candle or a black crepe wreath. Superstitious residents of the times would constantly seek protection from such curses. Much of the Voodoo practitioners’ spells that were sought after were for that of protection or uncrossing, removing hexes. One of the most common practices to protect one from evil curses was to scrub the front stoop of the house with brick dust. Many New Orleanians purchased gris-gris bags (good luck charms). And would wear them near the body or place them in the home. In a 1924 newspaper article, doctors at Charity hospital who were interviewed told of patients being brought in wearing their gris-gris bags and refusing to part with them. These bags were usually made up of a variety of herbs or even animal parts. One of the Most Powerful animals to use in Voodoo was the cat, particularly, a black cat.

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