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Voodoo Glossary Print E-mail

THE

  New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum

GLOSSARY

of

Words, Phrases, Things & Persons

Africae Terrarum: in reaction to the reforms of the Second Vatican Council , Pope Paul V1, on October 29, 1967 issued the Africae Terrarum which stated in part, "Many customs and rites, once considered to be strange are seen today, in the light of ethnological science, as integral parts of various social systems, worthy of study and commanding respect. In this regard, we think it profitable to dwell on some general ideas which typify ancient African religious cultures because we think their moral and religious values deserving of attentive consideration.."

 

Algiers: the area immediately across the Mississippi River from New Orleans, so named for it proximity to New Orleans being in relation to the proximity of Algeria to France. The site of the King’s Plantation during colonial French rule and location of the Negro Camp for newly arriving African slaves.

All Saints Day: A Catholic holy day celebrated in New Orleans by visiting cemeteries and remembering deceased family and ancestors. In some Voodoo observations it is also the feast day of the Ghédé spirit who is the master of the crossroad between life and death. November 1st .

Alligator Pear: an avocado.

Andouille: a spicy pork sausage smoked using sugar cane.  

Armoire: a closing cabinet, usually with an exterior mirror, used in lieu of a closet.

Baby Dolls: interconnected with the Northside Skull and Bone Gang, this female group shares the same origins in the mostly forgotten traditions of New Orleans Voodoo. Marching with the Dirty Dozen Kazoo band, the Skeletons, Indians and Zulu on Fool’s Day (Mardi Gras) they have been recently reenergized. The secret is, as the Skeletons represent Voodoo night and the graveyard, the Baby Dolls represent Voodoo day and sexuality, which is the force of life. (They appear to be analogous to the "en bébé" groups found in Carnival celebrations in the French Caribbean.)

Bamboula: male dancers attached bits of tin about their ankles and thus accoutered, moved back and forth, stamped in unison and leaped into the air shouting, "dansez bamboula! badoum ! badoum!’ while women chanted a monotonous dirge while their bodies swayed from side to side.

Banquette: in New Orleans, a sidewalk.

Baracoa: a small city on the eastern edge of Cuba that was largely populated by French refugees fleeing the slave revolts in nearby Saint-Domingue (Haiti). Most of the French population was expelled in retribution for Napoleon’s invasion of Spain and resettled in New Orleans in 1809-1810.

Batture: land built up by sediments between a levee and the river.

Bayou: a small river like body of water without a current, typically found in the swamps. From the Choctaw work, bayuk.Bayou St. John: body of water in the center of New Orleans at the end of Esplanade Avenue. A popular location for public ceremonies in the later part of the 19th century.

Beignets: square shaped puffed dough confections, deep fried and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Classically associated with Café du Monde in New Orleans.

Benin: in West Africa, formerly called Dahomey, formally at the center of the Slave Coast. Home of the Fon tribe whose word for spirits is Vodoun.

Bierre du Pays: beverage of fermented apples, ginger root and mellow pines, sold in Congo Square.

Black Codes: the American slave, and racial laws, enacted in Louisiana after the Louisiana Purchase. They include the Louisiana Legislative Code of 1806, the Legislative Act of 1807, the Legislative Digest of 1808 and 1825 Civil Code. These laws were increasingly more restrictive, especially as to emancipation, than the prior French and Spanish colonial codes. By 1857 the state outlawed manumissions all together.

Black Sister of the Catholic Church: Voodoo is recognized as resembling the Catholic faith and practices in various distinct ways including in the roles and similarities between spirits and saints, the veneration of sacred objects and the transformation of physical matter into a spiritual reality. Further, Voodoo coexists in Catholic environments with such compatibility that the two compliment, more so, than contradict, one another. Voodoo has flourished mainly in traditionally Catholic countries of the Americas while the Catholic Church has, likewise, taken deep roots in Benin, the African home of Voodoo.

Boucherie: a south Louisiana community gathering in which a cochon pig is butchered. It may also involve such musical traditions as Cajun or Zydeco music.Boudin: ground pork, rice and seasonings stuffed into a casing.

Bouki: character in Afro-French Louisiana folktales that typically appears as the dupe of the trickster lapin (rabbit). From the West African, Wolof, word for hyena.Cafe au Lait: classic New Orleans coffee made with chicory and boiled milk. Also, used to refer to a person of mixed black and white ancestry.Calas: fried, sweetened rice balls. Early New Orleans Voodoo Queen, Sanité Dédé, is said to have been a vendor.

Cajun: the Americanized version of Acadian. Exiles from the former French colony of Acadie (now Nova Scotia) in Canada who resettled in Louisiana after the French and Indian War. Most are settled in south central Louisiana outside of New Orleans.

C’est le Congo: meaning it can not be understood, referring to the chants heard in the Congo Square and Voodoo gatherings. Nonsensical syllables uttered by persons while possessed by the spirits.

Chenière: a small ridge rising in the swamps anchored by the roots of trees.Chicory: an endive root, roasted to add flavor to coffee.

Coartación: under the Spanish regime in Louisiana, the right of slaves to purchase their freedom. The price for self purchase was set by the Cabildo.

Cable, George Washington: (1844 – 1925); an Anglo-American New Orleans native and very popular 19th century story teller. Worked as a reporter for the New Orleans Picayune, toured with Mark Twain, and wrote, "Old Creole Days." Wrote, "The Dance in Place Congo," in Century Magazine in 1886 contributing the popular notions about Voodoo and New Orleans.

Codigo Negro: the Spanish colonial laws on slavery. More liberal than the prior French Code Noir. It outlawed slavery of Indians, permitted slaves to accumulate wealth and uniquely featured the Coartación, a feature that guaranteed a slave the right to purchase one’s own freedom.

Code Noir: the Louisiana Code Noir of 1724 were colonial regulations pertaining to the rights of slaves, duties of slave owners and status of freed persons. It had fifty four articles. (Not to be confused with the earlier French Code Noir of 1685 by Robért Colbert which pertained essentially to the Caribbean.)

Couvent, Marie Justine Ciraire: born in Guinée, Africa and brought to Louisiana as a slave, she managed to purchase her freedom and died a wealthy woman in New Orleans in 1837. Leaving her estate for the education of colored orphans, in 1847 the Institution Catholique de Orphelins was established.

Cracker Jack Store: at 435 South Rampart from 1897 until 1974, listed as religious items, but a holdover from the Voodoo Drugstores and Hoodoo Shops. Operated by originally by a Dr. George A. Thomas, then his widow, Alice Vibert Karno, it appears to have the subject of a 1927 Federal mail fraud probe involving the sale of Goofer Dust. Apparently, also the source of the book, The Life and Works of Marie Laveau: issued 1920’s in order to market their stock of candles, powders, oils, perfumes, herbs, minerals, roots and animal parts.

Creole: meaning generally indigenous to Louisiana. Developed from the Latin verb, crear, meaning to create it was first used by the Portuguese to reference Africans who were conceived, or therefore, created in the Americas. Later the Spanish and French adopted the term to refer to anyone, not Native American, conceived in the Americas. In New Orleans it refers to persons who are cultural descendents of the Franco-Catholic pre American population, black and/or white, of Louisiana. It bears no relevance to skin color or hue.

D’Arcantel, Marguerit San Marre Henry: (1773 – 1825) mother of Marie Laveau and plaçée to Henri D’Arcantel who later bore a Marie Laveau for Charles Laveau. A Creole mulatress born into slavery she was emancipated in 1790 at age 16.

DeLille, Henriette: a free woman of color born in New Orleans in 1812 who sacrificed her life to become the "servant to the slaves." She founded the Society of the Holy Family, an order of predominately black nuns. She was a contemporary of, and related to, Marie Laveau either via maternal ancestry or via the Crocker family. The Vatican is currently well along in the process of consideration of her candidacy for Sainthood.

Derbigny, Pierre: Governor of Louisiana who died in office in 1929 as a result of a carriage accident. An apostate, he became unpopular and folklore hold’s his accidental death was actually the result of Marie Laveau’s work.

Dixie Drug Store: at 1240 Simon Bolivar Avenue, this former pharmacy resorted exclusively to the sale of Voodoo and Hoodoo items by the 1970’s.

Downriver: also called Downtown, a direction in New Orleans referring generally to the east, or in the natural flow of the Mississippi River. An address that is on the lower, or eastern side of a street or intersection, will be referred to as being on the downriver. This is also the area specifically east of Canal Street wherein the streets are for some reason labeled as North.

Dressed: a New Orleans po-boy sandwich garnished, or made, with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, mayonnaise, mustard and so forth.

Dumaine Street: the main street of Voodoo in New Orleans. From the old Dumaine Street brickyard of the 18th century, to Maria Laveau (Marie Laveau’s grandmother) of the 19th century to the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum of the 21st century. While the street is actually named for the same French duc du Maine as the State of Maine, it was often confused by Anglo-Americans as "Main" Street. (The duc de Maine was Louis-Auguste de Bourbon, son of Louis XIV and his mistress, Madame de Montespan.)

Dumaine Street Brickyard: said to the be the earliest place in New Orleans in which Voodoo rituals occurred. Probable location is above Rampart Street in what is now Louis Armstrong National Park. Last mention in connection with Sanité Dédé in 1825.

Dunn, Oscar J.: first black Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana. When he died in office, Marie Laveau was rumored to have been complicit in poisoning him.

Ecclesia in Africa: issued by Pope John Paul II in 1995, stated in part, "Many customs and rites, once considered to be strange are seen today, in the light of ethnological science, as integral parts of various social systems, worthy of study and commanding respect. In this regard, we think it profitable to dwell on some general ideas which typify ancient African religious cultures because we think their moral and religious values deserving of attentive consideration.."

Egungun: an African term associated with Voodoo which is a procession in honor of ancestors.

Estomate Mulétre: ginger bread cookies sold by persons of color in Congo Square. They were called mulétre (mulatto) because of their brown color.

F&F Botanica: reflecting the growing Hispanic influence this store carried spiritual novelties. Herbs, candles, books, statues, baths, and aerosol sprays are all available on North Broad Avenue at Dumaine Street.

Fais Dodo: a Louisiana French expression for children meaning, go to sleep, it has also become the title, or lyrics, for lullabies, and is used as the name for community dances.  

Famille Vve. Paris née Laveau: inscription on the tomb of Marie Laveau in St. Louis Cemetery #1, meaning, Family of the Widow Paris, born Laveau.

Faubourg: being a suburb or neighborhood. In contrast to the central Vieux Carré the oldest faubourg is the Marigny on the other side of Esplanade Avenue. Faubourg Tremé sits above North Rampart. and the Faubourg St. Jean is located father out near Bayou St. John.

Feu Follet: swamp gas, also believed to be souls of unbaptized children.

Fifteen Cents: traditional (three nickels) amount used pay off a spirit for working, often left at a tomb of deceased Voodoo Queen.

Filé: thickener, or spice, made of powdered sassafras leaves and used in gumbo.

Flag Boy: a member of a Mardi Gras Indian gang who acts as intermediary between the spy boy and the main group. Upon signal from the spy boy of a pending confrontation, he alters the main group with his flag.

Flambeaux: the traditional oil torches carried by the dancing flambeaux carriers during nighttime Mardi Gras parades.

Globe Hall: a ball room located at one time on St. Peter Street between Congo Square and the Old Basin, it was the site of Quadroon Balls as well as the assembly place for Marie Laveau and les femmes traiteurese during the Yellow Fever epidemics.

Gombo Zhebes: the old French Creole patois familiar to New Orleans. Example: Bouki fait gombo, lapin mange li (the simpleton makes the gumbo; but the trickster eats it).

Grillades: broiled veal medallions in gravy, typically served with grits.

French Market: the area between Decatur Street and the levee behind the Café du Monde. A series of buildings constructed with stalls for the market and distribution of produce, meats and seafood.

Glapion, Christophe Duminy de: (1764-1855); de facto white husband of Marie Laveau from the mid 1820’s until his death on June 26, 1855. He was the father of seven children (Born 1827 –1839) with Marie Laveau. He is buried with Marie Laveau in the Laveau tomb, middle vault, in St. Louis Cemetery #1.

Glapion, Marie Heloise Euchariste: (1827 – 1862?); oldest surviving daughter of Marie Laveau, she was reputed to have been Marie Laveau II. Plaçée to Pierre Crocker, free man of color, her burial location is unknown. In 1832 was given the Laveau property on Rue d’Amour which her son, Victor Pierre Crocker, disposed of in 1881 after declaring she had died in 1862.

Glapion, Marie Philomène: (1836 – 1897) youngest daughter of Marie Laveau, she publicly denounced as association with Voodoo. Plaçée to Emile Alexandre Legendre, she is buried in the Laveau family tomb in St. Louis Cemetery #1.

Gris-Gris: from the African term "gree-gree" common in Senegal, meaning either the physical object, or the spoken incantation, to produce a magical effect using Voodoo. There are four basic types of gris-gris: 1) for love and sex, 2) for power and domination, 3) for luck and finance and 4) for uncrossing and healing.

Guinée: the African term for Africa. Also, a country in West Africa. The people of Haiti are sometimes referred to as "ti guinée."

Gumbo: a rich rice based stew with a heavy roux. The word gumbo is African and means okra.

Gumbo Ya-Ya: a major compellation of Louisiana folktales collected by the depression era Workers Progress Administration was published in 1945. It contains a chapter on, and many other references of Voodoo.

Hearn, Lafcadio Hearn: (1850-1904); an Anglo-Greek writer with a taste for the exotic, he worked in New Orleans from 1877 to 1888 as a newspaper reported for the Item and Times Democrat. Besides, "Gombo Zhèbes," an anthology of Creole phrases, in 1885 he published, "Last of The Voodoos, for Harpers Weekly. He wrote obituaries for both Marie Laveau and Jean (Dr. John) Montanée.

Hécaud, Eulalie: a Voodoo Queen and Godmother of jazz great Jelly Roll Morton. Her voodoo is both credited and blamed for his successes and tragedies.

Henry, Catherine Semard: (1754 - 1831); maternal grandmother of Marie Laveau, a Creole négresse. Slave of Henry Roche dit Belaire on the corner of St. Louis and Bourbon Streets. Sold to Francoise Pomet, a free woman of color, then purchased her own freedom in 1795. A marchande, in 1798 she purchased the property on St. Ann Street that would later be the site of the Laveau cottage.

House of the Seven Sisters of Algiers: located in old Algiers on Brooklyn at Slidell Streets, the point of contact meets Voodoo and Hoodoo, products and services, with tourist and locals alike.

Houmas: The largest tribe of Native Americans living in Louisiana. Currently in Terrebonne and Lafourche Parishes, their totem is the red crayfish.

Hurston, Zora Neale: early cultural anthropologist who wrote the 1931 article, "Hoodoo in America," and the book, "Mules and Men," about Voodoo in New Orleans and Haiti. Part of her early research was done in New Orleans where her primary source was a so called Rev. Turner who claimed to be a grandnephew of Marie Laveau.

Iko-Iko: nonsensical syllables abstracted from Mardi Gras Indian gangs into a popular tune recorded most notably by the Dixie Cups. "Joc-a-mo feeno, une-dun-daie" Ces’t le Congo. The phrase Iko Iko, may have be derived from a Senegambian language, from the word Ago, which translates as either "listen" or, "attention."

Jackson Square: the Vieux Carré park located between the St. Louis Cathedral and Decatur Street, and flanked on either side by the Pontalba Apartments. Originally called the Place d'Armes, the name was changed after the statue of Andrew Jackson was erected in the 1840s.

Jalousie: the louvered external shutter doors typical of old New Orleans structures.

Jambalaya: a Louisiana rice dish typically made with andouille, chicken, ham and spices.  

Jazz: an African wording meaning sex. A unique music style developed in New Orleans from the fusion of African Voodoo polyrhythms, call and response, improvisation and satire with late 19th century instruments and compositions. Emerging as a sound in Congo Square it developed into a popular style in the bordellos of Storyville.

Jazz Funeral: By tradition a coffin is escorted to the cemetery with a hearse and a band furnished by a Mutual Aid Society. En route to the cemetery the band plays a slow, mournful dirge. The same goes as the funeral party departs the tomb toward the gate of the cemetery. There, at the gate, the Voodoo spirit of the crossroads (of life and death) admonishes the party to now leave morning behind, and celebrate life. Upon traversing this intersection, the band immediately changes to a celebration for the returning procession.  

Juju: a type of gris-gris in which a portion of it is constructed with something which was once alive, like a piece of bone, or swatch of hair.

King Cake: (Gateau des Rois); named for King’s Day, Le Petit Noel, which is both the last day of the New Orleans Christmas season and first night of the Carnival season. Shaped like a large donut, a tiny plastic baby is hidden inside. The person who finds the baby is obliged to give the next King Cake party, and so forth, until Mardi Gras.Krewe: the Americanization of Mardi Gras wherein the revelry is organized into private social clubs that produce carnival balls and parades.

Lagniappe: a bonus, or little something extra, given at the point of sale. An old New Orleans custom.

Lake Pontchartrain: seventh largest lake in the United States, it forms the northern boundary of New Orleans. In the later 19th Century is was popular location for Voodoo ceremonies and reputed orgies at a location called the Masion Blanche. Other notable sites along the shore include Milneberg, Spanish Fort and West End.

Lakeside: a direction in New Orleans referring generally to the north toward Lake Pontchartrain. An address that is on the upper, or northern side of a street or intersection, will be referred to as being on the lakeside.

Lapin: character in Afro-French Louisiana folktales that typically appears as the classic West African trickster. Analogous to Brer Rabbit, but documented in Louisiana as Compère Lapin by Alcée Fortier well before Joel Chandler Harris’s work.

Latour, Malvina: café au lait successor to Marie Laveau whose brother was said to have been a member of the Louisiana Legislature during the Reconstruction era. Known for appearing in a blue calico dress with white dots and a brilliant orange tignon.

Latrobe, Benjamin Henry Boneval: (1764 – 1820); as the "Father of American Architecture," he rebuilt the U.S. Capitol after the War of 1812. Arriving in New Orleans in 1819 for a water works project, he recorded the dances and musical instruments he found in Congo Square in his journal and sketch book, "Impressions Respecting New Orleans." He died the next year in New Orleans of Yellow Fever.

Laveau, Charles: (1774 – 1835); free man of color, mulatto, fathered Marie Laveau with Marguerite D’Arcantel the year before he married Marie Francoise Fanchon Dupart, free woman of color. Son of Charles Laveau Trudeau, white, and Maria Laveau, free négresse. Speculated in slaves and real estate, operated a tavern and gave Marie Laveau the property on Rue d’Amour as a wedding gift.

Laveau, Maria: paternal grandmother of Marie Laveau and plaçée of Charles Laveau Trudeau. A free négresse, she resided on Dumaine Street where Charles Laveau was born and raised. Possibly born about 1750 in the Congo, Africa.

Laveau, Marie: (1801-1881) the famous 19th century New Orleans Queen of the Voodoos. Born in New Orleans, she was a femme de colour libre (free woman of color). She was married, then widowed to Jacques Paris, and subsequently lived from the mid 1820’s until 1855 with Christophe de Glapion in a plaçage arrangement. She had a known total of nine children, of whom, only two lived to be adults. She was a practicing and devout Catholic and was hailed as a "saint" by the newspapers after her death mainly due to her selfless and courageous work during the Yellow Fever epidemics. She is buried in St. Louis Cemetery #1.

Laveau II, Marie: the person typically believed to have succeeded Marie Laveau as Voodoo Queen and generally identified as her daughter, Marie Heloise Euchariste Glapion. Recent research, however, cast doubts on this identification and it is probable that a series of persons claimed to be Marie Laveau II from the 1880’s forward as a means of aggrandizement and promotion.

Les Cenelles: an anthology of poems written in French by Creole free men of color and published in New Orleans in 1845. Armand Lanusse was the editor.

Li Grand Zombi: the name given to the snake in Louisiana representing the original, and primary, Voodoo spirit, Legba. Sometimes called the Onn Congo. Usually a mud snake (nonpoisonous water snake with a dark brown skin with a reddish underbelly).

Louisiana: the 18th state of the United States, admitted to the Union in 1812. Purchase from France under Napoleon in 1803. Prior to that a Spanish colony (1762-1803) and a French possession (1682-1762).

Making Groceries: a juxtaposition in the translation from Creole to American meaning the same as to go to the grocery, or to shop at the grocery store.

Marchandes: 19th century New Orleans free women of color who for a fee, did the daily shopping and made groceries.

Mardi Gras: French for Fat Tuesday, representing the last day of indulgence before Ash Wednesday and the austerities of Lent. In New Orleans it is marked by revelry in the Vieux Carré and parades elsewhere. It is also the occasion for Voodoos, in the guise of processions, to appear as Skull and Bone gangs, Indian gangs and Babydolls.

Mardi Gras Indians: one of the contemporary evolutions of Voodoo manifest in the form of a procession, or egungun. A procession composed of Chiefs, Spy Boys, Flag Boys and a Wild Man, very much resemble the structures of African spiritual and/or fraternal society. After the Voodoo dances were effectively expelled from Congo Square in 1884-1885 the first of the Mardi Gras Indians appeared as the "Creole Wild West," apparently influenced by Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, which was in New Orleans at the same time. (Some later explanations stemming mostly from Uptown New Orleans and possibly influenced by the Black Hawk spiritualist presence, maintain the origins lie in a mutual empathy with Native Americans.) In addition to Mardi Gras, the gangs appear on St. Joseph’s Day (March 19th and/or the related Super Sunday), St. John’s Eve (June 23rd), at Jazz Funerals, and for pay at conventions and social events.

Masion Blanche: alleged sporting house along the shores of Lake Pontchartrain said to be associated with Marie Laveau in the 1880s. Possibly located west of Milneberg, before the London Avenue Canal and in a figurers, or orchard. Mostly referenced by fiction writers it was said to specialize in providing black women for white men.

Matre’d Armes: fencing masters who typically operated fencing salons in Exchange Alley in the Vieux Carré. Basile Crocker, brother to Pierre Crocker, plaçage mate to Marie Heloise Euchariste Glapion, was considered one of the most accomplished masters.

Merliton: a gourd like member of the squash family, it is boiled, seasoned and stuffed in Louisiana kitchens.

Miró, Estaban: Spanish Governor (1785 – 1791), issued in 1786, the Bando de Buen Gobierno, Articles 5 and 6, of which required free women of color not, "to wear feathers, nor curls in their hair, combing same flat or covering it with a tignon." Also, restricted public meetings and dancing among Negroes to the Place des Negres (Congo Square). Note; both Marie Laveau and Sanité Dédé wore colorful tignon tied with seven knots pointed upward.

Miscegenation: refers to interracial marriage, interracial sex, having children with a partner from outside one’s race and, more generally, to the process of racial admixture. One source suggests the word was coined in New York in 1863 in a political propaganda pamphlet entitled, "Miscegenation: The Theory of the Blending of the Races, Applied to the American White Man and Negro."

Montanée, Jean: also called Doctor John or Jean Bayou; an African native enslaved to Cuba where he purchased his freedom and became a ship’s cook. Settled in New Orleans, on Bayou Road, sometime before 1845. A fortune teller, healer and gris-gris doctor, he died in 1885 at age 70.

Mojo: a gris-gris object that brings power to the one who possesses it. A mojo hand brings power and luck. A mojo ball brings luck and/or male sexual prowess.

Mortuary Chapel: Catholic church built under the direction of Père Antoine next to St. Louis Cemetery #1 in 1828 to service Yellow Fever victims. Contains statue of St. Expedité and Shrine of St. Jude. Formally named Our Lady of Guadeloupe Parish. 411 North Rampart Street.

Nainaine: a godmother or aunt.

Neutral Ground: originally the meridian in Canal Street which during the early part of the 19th century was a no man’s land separating the downtown Creole New Orleans from the uptown American New Orleans. Today, all street meridians are referred to as neutral grounds.

Paris, Jacques: married Marie Laveau at the St. Louis Cathedral on August 4, 1819. Père Antoine preformed the wedding ceremony. A quadroon libre from Saint-Domingue he disappeared a few years later and thereafter Marie Laveau titled herself, the Widow Paris.

Parish: the political subdivision in Louisiana equal to counties in all other states.

Parterres: (or Layouts): arrangement of offerings, spread out on the ground, or a floor, on a white cloth with food, liquor, flowers, candles, coins and herbs. Often indoors in New Orleans with candles burning in the four corners of the rooms, the color signifying the purpose of the gathering.

Passé Blanc: passing for white. A Creole term to refer to persons of African descent who have intermarried with persons of European descent to the extent that they fully appear as, and pass for, white.

Père Antoine: a Spanish Capuchin, Fray Antonio de Sedella, became the chief prelate in the New Orleans Catholic Church for the first decades after the Louisiana Purchase. Always, at conflict the authority, he independently established many practices unique to New Orleans. Since most of the persons attending Mass in those times seem to have free women of color, Marie Laveau and Voodoo became among his familiars. Known for personal charity, society with black communities, and work in the Yellow Fever epidemics he became very popular. On September 16, 1801 he baptized Marie Laveau. In 1819 he preformed her marriage and subsequently baptized her children. His history of ecumenical liberalism and inclusiveness gives rise to the theory he and Marie Laveau began the acknowledged integration of Voodoo and Catholicism in New Orleans.

Picayune: a Louisiana Spanish colonial coin, being one half of a bit (2 bits equal a quarter), or 6¼ cents.

Pirogue: a shallow draft dug out canoe.

Place des Nègres: original name for Congo Square where slaves gathered on Sundays to dance the Calinda.

Plaçage: the formal mistress like system in New Orleans in which a white male, and female of color, formed a permanent intimate and personal relationship and household. From the French verb, placer, meaning to place. The female, once placed is called a plaçée, is promised support for her and children for life, and is given legal possession of the "appartement de joie" cottage. "Every Quadroon woman lived in hope that her partner would prove an exception, and remain loyal to her; and every white lady believed that her husband was an exception, who would take no mistress," Harriet Martineau, 1838, in Retrospectives of Western Travel. Plaçée: The woman in the plaçage system. Usually a free woman of color who is placed in a cottage to establish a long term relationship with a white male.

Porte-Cachére: the covered gateways that provided carriages access to courtyard. Typical in the Vieux Carre (French Quarter).

Praline: Louisiana bonbon made with pecans browned in sugar with cream. Named for French Marshal Cesar du Plessis Praslin.

Riverside: a direction in New Orleans referring generally to the south toward the Mississippi River. An address that is on the lower, or southern side of a street or intersection, will be referred to as being on the riverside.

Reverend James Novelty Shop: at 545 South Rampart until the 1970’s, this Hoodoo business sold everything from spotted rocks to candles and card sized pictures of Saints.

Root Work: an Anglo-African American term associate with conjure and analogous to gris-gris in Voodoo.

Rougarou: the lycanthropic swamp monster of south Louisiana. A fusion of werewolf, vampire, zombie and lost souls, this red eyed mythological creature emerges from the feu follet of the swamps to suck blood and steal souls. A product of witchdoctors or Voodoos, the beasts hold a dance at Bayou Goula every St. John’s Eve.

Roux: the base for gumbo made from flour and browned in oil.

Rue d’Amour: (Love Street) now called North Rampart Street is the portion below Esplanade Avenue populated by Creole cottages which were traditionally the "apartments de joir" associated with the plaçage system. Marie Laveau was given a property on Rue d’Amour by her father, Charles Laveau.

Sally: guardianne (nurse) slave to the Louis Moreau Gottschaulk who, in childhood, took him Congo Square, exposed him to Quadroon women and tignons and frequently sang to him in Creole. She is conjectured to have been the original inspiration for his epic composition, Bamboula. Saloppé, Marie: a resident of St. Phillip Street, said to have preceded Marie Laveau and to have been equally well known. After she died, people went to grave to ask for favors, often leaving coins in mound of dirt over her tomb with a candle on top.

St. Anthony: said to have been used as spirit by Marie Laveau. Statue in yard was worked by placing it upside down put upside in order to find lost articles and bring back lovers.

St. Expedité: the Voodoo spirit of life and death, also, one who gets things done in a hurry. Not a fully recognized Catholic Saint. Statue remains in Mortuary Chapel on North Rampart Street.

St. John’s Eve: the eve of the summer solstice, it appears to be a French custom fused into Voodoo. In the late 19th century Voodoo ceremonies on this day were common on Bayou St. John and the shores of Lake Pontchartrain. June 23rd.

St. Joseph’s Day: a routine dispensation from Lent is granted to celebrate the patron Saint of Sicilian Italians on March 19th. Voodoo related groups such as Indians, Skull and Bone and Babydolls use this occasion as the same opportunity as Mardi Gras day. Currently, the actual public processions will occur on the Sunday closest to March 19th, called "Super Sunday."

St. Louis Cemetery #1: on Basin Street, the oldest existing cemetery in New Orleans, dating to 1789. The iconic "city of the dead" and location of the tomb of Marie Laveau.

St. Maroon: a Voodoo spirit favored by Marie Laveau. Probably refers to Jean St. Malo, a maroon (runaway slave) leader who was executed in 1784. Denied burial, his body was left hanging to rot, however, his bones were subsequently collected, and treasured, as powerful gris-gris.Second Line: the impromptu group of people that follow a procession, or jazz funeral, and participate by dancing with umbrellas and handkerchiefs.

Seven Sisters of Algiers: a group of Black Women capitalizing on the legend of Marie Laveau’s seven daughters having removed from New Orleans to Algiers. During the 1920’s and 1930’s they operated a Hoodoo business geared toward visitors.

Seventh Ward: a political subdivision of New Orleans radiating outward in a wedge from Esplanade and Elysian Fields Avenues which represents the base of the Creole community.  

Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses: Under the concept of Moses as Magician, these books relating to the Kabbalah have been adopted into Voodoo. According to Anthropologist and Voodoo researcher Zora Neale Hurston, Moses was "the finest hoodoo man in the world."

Skull and Bone Gangs: dating back to 1819 and the appearance of an African merchant seaman, this Voodoo society appears every Mardi Gras before dawn. First, a gathering in Congo Square, them off into unlocked houses to terrify youngsters and remind them to live straight, or expect to be taken away, by the Voodoo graveyard’s emissaries.

Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs: a holdover from the Mutual Aid and Pleasure Societies that organized funerals, interments and entertainment. The Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club performs mainly as a Mardi Gras Krewe while smaller groups provide brass bands for jazz funerals.

Société de Cordon Bleu: the upper class community of free persons of color from whose ranks came the young women who attended the Quadroon Balls (correctly called the Bal de Cordon Bleu), and who subsequently became the plaçées of the plaçage system.

Spy-Boy: a member of a Mardi Gras Indian gang who runs a block, or so, in front of the main body to look for other potential encounters with other gangs. If spotted, he usually signals by whistling.

Statu Liber: an obligation in the sale of a slave, recognized by the buyer, that the slave is guaranteed and scheduled to be emancipated at a certain future date.

Storyville: an area of New Orleans (1898 – 1917) fronting on Basin Street, anywhere out of which, prostitution was illegal. Prominent within the red light district was Lulu White’s Mahogany Hall in which jazz was first played toan audience. 

Sweet, Fanny: a Dauphine Street Madame of the demimonde, she was said to have been known for substantial purchases of Voodoo paraphernalia. She was arrested in New Orleans in 1861 for mistreating slaves and conducting an orgy in the guise of a Voodoo dance. She kept a coffin and strange powers, love potions, or poisons, in her residence and was accused by using a combination of the two seduce and dispose of older men.

Tafia: a raw form of rum made indigenously from sugar came. Joseph Solís, whose sugar cane production for use in making tafia in St. Bernard Parish lead to granulated sugar production, is considered the father of the Louisiana sugar cane industry.

Tallant, Robert: (1909-1957) author of Voodoo in New Orleans, Voodoo Queen and contributor to Gumbo Ya-Ya. He relied on folklore interviews conducted by the Workers Progress Administration to compile what has become the signature book on Marie Laveau and Voodoo in New Orleans.

Tanté: literally aunt, but generally referring to the female guardian of the female demoiselles who attended and were courted at the Quadroon Balls.

Third District: when the city of New Orleans was separated in 1836 due to Creole and American antagonisms, the Third District, from Esplanade Avenue and downriver, became the heart of the Creole city.

Throws: favors, usually beads, thrown by float riders to spectators during the Carnival Season and Mardi Gras. From the typical call among parade goers, "Throw me something, Mister!"

Tignon: the large and sometimes elaborate headdress traditionally worn by free women of color in New Orleans. Originally mandated in 1786 by Governor Miró, it also forbade the women to appear in public wearing feathers, jewels, or silks in any form of headdress.

Traiteur: (or, treater); a faith, and/or herb healer. In Louisiana classically associated with Cajun and/or Sabine cultures. Also called a gris-gris woman.

Upriver: also called Uptown, a direction in New Orleans referring generally to the west, or in the counter flow of the Mississippi River. An address that is on the upper, or western side of a street or intersection, will be referred to as being on the upriver. This is also the area specifically west of Canal Street wherein the streets are for some reason labeled as South.

Vieux Carré: better known as the French Quarter it is the ancient city of New Orleans bounded by the Mississippi River, Esplanade Avenue, North Rampart Street and Canal Street.

Voodoo Charlie: Charles Massicot Gandolfo, founder of the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum. A New Orleans native, Creole and French Quarter resident his primary profession was as a fine and commercial artist. He was a lifelong advocate and supporter of liberal causes and human rights and equality. (He got the sobriquet, Voodoo Charlie, from an appearance on the Larry King Show.)

Voudou Maignan: a term, which appears to be an invocation of the Voodoo spirit in early New Orleans. Referenced in an 1875 article describing a recollection of a St. John’s Eve ceremony presided over by Sainté Dédé in 1822. Also used by George Washing Cable in Creole Slave Songs. Appears as Voudou Magnian as well. Original quote in full is, "Aie! Aie! Voudou Maignan."

Wanga: a hex, or curse of African origins. Also, called or spelled as ounga.

Whydah: city in Benin, Africa where the Temple of the Pythons marks the center of the origins of Voodoo.

Wild Man: an important member of a Mardi Gras Indian gang who is designated to confront opposing gangs. The Wild Man’s task is to compel the other gang to bow before his gang. The fixture of bulls horns, appended to his bonnet, marks the wild man’s identity.

Wishing Spot: a 19th century spot, associated with Marie Laveau, along Bayou St. John, on the lakeside at approximately the intersection of present day DeSaix Blvd., at which was a hollow tree trunk which acted in the same capacity as a wishing well.

Wishing Vault: tomb in Iberville Street wall vaults of St. Louis Cemetery #2, alleged to be that of Marie Laveau, while near the tomb of the widow of Marie Laveau’s half brother, Charles Laurent Laveau, named Marie Joseph Edward Laveau, (nearby in same wall), there is no record of who actually here.

Yanvalou: a procession, or African Voodoo dance.Ya-ya: an African word meaning rice. Gumbo ya-ya is a rice based gumbo. (Gumbo is an African word for okra.)

Yellow Fever: also called the "stranger’s disease," it is a high fever malaria like disease spread by mosquitoes. In the summer of 1853 as much one third the population of New Orleans got the disease.

Zombie: from the Congolese work "nbzambi" meaning great spirit. In New Orleans it refers to the snake used to represent the primary spirit in Voodoo, or to refer to someone who has bargained their soul with a Voodoo Queen. In Haiti it is the soul of a deceased person resurrected with corpse by means of sorcery.

Zydeco: exuberant dance music of southwest Louisiana's black Creoles. A hybrid of Afro-Caribbean rhythms and folk roots, blues, Cajun music and sung in French. Performed mainly with the accordion and the frottoir (rubboard or washboard). Originally call La-La music, zydeco literally means snap bean.

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