Well why not? Learning about Voodoo is fun and, like all religions, it’s a pretty important part of understanding how and why the world is the way it is. I’m not going to start teaching the kids how to perform rituals, but Voodoo is a fascinating subject that for us, was part of what we were learning about slavery.
I believe that kids should have some understanding of all religions, they’re key to understanding countries, wars, cultural differences and similarities and more important yet, if the kids learn the facts, they’re much less likely to be influenced by propaganda and prejudice. If more children and adults understood world religions I think we’d be looking at a more tolerant society.
How We Started Learning About Voodoo
We started exploring Voodoo with a library book, one of a series of books for kids called Horror Scapes, a chance find one wet day. Voodoo in New Orleans came home with us along with a couple of others in the series, all were good. The book had lots of background on New Orleans, her history and the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina along with the basics of Voodoo, what it is, where it came from and the story of Marie Laveau the Voodoo Queen of N’Orleans.
We’re pretty exceptional, if we want to find out about something we can often do it at source. So we did, we went to New Orleans to see what we could find. It would be great to have a magic carpet and be able to check out everything that takes our fancy, we cant, but this time we got lucky. New Orleans was possible on our USA road trip, so we drove the extra day or so to get there.
A Bit About Voodoo and Marie Laveau
The makings of Voodoo came from West Africa with the folk knowledge and ancestor worship of the tragically enslaved people. In Louisiana the African ways got blended with Catholicism and French, Creole and Spanish traditions to make New Orleans Voodoo distinctly different from Haitian Voodoo ( Vodou). It’s in Louisiana that you’ll find gris-gris, Voodoo dolls, Li Grande Zombie and the Voodoo Queens.
Voodoo Queens like Marie Laveau presided over the rituals and ceremonies and traded in amulets, potions and charms used in healing, wish-granting and to defeat of enemies.
Marie died in 1881 but thousands still visit her tomb to ask for favours. The best way to approach her is to knock three times, in the same way people did when she was alive.
Real Voodoo in New Orleans is a private affair involving service of others and influencing outcomes of events using the natural world, ancestors and spirits. Voodoo as a tourist attraction is big business, you’ll find plenty of shops selling the paraphernalia.
You can take a Voodoo tour, we hoped to go along with Bloody Mary one day but we ran out of time. Maybe we’ll be back, New Orleans is an amazing place for so many reasons.
Instead, we took ourselves off to tour the Cities of the Dead, raised cemeteries to combat the high water level near the Mississippi, and found Marie’s resting place for ourselves. We were far from alone, but it was a highly atmospheric experience, even in broad daylight.
Here are some books on this topic so you can learn more and explain to your kids. They might just be very fun reads or gifts too!
- Haunted New Orleans. History and Hauntings of the Crescent City.
- Voodoo Queen The Spirited Lives of Marie Laveau
- Fear Dat New Orleans. A Guide to The Voodoo, Vampires,Graveyards, and Ghosts of the Crescent City.
I’d be really interested on feedback on this. What do you think about teaching the kids about Voodoo? It’s not a very widely covered topic and certainly isn’t on the curriculum, but I’m not known for following the rules. Leave me a comment if you would!