The Conjure Traditions of Marie Laveau's Voudou

In Louisiana, Voudou is almost always associated with Marie Laveau. She is the Voudou Queen of New Orleans, quite literally. She took the traditions of her ancestors—along with her mother’s and her grandmother’s flair for entrepreneurship—and found a way to harmoniously blend the Catholic religion imposed upon her with her indigenous Creole practices. And she made a little money in the process! She triumphantly traversed both Catholic and Voudou worlds and was accepted, for the most part, by the society in which she lived.
 Marie Laveau’s successful combination of Catholic elements, African religions, and Creole culture survived over one hundred and fifty years and is carried on and emulated to this day by devotees and practitioners alike. Thus, her style of Voudou has proven persistent and worthy of acknowledgment as a definitive, emergent Creole tradition. But because there are so many different expressions of New Orleans Voudou, and because not everyone embraces her or Catholicism in their practice, I call Marie Laveau’s brand of New Orleans Voudou Laveau Voudou to differentiate it from other forms of Creole Voudou in Louisiana.

Most indigenous religions contain a magical or medicinal aspect that is intrinsic to that tradition. In New Orleans Voudou, the magical tradition is what is referred to as Hoodoo (also referred to as conjure and rootwork) and gris gris. At some point in the early 1900s - likely spurred by both the onset of a viable commercial Hoodoo sector as well as practitioners going underground to avoid harassment and prosecution by the police - Hoodoo was separated from Voudou and was reduced to a stand-alone ethnobotanical folk magic tradition that spread throughout the country. A person could practice Hoodoo, conjure and rootwork and not work with the saints or spirits if they didn’t want to. It was not necessary for conjure workers to be Voudouists; in fact, many conjure workers today are Christians and divorce themselves completely from Voudou. Interestingly, gris gris did not suffer the same fate as Hoodoo and has remained an integral part of New Orleans Voudou since Marie Laveau’s time. 

Years ago, I began to study the available literature for magickal activities related to Marie Laveau to see if they matched up with present-day practices. In doing so, I observed a pattern of specific types of conjure workings emerge, so I placed them into categories. Though not exhaustive, I concluded the following twelve categories of conjure can be found in the Laveau Voudou magicospiritual lineage over time:
 1. Bottle spells and container spells
 2. Candle magick
 3. Catholic conjure
 4. Coffin conjure
 5. Death conjure
 6. Fetishism: doll baby conjure and ju ju
 7. Front porch conjure
 8. Graveyard work
 9. Gris gris
 10. Magick lamps
 11. Supplications
 12. Water rituals
 In this course, we explore each of these traditions and students learn practical workings for many of them. 

Course curriculum

All lessons may not be visible.

    1. Welcome to Class!

    2. Copyright Agreement

    3. How to use this course

    4. Questions?

    5. Before we begin...

    1. Chapter 1 Goals: Introduction and Background

    2. A Queen is Born

    3. Marie Laveau's Family Tree

    4. Fighting the Good Fight: Laveau's Prison Ministry

    5. Devout Catholic and Vodusi

    6. Laveau Voudou: A New Religion

    7. Elmore Lee Banks was Bitch Slapped by the Voodoo Queen

    8. Marie Laveau about to meet Elmore Lee Banks

    9. Marie Laveau Biographical Timeline

    10. Knowledge is Power

    1. Chapter 2 Goals: Prepare to Conjure Laveau-Style

    2. Attributes

    3. Categories of Conjure

    4. Tools of the Trade

    5. Paying Homage to the Voudou Queen

    6. Test your learning: Prepare to Conjure

    1. Chapter 3 Goals: Bottle Spells and Container Spells

    2. Bottle Spells and Container Spells

    3. Public Service Announcement: Watch what you put in those jars!

    4. Drain the Swamp Jar Spell

    5. Bottle Trees: An Ancestral Tradition

    6. Test your learning: Bottle Spells and Container Spells

    1. Chapter 4 Goals: Candle Magick

    2. Candle Magick

    3. Candle Color Correspondences in New Orleans Voudou

    1. Chapter 5 Goals: Catholic Conjure

    2. Catholic Conjure

About this course

  • $225.00
  • Community Forum
  • Certificate of Completion
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Denise Alvarado


Denise Alvarado was born and raised in the unique culture of New Orleans, Louisiana and has studied indigenous healing traditions from a personal and academic perspective for over four decades. Denise is a member of the American Anthropological Association, the Association of Indigenous Anthropologists, and the Association of Latina/o & Latinx Anthropologists. She is the author of Witch Queens, Voodoo Spirits and Hoodoo Saints, The Magic of Marie Laveau, The Conjurer's Guide to St. Expedite, Editor in Chief of Hoodoo & Conjure magazine, Journal of American Rootwork and Gumbo Ya Ya, and over twenty books that focus on folk magic traditions of the American South. Her provocative artwork has been featured on several television shows including National Geographic's Taboo, The Originals, and Blue Bloods. Denise is a rootworker and tradition-keeper, a spiritual artist, and a teacher of Southern indigenous folkways.