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New Orleans Voodoo Tarot Study Group - Marie Laveau (2)

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Little Baron  Little Baron is offline
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New Orleans Voodoo Tarot Study Group - Marie Laveau (2)


As part of my 78 week study, I am looking at the New Orleans Voodoo Tarot. I just can't pass up the opportunity, I am affraid.

I have reached The High Priestess, Marie Laveau.

Internet searches bring up many conflicting opinions about her and I really need a few basics that can be agreed on. Alissa gave some information in another thread and a book recommendation, which I will get in time. But for now, I was hoping that anyone with some understanding of either her life or the card in the New Orleans Voodoo Tarot, might be able to chip in with some concrete biographical facts.

LB
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I don't have the deck (yet!) but I'd be happy to add any info on Marie that I can - the internet info on her is very misleading, and often just plain wrong.

Marie Laveau (the first) was born at the turn of the 19th century and served as a humanitarian nurse for New Orleans. The people of the city came to Marie to petition her for assistance in their lives - be that voodoo help (buying charms, grisgris, etc.) or by her connections to notable figures in New Orleans at the time. Her snake dances in the Congo Square are legendary, and Marie was both a recognized Voodoo priestess, as well as a baptised member in high standing at her Catholic church. As such, she uniquely straddled both the worlds of her two faiths.
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Thanks Alissa. I was hoping you would start us off here.

It is difficult when you know so little, to know what might be right and what might be wrong, but from your other posts and zipping around the net, I can now start to put the pieces together properly -for example, what you told us about the mis-leading 15 children. Thanks.

I would very much like to read your magazine article. I was going to pm you about that. Is it online? Do you have a link?

I was going to ask as well - even though you do not have the deck, is there any ways in which you feel Marie fits in with the traditional characteristics and symbolism of the High Priestess?

LB
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Marie Manifesto


Quote:
Originally Posted by LittleBuddha
It is difficult when you know so little, to know what might be right and what might be wrong, but from your other posts and zipping around the net, I can now start to put the pieces together properly -for example, what you told us about the mis-leading 15 children. Thanks.
Robert Tallant was a hack journalist in the middle of the last century, his work on Marie Laveau has started many falsehoods as well as bold-faced lies about Marie. I blame him for most of the misinformation we see on Marie today. This, coupled with Marie's children's (mostly Philomene) propensity to hide their parents' identities by spreading more falsehoods means that information on Marie Laveau is tricky.
Quote:
I would very much like to read your magazine article. I was going to pm you about that. Is it online? Do you have a link?
Thank you!!

I worked heavily from Martha Ward's book on Marie Laveau, Voodoo Queen which I recommend for folks who want to read at length about Marie, and about voodoo.

Quote:
I was going to ask as well - even though you do not have the deck, is there any ways in which you feel Marie fits in with the traditional characteristics and symbolism of the High Priestess?

LB
Marie certainly was known as a Voodoo priestess, so immediately, the moniker "priestess" would seem very appropo. Marie spent her life doing the work of "Big John" or "High John the Conquerer" - this is considered a mystical spirit man, as recorded by Zora Neale Huston (who wrote and researched Laveau as well, and whose works are far more reliable than Tallant's).

It would be easier to cut and paste an article quote....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alissa

Marie’s reputation as a Voodoo priestess has its own air of mystery. Researchers often point to a man variously known as Doctor John, or John Bayou, as the instructor of Marie’s Voodoo powers, however, others recall her lifelong connection to Pere Antoine, a local Catholic priest known to assist and accompany Marie when tending the locally infirm. So, who exactly was this “John” who gave Marie her powers?

Zora Neale Hurston, who extensively researched and wrote on Voodoo as well as on Marie Laveau’s life, tells of “Big John,” or High John the Conqueror, a supernatural man who could magically intercede with the spiritual plane to make miracles manifest in the material realm. Big John’s stories are sprinkled throughout the South, a mystical man and conjurer from Africa, whose work wouldn’t be done until emancipation came to his people, Hurston records.

Marie the Second commonly used the name “John” as her spiritual intermediary in her Voodoo incantations that others witnessed, but was John a symbol, or a spirit? Perhaps the source of Marie’s Voodoo training matters less upon inspection – what remains indisputable is her reputation of great power in assisting the common folk with Big John’s work.
The ability to assist those in need was what Marie was quite well known for, and at times she was rewarded generously for her efforts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alissa

If the truth about Marie eludes us, her legends certainly do not; the story of Marie’s ownership of the St. Ann’s house is still one of her most-repeated, and most-embellished upon, tales. It begins when a wealthy white man’s son was arrested and the distraught father turned to the Voodoo priestess for help, begging her to secure his son’s freedom. Despite the compelling evidence against the accused, Marie promised the father she would help.

At dawn, Marie walked to the end of her block to visit the St. Louis Cathedral… some say for three days, or seven, or even nine. Kneeling in prayer, she placed three hot peppers in her mouth, holding them for hours, offering her pain has a token of her devotion and her prayers’ sincerity. The peppers she left beneath the judge’s chair, in the government offices conveniently located next door to the cathedral.

When the judge later dismissed the case, Marie was awarded with the St. Ann’s property as payment for her services. Few can agree on exactly what took place to secure this young man’s freedom – was it Marie’s Voodoo at work, or was it, as some have guessed, the fact that she had privileged information from the police, as well as personal contact with the judge himself? Regardless, the young man walked away free, and Marie moved from Love Street into her new home on St. Ann’s in the fall of 1832, where she lived until her dying day. After the move, the Love Street property from her father Marie immediately deeded to her first-born, Marie the Second, who was then only five years old.
This is one of the most well-known stories about Marie and her ability to help others. It is told time and again, with variations on the tale, as all good folk tales are spread.

Lastly, Marie's tomb, aka "The Wishing Tomb," remains a place of pilgrimage or Voodoo's followers, as well as a destination for others seeking Marie's help.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alissa

The Laveau tomb goes by another name when the tour guides shepherd the curious here; called “The Wishing Tomb,” for years it has been scarred with numerous X’s that others inscribe upon its sepulchral walls. The practice of defiling Marie’s gravesite comes from the belief that to do so is to call on Marie herself, summoning her spirit into attendance so one may petition the Voodoo priestess of a favor. Regardless, whether the X’s are made with chalk or charcoal, it is a practice that is sternly frowned upon by city locals, although it may be the strength of Marie’s legend that perpetuates the unwanted behavior.

And, why an X, or as often seen, three X’s in a row? The symbol of the X, long an ancient African symbol denoting the crossroads between the worlds of the living and the dead, was also the same mark Marie Laveau used on legal documents as her personal signature. The power of Voodoo is potently understood by examining its use of esoteric symbols – anything belonging to a person retains their essence.

Here, to inscribe the X is to symbolically call out Marie’s name in a way she is sure to recognize, and doing so at the crossroads of mortality, where she is sure to receive the message. Three X’s might better insure a spirit hears the petitioner; there are Voodoo rituals that incorporate the number three, or repeat actions and words three times, in order to invoke and imbue the most power during an incantation.
So, to answer your question... how would Marie Laveau represent the archetypal Tarot High Priestess?

Marie was a female figure of benign wisdom and great supernatural power.

Marie was a personage known to use her powers to help others but only those who came to her, those who actively sought her assistance.

Marie is believed to have the ability to spiritually intercede for others - she is seen as a figure who holds the folk and spiritual wisdom of her people. If you consider the High Priestess' scroll (words, secrets of life, the Great Mysteries) and compare it to Marie's incantations (spiritual words of power), this connection may seem clearer.

Hope these ideas help! I do so love Marie, and love to talk of her....

Good luck and if I pick up a NOVT I'll be sure to jump in!!!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alissa
Hope these ideas help! I do so love Marie, and love to talk of her....

Good luck and if I pick up a NOVT I'll be sure to jump in!!!
Oh they do, Alissa. Thank you ever so much for taking the time to post that. You have a lovely written style which is a pleasure to read, as well as it being a very informative post.

And it would be great if you picked up the deck. Have you seen all of the cards already?

There were a few others using the deck as well but I have heard little from them in a while. But I have picked up a few other sparks of interest. I just finished a post on Guedeh La Falmbeau. I feel that I understand the card but it was one that I was a little uncomfortable with.

Will now go and check out your Dark Realms link.

Thanks so much. You are a star!!!

LB
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Blush! Thank you!! Your compliments mean a lot and are greatly appreciated~! I haven't seen all the NOVT cards, and at this point, I'm seriously thinking I need to. But I'm holding out on any Tarot purchases until the big convention gets here at the end of next month... I'll be checking these threads out in the meantime though! What I learned while researching Marie was enough to get me curious on Voodoo. It is a potent form of worship, I think... and not one that I would enter lightly, but am intrigued by and would like to know more of.
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I wanted to add...

Marie was a person who was associated with the crossroads... between the living and the dead, the known and unknown, between this realm and the Other. While crossroads themselves may bring up associations of the Fool card, consider the High Priestess and the veil she rests before... the veil between the realms, as many have called it. She exists in the space between that which is known and unknown.

Her snake dances in Congo square involved possession... the ultimate spiritual act which might bespeak a person's willingness to venture into unknown realms, to the edges of the mind.

In life, Marie used her words and deeds to become this figure of power to her people; in death, Marie becomes the ultimate embodiment of the High Priestess for others to call upon in their own time of need. As the holder of great spiritual knowledge, she is believed to have the power to make miracles occur.
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Hello again,

You can see all of the cards here - http://******************.com/photos/album/165

It's a funny deck in that I both loved it and hated it, all in one. There is something about the artwork that really creeps me out, but totally absorbs me and invites me in. I can't put a finger on what it is. I looked at the deck on line for about a year. And then I fingered through it in person in a shop in London. Every time I got near to buying it, I put it back. And then I would go home and consider it again on line.

Now I have it, I get the occasonal shiver from it, but I am ok, most of the time. The artwork speaks to me, even though there are a small handful of cards that I feel the artist could have executed better.

At the moment, I am doing a 78 week study in my blog (you are more than welcome to read - http://78weeks.blogspot.com/ ). I was using other decks, but after a while, my study felt a bit flat. Emily suggesed using a deck that you do not know for 78 weeks study, and I couldn't think of a better one than this. Even though it is difficult, the last few days have been interesting - hunting for information and things coming together and making sense. I also quite like that the meanings are different to tradition. I felt that I had kind of worn out Waite's take and this gives a fresh new slant. The deck takes a bit of time to aquaint yourself with, but it is starting to click a bit now. Anyone who thinks it may be complicated, I suppose it is, but it is not impossible when you get used to the characters. It's like 78 court cards, in a way.

Would love to see more of you in this study group - hint, hint

LB
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alissa
I wanted to add...

Marie was a person who was associated with the crossroads... between the living and the dead, the known and unknown, between this realm and the Other. While crossroads themselves may bring up associations of the Fool card, consider the High Priestess and the veil she rests before... the veil between the realms, as many have called it. She exists in the space between that which is known and unknown.

Her snake dances in Congo square involved possession... the ultimate spiritual act which might bespeak a person's willingness to venture into unknown realms, to the edges of the mind.

In life, Marie used her words and deeds to become this figure of power to her people; in death, Marie becomes the ultimate embodiment of the High Priestess for others to call upon in their own time of need. As the holder of great spiritual knowledge, she is believed to have the power to make miracles occur.
This is very interesting. I find the curtain in the second trump (Marie) to be more of a 'line' or 'crossroads' than the traditional High Priestess's' veil. The darkness behind Marie is a room you either choose to move into or you decline her invitation. It's depths seem limitless, since there is no view of how big or small it is, what waits on the otherside etc. As a passive HP, in death, I can see how people approaching her tomb and summoning her spirit may reflect the card.

LB
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Marie Laveau, infamous vodun priestess, stands before a curtain of cowrie shells. She is dressed in white. She draws back the curtain a bit to reveal some of the darkness behind it. Her gaze is direct, her expression serene. The open door behind her and that surrounds the curtain is deep green. A light glows over the doorway where the curtain hangs.

Marie Laveau’s belt resembles a snake, though it is bluish-gray. (snake: rebirth, wisdom, transformation  the knowledge behind the curtain will change you). Marie Laveau also frequently worked with snakes during her ceremonies.

Light=illumination, knowledge
Curtain: invitation to the unknown, that which is not revealed. By invitation only: if you can handle the unknown, then you may pass through the curtain but it is your choice to accept the invitation.

Green door: growth via entrance to portal
Cowrie shells: once currency in Africa
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