There are two types of Voodoo in New Orleans: There's the Voodoo Experience, a spirited three-day ritual in City Park featuring a gumbo of musical acts; and there's Voodoo, the spiritual gumbo of Catholicism and African and Haitian religious ritual. Only one of these Voodoos can put a curse on your cheating ex. Despite the endless supply of tchotchkes you'll find around the French Market flea market, New Orleans Voodoo isn't all cheap voodoo dolls and hocus pocus. The city has a fascinating, colorful, and sometimes dark history, including the tale of New Orleans' most famous Voodoo practitioner, Marie Laveau, and Congo Square in Louis Armstrong Park, a New Orleans Voodoo landmark. If you're new to the concept of Voodoo, check out these key words and rituals. Voodoo – The spiritual component. Voodoo came to America from the Benin region of Africa. The original pure practice of voodoo revolved around asking smaller gods for assistance, similar to the Catholic system of saints. Hoodoo – The practical, magical component. It is also what is normally known as New Orleans Voodoo. Loa – the messengers of the voodoo world. The loa take messages from you to the spirits. They don't promise delivery by the end of business the next day, however. (The terms loa, lwa and orisha are interchangeable.) Gris-gris – A charm used to ward off spirits, both good and bad. Similar to a Native American medicine bag, they contain anything from bits of bone and dust to salt and pepper. Mojo – Like a gris-gris bag, mojo is a good-luck charm that is generally worn to protect someone from evil energies. Fetish – This has nothing to do with feet or any other body part. A Voodoo fetish is a representation of something (a deity or spirit for example) that you carry with you in a mojo or gris-gris. Many New Orleanians, whether they practice voodoo or not, believe in these superstitions. * Laying a broom across your doorway at night will ensure a witch can't come in and hurt you. * A woman visiting you first thing Monday morning will give you bad luck for the rest of the week. * It's bad luck to borrow or lend salt. * If a voodoo practitioner gets hold of your old clothes, they can drive you crazy. * Many Voodoo superstitions deal with how to hold onto or get rid of a suitor or loved one. If you want your man to marry you, take a chicken wing bone after you eat the wing and drop it in his pocket. * It's said that if a man carries a gun all the time, he will soon kill someone because a gun can hoodoo or curse him. You can read all about the people and places in New Orleans Voodoo, but the most riveting Voodoo stories are best experienced firsthand. Explore famous New Orleans Voodoo landmarks and more on a French Quarter Voodoo Tour. Coming to New Orleans for Halloween, or just feel like getting spooked? Book a room in one of New Orleans' haunted hotels on NewOrleans.com.
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