The legend of Marie Laveau runs deep through the veins of New Orleans. The Voodoo priestess was believed to have been born free in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana, about 1794, the daughter of a white planter and a free Creole woman of color. During the mid 19th century the city pulsed with crowds, commerce and an undercurrent of secret power. The source of this power was the Voodoo religion and its queen, Marie Laveau. She was worshiped and feared by people of all races. Some scholars, however, believe that her powers were actually based on a network of informants. As a hairdresser, when she visited her clients (mostly white) she listened closely to their gossip. Some scholars assert that she ran her own brothel and cultivated information in that way as well. It is presumed that she used this inside information to influence and instill fear in her believers. Whether or not the legends of her abilities as a Voodoo priestess are true, it cannot be denied that she has left her mark on this town. She was buried in Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1 in New Orleans in 1881. To this day her tomb continues to attract visitors who unlawfully desecrate it by marking three “x”s (XXX) on its side, in the hopes that Laveau’s spirit will grant them a wish.
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