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Hoodoo & Healing: Marie Laveau's Traditions for a Magickal Home Revealed


Imagine a magickal home conjured through the historical corridors of Creole New Orleans. Denise Alvarado navigates the vibrant essence of Marie Laveau's Voudou traditions, unveiling the secrets of healing herbs and ancient rituals that transcend time.

Book cover with coiled, blue snake and red poppies.
The new book by Denise Alvarado combines a practical domestic receipt book and a magickal grimoire in one concise, functional tome.

If you were a healer searching for herbs, red brick dust, and other mate­ria magica of the healing arts in New Orleans in the 1800s, you would likely find yourself frequenting the busy rush of the old French Market. A strange, novel, cosmopolitan place, it was unlike anything else on the Amer­ican continent. The odor of wild herbs and woodland leaves permeated the air. Choctaw women, the original inhabitants of the land upon which New Orleans now stands, sat cross-legged on the ground with their babies swad­dled in cradleboards. Next to them were baskets woven from river cane in diamond patterns signifying a traditional reverence for the diamondback rat­tlesnake. Peering into these ancestrally coded baskets, one could see herbs used for cooking, medicine, and magick. From these women, bundles of bay laurel and manglier could be purchased to concoct aromatic teas for the infirm, as could sassafras leaves, which, when pounded with a mortar and pestle, was transformed into gumbo filé, used by the Creoles to make the now famous New Orleans dish, gumbo.

If you are a conjure worker or witch seeking magickal supplies today, you will find yourself bombarded with all sorts of covetable occult parapher­nalia online. That said, I have yet to meet a conjure worker or witch who regrets having to procure all the herbs, curios, and pretties necessary for their spellcraft. All of these things create the ambiance, atmosphere, and energies we love and crave. But, of course, there is more to magick than fancy ritual accoutrements. A thorough study and knowledge of the sympathetic charac­teristics of magick and ritual are required. As part of our traditional knowledge base, the practitioner must be familiar with the Doctrine of Signatures and herbs’ magickal and medicinal attributes and their substitutions. The indigenous elements and tools used in rituals are part of the tradition, and effective practitioners will have full command of the sympathies of their paraphernalia. In the Laveau Voudou tradition, workers will have candles, dolls, jars, healing herbs, and more within reach. If you are working within a strict budget, the only tools you really need are yourself, a white candle, a glass of water, and the ability to focus your intention and utter words of power.

In the Marie Laveau Voodoo Grimoire, I share the essential tools of the trade to be an effective conjure worker in the Laveau Voudou tradition. But that's just the beginning. To discover the mysteries of Marie Laveau's long and fruitful life, I document authentic Cre­ole formulas, herbal remedies, and recipes commonly used during Marie Laveau's life­time. I also considered the practices attributed to Marie Laveau that are passed down through oral tradition. In this way, the Hoodoo, food, and domestic Goddess activities in the book come directly from her point in history. And the conjures contained in the book cover the issues for which people were known to have sought her advice - love, managing a happy home, spiritual protection, and defense - issues that remain relevant even today.

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