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Gris-gris and Juju, A Voodoo Mardi Gras Moment

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Koko Taylor "Voodoo Woman"

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For many people, when they think of the word voodoo, New Orleans comes to mind. And it should, things like gris-gris, mojo and voodoo dolls  entered the American lexicon through the Crescent City. And they did at about the same time the Creoles first arrived in Louisiana in the 1700’s, forever changing New Orleans and her customs.

Voodoo, like the Creole in Louisiana is neither white nor black, neither pagan nor Christian, neither magic nor religion, but a mixture of all of these aspects. Voodoo came to NO on boats filled with Haitian exiles fleeing Haiti after Toussaint l’Overture led the revolt there making Haiti the first modern, free state governed by Africans. These Haitians brought voodoo with them and as they found a home in NO so did voodoo practice.

Many people in New Orleans consider themselves neither white nor black, but Creole. And while real voodoo practice is hard to find, many in New Orleans believe in some of its stories, spells and superstitions, known as hoodoo. As Creole culture is a part of NO culture, the same is true of voodoo; and it lives on in the songs. Like the one I played today, Koko Taylor’s “Voodoo Woman.”