Archive for 28 May 2017

Episode 89: Marie Laveau

Posted 28 May 2017 by
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Poor Marie Laveau! She’s often remembered as either a sinner or a saint… and not too often as a multi-nuanced, very real woman who who held power at a time and place when powerful women were rare.

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Marie never sat for a portrait, but maybe she was a gorgeous as depicted in this one by Frank Schneider (1920 based on George Catlin that’s presumed destroyed) wikicommons

Marie’s story is a tangled web of myth, truth and half-truths with a whole lotta holes. She was illiterate so any record of her comes through legal documents, a few secondary sources and, well, that’s about it. Fun! (If your idea of “fun” is trying to detangle her tale.) Even her birthday comes with a disclaimer and was only (historically speaking) discovered recently. More fun! So what do we know for sure?

Marie was born around the beginning of the 1800s in New Orleans, Louisiana to a free woman of color, Marguerite D’Arcantel. The “father” line was blank but it’s presumed to be Charles Laveaux. (You caught that “x” didn’t you? Charles used it, Marie is usually referred to without it. See? What a tangled web.)

This is NOT the house that Marie lived in on St. Ann's Street--it's gone-- but a random, lovely cottage in the French Quarter

This is NOT the house that Marie lived in on St. Ann’s Street–it’s gone– but a random, lovely cottage all fancied up, in the French Quarter

Marie lived in New Orleans her entire life, married as a teenager to Jacques Paris who disappeared from the narrative within just a few years. She entered a common law relationship with *deep breath* Louis-Christophe Dominic Dumesnil de Glapion and had between 5 and 15 children. She worked as a hairdresser, was a practicing Catholic and also a practicing Voodoo Queen.

Marie's home church...right?! St. Louis Cathedral

Marie’s home church…right?! St. Louis Cathedral

She had a very philanthropic heart, was deeply tied to her community, led many public and private Voodoo services, made a nice living selling gris-gris and used her spiritual gifts to help people of all colors and social levels.

Gris-Gris, Charles Gadolfo (art just classes up the joint, doesn't it?)

Gris-Gris, Charles Gadolfo (art just classes up the joint, doesn’t it?) wikicommons

She died on June 15,1881. Although, quite mysteriously, it seemed as if she didn’t. Marie II (more than likely her daughter but not enough evidence to claim it as truth) took over Marie, Senior’s gig–rituals, clients and all, only the heart of Marie 2.0 wasn’t the same and the activities became a bit more…let’s go with “naughty.”

Wow, Chicks, that doesn’t look like enough solid intel for a full show.

We talk about cool stuff like the possible cultural appropriation of Marie's style (forced on her) with Dolley Madison's (a choice.)

We talk about cool stuff like the possible cultural appropriation of Marie’s style (forced on her) with Dolley Madison’s (a choice.) We also talk about how much we love Dolley.

Hahaha…have you not met us? We compare the myths and legends of not only Marie but Voodoo in general; we talk about life of women of color at that ever-changing (and not for the better) time in US history, and the unusual history of New Orleans (and gush, Susan knows what it means to miss New Orleans.)

Marie’s legend grew fast and hard after her death and the voodoo religion was turned into a tourist attracting industry. You guys! New Orleans has a lot of beauty and history (and not all of that is beautiful)–you should visit Marie’s tomb, but that’s just a short jaunt in a city FULL of long jaunts.

Marie's tomb and why we can't have nice things. Keep your grimy hands off of it!

Marie’s tomb and why we can’t have nice things. Keep your grimy hands off of it!

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Time Travel with The History Chicks

If you aren’t with Susan on Anti-Website Music, maybe giving this ditty a play while you scroll around might be fun. Maybe.

 

Books!

Carolyn Long, this is the favorite of both of us

Carolyn Long, this is the favorite of both of us

And we both liked this one a great deal, Ina Fandrich (the woman who discovered the baptismal certificate)

And we both liked this one a great deal, Ina Fandrich (the woman who discovered the baptismal certificate)

Martha Ward

Martha Ward

The book Beckett recommended to learn more about the differences and histories.

The book Beckett recommended to learn more about the differences and histories.

The "recipe" book we quoted at the beginning of the show.

The “recipe” book we quoted at the beginning of the show, The life and works of Marie Laveau by Raul Canizares

FIction-- Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett- part of the Discworld Series. Also proof that Susan has begun it, and the Android Rosemary font that she prefers and makes Beckett's eye twitch.

Fiction– Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett- part of the Discworld Series. Also proof that Susan has begun it, and the Android Rosemary font that she prefers and makes Beckett’s eye twitch.

Travel!

We aren’t travel guides, but there is so much more to do in New Orleans than focus on the touristy voodoo, but you’ll probably want to do some type of tour since you now a bit about Marie and her times.

Highly recommended cemetery and French Quarter walking tours (and the name! Right?) Two Chicks Tours (recommended guides, Grey Sweeney Perkins or George “Loki” Williams specifically but all are good) and also the tour group, Friends of the Cabildo.

This place is stunning and really a terrific way to learn more about the city–Lousiana State Museum and Inside The Cabildo

 

 

Web!

For some more information about early 19th century medicine, check  out the Melnick Medical Museum

You may want to turn off your speakers, but there is a plethora of intel on here: French Creoles dot com

This is a good write up about how Ina Fandrich discovered what is now accepted as the birthdate of Marie. It will also give you a bit of insight into exactly how much work goes into the biographies that we devour in no time! How birth certificate was discovered

We didn’t talk about this but you might find some really great information about preservation and architecture of New Orleans at Preserving New Orleans.

Movies!

Only two that are even remotely related that we would suggest, although you might keep your eye out for the 2017 release (still being filmed as we post) called, Laveau. You can follow the production on the IMDB page.

With Bette Davis set during Marie's era

With Bette Davis set during Marie’s era

"Nope. Nope. Nope, nope nope." Susan

“Nope. Nope. Nope, nope nope.” Susan

 

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