Thursday, May 22, 2014

Head first into the Rabbit Hole!

Oh goodness.... Yeap, as I am wont to do, a new rabbit hole formed and in the shape of New Orleans, Louisiana folklore and curses.  (For those of you just cringed over the curse part, no no no this is not me looking to learn how to do them in so much as I'm a knowledge whore.  And this was a very deep and fascinating rabbit hole.)

New Orleans is known for a lot of things.  That parade that gets beads and candy thrown at people (and in some cases you end up finding out just how nice your boobs because of much loot you end up with.  Not my story, that's another person's tale.)  Voodoo, Voodoun, Hoodoo and a variety of other magickal practices from as broad of a background as any traditions and schools of magick.   Like anything, there are massive amounts of misconceptions, embellishments and just outright wrong bits and pieces of information associated with the area.

(Did you know that there's a tale of imported wives from Europe having brought *vampires* with them?  And that there numerous reports of people who have no other way of explaining several strange encounters?)

One of the first things to pop up that I immediately dove into due the small background of paranormal investigating was the Legend of the Rougarou.  Now, if you've seen the show Gator Boys, you'll remember that they pranked one of the crew with this tale (and did it rather well IMHO).   

The Rougarou -

"In the Cajun legends, the creature is said to prowl the swamps around Acadiana and Greater New Orleans, and possibly the fields or forests of the regions. The rougarou most often is described as a creature with a human body and the head of a wolf or dog, similar to the werewolf legend.
Often the story-telling has been used to inspire fear and obedience. One such example is stories that have been told by elders to persuade Cajun children to behave. According to another variation, the wolf-like beast will hunt down and killCatholics who do not follow the rules of Lent. This coincides with the French Catholic loup-garou stories, according to which the method for turning into a werewolf is to break Lent seven years in a row.
A common blood sucking legend says that the rougarou is under the spell for 101 days. After that time, the curse is transferred from person to person when the rougarou draws another human’s blood. During that day the creature returns to human form. Although acting sickly, the human refrains from telling others of the situation for fear of being killed.[2]
Other stories range from the rougarou as a rabbit to the rougarou being derived from witchcraft. In the latter claim, only a witch can make a rougarou—either by turning into a wolf herself, or by cursing others with lycanthropy."   - Wikipedia 

Unfortunately, the best source I was able to find for this creatures legend, was Wiki.  Many of the other sources were a bit too frivolous for my tastes and didn't seem to really bear out any useful information that hadn't already been presented in the Wiki Article.

Marie Laveau-
What is an article on New Orleans, without the woman called the Voodoo Queen?

From "The Voodoo Museum" website:

"What little evidence that actually exist about her life, the larger body of knowledge about the lives and culture of Creole free persons of color in New Orleans mixed with scraps about Marie Laveau that do have gives us a extra insight into her life. She was born the product of a brief plaçage arrangement and was probably raised by her mother and possibly her grandmother. She spent most of her adult life in a plaçage relationship, which was very typical of Creole free women of color of her era. She was Catholic. In fact, reports seem to indicate that most observant Catholics in New Orleans were usually the free women of color. She managed an extended family taking in grandchildren, nieces and nephews and perhaps orphans.  She was probably a practical nurse, or femme traiteur. 

 Her daughters each continued in the plaçage system. She was remembered as well for her humanity and charity as much as anything. She owned slaves. She was apparently able to support both her father and her plaçage partner at times when they were financially distressed. She never went to school, or learned to read or write, or to sign her name. She spoke French. She lived in a Creole world, a tri-part caste system that afforded her a unique and respected status as a free person of color. Americans, black or white, were a foreign race. She was a social and political liberal and humanist with desire to heal, to sooth, to nurture and to do good works. Not her father, but her grandfather, was white and he was not a member of the Louisiana Legislature but had been a member of the old Spanish Laveau Warehouse Cabildo and at one time was appointed acting Mayor of New Orleans.

 She grew up in a world where Voodoo was neither alien nor uncommon in day to day life. In all probability she learned it from a relative, perhaps her mother, a grandmother, or a mentor. She was a very spiritual person who blended, in the Creole way, Voodoo with Catholicism, especially the saints.  Her gris-gris, like the sacred and blessed symbols and objects of the church, were meant to call upon the saints and spirits for their help and to carry their blessings forward. Voodoo was an extension of Catholic practices and Catholicism a focus toward the same Bon Dieu (God), natural and familiar, to Voodoo. She was the African mother, the Creole wife and the true daughter of New Orleans. 

Today, it is not in the least unusual to hear from people who attribute both favors and miracles to her intercession. Not unlike the Saints, her spirit still listens and blesses with humanity, justice and love. In all Voodoo, in all places, in all times, she is the Queen."   

Then I found this site "Voodoo on the Bayou" that had some of the obituaries shared on their page, that the above article mentions.  I must admit, they weren't exaggerating about the lavish competing stories part.

Can't go without the Wiki article on her either now can we?

And for now, that's were I'm going to end this particular entry.  These were the two aspects that fascinated me the most, and I hope you enjoy the bit.

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