Book Review: The Magic of Marie Laveau by Denise Alvarado

Review and Photo by Wren La Fey | Website | Instagram | Facebook

About the Author

Denise Alvarado (1960) was born and raised in the rich Creole culture of New Orleans, Louisiana. She has studied indigenous healing traditions from a personal and academic perspective for over four decades. She is the author of numerous books about Southern folk traditions, including The Conjurer’s Guide to St. Expedite, The Voodoo Hoodoo Spellbook, The Voodoo Doll Spellbook, Voodoo Dolls in Magick and Ritual, and more. Her provocative artwork has been featured on several television shows including National Geographic’s Taboo, The Originals, and Blue Bloods. She is a rootworker in the Louisiana folk magic tradition, a spiritual artist, and a teacher of Southern Conjure at Crossroads University. Visit her at www.creolemoon.com.

About The Magic of Marie Laveau: Embracing the Spiritual Legacy of the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans

As a cultural anthropologist and Louisiana folk-magic rootworker, Alvarado is more than qualified to take us on Marie Laveau’s journey, and jumps straight into her history with a vivid introduction. She immediately delves into Laveau’s prowess and personality, and even throws in a ghost story for good measure. She assures us that if Laveau were here today, she would be at the forefront of the #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter movements, and from what I read about this amazing woman in just the introduction alone, I can only nod my head in agreement. Only a few pages in, I was gripped and totally fascinated; ready to book my flight to New Orleans to pay my respects at Marie Laveau’s gravesite.

“Stories abound about her magickal prowess, freeing men from the gallows and healing the sick from the brink of death.”

The Magic of Marie Laveau: Embracing the Spiritual Legacy of the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans

This book examines in great detail the history of the time; slavery, the cultural climate, and the social environment that Laveau was born in to. We learn about her magical, spiritual, and religious background, and Alvarado covers Laveau’s familial history and makes some beautiful and just observations in regards to the tragic intergenerational trauma that Laveau and her family must have suffered as a result of the slave trade. Despite the many unconfirmed allegations that littered the press about Laveau during her day, Alvarado debunks several myths; including her place of birth and age at death, helping the reader to get to the heart of who Marie Laveau really was. We hear about Marie’s spiritual court and the deities and spirits within this, and the syncretism in New Orleans Voudou as a result of the Louisiana Black Code. As if that weren’t enough, we learn about modern-day Laveau devotees, and the practical aspects of this craft; such as how to set up a devotional altar, how to petition Marie Laveau, and how to walk the path. Later, in the third part of the book, we are treated to categories of Conjure in the Laveau Voudou Tradition, and given spells, rituals, prayers, and gris gris.

The Book’s Strengths

The most illuminating thing about this book is the huge amount of history and knowledge that has been packed in clearly and concisely; it is absolutely brimming with facts and magickal information. It is clear that the research for this book must have been a huge undertaking for Alvarado; but without knowing the history and social background of the time, one cannot even begin to understand what a magnificent character Laveau was, or appreciate the world she walked in.

Alvarado’s amazing descriptions of her character, and the quotes woven throughout, add a rich vividness to the story; and we come to know Marie intimately as if we have travelled back in time, and are walking beside her. We can’t help but form a picture of her in our minds, and all this is achieved whilst maintaining an easy read – a feat that only the most talented of wordsmiths can achieve.

Alvarado handles many difficult subjects beautifully and sensitively, whilst educating the reader. Despite the unfairness of Laveau being demonised by an unforgiving press as a wild and crazy woman, whilst simultaneously being acknowledged for her piousness and held as a saint for her charitable work, we don’t feel sorry for Laveau. Alvarado ensures that her tenacity and determination are clear for all to see. 

What You Can Learn…

Insights into Laveau’s character include her industrious and hardworking nature; and even though she was often passed off as a con-woman rather than cunning, we learn that she had a large, warm, and intensely generous heart, who would always go the extra mile for others. She lived by the Catholic principle of living life compassionately in service to her community, and after reading this book it is clear that one does not have to be Catholic, a Voudou initiate, or even a devotee of Marie Laveau, to honour her, and find immense respect for her.  

Through the words in this book, Laveau teaches us that daily practice is imperative to building your magickal practice, and that compassion for your human counterparts is the way forward. Whilst there are many books written on her life and legend, very few books except this one focus on her magical and spiritual legacy; which the author concludes lies in her name, and in the ‘unique magicospiritual tradition’ that defines Louisiana today. Alvarado has worked tirelessly to separate fact from fiction; and consequently she does indeed present Marie Laveau to the world as she should be seen: a Queen.

The Magic of Marie Laveau: Embracing the Spiritual Legacy of the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans may be purchased here.

About Wren La Fey: Wren is a Traditional Witch from the South of England, living in a cemetery, and enjoying the beautiful arable landscape around her as a source of inspiration. A lifelong student of the Craft, she is a forager, hobby herbalist, fire spinner, tarot reader, and qualified Holistic Therapist. She has modelled for pagan-based artists such as Chris Down and Neil Geddes-Ward, appearing in seven paintings, a tarot deck, and on the front cover of Chris Down’s book “Otherworld: The Collected Works of Chris Down”. Wren is fascinated by the magic of colour and can be found on Instagram and Facebook

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