If you visit New Orleans...you’re likely to see voodoo shops, museums, even tours. On a recent trip to the Big Easy, Lisa Fletcher decided to dig deeper into the mysterious spiritual and cultural phenomenon and dispel some myths.
Voodoo Authentica - a shop, just two blocks from Bourbon Street, in the heart of New Orleans French Quarter. The second you're in the door, it's a bombardment to the senses. It's where Voodoo priest, Zaar, was making soap for shoppers.
Zaar: The soaps I make are for seven particular spirits.
Zaar has been practicing voodoo for 30 years.
Lisa: We couldn’t come to New Orleans without doing a story about Voodoo. What have you seen it do for people?
Zaar: Let's see... I've witnessed Voodoo help people find love. I've witnessed Voodoo help people find healing and hope. Uh, my own personal story, I've gone from 53 pills a day for my leukemia to seven. I was told I would never walk again when I got hit by a car... ta da!
Zaar traces the roots of Voodoo to 21 different traditions from the African slave trade- that came up through the Caribbean, but the practice is alive and well in the Big Easy.
Lisa: Why do you think people come into this store?
Zaar: Curiosity, find out what this whole voodoo thing is all about, and then they find out it's not the scary Ogi Boogie that they see on TV and they walk out of here a little bit more educated.
What you may know best are Voodoo dolls - stick in a pin in your enemy and they suffer? Zaar says, that's not Voodoo. That's derived from stories of European witches. He says the pins in Voodoo dolls, are simply meant to mark your trouble spots.
Zaar: say you were out riding a horse one day, you fell off in your hurt, your shoulder, you would be brought to somebody like me, We would take a piece of the outfit, and make a doll out of it. Stick a pin in the shoulders, stick it on the shelf. Next time you came back to see me, I'd say, Hey, go get your doll. You'd bring me that doll. I'd see that pIn. I say, okay, we worked on your shoulder last time. It just to note it everywhere we were praying for healing.
Inside Voodoo Authentica, there are 27 different altars, where people can leave items for the spirits - everything from cigarettes to coins, and even bus tickets. And though I didn't leave anything behind, I did take something home: a satchel of Voodoo gris gris, made right on the spot.
Zaar: Gris Gris are a little charmed bags that you would carry with you and they're just a little bag of herbs, oils, roots and prayer work. So with that you can actually affect a change in your world.
Lisa: Smells Amazing.
Zaar: Left hand.
Lisa: Why left?
Zaar: Women's power center in Voodoo is on her left side. So always give it with the left.
Lisa: Thank you.