By Elizabeth Thomas Crocker
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Extra info for A Trinity of Beliefs and a Unity of the Sacred: Modern Vodou Pratices in New Orleans (thesis)
New Orleans has become a liminal space where the lines between secular and sacred have become blurred. Practitioners cater to tourists and tourists become practitioners. Religious space is found in the middle of retail shops and items available in any convenience store can become sacred offerings. These multilayered relationships mean that it can be hard to interpret symbols, performances and objects and this is why an in-depth look at commercial Vodou is necessary. There different ways in which retailers use Vodou for moneymaking enterprises.
Zombie’s Voodoo Shop is located on St. Peter Street across from the popular bar and restaurant Pat O’Briens. Another example is Marie Laveau’s House of Vodou located on the infamous Bourbon Street, which, like Rev. Zombie’s, has a “working” Vodou altar that patrons are forbidden to touch or photograph (See figure #5). Both have numerous candles and magical ritual ingredients that come with no instructions or explanations presenting the assumption that the patrons already know what to do with them.
Photo taken by author April 7, 2007. 39 necessarily entail bloodshed (though killing an animal such as a chicken can be appropriate depending on the lwa and the ritual). Candles, alcohol, flowers and other items that the lwa prefers are common offerings especially for daily maintenance of the relationship between practitioner and spirit. In addition to placing offerings on the altar practitioners also maintain the space by periodically cleaning out the area of burnt out candles and old food and rearrange the space to be aesthetically pleasing (Glassman 2000, Metraux 1959).
A Trinity of Beliefs and a Unity of the Sacred: Modern Vodou Pratices in New Orleans (thesis) by Elizabeth Thomas Crocker