If you know me personally, I’ve had an urge to go to New Orleans for a few years now. At first, it was a passion for the food, but as I learned more about the history of Voodoo & Hoodoo, I was even more empowered to visit New Orleans. Typically when I bring up the idea of studying Voodoo & Hoodoo, people automatically assume it to be witch doctors, cannibalism and associated with dark magic. It is not.
So what is Voodoo?
Voodoo is an ancient African religion and one of the world’s oldest religions. It is based upon worshiping one God with many helpers called deities, spirits, Orisha, Loa, or other names. Ancestors are also worshipped and cared for; in return, they assist the living.
Voodoo priests and priestesses are important to African society and culture. They are spirit guides, doctors, judges, counselors, mediators, historians, and teachers.
Rituals are one of the key elements, along with divination and healing. In ancient Africa, the voodoo priest was also the village doctor.
Okay, cool. Now what’s Hoodoo?
The word Hoodoo is derived from the word juju, an African word meaning “magic,” or a form of Voodoo which is a corrupted version of the word Vodun, meaning “spirit” or “god.”
It’s not a religion. It has no pantheon or priesthood. It refers only to a set of healing and spell practices; practitioners can be whatever religion they wish.
Hoodoo, also known as Rootwork, served a practical purpose in Black and African communities. Many Africans had experience working with herbs in their homeland and transmitted their botanical knowledge to their children.
My trip to New Orleans
Before going to New Orleans, a friend recommended reading Rootwork to learn more about Voodoo. It was an excellent guide for me to kick things off, and visiting New Orleans was a way for me to learn more and experience my culture.
This place should be everyone’s first stop. It gives you a beginner’s look into Voodoo so you can understand what you see at the shops (like gris gris bags) and helped me figure out where to get started.
The Voodoo Museum was much smaller than I expected, so it’s essential to try to go when it is less crowded. I went on a Wednesday at 4 p.m., and it wasn’t too crowded- they did an excellent job of keeping things flowing when there was a large crowd. I advise you to take your time to learn and read as much as possible. Soak all of it in. One thing I forgot to bring was cash for offerings, it’s not required, only if you feel inclined to do so.
After the Voodoo Museum, I suggest going to Vodoo Authentica. It’s a spiritual shop right around the corner. I didn’t buy anything there because I wanted to check out the local shops, but it was nice to take a look and browse after going to the Voodoo Museum. They also provide readings there.
If you are looking to get a reading you can find readers along this area, I didn’t have the opportunity to get a reading - but I suggest going after the Vodoo Authentica since it’s on the way.
Stop at Cafe Du Monde for a quick bite or some coffee to get some rest in between all the movement.
Is a local book store in the French Quarter. They feature new and old books and new local history books. I was excited to stop at a local bookstore to grab some spirituality books; many of the books I found are books you wouldn’t find at my local bookstores in Sacramento, so it was a nice place to gather some books to learn more about Voodoo & Hoodoo, and the history of New Orleans.
Another shopping at Crescent City Books I wanted to stop at was Bottom of the Cup, another spiritual shop- but it was closed when I got there.
The Haus of Hoodoo was my favorite spiritual shop. It’s a Black women-owned spiritual shop, and I’ve heard so many good things about them, and they are all correct. There is an excellent variety of items, many made by the owner. Jessyka Winston. So much knowledge lives there and they have a great staff, there are open and super helpful to beginners. If you had to only go to one shop, please go here. She also does readings, but you need to book in advance, and she only does in-person readings.
Tip: Mr. Ed’s Bar & Fish House, had some pretty good fried fish, it’s right across the street.
The Haus of Hoodoo recommended we visit the Tree of Life. We were told it was a magikal place where many go to pray and wish for something. So we decided to go, and it was magikal as described. After praying and just being in the presence of this tree, I felt renewed, and to be honest, and I don’t feel like I am the same person I was when I visited there. So I highly recommend you visit this tree and pray here when visiting New Orleans.
Tip: We took the St. Charles trolly down there and walked a mile or so down to the Tree of Life.
Priestess Miriam is not for someone who can’t handle criticism or the truth. She tells it like it is, so I implore you to open your heart and mind when visiting. This was also one of my favorite shops because she makes her oils, powders, incenses, ritual baths, and more, and they are at affordable prices. It is also another Black woman-owned business. We were invited in the back to take a look at her to alter, it was magickal. She also offers spiritual healing and readings. This place is also a must-see when visiting New Orleans.
It is a black-owned spiritual shop. Many of the items are made in-house, and they also do readings. It was a cute little shop to visit as I went to a few other local spiritual shops.
Is another black women-owned spiritual shop owned by Fatima Mbodj (yasss to all these black-owned businesses). I loved this shop because it was so colorful!
This shop featured so many spiritual items, many that were made by Fatmina herself, and she has my favorite Oracle deck. Which was made by Fatima herself! This shop is another one of my must-see shops you must go to when you visit New Orleans, and she also does readings and coaching.
I didn’t get to visit on a Sunday, but they say there are drum circles and people gathering at Conga Square on Sundays. Traditionally enslaved people would gather here to sing, dance, worship, buy, and sell goods since it was restricted in 1817. It was nice to walk around here after visiting the Spiritual Temple and Path of Awakenings. There was also a pretty solid bar called The Black Penny on the corner. They have some really good cocktails and it was right on the corner before heading to Congo Square.
I love this spiritual shop because it has SO many spiritual items to choose from and is affordable. Located in the New Orleans Healing Center, they also do readings. This shop is another one of my must-visits because of its affordability and variety.
New Orleans was magical
If you are on a spiritual journey and want a trip full of healing or would like to learn more about Voodoo & Hoodoo, this place is filled with history and healing.
This experience was worth it, and I look forward to revisiting it and getting in touch with my roots and exploring more of Louisiana. I hope to visit Baton Rogue and Abbeville- I actually found out I have roots in Abbeville, Louisiana - so I’m excited to get more in touch with my family history.