Many people who visit New Orleans are interested in learning about its rich, vibrant cultural history. And, among those people are those interested in learning about a specific part of New Orleans history - New Orleans Voodoo.
It comes as no surprise that people want an authentic experience when they come to New Orleans; they want to be able to say they touched the grave of Marie Laveaux or they danced to the drum beats in Congo Square. Most people however, simply want to observe, rather than participate in, something considered "real Voodoo."
Voodoo hides in plain site in many forms in New Orleans: in her music, her food, in her Mardi Gras celebrations, in her crumbling red bricks and her Catholic Churches for starters. The fact is, people in New Orleans, whether they are residents are not, knowingly or unknowingly experience vestiges of Voodoo by virtue of just being present in the city. To those that know, the signs are evident. To those that don't know, the signs are simply enjoyable. Anyone who has partaken of the food, or listened to the down home blues of New Orleans music cannot deny the pleasure those two activities alone can bring.
What tourists are likely to see when visiting the French Quarter, however, is something created for tourists - a show put on for entertainment, Voodoo dolls made in China and other "authentic Voodoo" created by non New Orleanians. These things may have similarities and characteristics of the real thing, but you won't find anyone truly calling on the Guardian of the Crossroads unless you know someone and are invited to a private ceremony.
But don't be discouraged, there are meaningful things to see and experience if you know where to go and more importantly, when to go. The time of year in which you are visiting will dictate the number of authentic experiences you can participate in or observe. At various times of the year you will be able to catch authentic Voodoo rituals and even participate in those advertised as open to the public. You can find Priestesses dancing with snakes and if you show up on a Sunday, you can hear the drums beating in Congo Square, just as it has for the past 300 years.
So, with all this in mind, I have created a list of 5 places to visit when in New Orleans that will give you a feel for real New Orleans Voodoo. This list is not exhaustive by any means, but it is a good place to begin.
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