I just got back from New Orleans and now that I don’t see two of everything I’d like to do a bit of reading. We did go to a legit voodoo temple (and got trapped and couldn’t escape the priestess who was exceedingly wise and also exceedingly crazy) but most of what we saw was silly and sensational and touristy. What should I read that’s a good popular read but that isn’t fake or gratuitous or all the rest of it? I know The Serpent and the Rainbow is not well-regarded these days.
Did you go to the cemetery (St Louis cemetery) where Marie Laveau’s remains reside? We were there earlier this year and that was pretty cool.
I currently live in New Orleans (I’m pretty sure I know the voodoo temple you went to – I myself am looking for some secret back room in a laundry mat to find the good stuff (or at least Kate Hudson!), like in the movie Skeleton Key)…I don’t know exactly what you want to know, but I would recommend Maya Deren’s excellent work Diving Horsemen for at least one source of information.
We did, we went with a tour with the Historic New Orleans company which came well recommended and was very, very good.
Voodoo and Afro-Caribbean Paganism by Lilith Dorsey is sound scholarship by a working practitioner (not always easy to find in one source.)
Lilith is also hated by about half of New Orleans’ Voudoun population, so she must be doing something right.
Any good fiction, by the way, with some basis in fact?
I really like Barbara Hambly’s historical mysteries which are set in 1830’s New Orleans: the Benjamin January series. The protagonist is a well-educated free black man (born into slavery but freed as a child) who has just returned to New Orleans after living in Paris for many years.
January’s sister is a voodooiene, and there are many little bits of voodoo in the books - people are frequently being cursed or blessed, poisoned or healed. January is devoutly Catholic and tries hard not to believe any of it.
Dany Laferrière’s novel Pays sans Chapeau is a great contemporary Haitian novel that revolves around voodoo. I haven’t read the English translantion (Down Among the Dead Men), so I don’t know if it’s any good, but I loved the original.
I read the first one of those ages ago - Hambly is one of my favorite authors! I should revisit.