The Truth Behind Voodoo Dolls

You can take the girl out of New Orleans, but you can’t take New Orleans out of the girl. Such is the case with The Stockade’s innkeeper Janice DeLerno, who has brought the culture and artifacts of her hometown back to Baton Rouge. Around the Stockade Bed and Breakfast, visitors can find a wide variety of artwork and artifacts from New Orleans — including a small collection of authentic voodoo dolls.

While many tourists mistakenly believe that Voodoo is linked to satanic rituals or black magic, this is not true. Voodoo began when Catholic plantation owners forced their slaves to practice the Catholic faith. Although the slaves took up Catholicism, they also found ways to maintain their traditional African religions. Voodoo is a spiritual practice that has its roots in these traditional African religions, and it is a complex three-tiered spiritual system based on God, spirits, and ancestors.

The term “gris-gris” refers to both the objects used in Voodoo and the magic they provoke. The Voodoo doll is a form of “gris-gris,” a way of invoking the spirits to act in a certain way.

While Voodoo dolls are often portrayed in movies as being a way to harm or manipulate another person, they are more like a representation of another person that is used to make an appeal to the Voodoo spirits. To link the doll to the person it is meant to represent, hair or other personal effects is pinned to the doll using a straight pin or a thorn.

Other techniques used to strengthen the power of the doll include attaching rose petals (for love), garlic or clover (for luck), or placing it between blue and white candles (for healing). Most importantly, the doll must remain hidden — otherwise, the person it is modeled after can take measures to undo its power!

Located in the heart of the French Quarter, the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum is dedicated to Voodoo and its history in New Orleans. For more information on Voodoo dolls, check out their website:

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