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MANBO SALLIE ANN GLASSMAN AND LA SOURCE ANCIENNE OUNFO HONOR THE FAMOUS VOODOO QUEEN OF NEW ORLEANS WITH A CEREMONY AND RITUAL HEADWASHING AT BAYOU ST. JOHN

 

 

 

“My favorite thing about Voodoo is the concept that there’s an invisible world inside the physical world and its more beautiful there and more magical there, and everything is more possible there . . .”

-- Manbo Sallie Ann Glassman

A soft breeze is blowing over the waters of St. John’s Bayou and the sun is lining the clouds in crimson and gold as a cluster of devotees from La Source Ancienne Ounfo help their Manbo Sallie Ann Glassman welcome friends and visitors to the annual celebration and headwashing ritual in honor of the most famous Voodoo priestess New Orleans has ever known, the celebrated Marie Laveau.

A tiered altar is set up against the railing on one side of the old foot bridge that has for years crossed the Bayou in front of Cabrini High School. The altar is decorated with candles, flowers, incense, food offerings and other items; a worn and obviously much-loved statue of Marie Laveau stands proudly on the highest tier. By the end of the ceremony, the statue will be almost entirely obscured by offerings too numerous to name, placed there by devotees of Voodoo and of the woman who made this island religion – and her hometown of New Orleans – famous for generations.

 

 

 

“The more people that participate the more of an experience we have…the more spiritual it gets, the more energy we have here with us.”

-- Manbo Sallie Ann Glassman

Today, these devotees keep the religion alive by following in the footsteps and instructions of another powerful and charismatic Manbo, Sallie Ann Glassman. Sallie Ann is the founder of La Source Ancienne Ounfo, a private Vodou society that has served the Lwa (the voodoo spirits) and the New Orleans community for over 25 years. Manbo Sallie Ann and the Ounfo practice a unique and vibrant form of Vodou based upon the traditional Haitian beliefs but filled with, as Sallie Ann has said, “ongoing inspiration and innovation.” Sallie Ann and her extended vodoun family are at the heart of the genuine practice of vodou so often sought but seldom found by visitors to New Orleans.

 

 

As the setting sun turns the sky to hues of pinks and purples Manbo Sallie Ann calls the group together to begin the ceremony. The sound of drums sets the mood and the Manbo, assisted by her dedicated Ounfo devotees, begins the dance that all hope will call the Lwa spirits to bless the ritual about to be conducted. In a ritualized celebration of the balance of power, Mambo deftly walks around a machete-wielding devotee to establish her authority to pass between the worlds of the physical and the unseen and bring the spirit of Marie Laveau forth. As the Manbo dances, a cantor’s beautiful voice calls out in Kreyol to “Papa Legba,” the great Lwa guardian of the crossroads who is invoked at the start of all vodoun rituals; without the help of Papa Legba, the doors between the worlds cannot be opened, or, once opened, closed again. Between calls of “Legba” the devotees respond with “ayibobo,” the “amen” of Vodoun, as the ritual dance is completed. Now, as the drums continue, devotees follow after the Manbo, and hold symbolic offerings to the four corners of North, South, East and West, making a ritual cross before the altar. The candles are set to burn at each of the cardinal directions. Manbo Sallie Ann now anoints the devotees and those gathered nearby with water from the altar and shakes over all a rattling gourd, or "shekke," meant to help the energy flow from each person into the spirit world.

To further assist the spirits in the passage between the worlds, Manbo now brings forth from the altar a crystal container filled with cornmeal. In voodoo tradition, the Lwas have a voracious appetite for corn and are said to eagerly follow a trail of corn laid by devotees. The Manbo kneels and with the cornmeal begins to draw on the ground; soon the squiggly lines begin to come together and can clearly be seen to form a “veve,” a mark or design associated with the spirit being called – this night, the spirit of the great Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau.

"Call on Marie Laveau for empowerment in the Vodou arts, and for help in healing. Marie Laveau provides assistance in all workings."

--Manbo Sallie Ann Glassman from "Vodou Visions: An Encounter with Divine Mystery"

Soon the drums fall silent and the Manbo takes rum and incense from the altar. Kneeling beside the veve she anoints it first with the incense and then with the rum, spraying a mouthful over the veve. Now she is ready to call upon the spirit all have gathered for this night.

First, Manbo Sallie Ann again calls out to Papa Legba to gain his assistance in this most important part of the ritual. Her devotees respond in kind, calling out to Legba and following with shouts of “ayibobo.” Next, Sallie Ann calls upon Gede, the powerful Lwa spirit of the dead who is said to see in both worlds at once, and who is often represented as a skull wearing sunglasses with one lens broken out, symbolizing his unique duality. At the command of the Mambo, Papa Legba will open the way and Gede will guide the spirit of the great Voodoo Queen across the shadowy depths of the spirit realm.

To the rattle of shekkes and the respondent calls of her devotees, Manbo Sallie Ann calls out in a commanding voice a rhythmic hymn of honor to Marie Laveau, the “belle de Nouvelle Orleans,” before calling her by name three times: “Marie Laveau! Marie Laveau! Marie Laveau!!”

 

 

“Basically the idea is that the Lwas, the voodoo spirits, are in our heads, so when we anoint our heads it’s like we’re anointing an altar so the spirit can enter and live there and we can recognize that we’re sacred.”

 

-- Mambo Sallie Ann Glassman

Haunted New Orleans Tours is following the experience of Reese, a famous New Orleans Psychic reader this evening, a newcomer to Vodoun who is attending his first vodoun ceremony. He watches with interest as Manbo and her devotees perform the ritual that will invoke the spirit of the mighty Voodoo Queen of New Orleans. He has come with friends, dressed appropriately in white clothing, and brought an offering in honor of Marie Laveau: hairdressing articles, a commemoration of Laveau’s “official” occupation in life.

His anticipation and excitement has grown along with the timbre of the ceremony and now that Manbo Sallie Ann has reached the point in the ceremony where those in attendance can approach the altar to have their heads washed. Reese watches with curiosity as Mambo Sallie Ann and members of the Ounfo prepare the unique liquid to be used in this ceremony: a mysterious blend that includes fresh flowers, fruits such as strawberries and dates, and an entire coconut cake mashed into the brimming bowls.

“I want my head washed by Sallie Ann!” Reese insists as he waits in line like an excited child waiting to get on a ferris wheel. “She’s the only one I want!”

 

As Manbo Sallie Ann motions for everyone to approach, Reese is directly at the front of the line. He is the first to kneel down to Sallie Ann’s bowl and follows her instructions to the letter. “Place your fingers in the water,” she tells him, “and say whatever prayer or intention you want.” The Manbo washes the sweetly fragrant liquid through Reese’s hair and over his face and arms; she completes the ritual with a clean, white cloth tied over the man’s head. “Keep this cloth on all night,” she says. “You can remove it in the morning and wash your hair then.”

Together the Manbo and Reese rise to their feet and shake their clasped hands three times; the ritual is completed with a heartfelt hug from the powerful voodoo priestess.

Reese turns away and comes back to his friends excitedly. “I feel different already! I can just feel a weight being lifted from me! It’s amazing!”

 

“… we reach all the way from here into the invisible …”

--Manbo Sallie Ann Glassman

When all who desire it have had their heads washed, ritual gives way to celebration and dancing. As the sound of the vodoun drums fill the humid air and the sky turns from shades of indigo to black overhead, the Manbo and the Ounfo lead the crowd in a weaving daisy chain back and forth upon the old bayou footbridge. Shouts of “aiyibobo!” echo over the drums and all are swept up in the rhythms.

More than one devotee experienced possession this night, and one tall man strutted around wearing sunglasses, puffing a cigar and calling out for “RUM!” in a deep voice that sounded as if it came from somewhere far away. Some women who had arrived earlier that evening appearing prim and proper were now caught up in the drumming and the dancing: it was clear to even the most casual observer that there was truly a spirit present among these devotees.

It is easy to believe that Marie Laveau herself was there, dancing with the Mambo and her followers in the heady New Orleans night. At the very least, this ceremony would certainly have made her proud.

If you are visiting New Orleans in the hazy month of June, do not miss this opportunity to experience this authentic voodoo ritual hosted by one of the most powerful practitioners of the religion in the South!

Manbo Sallie Ann Glassman and La Source Ancienne Ounfo perform the ritual headwashing in honor of Marie Laveau every year in conjunction with the traditional St. John’s Eve feast. The ceremony and ritual are performed free of charge as a service and offering to the community. Attendees are asked to wear white in honor of Marie Laveau and to bring offerings to please the spirit of the great Voodoo Queen such as Manbo Sallie Ann instructs in the "Vodou Visions" book: "Salt water, white and blue flowers, white and blue candles, Voodoo doll, "Voodoo oil," gris-gris bags, jambalaya and other traditional Creole foods, hairdressing tools...Marie's Vodou Visions image."

 

 Island of Salvation Botanica
Sallie Ann Glassman 835 Piety StNew Orleans, LA. 70117(504) 948-9961 FeyVodou.com "Vodou" is the spelling preferred by practitioners who revere this powerful, ancient tradition--and Vodou Visions is the first book to provide an inspirational and authentic guide to its history, practices, and creative applications. It describes the tools and techniques for developing the magical mind and honoring the soul, while revealing how Vodou can release creative spirituality and open doors to self-awareness.

The Island of Salvation Botanica, LLC is owed by Manbo Sallie Ann Glassman. Since 1977, Sallie Ann has been practicing Vodou in New Orleans. She was initiated as a Manbo in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in 1995, by Oungans Edgar Jean-Louis and Silva Joseph.

Ms Glassman presides over weekly ceremonies with her Vodou Sosyete, La Source Ancienne. She is the artist for the ENOCHIAN TAROT DECK, artist and co-creator of THE NEW ORLEANS VOODOO TAROT, and author and artist of VODOU VISIONS

Vodou Visions, Comprehensive and inviting, this book introduces readers to Vodou's rich history, powerful ancestors, and vibrant spirits, known as Lwa. With more than one hundred breathtaking illustrations, Vodou Visions reveals how to honor and invoke the Lwa with specific ceremonial offerings and litanies. Using methods drawn from more than twenty years of practice, Vodou priestess Sallie Ann Glassman shares purification and empowerment rituals for individuals, communities, homes, and spiritual spaces. For more advanced practitioners, Glassman describes ways to deepen communication with the Lwa and to give thanks for an ongoing spiritual relationship. The visions of the Lwa bring a living experience of the Spirit into daily life. Haunting Voodoo rituals New Orleans, Waters of the Abyss, Ayida Wèdo, Tree of Life, Mardi Gras, Papa Legba, Petwo Lwa, Magic Mirror, Western Ceremonial Magick, Nan Nan Buklu, Marie Laveau, Saint Gerard, Ezili Freda, West Africa, Each Sèvitè, Santa Barbara, Master of the Head, Azaka La Flambo, Danbala La Flambo, Danbala Wèdo, Ezili La Flambo, Gede La Flambo, Madanm Lalinn, Manman Brijit
This book and 79-card deck mirror the face of New Orleans Voodoo that has emerged from the Dahomey tradition of West Africa, Creole and South American cultures. Explains rituals of the Voodoo religion in the context of Tarot spreads and readings, adding a completely new dimension to this ancient tradition of divination. Louis Martinie is a teacher and musician, who has served as editor of Black Moon Publishing  for the past fifteen years. He is an accomplished drummer of both sacred and secular music, and is the author of Waters of Return and The Aeonic Flow of Voodoo. Award-winning artist Sallie Ann Glassman was educated at Columbia University and the New Orleans Art Institute. She is the designer of the Enochian Tarot, and is a published book cover illustrator.

 


In Search of Marie Laveau

The following are some places of interest that any fan of Marie Laveau must include for a perfect visit to the haunts of this most famous Voodoo Queen

New Orleans Voodoo Queen

MARIE LAVEAU PAGES FOR YOU TO VISIT:

MARIE LAVEAU VOODOO QUEEN ( Here for more.)

Real Marie Laveau Tomb Ghost Pictures

A MIDSUMMER CELEBRATION
IN HONOR OF MADAME MARIE LAVEAU A HAUNTED NEW ORLEANS TOURS EXCLUSIVE!! ( Here for more.)

MARIE LAVEAU STORIES OF OLD NEW ORLEANS (CLICK HERE)

XXX MARKS THE SPOT: DEDICATION OR DESECRATION? CALLING ON THE QUEEN OF THE CITY OF THE DEAD ( Here for more)

MARIE LAVEAUS' HOUSE OF VOODOO (here for more.)

Marie Laveau and the Devil Baby of Bourbon Street ( Find out more here.)

Expert Uncovers Birth Record of Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau (Learn more here.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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