A winning blend of urban and religious history from famed New Orleans Vodou priest Filan (The Power of the Poppy, 2011, etc.).
Readers may feel as if they’ve pulled up a barstool alongside a chatty local as they embark on a journey—both educational and spiritually enriching—through the French Quarter. With conversational prose, Filan begins with an overview of the city’s long and beleaguered history before delving into the dark recesses of the often-misunderstood subculture that permeates nearly every aspect of New Orleans life. Whether he’s relating how the French colonized The Big Easy in the 17th century, regaling readers with the rise of New England transplant Emeril Legasse as the city’s most prominent restaurateur or revisiting the recent tragedies of Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon, the author is a solid amateur historian. But he truly comes alive in the second half of the book, in which the discussion of New Orleans voodoo begins in earnest. This rich and chaotic mix of Haitian, African, Catholic, Native American and Cuban influences is a wide-open field in which anyone can call themselves a practitioner. But would-be shamans beware: If you don’t get results, you won’t last long. To that end, Filan includes everything the novice priest or priestess could want to know. From famous figures like Dr. John and Marie Laveau to the use of candles, oils, prayers and poppets (voodoo dolls), the author outlines the tenets of this spiritual practice with clarity, and his starter set of tools, accompanied by instructions on how to use them, is only limited by readers’ imaginations.
A unique supplementary travel guide for anyone planning a trip to NOLA or readers interested in the city’s rich voodoo tradition.