More times than not, when I’m speaking about Creole, Cajun, or Louisiana lifestyle/culture, I eventually hear an association with voodoo and strange happenings. And while, yes, it is true that there is a certain degree of bizarreness surrounding some aspects of bayou country, it’s probably much less than most people think. It also provides a limited and stereotypic view into the Creole culture. The goal/mission of Creole Bayou is to provide useful and accurate information about Creole history, culture, heritage, language, etc.
I must make a disclaimer before continuing. Honestly, I never thought I’d write this post. As an author, many of you know that I often use voodoo or the occult as reoccurring subplots or themes in my stories (e.g., “Oasis Haze” in Mysterious Hearts-Holiday Heartwarmers Anthology and “Under the Magnolia Tree” in Haunted Hearts-Holiday Heartwarmers Anthology). For this reason, I have done research in this area. That, however, does not make me an expert on the subject, and I do not claim to be. I also am not an advocate of any sort and will attempt to deliver the information objectively. While discussing the research I’d discovered with a woman (not a native of or residing in Louisiana), she immediately dismissed it and said she would continue to believe one hundred percent in what the media has presented about the subject to the masses regardless of any data presented that indicated the contrary. She insisted that the pop culture view of voodoo is the gospel truth. In no way do I seek to change anyone’s personal beliefs or opinions nor do I claim to make judgments religions of any kind. The purpose of this post is not a conversion but to present what history states about voodoo. (BTW, it would be silly of me to attempt to convert anyone to voodoo when it’s not a religion I practice or intend on practicing. However, if I continue to use it as a theme in my writing, I need to be accurate in my portrayal of it, if for no other reason than to be respectful.) Furthermore, voodoo is practiced in multiple areas of the world. This post will focus on voodoo in the U.S., specifically, how its practice in Louisiana.
The best place to start is to answer the question: what is voodoo? Voodoo is a syncretic (the combining of different forms of beliefs or practices) religion that teaches the existence of a supreme being referred to as Bondye, the worshipping of multiple spirits, a universal energy, and the ability to leave the body during spirit possessions. It is mainly an oral tradition and lacks a primary prayer, holy text, or rituals. The people who practice voodoo are called “vodouists” which roughly means “servants of spirits”.
Bondye steams from the French term bon dieu, which means “good god”. Bondye is an uninvolved and unknowable creator god who cannot be communicated with directly. Bondye is also the main/superior god. Bondye is over all people and spirits. The spirits are called Ioa, and each spirit is responsible for a specific part/domain of life. They act as the “middleman” between Bondye and people. Spirit possession (temporarily displacing the host soul or medium while Ioa takes control of the body) is desired as it allows one to connect with the spirit world and are used to communicate with god (Bondye). Say possession to me, and I automatically think of heads spinning in 360 degrees and the projectile vomiting of green soup and am running for the hills. You’d find me hidden somewhere and not venturing out. Contrarily, voodoo believes that possessions are (generally but not always) a good thing.
So, what is voodoo’s ties with Roman Catholicism? In 1685, the practice of all African religions by slaves were forbidden, and slave owners were mandated to endocrine their slaves in the Catholic religion with eight days of their arrival. The Catholic Church, in turn, viewed slavery as a vehicle for converting slaves to Christianity. However, many slaves continued to practice voodoo in secret, and the two religions (voodoo and Catholicism) became blended for them. Voodoo spirits became associated with Catholic saints and elements of Catholic rituals/practices (e.g., hymns) are used in voodoo ceremonies.
Contrary to popular belief, zombies, pin-stabbed voodoo dolls, and animal sacrifices have very minuscule associates with the voodoo religion. These stereotypes were formed out of fear by Christians who did not understand voodoo and later were popularized by people seeking to exploit the religion for monetary gains. Face it, zombies and ghosts have well-established buyer markets. There are books, trinkets, tours, movies, books, clothing, relics, and the list goes continues. It is very easy for people unfamiliar with voodoo to assume these are strong elements (or the only elements) involved if these things are the primary aspects being presented by the media and/or local specialty shops. Now, this isn’t to say that zombies, dolls, and animal sacrifices aren’t included in voodoo or not some practitioners do not make it the focal point. However, originally, that is not how it began.
For example, a zombie was thought to be someone who the soul had left the body and only the mindless shell of the person was left behind. This might have occurred to a punishment as one of the spirits (usually an evil one) for the person not living a dutiful life or the soul not returning to the body to allow for a relief from pain or healing from illness. One legion indicates that this occurred so that the zombies would work as slaves on sugar and tobacco plantations without complaint (because zombies were said to be mindless) and need for much rest (because they were merely human form without feelings). This definition of a zombie differs greatly from the popularized version of a subhuman eating other humans brains.
Another example would be animal sacrifice. For many, this may sound cruel and violent. I for one as an animal lover wouldn’t be able to participate or view anything like that. However, a look at history indicates that voodoo is not the only religion that practices/practiced animal sacrifice. This is/was not a practice unique/exclusive to voodoo. Historically, animal sacrifices can be found in Hinduism, Islam, and Paganism/Mithraism, Judaism, and even Christianity. It takes no further looking than the Bible to see mention of animals being sacrificed. In Hebrews 9:22 it states “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness”. Mentions of animal sacrifices can be found in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Isaiah, and Genesis. Many of the aforementioned religions no longer practice this ritual. But for many, it is often overlooked that the sacrificing of animal is restricted to voodoo.
Not all Creoles believe or practice voodoo. I would go as far as to say that the majority do not, but I do not have any empirical evidence that I can site to support that claim. That is not to say that this evidence does not exist. I just don’t have it. It is documented that a large population of Creoles are Catholic, as is much of the population of Louisiana. Catholics do not practice voodoo. Voodoo and Catholicism are not the same. Voodoo did not stem from Catholicism, and Catholicism did not originate from voodoo. Louisiana is not the only state in the U.S. where voodoo is practiced.
Voodoo is far more complex than what has been presented in this blog. Anyone interested should research the subject further. What if any myths about Creoles and voodoo did this post support or destroy for you. I’d love to hear your views.
Don’t forget to visit Creole Bayou again. New posts are made on Wednesdays. If you have any questions or suggestions about this post or any others, feel free to comment below or tweet me at @dolynesaidso. You also can follow me on Instagram at genevivechambleeauthor or search me on Goodreads or Amazon Authors.
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About the Author
Genevive Chamblee resides in the bayou country where sweet tea and SEC football reign supreme. She is known for being witty (or so she thinks), getting lost anywhere beyond her front yard (the back is pushing it as she’s very geographically challenged), falling in love with shelter animals (and she adopts them), asking off-the-beaten-path questions that makes one go “hmm”, and preparing homecooked Creole meals that are as spicy as her writing. She writes contemporary romance, erotic romance, fantasy romance, the occult, Creole culture, humor/comedy, multicultural/interracial, and southern drama. Visit her at her website: www.genevivechambleeconnect.wordpress.com.
Novels and novellas include: Life’s Roux (Red Sage Publications) and Out of the Penalty Box (Hot Tree Publishing).
Anthology publications include: “Cargo” (Boys Behaving Badly Anthology #3), “Harmonious Variation” (Symphony Amore Erotic Stories of Love and Music), “Valentine Mistletoe” (Cupid’s Bow: Holiday Heartwarmers Anthology), “Oasis Haze” (Mysterious Hearts: Holiday Heartwarmers Anthology), and “Under the Magnolia Tree” (Haunted Hearts: Holiday Heartwarmers Anthology).
Popping in just to say—Woot! WMR is out! I’m on to the next project before I can circle back and think about what happens next in the series. I kinda know now, but I’m letting it stew. There will be fairies!
I hope you love this story! One reader has already said: “It is full of surprises. Very sweet, very sexy and very mysterious.”
Wolf Moon Rising
In Jefferson Parish, deep in the bayou, is a place called Bonne Nuit. Off the beaten path, isolated by swamp and connected to the sea, there the Beaux Rêve Coven thrives.
Five witches…Too many demons to count…
Aoife is the flightiest of the sister witches, and she has a secret, one her mother warned her to keep close to her heart. Her father was a fairy—which explains her quirkiness and her affinity for flowers. She lives in a cabin on stilts that juts into the bayou, and one of her demon guardians is a werewolf. She’s attracted, but how would he feel if he married her, fathered a child, and that child disappeared into the land of the fae? Desperate to find a solution to her dilemma, she flees her guardian’s protection. Her last hope is to enlist her father’s help. Plead her case. Her happiness, and that of her one true love, Sigurd, depends on whether she can escape this fairy curse.
For Sigurd, acting as guardian to the witch, Aoife, was both a blessing and curse. A blessing, because he’d never known anyone as innocent and pure, and a woman who truly didn’t know her own allure. A curse, because he had to guard her against his own lustful nature.
And again, he was thankful two other demons were assigned the protection detail, because more than anything, he wanted her kept safe. However, he was equally annoyed at having two competitors for her affection.
Of course, many more among the demons living around Bonne Nuit aspired to hear the “echo” of their bonding with a witch. Such a bonding brought power to the lucky demon—and demons were greedy about that sort of thing. They frequented Aoife’s small cabin poised on long stilts above the bayou on the flimsiest of excuses. One needed a fragrant oil to help him sleep. Another needed a healing balm to soothe a bruise. And they were constantly underfoot in her garden and her workshop, interfering more than helping—at least, to his mind.
However, Aoife appeared blissfully unaware of the males’ attempts at garnering her exclusive attention. Her radiant smile flashed indiscriminately upon her pursuers, never mind their unsuitability as possible mates. And despite the fact they’d done nothing to earn the right to call her wife.
Unlike Sigurd, who suffered her proximity and who stood ready to serve her in any way she pleased. Who quietly stood guard over her while she slept, losing his sleep and his pride because she slumbered so soundly, completely unaware of his constant state of arousal.
Sigurd wasn’t naturally a patient man, but he had withstood the torture of being close day in and out for seven months. He was nearing his breaking point. If something didn’t happen soon, he would press their leader, Ethan, to ask his pretty wife for help. Bryn liked him well enough, always turning to give him a wink when “family” dinners took place, and one of Aoife’s admirers fought for the privilege of sitting at her side. Sigurd preferred to sit across from her at the table anyway—the better to glower at his competition. And perhaps raise a lip in a menacing snarl.
Bryn seemed to be in his corner. Perhaps she would be eager to see her sister witch settled. If something didn’t change soon, he’d speak with her.
On this evening, Sigurd wore his wolfskin and lay curled on the wooden floor beside Aoife’s bed. Just before she’d begun softly snoring, she’d reached down and scratched behind his ears. Probably not an act she was even aware of doing. She was kind to all creatures and seemed especially fond of his wolf form, sometimes taking a brush to his fur or giving him a bath in the large metal tub on the porch. He lived for those moments.
He shook his head in disgust. What a sorry excuse for a wolf he was. Wolves weren’t pets. They were pack animals who needed to belong to a family and a mate. A male needed to dominate his bitch, but he didn’t think Aoife would ever agree to be his bitch.
However, the thought did stretch his wolf’s mouth into a feral grin. He laid his head atop his paws and settled with a disgruntled whine.
Minutes passed, and he was nearly drifting off to sleep when the bed creaked and feet softly lowered to the floor. He perked his ears and pushed up to peer over the mattress, just in time to see Aoife slip through her bedroom door.
He followed, freezing when her steps paused, ducking behind corners when she glanced around. Something was afoot, and his hackles rose when she reached for her cloak and a small bag from the hook beside the front door.
Was she meeting a lover? Or were the witches gathering in secret? Somehow, he doubted the latter because Bryn was very pregnant and couldn’t slide gracefully from Ethan’s bed. And Miren would have to escape three mates, and that could never happen. Which reminded him, where the hell were the other two guards?
When Aoife opened the door and crept outside, closing it behind her, he drew up short. He hadn’t considered how he would exit the house, so he quickly shook free of his wolfskin and strode onto the porch. His glance went to the steps at the side of the porch, but then a sound, a soft splash, pulled his gaze to the canal flowing past her porch. She’d taken a boat. The fact she was already on the water meant she’d been in a hurry.
What the fuck?
Footsteps sounded from inside the house. A door creaked open then slammed shut. So much for stealth. Hamdir, also a wolf, walked to his side, scratching his chest. “Where’s the witch? I was sleeping on the couch. Thought you were watching her.”
“I was.” I watched her escape. “Go back to bed. I have this handled.”
“Sure about that?” Hamdir yawned. “Don’t know how you aren’t dead on your feet. You really ought to let us have turns inside her bedroom.” His large hand patted Sigurd’s shoulder. “Driving to New Orleans in the mornin’, or I’d join you on this hunt,” he said with a waggle of his eyebrows.
His gaze followed Hamdir as he stepped back inside. Their group had grown complacent since Ethan defeated the council’s champion in battle and no retribution had been settled upon their unbanded group. Most presumed the mere presence of so many demons, concentrated in their small town, was deterrent enough to rogue demons seeking to steal a witch for a mate.
Sigurd was reminded he’d have to enlist another guard from among the bachelor demons during Hamdir’s absence.
A cool wind wafted against his skin, raising chill bumps. Early Winter in the bayou was mild, but he couldn’t easily follow Aoife on foot.
Instead, Sigurd shifted again and fell to his paws. With a single quick yelp, he leapt past the stairs to the bank. Lifting his nose to the breeze, he followed Aoife’s delicious witch’s scent through the murky, shadowed bayou. If he startled a gator, the bastard better move out of his way.
I like to read books that make me smile and those about family. I’ve written mysteries and romance and, in this new series, chose to combine them. I realized it would be fun to have two main characters and make them identical twins. One would dread sex because of her sole previous marriage. The other would love sex and have three exes who still want her and shower her with finery. But she’s still trying to find that elusive soul mate. Who just happens to be the man who will take her sister’s breath away and make her feel things she’d thought impossible.
My oldest daughter is a wonderful special ed teacher who loves her challenged students; so do I. That’s why I made the sister who didn’t want romance again have a handicap: she’s dyslexic, which causes her problems. She also has a neurosis that she’s struggling to overcome.
Because I adore older people, I gave the sisters a sweet, spry mother who lives in a retirement home in bayou country, where they and I happily reside. Mom’s cadre of buddies love to give her twin daughters advice about romance. Things they hear from other (or make up to pass the time) might help or hinder trouble the twins when murder comes around and aims at one of them.
Who can they believe? Who can they trust? Is love real—or is the man who seems perfect a killer?
I stood in a rear pew as a petite woman in red stepped into the church carrying an urn and stumbled. She fell forward. Her urn bounced. Its top popped open, and ashes flew. A man’s remains were escaping.
“Oh no!” people cried.
“Jingle bells,” I hummed and tried to control my disorder but could not. Words from the song spewed from my mouth.
“Not now,” my twin Eve said at my ear while ashes sprinkled around us like falling gray snow. She pointed to my jacket’s sleeve and open pocket. “Uh-oh. Parts of him fell in there.”
I saw a few drops like dust on the sleeve and jerked my pocket wider open. Powdery bits lay across the tissue I’d blotted my beige lipstick with right before coming inside St. Gertrude’s. “I think that’s tissue residue,” I said, wanting to convince myself. I grabbed the pocket to turn it inside out.
“Don’t dump that.” Eve shoved on my pocket. “It might be his leg. Or bits of his private parts.”
“Here Comes Santa Claus,” I sang.
She slapped a hand over my mouth. “Hush, Sunny.”
The dead man’s wife shoved up from her stomach to her knees, head spinning toward me like whiplash.
What’s your favorite Cajun food or food from the South?(Mine is boiled crayfish. You’d better get out of my way if there’s only one of them left.) One winner will be chosen at random and receive your choice of Delilah’s e-books. Get your stomachs thinking!
A couple of years ago, my sister, Delilah Devlin, and I took a trip to Louisiana, getting to know the state a little more. We traveled through bayou country all the way down to Grand Isle, LA which is nothing more than a little spit of land surrounded by water and barely above sea level. Houses there are built on stilts, daring the ocean to reclaim them. We could see oil rigs off shore and the sunsets were to die for.
In bayou country we checked out the old plantation houses and took an airboat tour of an alligator infested bayou. We found great settings, and gained a better understanding of life along the bayous and the crazy but loveable people who live there. From the ladies dressed in period costumes leading tours through the old plantation houses while serving mint juleps, to the crazy coonasses insane enough to drag a ‘gator out of the water so we could pet it. (Yeah, I pet the 12 ft alligator. Call me crazy too!) Small towns, lots of water and great food added to the experience.
That trip was great fodder for my Cajun Magic Mystery series coming out this year, starting with VOODOO ON THE BAYOU available now! VOODOO FOR TWO (Feb 23) and DEJA VOODOO (Mar 22). They’re laugh-out-loud funny with suspense and sexy characters. Give them a shot while they’re only $2.99!
Voodoo on the Bayou
Book #1 of the Cajun Magic Mystery Series
by Elle James (aka Myla Jackson)
From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Elle James, the 1st book in the Cajun Magic Mystery Series
Don’t piss off the Voodoo Queen…
Craig Thibodeaux’s tangled with the wrong person. Cursed by Bayou Miste’s notorious Voodoo Queen, he’s destined to be a frog by day and a man by night. If he doesn’t find someone to love him by the next full moon, he’ll remain amphibious for the rest of his days.
Elaine Smith came to Bayou Miste to investigate the source of pollutants and finds herself in need of a bodyguard when she gets too close to revealing the source. Though suspiciously absent during the day, handsome local Craig Thibodaux offers to be that bodyguard in her forays into the swamp at night.
Together, they discover the culprits and a magical desire neither expected to find in the blackest waters of the bayou.
Elle James Bio
Elle James aka Myla Jackson spent twenty years livin’ and lovin’ in South Texas, ranching horses, cattle, goats, ostriches and emus. A former IT professional, Elle is proud to be writing full-time, penning, sassy western romances, romantic suspense, thrillers, and paranormal adventures that keep her readers on the edges of their seats. She has over 100 works published! Now living in northwest Arkansas, she isn’t wrangling cattle, she’s wrangling her muses, a malti-poo and yorkie. When she’s not at her computer, she’s traveling, out snow-skiing, boating, or riding her ATV, dreaming up new stories.