The legends behind the mysterious Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau have captivated people in the deep south for centuries. Born a free black woman, her practice of Voodoo in the city of New Orleans earned her a plethora of cult like followers as well as merchandise lines, local urban legends, and even country ballads dedicated to her mystical life.
Now, it seems as though the Voodoo Queen has returned to this world only not in her home city of New Orleans. Instead, she seems to have made her home in a small, rural town in South Carolina. Rumors have continued to circulate from residents of Mountain Rest of a woman who lives there and performs "miracles for those in need."
Born under the name of Stacy Richmond, Stacy says she had a strange feeling she was much more than just a backwoods southern girl from South Carolina. She says that her memories began to return to her around the age of seven.
"I would go out into the woods to play and the forest would seem like home. I loved to look for snakes especially, they seemed almost like family to me," recalls Stacy, who now goes by the name "Marie".
Marie's family raised her in a Southern Baptist Church, much like the majority of the families in Mountain Rest. She recalls attending services regularly but never quite feeling like she belonged.
"Everyone was so nice, but it just never really felt right to me. Like something was telling me 'you know this is not what you believe'".
Shortly after she turned sixteen, Marie began answering her call to her original life in secret.
"I couldn't take it anymore. The feelings were just too strong, I had to find out what was pulling me so hard."
Marie bagan on the internet, searching Voodoo cultures and views on reincarnation. This lead her to even deeper research at local libraries as well as online forums. No matter where she turned though, the life of Marie Laveau is what always spoke to her the strongest.
"I would look at records and say 'No, thats not what really happened'....how would I know that if I were not actually Marie Laveau? It just felt so right, like the feeling you get when you know your home."
After the tragic death of her parents in a car accident, Marie stayed at the house she had been raised in. Only now, she no longer had to keep her Voodoo practices a secret. Eventually, she was reunited with her "familiar" in the form of an eastern diamondback rattlesnake.
"I was out in the woods searching for herbs when I saw him sunning himself on a rock by a small spring. Normally, diamondbacks are very leery of humans and are quick to let one know they are somewhere they do not belong, but this time was different. He didn't rattle, puff himself up, or anything like that. I felt the same calm, friendly feeling I felt around other snakes only this was much deeper, as if we were connected."
Marie slowly approached the snake which made no attempt to rattle or strike. Instead, she stretched out her hand and the snake rested his head in her hand then moved up her arm and came to rest across her shoulders.
"I felt like I had found my best friend again. Zombi has not left my side since that day. His venom has even come to use in many of my rituals."
It is her rituals that eventually lead to her discovery. Locals have sought her out for everything from help in finding a new job to infertility, even help with cancer originally thought to be inoperable. While Voodoo is not highly thought of in a highly Christian town, people still seem to come to Marie for help when they feel nothing else has worked.
"I had been unemployed for a long time, my family was in danger of losing our home." one local man, who wishes to remain anonymous due to fact he went to a Voodoo woman for help, tells his encounter with the reincarnated Voodoo Queen. "I had heard people talking about a woman with a snake that could make things happen for people who came to her. I figured, what harm could it do? I was desperate."
Marie recalls when this man came to see her fondly. "He showed up at my home and looked so lost. I don't really know if he knew what it was he was doing or what he expected to see or find. Probably some crazy old hag with eyeballs in jars I suspect. *laughs* I invited him in for some sweet tea and we had a very nice talk. I was so happy when he let me help him with his troubles."
"Not only did she make some of the best sweet tea I had ever drank, she was so nice and understanding. It really made me feel at home."
The details of how Marie helped this man were not revealed due to privacy and Voodoo rules. However, a week after the man came to ask Marie for help, he was hired at the local fish hatchery which in turn saved his family from foreclosure. As far as payment for her services, Marie did explain her simple policy on this matter:
"I don't expect certain amounts or things for any aide I give. I ask that people leave a donation of whatever they feel the help they got is worth."
Just as the details of the ritual used to help the gentleman, the details of his offerings were kept private as well. He did laugh and say it had nothing to do with his soul or first born child though.
Another witness of Marie's power told of how she had gone to Marie for help in conceiving a child. Her and her husband had been trying for a year to become pregnant with no success. After hearing about the Voodoo Queen, she came to her for help. Within a month, she and her husband were pregnant and gave birth to a very healthy baby boy.
"I can never repay her for what she gave me." the woman who identified herself only as "Andrea" stated. "Thanks to her, my husband and I have a son. She is truley a very powerful woman. I don't know how or where it comes from, but it is definitely there.
When asked about her offering for Marie's help, Andrea said her form of repayment would be yearly for every year she got to be a mother, but assured me it had nothing to do with the soul of her newborn son.
Marie is happy to help any who come to her for assistance. She feels that it is her purpose is to help those who seek it.
"What good is power if you can't use it to help people? I was given this new life for a reason, and if it is to help those in need, then that is what I will do."
It seems as though some deep south Creole mystic has made it's way to the backwoods of South Carolina, and from what the locals are saying, it's a welcomed presence.