Nothin' like a real New Orleans Voodoo Jazz Funeral to put you in a good mood!
A traditional New Orleans Jazz Funeral for the late tuba player Kerwin James. He died in Oct. 2007.
"Hoodoo History of the Second Line Umbrella"
by Gina Lanier and Ellen Robinson
"Hoodoo History of the Second Line Umbrella"
New Orleans is a city rich in its history, its culture, and its traditions. It is known worldwide for its food, its music, and its celebrations. Among those celebrations most unique to New Orleans is the Jazz Funeral.
The Jazz Funeral in New Orleans dates back to the early 1800’s. It emerged as a collaborative effort among slaves and free people of color. For these events, people would pool their resources in order to provide a family or community member with a proper burial. But little do those outside of New Orleans realize the Voodoo Hoodoo significance of a second line parade.
The difference between Voodoo and Hoodoo is similar to the difference between Wicca and Witchcraft. Voodoo is a religion that serves the African deities in West Africa, and Afro-Caribbean Loa or Lwa and the Catholic/Christian saints in Louisiana and Haiti. Hoodoo, on the other hand, is the magical practice, with no religious connections or connotations. To clarify, Hoodoo (like Witchcraft) is an umbrella term that Voodoo (like Wicca) falls under (i.e.- Not all people with Hoodoo beliefs practice Voodoo, and not all who practice Voodoo have Hoodoo beliefs.).
The funeral procession was always characterized by the family of the deceased who where the “first line” of mourners, the jazz band, and the “Second Line” --- the non-family members who would come to pay their respect and help celebrate the life of the deceased. They would also be the rear guard to chase away nay bad evil spirits that might to want to take the soul of the loved one.
Traditionally, the “Second Line” mourners were characterized by their accessories --- fans, handkerchiefs, and umbrellas. All of these items were necessary for the long procession in the hot, southern sun. And to chase away the evil spirits of the Voodoo Pantheon that rule the many City Of The Dead Cemeteries. Especially if your Umbrella is made by or blessed by the reigning Voodoo Queen.
The Loa (also Lwa or L'wha) are the spirits of the Vodou religion practiced in Haiti, and other parts of the world like New Orleans. They are also referred to as the Mystères and the Invisibles. They are somewhat akin to saints or angels in Western religions in that they are intermediaries between Bondye (Bon Dieu, or good god)—the Creator, who is distant from the world—and humanity. Unlike saints or angels however, they are not simply prayed to, they are served. They are each distinct beings with their own personal likes and dislikes, distinct sacred rhythms, songs, dances, ritual symbols, and special modes of service. Contrary to popular belief, the loa are not deities in and of themselves; they are intermediaries for a distant and uninterested Bondye.
The Ghede are the spirits of the dead. They are traditionally led by the Barons (La Croix, Samedi, Cimitière, Kriminel), and Maman Brigitte. The Ghede as a family are loud, rude (although rarely to the point of real insult), sexual, and usually a lot of fun. As those who have lived already, they have nothing to fear, and frequently will display how past consequence and feeling they are when they come through in a service - eating glass, raw chillis, and anointing their sensitive areas with chilli rum for example. Their traditional colours are black and purple.
One the way to the grave site, the mourners would quietly walk to the slow, somber songs (dirges) played by the band. But once the deceased had been buried, a screaming trumpets call would rouse the mourners to stand up and to celebrate the life of the deceased and help release his or her soul. and keep the bad spirits busy see the wild libations of a Voodoo Hoodoo Ritual.
Lead by men dressed in sashes and a hat to represent the Ghede Dark Baron.
The twirling and spinning and swaying umbrellas or a voodoo symbol of protection from the bad Loa's.It is said that the bad Ghede are hypnotized and must follow you and the music. You can hide behind an umbrella, You can flirt with those around you who are all becoming possessed by the spirits and dance wildly in the street. You can also use it for protection from the spirits of the sun, wind and rain, or use it for a weapon. The Baron usually carries a black umbrella with skulls and cross bones on it with purple fringe trim. Sometimes they are adorned with his symbol;s of a cigar and a skull with a top hat on.
The Handkerchief is carried by Maman Bridget and as her Voodoo Symbol, as every lady and man carries a handkerchief and waves it in the air to show her that their tears did not hit the ground. They say if you tears fall and hit the ground at funeral in New Orleans you are the next to die. Her handkerchief is white with lace and a purple bow. It smells of lavender. This is the official fragrance of the Cities of the Dead. Lavender was used during summer month burials and planted in cemeteries to mask the stench of rotting corpse in the summer heat as they baked in their tall whitewashed oven tombs.
The Black fan with purple trim is to honor The Ghede as a family in whole.The mourners use the fan to push a cool breeze to them and keep them intrigued enough to make them follow them away from the cemetery. This of course is so the soul of the recently buried can find the Gate of Guinee to enter the under world undisturbed by the bad Ghede that would keep them from finding the gate to eternal rest. Sometimes Ghede's in Cemeteries possess flies and will land on you so you use your fan to swoosh them away until it's time for you, or if you want them to mount you in the procession later.
Louisiana Voodoo, also known as New Orleans Voodoo, originated from the ancestral religions of the African diaspora. It is a cultural form of the Voodoo religions which historically developed within the French- and Creole-speaking African-American population of the U.S. state of Louisiana. It is one of many incarnations of African-based religions rooted in the West African Dahomean Vodou tradition and the Central African traditions found in Haitian Vodou. They became syncretized with the Catholic religion as a result of the massive forced migrations and displacements of the slave trade.
Louisiana Voodoo is often confused with – but is not completely separable from – Haitian Vodou and southeastern U.S. hoodoo. While it generally shares the same loa as Haitian Vodou, it lays a generally greater emphasis upon folk magic (as does hoodoo). This emphasis has become a spiritocultural marker for southern, Afro Diaspora, francophone Louisiana within the Western media. It was through Louisiana Voodoo that such terms as gris-gris (an Ewe term) and voodoo dolls were introduced into the American lexicon.
It is during this jubilant celebration that the fans, handkerchiefs, and umbrellas became “props” used by the Second Liners as they stepped and danced to the celebratory music. As an alternative religion based in African society, Voodoo faced substantial suspicion from some segments of the Christian contingent of southern Louisiana's African-American and white populations. They looked at it as superstition, pagan practice, and/or as both evil and Satanic.
Scholars believe that survivals of Haitian and West African-influenced Vodou religion may be found in the African-American Spiritual Churches of New Orleans, a city with a large Catholic population.
The Well Known Secret New Orleans' Voodoo Cemetery Gates Of Guinee, The Portal To The Afterworld.
Ghede' is a very wise man for his knowledge is an accumulation of the knowledge of all the deceased. He stands on the center of all the roads that lead to Guinee, the afterworld. To find these mysterious gates in the city of New Orleans might take a little detective work. Some Locals say if their open when you find them... beware! If you then enter you will never return to the real world.
The exact location of the haunted cemetery gates isn't really ever told to outsiders of the Secret Societies. New Orleans Tour Guides and Haunted Cemetery or ghost tours will skirt around the issue, or just look at you like they don't know what your talking about, so never mention it (seriously). They say just to talk about the accursed cemetery gates spells doom to those that ask or search for it or speak of it openly to anyone. Those who know feel it is inviting them , "The Ghede" to take you away. Only someone pure of heart with only one burning question to be answered by the dead is ever told the whole truth. A unnamed New Orleans Voodoo priestess says quite bluntly, search and you shall find them rusted shut, or worse they will certainly find you and be wide and opened.
To find these gates, they say is to find the way to communicate openly with the dead. And not just the spirits of those that have died in New Orleans. Local Voodoo followers of Marie Laveaus' Secret Society profess that anyone can come to these gates of Guinee if you can find them.
Speak the name of the deceased you wish to speak to aloud five times through the bars, and they will come and speak to you from the other side. One real warning though, if the rusted shut heavy gate opens do not enter. For you will be one of the living trapped in the world of the dead forever. If you arrive and the Guinee gates are open turn and walk away crossing yourself three times as fast as you can and don't look back.
In New Orleans voodoo-religion, Guinee is the legendary place of origin and abode of the voodoo gods. It is here that the souls of the deceased go after their death. On their way to Guinee, they first have to pass the eternal crossroads which is guarded by Ghede.
" Although one is pure of thoughts and in heart, searches for the gates of the truly dead. You never know when the November winds blow, If the cursed gates are searching for you too."
"If you enter the gates backwards you might have a small chance, to flee with your life all intact. But if your motives are untrue then the living death calls your name , then there is nothing you can do."
Attributed to Madame Marie Laveau, 1800's New Orleans
Ghede is represented as an undertaker, dressed completely in black wearing dark glasses. His followers disguise themselves as corpses and they dance the Banda. Other members of his retinue are Baron la Croix (Baron of the Cross) is the mystical Baron responsible for the reclamation of souls, and Baron Cemetière a spirit of the dead.
Baron Samedi is one of the Guédés, related to and intertwined with Baron Cemetière and Baron La Croix. He is a Guédé of the Americas, bridging the Guédés and Legba. Both are guardians of the crossroads, the place where spirits cross over into our world. If the intercessions desired are with the loa, then Legba is saluted and asked to allow the loa to participate. If the intercessions are with the dead, then Guédé (Ghede) is the intercessor.
As Baron Cemetiere is an obscene, sexual persona known for causing disruptions and hallucinations. He is fond of liquor, especially rum. He also enjoys hot red peppers, coca oil and burning incense. Rodents and insects are his constant companions, and cold dark spaces are where he finds himself comfortable. Baron has the power to turn people into slaves by using his magic spells and zombie powder. Some say he even has the ability to change shape, and possess people.
Baron is one of the most accessible and beneficent of all the lwa, for the simple reason that he is the ruler of all ancestors, and everyone has ancestors. The first man buried in any cemetery is Baron. The first woman buried in any cemetery is Maman Brigitte. Together they reclaim the souls of the departed, and transform them into Gede lwa. You may put before Baron any case of injustice which you have suffered, or you may ask forgiveness for any wrongs you have done. You may ask for the protection of Baron, Brigitte and the Gedes.
Baron La Croix (Baron the Cross) is the mystical Baron responsible for the reclamation of souls. Baron Samedi is involved in the magical ceremonies of the Sanpwel, including those in which the punishment of zombification is inflicted on criminals. Baron Cimitiere is the Big Black Man in the cemetery, he is the one who guards the bones of the dead at night. Baron Kriminel works for pay, and must be paid by the end of the year, November 2, the Feast of the Dead.
A video of al copeland funeral held
monday 31 march 2008.
Final goodbyes will be said Monday to legendary New Orleans restaurateur Al Copeland.
Copeland died Easter Sunday in Germany where he was seeking treatment for a rare form of cancer. He was 64-years-old.
Visitation will begin at 11 a.m. at Holy Name of Jesus Church on St. Charles Avenue, with a mass following at 2 p.m.
After the mass, there will be a funeral
procession to Metairie Cemetery on Pontchartrain Boulevard
where Copeland will be laid to rest.
The Catholic syncretic contribution to Haitian Vodou is quite noticeable. However, in the United States, there appeared to be different development. Nonetheless, Voodoo in New Orleans was influenced by the large Haitian immigration, including slaves and free people of color, in 1809 after the Haitian Revolution.
Some scholars believe confusion about Voodoo in the USA arises because there is a widespread system of African-American folk belief and practice known as Hudu, or more popularly as hoodoo. Hoodoo may have tenuous connections to Vodou, but may be an integral part of the Vodoun religion in West Africa and throughout all of Africa.
Over the course of time, the Second Line Umbrella has emerged as a dominant symbol of celebration amid Hoodoo and Voodoo, in New Orleans. Today, the Second Line Umbrella is used to celebrate just about anything --- Mardi Gras, weddings, showers, graduations, milestone birthdays, anniversaries, retirements, sporting events, etc. The Spiritual Churches of New Orleans are a Christian sect founded by Wisconsin-born Mother Leafy Anderson in the early 20th century. These churches incorporate Catholic iconography, ecstatic worship derived from African-American Protestant Pentecostal practices, and a large dose of Spiritualism. A closer examination shows that the hallmark of the New Orleans Spiritual Churches is the honoring of the Native American spirit named Black Hawk, who lived in Illinois and Wisconsin (Anderson's home state), not in Africa, or Haiti.
Practitioners combined aspects of Spiritualism and Voodoo in the nineteenth century; the voodoo-influenced "Spiritual Churches" that survive in New Orleans are the result of a mingling of these and other spiritual practices. The New Orleans "Spiritual" religion is a blend of Spiritualism, Voodoo, Catholicism and Pentecostalism. It is unique among African-American "Spiritual" religions in its use of "Spirit Guides" in worship services and in the forms of ritual possession that its adherents practice
It is hardly surprising to find such an interest in Spiritualism. The first issues of L'Union demonstrated the deep interest that Spiritualism held for Creole New Orleans in general and for the Creoles of color in particular. The blending of Spiritualism and Voodoo occurred because of Spiritualism's technical similarities to Voodoo possession. Spiritualism, "as a technique for communication with the dead," was not very different from the forms of ritual possession that were encountered in 1920s New Orleans.
Due to the suppression of the Vodoun religion in America, most hoodooists are now members of Christian churches, such as the various Baptist, African Methodist Episcopal (AME), Pentecostal, and Holiness denominations. When hoodoo is compared to some of the African religions in the diaspora, the closest parallel is to Cuban and Dominican Palo, a survival of Congo religious beliefs melded with some Catholic forms of worship.
Segregation minimized the number of bi-lingual African Americans (those who spoke basilect and fluent acrolect), and at the same time minimized the number of whites who could translate basilect well enough to discover Voodoo in the spoken, sung, or written words of middle class, working class or working-poor African Americans. In isolated African-American communities, such as the Georgia Sea Islands or in the Mississippi Delta, Voodoo lore could be freely referenced and practices, at least the more subtle ones, were more public.
With the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans and other parts of the Gulf Coast, hundreds of thousands of individuals, including many Louisiana Voodoo practitioners, were driven to many different parts of the United States. From around the nation many are seeing the Jazz Funeral become part of their culture. Jazz Funerals or happening now in Texas, Atlanta and even Alaska. It took a hurricane hitting New Orleans to make the rest of the world see Voodoo Hoodoo Umbrellas pop up every where and for every occasion.
With the evolution of their use has come the evolution of their style. What was once just a regular necessity against the sun has become a highly decorated work of art. Second Line Umbrellas now reflect attitude and personal style as they twirl and spin as if to say “laissez lees bons temps rouler”!
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