The sorcerer known as Marie Laveau was first reported in the New World in New Orleans in 1718, arriving on French ships filled primarily with West African slaves from the Senegal area. Known there as Abena, or “Tuesday-born” in the Akan language, she was already a powerful medicine woman and traveled as the concubine of a French planter who died mysteriously en route. Laveau was never enslaved; in fact, she is said to have possessed a mysterious allure and power over others, one that she often exploited to obtain favorable results for herself, her family, and those who had earned her loyalty (through trust or money). Upon arrival, Laveau immediately made contact with the Chitimacha indigenous people, and after a time of living in their midst, she became a prosperous merchant who manufactured medicine, cured and sold tobacco, and processed pelts from fur traders. In the Great Hurricane of 1722, nearly all of New Orleans was destroyed, including the port, the hospital, and the St. Louis church. Miraculously, Laveau’s home was undamaged. It is said that the waters approached her home but simply went around it. Under the French colonial laws, free black citizens enjoyed relative freedom; in fact, as much as 25 percent of houses in downtown New Orleans were owned by free blacks, many of them single women. But after the territory was ceded to the British with the 1762 Treaty of Fontainebleu, life in New Orleans became increasingly difficult as race, and not just class, became codified in laws that privileged white men and disenfranchised others. Rumor has it that the Great New Orleans Fire of 1788 started behind Laveau’s home, but her house and the house of anyone who had hung one of her conjure bags on the door and prepared their home with rattlesnake salt and protection charm remained untouched. Serendipitously, these events were repeated in the second Great Fire of 1794. Laveau and those associated with her were unharmed and their property spared. Colonial governors and wealthy slaveowners saw large losses of life and capital. In the Magimundi and among the underground in New Orleans, Laveau became something of a legend, prolonging her life by sprinkling her rattlesnake salt on her food daily.
A woman known as Marie Laveau appeared again in New Orleans in the mid-19th century and was a blend of many heritages. Her mother is said to have been half-Native American and half-black, and her father was half-Spanish and half-French. Described as a tall, statuesque beauty with dark, curly hair, Laveau to the mundane world was a hairdresser to wealthy white women and a prosperous businesswoman. Laveau was also a powerful sorcerer with great magical powers and knowledge of arcane lore, both feared for her prowess and revered as a wise priestess with formidable knowledge and connection to the spiritual world. It is said that she created a potion made from vampire’s blood that kept her eternally youthful and beautiful. To the mundane eye, she had a pet boa constrictor, Zombi, but Wizards know this was her arcane familiar, enhancing her power and doing her bidding either at her side or away from Laveau’s physical form. She spoke four languages: English, French, Spanish, and Creole and was considered the foremost authority on relics, bonded objects, numerology, and controlling the inanimate. As a potent artificier, she was consulted by mages of all traditions, often for dark or dubious purposes, such as to regain a lost lover, to take a new lover, to eliminate a business partner, or to destroy an enemy. She frequently hexed hairpins, which she would use in the elaborate updos that she was known for among her clientele. The wearer would mysteriously fall ill, complaining of headaches, neuralgia and nighttime visions of being visited by spirits. Laveau herself had a beautiful cloisonné hair comb that was her totem or talisman. The hair comb allowed her to see through the eyes of another; she would intertwine a single strand of a person’s hair around the comb, then place the comb into her own hair.
In 1819, Laveau visited the New World Magischola as an invited guest of then-Chancellor Solomon Gundy, himself of English and Haitian descent. She later joined the staff at New World Magischola as a professor and founded the final house, Lakay Laveau. Laveau hand-picked students for her house that exhibited exceptional intelligence, skill, creativity, tenacity, and a willingness to take risks.
Laveau at one point caught the attention of Marshals because she had successfully gained some wealth in both mundane currency and Leeuwendaalders based on selling artifacts and then very lucratively started to set an exchange rate. Another idea was that she was not a Magischola graduate and faced some jealousy from "Wizards" who were her competitors. Joining NWM as a teacher allowed her to pass some testing (likely formalities) that made her a Wizard.
Laveau is said to have died in 1881 or 1891, but there are reports of seeing her after her date of death, some as late as during World War II. To quell the rumors that she walked among us, her casket was exhumed in 1952, but upon opening, no body was found. Some believe Laveau has taken a new form and has a new identity. Others believe her bones were stolen by relic hunters and turned into powerful magical artifacts used in rituals related particularly to power over death and aging. Some believe both.
Marie Laveau is regarded as one of the most skilled and powerful artificiers of the age, her artifacts and works are legendary and, when one is found and brought to auction, always fetch considerable sums of money.
Among Laveau’s interesting theories was that Wizards are themselves artifacts, and that artificiers in particular are compelled to continually improve themselves in order to become an evolving self-aware artifact. There are those who have looked at these concepts and worked to expand upon them, which creates a high demand and value on the works of Marie Laveau, so that her methods and understandings can be studied. Many of her creations, however, are locked away by the Magimundi Government and deemed too dangerous for public consumption.
The house she founded, Lakay Laveau is known for their patience, cunning, and fiercely protective nature. It is rumored that members of her house harbor secrets that Laveau made only beholden to them, but given the nature of secrets, it is not possible to confirm or deny these theories.