Marie Laveau (September 10, 1782 – June 16, 1881) was a Louisiana Creole practitioner of Voodoo renown in New Orleans. She was born free in New Orleans.
Her daughter Marie Laveau II (1827 — c. 1895) also practiced Voudoun, and historical accounts often confuse the two. She and her mother had great influence over their multiracial following. "In 1874 as many as twelve thousand spectators, both black and white, swarmed to the shores of Lake Pontchartrain to catch a glimpse of Marie Laveau II performing her legendary rites on St. John's Eve (June 23–24).
Marie Laveau was reportedly buried in Saint Louis Cemetery #1 in New Orleans in the Glapion family crypt. This fact is in dispute, according to Robert Tallant, a journalist who has used her as a character in historical novels. The tomb continues to attract visitors who (illegally) draw three "x"s (XXX) on its side, in the hopes that Laveau's spirit will grant them a wish. Some self-styled researchers claim that Laveau is buried in other tombs, but they may be confusing the resting places of other voodoo priestesses of New Orleans.
Although some references to Marie Laveau in popular culture refer to her as a "witch", she is properly described as a 'Voodoo priestess'.