St. John’s Eve is the Holy Day of New Orleans Voodoo and is one of the only feast Days in Catholicism that celebrates the birth of St. John the Baptist, the other two being Jesus and Our Lady. Usually, feast days celebrate the deaths of saints. In New Orleans, it is the day for celebrating the Mother and Father of New Orleans Voodoo, Marie Laveaux and Dr. John Montanet.
The celebrations of St. John's Eve typically honor Marie Laveaux. I am certainly among those to pay homage to our Queen this time of year. However, I think it is time to start deliberately celebrating Dr. John, as well. After all, he did as much for New Orleans Voodoo as did Marie Laveaux. He brought gris gris into the commercial practice, taught Marie Laveaux the art of gris gris, and played a prominent role as a drummer in the celebrations at Congo Square - rhythms that can still be heard today.
There are a number of small things you can do to begin incorporating Dr. John into your yearly celebrations. As he is considered the patron loa to drummers and male Voodoo practitioners (although, as a lover of women and other personal reasons I will not disclose at this time, I believe he can just as well be patron loa to women as well), any celebration that incorporates drums and drumming is appropriate. Since he was a rootdoctor, offerings of any medicinal plants and foods can be made to him. Louis Martinie suggests medicinal liquids like camphor are also appropriate.
Some customs to observe this day in honor of Dr. John and St. John center around the gathering of St. John’s Wort, Mother Earth’s own protection ward and antidepressant. To harvest, cut the top half of the plant, tie into a bundle and hang to dry. Hang a few sprigs above doors and windows as a protective ward. Tie a few sprigs together with red string and hang above the image of St. John to keep evil away. Better yet, plant a few in your garden in honor of the great rootdoctor.
St, John's Wort is a wonderful medicinal herb. It can be used medicinally as a general tonic for wellbeing or for specific conditions such as depression, sleep disorders, chronic tension headaches, and mild rheumatic pain. To reap the benefits of this marvelous little magical and medicinal herb, make a tea or tincture:
- To make a tea, place two teaspoons of the dried herb in a cup of boiling water for 15 minutes, strain and drink 3 times a day. Add sweetener to taste.
- To make a tincture, place 3 ounces of the dried flowers or fresh herb to fill a one pint jar. Cover with Everclear and shake the contents well. Let steep for two weeks, shaking the jar once a day. The resulting liquid should be a bright red, which represents the color of the blood of St. John, whose beheading is remembered on August 29th. Strain out the herbs and pour into 1 oz dropper bottles Drink two droppers full three times a day for adults and one dropper full for children.*
A custom in celebration of St. John is to make a wreath and hang it on the front door. Wreaths are made from the foliage of magnolia and oak trees, cushion bush, asparagus fern, bay laurel and marjoram. Flowers for the wreath can include lavender, larkspur, hydrangea, baby's breath, goldenrod, pussy willow, yarrow, purple coneflower, roses and globe thistle.
I will post a magic lamp for Dr. John in an upcoming post so stay tuned! You might also be interested in an article I posted at the New Orleans Voodoo Examiner called What can we Learn about Dr. John Montenet from his Handwriting?
Article Copyright 2013 Denise Alvarado All rights reserved.
* This information has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not a substitute for medical care given by physicians or trained medical professionals.
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