Voodoo’s most prominent and fruitful period in New Orleans lasted between the 1820s and 1860s. Voodoo ceremonies were held every Sunday afternoon, a free day for slaves, in the meeting place Congo Square.
Ceremonies were also held along Bayou St. John near the present-day City Park, and along Lake Pontchartrain.
These ceremonies outside of Congo Square, performed by free black Creoles faithful to the history of voodoo, are believed to have been more ritualistic and exotic than those performed in Congo Square, which were more a celebration of African heritage than true voodoo ceremonies.
Following the Civil War, voodoo practitioners were largely forced underground. However, even today the myth, imagery and practices of this ancient religion survive and flourish in New Orleans.
The making of Voodoo dolls, poppets, fetishes, and ritual effigies has taken place since antiquity. The practice of sticking pins in dolls has history in European folk magic, but its exact origins are unclear. Heavily linked to New Orleans,Voodoo and more appropriately to Hoodoo (folk magic), the Haitian religion (in which New Orleans Voodoo originated from) did not use their dolls for this means. Instead, Haitian practice saw the nailing of crude poppets with a discarded shoe on a tree near a cemetery as a means of communicating with the other world.