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Fun With Voodoo in Miami's Little Haiti

Paula Froelich
Editor at Large
May 15, 2014

(Image: Thinkstock)

The last time I went to Miami, a friend of mine mentioned Little Haiti. 

“Oh yeah—they do all sorts of voodoo down there,” she said. “It’s really weird.”

I am a connoisseur of weird, and frankly, I was a little bored with South Beach. So, naturally I was all for checking out Little Haiti. There is a lot of superstition and fear surrounding voodoo. I met the high priestess of New Orleans a few years—a woman named Sallie Ann Glassman, a Jew from Maine (who knew there were Jews in Maine?), who explained voodoo to me and showed me the studio where she practiced. It was filled with statues of saints and skeletons—all of which were surrounded by cigars, booze and beads. Apparently, voodoo saints like to party. Hard. 

And I love a good party, so I grabbed my driver and new pal Mauricio and my friend Allie and headed for the Libreri Mapou Book Store and Cultural Center.  

Allie next to a mural at the Libreri Mapou.

Darnst, the man working the shop while he owner was away, showed us around, sold me a book on voodoo, and took us to see the art gallery on the second floor. 

I loooooved this piece. It depicts signs for 10 Haitian saints, and the chicken bones in the middle are the “heart” of the wire person. It is supposed to denote love. Or doom. Darnst wasn’t sure.

This was one side of a mural on the wall of the gallery—a much more peaceful scene than the other side. 

This was the other side of the mural. It looks like the plant monster in Little Shop of Horrors is puking all over a group of unfortunate people. Darnst was unsure of its meaning.

A cross in the tree. 

Darnst claimed the pieces were for sale, but couldn’t find any prices, thus I still have no Haitian art. Allie got creeped out when two paintings fell off the wall narrowly missing her head as she was walking down the stairs.

“You are magnetic!” Darnst said. “They were drawn to you!”

“We should probably go,” Allie said.

After the library, Mauricio took us over to NW 2nd Street to the Voodoo botanica shops, so we could check out some practitioners at work. 

I liked this mural—even if the guy on the left is a little cross eyed. So we went in. 

Inside the botanica we met Marie, a practitioner of voodoo, and her two daughters, Stephanie, 19, and Lisa, 12—a practitioner in training. Marie didn’t speak any English, so Stephanie, an EMT, who was braiding her mothers hair, translated when Marie read my cards.

Stephanie braiding Marie’s hair.

According to Marie, who lit a candle before reading my cards, I apparently have a lot of dudes who like me—three to be exact: One who is bad, one is okay, and one is juuuuuust right. Kind of like Goldilocks. Unlike Goldilocks, I was (and am) unaware of said suitors. There is also a friend causing me some drama (true!) and that my work life is great (it is!). 

Stephanie then invited Allie and me to a voodoo party—apparently all the voodoo shops in the area get together once a month and throw down. At the party, a “spirit” enters a practitioner’s body and will tell truths to the crowd. 

“A local woman was once told that her husband was cheating on her—and he was,” Stephanie said. “The spirit sees everything.”

I was down, after all. The saints look like they are partying all the time. And I may as well get in on it—but the party wasn’t for anther week and a half.

“You will have to come back for it,” Stephanie said. “It is a lot of fun.”

And I think I just might.