Sunday, February 21, 2016

Need some voodoo advice or knowledge? Look it up! 'The Voodoo Encyclopedia' explains all

            Years ago I did a newspaper story on ghost, cemetery and voodoo tours in the French Quarter. Over the years I had become the Halloween writer, so to speak, collecting fun spooky stories for the publications I worked for, one reason why I wrote “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” for The History Press.
            Strangely enough, I wasn’t impressed with the New Orleans ghost tour but the cemetery and voodoo tour proved fascinating, continuing me on a journey with my interest in mojo bags that resulted in another book of mine, “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets” with Jude Bradley.
            None of my books follow the voodoo traditions but I did learn that voodoo or vodou is a bonafide religion and not the craziness one witnesses through Hollywood. What originated in West Africa and Haiti may also differ in what one may find in New Orleans.
            “By no means is it a faith dedicated to working evil,” writes Jeffrey E. Anderson, editor of “The Voodoo Encyclopedia: Magic, Ritual, and Religion.” 
            Anderson, the Dr. William R. Hammond professor of liberal arts at the University of Louisiana at Monroe and author of “Conjure in African American Society,” offers an invaluable dissection of the religion in this encyclopedia form, from altars to yoruba. “The Voodoo Encyclopedia” is a compilation of numerous scholars on the subject with detailed descriptions of primary documents, photos and a lengthy bibliography.
“This is a valuable reference work for public, high school, and college libraries and for special libraries focusing on religion or folk arts,” wrote Booklist.
I couldn’t agree more.
Looking for additional books on the subject? LSU assistant professor Kodi A. Roberts has just published “Voodoo and Power: The Politics of Religion in New Orleans, 1881-1940” with LSU Press.

New releases
            University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press has released “Preventing Lethal Violence in NewOrleans” by Lydia Voigt, Dee Wood Harper and William E. Thornton Jr., a book inspired by the conference of the same name held in October 2012 at Loyola University of New Orleans. “Preventing Lethal Violence” offers a sample of the presentations and roundtable discussions relating to the historical and cultural uniqueness of New Orleans and its record of homicides over the years. Special attention is given to research on the most promising programs that may be applied to New Orleans addressing the problem of interpersonal lethal violence. Contributors include Voigt, Harper, Thornton, Jeffery Adler, Peter Iadicola, David Hemenway, Sean Goodison, Rae Taylor, Jay Corzine, Lin Huff-Corzine, Aaron Poole, James McCutcheon, Sarah Ann Sacra, Wendy Regoeczi, and Ronal Serpas.
            The Southern Review’s Winter 2016 issue is now available and features a mix of poetry, fiction and essays, plus artwork by New Orleans-based Deedra Ludwig. Published from the LSU campus, the literary review is available at bookstores and online at thesouthernreview.org.
            New York Times best-selling author Greg Iles’ latest installment of his epic “Natchez Burning” trilogy, “The BoneTree,” comes out Tuesday in paperback. Stephen King called it “extraordinarily entertaining and fiendishly suspenseful” and the Wall Street Journal called it “A whopping tale.” Iles lives in Natchez, Miss.