Dabbling with the unknown can be quite terrifying, especially when it comes to other customs, religions or spiritual practices that seem 'odd' in comparison to what we know.
Voodoo is a perfect example of this — the word itself often conjures up images of evil spells, dolls and secrets intended to inflict pain and trouble onto other people in an effort to gain more individual power.
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But perhaps the greatest irony is that the message, meaning and purpose of Voodoo could not be further from those connotations.
Voodoo's ideology is to push away negative energy and hone in on positivity, and those who practice most often use the religion to bring "good luck, good fortune, money and prosperity," says Megan Houlihan, who specializes in all things Voodoo at Marie Laveau's House of Voodoo in New Orleans.
We chatted with Megan about Voodoo itself, myths and judgements about the religion, and most importantly, how it can be used to bring financial success and prosperity.
Here are six items that Megan recommends for those looking to reach new heights in their business endeavors and financial lives:
AOL: Why do you think people are so apprehensive to experiment with Voodoo to begin with?
Megan Houlihan: "I think that Voodoo's spent so much time being vilified because it is so secret, but the religion itself is all about service in the community, making sure your life is better but not by making somebody else's life miserable — just by making sure that bad and negative things are kind of brushed off of you, that they stay away.
AOL: What is one of the biggest myths that people have about Voodoo?
MH: "Voodoo dolls, specifically! Voodoo dolls, historically, if you had a doll, that doll was like a physical representation of that person, and the pins were used to — say your knee hurt, and they gave you something to make your knee not hurt anymore. They would pin what that was, so that if your knee hurt again, the root worker would know what had gone wrong, and what had fixed you last time…It was more of a physical/medical history than it was a thing to do bad things to people."
Watch our interview with Megan live at Marie Laveau's from the AOL Finance Facebook page:
AOL: What do most people come into the shop looking to use Voodoo for?
MH: "We get a lot of people who are looking for stuff for love, we get a lot of people who are looking for stuff for money, for work, and a lot of people who look for gambling stuff — They want a little charm because they're going to the casino, or somebody's bet on some game and they want a little thing to kind of just edge them a little bit.
AOL: How did you become a practicer of Voodoo? How did u become involved with the shop?
MH: "I've worked here for 13 years. I'm originally from Chicago and I moved down here, and I had studied religion previously but this was the one thing that kind of made sense to me, so i just kind of went with it. And when I got here, I actually got a job here before I had an apartment or anything else. I was living in a hotel…I think I was here not even 48 hours before I started working here! And I've pretty much been here ever since.
AOL: What are your favorite Voodoo items to use?
MH: "I use glass candles a lot, and I carry a little gris-gris bag with me that someone made a very long time ago. And I feel like that had done a lot to protect me and keep me on my path."
AOL: What would be one or two must-have items for entrepreneurs or business owners looking to start experimenting with Voodoo to help their business?
MH: "The two things that I would probably recommend most would be to get one of the house dolls, just because it's specifically designed for new business. And if you want to dress it up or do anything with it, the staff here can always help you figure something out. The other thing would be either a mojo or a gris-gris bag. You can either leave it behind the counter, or you can keep it with you, keep it by your register, just to kind of keep that positive energy flowing. Another thing I would always try and do, is have a better business or money-drawing candle always burning in the place during the day, at least an hour a day, just to kind of keep that positive energy flowing and keep that negative energy away."
AOL: What would you say to someone who's curious about experimenting with Voodoo, but still apprehensive about beginning?
MH: "Just because you don't understand something doesn't mean that it's bad. Voodoo is a religion that's hidden because it was vilified for so long. But just because of that, doesn't mean that there's not a lot of really great things that have come out of it. It's a beautiful [religion]— voodoo itself is such a part of culture in New Orleans, and New Orleans is an amazing place to be. Stepping just a little bit outside that box and being just a little more open to something outside of what your 'normal' is, can really be this amazing experience. And I don't think that anybody should be afraid of something that's a new experience."
You can visit Megan and the rest of the staff at Marie Laveau's and Reverend Zombie's House of Voodoo, both located in New Orleans' French Quarter.
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