Limited edition “JOHN’S WAY” hand-crafted ritual box Available for $100
Join us in WHITE as we celebrate the Solstice with a 150 year old ceremony started by Vodou Queen Marie Laveau
Spiritual ceremony by priestess Sallie Ann Glassman
Limited edition “JOHN’S WAY” hand-crafted ritual box - bottled elixir, gris-gris bag, candle, headscarf, incantation Available for $100 please call 504.462.0911
ST. JOHN’S EVE | VODOU RITUAL | SUMMER SOLSTICE
On FRIDAY, June 22 from 6:30 – 8:30 PM, International House celebrates the advent of sultry summer with reverence and Vodou mystique found only in this Northernmost Caribbean City. A local institution, the hotel observes Saint John’s Eve on the Friday before John the Baptist’s birth (June 24). For the 20th year, this ritual is led by Priestess Sallie-Ann Glassman, and as always in this colorful city, a cocktail is created to whet the experience. A headwashing ceremony, Haitian rum and bottled elixir add to the mix. You, in casual white, do too.
Since St. John’s birth falls so near the June 21 Summer Solstice, there is little wonderment in anyone’s zodiac circle that the feast day of John the Baptist is linked inextricably to the pagan holiday Midsummer’s Night.
And while in South Louisiana the longest day of the year conjures imprint moments of relentless heat and humidity, to the ancient eye the Summer Solstice must have been a truly marvelous event, as the life-giving sun or Sun God appeared to stop still in the sky before dramatically reversing direction. Equally marvelous over the centuries, celebrations attending this Solstice have featured rites of purification and renewal, promising a spiritual fresh start for the initiate. How perfect a legacy for a prophetic man, whose mission was to announce that the Old Way would soon yield to a New Way.
Yet this is New Orleans so, of course, stir Voodoo into summer’s sacred recipe. By cleverly forging a relationship between its divine spirits, the Lwa, and Christian saints, Vodou found new voice in a city that welcomed the vitalizing energies of French Caribbean culture - musically, spiritually and otherwise. Indeed with great panache, legendarily charismatic hairdresser and Priestess Marie Catherine Laveau reinvented Vodou – then ridiculed and practiced only by an “underground” few - as “Voodoo,” and she popularized it to the highest strata of social and spiritual life.
Marie’s honored subject was the biblical St. John, always and forever a wild man both in life and in her spectacular ceremonies. Thousands attended, and this yearly gathering remains an exotic amalgam of Haitian Vodou, Roman Catholicism, Native American tradition and Masonic mystery. It has been conducted by a noble line of priestesses, from Marie Laveau the “Voodoo Queen,” whose grave 150 years after her death is still the second most visited in the nation, to internationally recognized local Priestess Sallie Ann Glassman today.
Author, speaker, teacher, artist and mountain climber, Sallie Ann ministers to many from her Island of Salvation Botanica and Bywater temple. She was born in Maine, initiated a Vodou priestess in the rich Haitian Kreyol tradition and carries the spiritual torch for a new generation. This year she honors Marie, who rose dramatically from water to kick off wildly popular head-washings in Bayou St. John and who “they” say is rising dramatically now to become a Lwa.
Fittingly for 2018, Ms. Glassman’s altar in the hotel’s soaring lobby is dedicated to Marie Laveau. It features a 10’ papier-mâché statue of Marie with billowing white sheers that bear her insignia and dance in the summer breeze. The sheers signify the porous veil between the spiritual and physical worlds . They represent the lwa veves of Ayizan for feminine power, Loko for masculine power, Legba for spiritual guidance and Petwo for meaning in our experiences. And, they serve as ethereal backdrop for Glassman’s head washing ceremony, ritual drumming and dancing.
Once again, “Spirit Handler" Alan Walter, artist Britney Penouilh and Sallie Ann Glassman, have co-created John’s Way. “It is a limited edition cocktail, a bottled elixir.” says Walter. “I created it as a handmaiden to personal reinvigoration, New Ways and fresh starts in life that we all need.” The elixir employs the seven waters which heighten healing properties of medicinal herbs grown by Walter’s gifted purveyors. It includes: Aguardiente (“firewater”), Genapi, (flavored with Wormwood blossoms), Kümmel (infused with Caraway), Spanish Moss, Jasmine, Sweet Olive and other herbs. Adds Walter, “This elixir underscores the role of cocktails in New Orleans, ever- present in life’s epiphany moments.” John’s Way is presented in a wooden box, conceived by Penouilh. It contains a rich mix of traditional altar elements, such as a gris-gris bag, candle, elixir, headscarf and ritual incantation. Each is revealed or concealed in specific, drawers, shelves and compartments, such that the composition itself forms a reverent altar to St. John and Marie Laveau. Says Glassman, “The gris-gris bags are for Marie, with lavender, jasmine, basil and hyssop for luck.” “Unlike any other city, the identity of New Orleans is spoken through its’ rituals. With honor and intention, each artist’s labor - carpentry in the altar, painting on candles and foraging for the elixir’s herbs - is a penance to the ritual.” adds Britney Penouilh, also the hotel’s Art Director.”
With a nod to the June 21 Summer Solstice, only twenty-one John’s Way bottles will be sold. The beautiful keepsake box, with 500ml elixir, is $100.
Mindful of architecture, music, food, culture, climate and characters unlike any other city in America, International House hosts seven local rituals throughout the year as a way of sharing with locals and visitors alike an authentic and fascinating taste of this soulful PLACE.
In “America’s Most Interesting City” on this High Holy Day in Vodou, please join us, cocktail in hand.
6:00 - Introduction by Priestess Sallie Ann Glassman
6:15 - Toast to St. John by Alan Walter
6:30-7:30 - Ceremony honoring Marie Laveau | spiritual head-washings by Sallie Ann
• BRING SOMETHING • TAKE SOMETHING •
Bring offerings for Marie of blue and white candles or flowers, hair ribbons, brushes or barrettes and Creole foods, and take a white scarf as a symbol of spiritual rejuvenation and reminder that we are all spiritual beings on a human journey.