References to Voodoo in popular culture are plenty, especially here in the West. From pin-filled/punctured dolls, to witch doctors, possession and animal sacrifice, these are likely some of what many would immediately think of, if asked to describe what Voodoo is.
Some might also attribute it to a specific place - usually the countries of the Caribbean, like Haiti and Jamaica, or the southeastern United States, especially New Orleans.
And while some of these beliefs are indeed tangentially related, others are stereotypes that have little or nothing to do with Voodoo itself, even though seemingly embraced by the zeitgeist, thanks in part to Hollywood schooling.
Voodoo, as we know it, and that will be of some significance during the upcoming 3rd season of FX's American Horror Story (Coven), set in the aforementioned New Orleans, can trace its origins to a slavery-era coalescing of the assortment of beliefs and practices brought over from different parts of primarily Western Africa.
The character Angela Bassett plays in the Coven - Marie Laveau, a practioner of Voodoo who lived in the 1800s, who was called "the Voodoo queen of New Orleans" - is indeed credited with being a unifying force in helping Voodoo penetrate New Orleans culture.
We'll have to wait to find out just how involved Bassett's Laveau character will be in Coven's main plot, when the new season arrives on October 9 at 10 PM ET/PT on FX - exactly a week from today.
Producers of the series have said that Coven will explore "themes of race and oppression and family," as executive producer Tim Minear puts it.
Here's a breakdown of the season, if you missed it previously:
It's been over 300 years since the Salem witch trials. Those who remain are almost extinct and in danger again. A school has opened in New Orleans to teach protection to the young. The long-absent Supreme arrives to also protect the new students and their secrets. The themes include witches, slavery, witchcraft versus Voodoo, incest, and more. This season will be set in modern day and the 1830s.
In a new behind-the-scenes video, FX takes audiences "Inside The Coven" as the clip is called, to provide some background on New Orleans Voodoo, ahead of next week's season 3 premiere of American Horror Story: Coven. Until I actually watch episodes of the season, I can't offer any commentary on how exactly Voodoo is incorporated into the main narrative, and how it will be presented overall.
I certainly hope it doesn't continue Hollywood's typically 1-dimensional *spook* trends.
The 5-minute video, featuring real-life New Orleans practitioners of Voodoo, is embedded below: