The last time Don Glossop saw his customers they were ritually burning green candles, hoping voodoo would pierce the federal bureaucracy and hasten the arrival of desperately needed relief checks.
Glossop’s shop, New Orleans Mistic, has been closed since Hurricane Katrina swamped the city two months ago, and most of his clients, who practice a local variant of voodoo, have scattered across the country.
He fears that Katrina, which laid waste to entire neighborhoods and claimed hundreds of lives here, may take another casualty: New Orleans’ status as the country’s voodoo capital.
“As of today I would say it’s pretty dead,” Glossop said. “Even the tourist shops are in jeopardy. There is a chance for a huge loss here.”
Voodoo has long been entrenched in New Orleans, quietly practiced in homes with altars, candles and incense to solve problems of the heart and wallet. Before the storm tore through, about 15 percent of the city’s population actively practiced, according to Lisa Fannon, a tour guide, though estimates vary widely.
Voodoo is part of the vernacular here, showing up in jazz and conversation. Some residents still sprinkle red brick dust on their doorway steps to ward off evil spirits.
It’s an economic draw as well, enticing curious tourists and their pocketbooks into stores such as Glossop’s.