The Seven Gates of Guinee

It’s likely that you haven’t heard about the Seven Gates of Guinee, and if you have, you’ve likely not experienced them in the way I’m going to discuss them here. The Gates of Guinee are the seven gates that lead to, well, Guinee, the voodoo underworld. Naturally, the locations of these gates are said to be in New Orleans, the voodoo capital of the world. But before we discuss more about these gates, let’s talk about voodoo, a spiritual practice with a lot of misconceptions surrounding it in modern times.

A Quick History of Voodoo in New Orleans

Voodoo was first brought to Louisiana by enslaved West Africans who practiced their own religions, one of which was a more concentrated form of voodoo. (The same happened in Haiti, which is why voodoo is also very prominent in Haiti. If you haven’t read about my mentor, Wade Davis’s experience in Haiti with voodoo, read all about it here!)

Slaveowners in New Orleans were afraid of a slave revolt (something that did eventually happen in Haiti), so they chose to ‘allow’ slaves to practice their own forms of religion. Even so, Catholicism was heavily pushed upon these West African slaves, so many Catholic practices merged in with voodoo practices, creating a hybrid-like religion that was effectively Voodoo-Catholicism. Most of the voodoo found in New Orleans is very much its own form of Voodoo-Catholicism.

Unlike the dark reputation that voodoo gets, it’s actually a religion that is heavily connected to nature and one’s ancient ancestors. The main belief is that there is one God who does exist (which is why it was able to mesh so well with Catholicism), however, God doesn’t interfere with the daily lives of man. Instead, spirits are regularly involved in our world and are our connection to the other side. The important and most powerful spirits in voodoo are called ‘loa’, and voodoo heavily involves rituals that connect the living to the spirits and loa around us. In fact, there are a lot of rituals in the religion of voodoo, and a lot of its practitioners believe in and practice many forms of holistic medicine and healing, too.

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In fact, I have a very interesting sidebar to tell you about voodoo dolls. While they have a menacing reputation for inflicting pain and curses on people, voodoo dolls actually started out with a much simpler and kinder use. They were actually just markers for notating what was wrong with someone. For instance, if you had a headache and you went to see you voodoo practitioner for a cure, they would take the doll and mark it in a way to remember that it was your doll. They’d then put a pin in the head to remind them that you came in for head pain. Then, they’d add more pins to the head to indicate the severity of your headaches. They were actually used as markers so holistic healers could remember what was wrong with you the next time you came in (like more primitive version of a patient chart). But ignorance and fear created a different reputation for the voodoo doll, one that has lasted through until today. You can read more about that here!

Guinee, the Voodoo Underworld

Guinee, the voodoo underworld, is not exactly a place of enlightenment or a place of punishment. Instead, it’s a place where spirits go to reunite with their ancestors. Guinee is guarded by Baron Samedi, the main loa of death, often seen as a skeleton in a top hat. He is the symbol of death and is believed to be the loa who brings people down to Guinee, so, naturally, he is said to be waiting at the seventh and final Gate of Guinee.

To many, the Seven Gates of Guinee are seen as just a metaphor, each representing one of the seven days a soul remains near its body on earth in the voodoo religion. Once seven days have passed, only then can the soul be led safely into the land of the dead. This idea is crucial in the voodoo belief system, as it is supposedly the best time for a Voodoo priest to make a body a zombie.

Others believe that each of these gates actually have a distinct physical representation here on earth and that each gate has its own loa guardian standing between it and the world of the living. To access Guinee this way, one must approach each of the gates and appease each of the guardians in a very specific order. Now, I was recently in New Orleans, and I theorized my own idea on where I believe these gates lie, and I visited each based on my own theory. You can watch the full adventure on an upcoming episode of my show Weird World Adventures soon! But, in the meantime, you can read more about here!

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On the Adventure to Find the Gates of Guinee

The Order of the Gates of Guinee

According to the resources that I’ve read, the Seven Gates of Guinee must be approached in the following order. In other words, each gate has the following loa guarding it:

The First Gate: Baron LaCroix

The Second Gate: Guede Nibo

The Third Gate: Guede Plumaj

The Fourth Gate: Baron Cimitiere

The Fifth Gate: Guede Babaco

The Six Gate: Barom Kriminel

And the seventh and final gate is guarded by none other than Baron Samedi himself.

My Adventure Finding the Gates of Guinee

I have heard many different rumors on where the Gates of Guinee might lie. Most believe they are found in the infamous above-ground cemeteries of New Orleans. Others had a different idea. Based on some of the most exciting theories I researched, I thought we could put the symbol (or veve) of Baron Samedi, the symbol of death, himself, over the map of New Orleans with the center of his cross landing on Canal Street and Basin Street. When I first placed the sigil on the map with that in mind, I noticed that most of the spots the stars of Baron Samedi’s veve landed on made sense. They were thematic and appropriate to many of the guardians of the underworld. And when I discovered that it would have put the top star of his sigil on Marie Laveau’s tomb, well, I knew that this was the exact theory I would be working with.

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My Map to Find the Seven Gates of Guinee

With all that in mind, here’s what my map looked like. I had the order in which I needed to approach the loa, and now I had a map of seven locations, all matching with a corresponding loa that I matched up with the spots based on their personalities and what worked best with the seven star locations on the map. And here’s what I theorized:

The Gates I Landed On

The First Gate

Well, it was Baron Street, so I figured that I would expect to find one of the Barons here. Baron LaCroix is the most suave and sophisticated of the death loa and pushes for the expression of lust and sexuality. So, a high-end wedding location on Baron Street sounded like the perfect spot to pin him at.

The Second Gate

A high-stakes medical training facility is the perfect place to find Guede Nibo, the loa who was considered a great healer.

The Third Gate

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With a crass sense of humor and an ability to wear many masks (and accept them as offerings, of course), a strip club is a strangely appropriate fit for Guede Plumaj, as the guests and visitors here all likely wear many masks. I couldn’t help but leave a mask here as an offering for Guede Plumaj … and I also may have left a dollar bill in it.

The Fourth Gate

As the doorman between the living and the dead, a famous cemetery spot just makes sense for Baron Cimitiere.

The Fifth Gate

With no special traits or abilities to note, known as the ‘unnoticed brother’ the nice taste of some southern cooking at a local eatery seemed like a fit here. It’s familiar here in the Southern charm of New Orleans yet particularly exceptional and delicious, as Guede Babaco reminds us to stand out, even if we naturally don’t. 

The Sixth Gate

For a loa who is cruel, thought to be the first murdered, and who demands the sacrifice of chickens burned alive, the Museum of Death seemed like a perfect fit for Baron Kriminel. The fact that this spot crossed perfectly at the other end of the sigil from St. Louis Cemetery #2 with Marie Laveau’s tomb in the center above them is pretty wild. Of course, I wouldn’t be caught dead sacrificing a chicken, so the stuffed animals and dead bodies found at the Museum of Death will have to do instead.

The Seventh and Final Gate- The Tomb of Marie Laveau

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Marie Laveau’s tomb would make sense to be the seventh and final star, the one at the top, where you can find Baron Samedi and where the final Gates to Hell supposed lies. She was the third female leader of voodoo in New Orleans and maintained her authority until she passed away, so this makes sense that Baron Samedi himself would be found here. In fact, there’s a legend that if you draw 3 X marks on her tomb, turn around three times, and knock on the tomb, if you speak your wish, it will be granted. If it is, you must come back and circle your wish and leave an offering. The officials in New Orleans, of course, now heavily discourage this old practice. You must schedule a tour with a guide to enter the cemetery and see Marie Laveau’s (or any of the tombs there) tomb, and you most surely can’t defile the tomb in any way.

Regardless, we showed up to Marie Laveau’s final resting place after conducting visits to the locations we believed to be the other six gates to the voodoo underworld. Here’s what we found.

The Outcome

It’s hard to express the fun, excitement, and total awe that came out of this adventure to find each of the Gates of Guinee and to approach them in what seemed to be the ‘appropriate order’. To see the outcome, you’ll have to watch the new episode of Weird World Adventures featuring New Orleans and our hunt for the Seven Gates of Guinee. However, I will tease you with this for now: While the underworld may not have opened up for us and welcomed us in, there was a natural phenomenon that appeared the second we arrived at the last gate and gave our offering to Baron Samedi, and it was pretty wild. The whole things was an exciting journey well worth the ride. And I’d love to hear your thoughts and theories on the Seven Gates of Guinee and where you think they may be if they have a physical representation here on earth! Be sure to send me your thoughts if you have any!

Malorie Mackey is an actress, published author, and adventurer. Malorie grew up in Richmond, Virginia where she loved sports, the outdoors, animals, and all forms of art. She took to acting at a young age, so it was no surprise when she decided to go to college for theatre. While in college, Malorie studied body movement with the DAH Theatre in Belgrade, Serbia, voice in Herefordshire, England with Frankie Armstrong, and the business of theatre in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Malorie moved from the East Coast to Los Angeles after receiving her BFA in Theatre Performance from Virginia Commonwealth University. Upon arriving in LA, Malorie participated in the Miss California USA 2011 Pageant where she won the “Friend’s Choice” Award (by popular vote) and received a beautiful award for it.

While living on the West Coast, Malorie accumulated over 40 acting credits working on a variety of television shows, web series, and indie films, such as the sci-fi movie “Dracano,” the Biography Channel show “My Haunted House,” the tv pilot “Model Citizen” with Angie Everhart, and the award-winning indie film “Amelia 2.0.”

Throughout her experiences, Malorie found a love for travel and adventure, having journeyed to over a dozen countries experiencing unique locations. From the lush jungles of the Sierra Madre mountain range to the Arctic Circle in Finnish Lapland, Malorie began adventuring and writing about her unique travels. These travel excerpts can be found on VIVA GLAM Magazine, in Malorie’s Adventure Blog, in Malorie’s adventure show: “Weird World Adventures” and in the works for her full-length travel book.

In 2022, Malorie was thrilled to become a member of the Explorer’s Club through her work on scientific travel. Her experiences volunteering on archaeological and anthropological expeditions as well as with animal conservation allowed her entry into the exclusive club. Since then, Malorie has focused more on scientific travel.

Malorie’s show “Weird World Adventures” releases on Amazon Prime Video in the Spring of 2024! Stay tuned as Malorie brings the strangest wonders of the world to you!

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