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Celebrate St. John’s Eve

Submitted by on June 16, 2013 – 8:57 amNo Comment

louisiana_neworleans_stjohnHeading down to the Big Easy to celebrate the solstice? There’s another celebration on the calendar (and, as always in New Orleans, a cocktail is created to whet the experience.).

From June 17 through 24, 2013, International House, 221 Camp Street, New Orleans, Louisiana (map), will celebrate the advent of sultry summer days with the signature reverence and Vodou intrigue found only in New Orleans.

A local institution in this “Northernmost Caribbean city”, the hotel observes Saint John’s Eve each June 24, the eve of John the Baptist’s nativity — which was six months prior to the birth of Jesus.

Since Christian observance of John’s birth falls so near the June 21 summer solstice, there is no surprise that church fathers contemplating the feast day of John the Baptist and perusing the calendar for the right place to put it papered the Christian Holy Day over the pagan holiday.

Yet this is New Orleans, so enters Vodou into the sacred picture. “Ascending courteously with a one-to-one correlation to Christianity’s saints, Vodou had the power to confer an ‘honorary doctorate’ of sorts on a man. Always and forever a ‘wild man’, St. John found himself the standard-bearer of exotic ceremonies on the city’s Bayou St. John, conducted by a noble line of priestesses, from legendary Marie Laveau (New Orleans’ most famous Vodou queen who was instrumental in weaving Catholicism into the practice of Vodou) right down to our contemporary serene Sally Anne Glassman.”

Each year at this time, Glassman erects an altar in the hotel lobby to mark the occasion, it’s devoted to the two “nations” of divine spirits or “loa,”: the magical, fiery Petro and the gentler, cooler Rada. New this year, however, Loa bar’s Creative Director and self-titled “Spirit Handler” Alan Walter has enlisted the assistance of Glassman to create a bottled elixir called “John’s Way.” This libation is intended as a “handmaiden to the reinvigoration of personal energies, a fresh spiritual start and heralds a New Way with ‘life unending’.”

John’s Way employs “seven waters” which maximize “healing properties”: Aguardiente, an Anise and Sugarcane Spirit (translates as “firewater”), Genapi, a rare Alpine Liqueur flavored with Wormwood Blossoms, Kümmel (a spirit infused with Caraway,) Spanish Moss, Jasmine, Sweet Olive and other herbs. The bottle has a lovely custom label that includes instructions for a private ceremony to heighten the potion’s effects.

It even comes with a tiny gris-gris bag attached and a candle hand-painted with Marie Laveau’s personal insignia. Starting on June 17 just twenty-four bottles of Walter’s elixir will be sold for $40 each.

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