Manbo Jessyka Winston had no plans to turn her spiritual practice into a business. However, in 2016, Winston believes her spirits guided her to create Haus of Hoodoo, a New Orleans-based botanica, or religious store, with an Instagram following of more than 100,000.
The native of Ayiti is now using her social media platform as a tool to help combat some of the false beliefs surrounding Vodou and Hoodoo.
Vodou means “spirit or deity” in the Fon language of what is now Benin. Africans who were enslaved and brought to colonial Saint-Domingue, or present-day Haiti, developed the practice in the 16th and 17th centuries. One of the main ideologies of Vodou is that humans live among Iwa, or spirits, as well as Mystè (mysteries), Anvizib (the invisibles), Zanj (angels) and souls of the ancestors. Winston is a “manbo,” a Vodou priestess.