In African history, the gris-gris was an amulet or symbol of good luck and spiritual protection. The practice of using a gris-gris symbol was brought to America by African slaves near Senegal and Mali in the 17th & 18th centuries. The gris-gris is a small bag full of little objects specific to the person or place intended. Part of early Islamic culture in West Africa, the gris-gris bag is usually inscribed with scriptures from the Qu’ran. In some parts of african culture like Senegal, the gris-gris was sometimes used as a form of contraception.
The term gris-gris was said to derive from the Mande language, and the West African term juju, which means sacred. One of the most famous practitioners using gris-gris was Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans in the 19th century. Laveau was said to have inherited her magical powers from her African ancestors.