St. Peter’s Spiritual Temple (Voodoo Village) – Memphis, Tennessee - Atlas Obscura
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Memphis, Tennessee

St. Peter’s Spiritual Temple (Voodoo Village)

A reclusive Memphis neighborhood is home to decades worth of misunderstood Masonic folk art. 

As most locals would have it, St. Peter’s Spiritual Temple, the Memphis neighborhood known to most who don’t live there as “Voodoo Village,” is a haunted hub of strangeness responsible for stopped cars and voodoo curses. Yet in reality, it is simply a community that expresses their spirituality through homemade art installations rife with Masonic imagery.

Legends about the off-the-beaten path neighborhood abound among the local teens. Ranging from raving voodoo priests to ghosts to very real, baseball bat wielding maniacs. These strange tales are thanks in no small part to the countless brightly colored folk art pieces that decorate many of the yards and buildings. The selection of strange pieces range wildly with some of the pieces living up (down?) to the superstitions, such as a large cross with nails jutting from every angle, while others appear as simply rainbow-colored fences and ladders. There is however a distinct Masonic influence to the pieces, with the symbol of the Freemasons adorning many of the pieces. The truth of the village however is not so sinister, yet still strange.

The community was started in the 1960s by a spiritual leader named Wash Harris who named the neighborhood, “St. Peter’s Spiritual Temple.” Harris’ followers seem to adhere to some form of mixed Christianity with a heavy dose of Masonic devotion. The odd lawn ornaments were created as fetishized devotionals, and the strange and possibly cultish take-over of the area did nothing to assuage the fears of the (let’s be honest, likely largely caucasian) Memphis locals who soon dubbed the area “Voodoo Village.”

Today the community is still the target of near constant visits from teens and rabble-rousers looking to overcome some rite of passage, zooming in and out of the neighborhood to gawk and harass the people living there. Maybe understandably there have been verified accounts of people being chased off by baseball bat wielding residents who are absolutely not interested in being made into a regressive urban legend.

Know Before You Go

This is a community that values its privacy. The "Voodoo Village" mythos led to years of disturbances, harassment, even trespassing of mostly white teens from the city into this mostly black, rural community. Today a series of gates and fences cut off the property from outsiders, and it is commonly understood that the residents would like their privacy respected. Angry residents and gun-ownership aside, voodoo is widely believed to be a source of woe to those who do not respect it.