Haunt Jaunts : Haunted by the Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau

With Courtney Mroch

How many years had it been since I’d been to New Orleans, specifically the French Quarter? It was perhaps best measured in decades and it’d been at least a few.

I’d been a pre-teen sent to stay with relatives for the summer the last time I’d been there. They lived in a small town near Lake Pontchartrain about a half an hour from New Orleans, but we’d made several trips into the city that hot, steamy summer.

And now I was back, in the land of my ancestors. My grandma and her sister had been born and raised there. They came of age there just after the turn of the twentieth century, in the early 1900s.

Gram had long since passed. Her sister had passed long before her. But I felt them as I walked the streets. It was as if their ghosts were guiding me to all the places they knew I wanted to see most.

Yes, I had been there before, but not to the places I went now. My relatives hadn’t taken me past Madame LaLaurie’s house. Discussing a serial killer wouldn’t have been age-appropriate subject matter back then. But I wanted to see it now, and with ease, no directions needed, there I was.

Same for when I wanted to visit St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 in search of Marie Laveau’s grave. My relatives wouldn’t have thought to take me to a cemetery back then. If they had, I probably would’ve thought it was weird and ended up with nightmares for a week.

But now I felt my visit to NOLA wasn’t complete without seeing it. Again, I felt my ancestors with me on my quest to find the grave.

Everything was perfect until we got to Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo. It was just a tiny little shop on Bourbon Street. I went in, had a look around, noted –and respected– the “no photos” sign, bought a couple postcards to send to friends, then left.

But before I did I wanted to get a photo of some kind. I turned to take a photo of the store’s facade. That’s when I was blasted, for lack of a better word, with an angry energy.

It wasn’t evil or demonic. It didn’t feel hate-filled exactly, but it sure contained animosity.

But just as soon as it hit me, it evaporated. I didn’t think any more about it other than maybe I was hot and in need of a cool drink, some A/C and a little rest. I’d hit the ground running early that morning and hadn’t stopped since.

I thought about it again later that night, though, when I had a horrible dream.

In the dream, I was still asleep in my hotel room, but as dreams do I could see multiple perspectives at once. I also saw the outside of Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo as I had that day, and I once again felt that angry energy, but this time it was accompanied by a scream. One so loud I covered my ears and closed my eyes and that’s when my mind’s eye saw the Voodoo Queen hovering horizontally against the ceilings of both the shop and my hotel room, her mouth twisted in a snarling growl from whence emerged the ear-shattering scream.

Which was bad enough, but her eyes were boring into mine…even though mine were closed. My eyelids provided no protection at all. There was nowhere to hide.

It was her eyes that told me her anger was personal. Marie Laveau hated me. She wanted me gone. Not gone as in dead, but out of her city.

When I woke up, I was glad it was just a dream, but…it didn’t feel like just a dream. The residue stayed with me the rest of the day. Even now, years later, the feeling still persists.

But what could I have done to Marie Laveau? Angered her because I was one of the tacky tourists curious to see her grave? That seemed unlikely.

Besides, as I said, the anger felt very personal and intimate. Like I’d done something very egregious to warrant her wrath.

A few years later one of my cousins emailed me excited about a discovery she’d made during genealogy research. I’d never shared the Marie Laveau incident, so she blew me away with what she had to say.

“You’re going to love this. I think I may have found a connection between our family and Marie Laveau!”

“What do you mean by connection?” Laveau

“As in we might be related to her!”

“I see,” I said doubtfully. For one, Marie Laveau was a woman of color. Where was that color in our family?

“No, I’m serious. I know what you’re thinking. I don’t have all the facts yet, but I think one of our great-great somebodies might’ve married one of her daughters or granddaughters. Big scandal. He got disowned. When I find out more, I’ll let you know.”

She still hasn’t let me know, but was that why I felt Marie Laveau’s wrath? Had my great-great somebody really married one of her offspring and perhaps caused chaos of some kind for her too? Maybe he hadn’t provided for her like he needed to because of getting disowned?

I still don’t know, and I have to admit as much as it thrilled me at first to think we may be connected to the famous Voodoo Queen, I knew it was most likely wishful thinking.

Until I decided to take a DNA test and received some surprising results: 8.1% of my ancestry hails from Sub-Saharan Africa. 

Huh. Didn’t see that one coming.

But even more interesting was the timeline that detailed how many generations back my most recent ancestors came from each ancestry composition. My African ancestors were from the 1700s to the early 1800s.

Marie Laveau lived from 1801-1881. She had two daughters with her husband Jacques Paris: Felicite (born 1817) and Angele (born 1820.) It’s possible they died because there is no further record of them after the 1820s.

When Jacques died, she had formed a “domestic partnership” with Christophe Dominick Duminy de Glapion and had at least seven children with him. Some reports say they had as many as 15, but some of them could’ve been grandchildren.

However, it’s thought only two of her children survived to adulthood, Marie Euchariste Eloise Laveau (1827-1862) and Marie Philomene Glapion (1836-1897). One of these Marie’s became Marie Laveau II, but it’s not clear which one.

Marie Laveau was born in the French Quarter but her mother had Native American, African and French ancestry.

Perhaps one of my ancestors hooked up with one of hers in the 1800s? Perhaps we’re the result of their offspring?

Which would mean I have Marie Laveau blood in my veins, if only a little bit.

Before the DNA info, I doubted it was possible. Now? I’m not so sure.

I’m continuing to dig to see if I come across any connections, and I’m still hoping my cousin’s research will prove something. Either one way or the other.

Until then, the mystery of it all haunts me –both whether I’m related to Marie Laveau and if my overactive imagination dreamed up the anger I felt her directing at me.

 

 

Creepy Possessions: The New Orleans Doll

The only thing I knew for certain about the doll was that I received it as a gift.

My sister brought it back with her from a high school choir trip to New Orleans. It was a trinket really—a miniature jester wearing a leopard print costume, the face and hands made of porcelain. It wasn’t expensive, just a mass-produced souvenir. The heavy makeup on her painted face nearly tripled the size of her dark eyes. I had never liked clowns, never feared them either, so the doll was a strange thing for me to develop an attachment to. If she hadn’t been a gift from my sister, I never would have liked her much at all.

Odd as she was, I kept her for years, always in a prominent place on my desk or bookshelf. I suppose after a while I simply stopped thinking of her as strange. Whenever anyone asked about her, I proudly told them of my sister thinking of me while away and bringing her back.

I kept a number of art, trinkets, and toys on my bookshelves, mostly gifts from friends. That was where the doll sat since I first lived on my own. Despite being made of fragile porcelain, she survived four moves to and from college and three adult apartments. Occasionally, she would suffer an accident, when a cat or errant breeze pushed her off her perch, but she remained unharmed, now decades older and just as new as the day she arrived.

Then my sister came to visit.

“Jesus, Daphne, where did you get that thing?” she asked. “It’s creepy as hell.”

She could have been referring to anything (I own a number of things Wendy considered spooky, including my Ouija Board phone case), but was pointing at the doll on the shelf, where she sat guarding my reference books on vampire lore.

“You bought it for me,” I said, with all the confidence I had from years of telling the story.

“Why would I give you that?”

“You brought it back when the choir went to New Orleans.”

“When did the choir go to New Orleans?”

I tried to remember. She had gone to New Orleans. She had brought back the doll. Those were facts, as secure in my mind as my own birthday. She had given me the doll… but when had that been? She must have been in high school, but then why did I remember the doll from before then? And why would Wendy, who was notoriously frightened by anything remotely occult, have gone somewhere in New Orleans that sold an item so strange? It was a mystery that, I’ve admitted to myself, was unlikely to ever be solved. And without the special honor that came from having been gifted by my sister, my decades-long attachment and care for the doll no longer made sense.

The doll still sits on my shelves. I’m not one to get rid of a gift. And I am still certain that she was a gift, even if I don’t know who gave it.

The Scarlett Dahlia : Mornings by Jesse Orr

 

The hour was late the morning after Ruth drank the Dahlia’s water. Birds had long been awake and busy. The slaves had risen with the birds and took great pains not to make more noise than was necessary as they went about their morning tasks. They knew a slave named Ruth from the pens by the creek had been brought to the Dahlia. Nobody had seen her since.

Charles, laden with a silver breakfast tray, padded with care up to the side of the hallway leading to the Dahlia’s room, stepping over the boards he knew had a creak. He had delivered this tray to his mistress times innumerable and never knew exactly what lay on the other side of the door. His heartbeat increased as he grew closer, and his palms dampened with nervous sweat. Running out of the hallway, he tapped the Dahlia’s door with his leather shoe.

“Enter,” came the voice at once. Charles jumped a little at its suddenness and fumbled for the doorknob. Unbidden, it opened.

“Good mornin, Miss Dahlia,” Charles said, maneuvering through the door and closing it behind him with his foot. His eyes fell upon her first. She was sitting on the bed, clad in a red filmy gown, sunlight cascading around her. Not for the first time, he thought she was beautiful.

His eye shifted and he became aware that the gown had not started the night as any color but white. Moving further, his eye observed the crimson sheets were soaked with a darker stain. It was hard to tell, for laying on the bloody sheets was Ruth, her now-sightless eyes frozen forever in terror.

“Good morning, Charles,” the Dahlia said and turned to smile at him. Her eyes pierced his, and for that instant, it took every fiber of his being not to obey his instinct to run. “How are you today?”

“Good, missus,” he said, averting his eyes and placing the tray on the table which stood at the foot of the enormous bed. He saw that blood had splattered all the way across the bed to the table. His heart fluttered.

“I am delighted to hear it.” She returned her attention to the window. “I may have exsanguinated this one, I’m afraid. You may try if you like.”

“’Das all right, missus, plenny mo’ where ‘dey come from,” said Charles, and picked up a large steel syringe, normally used for livestock. He rounded the bed to the side opposite the Dahlia and stopped, surveying what remained of Ruth. She lay on her back, her head pulled back, and her throat cut deep enough for Charles to see her spine. She was nude, and her skin was a pale blueish color.

Charles had learned any blood the Dahlia left would collect at the lowest points of her victims, and using the needle, he pierced the bottom of Ruth’s stomach, where the skin seemed darker. The bed heaved and there was a rustling sound. He looked up as the Dahlia rose to her feet, leaving her robe on the bed. There was nothing beneath it but blood.

Charles tore his eyes away with an effort, horrified at the thought of what would happen if she saw him looking. He dug the needle still deeper into the dead woman and pulled at the plunger. A dark sludgy liquid made its way with reluctance into the syringe, filling it halfway. Charles pulled the needle out and stabbed it into another low place on the body, yanking at the plunger.

“When you are done, please remove this one and everything with a stain. You know what to do,” the Dahlia said, pausing at the door to the room which held her bathing tub. She flashed Charles a smile he was too afraid to see. “I would like another tonight.” The door closed behind her and Charles released a breath he was not aware he had been holding.

He went on milking the body for any liquid the Dahlia had left behind. He had developed a technique over the many slaves the Dahlia had used. He worked his way all around the body where it met the bed, inserting the needle every three or four inches, and by the time he had circled the body, there was nothing more coming into the syringe.

Returning the needle to the silver tray, the rest of the routine came easy. The bedsheets were bundled around what remained of Ruth. Tying the corners, Charles went to the door and whistled, long and high. After a moment, a pair of dark hooded eyes showed at the door. Mary the slave girl entered and without a sound she and Charles lifted the blanket off the bed and out the door. They deposited their bundle in the small staging room off the black and white tiled ballroom. Without a word, Charles picked up the bucket of water and followed Mary and the mop back to the Dahlia’s chamber. By the time the Dahlia emerged from her bathing room, the bed was once again spotless and the servants and silver tray with its syringes were nowhere to be seen.

Back in the staging room, Charles handed one of the syringes to Mary. Expressionless, she upended the syringe over her mouth and pressed the plunger. Dark sticky blood dripped into her mouth, and she closed her eyes, her normally downcast lips turning upward in a smile. She sighed, savoring the taste, as a shudder ran through her. Charles felt his pulse quicken again as he followed suit with his own syringe. Before he was through ingesting its contents, he felt himself stiffening into a regular railspike. This was not lost upon Mary, who fell to her knees before him. Charles reflected as she undid his trousers that there was only one syringe left, then even that was gone from his mind as she took him into her mouth.

Press Release: Edwardian Ball Special Registry

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Salutations Dear Edwardians!

Hark! On the near horizon, just after the 17th Annual Edwardian Ball San Francisco this month, and the 8th Annual Edwardian Ball Los Angeles next month… At long last comes our much anticipated Third Act of this Edwardian Ball season! We are proud to announce…

The First-Ever Edwardian Ball New Orleans
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Featuring:

and much much more!

Plus…big art & installations, circus, music, theater, dancing, costumes, games, craft vending, exquisite cuisine, two rooms of dance and immersive performance, and much more!

Tickets: https://www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/1408805 Special early bird price, only $30 for an entire night!