When I visited St. Louis Cemetery Number 1 tucked back behind old walls in the inner-city of New Orleans, I was struck by the effigies keeping watch over the dead. Not only are the tombs creepy and older than many others in the US, but the angels, symbols of death, and other watchful statues reminded me of how prevalent death was in 18th century New Orleans as plague and disease swept through the colony. Watchers like this kept families safe and gave them hope. Hundreds of them still whisper death's ever-presence among us. Her grief-stricken face stuck with me. The Voodoo Queen is buried here, as well, with people coming to offer her libations still, so that they can conquer their fears, and perhaps death, as well.
If you do happen to find a grave that is underground, you can hear the coffin bang against the crypt inside when the water table rises-- the reason all of the graves in NOLA are above-ground!
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The beauty of this cemetery is a reflection of it's location.Worn in and unkempt, it's air of mysterious romanticism can only be felt and explained with a visit.
Although, it is rumored that the above ground tombs are due to the water levels -no one wants grandma floating down the street during a storm -it is in fact, mainly spanish influence that dictated the above ground practice.
Here, you'll find the reputed resting place of marie laveau and a little further into the city of the dead,her daughter. Both are easily recognized by the offerings left.
Here's a little bit of lagniappe:
Many years ago, with the utmost intentions, the groundskeeper started a myth that is still perpetuated by many today.
Although the offerings left at the base of the tomb are mainly authentic, the ritual of the 3 x's are not.
Recounted by the misguided groundskeeper to rich white folks after Marie Laveau's death, the groundskeeper hoped that they would leave money as an offering for the sorely needed repairs of the grounds. It is said that the more gullible the tourists appeared, the sillier the ritual became.
It is speculated that the origins of the 3 x's in fact come from the tomb maker's signature who mostly poor men of color, could neither read nor write. Be sure you spread the word if you go for a visit and be warned that if perpetuated, you risk a hefty fine.