Discover A History Immersed in Legend and Lore With a Walk Through the City of the Dead
Discover a history that can be felt and a little local flavor with one of the many tours available or explore it all on your own. The beauty of this cemetery is a reflection of it's location. Worn and unkempt, its 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, 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 farther 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, 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.
Voodoo Wish Spell
Located on the edge of the French Quarter, Cemetery Number 1 in New Orleans is the oldest in the city. Here, because of the swampy areas, the deceased are buried above ground so their coffins don't float to the top during the rain. You will also find the tomb of Marie Laveau, the legendary voodoo queen. Legend has it if you leave an offering for her, spin around three times and knock three times on her tomb, she will grant your wish.
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!
By Aimee H
1000 Howard Ave, New Orleans, LA 70113, USA
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