Voodoo Dreams

New Orleans Travel Blog

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St. Louis cemetery

Tuesday was my last day in Nawlins.  I woke up early in the morning and realized that I still had several things left on my "to see" list.  One of those things was to visit the famous St. Louis Cemetery.  After catching the St. Charles bus down to Canal St. I walked the rest of the way on N. Rampart.  I wasn't exactly certain of my directions so it just happened by random that I discovered the St. Louis Cemetery #1 first. 

For those who aren't up on New Orleans history, the St. Louis Cemetery #1 is the oldest (opened in 1789) and most famous cemetery in New Orleans.  A word of caution, however, when traveling alone to the cemetery it is best to go early in the morning or in the afternoon.  The reason--the cemetery borders the Iberville housing project and crime rates are high in this area.  I inadvertently walked right into the middle of a police scuffle.  I didn't feel that my safety was at risk and truthfully someone accidentally hit me with their drill (it was turning off and I was walking behind him as he swung around) and the guy apologized sincerely.

I hear peanut butter sandwiches are very tasty in cemeteries
  The people I met around the cemetery were very nice, but for those who like midnight cemetery wanderings, I recommend taking a buddy. I'm not a big cemetery person.  They don't scare me or creep me out; I just don't prefer them.

I wandered around for a bit and then ran across a tour group.  I'm pretty much an independent traveler, but when I run across a tour group, I eavesdrop and pickup additional information.  I walked past the group and the tour guide asked if I was looking for the tomb of Marie Laveau.  Really I wasn't, but I decided not to pass up the opportunity and see it anyway.  I told him yes and he gave me specific instructions: ten steps ahead, make a right, five steps forward, turn left, look for the tomb with X's.

Marie Laveau's grave
  Surprisingly I found it without much trouble.

Madame Laveau has a fascinating grave.  Do not pass up an opportunity to see it!  It seems that not much is known about her life aside from folklore.  I gather that she was a free black woman (because she married a free black man in 1819), made a living as a hairdresser, and was believed to have magical powers.  Visitors mark her tomb with XXX in hopes that she will grant them a wish.  Near the tomb is a sign that states marking on any grave is against the law.  I question the tribute offerings: bottled water, seashells, a baseball cap, and cups of liquor.

tribute offerings to Marie Laveau
  I'm not sure those would make me a happy spirit.

I'm not a superstitious person but something peculiar happened.  As I was photographing the tomb my camera suddenly shut off (this never happens).  I tried to turn the camera on several times but couldn't get it back on.  It wasn't until several minutes later that the camera finally worked again. 

Her grave is certainly haunting; the folklore built up around her makes visiting her grave a truly rewarding experience.  


hannajax says:
one thing you forgot about laveau is that she was considered a voodoo priestess. many of the gifts littering her grave are symbolic gestures of that faith. on a side note, metairie cemetery is the incredibly amazing, incredibly beautiful city of the dead that lies on the outskirts of new orleans, and has more statuary and miniature houses than one could muster. if you ever return here, i strongly suggest you see this one.
Posted on: Oct 19, 2006
X_Drive says:
I loved your spelling "Nawlins". I always thought it was Narlins, but then I'm from much farther west.
Posted on: Jun 29, 2006
vances says:
you're gonna hate me, but I'm pretty sure it's spelled "cemetery". I don't usually worry about spelling...but it was there so many times, lol. Regardless, an enjoyed blog ---> THANK YOU!
Posted on: Jun 29, 2006
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St. Louis cemetery
St. Louis cemetery
I hear peanut butter sandwiches ar…
I hear peanut butter sandwiches a…
Marie Laveaus grave
Marie Laveau's grave
tribute offerings to Marie Laveau
tribute offerings to Marie Laveau