When people think of New Orleans, one of the first things they think is Voodoo.
For centuries, this obscure practice has played a prominent part in the culture that makes up the Crescent City, in addition to other parts of the state.
It originated from the west African Yoruba people who lived in eighteenth and nineteenth century Dahomey, with slaves that brought their religion with them when they were forcibly shipped to Haiti and other islands in the West Indies.
Hoodoo, in fact, refers to African traditional folk magic.
A rich magical tradition which was indigenous to ancient African cultures, it was imported when mainly West Africans were enslaved and brought to the United States. As the practice seemed too taboo, they were banned from practicing the religion, so they looked for ways to hid it.
And they did so by incorporating large amounts of French and Spanish Catholicism into their worship, which is why many of the Voodoo Lwa, or Gods, are symbolized by Catholic Saints such as St. Peter, St. Michael and St. Christopher.
In any case, when Voodoo became a little more widely accepted in the community, prominent practitioners became well known, and probably the most notable of these was Marie Laveau.
Marie Catherine Laveau was said to have been born around 1801 to two free people of color, one being Creole. She was raised into the Voodoo religion, she was married twice and had a total of fifteen children. One of these children would be named Marie Laveau II and is said to have been nearly as knowledgable in the religion as her mother. The two were known for hosting large public rituals, which garnered them attention (and quite a bit of money).
The original Marie Laveau is said to have died on June 16, 1881, however many feel that she lived for many more decades, surpassing any average human life expectancy.
But this is probably false, as Marie’s daughter is said to have looked just like her mother and she may have often portrayed herself as the deceased Marie for years to come until she died.
Marie I is rumored to be buried at the St. Louis Cemetery number one, one of the popular New Orleans’ “City of the Dead” and her grave is still today a popular tourist attraction.
Probably I straied a bit, but Marie herself, lived for many years on New Orleans’ St. Anne Street, where sits a small inn known as the Creole House, as well as the Inn on Saint Anne.
The inn is a traditional New Orleans guesthouse, featuring many amenities and offering luxurious accommodations, offering 28 charming and historic yet modern and comfortable guest rooms, as well as a courtyard shaded by a century-old oak tree and beautiful spaces decorated with antiques, chandeliers and local artwork.
It is located near Bourbon Street in the heart of the French Quarter, close to the most iconic attractions, including restaurants and live music venues.
The Inn on St. Ann also features the Marie Laveau Annex, a Creole Cottage once owned by Marie Laveau herself.
Well, when people hear the word Voodoo, they immediately cringe, as they think it’s all about evil possessions and animal sacrifices, which is not the case at all. But, as many of these religions, it has several forms.
It is said that Marie was enamored by all of society, white, black, rich and poor.
And everyone went to the priestess for help regarding health, money, love, fertility and even legal issues.
It was built in the 1830s, and It is uncertain as to who exactly haunts the inn, as no direct evidence points to Marie Laveau.
But, in any case, it has some ghostly inhabitants.
Just like the voodoo queen, the property attracts guests of all sorts, such as curious, believers and non-believers, as well as those seeking a quiet stay or those with the hopes of meeting some ghosts.
The Marie Laveau Annex is located just across the street from the Inn on St Ann, and each room is adorned with an original painting of Marie Laveau herself, created by local French Quarter artists.
A common occurrence is the hijinks of a ghost the staff calls Knobby, nicknamed so for his habit of removing doorknobs.
He haunts the second floor, and doorknobs he tinkers with can’t be made to stay on by any method: screws or nails, solder or glue, nothing to do.
Knobby takes off 4 or 5 doorknobs per month, and only works at the ones that face the hall, not the ones inside guest rooms. The knobs may be laid outside the door, or they may simply disappear.
One guest reported a few other occurrences, including the shower that turned on and off a few times while she was in there, or its bed that shook as if a pair of hands were shoving the mattress up and down quickly.
When she alerted the front desk, they were told that the ghost is protective of women traveling alone and wanted to keep them on their toes.
And, in fact, It’s also thought that Knobby removes the doorknobs to protect women.
Traditionally, daughters were kept safe upstairs close to their parents, which is why staff believes that Knobby removes doorknobs from only the second floor.
Other strange happenings have reported over the years and it’s quickly blamed on Marie and her magical past.
But, interestingly enough, I’ve never heard of any Voodoo rituals that called for doorknobs as an ingredient to any spell so I can only assume its Marie or one of her practitioners simply “hobnobbing” with guests…
Images from web – Google Research