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Haunted Cities : Women of New Orleans

Haunted New Orleans

Haunted New Orleans

Voodoo Queens, vampires, pirates, witches and ghosts—these are just a few of the legends heard throughout the streets of New Orleans, Louisiana. Referred to as the most haunted city in America, it’s also one of the oldest. Founded in 1718, the city has a turbulent history stemming from epidemics, natural disasters, and violence.  

Madame LaLaurie

One of the more infamous legends is tied to Madame LaLaurie and the LaLaurie Mansion. LaLaurie was a wealthy woman, now known for her horrific mistreatment of enslaved workers. Many thought these tales to be mere rumors but following a fire in 1834, many of the rumors were found to be true. 

Haunted New Orleans
The LaLaurie Mansion present day

Believed to be set by a 70-year-old black woman trapped in the kitchen, the fire allowed authorities (and the public) to learn of LaLaurie’s many sins—how she beat, starved, and tortured slaves inside her home, behind closed doors. According to a then-current newspaper, bystanders who had gathered eventually broke down the doors after being denied entrance. The older woman led them to the attic where seven slaves were found tied up. 

As news of the abuse traveled, a mob of local citizens had gathered outside the mansion where they “demolished and destroyed everything upon which they could lay their hands.” LaLaurie and her husband quickly fled the country and charges were never filed, however, her reputation was destroyed along with her home. 

Learn more about the spooky history of New Orleans from our friends at Redfin!

The Voodoo Queen

Haunted New Orleans
Portrait of Marie Laveau

Moving on to the famous Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, Marie Laveau was nothing like LaLaurie. Voodoo is a combination of various West African religions and Christianity, integrating traditions from each. 

Laveau herself was a dedicated practitioner of both Voodoo and Catholicism. She was known for her regular attendance at mass, her ability to heal using herbs, and also what seemed like an innate ability to uncover everyone’s secrets. 

Referred to as the Voodoo Queen, she took charge of public Voodoo rituals and ceremonies held at Congo Square—an open space where slaves and free blacks could gather together to practice Voodoo. 

Haunted New Orleans
Marie Laveau’s tomb in St. Louis Cemetery No.1 (2013).

She was well known in her community for feeding the hungry and healing the sick with her powers, especially during several epidemics that hit New Orleans, including Yellow Fever, Cholera, and Malaria. It is said that she conducted private rituals behind her cottage in the French Quarter, performed exorcisms and offered sacrifices to spirits. 

Her legacy still lives on today and tourists can visit her grave at St. Louis Cemetery №1 to leave offerings. Some believe if you mark her tomb with “XXX” she will grant you a wish. Sadly, this became a problem for local preservationists and today the cemetery is off limits, unless you are visiting with an official tour guide. 

High Priestess of the French Quarter

Mary Oneida Toups, also known as “The High Priestess of the French Quarter,” is one of the more well-known occultists in America. In 1972, Toups officially chartered “The Religious Order of Witchcraft” in Louisiana, making it the first legally recognized church of witchcraft in the state. She also operated two witchcraft shops in the French Quarter. 

It is said that Toups was the most powerful witch to have ever practiced in New Orleans. She educated herself on many religions of the world and used their religious texts in her own practices and studies. The center of her beliefs stemmed from “being your best through knowledge and harnessing your power for good.” 

Toups’ legacy lives on today. The Order remains active and her story is shared through tours, next-generation believers, and even Hollywood. She was briefly mentioned in season three of the popular FX show “American Horror Story,” which takes place in New Orleans. 

More Spooky Spots

Should you find yourself in the Big Easy, aka New Orleans, don’t miss these famous haunts:

Haunted New Orleans
Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo in New Orleans
  • St Louis Cemetery №1 —the oldest cemetery in New Orleans and also the most haunted. 
  • The LaLaurie Mansion—one of the most popular stops on any New Orleans ghost tour. We all know what went down here. 
  • Marie Laveau House of Voodoo— a museum, shrine and store dedicated to the woman herself. 
  • Hands of Fate NOLA —the former site of Toups’ witchcraft shop which was shut down by the state in 1994. Today the store honors her memory by continuing its purpose as a “metaphysical shop and healing space.” 
  • Pirate’s Alley and Faulkner House Books—located next to St. Louis Cathedral, this alleyway has many legends surrounding it. While not many can be supported by fact, we know that author William Faulkner rented space here to write his first novel. Lured here by the tall tales of pirate Jean Lafitte and General Andrew Jackson, people say you can see Faulkner’s ghost at the writing desk, and smell his pipe, inside the now renovated bookstore.

Want more? Check out this video for the Top 10 Haunted Experiences in New Orleans:

Haunted New Orleans

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