I visited to the tomb of New Orlean’s famed voodoo woman: Marie Laveau!
Or did I?
I still can’t really say. You see, her life was such an enigma of paradoxical tales that very few authenticated facts of it are actually known. What can be said with certainty is that she was a 19th century creole practitioner of voodoo (Voudou?) who has became one of New Orleans’ most celebrated figures. She is thought to have died in 1881 and been buried in St. Louis Cemetery so I went to go have a look. But when I arrived I was confronted with not one, but three tombs which might be her’s. Furthermore, I was told she might not have even been buried at St. Louis’ at all. Hmm. Here’s what I saw:
Behind Tomb #1
A local guide giving tours of the graveyard assured us that this was NOT the tomb despite the plaque affixed to it claiming to be so. The guide said this tomb was too modern and had been erected by a local business man as a hoax. However, this is the tomb that Wikipedia cites and I ask you: when has Wikipedia ever been wrong???
Behind Tomb #2
The guide also denounced this tomb as a fraud. He claimed it contained either one of her daughter or a spanish merchant. Still, it looked the part and had lots of “tribute” (or desecration as the guide called it).
Behind Tomb #3
This, we were assured, was the real tomb and it definitely had the most “tribute” piled about it. Unconvinced, I asked the guide: “Where, OH WHERE, is a good medium when you need one to clear this all up?” He wasn’t amused and turned and continued the tour without answering.
So which was the real tomb of Marie Laveau? I’ve no idea. But I like to imagine it’s actually none of them.
Yes, instead I prefer the wholly unsubstantiated notion that the witchy and misdirecting Marie instead lies nearby in a small unassuming tomb. A tomb everyone passes but no one notices as they make their way to the three decoys she somehow had fashioned after her death… [insert evil laughter here] :)
St. Louis Cemetery
Whether or not you get to gaze upon the actual tomb of Marie Laveau, St. Louis Cemetary is worth a visit. Like all cemeteries in New Orleans everyone is buried above ground and this makes for a very different type of space than we of lower water tables are used to. From the plaque at the entry way:
St. Louis Cemetery No. 1
The oldest extant cemetery in new Orleans, established buy Royal Spanish land grand August 14, 1789, originally outside city limits and double its present size this sacred ground reflects the early culture and history of the crescent city. A small area in the rear was once part of a larger section for protestant burials…
– New Orleans Archdioceasan Cemeteries 1972
Marie Laveau Tomb 1
Marie Laveau Tomb 2
Marie Laveau Tomb 3
Tomb and Fence
Tomb Offerings 2
Statue and Bricks
St Louis Cemetery