Opened in 1789, this is the oldest of the Saint Louis Cemeteries and among the notables buried here is Voodoo priestess Marie Laveau; Bernard de Marigny, the French-Creole aristocrat and politician who founded both the Faubourg Marigny and Mandeville, Louisiana; Barthelemy Lafon, the architect and surveyor who allegedly became one of Jean Lafitte’s pirates; Paul Morphy, one of the earliest world champions of chess; and Homer Plessy, the plaintiff from the landmark 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court decision on civil rights. The cemetery spans just one square block but is the resting place of many thousands.
I first learned about Marie Laveau from watching American Horror Story. So I was stoked to come to New Orleans and be able to visit the infamous Voodoo Queen gravesite. However, there is controversy and confusion surrounding this fact. The tomb believed to house her remains bears a plaque stating that this is her reputed burial place. The tomb is a main attraction for tourists and devotees, and as such has suffered a great deal of vandalism. This is the tomb of Marie Laveau’s daughter and it is believed to also be the final resting place of Marie Laveau herself.
My tour guide Nu’Awlons Natescott is an excellent storyteller, he weaves logic with legend without destroying the magic of his tales. He then tells me he is going to show me where Marie Laveau is actually buried. We walk down the narrow street of this City of the Dead, as these cemeteries are known, and come upon this tomb.
Aside from the XXX markings, this tomb is unmarked. NU’Awlons Natescott assures me this is where Laveau is actually buried. People still leave offerings, candles, flowers, Voodoo dolls, all in the hopes that Laveau will bestow her supernatural blessings. When people make a wish at her tomb, they return if their wish comes true and leave three XXX as a sign of their gratitude.
This very odd structure built by actor Nicholas Cage in 2010 for him to be interred in. There is no name on the pyramid yet, but it is emblazoned with the Latin maxim “Omni Ab Uno,” which translates to “Everything From One.”
My very personal tour guide Nu’Awlons Natescott (I was literally the ONLY person on this tour) was so friendly and knowledgeable. He reminded me of Hagrid in the Harry Potter movie who had a Huge Walking stick with a Voodoo Doll of him on the end. This was such a wonderful experience and a wonderful end to my amazing trip to New Orleans.