Haunted New Orleans by Allie Michelle

New Orleans, Louisiana – home to Jazz, Cajun Cuisine, and the annual Mardis Gras debauchery also charms the world with its legends of the occult and the paranormal. Voodoo magic and ghostly sightings all seem to haunt this city, and as they say – where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Believe it or not, many of the scary stories that originate in the Big Easy actually have some basis in fact.

Mardi Gras 1900

Mardi Gras 1900

The Zombie Who Invented Jazz Music

Most people associate the word zombie with the walking dead depicted popular in post-apocalyptic horror fiction. However, the original meaning originates from West African Voodoo rituals in which sorcerer revives a dead person. The concept travelled with African slaves to the Americas and became an established spiritual practice in New Orleans. 

Jazz music, which originates in New Orleans, comes directly out of New Orleans Voodoo. Your first clue; the word Jazz itself comes from an African word for sex.  The second hint comes from Jelly Roll Morton, widely recognized as the inventor of Jazz music.

Jelly Roll Morton

Jelly Roll Morton

Legend has it that this important figure in musical history was actually a zombie himself. A New Orleans native, Jelly Roll Morton allegedly made an arrangement with his godmother, a Voodoo priestess. This deal involved a type of zombie known as a “Give-Man Zombie” in which a person deliberately turns over a part of their soul in exchange for success in life. The only drawback is that when the Voodoo queen dies, you die too.

Jelly Roll Morton went on to become a successful musician and is considered the first person to play Jazz indoors. At the age of 51, he received the bad news that his godmother had passed away. Four days later, Jelly Roll Morton died himself, exactly fitting the pattern of a “Give-Man Zombie”. Is this just coincidence or was the inventor of Jazz, in reality, a Voodoo zombie?

The Legend of the New Orleans Vampires

By now you’ve seen or at least heard of the fictional HBO series, True Blood, about Vampires set in Louisiana. However, you may not have heard of Louisiana’s true vampire story of the Carter Brothers.


Carter Brothers’ Apartment

Back in 1928, two brothers by the name of John and Wayne Carter moved into New Orleans where they lived quietly for some time. One night in 1932, an 11 year old girl escaped their apartment building and raced to the police station covered in her own blood. She exclaimed that two men abducted her, took her into their apartment, and tied her down. Then they sliced her wrists multiple times and actually drank her blood. Sometime in the process, she was able to free herself and escape. When she brought the police back to the apartment, they found four others, all gagged, bound, and cut at the wrists. The unfortunate victims included an adult male and female along with a 14 year old boy, and an already dead 9 year old girl.

The official police report states that when the brothers returned to the apartment, it took 18 large officers over 45 minutes to restrain the two men. The Carter Brothers were later convicted and executed by electric chair. Unfortunately, the adult male survivor went on to murder 42 people. He dissolved the victims’ bodies in sulfuric acid. No one realized how many he murdered until they found his hidden diary.

The Voodoo Queen of New Orleans

Marie Laveau Portrait by Frank Schneider

Marie Laveau Portrait by Frank Schneider

Fans of American Horror Story may already recognize Marie Laveau from her recent character on the TV series’ third season. Born sometime around 1794, Marie Laveau was a notorious Voodoo queen in the New Orleans community. Legends attest to her powers which she used during rituals in which participants became possessed by voodoo spirits and danced naked around bonfires. She distributed charms and potions called gris-gris, saved several accused men from the gallows, told fortunes, and healed the sick. She also remained astonishingly youthful while almost reaching 100 years of age.

During a Voodoo ritual, participants would dance and chant songs in order to become possessed by a spirit.

During a Voodoo ritual, participants dance & chant in order to become possessed by a spirit.

Today, the legend of Marie Laveau lives on… and many claim that she does as well. Although hundreds make offerings at her crypt in the St. Louis Cemetery, many locals claim seeing the ghost of Marie Laveau leading rituals with naked men and women dancing and chanting. Others attest to sightings of Marie walking the streets of New Orleans.

Does Marie Laaveau still conduct voodoo rituals in the St. Louis Cemetery? Find out for yourself and visit Marie Laveau’s grave on a New Orleans Ghost Tour.

What you choose to believe in regards to the dark tales of New Orleans is up to you, but one thing remains true – this city has a notorious history of attracting the paranormal. Whether it’s truth or myth, there’s no place on earth quite like the Big Easy.