St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 - New Orleans

The powerful Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau, has been engrained in New Orleans history since the early 1800s, and she facilitated the rise of the still thriving voodoo culture of New Orleans. The practice of voodoo has African roots and is believed to have originated during the slave trade, when the slaves participated in spiritual practices to ease their oppression. Marie Laveau became a symbol of voodoo in New Orleans, but was also a devoted Catholic and is currently buried in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1.

St Louis Cemetery - New Orleans | It's The Little Things travel blog

St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 – New Orleans

Visiting the cemetery is about as eerie as you might imagine. Being the oldest cemetery in New Orleans that still exists, the old tombs with chipped paint and crumbling bricks appear as a flashback of people and families from long ago. There are plenty of influential people buried in the cemetery, but Marie Laveau is typically the most intriguing for visitors.

Back when I first visited the cemetery it was open for free to the public, but due to frequent vandalism it is now only accessible via guided, licensed tours (unless you are family of course).

Not knowing quite what I was looking for, it took a little while but I eventually found the tomb that marks Marie Laveau’s final resting place. The tomb had mysterious qualities to it, making me feel as if it was some sort of magnetic force drawing me in.

Marie Laveau's tomb

Marie Laveau’s tomb

Among other writing and objects left as gifts, the tomb was covered with X’s scribbled all over the tomb. It turns out, these markings are largely a result of tourist groups that stroll through the cemetery every day. The belief is that one must break off a piece of brick from another tomb, spin around three times, scrape three X’s onto the tomb, and do some sort of knocking on the tomb. Then an offering should be left at the tomb and your wish will be granted. X’s that are circled are said to mean that the wish had come true.

*Please do not try this yourself.* In fact, it is a criminal activity and is a form of vandalism. Those who practice true Voodoo do not deface property in order to do so.

People come from all over to leave offerings of various kinds as a part of this ritual or as a sign of gratitude to Laveau for granting a wish. A wide assortment of these offerings can always be found all around the tomb, such as candles, coins, small statues, beads, flowers, notes, and more.

Even today, people still claim to have wishes granted by Laveau. She was allegedly powerful enough to cure the ill, solve romantic situations, and aid condemned prisoners, and her powers are believed to still live on today. The full story of Laveau’s life and death is unclear, and there are many different accounts that attempt to rationalize the occult happenings said to be associated with Laveau. Regardless of these variations, one thing is clear: Marie Laveau had something special about her. No one will ever know exactly what was behind Laveau’s so called powers, but after a visit to her tomb I like to think they still remain strong today.

Marie Laveau - New Orleans | It's The Little Things travel blog

Could it be, despite these popular tourist notions, that there is some magical voodoo association with this tomb? It seems to me that the city has a particular “spirit” that continues to draw me in to the mystery and magic that is New Orleans. You’ll have to go and check it out for yourself!


  1. Fascinating story. New Orleans still lies undiscovered by us (watching “Treme” doesn’t count, right?”), but we’d love to change that at some point in the future. Good luck!

  2. What a great story! New Orleans is such a fascinating place that I hope to visit someday soon!

  3. I have been to New Orleans a couple of times and find it fascinating. Can’t wait to return. There is so many levels to the city and its surrounding areas. Great post.

  4. Great Post, Marissa.
    NOLA is such an intriguing place & absolutely, one of my favorite cities. I have been to the Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 in Garden District and the guide did have a few strange stories associated with it as well.

  5. Wow! What a fascinating eerie place to visit! You describe the place really well, have to visit if we are ever in new orleans!

  6. I’ve never been to New Orleans but I have heard stories from people who have and they say that voohoo is still being practiced today. People claim that they still see her spirit in the cemetary. Thanks for sharing and linking up to #WeekendWanderlust.

  7. What a great story and intriguing place to visit. New Orleans sounds such a fascinating destination. I’d love to go

  8. I wouldn’t want to get on her bad side somehow, so I think I’ll pass…!

  9. Sounds like a faszinating place, especially the sense behind the X is interesting, you would think it’s forbidden to do that…^^

  10. Interesting story. It’s fascinating how these ritual traditions develop and are passed on from person to person.

  11. I visited this cemetery some years ago and I was as impressed by it as you were. I love the mystery that surrounds the old cemeteries. People think I am crazy, but I am fascinated by them.

  12. I’ve heard the story before but it sounds eerie every time I hear it. 🙂

  13. Cemetery’s have so much character don’t they? | There’s always a good story to tell from a stroll through them. Good read.

  14. I have New Orleans on my mind today, so I was especially interested in reading this. While I’ve heard of Marie Laveau and her oft-visited tomb, this is the first I’ve heard of the XXX tradition. How interesting.

  15. Great story! Fascinating culture

  16. This cemetery is no longer open to the public. You can enter it with a licensed tourguide. Price at gate are 20$ for a 45 minute tour. Other tour companies prices vary on times and prices.

  17. Stop encouraging people to deface graves. It’s disrespectful and also the reason why you can no longer enter this cemetery unless you pay a licensed tour guide or if you have family buried there.

  18. My apologies! I certainly do not (and have never) endorsed vandalism. As travelers, we all have a responsibility to be respectful to the places we visit. This post was intended simply to share the history of the wish-making traditions that have been shared over the years. However, it was written back in 2014 and much has changed since then, so I have amended it to reflect these changes.

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