In 1848, the “spiritualism” movement swept the US and the world. This movement gained momentum VERY quickly, and several “mediums” began to get rich off a grieving public who could not let go of loved ones who had passed. These mediums would claim to bring messages from the other side to help “heal” the grief of people…. for a price. Society was a lot different back then, and in general people were very uneducated, so in 1850 the scientific community as a whole created the field of parapsychology to try and debunk these “mystics.”
The top minds of that time got together to try to figure out how these “psychics” performed their parlor tricks. Their roster included people like Sir William Crooks (discovered cathode rays, x-rays, and the electron), Sir Oliver Lodge (responsible for advancements in physics, early research into electricity, worked on radio, and credited by Albert Einstein, who used Lodge’s research to develop his theory of relativity), Henry Sidgwick, Fredrick Myers, and British Prime Minister Arthur Balfour. Later non-scientific people joined this field like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Lewis Carroll, William Gladstone, Harry Houdini, Mark Twain, and the first ghost hunter, Harry Price.
It was not until 1924 that they come across a “psychic” they could not debunk. Her name was Mina Crandon, a.k.a. Margery. Since they could not debunk her, they were forced to label her as legitimate and spawned a rage in the scientific community. Harry Houdini tried throughout his career as a parapsychologist to “debunk” her and remained unsuccessful to his death. Because of Margery, the scientific community turned their backs on this field, and in their minds it has been a quasi-science ever since, even though they themselves created this field to investigate various aspects of the paranormal as we do now.
We still use the same theories that were first developed by Harry Price, although through technology we have gone farther than he had ever dreamed possible. Through the use of EMF meters, thermal scanners, Geiger counters, and other technology, we have proven his thoughts to be accurate concerning the atmospheric deviations “ghosts” create. The media hype concerning ghosts and psychics is creating a new “spiritualism” movement in this millennium, and it is only a matter of time before the scientific community as a whole embraces us, their long lost sister, to help combat this movement and prove frauds of those people who profit from others’ misery.
Everything we do in this field is vital for the new foundation of parapsychology. Unlike “psychics,” our equipment is nonjudgmental and cannot be tampered with by the minds of men. They simply tell the truth as to what is occurring in a location. I believe that we are more legitimate than someone who simply “feels” something in a home, something that cannot be supported with evidence.
When Amy LeBaron, folklorist and college professor from Natchitoches, Louisiana, and John Ennis, culinary student from Parsippany, New Jersey, decided to get married, they knew that not just any location would work…and a traditional ceremony was out of the question. So, they did what any ghost loving couple would do…they headed to New Orleans to tie the knot in front of Marie LaVeau’s tomb in St. Louis Cemetery #1. With renowned Voodoo Priestess “Bloody” Mary Milan as official, the two exchanged vows on May 9, 2009.
Stay tuned next month for an October special detailing the voodoo ritual and a special look at their wedding album.
Mary Milan, known to locals as Bloody Mary, is one of the renowned story tellers and “voodoo” tour guides in New Orleans. In addition, she is also certified to perform weddings, baptisms, and funerals. Dedicated to her craft as well as to helping rebuild her beloved city of New Orleans, Milan travels around the state and the country to promote her gifts and her love of New Orleans and Louisiana.
Recently, Bloody Mary was asked by the Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventurers to visit the sleepy town of Natchitoches, Louisiana to perform a Voodoo ceremony at the historic Magnolia Plantation on Cane River. While the Ghost Hunters themselves did not seem to know much about Louisiana’s rich Voodoo tradition, they were open to Mary’s beautiful ceremony.
According to the Ghost Adventurer’s website, in a form of silent rebellion, the slaves at Magnolia often used Voodoo to cast evil wishes on their oppressive masters. Some of the signs of Voodoo rituals found at the site included “historical graffiti” in the form of black Xs, traditional symbols of Voodoo. While the real meaning of the Voodoo X varies depending upon the source, Voodoo is a religion that is a combination of African religions and Catholicism, both of which use the cross as a symbol of power and for the purposes of invocation.
The “historical graffiti” found at Magnolia Plantation could have been signs to each other than certain places were under the protection of the Voodoo gods. They could have been used to ward off hunger, fear and death. Or, they could have been used to frighten the overseers who did not comprehend the complexity of the religion. Either way, the use of a black X as a symbol of Voodoo is one that is historical. In the case of Marie LaVeau, Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, visitors flock to her grave each year and leave behind three black Xs in hopes of receiving a wish or blessing from the Voodoo Queen.
This practice, known as sympathetic magic, takes place in many religions. Sympathetic magic is nothing more than using an object to signify a wish, hope or prayer. In Mexican Catholicism, the milagro is often used to represent a body part that practitioner wishes to have healed by the saints.
During her ritual at Magnolia Plantation, Mary used several traditional Voodoo practices, including the wearing of white, a color that helps erase negativity, and calling upon the spirit of Papa Legba, the Voodoo god who is the “gatekeeper” who is responsible for opening and closing the gateway between the spiritual and material worlds. She also used a traditional gourd shaker as part of her ritual to maintain a rhythm in both her speech and the movement of the ritual.
During theGhost Adventurers’ stay at Magnolia Plantation, several strange things took place. However, because the show itself was more hype than real ghost hunting, it was difficult to tell how much of their â€œencounterâ€? was for the purposes of entertainment. Nonetheless, the plantation itself has a rich history, and the Voodoo Queen who officiated the ceremony is a legitimate priestess who comes highly recommended.
When I received the request from the Natchitoches.net producers back in July about conducting an investigation in Natchitoches, Louisiana to coincide with the official launch ofÂ the website, www.HauntedNatchitoches.com, I immediately knew it was going to be a fun trip for the team, even before learning where we would be investigating. After some quick research online, I learned that Natchitoches is the oldest town in the Louisiana Purchase, which was enough to get my interest up. Any town with that much history would make for an interesting visit. It didnâ€™t take much to get the rest of the team to agree to this road trip. We all knew we had to take on this assignment.
Our team consists of Steph Hargrove (Psychic/Medium, Investigator, Vice President), her husband Jason Hargrove (Tech Guru, Lead Investigator), Misti Bennett (Psychic/Medium & Investigator In Training), Josh Hobbs (Thermal Camera Guru, Investigator), Alex Lohmann (Audio Guru, Investigator), and myself, Chris Greene (Lead Investigator, President). The entire team was fully on board with the trip and investigation. Unfortunately, Alex was unable to make it to this investigation as he had a previous engagement.
The investigation was scheduled for the evening of Saturday, August 15th at the Andrew Morris House Bed & Breakfast, located at 422 Second Street in Natchitoches. The plan was to have everyone meet at our hotel in Natchitoches by 3pm on Saturday so we would have time to grab some lunch and take a tour of the area, as none of us had ever visited there previously. The six of us came in sets of two in three different vehicles. Misti and I left Dallas at 8:30am, Josh and his wife were right behind us by about an hour, and Steph and Jason left Dallas around 11am. Of course Misti and I were the first to arrive, so we stopped in to say hello to our good friend, Jason Summerlin and his wife, Angela, along with their children, Haley and Taylor. This gave us time to relax a bit and catch up with our friends after the three and a half hour road trip.
Angela, Misti and myself left to go meet up with Josh and his wife at the hotel around 1pm so we could grab a quick bite to eat and kill some time while we waited for the rest of our team, Steph and Jason, to arrive. We parked in downtown Natchitoches and decided to try out Mamaâ€™s & Papaâ€™s for lunch. The food was good, and they have very generous portions. It was quite humid in Natchitoches, so this was a nice place to sit down and cool off. After lunch, we hit a few of the small shops around downtown on our way back to the hotel to see what they had to offer. Steph and Jason were waiting at the hotel for us when we got back there around 3pm.
We still had a few hours before we needed to think about getting over to the Andrew Morris House, so we decided to take a nice driving tour of Natchitoches and some of the noteworthy plantations in and around the area. Angela was a great tour guide as we caravanned around. We got to see the Steel Magnolias House, the Oakland Plantation, the Melrose Plantation and the Magnolia Plantation. Unfortunately they were closed for tours, but we were able to park and get some nice pictures of the outside of the locations.
After our tour, we decided to grab some dinner and cool off a bit more before heading to the house for the investigation. Jason Summerlin met up with the rest of us for dinner and we all hung out there for about an hour and a half for some food and laughs.
From there, we headed over to the Andrew Morris House to meet the owner, John Puckett, and get a tour of the home so we knew what we had in store for us that night. Let me just say that John is quite the character! He had us all in stitches and is quite the decorator to boot. He still had some finishing touches to do before opening the B&B for business, but it was beautiful. The work he had already done was amazing. It didnâ€™t take long for us to make it through a quick tour and get our equipment set up. We were all very anxious to get the investigation started. By 9pm we had all our cameras and EMF meters set up in the appropriate bedrooms and decided to have command central in the small office space attached to the back bedroom on the first floor. There was outside access, and we were far enough away from the rooms we had recording equipment in. It was the perfect set-up.
We made sure we captured all three bedrooms upstairs, as well as the one bedroom downstairs, on our infrared DVR system. We were able to angle the cameras so that we could also capture doorways and hallways. We also had two Sony hand-held camcorders for use in case we needed them. One was used to record off the thermal imaging camera as we made sweeps of the house throughout the night. Now it was a waiting game. A few of us watched the monitor with all four cameras at command central while the others went to hit each bedroom for EVP sessions. We switched on and off throughout the night to see if we could get different responses. Of course, we would not really know what we captured until evidence review the following week.
Once we were finished with all of our EVP sessions and thermal sweeps, we decided it was time to get to bed after a long night of investigating. It was approaching 3:30am, and we were all going to need to pack up the equipment in the morning and start our trek back to Dallas. Luckily for us, John had given us permission to stay the night at the house, which gave us the opportunity to keep the cameras running while we all slept. This was going to give us an additional five hours of footage to review.
The more evidence the better.
I am pretty sure I was the first one up in the house. It was around 7:30am, and the sun was starting to peek through the trees and into the bedroom. I rolled out of bed and headed downstairs to get a head start on packing up equipment. Shortly after I had started packing, one by one, the remaining members of the team were coming down the stairs. Everyone pitched in and we got all packed up and were ready to go by 9am. We made a final tour through the house so we could take some photographs, and we also took some of the outside of the house. It is such a beautiful home, we hated to leave, but it was definitely time and we knew we would be making another trip out to Natchitoches again real soon.
We all made it back to Dallas in one piece and knew we had to get right at the investigation review before we added any further workload with upcoming local investigations. There were hours of audio and video to review, and we managed to get through it all with some great evidence to present. We were lucky enough to capture not only audio clips, but a couple of intriguing video clips as well.
Having gone through all the evidence, I think we can easily come to the conclusion that this home is a paranormally active location. In addition to the audio and video we captured, we did experience some â€˜spookinessâ€™ if you will, but there was clearly nothing malicious going on here.