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.