The Bizarre Voodoo World Of New Orleans

The Bizarre Voodoo World Of New Orleans

August 31, 2019 100 By William Hollis


– I think you might
intellectualize too much. – That’s 100% true.
– That’s 100% true. – I don’t want to murder you. – [Ryan] I never said
I wanted to murder you! – [Shane] You wanna kill me! – That seems like a good idea. Let’s lock ourselves in the murder room. I’m leaving. Too late, you’ve lost your chance. What the? (howling) This week on BuzzFeed Unsolved, we cover the practice of voodoo. Can it actually be used
to contact spirits? Right now, we’re sitting on
top of Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans, a city
rich with voodoo history. And later, we’ll actually
attempt to use voodoo to try and contact spirits. We’re gonna have a good
teacher with us too, so, we’re excited.
– Okay, alright. We’ll see. – We’ve got a lot to cover and I really don’t know
what to expect, so, let’s get into it. The origins of voodoo are unknown, but most agree it came from west Africa, particularly the region of Benin, where the word “voodoo” means spirit. So, right now, we’re at Voodoo Authentica. It’s an authentic voodoo shop,
as the name would suggest and we’re gonna learn a
little bit about voodoo. It’s a push.
– Push it. – I didn’t see the sign.
– I know. – Let’s go over the basics. It is believed voodoo
derives from the tradition of ancestor worship and animism, the belief that nature
and inanimate objects contain consciousness. Voodoo practitioners believe in one god and that there are many
spirits who have power over humans and nature. They are referred to as Loa. – We have more than 25
different working altars. – Okay, what do you mean by altars? – These are places that
people come and pray and leave gifts at for specific spirits. Each Orisha and Loa have their
own spheres of influence. – [Shane] This one over here
looks very feminine and– – Very feminine indeed. – Yeah. – She is love and attraction, she’s more the pulling
towards you of love. – And it seems like some
people put little tiny relics or gifts, other people just straight up, like the uncle on your birthday
who just gives you money. (laughs)
– Yep. – Just throwing down. – And… – What else we got? Oh, booze!
– Oh, the bubbly. You know, in the afterlife, it is appreciated. – Probably a good one. – [Ryan] While voodoo has
gotten a bad reputation over years of misinformation, it is actually a very positive practice and is often to used to call on spirits to help the sick and needy and guide one through life’s struggles. – So, the negative
connotation, that’s all… – You know, people think voodoo
is used as this evil thing where I’m gonna make a little Shane doll and then throw it into the
ocean and watch it drown. – Wait, what?
– And then, really smile while he’s sinking. – Wait, what?
– Stuff like that. – You just said that this is
not what they’re used for! – Yeah, I know, but if
they were used for that– – You would kill me. You would murder me. – It’s a hypothetical, I
wasn’t thinking of doing that. – Ryan, sometimes we argue on this show, I don’t want to murder you. – I never said I wanted to murder you! – You wanna kill me! – This is a hypothetical situation! (laughs)
– Alright, yeah, no, continue to tell me about voodoo now that I know you want me dead. – (laughs) I didn’t ever say that, you know what–
– Oh, this feels great. – Voodoo would eventually
make its way to America via the slave trade and New Orleans would eventually play home to perhaps the biggest figure
in American voodoo history, Marie Laveau, also known as the Voodoo
Queen of New Orleans. It’s said that her spirit
walks this entire cemetery. Obviously, we can’t get in because a lot of people vandalized the tomb. – But we can’t see her actual… – No, but we could be at
the gates, so to speak, spiritually and physically. Marie! – I, oh, really? Okay. Marie! – Come on. Marie! – No, that’s not gonna do it. – Marie! – No. – Can you see over this
normally without jumping? – Actually, yeah. – It was here at Lake
Pontchartrain in New Orleans that Marie Laveau would
hold voodoo gatherings on the shores. Journalists would spread
stories of infamous orgies and sacrificial rituals that
would occur at this lake on St. John’s Eve. – Sacrificial rituals? – And enormous orgies. – I don’t know why that one slipped by me. (both laugh) I was like, yeah, sure,
orgies, tell me about rituals? – The negative connotations of voodoo proliferated by the media
liken voodoo to savagery and towards the end of the 19th century, voodoo had to go
underground in New Orleans. Now that we’ve established
the history of voodoo in New Orleans, let’s get into
the actual practice of it. One of New Orleans more
famous practitioners is a woman named Bloody Mary. Lucky for us, she has agreed to teach us the ways of the spiritual world. – Holy moly. – And as you can see, the
house is quite a sight. – That is a hue. – It’s actually supposed
to be haunted itself. I imagine because of all the communication that happens here. – Oh, yes, probably like a
hotspot or something, huh? (Ryan sighs) (knocking) Wow. – Who’s there? – Hello!
– Hello. – Hi. – Entree. – Ryan, nice to meet you. – Nice to meet you, Ryan.
– Shane. Shane, nice to meet you.
– Shane, nice to meet you. Spirits, Ryan, Shane, entree. – Okay, alright.
– I am so excited. (chuckles) – I am initiated as mambo asogwe, which is the highest
level in Haitian voodoo as well as voodoo queen
in New Orleans tradition. – [Shane] This is an amazing room. – Thank you, it’s got good energy. I’m glad you’re not afraid of it! – [Ryan] No, I’m afraid yet. – Good, good, good. – This house feels very nice to me. – You will be but, you will be. – I mean, yeah, it’s true. – Well, some people just are afraid of things that feel different than what they’re used to. – Yeah.
– You know, and automatically jump
to the conclusion that it’s gonna be dark or evil and tell me, just because it’s, you know,
vibratory, it’s different. – Yeah. – And you have to get
that out of your head and just let it flow. – I’m very fascinated and interested, I’m not afraid of these things. – I think you might
intellectualize too much. – That’s 100% true.
– That’s 100% true. – We both just have to go blank. – We’re both on the opposite
ends of the spectrum. – Yeah, and we need to just– – Find the middle. Find your balance. – Let’s never do that again. – That’s what the world
needs to do, by the way, find the balance, you know? Oh, in fact, I’m gonna
give some right now. I’m gonna feed the spirits. I’ll give them libations, we
might drum, we might dance. To the spirits together this day, aleson. – Ooh!
– Oh! So, now that we’ve established
the basic history of voodoo. – Sure. – What are we getting into tonight? – What I do with creating,
I call it voodoo paranormal. So, I mix old school with new school. Basically, I just open gates and when we’re done, I close gates, so I want them to come
out while they’re there and then I want them to go
back and do what they gotta do when they’re done and not follow. – So, this is sort of a
night out with spirits. – Yeah. – [Ryan] New Orleans is unique due to their above ground cemeteries. The cemeteries are sometimes referred to as the cities of the dead. – It’s fascinating how people that don’t even consider
themselves psychic or attuned pick right up on what’s going
on or what went on there. – I’m definitely not psychic. I’m just a guy who’s
interested in this stuff and gets a little dizzy sometimes. (laughs) – I still think that everyone is psychic, just at different abilities, it’s a natural part of us as humans. – It’s only appropriate that
we would walk by these cities, making ourselves familiar with the spirits of the melting pot of New Orleans before ultimately reaching out to them in a location that was one
of the spiritual beacons of the city, at the former site of the
voodoo spiritual temple. (knocking slowly) Why are you knocking? – I always knock, that’s a ritual gesture, letting them know we’re
coming, warning ’em. – [Shane] Is this a thing
you recommend for anyone, anywhere? – Yes, it’s kind of a thing of respect and it’s a very simple ritual gesture. Knocking three times, let’s them know you know they’re there, they’re there, yes. Knock of the way in, knock of the way out. Come on in. – [Ryan] Built in 1829,
this two story cottage has gone through many incarnations, with the voodoo temple
being the most recent. However, on February first, 2016, the temple suffered a
tragic electrical fire and now lies vacant. – So, this is the mirror image of the other side. – Yeah. – So, a lot more
construction going on here. This would have been Priestess
Miriam’s spiritual temple. – So, we’re looking at
bare bones right now. – Bare bones, just put the sheet rock up and left some of the
original old 200 year old brick walls exposed for you. We’re gonna go through this threshold and I’m going to open
the way before we do. So, I’m going to do that ritual and I’m gonna have you walk through it. And then I’m gonna have
you wander on your own. Okay? – You look so scared already. (Mary laughs) – I’ve been more comfortable. (chanting softly) – So, guardian of the crossroads
has a symbol signature geometric design known as a veve. (whistles) To all the spirits of all
directions, we call upon you, the spirits of fire, I
want you to come through. The spirits of water, we call upon you. And the spirits of air, we request you, the spirits of earth. We give offerings as
well, to feed your way, do ya’ll have some coins? I need some coins of the realm. – Here’s some coins right here. – Throw them on in. – I, Bloody Mary, I, Voodoo Queen, I, Mary Millan, I,
Alococroix with many names, in the past, in the
present, and in the future, call upon the spirits
of place to public part. We ask that we may communicate with you, maybe see you, maybe hear you, maybe feel you, maybe photograph
you with great respect. Open the way, I present my friends, please state your full name. – Ryan Steven Burgara. – And? – Shane Alexander Mede. – We call upon them, we let you open the way for
them to come through today. (whistles) (whispers) Open the way. Come on in. It is best that you
walk through backwards. – Why is that? – Well, everything is supposed to be seen from the mirror image in voodoo, so, it’s kinda like you’re coming through. Born again. You don’t have to, really, you
should come through dancing. – Oh! And this is a joyous, I’m– (clapping) I’m in, Ryan! – I see that. – Oh, look at that! – Okay. Yeah, hey, I’m dancing, yeah, that’s good! So, let’s see if we can find anything. – Alright. – Yeah, that’s a gator head. – Yeah, turn around. – Oh.
(laughs) That’s good, that’s good. – (growling) Ryan, Ryan. – Okay. – What are we doing in this room? – Reaching out. Okay. Apparently this was a gift shop in the former voodoo spiritual temple. – They would sell like, magnets and stuff? – After I mentioned we’re standing in the former voodoo temple gift shop, we pick up a voice possibly saying “yeah.” – …voodoo spiritual temple. – They would sell like, magnets and stuff? I mean, to be fair, full disclosure, this
place was on a street and there were people walking past here and there, so. – Sure. – Just wanna put that out there. – We also pick up a strange whimper. – You wanna say anything
to me or the little guy? – What about to the giant? What about to the giant? – I do find that more compelling than any of the other
dumb ones you’ve dug up, but again, we are on a street here. – What on the street could
possibly make that noise? And first off, that
does not sound distant, this one sounds like it’s
literally in the room with us. What about the giant? – I don’t know. – Any time I can get you to do that shrug, it means I make a great point.
– That’s a victory for you? – It’s a great point,
it makes my heart warm. Bizarrely, while the first
floor of the building served as a voodoo temple, the second floor was
rented out as an apartment and is also reportedly haunted. There’s accounts of footsteps, shadows, and rocks being thrown. Oh, my god. Oh, my god, oh, my god, oh, my god, oh, my god. – [Mary] That’s Jodi. – The, the doll?
– Mm-hmm. – What’s her deal? – She will be the overseer of
the haunted nursery of dolls that I’m going to have. – (whispers) I’m gonna buy you
one of those for Christmas. – Shut up, Shane. Is there a reason why
there’s a circle of rocks in this little door? – Maybe. (Ryan laughs nervously) That’s really weird. – [Shane] What’s that? – Ah, I just I didn’t
know the electric was on. – Oh. (both laugh) – So that is weird.
– That’s weird. – I didn’t, you know. Huh. Can you reach up and pull
a string, see what happens? That’s so weird.
– Huh. – ‘Cause I remember these
switches didn’t do anything. And I don’t have it turned on. – We have some visitors tonight. – Well, there hasn’t been
electric in here in over a year. – Strange.
– Because of the fire. Any physical sensations that
you’re feeling in there? – Uh. (laughs) – Ryan, put away your fear and just focus on what you feel. – I’m gonna sit in this chair. – Put your feet on the ground and ground, ground into the moment. It’s that place in between. – Okay. – It’s where you can stop
and zone, like you did. If you could do that at
will wherever you are, kind of go in that in between place, that’s where you get into
that with the spirit world. – Okay, I’m gonna just close my eyes and just… – I’m bad at feeling. I wanna be swept up in this. I really wanna believe in something outside the norms of, you know, physics. – [Mary] What are you sensing? – I don’t sense anything
dark in this room. – I’m not asking about anything dark. Doesn’t have to do with dark. – I feel happier. – Ryan’s having a rough time tonight. Poor guy. – Any reason why you
think you feel happier? – Because I’m not scared right now. Maybe it’s ’cause if
there’s something here, it feels like it’s scared too, maybe. I think like, a little kid. – And have you ever been a scared kid? – Yep, all the time. – I took an improv comedy class once ’cause I’m a white guy and they said just get outta your head. I can’t, though, it’s a prison. – Do you know what the
source of that fear, when it began? – No. I always felt like
something was watching me in the dark when I was little. (sighs)
– I’ve always gotta think about stuff, you know? Like this mannequin in this tub. What’s he doing here? Yeah, I’m not picking up on it, let’s go see what Ryan’s doing. – Well, there’s probably
a source that triggered it when you were a child. You find that source, you might
dissolve some of your fears. – I’m returning. Oh, I didn’t mean to interrupt. – He’s channeling. And you are correct, there
is a little boy here. Little boy, I call him Abe, he had requested stones, 10 stones, actually requested jacks. Now, I’m gonna leave
ya’ll alone for a while, I’m gonna go grab something to eat. I’m only gonna close the front door. (Shane chuckles) The vagrant world doesn’t get in, the spirit world is in your hands til I get back.
– Alright. Okay. While Shane and I go change batteries, our audio recorder continued rolling inside the little boy’s cupboard and picked up some peculiar noises. What if he talked when we were gone? Oh, my god, I just got the
chills thinking about that, that’s fucking crazy. You kinda hear the whispering there? – No. – Okay. There, right there! Did you hear that? – The wood or whatever? – The cupboard, yeah. – So, the takeaway here is every little sound is a ghost? – No, the takeaway here is that sounds that don’t belong
in that environment may or may not be ghosts. – Okay. I’m gonna side with may not. Anybody else in here at all? I’m gonna just turn the, I’m gonna turn the light out. My jacket just moved in a way that it felt like somebody
touched me on the shoulder and if I think, if I
think you had felt it, you would scream. (slow motion) Anybody else in here at all? Turning the light out now. – Wait, are you, did you actually just
comment on something that may have been paranormal? – No, I said it was the way
my jacket moved, it like, you ever wear a jean jacket? These things are– – There it is.
– Yeah. – I was just waiting for
the logical explanation. – There you go. – Although this second floor apartment is the apparent home of a little boy, it was actually the real
home of two other individuals and in 2006, this
apartment would play home to perhaps the most grisly
murder in New Orleans history, earning it the name the
Rampart Street Murder House. This is the room where there was just writing all over the wall. By Zach. He painted on the wall. – Oh, he did? Can you see any of it still? – I don’t think so. On October fifth, 2006, Zachery Bowen brutally murdered and dismembered his girlfriend
and roommate, Addie Hall. He jumped to his death off
the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel roughly 11 days later. Police found his suicide note
on his body that read, quote, “This is not accidental. “I had to take my own life
to pay for the one I took.” “If you send a patrol
car to 826 North Rampart, “you will find the dismembered corpse “of my girlfriend, Addie, in the oven, “on the stove, and in the fridge, “and a full, signed confession
from myself.” End quote. There is like, a thickness to this room. Alright, I’m gonna put the, Jesus Christ, I’m gonna put the EVP on the stove. Which unfortunately, is
the same stove and oven as, you know, and it’s also the same fridge. One thing worth noting is
that despite speculation, these deaths had nothing to do with the voodoo temple downstairs, as Zach and Addie did not practice voodoo. Regardless, as a result
of this horrible crime, the kitchen that still stands today is perhaps the darkest part of this house. Oh, shit, you closing that door? Oh, how ’bout that. Let’s do that. That seems like a good idea. Let’s lock ourselves in the murder room. – We’ll turn our lights
off, I’ll step out. – Wait, what? That was never part of the bargain. – Ryan, you have to face your fears. – I think you just wanna see me freak out. That’s what I think.
– No. That’s not true.
– Don’t try and frame it like you’re trying to help me, you dick, I know exactly what you’re up to. – How about I go first? – Fine, okay, let’s do two minutes. – Okay. – Here we go. – If there’s anyone here,
feel free to reach out to me. – I’m gonna die in there. – If maybe there is a
restless spirit of the victim. – Oh, boy. – [Shane] (distantly) Can
you tell me your name? – This room isn’t as bad as that room, despite the fact that there was, you know, painted manifestos of a madman (distantly) all over
the walls in this place. – A lot of times I just do these because I know how much Ryan will hate it. – I think the creepiest
detail from that case… (eerie music) The fuck was that? Oh, shit. What the fuck was that? – Ryan seems like, Ryan’s outside right now, he’s having a harder time out there. – Uh. – So far, nothing. And now I’m about 10 seconds away from Ryan entering the room and his mind will eat itself and it’s going to be wonderful. Alright, that’s two minutes. – Oh, fuck. – I, uh, I don’t really wanna talk about what happened in there. So, why don’t you head in? – Shut up, Shane. (mockingly) Ooh, I don’t wanna talk about what happened in there. – Make sure you turn your light out. – Fuck me.
– I’ll close it for you. – Okay. Oh, my god. Okay, 34. Two minutes, Ryan, come
on, you can do this. I’m really sorry what
happened to you in here. For both of you, I think maybe
you were gonna interrupt my, oh, I’m not talking to
anybody, you know what? That is, what am I doing here? – Interesting that he’s talking to them. Always forgets that. – Oh, god, alright. Is there anybody in here right now? If there’s anybody in here
right now, show me a sign. I’m gonna leave forever in a second here. I’ll gladly do so. – Almost halfway there. – (sighs) Okay, okay, okay, it’s fine, Ryan, it’s fine. One minute and you’re
gonna be out of here, you’re gonna be, oh, fine by yourself. I feel like I’m gonna fucking cry. This is your last chance. (eerie music) The fuck? Was that one of you? – No.
– Did you just…? Just tug on my shirt? – No, we’re not in the room with you. – I’m not talking to you! Oh, shit. Ahhh. That was a good trick. – Okay. – Did you touch the door? – No. – There’s something
creeping up in the attic. I’m leaving! Too late, you lost your chance. (scary music) What the, fuck you, Shane, open the door! (laughs) Oh! Typical. – We have fun. – That’s hilarious.
– Okay, great. Was there anything spooky? – Uh, something, I think,
tugged on my shirt. I don’t wanna talk
about it, I wanna leave. I think Bloody Mary’s gonna
come meet back up with us, maybe close the door. – Okay.
– But I really don’t know. – You don’t wanna, you just
don’t wanna be up here anymore. – I don’t wanna be up
in this room anymore. – Okay.
– Please. Let’s leave. (yells)
(laughs) Jesus Christ. God. – That was a good scream. – Should we be on this side? – Doesn’t matter.
– Okay. Okay. – We thank all the spirits
involved with directions and the spirits of house, the ones we know, the ones we don’t know, we thank them for letting us have a glimpse into their life and like Baz open the gates, we now ask to close the way, ashe! (claps) Iepopo. – Alright, so, what’d you think? – That was pretty fascinating. – I gotta tell you, I’m really
transfixed with this world. – I know, it sounds like we
do have to meet in the middle, which we did not tonight. But maybe in the future. – No. – I don’t know, Ryan. – I don’t think so.
– I think we’ll get there. – I doubt it. – You gotta learn to not
be so scared, though. – I think you need to learn how to start seeing things for what they are. – I think you need to learn
how to shut the hell up. – I think you need to learn
how to shut the fuck up. I stepped it up with the
bigger curse word there. – Yeah, that was– – We’re losing track here. – Yeah. – In the end, voodoo remains a respected
practice in New Orleans. I can say that after
experiencing it firsthand, I now understand that it’s
not the negative force that it’s made out to be. But rather, can be used negatively when in the hands of the wrong person. Understanding that it requires faith, whether or not voodoo can
be definitely utilized to contact the spirit world will remain unsolved. (eerie music) – I’m not even trying to
be like, a jerk about this, I’m just getting tired of you asking me if I get scared about things
that I don’t believe in. – Well, one day I think
you’ll just finally wisen up. – That’s like asking me if like, never mind. – No way, finish the thought. Finish it! – I was gonna say (laughs) it’s like asking me if I’m concerned that when I fall asleep, the
moon turns around and winks at me with a big, evil face and has a boner or something and I’m like, well, of course not,
’cause that’s not real. – Does the moon wear pants, then, to cover up its boner at all times? – I don’t know, I have
never thought about that. – Why have I never seen the moon’s boner? – ‘Cause you just have
to believe in it, Ryan. – This is the dumbest
example you’ve ever given. That’s dumber than the Die Hard one. – I think the moon having a boner is about as realistic as ghosts. – (laughs) No, it is not!
– Yeah. The dark side of the moon having a giant– – Everyone in the comments, tell me what is more probable.
– No. – The moon having a boner, or a ghost being real. – The dark side of the moon
– No, no. – just has a giant, dusty boner. (laughs) – Dusty boner! – That’s about as real as ghosts. – Alrighty, so that’s the end of BuzzFeed Unsolved Supernatural. – Forever. – No, no, just for this season. – Okay, great. – Thank you all for watching. – Thank you. – We truly appreciate all your support and we are gonna be back, though
for a BuzzFeed Unsolved True Crime, right? Jesus Christ, this is terrible. (both laugh) We are gonna be back soon, actually very soon. – Oh, sooner than you thin. – Way sooner than you need for BuzzFeed Unsolved True Crime. That’s gonna be ten episodes, so hopefully, you come
along with us for that too. – It’s gonna be super depressing and bloody and gory,
oh, it’s gonna be sick! – Alright. Ryan out? I don’t know. – Shane out? Is that what we’re doing now? – I don’t think that’s– – I don’t think that’s what we’re doing. – See you guys later, see you soon. – Bye! (Ryan laughs) (eerie music)