It may surprise no one that New Orleans is an ideal destination for those who enjoy good food, drinks, and music. The city’s culinary reputation may only be superseded by its notable music scene, with live music and festivals populating the calendar every month of the year. It may, however, surprise some that New Orleans, the city that brings you Mardi Gras, beignets, swamp tours, river boat cruises, Jazz, and the National WW II Museum, is also recognized by many as the most haunted city in the United States.
New Orleans’ storied history of fires, storms, violence, yellow fever, slavery, and pirate attacks has added to the generally accepted theory that the city, built on the graves and bodies of thousands, is also where the dead – at least some of them – haven’t really opted to rest. And where there are unsettled energies there too are paranormal practitioners discovering unexplained activity, mystics, voodoo, and seances. It was the haunted, paranormal scene that we were seeking but first on the list was to find a place to feel at home while away from home.
Home Away from Home
The Eliza Jane Hotel fit the ‘feel at home while away from home’ vibe we were seeking. Located out of the fray of the French Quarter yet mere blocks away from the buzz of restaurants, bars, and music venues, the boutique hotel’s location scores big points.
Upscale yet affordable, the hotel is housed in several historic warehouses and the designer did a great job of bringing together different buildings, with their different personalities, to blend into one. The bar area is open yet there are ample places to sit in a quiet corner and enjoy a cocktail. There is a lovely outdoor seating area that is private and contained yet open to the sky. Bikes sit in the lobby waiting to be ridden.
Exploring the Paranormal
With our home base established, we set out to experience the paranormal with a hands-on investigation. Jenn and Christopher, who work for the New Orleans Paranormal Society, were our guides for the evening. Outfitted with canvas bags full of trans-communication instruments and tools that had been repurposed from electricians, the two hosts talked with us about the equipment and explained how it picked up energies that cannot be seen by the human eye. The organization has exclusive access to three properties where heartbreaking and brutal deaths took place and according to Chris, “We honor and respect them and they show us through their activity that we are welcome.”
Who knew ghosts liked music? It did not take long before we were watching images on the monitors moving and dancing to music. Initially one could think it was all somehow rigged, until we started suggesting different songs and watched the images on the screens move in ways we asked. It was a simple cat toy, however, that seemed to convince everyone that whatever was happening, was in fact, happening.
The cat toy was a small ball that when touched or moved, lit up on the inside. The lights flash when the ball is touched and the idea, for cats, is that they can scamper and chase the ball with colorful flashing lights. After we examined the small balls, our hosts set them on a couple of tables and chairs where paranormal activity was happening. As we watched the screens capture energies (ghosts) moon dancing to Michael Jackson, the small balls flashed on and off although there were no cats around – only ghosts.
When the Haints Go Marching In
It was the channeling experience that firmly solidified there was activity that was profoundly paranormal and beyond explanation, yet by the end of the evening felt almost normal. Sitting in a dark room with one person listening to what initially sounded like radio static, the others in the room asked questions to the ghost or spirit who may be present. Nearly everyone on the tour heard specific voices communicating and responding to the conversations. Some things cannot be explained, at least not in the tidy, contained world we’re used to. But, by the end of the evening, everyone in the group walked away having felt and sensed the activity.
We debriefed over a farewell dinner at the Eliza Jane’s French brasserie, Couvant. In some ways, Executive Chef Ryan Pearson’s menu also defied explanation – the blending of foods, textures, and flavors is why this restaurant is its own destination. Our meal included Pearson’s signature style that combines French and New Orleans cuisine in approachable and satisfying dishes, including dessert.
There are many ways to discover New Orleans. Venturing into the paranormal experience is one to add to your proverbial bucket list. Until you have experienced it in person, it may be best to keep an open mind but do make sure you have a welcoming hotel to return to after communing with ghosts.
Cover photo Brick Talbot Bishop
Haven Lindsey resides in Taos, NM. She is a freelance writer with more than 20 years of experience writing on topics including healthcare, addiction, public policy, education, travel, food and human interest stories. She was recognized by NPR for her solo travel series exclusive to Texas Lifestyle Magazine. Haven is working on her second book, a follow up to ‘The Blue Dog and The White Horse Adventures on A Texas Ranch’, a children’s book about the friendship between her dog and a horse.