Marie Thibodeaux (1801-1881) was a remarkable woman. She was kind, intelligent, headstrong, and never once told a lie.
She was also a Voodoo High Priestess.
She lived her entire life in New Orleans, establishing a reputation from an early age as a potent healer and clairvoyant. People travelled for miles simply to visit her apothecary, although many more sampled her legendary concoctions. By the 1870’s, she had simultaneously become one of the most feared and revered figures in Louisiana.
In 1881, a landowner named Jacob Parrish travelled to New Orleans from Baton Rouge. Parrish was vastly wealthy and devoutly religious, but possessed a morbid fascination for the occult. He had hired a platoon of ex-soldiers from the recently concluded Civil War, and with them he marched down Bourbon Street and into Marie’s store.
Despite the protests of her assistants, Marie granted Parrish an audience. He had heard rumours that the great Voodoo Queen had discovered the secret to eternal life, and demanded that she yield it to him.
Never flustered, Marie corrected him: she had indeed discovered a ritual that would grant immortality, but only for a set period of time – fifty years, to be exact. Once performed, the subject would rise again after his natural death, having no need for food, air, or water, immune to disease, and utterly impervious to bodily harm. After fifty years had elapsed, however, the subject would die once more, never to rise again.
Frustrated by this revelation, Parrish nevertheless knew her by reputation to be an honest woman, and would not pass up the opportunity to live beyond his natural lifespan. Marie agreed to conduct the ritual for him, as long as he vowed to leave New Orleans permanently once it had been concluded. Parrish agreed, and the ritual was performed. True to his word, Parrish returned to Baton Rouge later that day – but not before ordering his mercenaries to murder Marie and her assistants and to burn her apothecary to the ground.
Louisiana folk are renowned for their superstitions, which are many and varied. It was unusual, however, that dozens would later swear that they had seen disembodied shadows making their way en masse up to the Parrish Manse that night. The following morning, the fifteen mercenaries were found with their necks snapped as though they had been twigs. Parrish himself was discovered in his bed, wide-eyed and apparently terror-stricken, his throat town out with such ferocity that the State Coroner was forced to conclude that a bear had somehow made its way into his locked, second-floor bedroom. The hints of black magic were not lost on locals, however, who promptly buried all sixteen bodies in Magnolia Cemetery the following day.
Marie Thibodeaux was a remarkable woman. She never told a lie, but that is not to say that she never withheld the truth. What she had not disclosed was that resurrection would not take place until seventy-two hours after death.
When Parrish’s grave was exhumed for relocation in 1953, puzzled excavators noted the singularly deep gouge marks found inside the coffin lid.
Credit To – September Derleth