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The City That Embraced Me: My Pilgrimage to New O...

The City That Embraced Me: My Pilgrimage to New Orleans

Michelle Root New Orleans Louisiana Teh House of Twigs Hoodoo Vodou withcraft practice

 

It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything of substance to be honest. As the mundane (and my own self) have been allowed to take the reins of every aspect of my mental state, I realize that I’ve become stoic and somber about many things as of late. As I struggle to connect to my voice again, I am reminded of the woman who lost her wild long ago. It’s so easy to become so disconnect with who you are at the core when your everyday demands outweigh the time you set aside for yourself for any act of self care. I became a mother at 18 years old and have been running at level ten almost 17 years later. It wasn’t until I took a much needed spiritual pilgrimage to New Orleans this November that I realized  how big of a piece of myself I had lost along this way called life. The city had been calling me for years as its spiritual influences have always held tight to my heart strings.

Michelle Root New Orleans Louisiana Teh House of Twigs Hoodoo Vodou withcraft practice

The sheer images of the city alone resonated so deeply within me that at times I wept at the thought of never being able to experience its majestic, otherworldly energy. It’s known to be the upside-down in a sense. A world where the dead have dominion and we are just merely guests inhabiting the same space. Planning the journey had been somewhat chaotic as ten other people were involved, but we essentially were able to come to a consensus on many things to make such a presumed feat manifest.

 

Michelle Root New Orleans Louisiana Teh House of Twigs Hoodoo Vodou withcraft practice

 

Knowing of my Louisiana roots also provided me with a sense of ‘homecoming” as we flew over the swamps and marshes before landing. My spirit KNOWS these lands as my ancestors lived for many years on these hallowed grounds. Their blood, seeping into the damp ground. Their sweat erected the plantations and manned the fields which grew the South into what it was. And most importantly, their tears are what stain my modern day cheeks after their sacrifices and pain are all but erased by the on going racial tension, white supremacy and continued oppression that plague this country we call home. It was a bittersweet feeling seeing the land they lived and died upon. And it made the hole that is ever present in my biracial identity feel oddly full despite simply making touch down upon the tarmac. 

 

The history of the city itself is so rich and elaborate that its hard to pinpoint exactly what it means to “feel” New Orleans. It’s full of Vodou/Voodoo (Both Haitian and New Orleans) and Witchcraft. It’s rich with food ranging from Cajun to Lebonese and of course every type of jazz imaginable. The trip to the French Quarter warranted peeking inside various clubs and joints to connect to the rhythmic, bellowing flow that is NOLA jazz. I was unable to deny my spirits as the drum line and brass connected to my ancestral code. I began moving and shaking and feeling every bit of the energy as they played. I couldn’t help but envision my family dancing around me, in the other realms. Rejoicing that their child had sought out this spiritual experience. That I had returned HOME to celebrate  in the sacred space that is Louisiana. It mattered none that we were on different planes of existence. I felt validated as I allowed this brass band to take my soul just for a song or two. I was never alone in my dances and I made sure at each turn to honor whatever energies I felt supporting me in that moment. 

 

As we drove the uneven and dated streets, it became more and more apparent that there were literal spirits within these houses and buildings. They all but screamed at me at each turn and I had moments where some of the information being shared was too intense for me to handle. Being an empath ( I am not a huge fan of that word, as its usage has come to have a variation of meanings) has the ability to produce a conglomerate of feelings ranging from elation and joy to sheer terror and the darkest of depression. That being said, being able to absorb the energies of the architecture and land in a place rooted with such turmoil and pain, I had to make sure I was able to separate what was mine, and  what was New Orleans. 

 

Michelle Root New Orleans Louisiana Teh House of Twigs Hoodoo Vodou withcraft practice

Washington Artillery Park

Michelle Root New Orleans Louisiana Teh House of Twigs Hoodoo Vodou withcraft practiceOne chilling example of this was near St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square. My group and I were on a personal tour of the area, filled with stories of Marie Laveau the Voodoo Queen and other New Orleans icons along with villains such as mass murder and sadist Madam LaLaurie. While walking and listening to each piece of history, I stopped dead in my tracks at a particular cross street and peered down a narrow alley way that was converted into a beautiful residential area. Something MADE me stop and acknowledge the energy I had just walked through.  “Something really bad happened here..” I said to my close friend who was walking next to me. The tour continued slowly ahead of us but I remained a few seconds longer, gazing at the alley to just absorb and acknowledge the emotions, pain and sadness I felt within that space. As we walked a block further to the front of the Cathedral, we were told about the public executions at Jackson square and how families would make a day of the gruesome festivities. Our tour guide informed us that as a warning to other towns folk, the body parts of  the executed were strung upon the fence I was leaning on. She then proceeded to tell us how the alley we had just walked passed, (and the one I had become stuck upon) was a passage way the Nuns of the St. Louis Cathedral would carry the body parts taken down from the fence through  in order to provide them proper a burial at the nearby cemetery. I had stepped into one of the many vortexes within the city and witnessed in real time a glimpse into the tumultuous past. 

 

Michelle Root New Orleans Louisiana Teh House of Twigs Hoodoo Vodou withcraft practiceMany other instances of spirit colliding with psychic ability followed me throughout the city. It felt natural after a while to see this parallel world overlapped with ours. And while I struggle with these gifts here at home, the support of the city known to claim her own allowed my gifts to emerge with ease. Almost like the freedom to be out of my familiar element, and into a space saturated with spiritual energy was, and has been exactly what my soul needed to flourish. I struggle a-lot here in the desert of California. It’s dry, the air is heavy, and the architecture here feels  dead and stagnant to me. No life, no stories, and no supportive occult community to feel embraced by. Maybe in other parts of the state you could find these necessary connections, but where I live, it is non existent. So visiting, then leaving a city that managed to touch every aspect of my soul in a matter of only four days has left me a bit shell shocked to return to the place I have lived for the last 6 years. To say returning has been easy would not be an accurate statement to say the least. 

Not only were the monuments, stories and buildings so deeply moving, but the people I now call family have blasted a piece of me wide open that I didn’t think was possible. We truly minimize how critical the sense of community is within this vast Occult/Pagan/Witchcraft community. We become solitary and forget how the energy of another practitioner can uplift and empower us. We forget that as a whole, we are truly one as a community and are ten times more powerful together. When I walked with my witch family down the streets of New Orleans, a sense of power and pride filled each step we took. I wasn’t and had never been truly alone, but all the years of isolation in my practice had convinced me that I didn’t want to share my sacred space with another ever again. I had forgotten the importance of Tribe and what it means to be within a spiritual family. I found my wild spirit that had been lost years ago with the titles of Mother and Wife. Employee and friend. Here in the Crescent City, I was Michelle. And all these feelings were awakened within a place that wrapped its spiritual arms around me and still hasn’t granted me release, even after returning home.  

 

To be honest, I never want to be free of her embrace. It meant so much to be able to explore who I am outside of all the other hats I wear in life and it was time to awaken the dormant parts of myself that needed to be activated and connected to. I found myself in the city of New Orleans. I found my spiritual home. And every year from here on out, I will make the pilgrimage back into her arms.

Returning home has been very bittersweet for me. I was able to tap into my magick so fiercely that I almost had a few manic days where I had to cast something to get the energy out. The city had fully recharged me spiritually and the affects were tangible back home. My eyes saw things differently. My heart and spirit felt it all. But damn did I also feel a twinge of depression that set in once I realized my feet were no longer planted on Louisiana soil. I am currently planning round two in the works as I have decided it necessary to return at least once a year to my new spiritual home. 

Michelle Root New Orleans Louisiana Teh House of Twigs Hoodoo Vodou withcraft practice

Buckner Mansion AKA: Coven House

I encourage every magickal practitioner to research the source of their magick and ancestral lineage. Being supported in your practice by your positive ancestors (as there can be negative ones as well) is probably the single most important factor in creating successful magick, as the power we are given comes directly from them! We are the culmination of years of love and sacrifice, hard work and dedication to survival! So it’s only natural to call upon this energy to support you and pay to homage to the ones who walked before you.   

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A Mother, Wife and Witch who walks in between many areas of life. The in between is where I thrive and my desire to seek, transform and regenerate through adversity is my Scorpion life blood. I am not above learning new things and humbly admit I am a lifelong student of the craft. I am not initiated into any formal traditions so my craft is a representation of my life experiences. Complex, vast, and ever changing.
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A Mother, Wife and Witch who walks in between many areas of life. The in between is where I thrive and my desire to seek, transform and regenerate through adversity is my Scorpion life blood. I am not above learning new things and humbly admit I am a lifelong student of the craft. I am not initiated into any formal traditions so my craft is a representation of my life experiences. Complex, vast, and ever changing.
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