In October I returned back to my roots in the great state of Louisiana and spent some time in one of my favorite places in the world, the French Quarter and Garden District of New Orleans. One never runs out of things to experience in NOLA (New Orleans, Louisiana). Truly it is captivating, a veritable feast for all five senses as well as the sixth sense.
The best way to describe how I feel in this city would be to use the word, “charmed”. New Orleans is many things to many people, but for me, it’s charming. She embodies a spirit, a joy for living (joie de vivre) that is expressed throughout the city. Each time I return back to NOLA, I ride the streetcars to take in each neighborhood, enjoying the stunning architecture, the smell of honeysuckle and jasmine in the air, and chuckling at the sight of Mardi Gras beads hanging from the boughs of trees. As the streetcar delivers me near the French Market, the smell of beignets and coffee coming from Café du Monde lift my spirit and remind me why I love this city.
It is my sincere belief that New Orleans is ‘charmed’. Charmed by the artists and musicians when their music and art spill into the streets touching our soul at the core, charmed by the chefs who tantalize our appetites in sweet rhapsody with their culinary delights, and charmed by the people who are kind, good natured and some of the most loving and joyful people that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.
Growing up in Louisiana, I assumed people everywhere spoke about mojo, gris gris, ju-ju, and Voodoo and celebrated Mardi Gras and other such occasions for the simple joy of being alive. Later as I lived and traveled around the country, I soon discovered that Louisiana has a very unique style of living. There is no other place like this in the world. I'm of French, Scottish, Irish and German origin and my family has lived in almost every area of the state. My mother was a “Cajun Queen” born in Lafayette and my great-grandmother was a wise woman living in South Louisiana where she supported her family by reading tea leaves and making folk remedies.
I grew up attending Mardi Gras in New Orleans from the advantageous position of being carried through the city on my father's broad shoulders where I was free to stretch out my hands and catch beads as the floats passed by. He tirelessly carried me through these parades, carrying bags of beads, doubloons and other items that I collected. I first danced to the LSU Fight song at the age of three at a game with my parents during half time to the delight of spectators who remarked that even at this early age I had the rhythm and spirit of Louisiana
in my soul. I was raised Catholic, attending school where I was taught by nuns, went crabbing, fishing and inner tubing like every bayou girl, and grew up in a state where people celebrated the joy of everyday life. I can't really remember a weekend growing up where my parents weren't having a party of some kind with family and friends dropping by and a huge variety of food being cooked and shared by everyone. Everyone I met was an honorary uncle or aunt and no one stayed a stranger for long.
I also grew up having psychic abilities including the ability to see ghosts and communicate with the spirit world. I began having prophetic dreams at an early age and communicating with beings that I first attributed to being my guardian angels. I spent the majority of my free time in the parish libraries getting my hands on every book I could find on the subjects of ancient mythology, ancient history, the ancient gods of Egypt, the Oracles of Greece, Celtic traditions, comparative world history and religions and ancient spiritual practices. I also loved to read ghost stories and legends. This passion for all of these topics began at the age of five or six and I have never looked back.
As my psychic abilities grew and developed, it did not take me long to realize that I had been born into a magical land. Louisiana is a land where magic still lives, a place where time stands still in a primordial fashion and portals in the swamplands open to the supernatural realms where mystical creatures roam. It is a land so ancient and powerful that the magic is still afoot. With a simple call to action, this energy rises from the fertile rich soil of the Mississippi Delta and the Gulf Coast and awakens to answer your call. I grew up with a healthy respect for this magic and with the understanding that this magic also lives within me.
I heard the siren song of the Muses who stand guard over Louisiana and I answered their call very early in life. Though I have traveled and lived in many areas of the U.S., I have always held the spirit of Louisiana in my heart and soul. She and I are one and her magic runs deep into my core. Each time I return, the ancient magic stirs and recognizes that this is my home. Each day that I stay in New Orleans, deeper memories surface of past lives spent here in the city. Each time that I write about New Orleans, the people and their ghosts join me in remembrance of times gone by and in the hope that New Orleans will be restored to her full magical self.
It was for this very reason, writing my book, Spirits of New Orleans: Voodoo Curses, Vampire Legends and Cities of the Dead, that I returned to New Orleans this October on book tour. As the author of four books, this eleven-day book tour was one of my most favorite by far. At each step of the tour, I shared the haunted history of the city including the stories of those who decided to make New Orleans their eternal home, as a resting place for some and a point of revenge for others and invited each reader to journey into the haunted history, paranormal activities, magical ceremonies and supernatural rituals and practices in order to fully understand and embrace the cultural significance of the variety of beliefs, superstitions, legends and lore. This book tour began in North Carolina at Barnes and Noble and then on to Books A Million and then to indie book stores and shops in the southeast.
With four books under my belt, this was not my first book tour, but I knew it had the potential to be one of the most magical tours of all, as I had been invited to speak on an author panel at the Anne Rice Vampire Lestat UnDead Conference and to attend their Vampire Ball both hosted by Sue Quiroz, one of the most loving and ethereal beings that I have ever had the pleasure to meet. As well, I had been invited to present my book at the New Orleans Witches Ball the following evening held in a beautiful mansion on St. Charles Avenue in the Garden District, hosted by Kim Cairelle Perilloux, who embodies the generosity and grace of a witch standing in her power!
Oh how the Fates had smiled upon me and my little Spirits of New Orleans book! Like many people, I have a bucket list, a compilation of dreams, hopes and wishes that I long to accomplish. Each year I update, add and check off completed items, while dreaming of new adventures to come. On my list I had written down that one day I hoped to attend a costume ball in New Orleans and lo and behold, I was now invited to attend two of the most fascinating Balls in the city!
St. Alphonsus Church ARVLFC Author Cocktail Reception. Background: Anne and Christopher Rice signing their books with a line of people waiting to meet them that stretched all the way to the end of the church. Foreground: Kala and fellow panel authors including Vanessa Fewings and Bobby Crutchfield enjoying cocktails
Another of my "hope to accomplish items" was to meet Anne Rice, an author whom I had loved since I read her first book about vampires. Ask me still to this day about the first time I read Interview with a Vampire and you’ll still see the warm grin rise from my lips along with a mischievous gleam appearing in my eye as I explain how her writing touched me and lured me into her world of vampires and their chronicles. I grew up in Louisiana and when I discovered Ms. Rice’s books, I had moved away from my homeland. When reading her books, I was not only touched by her stories, but by the vivid description and details of New Orleans, which allowed me to carry a piece of my home with me. She has the magnificent ability to allow one to taste, touch, smell and experience all six senses while reading her books, a feat not easily accomplished and for a homesick girl living far away from her roots, I only had to open the book to return to my beloved Louisiana.
If you've followed me this far, you've figured out that I love New Orleans and that I am a big fan of Anne Rice's body of work. Maybe I connect with her writing so well because like Anne, I grew up Catholic in Louisiana, along with sharing a deep love of all things mystical. This could be part of why I enjoy her work, but truly moving beyond that parallel, I consider her ability to weave compelling story lines while immersing the reader into the story with history and sensory detail to be, in the clearest sense of the word, masterful.
This brings me to how all of these activities collided this past October, as I returned to New Orleans. At the Vampire Ball, I was able to meet Anne Rice and tell her face to face how her books had inspired me to write with such depth of sensory detail and to thank her for keeping the sights, scents and flavor of Louisiana so fresh in my heart every time I opened one of her books.
I was also able to share with her that my Spirits of New Orleans book is part of a non-fiction series by Clerisy Press entitled America's Haunted Road Trip. Described as paranormal travel guides, they delve into the haunted history, legends and lore in various states and cities. I explained to her that I had previously written a book for this publisher entitled Ghosthunting North Carolina and when the call came to write Spirits of New Orleans, I was thrilled to return to my roots and reveal the stories about a city that I love with all of my being. It's my distinct pleasure to share this book with those who hear the siren song of New Orleans calling their name to visit her as soon as possible.
Yes, here I was, having one of those proverbial moments when things that you've only previously dreamed of, like writing a book sharing your deep love for New Orleans, being on book tour to talk about this book, attending a Ball in New Orleans, and meeting one of your top three most favorite and revered authors in the world all combined together in one exquisite pleasure that becomes surreal. As I sat down next to Anne Rice, time itself seemed to slow down so that I could take it all in. In this moment, I had the distinct pleasure of another bucket list item achieved, though I never pictured that I would be having this conversation with Ms. Rice while I was dressed in an all red vampire costume! Some things you just can't even picture and as the saying goes, truth is stranger than fiction.
Now back home, the memories of my week in New Orleans are still fresh with me. As a "travel guide to the other side", I enjoyed sharing with readers the history, mystery and legends of the city that they may have passed by before without knowing what lay in wait inside. I also shared which ghosts are still actively haunting the city and why.
Kala Ambrose Book Signing at the New Orleans Witches Ball wearing my gorgeous couture Witches Hat designed by EverCrumbly & Witch.
My intent for each reader is that you find yourself enchanted and charmed by the spirit of New Orleans. For those of you who have never been to the city, you find yourself falling in love with her and for those of you have been to NOLA and haven’t been back in a while, I’m going to help you fall in love all over again. Once the romance of the city is fully in bloom, I’ll be your guide into the dark side of the city, where ghosts haunt the streets and every corner. I’ll show you where I’ve run into ghosts and other supernatural entities in broad daylight and on foggy nights and share with you some of the most haunted sites in the city. At the end of this ride, you’ll come away knowing a great deal about the history of New Orleans and her people as well as the ghosts who decided they never wanted to leave.
I also invite you to follow your dreams and make your own bucket list. You never know when the Fates will smile upon you and deliver your dreams right into your hand. My bet is though, that if true magic is to happen, you'll find it in New Orleans!
In love, joy and a sprinkle of magic,
More About Kala Ambrose and Spirits of New Orleans:
I worry some days about the coming earth changes and if cities like New Orleans will one day be swallowed up by the oceans and remain only a distant memory. Perhaps we will tell future generations about the city that had such a generosity of spirit, that it threw the world's biggest free party and Carnival every year for all who wished to attend. Magnificent floats were built, people wore elaborate costumes, and everyone danced in the street wearing boas and catching the free souvenirs being tossed to them, such as beads and doubloons. I think about this and wonder, will these future generations shake their heads in disbelief, while living in cold steel cities where parades consist of little more than uniform marching bands with small banners. Perhaps they'll laugh at these tales and compare them to the mythological stories of Atlantis and Lemuria.
For this reason I write, in the hopes that future generations will know that true magical cities did and do exist and if at all possible, those who can will move heaven and earth to see that New Orleans survives. Her soul belongs to the Muses and the Bohemian’s who heed the call of art, music, literature, dance, theater, history, self- expression and love in all forms.
New Orleans is a unique and deeply important part of the United States that must be preserved. In many ways, it is the soul of this great land, where music, art and creative ideas are born, venturing onward throughout the country on the wings of muses to the delight and joy of many. My intent here is to share the beauty and the magic of New Orleans in harmony with the haunted history in a city so special and so unique that truly it deserves to be respected as a rich cultural treasure.
I’m pleased to serve as your travel guide to the other side. In Spirits of New Orleans, I invite you to visit the resting place of Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau, find out the real story behind Madame LaLaurie, have a drink at some of the most haunted bars in the city and spend the night in your choice of haunted hotels. Join me as your guide, as we tread carefully through haunted Pirates Alley and down the streets of the French Quarter where ghosts, vampires and other supernatural beings lurk around every corner. The stories and information I share here are true as to the best of my knowledge, experience, and research. History is never truly accurate in all accounts and many of these stories have been passed down verbally through the generations. As such, the possibility of some of the information being embellished and changed over time occurs when the stores are passed down over centuries. The story of the LaLaurie house is one example where further research recently by a group of people revealed a completely new twist to the haunted tale.
In due diligence, I’ve collected eyewitness accounts, local lore and legends, and stories based on these beautiful haunted spaces. I then attempted to confirm as many of these details as possible by court records, museums and other legal documents and books available regarding these stories. Finally, I visited each location independently to see as a psychic and a medium what I could discern and experience in each location and when possible, to speak with the spirits directly. The result of this investigation is presented here in the Spirits of New Orleans.
May the tales of these spirits delight, entertain and enchant you along the journey. Come explore with me and prepare to be supernaturally and eternally charmed by the city of New Orleans.
“Seeing a ghost in New Orleans is as common as having a bowl of gumbo. The question is not when, but where best to savor them both. Each person who lives or visits the city of New Orleans quickly finds their favorite haunts, which they return to time and time again.” – Kala Ambrose
About the author Kala Ambrose: Award winning author, national columnist, inspirational speaker, and host of the Explore Your Spirit with Kala Show, Kala Ambrose's teachings are described as discerning, empowering and inspiring. Whether she’s speaking with world-renowned experts on the Explore Your Spirit with Kala Show, writing about empowering lifestyle choices or teaching to groups around the country, fans around the world tune in daily for her inspirational musings and lively thought-provoking conversations.
A highly interactive teacher on a mission to educate, entertain and inspire, Kala teaches and writes about ancient wisdom teachings and how their techniques can be used in modern day living. Her books, The Awakened Aura: Experiencing the Evolution of Your Energy Body and 9 Life Altering Lessons: Secrets of the Mystery Schools Unveiled both cover these topics. In addition, Kala shares her love of history, travel and the spirit world in her books Spirits of New Orleans and Ghosthunting North Carolina. Her books are designed to explore the history of cities in an entertaining manner while sharing haunted stories and offering travel tips on how to best see the cities to shop, dine, stay, and visit the haunted sites.
Kala writes for the Huffington Post, the Examiner, AOL, Yahoo and Fate Magazine and presents workshops nationally on the Mind/Body/Spirit connection including Auras and Energy Fields, Developing Entrepreneur Intuition, Haunted History, and Wisdom Teachings at the Omega Institute, John Edward Presents Infinite Quest, Edgar Cayce's ARE, the Learning Annex, LilyDale Assembly, Daily Om and her school, the Academy of Mystical Arts & Spiritual Sciences.