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A HAUNTED AMERICA TOURS HURRICANE KATRINA EXCLUSIVE!!!



MANBO SALLIE ANN GLASSMAN'S FIRST-HAND ACCOUNT OF SURVIVAL IN THE WAKE OF HURRICANE KATRINA

 

Editor's Note: Manbo Sallie Ann Glassman rode out the disastrous Hurricane Katrina in her beloved New Orleans. What follows is her own Ground Zero account of her experience and her inspiring and forward-looking vision for the future of our wonderful City.

 

"NO ONE IS IN CHARGE AND THERE'S NOTHING BUT CHAOS OUT THERE IN THE DARK!"

Sallie Ann Glassmans' New Orleans Hope and Heritage Project

Pre-Katrina was a lifetime and a world away.

We miss our homes, our bizarre and wonderful city, our dear friends, who have scattered to the wind. We will never forget what we experienced in New Orleans, or the horrific images that continue to haunt us: the wide eyes of silent children sitting next to desolate parents, the manic gleam in the eyes of berserk looters, the bowedheads of those forced to forage for food, or the broken debris of once-magnificent Live Oaks.

Nor will we forget the warm and accepting welcome we have received from people on the road, the kindness and generosity of friends, family, strangers. The love, concern, and energy that has poured out to us is real and palpable and has sustained us throughout these difficult times.

Everyone who stayed in New Orleans during Katrina has a story to tell. This is mine:

I stayed because I had too many animals and too many Vodou godchildren to fit into the one car that we shared between us (not to mention that I, like so many New Orleanians - don't drive and don't own a car myself). We decided to vertically evacuate to my friend, Pres's, apartment in the French Quarter.

We did yet another hurricane ceremony Saturday night, asking Dantor to take the storm to the East and reduce it from Category 5. People kept asking me what was my gut feeling. "We will survive this, it will go to the East. But I don't trust my gut on this one."

As it turned out, the storm did downgrade and did pass just to our East. In fact, the storm itself didn't do all that much damage. We even walked Ayizan, my trusty Akita, while the eye was passing. The gusts took your breath away, but there was nothing like the total devastation that happened on the Louisiana, Mississippi Gulf Coast. There was a lot of debris, lots of battered, dead birds, lots of torn up trees, but we could certainly have picked up in a few weeks and moved on. We thought we had gotten off easy.

The electricity had gone out at 6:25 a.m. Every clock in town was frozen at that moment. We were transported into the Twilight Zone. All communication was suspended and chaos started to seep in.

We spent that Monday night in Pres's French Quarter apartment, right off of Bourbon St. It was incredibly surrealistic on the balcony overlooking the Quarter. Absolute blackness outside. The only lights were those of the police cars searching through the streets and the million stars suddenly visible overhead. Add to that the relentless noise of helicopters hovering over the tops of buildings, a random gun shot here and there, people shouting and running. It was straight out of the scene in Apocalypse Now when they come to the bridge too far. No one is in charge and there's nothing but chaos out there in the dark. End of the bloody world!

Then, the next day, the levee broke and slowly, ominously, the water started to rise and people started to seriously worry about food supplies and water to drink. Would we be trapped there for a month? Would anyone come to get us? Where was the rest of America, any emergency assistance, any instruction of any sort? We would go out foraging for food and police would give us food that they had confiscated moments before from looters. Very weird, but we certainly were not going to turn down any supplies, even canned caramel sauce or pecans in syrup.

We climbed over the balcony at Pres's apartment and took food out of his absent neighbor's refrigerator -- all kinds of gourmet, organic delicacies -- and left a little note saying we'd remimburse them when this was over. It was more like we were playing at scavenging than realizing that we were in a life and death struggle. But it was getting increasingly dicey out in the street and felt increasingly Apocalyptic. I was getting flashes of grammar school when fall-out shelter salesmen would terrify us with tales of having to bear arms to prevent rabid, formerly civilized neighbors from breaking in to contaminate your space and steal your supplies.

Meanwhile, the New Orleans flood water was steadily rising. I became unwilling to let anyone out of my sight for fear that something would suddenly change again and we'd be forever separated. I had no idea where most of my friends were evacuated to. Or, drowned? Shot? Barricaded in their homes? No phones, no t.v., no newspaper, nobody in charge. Looters everywhere -- some just getting food and water, some just wreaking havoc. There were also isolated police here and there with shotguns in their hands.

As we wandered around the French Quarter, looking for food, we'd pick up people who would throw their lot in with us for a block or two, then disappear as they became distracted by some other plan. I particularly wondered what became of a vacationing Italian couple who spoke no English and were last seen trying to comprehend my pantomimed instructions that they not drink the water.

As the black night laid down on the city, Pres moved me, my friends, a strange Indian man named Sonjee, who had attached himself to us, two dogs and our combined four cats up to one of his hotels across from the convention center. A battalion of police had commandeered the hotel, so we had lots of food and
water and gasoline for the generator. But the police were also stranded there with no information, no assistance, no instructions, no supplies. They had looted the Walmart to get the food and water that we were now consuming. But we felt relatively safe from the mayhem outside.

The police captain turned to Pres and asked, "What are YOU still doing here?" It was clear that only the poor, disempowered, and worthless were supposed to still be in the city. I thought the Spirit must have wanted Pres to be with me so that he would have to see and experience all this from the street level. I thought Spirit must have also wanted me to be with Pres so that my ass would be saved.

The hotel had a phone line out that could only make long distance calls. I called my brother, my ex-sister-in-law, and my dear friend, Claire. For the first time I realized the desperation of our situation. It was something about their shrieks of relief when they heard my voice, and my own tears when I heard how worried they were for me.

I met a Jamaican man, Johnson, who was the chef at the hotel. He had no money, but had a full tank of gas in his car. Still, he couldn't leave because his two daughters and his wife were stuck in a hotel in Kenner. One of the daughters had leukemia and was running out of medicine. He was out of his mind with worry, but had the most beatific smile on his face. He said that he had to smile. That is what he was here for, and we all needed him to smile. I know I did. He also kept pointing to the police saying, "Remember. It's martial
law now. They're in charge. It's their city now. You have no rights."

I watched people coming up out of the flooded parts of the city to the Morial Convention Center. Already hundreds of people were there without food or water or shelter from the sun. Lots of people were joyriding on stolen scooters, brandishing guns that had been looted from stores and homes. Could this really be the United States? Were we really U.S. citizens? It felt more like the fall
of Saigon and we had missed the last helicopter out. There were no National Guardsmen, no Army, no Red Cross, no FEMA, no one. We were being left to drown. It seemed a bit like the Nazi gas chambers. Corral everyone you don't want into a little room, turn on the gas, then say how appalling it is to see these awful people climbing over each other to get some air.

Everyone was so appalled at all the looting and lawlessness. What was happening in New Orleans would have been called a slave uprising in colonial days. In the sixties it would have been called a revolution, except here there were no leaders, no philosophy -- just blind rage, spilling over. It was the direct result of slavery, after all. I thought it would likely spread to other cities where there is unrest, disempowerment, bitter poverty in the face of excessive wealth -- just as there would surely be other natural disasters that befall other cities in other terrains, due to global warming.

On Wednesday evening, two of my friends got through to their parents who said they would come to get them. That left us enough room in the car to make our get away with my dog, three cats, and my bottle of Joy perfume. We drove out of the city over the Crescent City Connection -- the last route out -- just before it was closed. The bridge was lined with hundreds of desperate souls who sat on the side in the 100-degree heat with their babies in shopping carts or cardboard boxes, no food, no water, no hope. What would happen to those broken people? I heard that people who walked over the bridge were met with gun-toting police and dogs, who refused to let them come over to the West Bank. How nice.

As I looked back at my beloved, ruined city I wondered when or if I would ever see it again. The levees of my heart broke, and I cried and cried. We drove out of New Orleans, and back into the United States. Duck, here comes the Apocalypse.

Shortly after we left, the police kicked everyone out of the hotel and left them on the street in front of the Convention Center. Johnson was last seen walking away in the other direction. He did not have his children with him. I had given him Pres's phone number and some money, but I never heard from him again. His gracious smile haunts me. My friends made it back to Pres's apartment, where their parents miraculously found and rescued them. Now all my friends are scattered to the wind.

Politicians throw blame, then take the blame, make all sorts of declarations and promises, offer new deals. Maybe Katrina marks a turning point for our society. People will always look back at this and say, "We were living wrong and this is the event that changed us."

It's now over two weeks since the catastrophe happened. Still no FEMA, still no Red Cross. My insurance company plays a recorded message that says they'll be closed for a very long time. Our leaders and our organizations have failed us. People all over the world are pouring out love and money. Where is it going? It's not coming here.

Will New Orleans be under water for forty days and forty nights? Has this been a biblical cleansing? What will we preserve from our old way of being? Can we reinvent ourselves? What is the transformation that is possible? Can we go there?

The shrinks are wrong -- it is possible to sustain passionate, romantic love. All of us who live here love New Orleans passionately, maybe unreasonably. Like any lover, she can be difficult, problematic, inept. New Orleans can be tacky, violent, corrupt, impoverished. But she has a way with moonbeams and dreams. She knows how to wrap a glamour around herself. Those of us who are now dislocated in the great, undifferentiated wasteland of American suburban sprawl know what a unique treasure New Orleans is.

I snuck into New Orleans last weekend with a few friends. We went to six of our houses and businesses and my Vodou temple. All were pretty much unharmed and none of them had been looted. I opened the door to my temple and found pristine altars, undisturbed cornmeal ritual drawings from our last hurricane ceremony, and food offerings still on the centerpole. I was less than a block away from the utter devastation of the Lower Ninth Ward.

All the members of my Vodou community and all their pets and precious ones had gotten safely out of the city. I had a roof over my head and food on the table. I gave thanks to the Spirit for all these precious gifts, and for the opportunity to grow my soul.

The whole historic portion of New Orleans -- everything we think of as New Orleans - - was relatively unharmed. The trees on St.Charles Ave. were a bit beaten up, but still standing. The birds had come back.

We will rebuild. We are reimagining already. Our lives will be different. New Orleans will be different. We will take the warning from the Earth Mother. This time we will build a city that is ecologically conscious and sustainable and will be spiritually, rather than financially driven. We need double levees and
light rail trains that can speed tens of thousands of people at a time out of town when the next big storms come. We need adequate public transportation within city limits and bicycle paths so we can move away from gas dependency and allow the earth to cool down a bit.

Every one of you who thinks I'm crazy for eating vegan, riding a bike, and not using air conditioning, please think about the realities of global warming and the fury of the storms it brews. If we want to survive on this earth, we have to give up some comforts. And everyone is invited to next year's hurricane ceremony, the third weekend in July!

THE NEW ORLEANS HOPE AND HERITAGE PROJECT

We are learning to ride the turbulent waters of Apocalyptic change. It's all about the silver lining and the opportunity to add to the Soul of the world. Here is what my family and I have come up with as a place to start:

The New Orleans Hope and Heritage Project

Mission Statement

The New Orleans Hope and Heritage Project is dedicated to supporting the efforts to rebuild and transform the city of New Orleans, while staying true to the unique heritage and culture of our beloved city. We will focus our efforts on rebuilding one neighborhood at a time by channeling the interest, support and
resources of individuals and organizations worldwide who share our passion for authentic and inspired reconstruction. We recognize that with any crisis also comes great opportunity. Together we can realize the potential of the state of emergency caused by Katrina and related flooding to afford a mindful reconstruction, with an emphasis on environmentally aware, socially conscious urban planning.

Vision Statement

We are passionate about staying small, yet mighty. Our community-driven organization will create opportunities for one individual to help another by supporting small, personalized acts of hope and empowerment that will create a new paradigm for community. The New Orleans Hope and Heritage Project was formed in response to a general sentiment that local, state and federal government failed to prepare and protect its citizens from Katrina and the storm's aftermath. We believe that an appropriate, strategic response to the crisis our city currently faces must be lead at the neighborhood level, with passionate, feisty native New Orleanians directing efforts to re-imagine and rebuild our city.

Topline Objectives (In no particular order):

Citizen driven community home insurance fund.
Lobbying for insurance reform.
Citizen driven evacuation plans for humans and the pets they love tailored to the needs of each neighborhood in New Orleans.
Home rebuilding program (grants and labor). Commitment to award work to local contractors, with a preference given to independent contractors and small businesses.
Innovative incentive programs and grants to encourage displaced people to return to New Orleans.
Carpentry residency and internship program.
Residency and internship programs for teachers and holistic healers.
Counseling for PTSD, with an emphasis on children.
Develop neighborhood cultural centers which offer resources including yoga and nutritional and mental health counseling.
Citizen driven policing and security.
Citizen driven education, including year round schooling and 9 hour school days.
Citizen driven, environmentally responsible mass transit system.

For more information on The New Orleans Hope and Heritage Foundation or to contribute to the work of Manbo Sallie Ann Glassman and La Source Ancienne Ounfo as they help to rebuild and refocus New Orleans, please visit her website at www.feyvodou.com . Or nola hope and heritage http://www.nolahopeandheritage.org/nola/

 

Ms.Sallie Ann Glassman is the author of Vodou Visions, published by Random House in May, 2000, which has received acclaim from Vodou practitioners around the world. She is co-creator and artist for The New Orleans Voodoo Tarot, published by Destiny/Inner Traditions, and is the illustrator of The Enochian Tarot, published by Llewellyn.

Official Web Site www.feyvodou.com Visit Here

The Katrina Ya Ya project is an invitation to see beyond New Orleans' drained streets chalked with the memory of flood lines and the scars worn on her wind-battered houses, and further into what must be protected." http://www.nolahopeandheritage.org/nola/ The Katrina Ya Ya project is an invitation to see beyond New Orleans’ drained streets chalked with the memory of flood lines and the scars worn on her wind-battered houses, and further into what must be protected. We invite you into a deeper story that has endured fires, territorial feuds, and floods to meet our true city: her rich, unique cultural heritage that must be preserved if those who have not had the chance to know her mystery and secrets are to understand precisely what is worth sustaining and why she is worth saving. As Richard Ford has written: "You can rebuild a city, but you can’t re-make it." Quite simply, our country has not been invited to experience the soul of New Orleans, and we want our nation to understand who we are as we work to rebuild.

This project is a gumbo of New Orleans' voices: the insider's voices: the insider's view into New Orleans ranging from award-winning, published local writers, our nationally renown Vodou Priestess, New Orleans musicians, spoken word poets who lived in the Lower Ninth Ward, to locals who speak freely the language and pulse of this city that our country has, perhaps, never heard before... at least not served in this roux.

We are currently airing on radio a collection of narratives that celebrates New Orleans culture. Our pieces can be heard every Wednesday at 4:45 p.m. on New Orleans' local NPR station WWNO at 89.9 FM, streamed live at www.wwno.org, and preserved on WWNO's online audio archive at the same address week by week as each piece is aired.

Our pieces are written by New Orleanians about New Orleans, the city we love and the city we are dedicated to healing. Narratives range from our Mardi Gras Indians, second lines, Vodou, corner stores, Creole culture, to a tiny barber shop in the Lower Ninth Ward.

Further, we are working to simultaneously broadcast photo documentaries consisting of photography slideshows set to these narratives in the hope of reaching as wide of an audience as possible during this crucial time of urgent need for New Orleans. Finally, we plan to publish expanded transcripts of each narrative in a collection after the project has reached its completion.

We want to introduce the real New Orleans to our nation: her charm, her secrets, her mystery, and the stories of her people one will only hear told on the stoops and in the kitchens of her brightly colored Creole cottages, camelbacks, and shotgun houses.

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Author of Vodou Visions, Sallie Ann Glassman

 

As a Manbo, Ms. Sallie Ann Glassman has led her neighborhood in community Vodoun rituals to fight crime and to ask for protection from hurricanes like Katrina. She has received international television, radio and magazine coverage, including a front page article in The New York Times and a feature on The World News Tonight with Peter Jennings.

 

Voodoo New Orleans, Isand of Salvation Botanica, 836 Piety Street, 504-948-9961 New Orleans, Louisiana. Island of Salvation Botanica, a store and gallery specializing in Vodoun religious supply, medicinal and magical herbs, and Haitian and local New Orleans Voodoo artworks.

 

La Source Ancienne Sosyete

Vodou (Afro-Caribbean Traditions)
835 Piety St.
New Orleans, LA 70117
Phone: 504-948-9961
Website: feyvodou.com

 

New Orleans Voodoo, like New Orleans culture, is a mixture. Marie Laveau herself was a mixture: She was a free person of color, born to Charles Laveau, a wealthy French planter, and a mother who sources indicate could have been a mulatto slave, a Caribbean Voodoo practitioner, or a quadroon mistress. Marie may also have been part Choctaw. The objects and actions employed in the practice of New Orleans Voodoo are called “gris-gris.” “Gris” is the French word for grey, signifying a mixture of black and white magic, magic which can be used for different purposes. Gris-gris, the basis of New Orleans Voodoo practice, is a concept which is based upon mixture.

In recent days a controversy has arisen regarding the legend and practice of marking the alleged final resting place of Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau with X’s in the infamous “wish spell” ritual popularized throughout the past several decades by certain companies, groups and individuals working in the New Orleans tourism industry.

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The Great New Orleans Voodoo magic Powers of the Monkey and Cock is said to grant to it's very Lucky owner three significant wishes over a three year period. It is also said by New Orleans Practioners and local believers in Voodoo to be the most powe












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