My Spirit Comes Here to Drink : Distilling the Darkness & Mythos of New Orleans Folk History with Melissa Madara

“...I have a memory.
It swims deep in blood, 
a delta in the skin. It swims out of Oaklahoma,
deep the Missisippi River. It carries my
feet to these places : The French Quarter, 
stale rooms, the sun behind thick and moist
clouds, and I hear boats hauling themselves up
and down the river.

My spirit comes here to drink.
My spirit comes here to drink.
Blood is the undercurrent.

There are voices buried in the Mississippi
mud. There are ancestors and future children
buried beneath the currents stirred up by
pleasure boats going up and down. 
There are stories here made of memory...”

-Joy Harjo, “New Orleans.


“being lost,
being crazy maybe
is not so bad
if you can be
that way
undisturbed.
New Orleans gave me
that.”

-Bukowski, “Young in New Orleans”

Whether or not you've visited the fabled port city of New Orleans, almost every American is familiar with its debaucherous reputation. Witchcraft, sin, spice, and a succulent variety of images come to mind at the mention of its name. It is the forge of American rootwork practices as we know them today, the home to heady jazz & blues, and a true servant of the drunk, the lover, and the scoundrel. But, as is always the case, the history of New Orleans has not always been a pleasure cruise. Ravaged by fires, hurricanes, disease, criminals, and a host of mythical monsters, New Orleans has had its fair share of biblical calamities. Indeed, many believed the city to be truly cursed and abandoned by god.

In this discussion, Melissa Madara will probe the seedy underbelly of the Big Easy. Through both fact & legend, hauntings & history, she endeavors to dissect how and why New Orleans became the home to so many devils. She will lead you down the alleys of NOLA's bloody, mysterious history, and attempt to discover why so many feel called to return to such a damned & tormented city. 

Through storytelling, history & legend, join Catland in exploring the city that stands at the crossroads of life and death, the past and present, good and evil, the truth and myth.

$10 / refreshments provided

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Melissa Madara comes from a rich familial background in folk magic, with roots in both rural Croatian folk traditions and Pennsylvania Dutch hexerei. She is a born & raised New Yorker, and believes strongly in using one's native terre and tradition to enhance their spiritual work. Her practice is uniquely American, and therefore syncretic; drawing from Christian, indigenous (Shawnee), and Appalachian traditions. 

Melissa lived in New Orleans while attending college at Tulane University, but has been passionately studying the city's warped & wild history since she first visited in 2003. She has attended and delivered countless tours of the city's famous French Quarter, and has a particular interest in the city's beaucoup crasseux (very dirty) history. 

When she was young, Melissa's parents placed a strong emphasis on the art & practice of storytelling. Her mother would craft entire books worth of stories on long summer afternoons, and her father was an avid anecdotalist, telling big-fish tales over campfires and across dinner tables. They fostered this practice into her adult years, encouraging her to write prolifically, read voraciously, and seek out other famous storytellers, like Mike Daisy, Louis CK, Woody Guthrie, and Bob Dylan.