[LA] New Orleans – Brennan’s Red Room Ghosts

Brennan's red roomBrennan’s Restaurant on Royal Street in New Orleans’ French Quarter is well respected as a world-class restaurant. “Breakfast at Brennan’s” has become a Louisiana tradition for visitors as well as locals who enjoy fabulous food in a relaxed but elegant setting.

Upstairs at Brennan’s, the Red Room is famous for its ghosts.

According to a legend dating to the 18th century, Monsieur Lefleur calmly went out one morning and arranged for three funerals. Upon returning home, he killed his wife and his son before hanging himself from the sturdy chandelier in the center of the Red Room.

Portraits of the three decorate the walls of that room.

It’s unclear if M. Lefleur’s ghost is among the spirits at Brennan’s charming restaurant, or if the Red Room is haunted by the ghosts of the murder victims, Mme Lefleur and her son.

Day or night, you can feel a “cold spot” over the lovely fireplace in the Red Room, using just your hands. (Before you decide you’ve felt a “cold spot,” make sure it’s not a downdraft from the chimney. If it’s a chilly day or evening, ask if the flue is open.)

In addition to the cold spot, the portrait of M. Lefleur seems to change expression every time you glance at it. I took several photos of the portrait, but as M. Lefleur’s smile changed to a sinister grimace, my camera had problems and the pictures turned murky.

Below, you can see a series of my photos taken one evening in July 2005. I had to increase the contrast on the right two so that the face could be seen online. Other than that, I did not alter them at all. They are all the same portrait.

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Yes, this is one of those “either you see it or you don’t” set of images. Not everyone will see the changes between the pictures. Some will blame it on the lighting. (It also helps if you’ve seen the portrait in real life, so you know have a frame of reference for these photos… no pun intended.)

As I watched, Monsieur Lefleur’s face seemed to change from posed to vulnerable (or perhaps younger), and then a troubled grimace tightened his lips. It turned slightly sneering, and slightly distasteful. Finally, he looked anguished or perhaps angry… even sinister.

If you dine at Brennan’s — which I highly recommend — and have an opportunity to visit the Red Room, keep checking the portrait of M. Lefleur and see if his expression changes.

The painting’s transformation isn’t as dramatic as the special effects at Disney’s “Haunted Mansion” attraction, but I wonder if Brennan’s painting inspired Disney’s imagineers.

(If the Red Room isn’t in use, Brennan’s staff may allow visitors upstairs to see if the Red Room is active with ghosts.  The room is usually haunted, but even ghosts take a break now & then.)

Brennan’s is among New Orleans’ most haunted sites, and M. Lefleur isn’t its only spirit. The restaurant is haunted by a dedicated former chef, as well as an old woman who paces the corridor outside the Red Room.

Brennan’s serves some of the best food in the world. If you want to splurge on one elegant meal while you’re in New Orleans, Brennan’s is the place to go.

(When you’re there, you may see movie stars a adjoining tables. Be discreet. Don’t stare or ask for autographs. Just enjoy your meal… and the restaurant’s ghosts.)

Brennan’s Restaurant, 417 Royal Street — in the French Quarter, New Orleans, Louisiana. Phone (504) 525-9711. http://www.brennansneworleans.com/

Brennan’s Red Room and exterior photos are courtesy of Brennan’s Restaurant (c)2005. The three photos of the Lefleur portrait are (c)2005 Fiona Broome.

The changing facial expressions are courtesy of Monsieur Lefleur’s ghost, New Orleans, Louisiana.

[TX] Katy – Train Depot Orb, Ghosts

On Saturday evening, 25 June 2005, we returned to the old depot in Katy, Texas.

This was my only ‘ghost orb’ photo, and it’s a good example of how hard you may have to look to see orbs.

This orb is large, but it’s very difficult to see. If it wasn’t so large, I wouldn’t bother posting it at all.

Out of about 30 photos of the depot and the caboose next to it, this is the only one with an orb that seems fairly real. (Orbs in two other photos could have been reflections from light sources.)

Of course, that’s what makes a site credible. If we saw orbs in every photo, or more than half of them, investigators would have to question humidity, dust, pollen, bugs, and so on.

One credible orb isn’t enough to confirm a haunted location. That’s not the only reason I recommend this challenging location for casual research.

The energy at the depot, and consistent, independent, psychic impressions by our investigating team… that’s another story.

Our experiences at the depot suggest a few gentle spirits at the old depot, possibly residual energy from people who worked there, and those who have happy memories of traveling by rail to and from Katy.

There is something considerably stronger at the caboose.

Initially, our collective ‘gut feeling’ is that the caboose is haunted by an old railroad conductor.

  • He’s not too happy with the caboose sitting still.
  • He’s annoyed that it’s not moving, it’s not keeping its usual schedule.
  • And, he doesn’t like people getting very close to the caboose, either.

He’s not malicious, just annoyed. He keeps looking out the back window (facing away from the depot) and checking his watch.

This was our second visit to the “old town” area of Katy, and the depot.

2014 update: I’m not personally monitoring that location now, but reports continue to confirm that the site is mildly haunted.

Because it’s such a public location next to a busy street, it’s not a great research location.

However, it’s a good, fun investigation site. It’s ideal for those who can visit during the day, or just want to see if they can detect anything, psychically or with ghost hunting tools.

Psychic Preparations for a Ghost Hunt

Wild flowers at a NH cemeteryPsychic skills and sensitivity can be useful during ghost investigations, if the psychic is skilled, understands the risks involved, and maintains appropriate boundaries.

But, simply being psychic — and I believe that most people are psychic — isn’t enough.You need to maintain your psychic boundaries, as well.

It’s easy to be “too psychic” on ghost hunts. If you’re picking up energy from other researchers as well as the ghosts, it can feel like a dozen radios are blaring at once.

That’s where boundaries come in.  They protect you and your team, and can be helpful to the spirits, as well.

Consider these preparations to enhance your psychic ghost hunting skills.

Clear your mind.

Before a ghost investigation, jot down anything that you can think of that you need to do.

Whether you need to remember that tomorrow is trash day, or if you have a book to return to the library, if that thought keeps swimming around your brain, write it down.

Just a few notes may be enough. The point is to reduce the self-talk in your head.

Eat well, but not too much.

Before every ghost hunt, eat a light meal. Include some protein, since it digests more slowly than carbs and will prevent hunger pangs during your research. Never overeat. Whether you get heartburn or just a heavy feeling, too much in your stomach can be a distraction. Likewise, avoid spicy foods if your digestion is sensitive.

Skip dessert. Carbohydrates can contribute to drowsiness or anxiety during investigations.

Of course, avoid alcohol, too much caffeine, and unnecessary drugs.

  • Alcohol can distort your perceptions more than you realize at the time.
  • Caffeine “jitters” can compound your anxieties during a scary ghost hunt.
  • Unnecessary and/or recreational drugs can also alter your perceptions and impair your psychic abilities.

However, if you are under a doctor’s care and should take medications… take them.  Just make sure your team leader knows about this, in case the occasional side effect or a food interaction could affect your investigating.

Also, caffeinated beverages can have a place in your backpack.  After an exhausting investigation, some researchers rely on caffeine to be sure they’re sharp enough for the commute home.  (On the other hand, many teams gather in a nearby coffee shop after an investigation.  They can exchange notes and eat a light meal that refreshes them enough to drive home, safely.)

Note: If you make spirit contact through a ritual of any kind, especially one that uses substances that put you in more direct contact with spirits, make sure your team leader knows about this, ahead of time.

Generally, ritual contact and the use of some substances should be kept separate from general ghost investigations.  In fact, I usually recommend two separate investigations:  One to determine what’s at the site.  Later, a second investigation by those who will make psychic or spiritual contact, to help the spirit communicate and cross over.

“Wash off” the day’s energy, if that helps.

Before an investigation, make a clean break with the energy of that day.

  • Some people take a drive with the windows open.
  • Others like a hot shower or bath.
  • For some, the answer is a few minutes in a comfortable chair with classical music playing, or binaural beats that refresh them.
  • Light exercise or a few minutes of dancing can “shake loose” any negative energy you’ve picked up.
  • Or, you may enjoy watching part of a TV show or movie that helps you disengage from the day’s activities.

If you need an activity that marks the closure of the workday or school day, be sure to include that, no matter how rushed you are.

Have a partner or coach at your elbow.

Even the best of psychics can become vulnerable.   Always designate a team member to check on you regularly and make sure you’re okay.

  • Clearly explain what you need.  Checking on you should not become a distraction for either of you.  Often, a visual check — just a glance to see how you look — is enough. Or, it could be a simple exchange once an hour, along the lines of: “Everything okay?” “Yes, everything’s fine.” “Good. I’ll check again in an hour.”
  • The person should know what’s normal for you when you’re working as a psychic.
  • The team member should be very clear about what’s not okay.
  • If you get into trouble, your partner or coach should be confident enough to act quickly to get help, no matter what you say.
  • Your partner should know exactly what kind of help you might need, and how to get that help for you, right away.

Know the risks.

Demon-like Photo by Michal Zacharzewski, Poland - SXCIn recent years, many psychics has been deceived by entities that did a really good job of pretending to be ghosts.

As a result, I’ve almost completely reversed my previous policies related to divinatory tools and trance mediums.

It’s not that I’m phobic about Ouija boards, and I won’t flee from the site if someone goes into a trance.  I’ve simply developed a healthy respect for what can go wrong on an investigation.

In recent years, we’ve seen far more frightening things than we did in the 1980s and 1990s.

I’m not talking about angry, territorial ghosts. They’re simply annoying.  Either get away from them or imagine yourself far larger than they are, and tell them to back off.

I’m concerned about dangerous and malicious entities. Whatever those are, they’re not part of ghost research.  So, due to the increasing number of reports like this, I’ve established new rules and recommendations for working in this field.

If you’re going to work as a psychic in a haunted setting, make sure you’re not alone.  Make sure a team member checks on  you, regularly.  And, if things make sure someone is watching you — not taking photos or using an EMF meter or ghost-related app — to be sure you’re safe.

Photo credit: Michal Zacharzewski, Poland

[LA] New Orleans – ‘Voodoo Queen’ Marie Laveau’s House?

These photos were taken during an April 2005 ghost tour of New Orleans’ French Quarter.  This was a time when the Quarter seemed especially spiritually active, a few months before Hurricane Katrina changed everything.

I can recall walking up to an artist just outside the cathedral, and telling her to be prepared to move on short notice.

I explained that I “saw” the image of her being in something like a washing machine, being agitated in the water, and needing to get out before the spin dry cycle.  I also told her that I felt certain she was going to be okay, but she’d have to get out.

At the time, I had no idea how prophetic that was.  Honestly…?  I thought the imagery was symbolic.

The night I took the following photos, we’d signed up for one of the many wonderful (and sometimes theatrical) ghost tours of the French Quarter.  On this residential street, the guide explained we were looking at a house that had belonged to the famous Voodoo (or Voudoun/Vodun) queen, Marie Laveau.

I took a few photos.  Arrows point to some of the orbs that seemed most credible to me, as I analyzed the pictures.

 

 

This photo was taken on a cool, dry evening in New Orleans  at about 9:30 at night.

The orbs could be humidity or a reflection, but I don’t think so.  There’s a certain feeling you get with some ghost photos… and this was one of them.

It had the look of an eerie home of a famous woman whose stories still provide New Orleans with color.  I can understand why the tour guide wanted us to believe it was Marie Laveau’s former residence.

The house may be haunted, but it’s probably not one of Marie Laveau’s homes.  I’ve researched the addresses associated with both Marie Laveau I and II, and I couldn’t find any connection to this house.

When you take any ghost tour (or vampire tour, etc.) in New Orleans, it’s important to keep your critical thinking skills engaged.  Some of the biggest legends — such as Marie Laveau and Madame Lalaurie — have become a little lost in the fictional tales built around them.

Nevertheless, this house is charming to look at, and it gave me a slight chill as if something paranormal could be associated with it.

Or, maybe the storytelling abilities of our guide were so good, I was looking for a “good scare” when what I really saw was a wonderful, historical home.

[LA] New Orleans – Gov. Nicholls St. Ghosts

If you take a “ghost tour” of New Orleans’ French Quarter, pay attention to your innate psychic intuition, or your gut feeling. That’s what we did during an April 2005 visit to America’s most haunted city.

 

 

nola-715gn-2
Film photo at Gov. Nicholls’ Street.

 

 

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Digital photo – same location, same night, same time.

 

I’d seen the infamous LaLaurie Mansion on Gov. Nicholls Street; my photos showed very little paranormal activity there. In fact, I saw very few orbs in most of my ghost pictures that evening.

Further up Governor Nicholls Street, while the other tourists were taking photos of a house connected with President Kennedy’s assassination, I turned my cameras (two of them — one film, one digital) towards a home across the street.

This home is a private residence, which means that you should not intrude on the owners’ privacy. It’s also a site where we see more orbs in digital and film photos than many of the “haunted” sites on the tour.

The history of this home suggests that it was built in 1834 by Gabriel Correjolles, who had moved to New Orleans from St. Domingue (now Haiti).

Correjolles plaque
Correjolles’ son, Francisco, also has a connection to another haunted houses.

In 1826, he designed the Beauregard-Keyes House at 1113 Chartres Street, which is one of New Orleans’ most famous haunted houses.

I’m not sure why this house on Gov. Nicholls Street seems so haunted, and I hope that ghost hunters will not disturb the owners of this home.

However, if you’re on a New Orleans “ghost tour,” try taking photos when your intuition tells you to. Your pictures may be as surprising as mine were. I can see at least a dozen orbs in every photo that I took at this house, although these pictures don’t reproduce well online.

And, for the skeptics: None of the orbs are the moon or a reflection of it. It was not a humid night; most of my photos show few — if any — orbs, even just a few feet away from this house.

While there were probably a few insects in the air, we didn’t see any. These orbs were all too far away to be dust or pollen, especially in the digital pictures, and it was too warm for anyone to use a fireplace.

Most of the orbs are nearly perfect circles. Orbs from insects rarely are; they’re usually skewed ovals.

Like many cities, New Orleans can surprise even seasoned ghost hunters. The ghosts may be where you least expect them. Follow your intuition, your instincts, and your “gut feelings.”