In December, Tumblr and then the larger Internet blew up over a Facebook post by a self-described New Orleans-based witch named Ender Darling, who was offering human bones for “curse work.” Darling freely revealed that they were getting the bones from a potter’s field cemetery. You really, truly can’t do that, and Darling’s home was raided by state agents soon after, who seized human bones and teeth.
Darling, who uses gender-neutral pronouns, posted in a private Facebook group in December that they would frequently visit a “poor man’s graveyard” after heavy rains and take bones that had washed aground. A screencap of the post quickly made its way to Tumblr, where it is still viewable:
The Tumblr post called Darling out using both their Facebook and Tumblr names (“PSA: tumblr user littlefuckinmonster is stealing human bones from cemeteries in Louisiana. Please don’t let them get away with this and spread the word/signal boost!”). It spread far and fast, even, as the Advocate reports, catching the eye of state authorities, who frown on even the lightest of grave-robbing.
The Louisiana Attorney General’s Office determined from Facebook photos Darling shared with potential customers that the cemetery in question was likely Holt Cemetery, a historic potter’s field that has fallen into disrepair. Soon after, Darling’s house was put under “periodic surveillance” for six days and subsequently raided, the Advocate reports:
[C]ourt records obtained by The New Orleans Advocate show the authorities recovered at least 11 bones and four teeth from a “fishbowl type” container inside the South Solomon Street house.
“I had them on an altar,” Darling, who has since moved to Florida, said in a phone interview Tuesday. “It was just a bunch of little shards of bones and pieces of teeth I had picked up off the ground. I said (to the agents), ‘Here you go. There’s probably human bones in there, but I know better than to give you that answer.’ ”
Darling is unrepentant, arguing that “nature” provided them with the bones and anyway, they weren’t selling them, exactly:
“I wasn’t selling anything,” Darling said. “It was, ‘You cover how much it takes to ship it.’ This is me passing along something I feel nature has given me. I don’t want money for this.”
Darling’s Facebook post prompted outrage online and led to Darling and other residents of the house receiving a flood of threats.
The self-styled witch even moved away from New Orleans in part out of concern over a daughter. “People were getting really serious about this, and it was all over me picking up bones,” Darling said. “It’s a very special place to me, but my physical safety is more important.”
Darling uses human bones for “energy work” — not merely curses but also healing rituals — a purpose the witch said is far better than having the remains merely “laying on the ground” after a heavy rain.
“It’s easier for someone to connect with something that has human energy in it,” the witch said. “That’s what I use them for.”
It’s unclear whether Darling will be criminally charged, the Advocate reports: “So far, Darling and the other occupants of the home have received only summonses for marijuana possession.” The AG’s office told the paper the investigation is ongoing.
New Orleans’ cemeteries are in need of extensive cleanup, preservation, and protection. It’s entirely possible to help out with that, through a nonprofit, say, instead of stealing human remains and claiming that “nature” gifted them to you.
Holt Cemetery, seen in disrepair soon after Hurricane Katrina, September 2005. Photo via AP Images