For all the children inspired by the tales of Harry Potter, it will come as a pleasant surprise to learn that Americans themselves have been training in magic for some time.
One of the most illustrious schools is the Dark Cypress School of Magic in Louisiana. The school is located on an isolated, abandoned sugar plantation along the Bayou Teche.
Originally founded by a band of escaped French Louisiana slaves in the 1700's, the early school prospered with support from free blacks and creoles of New Orleans. The group used magic to live hidden in the area's swampy wilderness, but were willing to share their secrets with select outsiders. Their core magic teachings centered on Voodoo.
One of the school's great patrons throughout the 1800's was Marie Laveau, Voodoo Queen of New Orleans. She continued teaching at the school after death.
In the mid 1800's, macabre writer Edgar Alan Poe visited the group from the East Coast. Poe felt mysteriously called to visit a childhood friend who bought Bayside Plantation in the area. While staying with his friend Poe was secretly contacted and brought to see the school and learn. His spirit has been a regular visitor since his premature and mysterious death in 1849.
The early school joined forces with some of the planter society as a result of the Last Island Hurricane of 1856. The hurricane demolished a Louisiana barrier island that was a favorite vacation spot for the local rich. About 200 lives were lost on the island in the storm (half of those present) and another 133 lost at sea.
Many of the spirits of those lost in the hurricane joined the school. A mother and 2 children associated with the Shadows-on-the-Teche Plantation of New Iberia became part of the school's leadership. Frances Weeks and her daughters Mary Ida and Augustine brought knowledge of European-based witchcraft into the curriculum.
The school acquired 2 ghost ships as a result of this hurricane: the steamers Nautilus and Manilla.
The campus moved to its present location during the chaos of the civil war. The main school building, a stately Greek Revival style manor house, features a front facade of 2-story, white columns. The grounds boast lovely grand oaks dripping with Spanish moss. The estate is surrounded by swampland, guarded by alligators and spells.
No roads to the school exist. Any roads that once led to the plantation have long been overgrown and lost. Students reach the school by catching a ghost steamer in New Orleans. The boat travels up a branch of the bayou not shown on any maps.
Students are notified of their admission to the school each year by receiving a talisman. It appears one morning mysteriously under their pillow. Prospective students should watch for it in mid-March.