Poking in the dirt with his steel rod, he suddenly struck something hard and began to dig. However, what he’d unearth would be enough to send chills up his spine.
Although New Orleans is a place with a deep history of myths and witch magic, local witch doctors were sent into a frenzy by what he’d uncovered. What had Shane had found this time?
52-year-old Shane Mere had always loved the idea of finding treasure. While he was growing up, he’d spend hours exploring historical sites with his father. They both loved panning over the earth with their metal detectors.
Now, Shane is quite the legend in New Orleans. Dubbed “The Cajun Swamp Whisperer,” by the locals, his fishing skills matched his metal-detecting skills. So, it made sense that if there was something to uncover in the area, Shane would be the man to find it.
When asked for some tips on where to go treasure hunting, Shane said: “I love it when somebody is building a swimming pool.” Wherever properties were being torn down and foundations being dug up, Shane would be there.
But one fateful day, he found out that what he had thought was just a construction site had something truly sinister hidden beneath it.
“There’s something about it,” Shane said about the relics he finds. “You’re back in time, in a time capsule by yourself, bringing these people back,” he said. “These people who were forgotten.”
But this time, Shane was about to uncover another forgotten community of New Orleans… and he was about to bring something else “back” with him.
Shane had developed a protocol whenever he went looking for treasure: he had a five-foot-long metal pole that he’d poke into the ground whenever he had a hunch about a certain area. If he hit anything, he’d begin to dig.
This particular day was no different, at first. He walked down to the West bank of the Mississippi River, to Brooklyn Avenue. Then, he stuck his pole into the ground.
When Shane struck something with his pole, he knew that this search would be worthwhile. There was definitely something underneath the old site, stuck in the mud.
He eagerly went to work, flinging dirt aside with his spade and carefully tracing in the dust with his fingers to try to determine what it was that he had found.
Digging deeper, Shane finally found what his pole had struck upon. It was made of glass and no bigger than his palm, so he had to be careful not to shatter it when he extracted it from its secret hiding place.
But when he finally unearthed the glass bottle and cleaned it off, his eyes grew wide.
He saw twine, wrapped around some stones that clinked around inside the bottle. From what Shane knew about history, he could tell that the bottle was very old — probably from the 19th Century.
But who had buried the bottle here? And for what purpose? He knew he’d stumbled upon a creepy mystery that just begged to be solved.
At first, Shane said that he thought the bottle was something that belonged to a child long, long ago, like “a child’s wish deal,” he said.
But, on closer inspection, he also saw a tiny bug inside the bottle. And there was another problem with his “child’s wish” theory: the twine knotted around the stones intricately. It wasn’t the work of a child.
After a Google research session, Shane believed that what he’d found bore all the signs of being a genuine “witch bottle,” which is a “countermagical device used as protection against other witchcraft and evocation.”
Shane was thrilled! So he posted a photo of the mysterious bottle on Facebook. But he never imagined the response he would get.
Shane’s post said it was a “rare, creepy-cool find!” More than 1,300 Facebook users commented on Shane’s post, which he wrote in 2020. And, with 2020 being the awful year it was, most people were very unhappy.
Angry users advised him to return the bottle to its resting place beneath the foundation of the building site — before he caused irreparable damage!
One thought immediately came to most people’s minds when they saw the mysterious bottle: Bad Juju. “All sorts of (stuff) will come your way if you intervene with its purpose,” one Facebook commenter warned. “Best leave it to continue to do its work and stay out of the way.”
“This year has been bad enough, dude. Put it back. Put it back!!” wrote another.
Stephanie Mackin, who works at the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum and is well-acquainted with antique bottles, said that nobody on her staff had ever heard of a “witch bottle”, but everyone was “very intrigued” by the discovery.
However, a voodoo practitioner and the owner of the Island of Salvation Botanica on St. Claude Avenue, Sallie Ann Glassman, could shed some light on the case.
“I’ve seen money jars and love jars, and jars to get people to go — bad neighbors and boyfriends — and to heal; all kinds of them,” she said.
Cathy Smith, Shane’s friend, and neighbor, believes the bottle might be a type of magical charm known as gris-gris. She thinks it symbolizes personal desire — a prayer for health or for someone who died. “People find charms in houses, under houses, and in the walls,” she added.
Cathy said she’s lent Shane equipment for his treasure hunting from time to time, and Shane always gives her the best of his finds — including antique dolls and golden earrings.
Cathy Smith said she’s “not surprised at all” that a bottle like this was found near the river’s western bank… nor that it was found by her friend: “Shane does have a little magic in him,” she said.