Myths and legends are always born from some sort of truth. Whether it be an interpretation of the power of water and fire or dreams or an old animal that is now extinct in modern times that grew a reputation of being a “dragon” or “unicorn” based on some curious old bones found centuries ago. Many of these mythos came during times of great change, whether it be during great famine, war, climate change or other powerful weather phenomenon.
Our mind has a way of matrixing out patterns to give the violent, chaotic world some clarity and sense. It’s why the mind created the coping mechanisms we call “belief” and “faith.” Our mind is so powerful that it can give us the feeling and experience of a reality that may be completely false or even half-true, so long as we can make sense of the world around us and allow us to survive within it. Survival and coping…It is how and why our mind creates psychosis or even physical inflictions like the stigmata. These are all mechanisms and they are as powerful if not more powerful than the real world.
These instincts of our mind are what also helps create elements in our world made from nightmares. Part of coping and surviving skills of the mind is when it tells us when to fight or take flight. To warn us of unforeseen dangers, whether real, possibly real or even imagined, the mind makes all of this reality when stressed hard enough. It is this basic understanding of the mind that makes those in positions of power in religion, politics, military and media powerful and dangerous.
It is also what makes the occult equally as powerful and dangerous. Hoodoo and Wicca, Voodoo and Santeria, etc. all have the ability to use the power of the mind to create alternate realities for those who believe and share faith. It is also why superstitions, incantations, spells, urban myths and curses are often proved to be real, if not to the many then to the select few who are impacted by it.
And it is why I became so enthralled with the legend of the “Neck.”
The “Neck” is also known as a “Nixie/Nix” in English folklore or the “Kappa” in Japanese lore, or Rusalka/Vodyanoy in Slavic mythology. It is where beings like Sirens, Mermaids, Nymphs, Selkies and Kelpies were derived. What first interested me about the “Neck” was how it crossed so many cultural lines at different times in history. In many instances, one culture would not know of the existence of the other and yet their descriptions matched in unison. What made me obsessed was when I found an incantation at scarcely known voodoo “shop” in New Orleans for what was described as the “Ameriken Neck.” One thing I’ve come to learn about Voodoo is that they normally do not catalog it down unless they believe it has worked on several people.
Having lived in New Orleans all my life, Catholicism, Voodoo, and Hoodoo is built into our local culture. It is what drove me to my passion to study myths, legends and the occult. The Voodoo institution here in New Orleans has accepted me as a scholar of their beliefs and has allowed me certain accesses normal folks would never imagine was real. Voodoo isn’t about the tourist traps you find in the French Quarter with scented candles and weird masks. No, this is a firm belief/religion based on a mesh of European Catholic, African, and Haitian beliefs and faiths. It is also a derivative of the some of the oldest recorded religions, dating back 10,000 years, from the earliest human civilizations in Africa.
It did not surprise me that I found a reference to the Neck here in New Orleans or in Voodoo in general. What did surprise me was that those who practice Voodoo believed that they could conjure up the spirit of a Neck and that they believed they could control it. What further surprised me was that I found it in a book that was over 300 years old in that old shop. Things this old normally are reserved for museums, but this book was lounging about wanting to be read. When I asked the shop owner where it came from he said it was found in the coffin of who he assumed was an old priestess. Her coffin was found washed out of her grave after Hurricane Camille in 1969. The owner recently found the old book stashed in his attic and decided to sell it.
Funny thing about New Orleans is that it is 10 feet below sea level so many of our dead are “buried” above ground. So when the water rose, so did the dead. This is surprisingly a common occurrence here. Amazingly, this book, leather bound and written on pages goat skin (a common practice in Africa and the Caribbean at the time) and palm leaves, was found so well preserved that I questioned the story. But that was before I noticed the water marks.
Water has always been the common denominator for the Neck. History has documented this fact. It also makes sense as to why the Neck would be sought out in Voodoo considering the geographic nature of the religion’s base (Caribbean, New Orleans). How the old priests and priestess came about the incantation and knowledge of the Neck I have never been able to find. I have looked for years. Like I mentioned before, this thing has been an obsession and those who practice voodoo love their catalogs, especially when their practices work.
And it has. It has worked on at least one person, Ann V. Lakedeaux, 25 years ago. She worked as a theology professor at a liberal arts college in New Orleans. 43, once divorced, with no children and a fantastic sense of humor matched only by her skepticism of all things occult, Ann would become my balance and my life. I would only repay her gifts to me with the responsibility of her death by the beak of the Neck.
Ann and I had been dating for a little over a year. I was just starting to translate the entry of the “Ameriken Neck” found in the old book of incantations I found earlier in the month. We were both in Baton Rouge for the weekend and over dinner one night I shared with Ann what I had found and being curious and skeptical she forced me share with her what I had found so far. This is all I had at the time:
The incantation as written in Haitian Creole:
“Lespri Bondye nan Neck a, tanpri naje avè m ‘. Naje ansanm avè m ‘jodi a, anba dlo, nan gwo twou san fon an, naje ansanm avè m’, jouk tan mwen dòmi.”
The incantation as translated from Haitian Creole to English:
“Spirit of the Neck, please swim with me. Swim with me today, under water, into the deep, swim with me until I sleep.”
Writer’s Note: To hear the incantation in English and Haitian Creole, go here: http://translate.google.com/?tl=ht#auto/ht/%E2%80%9CSpirit%20of%20the%20Neck%2C%20please%20swim%20with%20me.%20Swim%20with%20me%20today%2C%20under%20water%2C%20into%20the%20deep%2C%20swim%20with%20me%20until%20I%20sleep.%E2%80%9D
The “Ameriken Neck,” as I translated from Haitian Creole to English is described as a “ghostly spirit whose body is that of a color-morphing, shape shifting giant squid with the ability to reflect a man’s face on its crown. Upon the completion of the second incantation, as prayer or spoken, the Neck will appear and show the reflection of the Asker’s face on its crown…”
This was as far as I had translated at the time and Ann was fascinated by it and eager to put it to the test, as she always was when she stumbled upon studies and theories of the occult. She insisted we go to our favorite lake for a late night swim. Ignoring my protests, she made an offer men my age usually never refuse, and so we went to False River, an oxbow river that is 25 miles northwest from Baton Rouge. Both of us being academics and drunk, we figured we needed goggles, an underwater flashlight, and waterproof camera so we could document the experiment and, of course, a couple floatation devices with drink holders, for safety.
So after strenuously blowing up our rafts, we floated out about 25 yards from the shore. Having explained to Ann that I have more respect for Voodoo than she apparently did, I regretfully told her that she would need to be the “bait” in the experiment. So she rolled off her raft and into the water, waterproof camera in hand. And then she recited the incantation, “Spirit of the Neck, please swim with me. Swim with me today, under water, into the deep, swim with me until I sleep,” Ann sung out in a mockingly dramatic tone. “See, I told you it was crap. I don’t see anything.”
I explained, “It says here you have to say it twice dear. You sure you want to do this. I mean what happens if it is real. You really want some giant squid swimming with you?”
“Don’t be an idiot. A squid, in these waters? A snake or an alligator, then yeah, you’d have me spooked. Actually, shit, aren’t there snakes and alligators around here?”
“Don’t change the subject now Ann! It is ok if you do not want to do this.”
With a wily smile, Ann finished her incantation, “Spirit of the Neck, please swim with me. Swim with me today, under water, into the deep, swim with me until I sleep.”
Ann suddenly felt like something swam by her feet and then felt little glances on her feet and ankles. Startled, she immediately grabbed her flashlight, goggles and camera. “Damn minnows! Scared me half to death!” she boisterously exclaimed. “Wait, I see something else.”
Ann was really quiet at first and then started to get visibly more nervous. I kept asking her what was wrong and what was she seeing, waiting on her answer to be another one of her famous belly laughs, enjoying the panic expression I know I had on my face. But she did not laugh. She kept describing a glowing in the water, a pulsating light, and took some pictures of it.
She then described how she thought whatever it was enjoyed the shine of her light and was playing with her. She started to take a few more pictures until it started to get closer to her. She called out both terrified and giddy, “It’s a big squid! Holy shit, it worked! I can even see my reflection!”
I was in disbelief, I just knew she was mocking me and then I started to get angry with her. But she was insistent on what she was seeing and told me to get in the water and look for myself. I do not know why it popped in my thoughts, but I sang the incantation back in my head, in a silly way like Ann did, “Spirit of the Neck, please swim with me. Swim with me today, under water, into the deep, swim with me until I sleep.”
“Bill, wait,” Ann’s tone dropped as she spoke, dunking her head in and out of the water every few words, “Bill, my reflection on its body…it is upside down…why is my reflection upside down?” I saw Ann snap a few more pictures then suddenly I saw two large tentacles rise up out of the water behind Ann. She was not aware of them but right after they emerge she starts screaming and kicking as though something was rising up to attack her from under of the water.
With great force, I saw Ann flip backwards. The feeding tentacles pounced down and ripped her from breast to back, leaving two bloody suspender marks where her bathing suit top once covered. She was being dragged under. I then saw a dozen or so more tentacles begin to grip around her body as she is flailing for me to pull her out of the water. I could not reach her from my raft and before I knew it, she was gone, pulled under. But not until I saw her reflection look at me, still superimposed, upside down on the crown of the squid.
I was petrified. I couldn’t move. I sat on the raft, calling out for her for 2 hours, hoping I would hear her cry out from the shore. I picked up the flashlight that floated near the raft, but only after building up the courage to do so 30 minutes after the attack. Avoiding the water became my priority. By the time the sun started to rise I had drifted to shore where I eventually found her camera. I went to the nearest phone and called the police to explain to them what happened, but I could not. They would never believe me. So I told them that she got dragged under by something, maybe an alligator, and I did not see her again. The search parties combed the shores and dredged the lake but found no signs of her. And only I found the camera.
After a week or so and after the funeral, the pictures from the underwater camera were finally developed. She took pictures of the Neck. Even though she did not get pictures of her reflections, she still snapped pictures of the demon playing with her. And she took pictures of it attacking her.
Writer’s Note: To view the last photos taken by the underwater camera used by Ann V. Lakedeaux before her disappearance, click the link below. These are the only known photo of the “Ameriken Neck” aka the “American Nix” or “American Nixie.”
The Neck became compulsion and psychosis for me soon after. I completed the translation of the incantation in the Voodoo spell book I found. The old book went on to say, “Upon completion of the third incantation (using the words “I sleep” for self sacrifice or “they sleep” if sending a curse), the reflection of the Asker or Cursed will be turned upside down revealing the true nature of the Neck and they will be pulled by the Neck’s serrated tentacles, drowned, and eaten by the beak of the Neck. The Neck will appear in any body of water at drowning depth and it can only be seen while it is in the water. It is important not to look upon it when its face is upside down as this will welcome death upon you, whether you are the Asker or the Cursed. The Neck is playful when not gazed upon, often giving you a floating sensation as you lay on your back looking up at the sky; or the sensation of fish nibbles on your feet; or the arrival of jellyfish dancing near you while you swim. But the Neck is always hungry, as it has always been, so do not gaze upon it when its smile is upside down.” To this day I regret not waiting on finishing the translation before sharing it with Ann. Deep down I knew it was dangerous to play around with such things without fully understanding them. It has been a great burden on me.
It has also destroyed my life. I’ve lived with this curse for more than 25 years and I have been living in perpetual fear of the silliest of things that I perceive to have too much water in or near them: toilets, large puddles, bathtubs, sinks, even large bowls of soup that I see on television cause my heart to skip a beat these days. I’ve sponge bathed only for over 20 years now and can only relieve myself in the woods behind my trailer. I have not been able to go near any large body of water; I’m petrified of going over bridges and will not step foot near a dock nevertheless a boat. This is no way to live for a boy who group up among the bayous.
I wish I can say that my Bathophobia (fear of depth) and Aquaphobia (fear of water) are just something I’ve created to make sense of my friend’s death in that lake so many years ago. I wish I can say that my phobias and my now reclusive life is my way of dealing with some guilt or remorse from that day. But I cannot…because the Neck has tried to kill me on many occasions. And I have the scars to prove it.
Writer’s Note: You can find my injuries from the Ameriken Neck at this link: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B1Z1E_xOAU4wZWYxWmIxMVJhZzQ/edit
The last time I was visited by the Neck was 12 years ago to this day. It had tried to claim me several times up into this last visit long ago; but it was the last visit that left the worst scars and of all places it were to attack, it had to be the shower. That day it had been raining hard, off and on, for four hours straight. At the time I was still in my house in New Orleans (the last time I was physically there as well) and every time it rained hard the plumbing in the house would become congested and slow and on a few occasions backed up on me. I needed a shower. For several years, the shower was the only place I felt safe around water because it would never get to drowning depth. But on this day, the tub I was standing in did and I was not paying attention.
It happened so quickly. The water had reached past my calves and the Neck’s feeding tentacles reached behind and ripped through my back with its toothy suckers. As it pulled down on my skin, I slipped back and knocked my head against the wall and edge of the tub. Fighting against the wrapping of its tentacles and bleeding profusely from the back of my head, I fought to climb out of the tub, breaking my nose on the toilet nearby as I pulled myself out of the tub. I blacked out for a moment, only to be awaken by the searing pain generated from the heal of my foot being pecked off. When I awoke I found the Neck halfway out of the water, my foot in its grasp, its black beak pulling muscle and flesh from me, its extraordinarily large, human-like eyes staring at me and my face, upside-down, reflecting through on the crown of its pulsating and iridescent mantle that was two feet above its eyes. As I kicked and freed my foot, my flipped reflection spoke to me with an anger and frustration in its voice that rivaled that of a spoiled toddler being told no.
“Come swim with me! COME SWIM WITH ME!” I apparently said to myself, my face slanted downward like a cheap trick at a funhouse. After I dragged myself out of the bathroom, it slinked back into the water and disappeared.
Twelve years later, after exhaustive studying on how I could possibly trap or kill the Neck or run from it, I’ve come to the realization that this is indeed a “spirit” that travels multi-dimensionally. It is the only explanation as to why it could attack me in a tub or from my neighbor’s baby pool or from street draining grate. It’s the only explanation for the scars and why I have been unable to catch it. At the end I could only find one answer to the most important question to surviving the Neck, “How do you catch and kill a spirit?”
The answer is, “You don’t.”
And now I must apologize to the readers of this paper. Another thing I’ve learned about voodoo incantations and curses is that often they are transferable. But this is a very difficult task as it normally requires the curse to be taken on willingly by another by either hearing the incantation or by personally verbalizing or internalizing the incantation with the help of the cursed. If you have read this paper so far or listened to the incantation link, you have accepted my burden. Please forgive me for this treacherous act. I am old and can no longer live like this.
While there is no escape from the Neck, this was a solution; the only solution. I know that by giving this offering of readers to the Neck that it will lift me of my curse and allow me to live free again. I have paid my debt for Ann’s death and my soul longs for peace and the water. Please understand that this was my last resort. I am Catholic so suicide was never an option for me and even after this awful deed, my cursing of you, I can still be forgiven by our God through confession. And so hopefully the “Neck” will finally be off mine. Thank you for your sacrifice my friend.
I am deeply sorry.
Note: Want more information on the “Neck,” please visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neck_(water_spirit)