St. Louis Spiritual Supply Store Cursed Mom | St. Louis Metro News | St. Louis | St. Louis News and Events
Just after the bridge over avenue Gravois is The spiritual supply of Papa Legba (4535 Gravois Avenue, 314-489-4338, call for an appointment) a must in Saint-Louis for ritual tools, spiritual texts and sacred relics. A unique hand-painted alligator covering the store window is enough to intrigue passers-by, but one particular southern town rumor hints at an even bigger mystery inside: a “real mummy” hidden in the back of the mystical emporium.
I’ve been fascinated by this rumor for years and decided to see if there was any truth to the stories I heard. I met Henry Manning, aka Papa Legba, on a beautiful spring afternoon.
Papa Legba is moving his business to University City after 24 years in the Bevo neighborhood. He plans to operate the store from his home from June. We sat among rows of potions and powders while Papa Legba entertained me for hours with stories of practicing witchcraft in the 70s, performing rituals with north county covens and jokes with local law enforcement during the Satanic Panic.
As the surroundings became more comfortable, I finally asked, “You know, I’ve heard so many stories about a mummy here somewhere. Is it true?”
“Oh HELL yes!” he replied enthusiastically.
Papa Legba pointed to the back of the shop and encouraged me to investigate the rumor on my own. Sure enough, what appeared to be a mummy was wedged between the Santeria altars and the moving boxes. I’m far from an expert in verifying mummies, but whatever was inside a glass sarcophagus draped in ceremonial cloth looked like a rotting corpse.
“I got the mummy from a store that was closing, it was in Lemay, it was called Le Portail. When I bought it I thought it was a Halloween prop. Turns out it was real! The owner of the portal bought it from a museum in San Francisco. Now what he didn’t tell me was when he bought this fucking thing, the place burned down. His mother used to help him with his store, and when he sold it to me…she died. When they brought this fucking thing here, I had two parrots… an African gray and an Amazon bird. They are both dead. I had a kitten and it died. I said ‘you son of a bitch’, and I had to summon all the Orisha [Yoruba or Santeria deities] and shit i could delete this fucking mummy.
The mummy has been doing well lately, says Papa Legba. But “I have people coming in all the time and asking me how much I would sell it for. I tell them ‘when I die, of course you can buy it if you want, otherwise that bastard isn’t going anywhere. Trust you don’t want me!’ We’ll see what happens, but I might donate it to the Church of Satan in Poughkeepsie someday.
Papa Legba guesses why the mummy is cursed. One idea is that it’s because the mummy was disturbed. Another theory is that the mummy was mistakenly named Guinevere. “King Arthur bullshit,” says Papa Legba. “When I got it, there was no sarcophagus, so there was no story. Without a story, there’s no identity. It was basically just a corpse. No Not that they were ever respected anyway. When the Brits built the railways, they had unwrapping parties, using the bodies to fuel their trains. Weird and horrible. Anyway, I gave him a house.
Papa Legba believes the mummy is of Egyptian origin due to its size. “I remember the first time I saw a mummy. I was a wolf cub and we went to see the mummy at the art museum. I remember thinking ‘I could mess with this thing! What is an adult?
With the move, Papa Legba plans to keep the mummy in a guest room for guests to stop and look at. “At the end of my time, you can throw her into the fire with me. I guess I’ll walk around the afterlife with a broad that I don’t understand!”