Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Finding Your Spirit Guide

Spirit Guide by Valerie Rogers

Many psychics believe that within each of us there is an inner voice, sometimes called a inner guide or spirit guide.  I've never been entirely sure of this myself, but I am always open to new experiences.   I saw a psychic speak several months ago on the importance of finding and connecting with your spirit guide when you go on paranormal investigations.  She said that many times these types of investigations put you in contact with malignant and mean spirits that could do you harm.  She said that it was your spirit guide that could protect you and lead you away from danger, keeping you safe in these types of situations.  Whether you believe this psychic and others or not,  I thought this would be a fun exercise for a hot summer night.  This is Theresa Cheung's advice on how to contact your inner guide.

"Find a place where you can relax and get comfortable without being disturbed.  Close your eyes and imagine a beautiful place of light and sound.  As you breathe slowly and deeply, imagine a bridge leading to this place and see yourself walking on it.  As you reach the end of this bridge you are surrounded by light and color and sound.  Take time to explore the feeling and the place and to listen to the sounds.  You come to a full-length mirror.  As you look into the mirror you realize that the image you see is the real you, the ideal you, the magical you- your inner guide.  To your amazement your inner guide steps out of the mirror and stands in from of you saying in a kind,gentle voice,  "I am the most creative part of you. I see what you do not.  How can I help you?"

You sit down with your guide.  You may request some insight or discuss a problem or ask what lies ahead.  Listen and remember.  Remember your guide will always be with you now that you have found them.  when yo leave, see yourself taking some of the sounds and images back with you.  In time all you will need to do is close yours eyes to find your guide.  And the more you work with your inner guide the more you will know that your psychic powers are coming to life within you."

This is an interesting exercise to me because I am a psychologist and I do 2-4 groups a day in a psychiatric hospital.  One of my most popular group is a type of relaxation therapy called guided imagery.  This process is very similar to guided imagery, which is supposed to help the patient find a symbol of peace and protection they can carry with them.  I hope you enjoy this exercise and discovered a new part of yourself, or at least a little bit of peace to take with you into a chaotic world.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Guest Blogger Louise Baker's Favorite Ghost Stories!

As a writer myself,  I know that managing a writing career is challenging and I am always amazed by those that can accomplish this task.  That is why I'm always happy to welcome writers here.  Tonight's guest blogger is Louise Baker.  Louise loves ghost stories and wanted to share a few of her favorites tonight.  When not trying to scare herself silly, Louise Baker writes about getting an online education. She most recently reviewed the best online schools at   Louise has also had articles picked up by sites like MSN, Publisher's Weekly, and the Consumerist.  Welcome Louise!

Ghost stories capture our minds and imaginations. We share them around campfires and on dark nights to give our friends - and maybe even ourselves - some thrills and chills. There are a number of ghost stories that circulate, though and here are five great ones to remember the next time you need to share a spooky tale.

Bloody Mary
The tale of Bloody Mary is one that has stood the test of time and the test of many a slumber party. The story of Bloody Mary starts with Mary, a witch who lured young girls to their deaths. She used their blood to keep herself young and beautiful and when the villagers discovered what she was doing their burned her at the stake. As Mary burned she spoke a curse that would cause her evil spirit to continue causing harm. Her curse stated that if anyone spoke her name - Bloody Mary - three times in front of a darkened mirror, her spirit would appear to seek revenge. She would tear to pieces the one who summoned her, stealing their soul and trapping it within the mirror to burn forever as she burned.

The Hook
The tale of an escaped asylum resident who had a hook instead of an arm has been retold countless times over. The story holds that a young couple park in a secluded area to make out when the girl is spooked by the radio warning of the deranged hook man. Something shakes the car and she begs her boyfriend to take her home. In disgust he starts the car and they leave. Upon arriving at her home, she exits the car only to discover that a blood hook hangs from the passenger side door handle.

The story of the Windigo is an Ojibwa story from long ago. The Windigo is a creatures that will eat the flesh of any man, woman or child it finds. In some instances, the Windigo will instead possess the body of a person, causing them to become a cannibalistic Windigo themselves. Most Windigo stories occur in the dead of winter, when people are searching for food and in danger of starving. The Windigo is usually described as large and white, with black eyes. The Windigo makes a strange hissing sound that mixes with the howl of winter winds.

Ghost Hand Prints
The story of the ghost hand prints centers around a set of railroad tracks on which a busload of school children had died years earlier. A young couple are driving over the tracks when their car stalls. They are horrified to see that a train is bearing down upon them and they can't get the car started. Without warning, their car rolls off of the tracks to safety, just before the train passes. Shaken, the man gets out of the car and discovers dozens of child-sized hand prints on the rear bumper.

Ghost Soldier
The story of a ghost soldier has seen action in every conflict or war over the past several years. The story is that a young soldier is on tour during a time of war. One night his mother awakens to find him standing next to her bed. He tells her he loves her and is alright. She realizes that in fact, this is her son's spirit come to say goodbye. The next day she receives word that he was killed in action but she carries his last message in her heart as she grieves for his death

Monday, June 28, 2010

The French Bride's Ghost

This story was told to my by a native Southerner.   She heard it while she was travelling in South Carolina.  It is pure Southern folklore at its best.  The story begins with a young couple that were new to this nation when this nation wasn't really a nation at all.  They were pioneers travelling to a new world occupied by hostile forces and unknown people.  But they were also escaping the old and they had each other.  They were a French couple and they had just built a house in Charleston, South Carolina.   They planned on getting married and moving into their new house on their wedding day.

The young woman was beautiful in her white dress with her flowing blond hair.   People came from all over to see her on her wedding day.  Unfortunately,  the local natives came as well.  They came with the intention of driving the European settlers out of Charleston once and for all.  They killed everyone they could and they scalped the young bride and hung her scalp from the tree above her house.  Time past and the natives reclaimed their land.   As time past,  the hair began to gray and change as if the young bride were still alive.  The natives became afraid that her ghost was haunting them.  Not only did the hair gray but it thickened and it spread and as it spread the natives became sure that the ghost of the  young bride was coming to take her revenge.  They fled the tree, but the hair grew on all the trees.  It spread from tree to tree as if it were chasing the bride's assassins.

Finally, the natives fled the region and the Europeans reclaimed it.  The bride's hair remained as a reminder of what had happened. It thickened and darkened and became the Spanish moss that hangs from so many trees in the South today.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

My Ghosts

The ghosts of my past having been pulling at my heart strings lately.  The pull is so strong is tangible.   The pull started long before my visit to my grandmother yesterday,  but she only made it worse.  For most of my life my grandmother was the dowager empress of the family.  She sat in our old, family house  like a queen.  Our family house is in Cheboygan, Michigan and it is 150 yrs old.  It has been in our family for all those long years when my great, great, great uncle  built it as a wedding present for my great, great, great Aunt Newton.  The house was haunted.  It wasn't something people spoke of often, but it was certainly a given.  Entire batches of photographs were thrown out because white mists permeated all of them obscuring the faces of the living.  Strange noises came and went at night.   There was a cold spot in the middle of the old kitchen at midnight. 

There are so many stories it is impossible to list them all.   I visited once after a wedding.  I never took out my wedding clothes at the house.  I left them at the bottom of the suitcase.  After my departure,  they were found laid out on the floor of the attic.  There were no children or pranksters present during that trip.  Strange things like that were just normal there and that house was and is my favorite place in the world.  When I was a girl I used to hide under the piano in red parlor so I wouldn't have to go home.  The house was my home.  It was huge and beautiful and it was part of our family legacy.   With eight bedrooms and  2 kitchens and 2 parlors, a library, a den, and a dining room it was large enough for my entire family to meet in every summer.  All my aunts and uncles and cousins would fill the halls with laughter and drinking.   The adults would play cards well into night and the children would creep around the darkened rooms when we were supposed to be asleep. 

Many years have past since those days.  The family has broken apart.  Everyone got divorced and the cousins were left drifting in the wind.  Even my grandmother,  the dowager empress herself, has dementia and must now sit alone in a nursing home while her castle sits empty.   Yesterday, she and I looked at photos of the old days and I wanted to weep.  Ghosts drifted in and out of the pictures like family and she smiled and spoke of the house like a person.  To her,  the house is alive.  It is her great love and best friend.  The house is for sale now and  I have no ability to stop it.  It sits empty while the price drops as no one wants an old mansion in Northern Michigan.  My grandmother says some day she'll go back there and maybe she will, but not in life.  Maybe some day her ghost will join the others and she'll be empress once again.  I wish I could be there when she returns.  I wish we could keep our haunted castle.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Riverhaven Cabin Ghosts

Most ghost stories are creepy. They hint at some unhappy soul lurking just beyond reality waiting to do us harm. The Riverhaven cabin is haunted, but the ghosts there seem pleasant and inviting.  This was one of the first haunted places I wrote about, but I am revisiting it since I'm returning to Gatlinburg in a few weeks.   Alas, we can no longer stay at Riverhaven  because we have dogs now, but it was my favorite place in Gatlinburg and it has been remodeled since our last visit. 

Riverhaven is a cabin in Gatlinburg, TN. It is described by the reality company as pleasant and comfortable. This historic log home is an antique Chestnut log approx. 200 years old built in 1800. It has unique wormy Chestnut paneling inside. The cabin was constructed in the National Park and was moved in the 1930's to its current location in downtown Gatlinburg. The Realtors website shows many pretty pictures of the cabin and if you rent it, when you enter you'll be pleasantly surprised by it's comfort and warmth.

Every cabin in Gatlinburg has a log or journal for visitors to share their experiences in. Typically, these logs are filled with stories of family vacations. Every page has the same bland pleasantries. It is as if they came from a script. Guests tell about their family, what they did, and the great time they had in the cabin. Riverhaven's journal is different. Each guest tells about flickering lights, moving objects, vanishing items, and odd noises. Not every resident there concludes the cabin is haunted, but every page indicated there is something odd about this pleasant cabin nestled by the river.

I only stayed at Riverhaven for three nights and for the most part it was quiet. I stayed with my family and we complained to each other about the lack of linens in the cabin. We searched it from top to bottom, pulling it apart in a futile quest for a table cloth or anything to cover the splintery, ancient dining table. Finally, on the first night we gave up and ate on our laps. We went to bed and dead bolted the door and locked the door with the sliding lock that even someone with a key couldn't open. In the morning, we awoke to find every table set with table cloths and silverware. The cabin was clean and pretty and we certainly hadn't left it that way when we went to sleep. We often laugh about this cabin as we flounder to explain our experiences there, but when I think of the strange journal there and the consistency of all the stories, I have to assume it was haunted by ghosts that liked us.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Mutilated Cat Ghost

There was a Manor House in Oxenby England that was haunted by a phantom cat.   Although I love this story,  I have been unable to discover whether the house that was haunted is still standing.  I have read some information that says the old manor house no longer stands, although without travelling I can't confirm this.   The house at Oxenby was haunted by a very strange and terrible ghost.  According to one former resident, the house was haunted by a huge black cat.  The first time the black cat was seen it crept towards the owner.  It was horribly disfigured.   One of its eyes and hind legs were missing.   It crawled up to the owner and collapse at the owners feet, fading into the mist.   The next day the woman's brother died.

The cat reappeared two years later.  The cat was bleeding and appeared to be dying.   It finally fell to the ground and vanished.  The next day the woman's mother died of a stroke.   The cat appeared one final time four years later.  It appeared and vanished as usual and the following evening  the woman's father died.

The story of the manor's history was excavated some years later.  The manor and all its estates had been owned by a young boy.  His father had been a knight and when he died he past everything he owned on to his orphaned son.   His son was kept in the care of a guardian until he came of age.  The guardian plotted to take the estate from his ward.   He killed his ward and tortured him.  He tortured him by forcing him to watch his beloved cat mutilated and boiled alive before he finally killed the cat and the boy.  He then tried to install his own twisted bastard son in the young boy's place.  The plot was discovered and the guardian and his bastard were tried and hung for their crimes. 

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Gifts from the Dead

My mother-in-law, Nicole, died nine months ago. Her death was wrapped in chaos. Nicole was French and she lived in between France and the states. She died in France and my husband immediately left to clear up her affairs there. I stayed behind and cleaned out her apartment, most of which still sits in boxes in a storage unit. Bags were sent back from France and we went through them, giving gifts she had purchased in France to her friends in the states. The funeral came and went and her ashes still live with us. Off and on, we've felt her presence here. She has many reasons to be here. Her grandchildren are here, her things are here, and her ashes are here. We miss her. She and I fought like cats and dogs, but I miss her. The children have already begun to forget her. Their memories are short and fade quickly.

Yesterday, as I sat typing, a sonic boom erupted from my closet. I jumped and then went to see what had happened. A box had fallen off the top shelf of my closet and its contents had spilled all over the floor. Shoved hastily in the box, was a bag with Tin Tin on it and French writing. Inside the bag, were Nicole's last gifts for the boys and my husband. I had packed them up in my haste without even opening them. I gave the gifts to the boys. French comic books and picture books were objects of delight. For a moment the boys forgot she was dead. They asked where she was and then they remembered. They remembered the grandmother that always showered them with gifts and love. My husband found the French T-shirts she had bought for him and sat down to read to the boys in French. It was good to hear French again. Since she's been gone, the language has become a ghost. In the box, there were also little things for me, some kitchen towels and a calender. The gifts were wonderful and it was like she was with us again.

It is possible that the cat knocked down the box or something explainable happened to disrupt my poorly stacked closet, but I like to believe that Nicole knocked the box down and guided me to the gifts. I like to think she is still giving and reminding us of France, even now that she is gone. Her ghost is here and it whispers to us so we don't forget where we came from.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Sad Ballad of Mummy Toe

Although this is a sad story with a horrific mummy toe in it,  it isn't a ghost story.  In fact, technically speaking, it is completely off topic, so I added a ghost to the picture below to make it more haunting.  The story of mummy toe begins with my stupidity (so many of my stories start this way).   When I was 9 months pregnant,  I moved from Mobile, Alabama to Richmond, Virginia.  We weren't that well off and we had to move the furniture ourselves.  I tend to think of myself as quite buff and decided that even though I was nine months pregnant,  I probably could carry a dresser up a flight of stairs on my own.   I dropped the dresser, crushing my toe.

My toe was badly injured.  It was broken in several places and there was a laceration under the toe nail.  The toe nail had to be partially removed for stitches and I had to wear a terrible therapeutic shoe. I have a shoe fetish and this was very hard for me.  It was a very ugly shoe.  The bone healed, but the cut became infected as the nail grew back and required further work after my son was older.   Sadly,  my toe has never recovered.   My son seemed to spring out of me talking and it wasn't long before he nick named my toe mummy toe.  My husband and he came up song to go with my gauzy and terrifying toe.  They used to sing it to me when I tried to put on sandals. I've spent many years now hiding my toe.   I didn't want to terrify small children and strangers in a way that ghosts probably never could. I know even reading this story is probably going to give my readers bad dreams.

Today, however,  mummy toe had a small triumph.  I went to get my toes done and the pedicurist performed some kind of miracle involving paint and glitter.  Somehow,  she transformed mummy toe into something almost pretty.  This is my celebratory blog.  I can wear sandals!  My feet may never be pretty, but at least I'm not scarring small children.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Princess Takiyasha's Ghostly Army

The Japanese know how to tell a ghost story. When there is a shortage of American horror stories,  all we need to do is borrow a premise from Japan to come up with the next "The Ring" or "The Grudge"   Reading back over Japan's history and folklore it is easy to see why they are so adept at fashioning such terrifying stories.  Their history is thick with them.   Princess Takiyasha's story is one of the better known Japanese ghost stories. Princess Takiyasha's was a tenth century Japanese princess.  She was the daughter of the provincial warlord Taira no Masakado who tried to set up an 'Eastern Court' in Shimōsa Province in competition with the emperor in Kyoto.  After her father's death,  the princess continued living in her father's ruined palace and planned to continue fighting against her father's enemies.  According to legend, in order to help her defeat her father's enemies,  the princess enlisted an army of ghosts to help her bring her foes to their knees.

The princess became a nun after her father's death, but she and her brother met the spirit of a great ssorcerer who taught them how to use witchcraft to help them destroy their father's rivals.   The princess was able to use this magic to summon an army of ghosts and planned to lay waste to all who opposed her.  However, a great warrior, Mitsukuni,  discovered her plan and her sorcery.  He attacked her and was able to destroy the princess'palace and defeat both the human and  ghostly armies of the fallen princess.  In one last desperate act,  the princess summoned a huge ghost in the form of a skeleton to defeat Mitsukuni.   Before the ghost could gt to Mitsukuni,  he was able to kill the princess' brother and he eventually went on to defeat the ghost and the rebellious princess.

This legendary Japanese story went on to become a popular kabuki play.  It was also immortalized in the painting above.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Hermitage Castle and the Ghastly Ghosts of William De Solis

William De Solis is one of the most loathed men in Scottish history.  Historically,  De Solis was the owner of Hermitage castle and sided with the English against the Scottish King Robert the Bruce in the Scottish/English wars.   This was enough to make him despised.    He was also known to be a particularly cruel man and his dark forboding home, Hermitage Castle, added to the general sense of dread that was associated with him.   According to history,  De Solis was rounded up and killed for his association with the English plot.

Legend tells a darker tale that dips enough into the truth of the cruel Baron to make it terrifying.   It was said that the Baron was a practitioner of the dark arts and that he often kidnapped and murdered local children to use in his black rites.  Using his dark powers he summoned a redcap to be his familiar.  Redcaps were proweries or evil goblins that wandered the Scottish countryside killing travelers and putting their blood on their heads, making a cap of blood for themselves.    De Solis's redcap was Redcap Sly.   De Solis's reign of terror came to an end when he tried to kidnap a local young woman and drag her up to Hermitage Castle.   He was stopped and killed those that stopped him later.   Rumor of De Solis's blood lust spread to Robert the Bruce, who ordered him boiled alive.

The locals had to consult a wizard to dispatch of De Solis, because of his evergrowing supernatural powers.  It was said that the only way De Solis could be killed was with a rope of sand.   The wizard helped the locals forge a three fold rope of lead with sand inside to bind the warlock and then he was boiled alive.   Hermitage Castle is said to be one of the most haunted castles in Scotland.  It is said that De Solis's dark deeds, wether magical or natural,  have left a residue of evil over the dark and lonely castle. Visitors to the castle report hearing screams echoing  throught the stone halls of the castle.  They say De Solis's victim's screams never sleep.   Others say that Redcap sly still lingers in the shadows of the castle, waiting for lost travellers.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Silly Summer: Creepy Cartoons and Ghostly Giveaways!

I have noticed a lot of blogs doing give aways this summer.  I thought I would follow the crowd and join in the fun.  Everyone needs a good book to get them through the summer or a good movie.  Summer days are long and hot and without the proper entertainment, they can become oppressive.   I would like to help entertain everyone.   I will be giving away one hardback copy of The Thirteenth Tale.  The Thirteenth Tale is a Gothic story about a mysterious writer and her haunted past.  It is a wonderful ghost story for those long summer days.   I will also include a collection of H.P Lovecraft's short story in the giveaway.  All you have to do to win these two books to make summer more bearable and haunting is to comment below saying you would like to be entered in my silly summer give away.  Winner will be announced here on  July 4th.   

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Secret Ghost

I was told this story in the strictest confidence.  Of course,  I am retelling it, but I am omitting all names and locations and since I know people all over the nation (even a few in other nations),  I believe there is no way it could ever be traced back to the teller.  A friend of mine who has known for a while that I love ghosts, was telling me about her real estate woes.   She has been trying to sell her house for a long time and has had no success.   In the course of discussion,  she became very nostalgic about the house.  She described how beautiful it was and how, when she bought it,  she had dreamt of raising her children and growing old in the house.   She described it as spacious and beautiful.  It had a pool and lots of land for her children to run and play on.  It was everything she had ever wanted and more and she couldn't understand why it hadn't sold.

So I had to ask, "Why are you selling?"  She hesitated and then told me that it was haunted.  I tried, using all powers of persuasion to get the dirty details on the haunting from her, but she didn't want to talk about it much.  She certainly didn't want it ending up in my book or column.  She believes that if word spreads that the house is haunted she'll never be able to sell it.  She did tell me that the ghost wasn't that belligerent.   It was just always there.  She worried about her children and the impact that have a presence would have on them psychologically and I got the distinct impression that although the ghost wasn't harmful, it certainly wasn't nice.  She didn't want her children to grow up afraid and she felt the ghost filled the house with fear.   She said nothing else.  

The family has already moved and purchased a new house, but the economic ramifications of owning a house that sits empty are large.  She worries about her secret ghost and her empty house and worries that the secret might get out.  Which brings me to the larger question,  should the ghost be secret?  I feel her pain, but what if another family buys the house and then has to go through the same pain?  Is it fair to keep something like this secret?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Ghosts of Childhood

My son is in a summer camp this week at a place called Sci Quest.  Sci Quest is a hands on science museum that gives children a chance to interact with the exhibits.  He and a few of his friends are in a mystery camp, which they love.  Aside from the scheduled activities,  children are also given a chance wander on their own through the museum and explore.  Yesterday my son took me to all his favorite places in the museum.   His top spot,  is a corner in the basement of the giant play house there.  According to my son and all his friends,  this corner is very haunted.  

The boys told me about the ghost with straight faces.  They believed what they were telling me.  While they were playing,  they heard a ghost laughing.  It even told them to move a block.  My little one says that he even saw the ghost.  They believe the ghost is the ghost of a boy who was lost in the museum and never found.   I love their story for so many reasons.  I love it because this is what childhood is.  It is a time of myth and magic where fantasy and reality blend into something wonderful.  It is a place where stories are real and little legends spread from child to child until they are almost real.

I also love it because I believe this is the way some of my favorite stories must have started.  The more deeply I have researched the origins of many local ghosts stories,  the more I have learned that many have no basis in any recorded history or fact.  They start with one person who hears a whisper in the shadows and tells the story.  I think often some of these stories may have been started by a youth or someone with the imagination of a child. The stories spread and grow until they  become real.   These ghosts of childhood linger and catch like fire until sometime in the future I might read somewhere on Shadowland's Haunted Index that Sci Quest is haunted by the ghost of a lost child.  I know that many ghost stories do have real histories, but I still love the ones that start in quiet places between people with great imaginations. 

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Face in the Window: The Ghost of Pickens County Courthouse

One of the most famous haunted places in Alabama is the Pickens County Courthouse.  The current courthouse is the second courthouse to grace this rural Alabama area.  The first county courthouse was set ablaze in 1876.   The fire was terrible.  It destroyed the beautiful old building and left nothing but ashes in its place.   Pickens County has never been a big place.   It isn't graced with amazing architecture or great art so when the courthouse that was the most beautiful place in the county burnt to the ground,  the people were out to get blood.  This wasn't helped by the fact that  Union troops had torn through Pickens county twelve years early and burnt everything in their paths, including the Pickens County Courthouse.  As the citizens began work on their third courthouse, the began looking for someone to pin their rage and hate upon.

Henry Wells was a freed slave with a bad reputation.   He was known to get into numerous brawls and fights.  Wells had been on a burglary spree and he was the number one suspect in the arson case.   It was believed that he had broken into the courthouse to rob it and set it on fire.  Other sources say, that Wells burnt down the courthouse to burn previous indictments against him. According to the legend,  Wells was apprehended and taken to the new courthouse to wait for trial.   The Sheriff knew that trouble was coming.   He had heard rumors about a lynch mob, so he took Wells up to the attic of the new courthouse and hid him there for safe keeping.

The mob gathered beneath the courthouse with all their wrath and fury.  The screamed and yelled for Wells' blood.   Wells was terrified and in an act of panic he went to the window and yelled out to the crowd below.  He yelled,  "I am innocent. If you hang me, I will be with you always."   As he spoke,  lightning struck the courthouse.  The next day,  Wells was hung and no sooner had the noose left his dead neck than an image of his face appeared in the attic window of the new courthouse.   His face is still there.   People come from all over to now to see his phantom face burnt into the glass, serving as a reminder of Henry Wells and his dying words.

You can read a first hand account describing the history of the court house at

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Drag me to Hell and The Demon Dybbuk

Dybukk by Elly Simmons

Drag me to Hell is one of my favorite horror movies.  It hearkens back to the good old days when Sam Raimi made films that masterfully blended horror with subtle humor to make camp classics that are so good I watch them annually.  Evil Dead and Army of Darkness will always be two of my favorite films.  Like these to films,  Drag me to Hell is a movie I can watch again and again. In this movie,  an angry old gypsy lady curses the lovely blond heroin by calling a dybbuk to drag her to hell.   However, the dybbuk the evil gypsy lady sets onto the lovely blond heroin is not really a dybbuk.  She calls the demom a dybbuk, but  a dybbuk is nothing like the demon of death and destruction seen in this film, but in many ways, it is just as terrifying.

In truth a dybbuk more closely resembles the demon from The Exorcist.  Dybbuk comes from the Hebrew word meaning "cleaving" or "clinging".  It is a creature from Jewish folklore that is a wandering, evil spirit that enters into a person's body and clings to it.  It possesses its victim and torments them from the inside.   It was believed that the Dybbuk could not enter the body of a good person and could only possess a sinner.  Some believed that a dybbuk was the soul of a person who had not been buried properly and became a demon.   The Kabbalah contains instructions fro exorcising a dybbuk and these types of exorcisms are still performed today.  When the dybbuk has been driven from the body of the possessed, it leaves the body via the pinkie toe and leaves a small mark as evidence of its visit.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Home Dark Home

My parents make jokes about their house.   They smile and laugh and tell stories like they only half mean them because they don't want to believe.  My father is an engineer and even when confronted by the unexplainable he tries to break it down to concrete laws of physics and motion.  Yet,  something entirely unexplainable lives in their house.  I thought it was poltergeist activity, but there is more to it than that.

I went home tonight.  My son is afraid to go to the bathroom there.  I have to walk with him and hold his hand.  My husband felt physically ill as soon as he entered the house and when he left he described a weight being lifted from his chest.  My children were playing with my ghost hunting kit a few months ago there and my parent's house lit the EMF up.  It has never reacted to much of anything before, including power lines.  My father's favorite story, which he struggles to explain, is the night in which some boxes stacked on one end of the room all fell over on a ping pong table across the room and crushed it.  The problem is that the table was strong and the boxes were light and there is no way the boxes could have created enough force to crush the table.  He hates that he can't explain it.  He and my mother also can't explain the noises that keep them up at night or the night terrors that often haunt those that sleep in the house.

I lived in the house for a while and was oftened tormented by bad dreams and boughts of depression.  I'm a happy person and have never had feelings like this since.  Other family members describe similar things.  My mother also describes feeling as if something malevolent has been sitting on her chest at night, crushing her.  I've felt this before as well.

I love going home and seeing my family.  I love the warmth of home and whatever is in the house isn't strong enough to harm anyone, but every once in a while its presence is more clear,  more defined and then I shutter.  I shutter knowing that there is something just wrong about the home my parents live in,  that I always think of as home.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Summer Fun! Ghostly, Gastly, and Grim Books for Summer Nights

As I drift into summer,  I find my focus drifting too.   Books are always my favorite part of summer.  Sitting by the pool or at the beach with a good book makes the rest of the year seem less cold.  Here are some of my recent favorites.  Some of these are ghost stories, others real stories of deadly serial killers, and some just silly.
The Devil in the White City   This is a gorgeous book.   It tells three stories that run parallel to each other in Chicago history.   The first story is the story of the shocking disturbing serial killer H.H. Holmes.  He was Jack the Ripper's contemporary and he was twice as evil as Jack.  In fact,  he makes Hanible Lector look like a pussy cat.  H.H. Holmes was real and some say he killed as many as 200 people with a cruel efficiency.  He built a hotel, a castle, designed for no other purpose than to harvest, kill, and dispose of his human victims.   He kills women and children with cold blood lust and manages to use the times to avoid capture completely until he is caught perpetrating a life insurance scam.  His story is juxtaposed with the building of the 1893 Chicago World Fair that brought together the greatest artistic and scientific minds of the time to create a city of transient and unsurpassed beauty.  Within this city,  alternating current was established as the norm, the Ferris wheel was invented, shredded wheat was introduced,  and the first electric chair was seen.  The third story is the story of an unimportant madman who's psychotic tendencies bring a dark close to the brilliance of the white city.  It is a great read and made me love Chicago all the more.

The Thirteenth Tale  This is the story of a mysterious writer who has made up twelve stories about her life.  None of these stories are the same.  One final writer goes to capture the thirteenth tale of this mysterious writer and finds the story laced was ghosts, fires, and strangeness that could only be true.    This haunting gothic story is ghostly and just captivating enough to make it perfect summer read.

Divine Misfortune  This a a very silly story of a world where gods are bought like old bikes on Craig's List.    A delightful couple finally decide to commit to a god.  They  find their god on an Internet site.  His name is Lucky and he is the raccoon god of luck.   From the bizarre to the hilarious this story turns gods and religion into a good laugh for those days that really need them.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies  This book is essentially just Pride and Prejudice.  If you love Jane Austin, you'll probably like this book.  Jane Austen has just been made a little bit more exciting by the addition of zombies.   I really can't say to much more, except that it was surprisingly fluid and engaging.   It is a definite way to make you summer just a little bit more fun.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

How to Help Kids Who See Ghosts

Months ago,  when I first started blogging,  a fellow blogger name autumnforest offered her advice and support to me as a novice.   She suggested blog topics for me and offered me many helpful tips.  Her blog,  Ghost Hunting Theories, is very popular and I wanted to take all her advice.  One of her first suggestions was that I use my background in psychology to address how to help children with paranormal encounters.

I wasn't sure what to make of this idea.  I have worked in child therapy for a couple of years and although I don't anymore,  I never once saw a child that that said this was an issue.  It was possible this is because parents always tell children there is no such thing as ghosts.  This is the only acceptable answer for most adults whose children are afraid of ghosts.  Whatever the reason,  I had no answer for autumnforest's question of how to address children who see ghosts and after years of school I had to have some research to support anything I had to say.

Recently, I have found a wonderful book called Kids Who See Ghosts.  The book is written by Caron B. Goode and is very well researched and shows that she has a deep knowledge of child psychology, neuropsychology, and parapsychology.  In her book,  she carefully integrates research with case studies and stories told by adult psychics who had encounters with ghosts as children to create a picture of the best way to address children who see ghosts and have a fear of them.

She provides several suggestions for these children but the main points she emphasizes are these (in her words):

  • understand that you don't have to believe in spirits to help children feel empowered and be able to deal with what they see.  An open heart and ear are all that's required.
  • realize that empowerment means helping your child develop confidence and the ability to take action and be proactive in his or her environment.
  • know that it is all right to observe your child's behavior in relation to seeing ghosts before taking him or her to a medical specialist.  Take notes, use logic, and be clear in reporting specific behaviors to your health care provider.
  • understand that fear is a healthy response and helps children learn discernment and helps children transform fear into empowered actions.
  • know that art, music, play and other expressive outlets are helpful for creative children that see ghosts.
  • know that getting centered and grounded in nature also helps children who see ghosts
  • know that martial arts teach children character and empowerment through movement
  • know that dream journaling and stroytelling can be used to engage your child's creativity and openness.
  • know that once a child or adult has contact with the alternate reality of other side, such as through a near-death experience or seeing ghosts,  the doorway seems to stay open.  The person appears connected unless he or she makes a definite choice to close that door.

Goode's book offers a wealth of advice and addresses many theories and this list is really just a small piece of the book, but if this is something that interests you,  it is definitely worth reading.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Visiting Orlando's Greenwood Cemetery

Whenever I travel,  I make a point of visiting at least one local cemetery.  Each place's cemeteries are different from the next in a way that whispers of their unique histories and cultures.  Greenwood Cemetery in Orlando Florida is a picture of the swampy, old world.   The graves here are old and an entire section of the cemetery is dedicated their confederate dead.  The Spanish moss drips from the trees and tickles the moss covered tombstones with its delicate fingers.   The tombstones are decorated with different colors of moss and lichen that obscures the names on the stone itself.  The cemetery is beside a wetlands and it feels like it is part of a swamp.  It is a picture from an old book of a haunted cemetery and its ghosts make it worthy of the photo.

The Southeastern corner of the cemetery is said to be the most haunted.  Ghost lights and phantoms have been seen here and photos from this area are often cluttered with orbs.  The graves here are said to be used by local Santeria practitioners as part of their rituals.  One caretaker describes walking through this section of the cemetery and becoming lost.   An arm grabbed him and pulled him until he was back where he should be.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Haunting of the Happiest Place on Earth

There are real ghosts in the Magic Kingdom,  although none of them can be found at The Haunted Mansion.   The most famous of Disney's ghosts can be found at The Pirates of the Carribean ride. He hides behind the animatronic skeletons and scares the staff to death when they are alone in the attraction. George was a construction worker who worked on the attraction in the 1970’s. He was climbing a ladder and he fell to his death. Since that time, staff members have said good morning and good night to George over the PA system. If they fail to follow this tradition, the ride will shut down and some staff members report that they’ve seen the ride shut down on the days that this ritual is forgotten.

While I was at Disney,  I was able to talk to several of the staff about George.  They smiled as they talked about him and answered my questions in the comfortable casual manner most people might speak about what they had for dinner or a slightly annoying cousin.  One staff member described George as nice.  She smiled brightly and said he wasn't very active any more.  She said it can sometimes be weeks before they hear from him.  She says he is never annoying, but everyone knows he is there.

I honestly couldn't tell if the staff were be truthful or if I was the back end of an elaborate inside joke when they spoke to me.  They all smiled and grinned as they spoke and  they spoke of George as if they had said the same thing a thousand times before.  Whether the lines were rehearse or not,  it was clear that George was well known.  Everyone knew exactly who I was talking about when I mentioned George. Whether George is active still or has passed into myth, he has become part of Disney.

The pictures I took of the ride showed a few orbs, but no conclusive evidence of any ghostly activity.  I still like to imagine, however, that George is still hiding in the shadows of this attraction, laughing at all the tourists that float through his ghostly abode.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Searching for Ghosts and Tapas at Church Street Station

I had planned on meeting with Orlando Ghost Tours last night.  I had read very good things about them online and they had a nice website.  I called them several times and their recording indicated that they met at the Church Street Market every night at 8:00pm.  Their website has had some malfunctions, which resulted in their tour schedule being down and since they never called me back I just took a leap of faith a went down to Church Street Station at 8pm.  I trusted that the message that was left at their phone number spoke the truth.  We waited for some time, asking random strangers if they were with the ghost tour, but no one showed up.  We were sad and somewhat disgruntled, but the Church Street Market was bustling with life, clubs, and restaurants and I have never been one to waste a night without children.

The market place was situated around an old abandoned train station that immediately caught my eye.  I took a plethora of photos and then we skulked about until we found a fabulous place that served tapas and cocktails.  After a few drinks,  I was convinced the train station was haunted and my poor husband had to drag me out of the train station before I killed myself.   We went home and I got on the computer and found out several interesting things about the old station.

The station was built by the South Florida Railroad in 1889.    The SFR was then bought out by Plant System in 1893 and taken over by Atlantic Coast Line Railroad in 1902.  Of course none of this is that interesting.  In the 1970's and 1980's, long after the railroads had closed.  The Market Street area became a hot spot for local clubs and restaurants.  The station was then converted into a club and then served as several restaurants. It was very popular for a good period of time and the area became second only to Disney itself in Orlando's most popular area category.  However,  a steady decline followed and the station itself eventually fell into disrepair and was abandoned.  Many of the buildings that are part of its complex, remain active and are still popular.

What's interesting about all this is that in 2005 the station was leased by the Chungs, owners of Amura Japanese Restaurant.    They leased the property with the intentions of renovating it and placing their restaurant there.  They reneged on their lease and when the owners of the property sued them,  the Chungs claimed that they couldn't use the property because it was too haunted.  This was their actual legal defense.  Apparently, the owners of the station offered to bring someone in to exorcise and cleanse the station, but the Chungs refused.  The owners of the station used this as evidence that the haunting couldn't be the main problem.  They also argued that the ghosts had never been hostile so they didn't think it could be the cause of breaking a legal contract.    Apparently,  tales of ghostly hauntings in this area are numerous.  There have been ghostly bar tenders and dancers seen and contractors renovating the building claim to be very familiar with the haunting.  None of this had been made known to Chung, however

So,  even though I never found my tour, at least I found some ghosts who were active enough to fuel a major lawsuit.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Fun, Fake Ghosts of The Haunted Mansion

I don't think Disney World is the most magic place in the world.   I never have.  All I have ever seen is an overpriced playground where parents take their children to turn them into little Veruca Salts demanding joy and souvenirs like they were born to it.  Disney tells all the children that if they wish upon a star, their dreams will come true. Of course, these dreams are only available to those who can pay $234 per person for a two day park hopper ticket.

Yet, despite by cynicism, I journeyed into the Magic Kingdom for one day for my children and despite myself,  I liked it.  I know, don't scoff.  I saw everything I hate about the place there.  I watched little girls dressed up like princesses for the price of one hundred dollars each and then watched the little girls scream at their mothers that they needed more things from the gift shop.  I waited in long lines in the heat while wailing children filled the air with a sense that nothing is ever enough, but amidst this chaos,  I also found that it was nice to spend a day with my family.  It was nice to let my children, who work very hard during the school year, kick back for a day and make their own choices.    It was also nice to go to my favorite fake haunted attractions and chase fake ghosts with my boys.  I even bought the t-shirt.

Disney's the Haunted Mansion is a wonderful haunted attraction.  It is filled with all the classic ghosts and scares that fill classic haunting stories.   It is like stepping into an old Scooby Doo episode.  There are suits of armor and dancing ghosts.  There's a haunted library and piano that plays itself.   The world of the Haunted Mansion is shrouded in fake cobwebs and dark wallpaper.  There is a gypsy in a crystal ball and a murderous ghost that killed all her husbands.  All of these ghostly activities are designed to delight rather than scare.  Some small children do cry as they are pulled into the darkness of the old mansion, but they are always smiling on their way out. 

So, even though I hate Disney in theory,  in reality, after three rides through the haunted mansion and a lovely day with my amazing boys,  I think my dislike has become lost in my own childish delight. 

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Posiedon's Temple

It is no surprise that I love haunted attractions.  I will go to any haunted house or ghostly attraction. Today, I went to an attraction I expected to be everything but ghostly, but this was a surprisingly enjoyable haunted attraction.  This particular attraction was surprising because I had no idea what to expect. I know nothing about Universal Studios attractions and I thought this was going to be a water ride, but the moment you step into the crumbling ruin of a temple you are engulfed in shadowy darkness. The deeper you go into the temple the more mysterious the music around you becomes.  Shadows dance on crumbling walls as you are lead into the main temple chamber.  The show begins with your tour guide explaining the history of the haunted temple to you. One of Poseidon’s priests went crazy and entombed all of his followers in the temple and killed them. Their ghosts still haunt the darkened rooms of the crumbling temple. Ghost sound effects follow, although the guide smiles and says the ghosts must be dogs….. Nothing to be afraid of.

From there you are taken from a chamber filled with skeletons and magic through a dark, mist filled tunnel into a room where the final show down between good and evil occurs with explosive results. This attraction is a load of fun and if you like ghosts, skeletons, sunken temples, and old gods it is a must for any trip to Orlando. You won’t find any real ghosts, but the fake ones are just as much fun.

The bottom pictures are for dorks like me,,,, they are a preview of Harry Potter’s World of Wizardry.