Sunday, July 31, 2011

Shadow People

Shadow people are human shaped forms that can be seen out of the corner of your eye at almost any time.  They are dark and move quickly, and when you turn to face them, they vanish into the ether.  Occasionally, shadow people have been described as moving forward or interacting with people, but usually they don't interact with the observer at all.   Shadow people seem bound to the peripheral vision.  Shadow people are often linked to a feeling of dread or horror and are commonly believed to be malevolent spirits or ghosts.  They  are sometimes caught in pictures and are almost always said to be negative entities.  Hundreds and thousands of people tell stories of shadow people and the terror they associate with be haunted by shadow people.  Mythology is filled with stories of these shadow people.  There is even a website cache dedicated to nothing but shadow people stories, but what are these shadow people really? argues that shadow people are completely different from ghosts and they list several reasons for this.  They argue that shadow people are too fast moving to be ghosts,  shadow people are very solid rather than ephemeral as a ghost would be,  and although many ghostly encounters are positive, encounters with shadow people are never positive.  They argue that shadow people are probably some form of demon.  This seems to be the common belief surrounding the presence of shadow people.

There are also many scientific explanations for the presence of shadow people.  The human ability to perceive their environment is enormously complicated and one of the most complicated neurological processes we possess is the process of interpreting things we see only partially.   People are capable of seeing only a small fraction of an object and filling in the blanks to understand what the complete object is.  Although this seems natural and simple to us,   it requires and enormously complicated series of neurological and psychological events to achieve this ability.   It is also common for people to use this ability unconsciously, especially when viewing objects out of the corner of their eye in their peripheral vision.   For example, it isn't uncommon for someone to see part of a lamp post  out of the corner of their eye and think it is an animal or a person.   The mistake is quickly rectified when the observer turns to inspect the item.   The observer initially only saw a small portion of the object and the mind automatically filled in the blanks, falsely.   The same thing could be possible with shadow people.  A shadow or passing darkness could be seen out of the corner of the observer's eye and the mind could easily and falsely interpret it as a human shaped monster.   This would explain shadow people's quick movements and the fact that they are always seen out of the corner of the eye in the peripheral field of vision where perceptual errors most commonly occur.

However,  for those who have and do encounter shadow people on a regular basis, these scientific explanations will never fully account for the terror and dread that is associated with an encounter with a shadow person.  So for now,  the complete explanation behind shadow people remains hidden in the shadows from which they emerged. 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Juniper Tree

My favorite ghost stories blur the line between paranormal and folklore.  They have been told so many times for so long that the real history behind them has been lost and forgotten.  The ghost story lives on in an unprovable realm where you can't really verify all the facts behind the story as true.   People tell the story over an over again and it becomes part of the oral tradition of the area.  The story becomes legend.

The brothers Grimm collected stories like this.   They collected folklore and legends.  However, many of their stories have been cleansed of the paranormal, morbid, haunting, and ghostly for modern audiences.  My favorite Grimm stories are the ones that haven't been cleansed.  They're the ones that remain haunting and filled with ghosts and dark magic.   This is one of my favorite Grimm stories.   It is haunting and ghostly and tells an unforgettable story.

The Juniper Tree

Once there was a rich man who had a beautiful wife, but they couldn't have any children.  Everyday they prayed for a babe but none came.  Finally, one night the wife crept into the garden and into the shadow of the juniper tree.   There, she pricked her finger and spilled her blood into the snow beneath the tree.  She asked the tree to give her a son.  The tree gave her a son and his hair was red as blood and his skin was as white as snow.  Sadly,  the wife died a few days after his birth and the rich man was left alone with his boy.

The widower remarried in time and his new wife had a sweet little girl. The little girl's name was Marlinchen.   The woman doted on her Marlinchen, but was cruel to her step son.  She hated him with a rare fury.  One day Marlinchen wanted to save an apple for the boy and this made her mother even more furious.   The woman put the apple in an old trunk and told the boy to fetch it.   He leaned over to get the apple and the woman slammed the trunk shut cutting his head from his body.  She then blamed the "accident"   on Marlinchen  and forced her daughter to hide the boy's body by cutting him up and baking him into a stew for his father.

Marlinchen wept as she helped her mother and secretly stole away with his bones and gave the boy a proper burial beneath the jjuniper tree.   Soon after,  a phantom bird emerged from the boy's bone and went about the village singing:
         "It was my mother who slaughtered me
          It was my father who ate me
          But sweet Marlinchen found my bones
          And buried me beneath the Juniper Tree."
With his song, the phantom bird gathered objects from the village to help him and was able to drop them on his cruel step mother until she died beneath the juniper tree.  He was reborn from her blood and everyone lived happily ever after

Thursday, July 28, 2011

It is Never too Early for Halloween

I am an avid follower of The Frog Queen (   Every year at The Davis Graveyard, the Frog Queen and her crew create an amazing Halloween world in the front yard.  They construct cemeteries and castles and ghouls that dance in the darkness.  I'm nowhere near skilled enough to do anything like the Frog Queen.  However,  this year I plan on making a little cemetery in my front yard and it is never too early to start work on a project of this magnitude. For me,  it is never too early to start thinking about Halloween.  Unlike the Frog Queen,  I am only going to build key items of my graveyard myself.  I began work on my weeping lady this week.   I have based her plan on this statue from Pere Lachaise:

I have only finished construction on her base, but for me, this is an epic accomplishment.   It may take me the next three months between now and Halloween to finish her.   Considering my speed with building projects,  it is nothing short of a miracle that I've even begun.  With construction beginning on my weeping lady,  I have also begun my shopping.  Although I am not great at building projects,  I have amazing shopping skills. There are some beautiful items online for the lazy front yard cemetery connoisseur.  Here are some of the items I am ordering for my lazy graveyard: 

I hope to have the time and energy to make some additional items myself.  I will be making lots of wooden crosses and  am hoping that I will have time to do one more large scale project for the graveyard, but this is a good start.  I can't wait for Halloween already.  Here is a link to the Davis Graveyard for all those who would like to see how amazing a front yard Halloween project can be.   

Monday, July 25, 2011

My Book is Out in Print!

In all my travelling and craziness, I forgot to announce that my novel, Death's Dream Kingdom, is now out in print.  Death's Dream Kingdom is my first novel and is completely swamped in ghostly lore and otherworldly adventure.  For those of you who have been following me for a while, you've read about this book as I've gone through the many steps to publication.  For me,  this is the most exciting step.  I actually got to hold a copy of the book in my hand.  It just didn't seem real until I held it.   The book came out on Kindle in May, but since I don't own a kindle that seemed vague and out of reach for me.    Hopefully, this will be the first of many haunted novels for me.  I've posted a synopsis and a link to the book below.  Since I already have the cover art up on this blog, I have my favorite image from the book below.    I will be giving away an autographed copy of the book to celebrate!  If you are interested in receiving a copy, let me know below.  I will do a drawing next week to see who gets the free book!

Cera is an ordinary wife and mother who enjoys the simple things in life, until the night she is murdered. In death, Cera finds herself trapped in a shadow land somewhere between the land of the living and the land of the dead, where demons, ghosts, and old gods roam the streets preying on the living. It is up to Cera to find out why the line between the living and the dead is fading and how the rift between worlds can be mended. Pulled into a quest that takes her to hell and back and into the arms of an ancient, demon lover, she finds that she is a child of the Fates and that she alone can challenge death himself for dominion over his kingdom.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Visiting Haunted Shell Mound Park

Shell Mound is haunted by ancient ghosts.   They are ghosts from the Mississippian Period, 1100-1500 AD.  A lonely woman ghost haunts this historic site.  She dances on the mound at night bringing the sound of native music drifting through the hot night air with her.   When I visited Shell Mound Park,  there was no sign of any ghosts.   The only thing that haunted us is the brutal heat were the swarms of mosquitoes that descended on us in plagues.  They came and sucked us dry, sending me scurrying through my haunted exploration and making me somewhat blind to any ghosts that may have been chasing me. 

Shell Mound Park is a small park on the top of Dauphin Island.   For hundreds of years,  American Indians made pilgrimages to this site to eat oysters.   The evidence of this activity crunches beneath your feet as you walk through the park.  The hills that you walk across as you explore the park are made entirely of oyster shells.  If you dig down, you pull up a mixture of shell and soil.  This area is beautiful, if you can see past the sticky heat and mosquitoes.  Huge oaks drip with Spanish moss and hangs down so long it tickles the oyster shells beneath it.  It is easy to imagine a lonely ghost wandering this site.  It is easy to imagine an American Indian girl lingering in this swampy place, waiting to go home.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Exploring The Ghosts of Fort Morgan

Fort Morgan is a lonely structure on the end of a very long, thin stretch of land.  It is surrounded by water on all sides and you can hear the constant crashing of the waves as you wander through its seemingly endless arched hallways.  The fort is made of brick and shaped like a star.   Its long tunnels dip underground and water drips constantly from the brick.  The water has dripped so much that stalactites have started to grow from the ceiling of the fort.  Even during the day,  their are portions of the fort that are completely isolated and dark.  Although hoards of tourists fill the main portions of the fort, there are portions of the fort that are utterly empty.  The tourists avoid the darkened, moist corners of the fort that have been left to the ghosts.
Even during the day,  even filled with people,  there are portions of the fort that seem haunted and are creepy enough for people to completely avoid.

I have written about the fort's history and ghosts before and I will attach a copy of my prior post below this post.  Here are the photographs from my journey to this haunting fort.

The Fort Morgan area has become a vacation spot. Its beaches sit overlooking the Gulf of Mexico and tourists come from all over to watch the Dolphins and dip their toes in the sand. The sands of Fort Morgan carry an older, forgotten history, however. Most tourists will never know that the sands they play in were once soaked in blood.

Fort Morgan began construction in 1812 and was finished in 1834 and was widely regarded as the "finest example f military architecture in the New World." The fort was constructed in a unique star shape that made it easier to defend. Fort Morgan and Fort Gaines sat on opposing sides of Mobile Bay and acted together to close the Bay off and defend the waters.

Fort Morgan saw heavy fire during the Civil War. I was used defensively by the Confederates and was also a starting point for blockade running ships. The Union took the Fort during the Battle of Mobile Bay. After Fort Gaines fell, Union soldiers laid siege to the fort an set the wooden parts of the fort on fire. Many men died in this battle and the Confederate soldiers did not meet happy ends

It is not surprising that this old Fort has more than its fair share of ghosts. It has a long history filled with war and fire. The old barracks are said to be one of he most haunted portions of the fort.. In 1916 or 1917 a prisoner hung himself in the barracks. According to local lore, you can still hear the hanging man cry late at night. He is not alone in his sorrow. During the Civil War, a bomb went off in the fort and several men met a horrible fiery death. The bomb went off in a room with a big fireplace and they say you can still hear the men screaming at night.

The final ghost comes from an unconfirmed story of woe and sorrow. They say that some time in 19th a young woman was drug into the fort by unknown men. The woman was beaten, raped and murdered. According to legend, she still wanders the Fort looking for justice.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Ghost Hunting at the Beach

I love to travel.   It is one of my favorite pass times and one of the things I enjoy most about traveling is visiting haunted locations.  Tomorrow, I am leaving for Gulf Shores, Alabama and I've already got my list of haunted locations to visit picked out.  I also have one excellent beach book picked out to keep me busy when I'm not looking for ghosts or building sand castles.  Here is a list of haunted places along the coast I plan on visiting while I am gone.

1.  Fort Morgan:  This old Fort was shaped to house ghosts.   Its unique star shape pattern calls to ghosts and they linger.  Old soldier ghosts and one tragic white lady keep this fort company on long, lonely nights and those that wander the nights alone at this fort report seeing more than dolphins along the coast.

2.  Fort Gains:  This is the famous haunted fort of Dauphin Island.  Numerous soldier ghosts haunt its old walls.

3.  Shell Mound Park:  Just look below for the long history of this American Indian site.  Its ghosts came looking for oysters and never left.

4.  Bishop's Graveyard:  I haven't read much about this cemetery, but I love all cemeteries and this on is a notorious hot spot for paranormal activity.

5.  Fringeology:   This isn't really a place.  It  is a book about the paranormal and those who study it I plan to read while I'm at the beach.  It looks so good it is as good as a place, however.

Wish me luck and I'll be posting pictures and stories all week as I visit all my haunted places!

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Ghost of Shell Mound Park

The Beaches of Southern Alabama are littered with ghosts.  The shifting sands store untold tragedies and histories that collect ghosts like children collect coins.   Dauphin Island is no exception to this rule.  In addition to Fort Gaines, which is notoriously haunted, Dauphin Island is also home to Shell Mound Park.
Shell Mound Park holds old ghosts.

Shell Mound Park is the location of an ancient Indian archaeological site.   The site is from the Mississippian Period and dates back to 1100 AD.  The mounds were built over time.   Archaeologists believe that the Native Americans came to Dauphin Island periodically during the year to collect oysters.   It is believed that the natives came from the Bottle Creek site further North and gathered the oysters.  Oysters were a rare delicacy and worth the long journey to collect.  The mounds built up over centuries as the natives came, feasted upon oysters at this site, and then left their debris behind.  Over the centuries the oyster shells became large mounds.  When the natives stopped their feasting, nature took over and grew on the mounds.  Trees and grass grew on the shelly remains of the Indian's dinning site turning Shell Mound Park into what it is today.

There is an area amongst these mounds, that is devoid of trees.   Nature seems to avoid reclaiming this area and there is a desolation to it.   It is said that this is where the natives buried their dead.   Many locals and visitors to the park say that if you wander this area on a lonely night you can see a native woman standing in the middle of this quiet place, looking out.  Sometimes she can be seen dancing and the sounds of native music can be heard drifting out over the park. 

Friday, July 8, 2011

Top 5 Ghostly Cartoons

You could argue that fear of ghosts comes naturally, but children seem to love ghosts and the large number of ghostly cartoons out there serve as proof of this.   This often makes me wonder if fear of ghosts does come naturally.   There are a plethora of ghostly cartoons out there.  There are so many I couldn't list them all, but these are a few of my favorites.  They are reminders that ghosts can be scary and fun.

5.  Space Ghost:   Any cartoon about a ghostly, superhero from outer space merits a place on the top 5 ghostly cartoons list.  

4.  Scooby Doo:    Scooby Doo is one of longest running, most popular cartoons out there and it is about of crazy teenagers who investigate paranormal mysteries.  True, most of the original ghosts ended up being a crabby old man in a ghost costume, but the newer movies and TV shows often end in actual paranormal events.  

3.  Monster House:  This delightful movie featured three neighborhood kids investigating the local haunted house.  In a twist of expectation,  the house itself is the ghost and the ghost must be driven from the house before the monster house can be defeated.

2.  Casper the Friendly Ghost:   Casper always struck me as a tragic figure.  He was a ghost who was always looking for a friend.  Ironically,  all the little children were afraid of him.  Despite the seeming sadness of this show,  the producers somehow made it funny and fun for kids.

1.  The Real Ghost Busters:   The Real Ghost  Busters was an animated series based on the Ghost Buster movies.  This show continues were the movies left off and delivers many other ghostly creatures for the ghost busters to fight.  It is funny and slimer gets to be a good guy.  What more can you ask for?


Monday, July 4, 2011

Bizarre North Alabama

I have been having a really rough time with my pregnancy this month and having my children pulling at my heals all summer has also slowed me down.   Blogger has also been giving me a really tough time as well.  I can't comment on alot of my favorite blogs and I can't even respond to comments on my own blog.  After hours of work,  I still can't fix my blogger account.  Sadly, my blog has slowed down to almost a halt.  I think my blog may stay slow until the kids return to school in August.  However,  I have some plans for some little blog posts between now and then and I was able to go on a road trip into the bizarre realm that is North Alabama.   I found a museum dedicated to objects left behind in luggage.   In that museum, I found the original Muppet used in Labyrinth.   The Muppet was for the character Hoggle.  There were also some rather strange props from the movie.  I found a cemetery with an interesting stone gate.  I also found a cave haunted by phantom animals.  I captured an amazing number of orbs in the photos I took from one section of the cave by an old bridge.  The orbs are in the last picture.  Here are some photos from my journey.