Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Green Orbs and the Meaning of Colors in Orbs

During my fascinating ghost hunting trip in Tennessee,  I had a conversation with Steve from Southern Ghosts (http://www.ghosteyes.com/)   about the colors of orbs.  At that time, he told me to run away if I saw a green orb because they were often associated with evil.  Of course,  he could have been just pulling my leg.   I was the new girl and who doesn't want to see if you can't play a little joke on the new girl, but I believed him. Whether he was pulling my leg or not, the entire conversation got me thinking about green orbs and whether orb colors have meanings. It did take me two months to research this, but here is what I found out about green orbs.

First of all,  many people assert that orbs are standardly photographic error and can not be considered of supernatural origin at all.  Others still insist, however, that orbs are an indication of the supernatural once photographic error has been ruled out.   They insist that orbs are a way that ghosts manifest themselves.  Assuming the later is true,  we have to wonder why some orbs have different colors.   According to www.moonspenders.com , orb colors have significant meanings and  the observer can learn much about the nature of the haunting from orbs that deviate from the standard white color. These orbs are rare, but very significant.  According to them, a green colored orb signals a friendly and communicative spirit.  Coast Ghosts at http://www.coastghosts.com/ , agrees with this theory and says that green indicates healing.  

Michelle Meyers of  Ghost Hunting Secrets (http://www.ghosthuntngsecrets/) presents two theories on the colors of orbs.  Theory one states that coloration in orbs is due to chromatic distortion and is simply due to our perception of light.  Theory two states that the color of orbs is significant and can be used to interpret the energy of the ghost.   Again, Meyers refers to a sight that interprets the meaning of green orbs as healing spirits.   In fact,  almost every site I visited that discussed the meaning of orb colors agreed that green was a positive color to see in an orb and red or black was more representational of negative and hostile energy.     So what I learned from my research is, if the orb is red or black run away and if the orb is green, stay and play.  The most common list of orb color meaning is below.  I found this list at http://www.moonspenders.com/.

Monday, September 27, 2010

My Top Five Scariest Movies

I was watching a movie called House of the Devil last night and it got me to thinking about what makes a movie scary.  This movie wasn't particularly shocking or even good, but it kept me on the edge of my seat.  It made me scared and kept me wondering what would be around the corner.  It was a scary movie.  I believe there is a difference between the best horror movies and the most terrifying horror movies.  The most terrifying movies may not be the best,  but they produce real fear in a way that other movies can't.  I think that as fear differs for each person,  this list differs for each person.  I just read about twenty top 10 scariest movies lists and they were all very different.  This is my list, and as I explore fear this Halloween, I would love to hear how your lists differ from mine and why.

5.  Jeepers Creepers (2001)  The idea of winged, indestructible demon that can not be stopped until its mission is complete is pretty scary to me.  There is no running from this beast and no place safe you can go. 
Once you are marked,  your painful death is inevitable.  Also, the scene with all the people stitched together in the basement of that church was remarkable.

4.  The Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)  I saw this movie on television when I was ten or eleven.  I couldn't sleep for a month.  The slow building terror of knowing that those you love aren't who they are and knowing that if you give in to sleep (my favorite pass time) you'll never wake up haunted me for years.

3.  Hellraiser:  I was scared by both the movie and the book, The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker.  The book and the movie is about the evil that lurks in people and the darkness it summons.   The cenobites will always scare me and that thing that comes down the hall with its crazy hands bothers me.

2.  The Thing  (1982):  Isolation and paranoia work together to make the plot of this movie a living nightmare.    Imagine you are trapped in Antarctica with a handful of men and any of them could be monsters waiting to kill you or worse.  This is the plot of The Thing. 

1.  The Exorcist:  This movie has always terrified me and apparently I am not alone, because after looking at 20 scariest movies of all time lists this is the only movie that made every single list.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

My Little Cemetery

I have begun work on our haunted house for our Halloween party this year.  Here is the beginning of my little cemetery.   I'm happy with it, although it still needs a few touches.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Haunting of Cedarhurst Mansion

Cedarhurst Mansion in Huntsville Alabama is home to one of the most famous hauntings in Alabama.   The mansion itself is hidden now.  It is part of a gated community and only those that live in the community can enter, but the old ghost stories linger.  They are legend.  Whenever I talk about ghost stories in Alabama,  someone always asks me if I have heard about this sad, lonely ghost.   Her story  is unforgettable and people always think of this ghost when they think of Alabama ghosts.

Cedarhurst Mansion was built by Stephen Ewing in 1823.   Since that time it has passed from owner to owner fairly regularly. Ironically,  it isn't someone who lived in this house that haunts it.   Sally Carter was just visiting Cedarhurst Mansion in 1837.  She loved the mansion and was very happy to visit it.  Sadly,  16 year old Sally died on November 28, 1937 of a fatal illness.  She died while she was at the mansion and she hasn't left it since.

Ever since Sally's death,  the stories of her ghost have been as thick as kudzu.  The most famous story was told  by a 17 year old boy visit in the house in 1919.  Alabama is prone to terrible storms and the night he stayed a storm raged outside.  He said that while he slept,  he was visited by Sally.  She came to him and asked him to fix her tombstone.  She said it had been knocked over in the storm.  Everyone laughed at him, but when they went out with him to fix the stone,  they found it had indeed been knocked over by the storm.

I love a site called citydata.com.  In that site, there are a plethora of forums on city places and event and invariably there are many postings on every haunted location.    The best thing about this site is that if you sift through the nonsense you can find people who have posted their first hand accounts with ghosts.  One posting on this site I read was posted by a woman who says her childhood friend used to live in Cedarhurst Mansion when she was a girl.   She was lucky enough to spend the night in the house with her friend and she describes seeing Sally standing above her while she was sleeping.  There are numerous stories like this about Sally.  Some have even reported seeing her walking outside the mansion.  Sally is still active,  she's just more hidden now.  But her story lives on.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Chickamauga Battlefield

One of the most interesting things about looking for ghost stories is discovering history. Most ghost stories touch on some piece of history. In my journey to Chattanooga, TN a few months ago, I went in search of history and didn't know what I would find. I did no research. I just popped in to the Lookout Mountain Battlefield and started to read about the Battle of Chickamauga, which saw some of the civil war's hardest fighting. The battle began in a fight for Chattanooga, TN which was the rail center of the South. It started in 1863 when General Rosecrans brought his army of 70,000 men to Chattanooga and faced off against The Confederate General Braxton Bragg's army of 43,000 men. General Bragg dug his army in and the fight for Chattanooga began. The fight lasted from June until August when Bragg withdrew southward, abandoning Chattanooga and retreating 26 miles South to the final site of the Battle of Chicamauga.
The battle began on Sept 19th. The Confederates used the site I visited on Lookout Mountain to bombard the battlefield below with cannon fire and were able to push the Federals back to Chattanooga, but causalities for both sides were heavy. It claimed an estimated 34,624 casualties (16,170 for the Union; 18,454 for the Confederates).
Since that time there have been claims of every type of haunted and ghostly occurrence in this area. There have been mysterious deaths, numerous ghost sitings, and even claims of a mysterious "green eyed beast" that roams the battle sites at night. Apparently, these supernatural specters come out at night and casual observers from all walks of life have reported seeing a woman in white haunting the battle field looking for her lost love. They have seen glowing orbs and dead soldiers. According to www.hauntedamericatours.com, this battle field ranks #3 in the most haunted battle fields in the country.

Famous Professor Gives Instructions on Scientific Ghost Hunting



I couldn't resist!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Devil Really Isn't That Bad

I don't think I'm the only one who has come to believe that M. Night Shyamalan is ridiculous over the last several years.  His last few movies were so bad I either laughed through them or walked out of them.  I'm not sure which is worse.  No matter how bad his last movie was, however, I always plunge in and see the next one.   I've seen every movie this man has made in the theaters.   You may wonder why I would do this to myself and I think it is because I'm the type of person that can hold onto a lot of hope.  I hold onto that hope long after the hope should be gone.  I even went to see all of Lucas's painful  first, second (you know what I mean) Star Wars trilogy.  I was hopeful one of them would be watchable.  Lucas, of course, let me down.

Shyamalan, however, did not.  Although The Devil has gotten very mixed reviews,  I believe it was Shyamalan's best film in years.The plot was engaging.  I cared about the characters.  The mystery thickened with each death and the suspense tightened with every step closer the devil took to the main characters.   The plot of this film is simple.   Periodically, the devil gathers a group of the damned and kills them in a public venue so people know he's still there and he still has power.   In this film,  the damned are gathered in an elevator to await their death.   Of course,  the police and the people in the elevator don't know why things are happening until it is much too late to stop the inevitable.

I'm not saying this movie was as good as The Sixth Sense, but it was certainly a turn in the right direction for a director who has promise, but has made a few mistakes.

"DEVIL is actually superior to any of Shyamalan's recent directorial outings even as it recycles themes and ideas from his earlier works."

Steve Biodrowski  of Cinefantastique

Monday, September 20, 2010

Updates from the Land of Fog and Madness

Where is the land of fog and madness?  It is right here.  It is in my house.  I believe that I have lost my mind somewhere in the boxes and papers that surround me and if my children keep the fog machine running at the constant rate they've been running it, I may never find it.  Because of my foggy insanity,  I wanted to post a few updates and apologize to everyone out there for not commenting as much as I usually do on their blogs.  

For my first update,  I would like to thank Gabriel Alexander, who runs the marvelous blog The Time Human for his recent interview of me for my new book release.  You can find his wonderful blog, which has a dog's head on it today at  http://networkedblogs.com/85VyO .  His blog is always educational.

I would also like to salute the following wonderful bloggers, for keeping me inspired with their wonderful posts.  So even if I don't make any sense, they do and that reminds me of what I should be aspiring to:


Haunt Jaunts              http://hauntjaunts.net/blog/
The Weekly Specter     http://weeklyspectre.com/
Above the Norm         http://above-the-norm.blogspot.com/
Labrynthian Creations   http://labyrinthcreations.blogspot.com/
Frog on a Pumpkin        http://strangelittlegirlblog.blogspot.com/
Ghost Eyes                    http://www.ghosteyes.com/
Ghost Lounge               http://ghost-lounge.blogspot.com/
Ghost Stories           http://paranormalstories.blogspot.com/
Ghost Hunting Theories http://autumnforestghosthunter.blogspot.com/
Paws and Reflect    http://laughing1wolf.blogspot.com/
The Heart Centered Psychic   http://heartcenteredpsychic.blogspot.com/
Paranormel         http://laughing1wolf.blogspot.com/

So why have I lost my mind?  Over the last month I have inherited a new corgi, which now makes me have about as many corgis as the Queen of England. Amidst my little pack of frolicking corgis, my children and the other neighborhood children decided to turn the house into a haunted manor early, so all the Halloween props are out and the fog machine is running.  The sound effects are going and I'm not sure whether I tripped over a corgi or a bat heart in a jar.  Over the upcoming month I will also have 4 birthdays, 3 book signings, 2 5ks, 1 trip to Chicago, 1 beer fest, 1 zombie walk, and 1 epic Halloween party to plan.  I dropped out of Taekwondo because I simply don't have the time to kick butt.  I am most excited about the Halloween party.  Boxes keep coming and my strange assortment of ghoulish props are growing.  I really can't wait.  One of my new props is pictured below.  My children chose that one. 

Due to all this chaos,  I may not get my prizes for this month's giveaway out until the end of the week and my blogging may slow a bit.  But bare with me, there will be lots of Halloween fun a long the way and if I am not commenting as much,  I am still reading,  I just don't want to ruin your blogs with the nonsense dripping from my head for a while.  I'll leave that for the more sensible readers.  In the mean time,  I hope to write about my adventures which will be more than I can count.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Ghost of Jeremiah Clemens

I will always believe that the best ghost stories come from parties and gatherings and other types of friendly get togethers.  People love to sit and chat and share a tale or two.  The people who tell stories at parties rarely believe in the ghosts fully, but love the stories themselves and the history they are steeped in.  One of my friends shared a story with me the other night.   We were eating dinner at his house and he said that the building he worked at was on the local ghost tour.  He hadn't been aware his building was haunted until he participated in the ghost walk and was surprised and intrigued by the information he learned.

According to the ghost tour,  his law office building on Pratt Avenue is haunted by the ghost of Jeremiah Clemens.   Jeremiah was a Senator and a novelist.  Politically, he was most know as a Unionist who did not support the civil war and was against secession from the Union.   Nationally Clemens was most known as a novelist and author of the books Bernard Lile (1856) and Mustang Grey (1858).   Clemens resided in the house on Pratt Avenue during his life in Huntsville, Alabama.

Apparently,  a psychic has been through this haunted law firm and she concluded that Mr. Clemens was a bit of a Lady's man.  He liked looking at the pretty ladies.  She said that he spent  most of his haunting time enjoying the pretty women at the firm and would probably have little to do with the men.  This didn't surprise my friend, because he said he's never felt anything resembling a haunting at his office.  However,  many of the female employees have reported feeling a presence in the building.  They describe feeling as if they are being watched.   I suppose there are worse things for a ghost to do, but I still don't think I'd want the man above ogling me while I worked.   The women at that office are stronger than me,  I think I might change jobs.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

My Halloween Must List

I've been working on a story for my column in the Valley Planet.  I'm trying to develop a list of Halloween activities for people in North Alabama in the month of October.  I have had a wonderful time coming up with this list.   However,  as I made my list I realized I won't be able to everything I want to do in October.  So Valley Planet aside.  I'm making a list of things I just want to do during my favorite time of year.    It is a long list, but what the hell, Halloween only comes once a year and then its on to frantically buying presents and stringing the world with bright lights for Christmas.   I can use help with this list,  so if you all want to add to the list, please send me the must do's on your October fun list.

1.   Go to the Nashville Zombie walk.    I have always wanted to do one of these and there is no time like the present.  I'm dressing up like a zombie and looking for brains this year!

2.  Diabetes Association Halloween Fun Run.  What's more fun than dressing up like a zombie and walking?  Dressing up like a zombie and running a 5K for charity.    I hope my make-up doesn't do all the running in this event. 

3.  Go to the Ghost Walk in Chicago that I missed last time I was there.  I'm booking this one tonight instead of waiting to the last minute.

4.  See The Last Exorcism:   I don't know why I missed this in the theaters but I want to see it now.

5.  Go on Huntsville's Cemetery Walk  I wanted to this last year but was too busy

6.  Go on Huntsville's Ghost Walk-   I've been putting this one off for months

7  Finish Reading Johannes Cabal the Necromancer.  I've been trying to get through this book for over a week and I will finish it because I love its dark humor.  

8.  Read Clive Barker's Imajica:  Why haven't I done this yet?  Who knows?

9.  Go to Murder and Ghosts on the mountain:   This is a ghostly murder mystery night in which we get to participate in figuring who murdered the ghost.  I really want to try this.

10.  See Suspiria:  One of the best horror movies of all time and I have never seen it.  What is wrong with me?

11.  Go to at least 3 of the 10 haunted houses I've found in the area:

So that is my list so far, but I'm open to suggestions.  I love Halloween and I'm going to enjoy this one as much as possible!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Night Alabama's Skies Were Filled With UFO's

I'm taking a break from ghosts tonight to explore the other side of the paranormal.   I'm also exploring a part of local history I was entirely ignorant of until yesterday night.  In the winter of 1989, for one night,  the skies of North Alabama were filled with UFOs.   North Alabama is not Arizona and UFO sitings are not common here.  Alabama has had its share of fleeting encounters with UFO's but nothing like what happened in Fyffe Alabama on the nights of February 11th and 12th.   On these two nights there were over fifty reports of strange, spectral lights in the skies of this tiny Alabama town of less than two-thousand.  There were reports and multiple photographs and a plethora of witnesses who supported the reports from that night.

Police report responding to these lights.   They went out looking for them.  Several officers investigating the lights even describe attempting to chase or apprehend the lights.  Officers on the scene describe the flying objects as triangular shaped and utterly silent.  The chief of police was completely mystified by these objects.

                   "What I saw the first time was like nothing I ever saw before. It was not a helicopter not             a plane. Not a sound" Chief Garmany stated.

Fyffe was not alone.  That night in nearby DeKalb County there were eleven reports of UFO sightings.  Dekalb county police also investigated the reports and were able to witness the strange objects.  Officers called the weather service and the military to make sure that the objects couldn't be explained by some obvious answer, but their investigation only gave them more questions.   After calling every airport, military base, and weather station in the area no answers were found.

Following those nights of UFO sitings, Fyffe exploded with a kind of UFO mania.  People came from all over to catch a glimpse of the strange objects.  T-shirts were sold and reporters filled the hotels, but the skies were quiet.   There was never any explanation for the multitude of siting by  so many people that night and many believe that North Alabama was visited by Aliens that night. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What Do You Fear?

Halloween is coming fast and everyone is looking for something scary.  My sister spent the night tonight and went through my horror movie collection looking for  "something scary."   She asked me what movie I had that was scary and as I thought about it, I realized that for the most part horror movies just don't scare me.   I don't think I'm alone in this.  I know many people that are like me and aren't afraid of monsters, ghosts, serial killers, or the things that lurk in the minds of  Hollywood.  

Fear is a relative thing.  Some people are terrified of snakes,  I keep them as pets.  Others fear spiders,  I kind of like spiders.   Some of my fears are quite common place.  Others are rare and the same is true for almost everyone I know.  As a therapist,   I've known people who are afraid to go outside alone, afraid of the dark, afraid of dogs, etc.  I've worked with people that are so crippled by fear they are unable t leave their houses or function in any way.   Fear is one of the most powerful emotions.  For every person there is a fear.  Here are mine:

10.  Dolls  (really, glass eyes are creepy.  Mommy D's haunted doll collection would terrify me)
9.  Cockroaches  (this is common)
8.  Public speaking
7.  bugs under my skin (screworms)
6.  Public Restrooms
5.  Thong underwear (Yuck)
4.  The Exorcist
3.  Doctors  (ironically, my husband is a doctor)
2.  Dirty Feet
1.  Losing those I love

Ghosts are not on my list, but I think I'm drawn to ghosts because I have lost people I've loved and believing they are still with me offers some relief to my largest fear. 

So that brings me to my question for tonight.  What do you all fear?  What strange things would keep you up at night?  Birds?  Dogs?  Dirty underwear? What is it that drives you to shiver?

Book Release Party Giveaway Winners!!!!

In August,  I announced the release of my new book.  To celebrate,  I had a giveaway.   The prizes included a zodiac necklace, a lovecraft book, another necklace, and a smoking monkey.  One of these prizes was secretly stuffed with $75.   Tonight I announce the winners of this Contest and also my Maybe This Time Give away.   Last week I also offered to give away a copy of my new favorite Gothic novel "Maybe This Time"    So the winners are:

1.  IQXS won the lovely zodiac "bling"
2.  Mommy D from Mommy D's kitchen won the Lovecraft short stories
3.  Brenda Hooser  of the Heart Centered Psychic won the other necklace
4  Megan won the Smoking Monkey.  (No one wanted my poor smoking monkey so I drew from the
     those who did not win for this item)
5.  Pam Morris of Labrynthian Creations won the copy of Maybe Next Time

Thanks all for entering and helping me celebrated the release of Haunted North Alabama.  You all are wonderful and I wish I had more prizes to give away so I could give something all of you!

Could those of you who won send me your addresses so I can send you your prizes at jessica.penot@gmail.com!

Monday, September 13, 2010

My Father's Tale of a Filipino White Lady

Sadly,  my father and I don't see each other often,  but he did send me a wonderful ghost story.  It is a personal story.  It was something he experienced when he was very young and living in the Philippine Islands.   The story is wonderful, because it is so rich in family and other history and because it includes one of my favorite kinds of ghosts.  It includes a  white lady.   All of you who read my blog regularly,  know I love these tragic ghosts and the sad stories that make them.  I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did.

"In 1949 after my father's untimely death at the tender age of 33 in early April my mother took my two younger brothers and I across the Pacific Ocean on a big Commercial Liner to visit my father's family in a suburb of Manila on Luzon ,the big island. I was only 5 years old but something so incredible happened which left me with a very clear memory and a large scar on my left knee.


I was in the back of my 19 year old cousin Spanky's WW11 Jeep on our way cruisin' the war torn streets of San Juan when he turned a corner past some old blown apart buildings (there were so many of these then). There was this girl in a long traditional white Filipino wedding dress just crossing the street and he started to swerve to avoid hitting her. I thought for sure he was going to crash into the old palm tree on the side of the road so I jumped out into the side of the road. I rolled and landed on one foot and a knee which happened to get impaled by an old piece of shrapnel. They scooped me out of the dirt and rushed me to the hospital where I ended up with 6 stitches from which I still bare the scare to this day. And I'm now almost 66 years old.

I never did figure out where the girl in the puffy sleeved wedding dress came from or went. And I never thought that my daughter would some day publish a story to kind of explain what happened."
 
Of course,  he is referring to my Filipino White Lady story from a few nights ago.  I wrote about this ghost without ever having heard this story from him.  It is strange how stories can come together.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Neighborhood Haunted House

Every neighborhood has one of these, or at least almost every neighborhood.  It is the old, run down house with wierd occupants or no occupants at all.  Children ride past it on their bikes very slowly, peaking in the window with curiousity.  They dare each other to step on the grass or to walk a little bit closer.  Odd things often happen in these houses and out of these odd things the stuff of childhood legend grows.  

Our neighborhood house is not really part of our subdivision. I'm not sure what it is part of.  It is pushed back against all the empty lots and no one really even knew it was there until it caught fire one day.   Three fire trucks put out the fire and everyone realized that in the overgrown, shadowed portion of the neighborhood, there was an old house with boarded up windows and unmowed grass.  Since that time,  the kids have come home with so many stories I need to keep a journal of them.

My eldest son says that there is one window in particular that is full of ghostly activity.   One day, he saw a phantom mist hanging in this window.   Another day,  he saw the lights flickering on and off in the darkness.  My other son says that the tree in front of the house is evil. He's seen things floating in it.  He even says he once saw the branches of the tree curl up as if to form a hand.  The hand reached out for him.  Terrifying.   The more children are present when the stories are told the more elaborate they become, each trying to top the next with each new tale of terror.   It doesn't matter if any of the stories are true or not.   The very presence of such a house justifies the stories to the children.   Any house this odd and forgotten and misused must be haunted.   So legend grow and thrive and I listen with eager ears because these little bits of childhood wonder are what makes life interesting.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Halloween Shopping

The Halloween stores have opened and Halloween costumes now hang in the aisles of every Target in America.   Women are lining up to buy their sexy witch, or sexy Alice in wonderland, or sexy nurse costumes. Men are lining up to dress like giant breasts.  Children are lining up to be the usual super heroes and princesses and I am beginning to decorate for this year's Halloween party.   I went to Halloween Express yesterday and enjoyed their terrifying and horrific collection of props and oddities.   I really liked the demon babies and creepy old people, but I finally settled on a fortune teller who predicts that she'll eat you in the near future.   I also bought several tomb stones.  Although I am short on words today,  here is pictorial tour of the beginning of my Halloween madness.  The witch above will stand at the front of our haunted house and the tombstones will be in the front yard.  Her pretty bows make her perfect.  The things below were far too creepy for our haunted house but were certainly interesting.




,

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Stone River Battlefield

I lived in Murfreesboro, Tennessee for almost two years.   It was a quiet, little Southern town that was just far enough away from Nashville to feel more small town than any place I had ever lived.   It was my first exposure to real Southern, small town life.   Adding to the distinctly Southern culture of this little town, was the Stone River Battlefield, where the Confederate Army won a small victory against Union troops.

Stone River Battlefield is a peaceful place.  There are walking trails and the Stone River has a pretty little walkways that leads up to the battlefield.   My family and I visited the battlefield on more than one occasion for a pleasant stroll on a lovely day.  The children climbed on the old cannons.  I hadn't read much about the civil war at the time so I didn't know that we were strolling across soil that had once been soaked with blood.  It was at The Stone River Battlefield that the Union forces led by General Rosencrans had faced off against General Bragg's Confederate forces at the very place. The Battle of Stones River occurred in late December of 1862 and lasted through January 2, 1863.  One of the bloodiest portions of the battle was fought by Union General Sheriden.  His men were pinned down in an area  that has been come to be know as "slaughter pen"  and killed.  I read the history as I walked through the battlefield, but I didn't know that the history I was reading about was said to be filled with more than was written on the pamphlets.

The field I was wandering was said to be filled with ghosts.   Visitors to the Stone River Battlefield claim to have seen many soldier ghosts there.  Numerous tales describe the sounds of cannons on silent nights and spectral visions of lonely soldiers.   The most haunted place on this battlefield is slaughter pen where many report finding a cold spot.  To be honest,  it was so cold when we went I don't remember one spot being more cold than the next, but  I could imagine the place might hold such a cold spot.  Slaughter pen is a wooded, rocky area that feels uncommonly quiet.   It is strange to think back on the terror that once was acted out there when you are surrounded by such peace, but easy to imagine that ghosts linger in the shadows, even if you don't seen them.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Story of Exorcism

Father Gabriele Amorth is the chief exorcist of Rome.  He has a very uncommon job in the church and a very uncommon gift.  He is a real person.  His stories are not fictional nor are they derived from the imagination of Holywood or a writer.  He has performed hundreds of exorcisms and he has also written a book called An Exorcist Tells His Tale.  Unless you have been raised Catholic, which I have been, this is a difficult book to read, because Father Gabriel is a Catholic Priest above all else and his writing is deeply religious.    However, if you want to learn about real cases of demon possession, he is one of the few experts in the world.

I have read several bloggers lately comment that possession is often confused with mental illness and that people of science would never accept possession as real.  One of the most interesting things reading about Father Gabriel does is negate this belief.  He describes many of the cases  he has worked with in his book and in almost all of them the people he exorcises go the doctors and psychologists and psychiatrists first.  They go through years of medication and electroshock therapy and none of it helps, but after the exorcism their torment ends.   The psychiatrists and psychologists in many cases have given up. 

One of the Father Gabriel's most interesting cases is the case of a man called G.M.  G.M describes being heavily involved with two women who practiced the dark arts.   Following these relationships,  he began to have symptoms which were physical at first.  He was tired and weak and sick all of the time.  He had chronic headaches.  He also suffered from severe depression and thought of suicide. He was admitted to a psychiatric hospital in Rome and he found no help there.  He sought help at medical hospitals as he was also running a constant fever and for a while none would even admit or treat him as they could find nothing wrong with him.  Finally,  he was admitted and discharged and again no on could find anything wrong with him.  He was overtaken by vomiting fits and shortly after this the demon was able to take his body. During these periods, G.M. describes himself as being in hell.   During one of his rare lucid moments,  he finally sought the help of his parents.  G.M. still believed he was probably suffering from a fugue state or other psychiatric condition.  He thought that he probably had schizophrenia and epilepsy as he had also started having seizures.   He had studied psychology in college and he was not a man to believe in demons first.  

Finally, G.M. talked to a Friar about his problems.  The Friar told him that someone had cast a spell on him and that had caused his symptoms.  G.M. was astounded.  One of his witchy ex's had cursed him when he dumped her.  Of course,  he hadn't thought anything of it, what rational person would?  But the Friar knew this without him even really knowing it himself and the Friar sent him to Father Gabriele. After a simple exorcism,  Father Gabriele was quickly able to drive the demon out and G.M. has never had any of the many symptoms that tormented hims since that day.

There are many stories like this in the good Father's book, but this is the only story written by the possessed.  It is difficult to read at times, because it is so terrifying, but in the end finding the Father set him free.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Book Review: Maybe This Time by Jennifer Crusie

There is nothing more magnificent than a really good book.   Maybe This Time is a really good book and it is a Gothic ghost story  and that just makes it that more delicious.   I don't usually read romances.  I find them artificial and boring, but the characters in this book were real enough to make the romance interesting and the ghosts were more than interesting enough to make up for the kissing.  Of course, the kissing lead to sex, which makes the romance much more palatable for me as well.

Maybe This Time is the story of a woman, Andy,  in her thirties who is haunted by her first marriage. She's been divorced for ten years and she wants to move on.  She's  found a man she wants to marry and all she has to do is cut the final cord that attaches her to her ex-husband.   Her ex-husband keeps sending her money and she hates it.   She summons all her courage and goes to him to demand that he stop sending her money, only to be suckered into doing a job for him.  He wants her to go down to Southern Ohio to check on his orphaned niece and nephew who live in an old mansion that was moved from England to the states over one hundred years ago.   The children have been abandoned by two nannies, one aunt, and their father.  Death hangs over their head like a noose and the children themselves are more than a little odd.

Andy goes down to Southern Ohio on the condition that her ex never contacts her again after she does this for him.  He's also going to pay her enough money to financially liberate her forever.   Andy's plan is to get things back together and get the kids out of the house in less than a month.  Unfortunately,  the children are held to the house my some particularly malevolent ghosts and Andy is going to need help from her ex-husband and everyone else to deal with the evil lurking in the shadows of the old house.  She also has to confront her own demons and awaken her lost love to free the children from the ghosts.

Maybe This Time was not only a good ghost story, but a very well written novel with an engaging plot.    I would recommend it to anyone.   St. Martin's press has also offered to give one free copy of this book away to one of my readers.  So, if you would like to read this wonderful Gothic romance,  comment below and I will enter you in the contest!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Let the Halloween Hauntings Begin!

Over the next two months the world will paint itself in black and orange for Halloween.  All sorts of haunted houses and attractions will awaken from their ten month slumber to scare children and adults and remind us of the things that scare us in the dark.  As these things crawl out from their shadowy depths,  I will explore them and discuss them, because although I love real haunted places,  I also love the artificial ones that pay homage to the real ones.  I went on my first Halloween exploration today!  I know, it keeps starting earlier and earlier and that just tickles me.  Today, I went through Huntsville Botanical Garden's Scarecrow Trail and explored the terrifying and silly scarecrows and the other seasonal nonsense they put up.  It doesn't get any more fun or family friendly than this Alabama Halloween attraction.  



Ghost Busting Scarecrow!








Saturday, September 4, 2010

The White Lady of the Philipines

It is probably no surprise that I love Halloween.  I wait all year for Halloween, so I was thrilled when my Halloween costume came today.   I ordered this one and in order to celebrate my love of ghost stories,  I am going to be a white lady this year for Halloween.  White Ladies are my favorite ghosts.   They are tragic, romantic figures wandering the shadowy realm between this world and the next.   White Ladies are the ghosts of young women who died tragically, often times for love.  They are always seen in long white dresses.   Every culture seems to have these white lady phantoms.   Carl Jung would have loved them.   It is no surprise that they are popular in the Philippines, as they seem to be popular everywhere.  My father is Filipino, so when I found this story, I couldn't resist putting it here as one of my favorite white lady stories.

The most popular Filipino white lady is the White Lady of Balete Drive. Like most white ladies,  this white lady appears as a long haired beauty in  lovely white gown.   During World War II,  the Japanese occupied the Philippines and were particularly cruel and brutal to the locals.   This is no surprise.  The Japanese atrocities during World War II were legendary and never were they worse than the Rape of Nanjing and the Rape of Manila, in the Philippines.  They called what the Japanese did to these two cities rapes, because they not only committed genocides, but did particularly perverse and sexually deviant things to the city's residents before they killed them.  Although this white lady is not from Manila, she was a victim of rape at the hands of Japanese soldiers during  World War II.   According to legend, she was raped and killed by Japanese soldiers during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines in World War II.   Most of the stories associated with her are told by taxi drivers who have seen her on the road late at night.   Other drivers and travellers have also seen her wandering the lonely moonlit road of Balete Drive.  She is often blamed for the accidents along this road.  that Most of the stories that have come out about her were told by taxi drivers doing the graveyard shift.   One taxi driver even claims she asked him for a ride.

I found another interesting Filipino white lady story at http://www.castleofspirits.com/whitelady.html .  This is a first hand account of an encounter with a white lady and as I could not do the story justice by retelling it,  I thought it was more appropriate to put a link.  As I get ready for Halloween,  I will be thinking of these tragic white ladies.  I hope my costume does them justice.  My dress is above.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Ghosts of the USS Alabama

I thought I would return to where I started tonight.   My first few blogs were about Alabama and the places I had been in Alabama.  The USS Alabama is one of my favorite Southern haunts.

The USS Alabama is a large and impressive ship that is a major tourist attraction for Mobile, Alabama. It has been retired and docked in the Mobile Bay and sees thousands of visitors every day. At night, the ship hosts many cub scout camp outs so the battleship is rarely empty or quiet. Despite the fact that officials claim the ship is not, nor has ever been haunted, many claim to have seen ghosts on this ship. There have been reports of phantom foot steps and odd noises. It is said that late at night bulkheads open and close by themselves and odd tapping noises can be heard throughout the ship.

The Battleship Alabama’s first two deaths were of men who were in the Norfolk shipyard as she was under construction. She was finished in 1942 and served 37 months without any deaths due to enemy fire. As for death under friendly fire, however, there were 8 deaths on gun mount #5 when gun mount #9 fired upon them. It seems that the safety feature that was supposed to prevent the turrets from firing upon each other had failed. The men were completely destroyed; the only thing left of the gun commander was his boots.

The USS Alabama staff does not allow anyone interested in the paranormal to spend the night on the ship, so few people can tell stories of what happens when night comes aboard this old bit of history.  My boys, however,  were fortunate enough to spend the night on this wonderful ship last summer. As cub scouts, they were able to camp out on the ship.  Women are not allowed on the ship after dark, so I had to abandon my men to the shadows and wait for their stories.  Both of my boys claim that they saw and heard ghosts the night they stayed on the ship. My oldest son says he saw a barefoot ghost by turret five.This is particularly interesting, because he didn't know about any ghost stories associated with ship or about the man who lost his boots at this turret.   I have attached a picture of their overnight t that shows an orb by one of the turrets. The orb is directly above my son's head.  I know orbs are nothing like hard proof of the paranormal,  but it is still an interesting picture especially since it was taken my gun mount # 5.