Thursday, April 28, 2011

Quiet Time In the Dark

I will not be able to post here again for a while.  Due to the terrible storms that tore through Alabama,  I have power and no cell phone signal.  Once my laptop runs out of juice, I will be officially trapped in the dark ages.  They are saying it will be a week a more before power returns.  In the mean time I will be reading, playing board games with the kids, and enjoying quiet time in the dark.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Easter Horror Movie


Last year when I was a baby blogger,  I asked a question on Easter.  I asked where all the Easter horror movies were.  Every other holiday has its own special horror movie.  Christmas has Silent Night Deadly Night and it has a dozen movies like Gremlins that are set around Christmas.  Halloween has dozens of horror movies and that would be just beginning with the Halloween series.   Valentine's Day has My Bloody Valentine and Thanksgiving has Thankskilling so why is Easter so sadly neglected?

Of course one of my readers set me straight.  He commented saying Critters was an Easter horror movie.  I did my research and got the Critters box set and Critters 1 is certainly not an Easter horror movie, but Critters 2 is as much of an Easter horror movie as any movie can be.  The horrible little monsters from the first movie left lots of eggs behind which some idiot finds and sells to a local grandma who uses them as fancy Easter eggs in the church Easter egg hunt.  The Easter eggs hatch and devour a man in an Easter bunny suit.  So there it is, there is an Easter horror movie.  Happy Easter and watch out for strange eggs!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Ghosts and Pregnancy

I've heard many stories about crying child ghosts and the ghosts of women looking for lost children or lost babies.   I've heard stories of  phantom fathers looking for babies and creeks that wail like a baby in the night, but I have never heard a ghost story about a pregnant ghost.  I started looking online for a story like that tonight and I found something else instead.  Although there are a few pregnant ghosts stories, there are many more stories about women who are haunted during their pregnancy.

I googled pregnant ghosts.  You can try this too.  What I found was innumerable stories told by pregnant women indicating that they had suddenly become more receptive to ghosts and the paranormal after they became pregnant.  On babycenter.com,  I found an entire conversation of members sharing their ghost stories.  One woman described seeing a ghost before she miscarried.  Another woman said she tried to block ghosts out while she was pregnant.   There was a running theme of complications associated with paranormal presences.  There were also very benevolent stories.  One woman described waking up to see the ghost of her father standing over her. She had been having a difficult pregnancy and her father told her everything was going to be OK.

There are similar conversations on many paranormal websites as well.  On unexplained mysteries, a pregnant woman asked if other women had paranormal experiences during pregnancy.  She described her own experiences fearfully.  One interesting response was by a commenter said that as a woman's overall senses are heightened during pregnancy it would make sense that they would also be more sensitive the paranormal.  The stories of women haunted during pregnancy are numerous and I tend to think that perhaps it is do to a woman's heightened senses during pregnancy.  There are things you just don't notice when you aren't pregnant that you suddenly become aware of when you are pregnant.    I am, as always, open to other opinions on the matter.  Although, there are many posts by pregnant women who have been haunted,  I haven't heard much in the way of interpretation of these phenomena so I would love to hear what readers think about the matter.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Black Lady of Opryland

I've lived in the South for a good while.  I've lived here long enough to remember when Opryland was a theme park with short lines and a kennel for your dog.  Those days are gone now and the once popular amusement park was transformed into an outlet mall and enormous hotel.   The outlet mall is called Opry Mills and the hotel has become a destination in and of itself.   It is a kind of indoor city.  In the winter it is filled with ice sculptures and people come from all over to see this enormous indoor wonderland.

It is not surprising that a place this big and well known would have its fair share of ghost stories.  The most famous ghost in Opryland is known as the black lady.  Unlike many of the other Opryland ghosts, she has been seen all over the hotel and even in Opry Mills.  She is always dressed in black from head to toe and is said to be a young woman.  She wears old clothes that look antebellum in style.  She's described as wearing a long black veil that somewhat obscures her face.  She is usually seen at night and tends to cling to the dark places.  

One cleaning crew saw the black lady and were so terrified that they called security.  The entire team said they saw the black lady hovering above the floor.  Another employee quit after having an encounter with the black lady.  Author Christopher Coleman believes the black lady may be the ghost Mrs. McGavock.  Her family once owned a glorious mansion and the land around it.  That land is now the location of Oprland and Opry Mills.  Apparently, the black lady bears a striking resemblance to photographs of Mrs. McGavock and the ghost could be easily linked to the land she once loved.  Whoever she is, the black lady still wanders the grounds today, scaring all those who wander the area at night and reminding them that the land is older than what now stands on it.

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Ghostly Archeologist's Guide

I was told this story by a friend who said that he remembers hearing of  a torso of a Roman Ghost that haunted a medieval English ruin.   This vaporous torso wandered the medieval ruins seeming very out of place and appearing to so many visitors that some of them began to ask questions.   One visitor was a historian and archaeologist and they decided to do some digging, literally.  The ghost lead them to an enormous number of Roman ruins that were buried beneath the medieval ruins.  If it weren't for the ghost,   the Roman ruins would have been forever hidden.

I tried to research this story to find its location and its origins and I found that there are so many stories like this I couldn't sort one from another.  One such story was told by a plumber in York.  In 1953, the plumber was working beneath the Treasurers house when he heard a horn blowing from beneath the ground.  Shocked, the plumber stopped his work and looked around anxiously.  Suddenly, a Roman soldier emerged from the brick wall and walked right past him.  The plumber fell from his ladder in terror.   The Roman soldier was followed by other soldiers on horseback and several large carts and chariots.    When the plumber emerged, a man told him that they had been excavating a Roman Road beneath the house and that many people had seen the phantom soldiers.  These old Roman ghosts are some of the most famous and difficult to see ghosts in the UK and linger behind leaving a permanent paranormal footprint for historians to trace.

There are many other stories of Roman ghosts popping up at strange historical locations and helping historians across the UK and Europe.  So many, that I have never been able to find the origins of my friends mysterious torso story.   I'll keep looking, however, and hopefully I'll find it one day.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Disgusting History of Ectoplasm


During the time contemporary to and following World War I, there was and explosion in what was then called spiritualism or mentalism. Spiritualism is a religious movement revolving around communicating with the dead via a medium. This explosion was brought on by the massive number of people that died in the war and of sickness during this time period. One of the more bizarre activities that became prevalent in this movement was the appearance  of ectoplasm. Ectoplasm is a term used to define a physical manifestation of the supernatural and it usually came out of the medium's nose, mouth, or ears. The term, defined by Charles Richet, meant spiritual energy externalized by psychics. It was for many years, used as absolute confirmation that the supernatural was tangible and provable.  It was supposed to be the physical remains of a ghostly presence.  Ghosts were there and they were real and the medium could prove it by showing ectoplasm.

Ectoplasm was so believed in that it was featured in respectable scientific journals and it's existence was confirmed by the great minds of the time including William Butler Yeats and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It was so believed in that Scientific America sought to do a study on it and offered a $5,000 reward to anyone who could demonstrate the release of ectoplasm in front of a scientific panel. This reward lead to the beginning of the end of the scientific validity of ectoplasm.

What was discovered was both revolting and eye opening. Although many techniques and materials have been used by mediums to produce ectoplasm, the medium examined by this panel was found to be storing a sheep gut and fat mixture in a sack in her vagina which she expulsed at the appropriate time to make it appear as if she was expelling ectoplasm. Further research into other psychics revealed many other grotesque techniques for producing this fraudulent material. Some women learned how to regurgitate on demand and swallowed yards of muslin and cheese cloth which they would vomit on command. Others stored materials in their rectum.

Although this story is disgusting. It is more about the disgustingness that is possible within humanity when exploiting the needs of those suffering from the lost of a loved one than the vileness of the actual act. Although I love a good ghost story, it is always amazing to me how much more horrifying live people can be than ghosts.   Ghosts have never been shown to leave real ectoplasm, but it is amazing how many mediums were shown to be literally pulling it from there asses.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Lonely Ghosts of Fort Gains




Everyone is writing about the civil war this week.  It is the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and I thought it would be appropriate to write something related.   Since I'm also planning my summer vacation,  I thought it would fun to write about one of my favorite vacation locations. Dauphin Island has long been one of my favorite haunts. It is a lonely, little island off the coast of Alabama that has beautiful, white beaches and great views of dolphins leaping just off the coast. It has been missed by much of the tourist trade that has made Pensacola and Gulf Shores unbearable for me. It is quiet and lovely.


The island itself has a long history that has shifted with the shifting sands of the island itself. Dauphin Island was initially name massacre island by the French until it was given a more comforting name by colonists. The French colony on Dauphin Island was short lived, however, and was the site of a notorious pirate attack that left the island abandoned.

The island's strategic positioning made it unforgettable, however, and it was taken by the US for the construction of a fort in 1812. The construction of this fort was as doomed as the the original French inhabitants of the island. Due to poor engineering, poor planning, and stupidity the fort was constructed in an area that was quickly flooded and reclaimed by the shifting waters of the gulf. In 1853, a new engineer was brought in and the construction had to begin again. The new engineer was not so dim as the first people to work on the Fort and construction of the new Fort Gaines was completed in 1858.

Fort Gaines was of critical importance in the Civil War and the Confederates used it as a base for blockade running. Fort Gaines was also important in the Battle of Mobile. Union Army commanders, Admiral David Farragut and Major General Gordon Granger, came through the bay amid fourteen ships, with the orders to shut down the fort. The guns in Fort Gaines fired doing damage to the Union Army. Then, Admiral Farragut gave the notorious order, "Damn the torpedoes! Full steam ahead!" The Union army succeeded in its task when Fort Gaines surrendered to avoid hand-to-hand combat. Eighteen-hundred men died in the Battle of Mobile despite the surrender of the fort.

Fort Gaines is one of the most popular haunted sites in the nation. The ghosts of dead soldiers have been captures on film by tourists and paranormal investigators. All types of visitors have reported hearing mysterious footsteps, voices, and seeing ghosts. MTV will even feature it on it's haunted television special. I have been to Dauphin Island and Fort Gaines numerous times with my family and have never witnessed any of this activity. More than anything I have been haunted by the lonely beauty of the island that has been ravaged by history and nature. It remains one of my favorite places and I will face all manner of ghosts to wander the quiet shores of this island.


Saturday, April 9, 2011

One Lovely Blog Award

A few days ago wubtowrite  (http://mariatoth-wub2write.blogspot.com/ ) stopped by to give me a lovely award.  It was a lovely award.  It was a one lovely blog award. This was very nice of her since she has a very lovely blog as well.  This award comes rules.   

This lovely award came with the following instructions:

A. Accept your award and post it on your blog along with a link to the person who has sent it to you.
B. Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you have newly discovered. Delighted to!
C. Contact the 15 bloggers to let them know that you have chosen them to receive the award. You got it!

Since I read so many lovely blogs I'm happy to spread the love to a few of my favorite lovelies.  I made this based from blogs I feel have lovely photographs, art, or layouts.   My top 15 favorite blogs for loveliness are:

1.   Frog in a Pumpkin  http://strangelittlegirlblog.blogspot.com/
2.   Magikal Seasons  http://magikalseasons.blogspot.com/
3    Marbella Designs  http://marbelladesigns.blogspot.com/
4.   Haunt Jaunts  http://hauntjaunts.net/blog/
5.   Labrynth Creations  http://labyrinthcreations.blogspot.com/
6    Above the  Norm  http://above-the-norm.blogspot.com/
7.   Scary True  http://scarytruestory.blogspot.com/
8.   The Heart Centered Psychic http://heartcenteredpsychic.blogspot.com/
9.    Beyond Pale Mother  http://palemother.blogspot.com/
10.   Ghost Eyes  http://www.ghosteyes.com/
11.  The Shadow Farm   http://theshadowfarm.blogspot.com/
12.   MommyDsKitchen  http://mommydskitchen.com/
13.   Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers  http://insatiablereaders.blogspot.com/
14.  Southern Spirit Guide  http://southernspiritguide.blogspot.com/
15.  Ramblings by Amber http://www.adiaryofawriter.blogspot.com/

There are many other lovely blogs out there and I'm sorry if  I missed some!  Sadly, I could only choose the 15 loveliest.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Children of Walker Street

The Spanish Flu killed between 50 million and 100 million people between 1917 and 1920.   It swept the globe, killing people in every corner of the world.  It was a particularly cruel plague.  Most illnesses prey on the weak.  They take the elderly and children, but the Spanish flu was indiscriminate. It killed many healthy young adults as well as the weak. It is considered to be the second largest disaster in human history and it infected 28% of the human population and killed 3% of the global population.  It killed more people than the black plague.  Enormous Flu wards were created to care for the amazing number of sick that over ran hospitals and health facilities where the sick were lined up like cattle to wait for death.

It is no surprise that the Spanish Flu left many ghosts.   I've found many ghost stories related to this terrifying epidemic.  The story of Walker Street in Historic Huntsville, Alabama is one of the sadder of these tales.  According to local legend, the Spanish Flu hit Walker street with a particular cruelty.  It took mostly children, leaving entire homes empty.  So many people died that the bodies of the dead would be left on the front porch  because there weren't enough healthy people left to bury the dead.  

The ghosts of the many children that died on Walker Street during the Spanish Flu are still said to wander the streets at night.  They've been seen singing and playing in the shadowy dark.  They sing nursery rhymes as they play and haunt the living that have been left behind.  There is a  rhyme that the children are said to have made up.  "I had a bird whose name was Enza, I opened the window and in flew Enza."  The children are said to still sing this little rhyme as they wander Walker Street.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Movie Review: Insidious

I love horror movies.  I love b-grade horror movies and classics and everything in between.  On most occasions,  I realize the horror movie I love doesn't meet any standard criteria of quality.  It can't be measured along good films like Black Swan.  It enters its own category of magic and wonder that can only be appreciated by fans of the genre.  A few horror movies like The Exorcist and Silence of the Lambs are good enough to be measured amongst other good movies.   Insidious is one of those films.  It is a very good film that hearkens back to the old classic haunting movies to use subtly and foreshadowing to create so much tension the teenage girls behind me squealed with terror.

The plot of Insidious is a simple one.  A family moves into a new home.  The children are afraid of their rooms and things move about on their own.  The family assumes it is one of the many children making mischief.  Almost immediately, the middle son falls into an inexplicable coma that he stays in for months.  The longer the boy is in a coma, the worse the paranormal activity around the house becomes.  Terrifying ghosts are everywhere and the wife is alone in her belief in this activity.  Finally the family moves, but the ghosts follow and after a psychic enters the picture, the family realizes there are worse things than the legion of ghosts following the little boy.

Insidious was also interesting in the unique perspective it presented on hauntings.  I don't want to ruin anything for those that haven't seen the film, but it presents a description of ghosts and demons and the way they relate to the world of the living that I haven't heard before.  It integrates notions of astral projection and psychic projection with a unique view on the ether that philosophically left me with much to think about.  It also presented to of the most comical and interesting ghost hunting characters I've seen in movies since The Ghost Busters.  It was also very scary.  As  a mother, watching a little boy tormented by ghosts and demons was horrible and probably my worst nightmare.  This is the best and scariest horror movie I've seen in years.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Athens/Limestone County Courthouse


The Drive to Athens, Alabama was petulant today.  Tornadoes are expected and a vicious storm is heading our way.   It is preceded by shadow and wind so strong I had to cling to the steering wheel to keep the car on the road.   It was worth the drive.   Athens, Alabama is that kind of quiet, small, Southern town that belongs in old movies and books.   The old courthouse sits surrounded by a square of historic buildings and old churches.  Even in the shadow, it is alive and is the hub of life in Athens, Alabama.

I couldn't find much on the history of the old courthouse.   Athens was one of the first counties in Alabama to get a courthouse and claims to be the oldest county in Alabama.  The land for Limestone county was ceded from the Cherokee Nation in 1806 and from the Chickasaw in 1816.  For obvious reasons, for many years settlers had to fight off the Natives of the area.   Athens was made county seat in 1818 and during the civil war it was the first county in Alabama to be occupied by union forces.   Athens and the courthouse were sacked and burned.   The Col. responsible for the sacking was court marshaled the behavior in Athens was so terrible.

According to courthouse staff, there used to be a prison on the third floor of the Athens/ Limestone County courthouse.  This is where all the haunting activity is usually said to take place.   Locals say that one of the prisoners hung himself in his jail cell many years ago.  They don't know if he was sorry for what he did or just sorry to be paying the price for it, but he couldn't see the point in living any longer.  He hung himself on the third floor of the county courthouse and his ghost has never left.   Employees didn't have any specific stories for me.  They just knew the story and knew the third floor was haunted.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

L'Ankou: The Cemetery Gaurdians


A. Lee. Martinez is my favorite author.  I have read his books backwards.  I read his last book first and crept my way back to Gil's All Fright Diner, which was his first novel.  This was an incredible read.  I finished it in a day.  It is interesting in the rules it creates and its descriptions of all things otherworldly.  Two of the heroes in the book are a ghostly rat terrier and a guardian ghost named Cathy.  Cathy is the last ghost to be buried in the cemetery and is thus cursed to watch over the cemetery until the next person is buried.  So the guardian ghost of any cemetery is always the last person to be buried there.

Whether he knew it or not, Martinez actually inverted a piece of old French folklore to create his guardian ghost.  In Breton, the Celtic Western tip of France, there is a old legend of L'Ankou.  L'Ankou was the oldest person buried in the cemetery.  He is the first ghost to rise up from the cemetery, and according to French Folklore, is thus condemned to guard over the cemetery and make sure all following souls are carried to the afterlife.   He is described as a skeletal figure in black robes with a wide rimmed Breton hat who uses a cart pulled by ghostly goats to carry the dead to the next world.   He is so prevalent in folklore that his depiction can be seen in many French Cemeteries carved into stone.  He is seen in the side of archways and in fountains.  Although, there are many of L'Ankou, they always look the same, skeletal and terrifying. My husband is French and he told me this story which was told to him by his family when he as a boy.

Wikipedia's take on L'Ankou varies a little from my husband's childhood memories of L'Ankou.  According to Wikipedia, L'Ankou becomes death's henchmen when he is the first buried in a cemetery.  In some tales, he is the first ghost to ever walk the earth and is the first child of Adam and Eve.  Accordng to French Wikipedia, he a derivation of the god Dagda.  Those who hear his cart will die shortly and those that see him will die within the year.  There is a legend that on Christmas Eve L'Ankou touches those who will die that year with his cape at Christmas Eve Mass.  Every depiction of L'Ankou I found shows him leading a cart drawn by horses rather than goats, but I suppose goats just aren't as scary as spectral horses. I prefer my husband's depiction of the goat cart.  It just rings a little more true to folklore and  is less dramatic to me.    L'Ankou is also known in Norman and Cornish Folklore as Anghau and Akow. 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Death's Dream Kingdom Cover Art!

I have been slowed down this week as I have recovered from surgery.  I have been low on ghost stories and high on announcements.  That is because, despite my slow recovery,  I've gotten lots of good news on other fronts this week.   This will be my last announcement before I return to ghost stories and hopefully before I'm back up on my feet.

I got my cover art for Death's Dream Kingdom, my first novel, this week!  I think it turned out really well.  The book will be released in ebook form in May and in print in November and I'm planning on having a giveaway to celebrate!  I'm posting a synopsis of the book below.  I'm really very excited and can't wait to see the book released.  

Death's Dream Kingdom is the story of a woman who is ordinary in every way. She's an average mother and wife and is happy living every day mired in the ins and outs of the mundane, until she is murdered. After her death, Cera finds herself lost in a nether land somewhere between life and death where demons, ghosts, and old gods  roam the streets preying on the living. In this strange world, Cera is told that she is everything but ordinary. In death, she alone can help heal the rift between worlds and help bridge the gap between life and death. Caught somewhere between her desire to live again and the desire to find heaven, Cera fights those that would pull her into the politics of the netherworld. But the will of the Fates is stronger than Cera's will and Cera quickly finds herself pulled into a quest that will drag her to hell and back and into the arms of an ancient demon lover. She will find that she is a child a Fate and that she alone can challenge Death himself for dominion over his kingdom.