Archives For Ghosts

If you were with us last year, you may have read about my experiences with dead people here, here, and here.

This wacky stuff started about 5 years ago, for reasons unknown. It escalated after I became a reiki master. And it seems that I now have a bunch of abilities with things that are sort of…you know, odd. Unexplainable. Paranormal. Yeah, I don’t understand it either. But those of you who have firsthand experience with me on this know what I’m talking about.

Anyway, I wanted to learn more about it, as in, am I losing my mind or is it a real thing? So I took a class on psychic mediumship. I know, it sounds nuts. Unfollow me if you must.

It was a small group, just two other students aside from myself, plus the teacher. We took turns trying to sense any non-corporeal people who might be present. And to quote Velma from Scooby Doo, “Jinkies!”

The first time I tried to “read” one of the students, I “got” the presence of a man and described him, and the student said it sounded like her uncle. I said I had the sense that he was a fisherman or a dock worker or someone who worked on or near water, and I had a strong feeling he died at work. Apparently her uncle was a fisherman, and he did, in fact, die on a fishing boat. So far so good. But later I worried that my brain was fucking with me because I was getting conflicting info. I said, “I’m thinking that he died of a heart attack, but then I’m also getting that he died because of an accident, they can’t both be right so I must be imagining all this.” She told me my read was correct; her uncle had a heart attack on the boat, which caused him to have an accident that ultimately killed him. What a shitty way to go. (But I was secretly glad that my impressions were correct. That makes me a bad person, doesn’t it.)

And then here’s what happened when I read for the other student:

Me: Okay, I’ve got a man, it looks like he’s bald, with a round face and sort of protruding ears. I’m getting the sense people might have thought he was a bit strange or off-kilter. Does that ring a bell at all?
Other Student: Yes. (She was laughing.)
Me: It sounds like an F name, maybe Frederick or Frank.
Other Student: His name was Frank.

At this point I’m thinking, “Seriously?? Wow. Holy fuck.”

Me: Was he your grandfather?
OS: Yes.
Me: On your mother’s side, yes?
OS: Yes.
Me: Do you have something of his, like a box, or something that’s kept in a very specific box? I keep getting the impression of a special box.
OS: He made my grandmother a carved wooden box, which my grandmother left to my mother, and she gave it to me.

NO WAY!

Me: I just heard “Te amo” in my head. Did he speak Spanish?
OS: Yeah, he was from Puerto Rico.

Whoa, this shit just got real. Also, hearing a foreign language in your brain out of nowhere is kind of unsettling.

Me: Okay, now I’m hearing “little flower.” Does that mean anything to you?
OS: Oh my God! He used to call me “Florecita.”

Grandpa Frank was speaking to me in English again, but “Florecita,” as you might have guessed, means “little flower” en español. By this time, the poor woman was a sobbing mess and I was casually freaking out.

And thus I concluded my first readings as a medium. Go figure.

Before we get down to business, you no doubt have noticed the new Magnificent™ banner above…compliments of my bestie, Le Clown. How much do you love it??? Can you stand it??? Because I can barely stand it, it’s such a work of art. He also created this one:

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Both of these delightful images will be in the banner rotation for all to see and enjoy. Merci, mon ami!

Also, this is a special week at The Outlier Collective. Instead of the usual 2 bloggers, we’re showcasing 7 bloggers, each sharing a unique take on feminism. Please join us!

And now, on with the show.

You know about my experiences hearing dead people. I’ve even shared my psychic predictions from time to time. So I thought, hey, why not have a sit-down with some dead people and interview them, like Barbara Walters except interesting?

I turned off the lights and lit a candle for ambience. Except I didn’t realize the candle was some sort of cloying scented thing. It made my eyes water and I almost passed out from the fumes. I blew it out. Darkness is better for communing with spirit anyway.

Soon, I felt a presence. I called out, “Who’s there?”

I heard the sound of a coin dropping on the floor and rolling to a stop. From the street lamps outside, I had enough light to see that it was a penny, heads up. Hmm.

Penny

“Mr. Lincoln?? Is that you?”

“Yes it is. I’m so glad you figured that out. Do you know how many other people just say ‘Hey look, a penny!!!!’ and then grab it and run off and forget I’m here? It’s very annoying.”

We chatted for a while about this and that. But then I couldn’t take it anymore, I had to know.

MW: So, Mr. President, I hate to bring up bad memories, and I don’t want to seem tacky, but I have to ask: what did you think of the play before you were so rudely interrupted?
AL: You know, I was really enjoying it. But Booth shot me right during the funniest line—he did that on purpose, you know. At first he said he did it so the laughter of the crowd would drown out the gunshot. But he admitted to me later that he did it just for spite so that I’d miss the best part.
MW: What an ass. Did you ever see John Wilkes Booth act? Was he any good?
AL: Eh. He was okay. I might have been more generous with my opinion about his acting ability if he hadn’t been a president-murdering son of a bitch.
MW: That’s fair. I assume when he died he didn’t go upstairs, am I right?
AL: That’s correct, he’s down below. Last I heard, he was being moved to different quarters. The Night Stalker—he just arrived down there—got dibs on being his bunkmate. You have no idea how happy that makes me.
MW: But Mr. President, in your second inaugural address, you spoke so eloquently of a time when the war was over, and welcoming the Confederates back to the country with “malice toward none.” You don’t sound like the man who wrote of such forgiveness.
AL: I know. I lied. It made for good press. Don’t look at me like that, it’s not like I’m the only president who ever lied.
MW: You have a point there. Anyway, what have you been doing since your assassination?
AL: You mean in these past seven score and eight years? Well, I recently took up yoga. And I learned Thai cooking. In fact, just the other night I gave a dinner party—the food turned out really well but the guests were a bit rambunctious. Cleopatra drank all the wine as fast as Jesus could make it. And I have to remember never to leave Queen Victoria alone with Marco Polo…they disappeared for a few hours and when they came back, the Queen’s gown was all disheveled and wrinkled and Marco high-fived everyone.
MW: Wow. I had no idea they were such party animals.
AL: Remind me to tell you about the time I had drinks with Florence Nightingale. She might have been a bit of a prig when she was alive, but now, once you get a few apple martinis in her, she lets her hair down and starts slipping the tongue to the barmaids.
MW: Is that right?? I would have thought she’d be more of a teetotaling sort.
AL: Let’s just say the “Lady With the Lamp” becomes the “Lady Wearing the Lampshade” pretty quickly when alcohol is involved.
MW: You’re starting to fade, Mr. Lincoln. Is there anything else you want to say before you leave?
AL: There is, as a matter of fact. Why is everyone so fascinated by Kim Kardashian? Am I missing something? She has a great behind—I don’t think she’d even need a bustle to fill out her dress. But other than that, she seems as useless as George McClellan.
MW: A lot has changed since you were here, sir.
AL: Not really. Next time I’ll tell you about the time Edwin Stanton and I put on some of Mrs. Lincoln’s dresses and paraded in front of the Capitol Building. We acquired the calling cards of quite a few senators and congressmen.

Stay tuned for my next chat with the spirit world…who knows who will come through next??

Mysterious windows

Madame Weebles —  January 24, 2013 — 156 Comments

One of my favorite books of all time is Time and Again by Jack Finney.  (He’s the guy who wrote Invasion of the Body Snatchers, by the way.)   Time and Again is a science-fictionish historical mystery set in New York City.  I say “science-fictionish” because it’s set in both 1970 and 1882.

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My very well-loved copy of one of my very favorite books.

Finney set up a compelling time-travel approach: you can take any structure or locale that has remained unaltered and use it as a way of going back to an earlier time during its existence.  Time travelers must first immerse themselves in the everyday life of their destination era—the culture, current events, attitude, etc—as a way of “loosening” the mind’s ties to the current day.  Finney used the Dakota apartment building in Manhattan as a portal between 1970 and 1882.  The way it’s explained in the book, you can almost believe it could work.  I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about other places that would serve as appropriate portals.  I could use the Empire State Building to go to 1931.  The Brooklyn Bridge could take me to 1883.  Certain historic houses could get me as far back as the 1650s and 1660s.  You get the idea.

My favorite part of the story is when the protagonist, Si Morley, arrives in 1882.  He boards a Fifth Avenue coach and looks at another passenger:

…I sat watching him from the corner of my eye, tense, excited, almost frightened at my first really close look at a living human being of the year 1882….This was no motionless brown-and-white face in an ancient photograph….There he sat, a living breathing man with those memories in his head.

I still remember when I first read these lines.  I had goosebumps.  Because I get this.  I so get this.  It’s not about witnessing a historic event or meeting a famous historical figure.  It’s about being a part of that time, even briefly.  Like when you first visit another country:  “Look!  Actual Italians/Indians/Australians/Peruvians!  And this stuff looks just like in the photos!  Hey, they really talk like that!”  Except you would be visiting, say, 1862:  “Hey, Lincoln is president and right now they’re all living through everything I’ve read about!!”  It would blow my mind to see and interact with 19th-century people as live, Technicolor humans and not as static black and white relics.  To walk through streets with the old buildings when they were brand new.  And before they were torn down.

If you’ve read this or this, you know I’ve had some strange experiences with people who are no longer with us in corporeal form.  I’ve freaked out a few of you (you know who you are) by being able to sense things without your telling me.  So I wasn’t surprised when something else peculiar happened a few months ago…

I was on a train in New Jersey.  We were about to stop in Newark—the tracks go over the Passaic River and into the station.  I was looking out the window as the train passed over the railroad bridge. For a second or so, I saw the scene not as it is now, but as it might have looked in the 1830s or 1840s.  It was fleeting but I remember it vividly.  Lots of trees, low small buildings and houses, and boats.  What I recall most distinctly is a mill with a waterwheel near the bridge.  When I got home I looked for lithographs or maps of the area during that time, but no dice.  If I did a thorough archival search I might find some but it doesn’t seem worth the effort.  Maybe I imagined the whole thing, maybe I didn’t.  I’ll probably never know.

All I know is, I hope it happens again and that I’ll be able to verify it.  I would love nothing more than to peek through one of those mysterious windows of time again.  Until then, maybe I’ll entertain myself by thinking of going to Flushing Meadows Park to see the 1939 World’s Fair.

As many of you know, I’ve heard dead people.  I’ve heard them here, here, and also here.

So now I’d like to tell you about some of the peculiar occurrences in the Weebles house that didn’t involve hearing the voices of disembodied people.  These have all involved electronic devices of some sort.

It started last summer.  One day I came home from running errands and went into the bedroom.  I turned on the light but it didn’t go on.  I figured the bulb had burned out so I put in a new bulb.  Still, no light.  WTF?  It had worked fine that morning.

I figured maybe there was a problem with the outlet.  I went to unplug the lamp so I could try it in another outlet, but that’s when I saw that the lamp was already unplugged.  It hadn’t been unplugged that morning.  And it’s not as if the cats could have knocked it out; the plug fit too snugly in the socket for that.  Whatever, I plugged the lamp back in and that was that.

Until the next day.  The television was on and I was puttering around the house.  I had my back turned to the television when I heard it turn off and then back on again.  I was nowhere near the remote control, nor were the cats.  And there was no evidence that the cable box had reset itself like it sometimes does.

Things were calm for several weeks after that.  Then one night we were sitting in the living room and our Roomba suddenly turned on.  Again, no cats nearby.  Mr. Weebles checked it out and everything seemed to be fine.  No obvious reason it should have switched on.

A few weeks later, I was in bed reading before going to sleep.  When I went to the kitchen to get a glass of water, I saw that the bathroom light was on.  I know for a fact that the bathroom light was off when we went to bed that night.  And once again, it wasn’t something one of the cats could have done.

Other electronic oddities: Once, while I was watching television, the channel changed by itself.  Nobody was near the remote.  And twice, random apps on my phone mysteriously started up while the phone was sitting on the table next to me.

But my favorite was when I found my laptop and mouse neatly set up on the coffee table one morning.  I had left everything in disarray the night before because I was really tired—I just plopped the laptop, mouse, and all the cords on the table in a pile and went to bed.

These events occurred over the span of a few months.  And just as abruptly as they started, they stopped.  We haven’t had any further activity since last fall.

To this day I have no idea what it was all about.  I never felt a strange presence in the house during those times, never had the feeling someone was there.  I was more amused than creeped out by these strange happenings, but Mr. Weebles wasn’t quite so amused.  He’s glad things are back to normal, but I have to admit that I kind of miss it.

Hi

Madame Weebles —  July 25, 2012 — 94 Comments

I couldn’t think of a clever blog title.  So I’m just saying hi.

It feels sort of weird not writing about ghosts today after all those posts.  Although I shouldn’t be using that term, as it’s not really PC;  Mr. Weebles rightly pointed out that they’re not ghosts, they’re Paranormal Americans.  At least, the ones I’ve met so far have been American.  In the future I’d like to have a more diverse group of paranormal friends.  I’ll be curious to find out whether they keep their accents in the hereafter.  I hope so.

Some people have asked if I’ve had other strange experiences like the ones I wrote about.  Yup, I have.  Not as dramatic as those three stories, but strange nonetheless.  They started happening after I turned 40 and increased after I started training to become a reiki practitioner.

Once, when I was doing research on my favorite Paranormal American, Mr. Cornelius, I picked up a handwritten letter (written by someone else) and I got a distinct, overwhelming sense of the personality of the letter writer (for the record, he felt like a pompous, annoying prig).  I also found that I could hold someone’s keys and get a sense of them by “listening” to the energy from the keys.  Stuff like that.  I can tell how people are feeling by “reading” them, or sometimes even without reading them—sometimes I just pick up a vibe out of nowhere.  I know, it sounds kind of ridiculous.  I can’t explain it, and I have no idea how or why it started happening.  And it’s kind of hit or miss; sometimes I get stuff, sometimes I get bupkes.

And no, I can’t predict winning lottery numbers.  Don’t think I haven’t tried.

I’ve saved the spookiest tale for last.  This one is straight-up creepy.  I’m not kidding.  The experience gave me the serious heebie-jeebies.

So let’s make sure we have all of our supplies: Marshmallows, marshmallow toasting sticks, Hershey bars, graham crackers, campfire, and flashlights to shine under our chins to make scary faces at each other.  Are we all set?  Excellent.This one happened about 15 years ago.  I was visiting the battlefields in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  Gettysburg was the site of the bloodiest battle of the American Civil War: more than 50,000 casualties (Union and Confederate combined) in just three days.

If you’ve ever been to Gettysburg, you know what a weird place it is.  For those of you who have never visited, it’s a bizarre experience.  The town is charming and the battlefields are beautiful land now.  But even on the sunniest spring day, a sad pall hangs over the area.  It’s palpable.  Even if you had no idea where you were, you’d still know something terrible happened there.

I was with some friends for a ghost-hunting weekend.  (Don’t mock, we were doing this stuff way before Ghost Hunters et al ruined it.)  We stopped at an area called Cemetery Ridge, which was reputed to have a lot of unexplained activity.

At this location, on the evening of July 2, 1863, the 1st Minnesota Regiment was ordered to defend a U.S. Army artillery battery and hold off the advancing Confederates until reinforcements could arrive.  The trouble was, there were only 262 Minnesotans on Cemetery Ridge that night, and they faced three Alabama regiments numbering about 11,000 men.  In what was essentially a suicide mission, the 1st Minnesota charged.  The fight lasted less than 15 minutes but it stalled the Confederates long enough for additional Union forces to arrive and hold the line.  The Minnesotans suffered 215 casualties, including 40 dead.

You can see why such a place might be haunted.

We were in a wooded area with a clearing.  One of my friends wanted to see if he could get anything on tape.  So he took out a brand-new tape cassette (remember those?), removed the cellophane, and put the cassette in the recorder.  He turned the recorder on and left it running on a large rock.  We wandered around in the trees for a while and met back at the area near the rock.  We talked about how eerie the place was—it was almost dark and the winds were whipping everything around.  It was unsettling.  One of my friends even joked, “I wonder how many ghost soldiers are here with us right now.”  After hanging around for about 10 more minutes, we decided to call it a night.

Back in the car, we played the tape.  Nothing interesting.  A lot of ambient noise—wind, people walking around, the snapping of twigs.  Every so often it would pick up one of us talking, but that was about it.

When we got to the part where we were standing near the tape recorder, we heard our friend’s comment: “I wonder how many ghosts soldiers are here with us right now.”

About five seconds later on the tape, a hoarse, sad-sounding male voice said, “So many.”  Just those two words.  They were so distinct that it sounded as if the man had been talking directly into the microphone.

We all looked at each other.  Everyone had that WTF expression.  We must have played that section of the tape at least ten times.  There was no mistaking the voice or what it said.

Nobody else had been with us in that clearing.  No one had been close enough to speak into the recorder like that.  Not to mention the fact that the voice on the tape didn’t match any of ours.

The rest of the tape didn’t have anything interesting on it.  We never did figure out where the voice came from.  I can only assume it was one of the men from Minnesota letting us know that he—and a lot of his comrades—were still there…

You’re all still here!  Joy!

Today’s story is a little less straightforward than the last one, but definitely not less strange. It happened about a year ago.

As many of you know, I’ve been doing research for a biographical piece on my favorite Hot Dead Guy, Robert Cornelius.

Although he’s dreamy and delightful, he hasn’t made things easy for me because he didn’t leave any papers behind.  So I’ve had to cast a pretty wide net to find correspondence from him or pertaining to him.

After a while I hit a wall.  I had exhausted all of the possibilities I could think of.  One afternoon I was particularly frustrated and I sat at my desk, stewing.

All of a sudden I got an idea about where to look next.  And then another idea.  That happens sometimes.  If you give your mind time to work on a problem, it can come up with solutions more easily.  So that’s what I assumed it was.

But I became aware of an odd sensation around me.  It felt like static, but not really.  I heard a faint buzzing noise, but the room was completely quiet.  I got the impression of a hazy, bluish veil around me, but nothing was visible.  And I couldn’t help feeling that someone was in the room with me.

After another idea popped into my head from seemingly nowhere, I wondered, “What if these ideas aren’t coming from me?  What if they’ve been given to me by whoever or whatever is here?”  But that would be nuts.  That doesn’t happen except in movies and stuff.  My brain was obviously just playing tricks on me.

So I decided to debunk my own theory.  I said, “Okay, if there’s someone here, tell me something that I don’t know, but that I can easily verify.”  So there.  My brain, though crafty and wily, wouldn’t be able to fake that.  I sat quietly for a few minutes, waiting.  Nothing.  See?  I knew it.  I let my imagination get the best of me, that’s all.

But then I heard a male voice, very clearly, in my head:  There’s a church on the corner of 17th and Spruce.

This is in reference to Philadelphia, by the way.  Robert Cornelius lived there his whole life, so I’ve traveled to Philly many times to do research.  I had never been on Spruce Street. 17th Street, on the other hand, was well-known to me; it’s dotted with hotels and I’ve stayed there many times.

Aha!  I call bullshit on you, brain. 17th Street was the first street that occurred to you since I’ve been there so often.  And Spruce Street is just the first “tree” street you happened to think of (a lot of cross streets in Center City are named after trees).  But that was stupid, because I have no idea what’s on Spruce, therefore neither do you.  This will be an easy one to disprove.  You’re busted, brain, busted!  Hahahahahahahahahahaha!!!

So I pulled up Philadelphia on Google Maps and looked to see what was at that intersection.

Yeah.  This is the Tenth Presbyterian Church, on the southwest corner of 17th and Spruce.  It’s been there since 1855.

My stomach lurched as I stared at the street view photo on Google Maps.  It could have been a wild guess that happened to be correct against all odds.  But somehow I didn’t think so.

My friends, I can absolutely guarantee that I did not have this information before this incident.  I had never been at or near this intersection.  I didn’t know about this church.  Robert Cornelius was a Presbyterian but he wasn’t a member of the Tenth Presbyterian; his church was much further uptown.

Meanwhile  I still had the sensation of not being alone—the static, the buzzing, and the gauzy veil were all still there—but the energy had shifted somewhat.  Now it felt like whoever was in the room was gloating.  It had a “See? Told ya so” kind of vibe.

The energy gradually dissipated and I felt like I was by myself again.  And that was it.

I’ve had a few other visits from this same mystery guest since then, but those have felt more like someone dropping in to say, “Hey, how’s it going?” and then leaving.  Believe me when I tell you that this has all been Deeply Weird.

So who’s my mystery guest?  Is it Robert Cornelius saying hello to his #1 fan?  Possibly.  Or maybe it’s someone else who decided to lend a helping hand.  I don’t think I’ll ever know for sure.  All I know is that he’s friendly, helpful, and kind of a smartass.

So that’s my story for Part II.  I’m saving the eeriest story for Part III………

(This will most likely be the post that causes my follower count to plummet…)

Before I continue, thank you all for making me feel better on Monday.  Fortunately it was only a 24-hour Meh so now I’m back to my old self.  I self-medicated with the best possible over-the-counter treatment: Haagen-Dazs.  And peaches.  All is well.Now for the spooky stuff.  I’m going to preface this by saying that although I love real-life ghost stories, I regard most of them with a huge dose of skepticism—especially the stories on television.  And I think Ghost Hunters and all the other shows in that genre are completely full of shit.

But over the years I’ve met many sane, reliable people who have stories they can’t explain.  And now I have a few of my own.

The first incident happened 2 years ago when we adopted our third Weeblette.  She needed a new home because her owner had died.  I made arrangements with a neighbor of the woman who died so that we could pick up our new kitty.  During my phone conversations with the neighbor I noticed that she never mentioned the deceased woman by name; she always called her “the owner.”  I thought that was peculiar.  Why not just use her name?

We drove to the house of the deceased woman, where her sister and the neighbor were meeting us.  Again, they kept referring to “the cat’s owner.”  Didn’t this woman have a name??

The poor, scared little cat was hiding in the woman’s bedroom.  So we went in there to try to calm her down and get her in the carrier.

While Mr. Weebles took the bed apart to get to where kitty had taken refuge, I looked around the room.  It hadn’t been packed up yet.  It looked like “the owner” still lived there.  I felt bad that we were in her bedroom like that.  And I wondered what her name was.

Just then I heard a female voice in my head—not my own voice but a very different voice, as clear as a bell, say “Janice.”

Janice?  Nah, that doesn’t make any sense, I thought.  That’s my brain pulling a name out of the ether and playing games with me.

Finally, Mr. Weebles wrestled our new Weeblette into the carrier and we got ready to leave.  The sister was crying.  As she said goodbye to the kitty she said, “Janice would be so happy to know her cat is getting a nice new home.”

Janice.  I felt all the blood rush out of my head.

They hadn’t said her name before then.  Not once.  I kept going back to all the conversations—maybe they had mentioned it and I had just forgotten.  But no, they hadn’t.  I’m sure of it.

I like to think that Janice knew we’d be good kitty parents and chose us to take care of her girl. And I’m happy she introduced herself to me.

If you’re still with me, stay tuned for Part II . . .