Tag Archives: ghosts

THE FASHIONABLE GHOST

This is the time of year of ghosts, spooks, specters. Americans love a good ghost story, don’t we? I’ve always thought so. This week, I found a few statistics that surprised me. A Harris Poll (2013) found 43% of us believe in ghosts and 20% (according to the Pew Research Center) report an encounter with a ghost or presence. All I can say is really? That all? Actually, I suppose the number is quite high given the prevailing material paradigm.

When writing my ghost tale, I stuck to the notion of the white, insubstantial energy form portrayed in many traditional stories. Annika in Timeless Tulips, Dark Diamonds appeared this way but also took solid shape when Lydia time traveled back to the 17th century. My portrayal of a ghost had both wispy and life-like appearances. Not unlike stories that have come down to us from ghost lore. While many spirits have appeared in flimsy diaphanous, white apparel—some haven’t. Some have donned colorful clothing they’d be comfortable wearing in daily life. Specters fitted out in armor, monk’s robes, or silken gowns are common enough. Some of these appear solid and fully fleshed out. Real, in fact. There are reports of people shaking hands or trying to, with some of these ghosts. Naked ghosts are rarely reported, cultural propriety prevails even for those stuck between worlds.

As we approach Halloween and the veil thins, it’s good to keep an open mind. I’ve had a few experiences that leave me highly suspicious of our understanding of reality. One of those instances is highlighted in the dedication of Timeless Tulips, the others I’ll save for another occasion.

I remind everyone of my own ghost tale offering, Timeless Tulips, Dark Diamonds. The e-book has been discounted from $4.99 to $2.99 for all of October. The print copy is also available.  

Available on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2WnlqZX

E- book available: https://amzn.to/2l7LhHP

TIMELESS TULIPS, DARK DIAMONDS- A GHOST STORY

When fourteen-year-old Lydia travels to Amsterdam with her parents, the last thing she expects is the weird incidents that plague her stay. Curtains flutter mysteriously, and unexplained shadows move through the kitchen unnerving her. But Lydia is more concerned with the potential move to upstate New York. She dismisses the odd occurrences blaming them on jet lag and the various symptoms of her migraine disease.

When Lydia’s father lands a new job and the family moves to an area first settled by the Dutch, the bizarre happenings continue. Suffering from migraines has never been easy, but now Lydia must face what she may have inadvertently brought home with her. A vengeful ghost!

Available on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2WnlqZX

E- book available: https://amzn.to/2l7LhHP

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A CHILL IN AMSTERDAM

The fascinating history of the rise and fall in the speculative tulip market during the seventeenth century provided the backdrop for my book, Timeless Tulips, Dark Diamonds. The tale developed through daughter Annika’s eyes who grew up in a typical Dutch merchant class family. Annika lived during the Dutch Golden Age, a time of wealth, power, and opportunity. Even hundreds of years later, she would recognize Amsterdam’s canals, grand houses, and the Western Church. And perhaps, she might smile at the stories of others like herself who haunt the city.     

THE SPINHUIS (Spinning House)-Today this site is a fashionable hotel but back in 1597, convicted women were held here and forced to sew clothes. In one famous tale, a priest fell in love with a young girl jailed in the facility and when he was denied access to her, he committed suicide. The ghost of the priest is said to haunt one of the hotel rooms and hotel staff refuse to enter the room.

BLACK MATTHEW– In Amsterdam, there is a tale dating back to the thirteenth century of a sinister character called Black Matthew. This rogue and magician apparently made a pact with the devil. Ever since, he has haunted the streets threating locals and tourists alike. Beware being out alone on the streets at night. No area in the entire city is outside his evil reach!

SPOOKSTEEG (Ghost Alley)- This story involves the notorious ghost of Helene who murdered her sister to marry a sailor who had favored her sister. On her deathbed, Helene confessed to the husband who cursed her for the act. Helene’s ghost has been seen in dark corners of this part of the city, moaning and screaming.     

Should you like to explore more ghostly tales, I invite you to escape into the seventeenth century to visit Annika and see how she meets a modern-day American teenager named Lydia. Let the haunting begin! (Timeless Tulips, Dark Diamonds)

I remind everyone of my own ghost tale offering. The e-book has been discounted from $4.99 to $2.99 for all of October. The print copy is also available.  

Available on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2WnlqZX

E- book available: https://amzn.to/2l7LhHP

TIMELESS TULIPS, DARK DIAMONDS- A GHOST STORY

When fourteen-year-old Lydia travels to Amsterdam with her parents, the last thing she expects is the weird incidents that plague her stay. Curtains flutter mysteriously, and unexplained shadows move through the kitchen unnerving her. But Lydia is more concerned with the potential move to upstate New York. She dismisses the odd occurrences blaming them on jet lag and the various symptoms of her migraine disease.

When Lydia’s father lands a new job and the family moves to an area first settled by the Dutch, the bizarre happenings continue. Suffering from migraines has never been easy, but now Lydia must face what she may have inadvertently brought home with her. A vengeful ghost!

Available on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2WnlqZX

E- book available: https://amzn.to/2l7LhHP

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HALLOWEEN- The Dark Rises

It’s the time of year when we allow the dark to approach. Halloween offers the opportunity to explore everything scary and otherwise forbidden. A necessary purge. I grew up in Upstate New York where in fall, the trees are turned into a mosaic of autumn colors and the air is ripe with the decay of leaves. Fires and furnaces keep out the chill. But not all of it. I’m my father’s fourth child. Born after his first wife shot herself in front of their three, small children. That shiver runs still.

The region of my birth is steeped in ghostly tales of early Dutch settlers, Revolutionary soldiers, and murders most foul. Washington Irving made his home just down the road and gifted us the Headless Horseman and the Catskill Witch. New York is home to many ghosts and many haunted places. A quick Google search will provide you with many articles of places to visit to make your Halloween spooky fun.

Washington Irving

Here are two places connected with my haunts (pun intended!!). The first is near where I grew up. The second dates to my college days.

Leeds, NY: Salisbury Manor- Known for its colonial architecture, this 1730s farmhouse was the scene of a brutal murder back in 1755. William Salisbury killed a servant girl by dragging her behind a horse when she attempted to flee his abusive treatment. Convicted of murder, Salisbury escaped justice by bribing the judge to suspend sentence until he turned 99. Anna’s ghost has been seen outside the manor. So has a large phantom horse. Screams and the thunder of hooves echo down the lane.  

Salisbury Manor (Photo: Robert Drake)

Loudonville, NY: Loudon Cottage- Clara Harris’ dress was stained by the blood of President Abraham Lincoln that terrible night in Ford’s Theatre. The grisly dress was stored in a closet in this cottage. One day, Clara saw Lincoln’s ghost in a rocking chair staring at the closet door. In 1883, Clara was murdered by her own husband, Henry Rathbone, who had tried to stop John Wilkes Booth after shooting Lincoln. There is an account by one historian of an instance when in 1900, President Lincoln in ghost form arrived to counsel Governor Gardiner of Massachusetts at the cottage. (The Town of Colonie: A Pictorial History, by Jean Olton)

Clara Harris

Don’t forget to check out my own ghost tale centered on the New York’s Dutch heritage. The e-book has been discounted from $4.99 to $2.99 for all of October. The print copy is also available.  

Available on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2WnlqZX

E- book available: https://amzn.to/2l7LhHP

TIMELESS TULIPS, DARK DIAMONDS- A GHOST STORY

When fourteen-year-old Lydia travels to Amsterdam with her parents, the last thing she expects is the weird incidents that plague her stay. Curtains flutter mysteriously, and unexplained shadows move through the kitchen unnerving her. But Lydia is more concerned with the potential move to upstate New York. She dismisses the odd occurrences blaming them on jet lag and the various symptoms of her migraine disease. When Lydia’s father lands a new job and the family moves to an area first settled by the Dutch, the bizarre happenings continue. Suffering from migraines has never been easy, but now Lydia must face what she may have inadvertently brought home with her. A vengeful ghost.

Available on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2WnlqZX

E- book available: https://amzn.to/2l7LhHP

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THE GHOST STORY

IN LITERATURE

This time of year as the days grow short and the air crisp, Halloween lurks just around the corner, my thoughts turn to those creepy tales told before the fire. Ghosts figure in many of them and the traditional ghost story has a long history. Every culture produced oral and/or written stories of ghosts.

Among the earliest written examples, Homer’s Odyssey depicts a journey into the underworld where the hero finds ghosts of the dead. A haunted house was portrayed by Plautus, the Roman playwright in his work entitled, Mostellaria. The ghost bound in chains was perhaps first described by Pliny the Younger in another haunted place tale. The Roman writer, Seneca was also fond of using ghosts in his tragedies. These classical examples would start to set the stage for the development of ghost stories in our own culture and day.

In celebration of the deep roots of this tradition, I remind everyone of my own ghost tale offering. The e-book has been discounted from $4.99 to $2.99 for all of October. The print copy is also available.  

Available on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2WnlqZX

E- book available: https://amzn.to/2l7LhHP

TIMELESS TULIPS, DARK DIAMONDS- A GHOST STORY

When fourteen-year-old Lydia travels to Amsterdam with her parents, the last thing she expects is the weird incidents that plague her stay. Curtains flutter mysteriously, and unexplained shadows move through the kitchen unnerving her. But Lydia is more concerned with the potential move to upstate New York. She dismisses the odd occurrences blaming them on jet lag and the various symptoms of her migraine disease. When Lydia’s father lands a new job and the family moves to an area first settled by the Dutch, the bizarre happenings continue. Suffering from migraines has never been easy, but now Lydia must face what she may have inadvertently brought home with her. A vengeful ghost.

E-book: sale $2.99 https://amzn.to/2l7LhHP

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More Than a Ghost Story

Author Maighread MacKay talks about her novel, Stone Cottage.

M. MacKay

I just finished Maighread MacKay’s fabulous novel, Stone Cottage. I believe it falls in the category of Visionary Fiction. It is a classic ghost story, but so much more. Tragedy rocks Rebecca Wainwright’s world. Searching for a private sanctuary she finds a stone cottage that draws her back to another time. The novel explores how we construct our reality, wounding and potential healing, and how our life connections transcend time and place. I’m happy Maighread agreed to discuss her work.

Stone Cottage

I’m interested in your writing process for Stone Cottage. Did you construct the modern story with Rebecca first or did you first create Annie’s (the ghost) story?

I am a “pantser” more than a “plotter”, so I  had the main characters in my mind and worked on them simultaneously. The first draft of the story was done in three sections: Rebecca’s Story, Annie’s Story and Together. When I showed it to my editor, she felt that the story really started in the third section and advised that I restructure the novel starting with where Rebecca finds Stone Cottage and meets Annie and then integrating the back story. Whew. Major rewrite, but it did work better.

What sort of research did you do for the novel? I suspect your own spirituality and/or experience came into play for the parts of the book that examine life after death. Can you share some background on this?

The research was quite extensive. Since Annie’s story is set in Whitby (Canada) and the surrounding area in the mid 1800’s, I visited our local Pioneer Village which is set in the time period. I was able to see the housing setup, clothing and utensils used at the time. The Director was kind enough to let me spend time viewing their records and correspondence from the time period. I also visited the Archives of the main library and reviewed letters, newspaper articles, family records and other important documents of the area. I also searched online for important information such as when the railroad was extended from Toronto to Whitby, and what road was used to transport goods from Port Perry to the harbor. It was fascinating. For the spiritual side, yes, a lot of the experiences of my life’s search came into play, such as the clearing of the land or house for negative energy. I also spoke with a Medium, who sees and smells ghosts and I had a past life regression session specifically for the book so that I would get the tone for that scene correctly.

Do you feel there’s a growing demand for books (like yours) that bring up questions about the nature of reality and move it more into the mainstream?

Yes. All life is energy and while at this time on our planet there is a great deal of negative energy, there is also an abundance of positive energy and new discoveries.  Research in the areas of quantum physics, parallel universes, the changes in water when spoken to in a harsh or loving manner, how we are literally all connected – these and more are opening people’s eyes to the wondrous lives we live and new and exciting ways to view our existence on this planet. Even schools recognizing the benefits of meditation and incorporating it into the curriculum is moving spirituality into the mainstream. This would never have happened in my childhood. It’s very exciting. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

orchid

Photo: US Fish & Wildlife Service SE region

What would you like readers to take away from experiencing Stone Cottage?

Whether or not they agree or disagree with the principles in the story, I hope they like it.  I do hope, though, that it will make the readers think, “Huh, never thought of life like that.” What I have written is not a definitive look at what life is all about, but rather, a concept that might or could happen. I hope it will help readers to reassess their paradigm of life and death, and look at other possibilities that could be at play. In my own experience, a lot of what I was taught was handed down from generation to generation and I just accepted it as truth. Perhaps it is truth for another, and that’s perfectly fine, but I needed to explore my life’s purpose from different angles to find out what my own truth was and what sat right with me. The whole concept of God, existence, birth, life, death and beyond is so much bigger and more than we’ve been taught and exploring new ideas about them is fascinating to me.

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on a mystery with the working title of “Murder at Mother’s”. It is from the point of view of the deceased’s ghost (you can tell I like ghost stories.).  Again, I am at the research stage and have several chapters done, but there is still quite away to go. It will have a spiritual component, but again I want the readers to enjoy the story and have that satisfying feeling you get at the end of a good read. I am an avid reader as well as a writer and enjoy nothing more than a good book.

Thanks, Maighread for visiting with us today! For more information about her work, please visit her website and social media platforms.

Website: http://mhefferman.ca/author/my-blog/

FB: facebook.com/maighreadmackay

Twitter: @maighreadmackay

Amazon: myBook.to/stonecottage

 

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The Interview

cat&books

Author Paul Hill kindly hosted me on his blog. Follow the link. I spill the beans on my military background, why I write for kids, and share some curious personal paranormal happenings. Comments welcomed! I’m always here (or there) to chat.

https://lightinthedarkparanormal.wordpress.com/2016/05/01/interview-paul-hill-author-ellis-nelson/

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THINGS THAT GO BUMP IN THE NIGHT

Sir Robert Ottley, Royalist

Sir Robert Ottley, Royalist

 Continuing with JH Brennan’s, Whisperings: The Secret History of the Spirit World, I wanted to mention the research conducted by Dr. A.R. G. Owen a few years after Bacheldor’s work. A Canadian research group led by Owen wondered if they could create a ghost.

Working a lot like fictional writers, the group created “Philip” and gave him a whole history. Philip had been a Cavalier officer during the English Civil War and had resided at Diddington Hall (a real place). The story of his life was a fabrication and went like this. Although Philip was married, he had an affair with a gypsy girl which had enraged his wife. The wife managed to have the girl denounced as a witch and burned. So distraught was Philip that he threw himself off the battlements of the hall committing suicide. Poor Philip!

Diddington Hall. Photo: John Evans

Diddington Hall. Photo: John Evans

The group held séances for a year trying to contact the Cavalier with no luck. I think it’s pretty amazing they’d keep at it that long with no result. One of the group eventually read Bacheldor’s work and wondered if a lighthearted atmosphere might make a difference. Giving it the old college try, they sang and told jokes, and oddly enough, after a few more séances, things started to happen. They heard their first rap and the table slid across the floor. Success at last! Encouraged, someone asked if Philip was doing it and was answered back with a loud rap. Having contacted the entity, the group used the one knock for yes and two for no method, to go on to communicate with Philip. Phillip affirmed the basic facts of his fictional life story and went on to reveal additional details the group had not created. The séances also produced various physical phenomena. The most spectacular was recorded for a television program. A table climbed a set of steps joining the panelists being interviewed.

Battle of Marston Moor, 1644

Battle of Marston Moor, 1644

I’ll leave you to ponder the significance of the Philip research. As a fiction author, I’m already concocting plots about how the other side conspires to have a good laugh at Owen and the other sitters.

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Time to Get Your Halloween On

whisperers

JH Brennan’s, Whisperers: The Secret History of the Spirit World explores the powerful undercurrents flowing just beneath the surface of the history we’re taught in school. Whether or not you believe in ghosts, spirits, or faeries, is immaterial (pun intended). The fact that various phenomena have been occurring throughout pre-history right up until today is undeniable. Brennan doesn’t set out to prove the existence of ghosts as disembodied, earth-bound entities but rather he examines the effect they may have played on history.

It’s a fascinating book with lots of little surprises. I read the last two sections first and went back to the older histories later. While I love a good ghost story (and Brennan does share two personal experiences), it was some of the research into the phenomena that caught my attention.

ghost1

There have been many theories put forth to explain all manner of ghostly happenings, but none seem to fully explain everything. Indeed, although we tend to lump everything under the vast heading of the paranormal (or PSI), different phenomena may be different things entirely.

Brennan cites two studies which are fascinating. I’m going to outline the first one here and then take on the second in a follow-on piece.

In 1966, Kenneth Batcheldor (a UK psychologist) published findings in the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research concerning the levitation of tables. Recall from the Victorian era, the spiritualism craze which involved spirit contact and various physical manifestations including rappings, materializations, levitation, etc.

ghost2

In 1964, Batcheldor conducted a series of 200 séances with a small group of sitters. In 120 of the sessions, no phenomena were observed but in 80 of them (40%), physical phenomena was seen. While table movement early in the trials could possibly be dismissed by involuntary muscle movement, by the 11th session, Batcheldor watched as a table rose and floated in the air. At this point he couldn’t rule out fraudulent means so he worked with an engineer to tighten his experimental controls. Once the controls were in place, the phenomena stopped- but over time, the phenomena returned. This was a pattern Batcheldor saw over and over again. Introduced slowly, the sitters appeared to acclimate to the controls and the happenings would start anew. Astonishingly enough, Batcheldor observed not only table movement and levitation, but a whole range of spirit phenomena reported by Victorian spiritualists and witnesses. Amongst the phenomena observed were rapping sounds, breezes, lights, the feeling of being touched, movement of objects including the pulling back of chairs, apports, and holding the table to the floor so it couldn’t be lifted.

levitation

The experiments seem to indicate people have the ability, through unconscious means, to produce a variety of physical phenomena. While it doesn’t definitively rule out spirit action, it does point toward interesting avenues for further research. Batcheldor theorized that early movement of the table due to muscle contractions conditioned sitters to expect phenomena and opened them up to actually producing it. This is something later PSI researchers discovered when examining other kinds of phenomena in a lab setting. Belief makes a difference, and in Batcheldor’s case, seeing the phenomena may have led to its manifestation. So here we learn nothing really about spirits, but it does indicate how little we (or science) know about the mind.

The book on Amazon:http://www.amazon.com/Whisperers-Secret-History-Spirit-World-ebook/dp/B00EOARZGY/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1395336244&sr=1-1&keywords=whisperers+the+secret+history+of+the+spirit+world

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ECHOES OF HERESY

THE WINTER GHOSTS by Kate Mosse

MosseI first came across Kate Mosse’s books because Labyrinth dealt with Cathars. It was one of those so-so reads with a great setup which somehow missed the mark in the end. At the time, I was reading a lot about the Cathars who were the most successful of the groups of medieval heretics. And now a few years later my own Cathar novel is ready to take its turn amongst agents, I was drawn into another Mosse book about the heretics. In a way, it brings me full circle back where I started.

Photo: Nhamblen

Photo: Nhamblen

The Winter Ghosts follows the story of Freddie Watson who, too young to fight in WWI, suffers the loss of his older brother and only friend. On the mend from a mental breakdown, he travels through the French Pyrenees during the winter of 1928. During a mountain storm his car slides off the road. Poor Freddie hits his head and he knows he must go for help or die in the exposed elements. He eventually finds shelter in a small village, but while there an annual celebration opens the doors of time. Freddie meets the mysterious Fabrissa, several famous historical Cathar leaders, and is drawn to uncover dark secrets from the past. The tale is not terribly complicated, but gives Mosse the luxury of being able to delight in atmosphere and setting. Freddie’s loss and Fabrissa’s, although separated by hundreds of years, are the same. This is a perfect read for those long winter nights, tucked safely inside away from haunted mountainsides.

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Filed under Albigensian Crusade, Cathars, Catholic Church, death, Ellis Nelson, France, French history, ghosts, hauntings, heresy, Kate Mosse, literature, Medieval Church, medieval heresy, memorials, paranormal, Pyrenees Mountains, Reading, The Winter Ghosts, time slip, visions, World War I, YA

DO YOU SEE THAT?

   HALLUCINATIONS by Oliver Sacks

b

I used to think hallucinations were associated with a particular kind of person- someone who would stand out in a crowd- someone who would need … medication. But that’s not wholly true. I suffer with migraines and, on occasion, I have aura in the classical fortification pattern (those zigzag lines). These are visual hallucinations. So on another level, I know hallucinations can affect many who wouldn’t stand out in a room or need medication.

Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks is a fascinating book because it reveals the diversity found in the human experience. Forget what you thought “normal” meant. It won’t be useful anymore. Turns out, there are many perfectly happy, functional people who have hallucinations.

Photo: Erik Charlton

Photo: Erik Charlton

So what do we mean by a hallucination? Different definitions have been used throughout history. Even today there is confusion over exactly what a hallucination is, because the boundary between hallucinations, misperception, and illusion aren’t always clear. Sacks begins with the idea that a hallucination lacks external reality. (Keep in mind that for a Buddhist, we slipped into nebulous territory by assuming an external reality independent, discrete, and concrete.) Anyway, seeing or hearing (also tasting, feeling, or smelling) things that are not there will qualify as a hallucination for the book’s purposes. Hallucinations appear real to the one experiencing it because the perceptions are fully working to create that reality and project it into the world. This is different from a memory or the use of the imagination where, in the mind’s eye, both are experienced. Hallucinations are further characterized by being involuntary, uncontrollable, and often possessing color or detail beyond everyday average experience. Brain imaging now allows scientists the ability to monitor electrical and metabolic activity while someone is hallucinating.

Photo: Jens Maus

Photo: Jens Maus

Sacks chose to avoid any analysis of dreams (although he does cover those hallucinations experienced upon falling asleep or waking up ) and the subject of schizophrenia. He does hint at the level of stigma associated with seeing (or hearing) things and how patients will not disclose this is occurring. Oftentimes, people will avoid using the term hallucinating and call it other things. Modern society equates hallucinations with insanity. Sacks cites a 1974 case published in Science where eight healthy pseudo-patients presented themselves at various hospitals complaining about hearing voices. Seven were immediately diagnosed as schizophrenic without any other symptoms. The other one was diagnosed with manic depressive psychosis.

The book takes up the breadth of human experience in which people have hallucinations due to medical conditions and drug use (both prescribed and recreational). There are many first person accounts given in the book. They are all candid and insightful, and open the opportunity to grow our compassion. Some of the medical conditions discussed are Charles Bonnet Syndrome (blindness), deafness, Parkinson’s, migraine, epilepsy, PTSD, and delirium. Various injuries, sensory deprivation, sleep disorders, and grief may also bring on hallucinations. Although the chapters on out-of-body, near-death-experience, and ghosts are interesting, I disagree that science has a full explanation to offer us. From Sacks’ point of view, all mystical experience probably would also count as a hallucination. Again, a limited view.

This is a very informative and enlightening book, sharing what in many cases individuals are afraid to share with the general public and their doctors (for good reason, apparently). It does much to decrease the stigma associated with hallucinations and enlarges our understanding of the range of what it means to have a human body with human perception.

Oliver Sacks: TED TALK- Hallucinations

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Filed under Book Review, Books, brain science, dreams, health, hypnogogic dreams, hypnopompic dreams, schizophrenia