Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Got Ghosts? I sure do!

Got Ghosts?
     I sure do!

Little did I know when I bought my 1830 farmhouse (originally built by Quakers) that I was acquiring a few spooks as well.

Luckily for me, I love everything magical—but moving into this farmhouse brought me my first direct encounter with a ghostly presence. Because of the age of the home, I was naturally curious about its long history with people both living and dead, so I asked the previous owner if she'd ever experienced paranormal activity. She immediately fell quiet for a moment, shuffled her feet, and finally fessed up. "Only once in fifteen years," she replied, "when my niece came to visit and slept in the guest room. At night we heard her wake up screaming, saying there was a Quaker man standing over her bed with a puzzled look in his eyes as if to say, 'And YOU are?' He wasn't threatening at all—just a bit perplexed. We've never had another incident."

Much relieved, I thought to myself "Allrighty, we're good then! Only once is a pretty good track record—I doubt I'll ever experience anything." Until about six months later when I was in my bed about to go to sleep, I felt a presence enter my room. It was as though the air had become as thick as jello—not stuffy, more like heavy—and then I heard a very clear man's voice say aloud, "NOW... YOU FINALLY HEAR ME." The voice was smug—vindicated even—and it shocked my socks off. How did I react? The same way I would with any unwanted person, living or in spirit, who appears to be negatively seeking my attention: I IGNORED HIM. Yes, it was hard, because I was truly frightened, but I played possum by closing my eyes and rolling over to pretend I was asleep.

Did my tactic work? Well, sort of. I never heard the direct voice again, but fairly soon after I became acquainted with the "Bewitching Hour" phenomenon. I've heard it referred to as the "Angel Hour" & "Devil Hour" as well—apparently 3 am is that dark, early morning time when spirits of all kinds are supposed to be the most active (ghosts, angels & demons, etc.). Some say it's because Christ "gave up the ghost" on the cross at that hour. But honestly, I think it's because most of us are deep in the throes of REM sleep and are more "receptive" to paranormal activity with our "logical" minds at rest. Whatever the case, suddenly I found myself being startled awake at 3 am each night for about two weeks due to poltergeist activity. You know, the alarm going off loudly at 3 am (that I had set for 7!), or lights inexplicably flashing on and off, and most eerie of all, the television abruptly booming at full volume on a channel I'd never watched before! Like the auditory incident, at first I just rolled my eyes, turned off the switches, and tried to ignore the whole thing (isn't that best way to get rid of annoying people?). But the television moment truly unnerved me. So this time, I walked downstairs and stared at the program that was featured to see if I could discern any clues as to what this spook wanted.

What I saw I'll never forget: it was a rare documentary on the bombing of Essen, Germany during WWII—the very same city my father had decimated as a Squadron Leader in the Army Air Corps in that war. Very few people study up on Essen (it doesn't receive the attention of the fire bombing of Dresden in Germany or Kristallnacht in Austria), and that moment shook me to the core. My father had passed away recently, but before he died, I'd mustered the courage to ask him to tell me the truth about that war—all of those things he'd kept bottled up inside for more than fifty years because of the tragedy and horror. And he did talk, right inside my old farmhouse—he finally voiced the terrible trials he'd lived through, and I felt as though a weight had been finally lifted from his shoulders.

Was it the spirit of my father who had turned on the television to perhaps thank me or let me know he was near? Or was it another phantom who'd heard our conversation and simply wanted to acknowledge the value of that cathartic discussion? I'll never really know. All I could do in that moment was say aloud to the spirits in my house: "Thank you. I'm hearing and receiving this message, and I'm grateful." Oddly enough, after that night I never experienced such disturbing poltergeist activity again.

So what I've learned in my encounter with the supernatural is that maybe restless spirits are really no different than the rest of us. We all want to be acknowledged—to simply be heard—and often times that's all that's required to put our hearts at ease and give us peace. And even though I'm glad I'm not losing sleep at 3 am anymore, a part of me feels honored that it happened, that the spirits perhaps saw me as a compassionate conduit before they gained release and went on their way. And of course, there's always that curious part of me who loves magical moments and secretly wishes it just might happen again—only during more reasonable daylight hours next time! ; )

If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy my critically acclaimed novel Twixt, a magical romance that takes place over Halloween (available on Kindle & in paperback).



  1. Thanks, Melissa--still makes me shiver sometimes! : )

  2. I am covered head to toe in goosebumps, and appropriately motivated to read Twixt...I have it on my Kindle, I promise!...NEXT, I'm reading it NEXT! :-)

  3. Aw, thank you Jessica! But now that I've voiced what really happened, I wonder if it will give the spooks confidence to come around again? If they do, I'll be sure to write Part 2 ; )

  4. I just got chills reading about the TV! This would definitely give my skepticism a run for its money. :) And wow, your house is beautiful!

    1. Thank you, Jennette! Yep, the TV thing rattled me, to say the least!

  5. wonderful story. There is always something cool about having your own ghost, at least I always thought so. Here is my family's ghost story

    My grandmother had bought the house as a wedding gift for my parents. A real estate transaction completed apparently without inspection, (the house was bought for its location, near to my grandmothers boarding house). My mother was the first one to enter the house. A Baltimore raised debutante with a degree in French literature, one can only imagine her thoughts as she steps across the threshold of her new home to encounter rooms strung with crosses and ropes of garlic.
    The first order of business for every new bride is redecorating the new home, My mother gathered up all the crosses and garlic and tossed them out with the trash. The last bag carted out she returns to the house and a cold wind rushes though the house and the chandeliers in every room begin swinging. (The chandeliers were relics from the houses gas light days, converted to electric use. They were bloated metal spiders hanging from the middle of the ceiling in every room.) The crosses, the garlic the weird wind and ceilings of dancing spiders well, it’s no wonder my mother waited out on the porch for my father to get home .
    What I always wondered about was, why didn't they put the crosses back and why was there never any garlic in the house?
    Amelia was the name of a woman who had lived and died in the house and as it sounded a goodish name for a ghost it stuck. Amelia was an active ghost. Even people who just slept over for a night or two left with an Amelia story to tell. Voices whispering in the dark, footsteps on the stairs, the invisible yet heard rocking chair, a chandelier suddenly swinging in unseen wind.
    Amelia solidified her place as our own personal mythic figure the night Mr. Peeve did a naughty thing.
    Mr. and Mrs. Peeve rented an apartment upstairs. Mrs. Peeve was a large woman, (women in those days weren't fat, they had thyroid problems). She collected elephants. She had Jade elephants, ivory elephants, wood elephants, she had a huge terrarium fully tricked out as a miniature elephant habitat, with little trees little bridges little houses and lakes, and elephants elephants everywhere. She had an elephant carved out of a grain of rice, she kept it in a test tube and you had to look really close.
    Mr. Peeve was a small thin man who looked like a particularly unsuccessful used car salesman. Which apparently wasn't the dating impediment you would think it would be. Mr. Peeve came home late one night. He showered he shaved he brushed his teeth then crawled into bed. Mrs. Peeve awoke to a most dreadful sight. Two pair of ghostly hands clutching at Mr. Peeves throat. Mr. Peeve thrashing around in eye bulging terror choking for stolen breath. Mrs. Peeve turned on the lights and the ghostly hands disappeared and Mr. Peeve could breath again.
    Mr. Peeve moved out the next day never to return. Mrs. Peeve stayed on and never had a lick of trouble from Amelia.
    There was dinner table discussion over the two pair of hands Mr. and Mrs. Peeve had seen. Were there possibly two ghosts? Or was Amelia dating?

  6. That's a fascinating story!! Have you published it anywhere? You really should--I thought it was amazing. And believe me, just seeing the crosses & garlic everywhere would have spooked me to no end!

  7. Welcome to the blogging world Diane! I'll look forward to your posts. I loved your book, Twixt, and your recent post on Sophie Moss's blog. I've had several incidents of waking up at 3 or so to a very strong smell of bacon cooking. Every time it happens, I charge down the stairs to who might be cooking at that hour but always run into an empty kitchen. Maybe one of these Halloween's my mystery chef will appear.

  8. Thank you, Chris! And so fascinating about smelling bacon in the house at 3 am--is your house old? My brother in law once SAW the man who had died in his house happily sitting in a recliner (that would really spook me!). His wife finally told the ghost, "Your people aren't here any more--they've moved on. So you can go to the light now." And the ghost did! I'm not saying you should do this, though--perhaps you might say "I'll take French toast with that bacon and a side of hash browns." Who knows what my happen? ; )

  9. This is such an amazing story. It gives me chills. I've never seen a ghost before, but I have felt their presence--really more like a malevolent feeling all around me in a certain room in a very old house. So I can't say I've ever felt a nice ghost. I'm not sure how that would feel. And I've never experienced anything crazy like TV's turning on or lights flickering. But that connection to your grandfather is unbelievable. What a story. Thank you for sharing it.

  10. Creepy story, Diane! I saw a ghost once. It was while we were living at Ft. Leavenworth. It completely freaked me out. It was a woman (from way back when they were settling Kansas) looking for her children that were lost in a blizzard. She died while trying to find them. The kids were fine and she's apparently still searching. She just glided across the ground. I also see dark shadows of things that move past me out the corner of my eye. I've never heard a spirit though.

  11. Wow, what a heartbreaking story about the mother still looking for her children! That's just so sad. I've never seen an unhappy ghost like that, but a friend of mine did & she told it to go to the light to find its family who have moved on—and it worked! I thought it was heartening that she could point the spirit to comfort & a better place : )