Saturday, July 27, 2013

A Sense of a Place

My sister is going on a road trip and along that journey, she and her husband are taking the time to visit Little Big Horn. I am so jealous.

Little Big Horn resonates with me for three particular reasons: 1) I am deeply interested in Native American history and have read and watched almost everything I can find about this particular battle; 2) I have also read extensively about Custer; 3) the place is reportedly one of the most haunted battlefields in the U.S.

I am drawn to Little Big Horn, but there is a teeny, tiny little part of me that is also terrified at the idea of going there. So I told my sister, "Take pictures." I want to see what turns up.

While I was lying in the bed in the dark, thinking about my request to my traveling sibling, I began to wonder about particular places in this world. Are there sites that have become so infused with a battle or a tragedy or a disaster of some kind that they are forever changed? I believe there are sacred places on this planet. I have been to areas where the atmosphere is so energizing or so warm and friendly or so very, very peaceful, that the sense of that permeated me to the bone. So  much so that I don't even need to see pictures, I can go there in my head and relive that wonderful burst of feeling that I experienced when I was there in person.

So if that can happen, can the negative stuff hang around an area just as strongly? Interestingly enough, the places I found to be sacred were pretty much untouched by people: they were out in open areas and fairly wild, some of them. But the negative places I have been have all been stamped by man's indelible hand, whether through war or other violence. Sometimes through a tragedy. 

A friend of mine from college went to Europe and during the course of his trip, visited Auschwitz. He told me that even though he went on a beautiful summer day, with the sun shining and no clouds in the sky, that the site of the concentration camp was so eerie it was almost unbearable. He said that once inside the actual camp, there were absolutely no insects. There were no little animals of any kind. He said it was like the entire area was devoid of life. 

Some years ago, I was able to get to the site of 9/11. I can't even begin to explain how heavy it feels there. That is the only word I can use for it: heavy.

I think sometimes if these places had voices, if they had the language, they would tell us stories filled with terror, with anguish, with suffering and tears. Maybe it's a good thing that places can't actually cry aloud with what they have witnessed. I don't know if humanity could bear the sound.

As it is, those of us who are sensitive definitely pick up on the energies of places, whether serene and tranquil, or disturbing and sad. We may not get all of the story these places could tell, but we never walk away without something of their history.  I wonder what my sister will take away from her visit to Little Big Horn. I can't wait until she gets back.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Plants and Hauntings

The idea of combining plants with hauntings probably seems like combining cows and marshmallows. Complete non sequitur, right? Here's the thing, though. Plants, as innocuous as they may seem, probably have a lot more going on for them than people realize. 

For one thing, some plants will kill others that are competing for the same space. If you don't believe me, try googling "can a plant kill another plant?" and see what pops up. Plants are not quite as passive as they may seem. 

That said, some years ago, I read an article about a man who planted a tree for each member of his family. The idea of everyone having his or her own designated tree sounds peaceful and green and just pleasant, doesn't it? Until one of the trees died. Shortly after, the family member who owned that tree also died. The man who did the original planting might have thought it was a coincidence, until it happened again. It had happened at least three times when the article went to press, and the man and the remainder of his family looked at the trees still standing with quite a bit of uneasiness. If it really was all a coincidence, what a nasty one.

On the other hand, if plants are sentient enough to kill each other, can they pick up a communicative link with humans? Even when I was in high school, which was roughly about the time that the plague hit Europe, botanists were already studying the effects of things like music or people's moods (encouraging or angry) on plants and were surprised to find that our floral friends seem to be aware of different kinds of atmospheres, and not just those having to do with weather. 

So here are two little, little, tiny stories on how plants have connected with hauntings in my personal life.

1. When I was in eighth grade, my paternal grandfather passed away in the Philippines. I was too young to have very many memories of him, even though he did come to visit us here in the States, but my older siblings had more time with him on his visits and remember outings and other activities. One morning, my sister and I were up in our bedroom, making our beds and getting ready for the day. We each had a window, and we each would put up the shade as soon as our beds were made. My sister put up her shade and was startled when the plant on her window sill, an African violet, leaped out at her. I asked her if it had gotten caught in the shade's material, but she said no, she had already finished when the plant pretty much jumped out of the pot. It refused to be re-potted and would have become just another dead plant except that it was one given to my sister by our grandfather. It was shortly after that incident that we learned he had died. Guess he wanted to say goodbye to my sis.

2.  I used to watch ghost story movies on TV (see last week's blog for my current thoughts on this.) One night when my husband was out of town, my daughters and I were huddled on the couch watching "Grave Secrets: The Legacy of Hilltop Drive" which was a made for TV movie that starred Patty Duke. I don't mind admitting that it was a fairly creepy flick and that we were getting a bit freaked-out by it. And then the jade plant on the counter above the TV stand jumped out of its pot and landed about a foot away from its former home. Of course, this corresponded with one of the scariest scenes in the movie and all three of us jumped about as far as the plant. I have no idea -still don't- what would make a jade plant actually leap out of its pot but there it is. I haven't had a jade plant since. I have also never had another plant take a flying leap.

As I said, very small, tiny stories that fall into the "I can't explain that so I'm gonna ignore it" category. Still, I would say we should be mindful of our plants. Be mindful of our trees. I think there's more going on with those quiet green guys than we suspect.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Ten Things You Might Not Have Known About Me

Like the title of this one? It's also called "I have no idea what to write about this week." Nevertheless, a couple of thoughts popped into my head and one of them was a list -paranormal writer style.

1.  I once asked a ghost hunter, the sort of person who wants to measure and quantify spiritual activity, if it is possible for a ghost to follow you home. Without batting an eyelid, he met my questioning gaze dead on and said "Yes." Thus was born the opening for my e-story "Hunting Spirits."

2.  I watch all sorts of reality paranormal shows, and I read all sorts of collections of true ghost stories, but I rarely watch ghost story movies because they scare the living daylights out of me. Wuss.

3.  Completely out of character, unless you really know me, is the fact that the one writer I would really love to have a deep conversation with is Rudyard Kipling. He's one of my all-time favorites. And I can't bring myself to believe what everyone says about him.

4.  When I'm not writing enough, I dream in stories. And most of them are just downright weird.

5.  I believe monsters exist.

6.  I love tales about psychic abilities and ghosts, but vampires and zombies? Not so much.

7.  I am the only one in my immediate family who has never seen a ghost. Heard one? Absolutely. Dealt with one? You bet. Seen one? No. And I'm really, really okay with that.

8.  I find it nearly impossible to write without music, and without pain. Everyone who creates will understand that statement.

9.  Along with my younger daughter, I once took a class about the paranormal that was taught by a raging skeptic. I got some good information but the entire experience was quite annoying.

10.  The International Cryptozoology Museum is in Portland, Maine. I intend to get there, just like I intend to get to the All-Ghost Weekend in Ireland.

This list may convince you that I have several screws loose at once, but it's honest. I think if you read my work, and enjoy it, some of these probably apply to you, too!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A Face in the Darkness

She had gotten up in the middle of the night, stumbling her familiar way around the bed, past her sleeping husband, and arriving at the door to the hall and the bathroom just beyond. It was the sort of middle-of-the-night trip she knew to expect if she drank a little too much water too late in the evening. She didn't even think about it anymore: she woke up, went to the bathroom, and went back to bed.

Unfortunately, she had spent the previous afternoon watching paranormal reality shows that she had recorded beforehand, so making this nocturnal trip also involved keeping her thoughts focused on anything besides the dark and the shadows that turned her home into an alien and fearsome place. And she succeeded. Or so she thought.

As she was groping her way around the bed, literally feeling with one outstretched hand because the corners of the platform bed were sharp and merciless to unsuspecting knees, she glanced at the two framed pictures that graced the tall dresser to her left. During the day, she knew one picture showed her beloved oldest grandson as a newborn. The other was a dusty portrait of herself that had once held sway in her husband's office. 

And during that glance, that one quick look at those framed pictures, her eyes now adjusted to the dim light from the moon and the occasional street light that slipped between the slats of her blinds, she saw...a face. Not her own. Oh, she saw herself as clearly as possible in that midnight gloom, reflected back in the glass of the picture frame. But she also saw - a man's face, smiling at her over her shoulder, his cheek so close to hers that it would mean...

She didn't want to think about what it would mean. She dove into the bed and pulled the covers up snug, reassuring herself that her husband was beside her, refusing to open her eyes and take another look.

The man's face had been so close to hers that he would have had to have been right next to her, to be seen in that reflection. He would have nearly been cheek to cheek with her. And that smile on his face: she couldn't decide if it was friendly or leering.


This happened to me late last year and I have never written about it until now. It still gives me the shivers. I have no idea who he was. I just know that I saw him. The next morning, I moved the framed photos on the tall dresser so that they would no longer reflect me when I made any nocturnal foray. They would not reflect me, or anyone else right beside me in the dark.