Wednesday, March 22, 2017
From a clinical perspective, it is easy to say that flushes of hormones through the brain and the unique social stressors of puberty and adolescence at this age push young adolescent girls over the edge and they begin to imagine things. Neurologically adolescent children are going through radical change and it could cause shadow like visions. The girls who come to me with the shadow person issues have many different philosophical and religious orientations and perceive the shadow people as different things. Some girls think they are ghosts. Others think they are demons. Quite a few of my girls have believed they are going crazy and that they are hallucinations. It should be noted that none of these girls have ever had any other symptoms consistent with psychosis.
As I also am interested in the paranormal, I also think it is relevant that poltergeist activity is most common in children ages 10-15. Poltergeist activity has been reported since the Roman Empire and history is littered with tales of young girls haunted by ghosts and hostile spirits. In a recent article in the new scientists theorists described this activity as being attributed to changes in the brain during puberty. "Rovetto and Maxia hypothesize that the changes in the brain that occur at puberty involve fluctuations in electron activity." (https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn13563-theyre-here-the-mechanism-of-poltergeist-activity/).
In the paranormal community, shadow people and poltergeists are believed to be very different beings. Shadow people are thought to be hostile spirits, demons or ghosts as poltergeists are thought to be the manifestations of telekinetic power in young teenagers. Shadow People are sometimes linked to hypnogogic dreams or sleep paralysis, but these girls were all wide awake when they saw their shadow people. So this leads me to the question? Could these girls actually be more perceptive and more open to seeing into the spirit world? Could they actually be seeing ghosts?
From a clinical perspective, I have to say no, but the ghost story collector in me has to wonder if it isn't something paranormal. Perhaps puberty opens these girls up to something larger and the terror associated with this is what should be treated?
Sunday, March 5, 2017
A friend of mine recently posted this cool meme on my Facebook wall and people who had never seen Cabin in the Woods responded passionately about the murderous unicorn. They clearly didn’t get the joke. I reposted the meme on the page of my favorite H.P. Lovecraft group, The H.P. Lovecraft Historic Society, thinking a group of horror fans would get the joke. The response was primarily hatred of my use of the word “Lovecraftian” but secondarily showed that not enough people have seen The Cabin in the Woods, Joss Whedon’s loving homage to all things horror. I am writing this post to encourage people to fix that wrong immediately! As far as I am concerned, this is one of the best horror movies ever made. It isn’t The Exorcist, but it is something of its own. It is a love letter to horror tropes and horror writers carefully wrapped in snarky dialogue and obscure references.
For those of you who missed this gem, it is essentially the tale of five college kids who go stay in a cabin in the woods for a weekend. This is utterly cliché and very purposely cliché. But beneath all the clichés this movie is so much more. The opening scene says everything you need to know. This is actually a deeper story that is carefully crafted to combine every single horror movie cliché into one film. The cabin in the woods is a trap designed to create the perfect sacrifice for the old gods who apparently love horror movie clichés. The teens in the cabin must be sacrificed to one of many horror movie staples. The board below shows all the possible ways the teens could die. They chose which horror movie monster will kill them in a scene that whispers of a classic scene from The Evil Dead. The teens stupidly are lured into a basement where they mess with a bunch of junk. When one girl reads from the journal of a dead girl, the choice is made and the redneck, zombie, torture family is released from their prison and sent to kill the teens by the keepers of the old god.
The movie climaxes in a blood bath in which every horror movie monster that has been imprisoned is released to feed upon the keepers of the old god. Clive Barker, Lovecraft, Romero, and Carpenter would all be proud to see creatures reminiscent of their own feed on the blood on the innocent…..ish. Unicorns and fairies and other silly, nonviolent creatures join the mix for texture. I have placed a link to the opening scene of this beautiful film below. Enjoy.
Thursday, February 16, 2017
On my recent trip to New York, I stayed in a small boutique hotel off of Time Square called The Sanctuary Hotel. It is small and lovely. The décor draws from Eastern Inspirations and features Indian inspired and Buddhist themed art. The rooms were small but comfortable. The staff was very friendly and the lobby was quiet. The food was good.
The hotel wasn’t haunted. There is nothing online that says it is haunted. I couldn’t find anything about its history online that would indicate the building has ever had anything remarkable happen in it. It does have a wicked, wonderful Halloween party every year, but that is as spooky as it gets. Despite this, for my three night stay, I was awakened every night at 3am by what sounded like someone trying to get into my room, entering in my room, and stomping across my room to fidget about with something in the corner. I sat up. Nothing was moving. I saw no signs of a haunting, but the noise was still there and it was eerily close. The first night, I assumed it must have been the people in the room next to me. That was the only explanation. It was late. I must have misjudged the proximity of the noise. In the morning, I looked next to my room. There was no room next to mine. There were pipes. The next night I got up and walked out of my room to see if someone just loved messing with the pipes at 3am. You never know. People are weird. There was nothing there. The last night, I ignored the noise. It wasn’t going to hurt me and I have seen and heard creepier things in my life. I still don’t know what the noise was or why it always happened at 3am. Staff didn’t comment. The only history I could find of the building was that it was built in 1935 and was once an apartment complex. I would love to hear more if anyone knows more.
Monday, February 13, 2017
My favorite thing about holidays are their bizarre origins. Most of our modern celebrations have roots in old pagan traditions. Valantine's Day is no different. Its pagan roots are just more bizarre than most. They are so strange I like to write about them every year. I know it is slightly off topic, but naked people being flogged with animal hides is worth discussing in any forum. Apparently the ancient roots of Valentine's Day begins with the Romans. The Romans celebrated Lupercalia from Feb. 13 to 15. In Roman mythology Lupercus was the equivalent of the Greek god Pan who was known to be a sexy sort of fellow who promoted fertility. His holiday was a somewhat romantic kind of celebration. During Lupercalia the men would sacrifice a goat and a dog and then whip women with the hides of the dead animals. The women would line up naked in order to be whipped. They did this because they believed this ritual would make them more fertile. Afterwards, there would be lottery in which men and women would be paired up for a night of naked fun.
I know, you are now wishing we still celebrated Valentine's day this way. Enough with the cheesy cards. Where are the dead animals, whippings, and naked people? It was the Catholic Church that ruined the fun. Emperor Claudius II killed two Valentine's in different years of February 14th. Both men were martyred and the day derives its name from these two martyred saints. In the 5th century, Pope Gelasius I got confused and merged the two martyrs into one person and named February 14th after them. He also absorbed the romantic traditions of Lupercalia into the day in order to soften the pagan debauchery and retake the day for Christianity. Christianity has a long history of doing this type of thing. Christmas was taken from Roman Saturnalia traditions and Norse Yule traditions. By absorbing pagan holidays rather than forbidding them, ancient Christians were able to gain new followers rather than lose them.
Chaucer and Shakespeare can be credited with further romanticizing St. Valentine's day and turning it into the romantic, kissy holiday it is today, but I will always think back to better days when women ran naked through the streets being beaten with dead animals.
Friday, February 3, 2017
There is something uncanny about Dead Children's Playground in Huntsville, Alabama. Children rarely play there and when they do their voices echo in the old quarry and resonate with a creepiness that just can't be captured without actually being there. With this in mind, I decided to video tape Dead Children's Playground. The footage is below. It is one of the most beautiful and chilling places I have ever been.
Monday, January 30, 2017
It has been a long time since I regularly posted on this blog. I used to post every day, but as I have recently been consumed by novel writing I have lost track of my passion for the paranormal. This seems particularly sad to me as ghosts are what pulled me to writing in the first place. Haunted North Alabama was my first book and I still love retelling the tales from that collection of regional folklore. With the sequel to my kindle best seller The Accidental Witch is coming out his year, I have had a little time to return to my first love. As I return to my passionate collecting of ghost stories, I had to think back on what I did to be able to write a ghost story a day when I started this blog. I was able to do this by traveling. So, for my first step to discovering ghost stories again is to travel to New York in two weeks and find some of New York’s most interesting haunts.
My first step in planning my journey was to research New York’s most interesting haunted locations. I have already explored New York’s haunted side before so I wanted to go places I had never been before. After reading and ruling out what I had already seen, I finished with this list for my haunted New York trip.
1. * Washington Square Park: I am always drawn to parks with sinister histories and Washington Square’s history is more sinister than most. Before it was a park, Washington square was a burial ground for the poor and slaves. The ghosts of those who were once buried in this ghostly attraction still come out at night to torment visitors. There is also a tree called Hangmen’s Elm I would like to see and learn more about.
2. * The Merchant’s House Museum: This museum was once the home of Ms. Gertrude Tredwell. Ms. Tredwell was so dedicated to her family home that she is said to still haunt this museum to this day. This museum is said to plagued by many disturbing apparitions including strange smells, odd sounds, and full body apparitions. I also added this location to my list because I love museums and any excuse to go to one is good enough for me.
3. * St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery: Old Churches are always haunting but this old church is more haunting than most. This church is more than 200 years old and is said to be haunted by Peter Stuyvesant, the governor of New Amsterdam. He isn’t alone in his haunting either, spectral women and strange men have also been seen wandering the lovely, church.
4. * The Dakota: I have a passionate fan of architecture and The Dakota, an apartment building on 14 West and 10th Street, has some breathtaking architecture. It is also where John Lennon was shot. Yoko Ono and John Lennon lived here together and Ms. Ono reported that she continued to see him here long after his death. His ghost isn’t alone in this gothic building. Looming shadows and haunting women also call this apartment building home.
Wednesday, January 25, 2017
Sunday, October 16, 2016
Danvers State Hospital – Period Photograph Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Sadly, dignified and effective treatment for the mentally ill hasn’t always been the American standard. In fact, many insane asylums were notorious for subjecting patients to procedures that would today be considered sketchy and unethical, at best. All things considered, it’s understandable that old asylums in general often come attached to rumors that they’re haunted or otherwise unsettling.
However, some asylums have earned a higher degree of notoriety than others, and with good reason. The following are just a few of the many that make a hypothetical stay at American Horror Story: Asylum’s Briarcliff Manor sound like a walk in the park.
1. Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum – Weston, West Virginia
The situation that eventually developed within the walls of the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum started out as a result of drastic overcrowding. It was originally built to house a hard maximum of 250 patients. However, by the year 1949, there were well over 2000 patients living there, instead.
An eventual investigation conducted by The Charleston Gazette uncovered absolutely abominable conditions. Among the horrors discovered were extreme neglect in regards to hundreds of the patients, patients locked in cages, and procedures like lobotomies being performed with such inappropriate tools as ice picks. Unsurprisingly, the Trans-Allegheny saw tens of thousands of deaths before it finally closed in the 1990s. However, thrill seekers can still visit and even stay overnight if they are so inclined.
2. Topeka State Hospital – Topeka, Kansas
Topeka State Hospital is just one of the many hospitals that saw patients being subjected to unspeakable cruelty with the intent to “cure” them of their ailments. However, there was a lot of abuse that went on there, as well. Many patients were raped and otherwise physically abused. Some were left permanently restrained with leather straps to the point where their skin began to grow over the restraints themselves.
The staff at this hospital was especially notorious for castrating a high number of the patients under care there. It started just after state law greenlit castration as an acceptable treatment for the hopelessly or criminally insane in 1931 – to the tune of 54 castrations. This is especially troubling when you consider the fact that quite of few of the hospital’s patients came attached to unknown identities and conditions.
3. Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital – Morris Plains, New Jersey
Greystone started out with the intention to provide the mentally ill with a proper sanctuary and truly therapeutic treatment. However, it wasn’t long before overcrowding became a massive issue, as it was for many asylums. Greystone was built to house up to 1600 people, but at one point housed closer to 2500, instead.
What’s more, Greystone is another asylum that chose to implement sketchy, controversial treatment options in the past to treat multiple illnesses. Examples include but are not limited to electroshock therapy for the treatment of PTSD, insulin shock therapy, and more. The hospital is also connected to many stories of rape, mysterious death, suicide, and even the escape of a rapist.
Greystone is still in operation today, although the notorious practices are no longer in use there. Also, the state of New Jersey is currently planning to replace it with a smaller facility.
4. Bloomingdale Insane Asylum – Morningside Heights, New York City
Today, the building that was once home to Bloomingdale Insane Asylum is Columbia University’s Buell Hall. However, it was once used to house (and rehabilitate) mentally ill patients of all types.
As you might guess, there were some unsavory practices at work, many of which were officially exposed by a journalist named Julius Chambers in the late 19th century. (He had himself committed to Bloomingdale for ten days.) Among other things, Chambers talked of patients being choked, kicked, hit, and otherwise abused until they bled freely. He also spoke of patients being driven to suicide (or close to it) by the sheer cruelty on the part of the staff.
Thankfully, his work yielded positive results. Not only were twelve of Bloomingdale’s patients released (as they were not insane), but the book he wrote about his experiences – A Mad World and Its People – paved the way for badly needed reforms as far as how the mentally ill are treated in America.
5. Byberry Mental Hospital – Byberry, Pennsylvania
In operation from 1907 all the way to 1987, Byberry was described as containing wards reminiscent of Nazi concentration camps by one Charlie Lord, a former staff member at the hospital. Lord eventually took it upon himself to expose the conditions there with 36 grayscale photographs – images that would eventually be published by Life in 1946.
Among the circumstances documented by the photos were filthy living conditions that found many patients sleeping in their own bodily waste. Hundreds were allowed to roam the halls of the facility completely naked. Thankfully, this exposure led to not only the eventual closure of the facility, but also far-reaching reform as far as the conditions associated with mental health facilities.
6. Danvers State Hospital – Danvers, Massachusetts
Danvers State Hospital is one of the many defunct mental institutions rumored to be heavily haunted by malicious spirits, and it’s not hard to understand why. To begin with, it was built on the very grounds that saw the notorious Salem Witch Trials centuries ago. It was also a place that saw unspeakable acts of human cruelty committed.
Patients were confined using straitjackets and uncomfortable leather restraints. They were also subjected to treatments considered today to be cruel and inhumane, including but not limited to lobotomies and electroshock therapy. The hospital was even used to shoot a horror film dealing with demonic infestation in asylums – Session 9.
7. Overbrook Insane Asylum – Cedar Grove, New Jersey
At first glance, the building known as Overbrook Insane Asylum appears to be a beautiful, house-like building. However, like many notorious asylums, it saw untold horrors being committed within its walls.
To begin with, the patients were neglected to a horrifying extent. The year 1917 saw a total of 24 patients being allowed to freeze to death in their beds. The small facility also would become dangerously overcrowded after World War II and see nearly 150 patients go missing. Overbrook is another asylum said to be very haunted today. It was used as the set for the screen adaptation for Chuck Palahniuk’s Choke.