Set An Extra Plate at the Thanksgiving Table. Company May be Coming.

Set An Extra Plate at the Thanksgiving Table. Company May be Coming.-By Debbi Decker

Halloween has come and gone, and for many it is a time to put away the decorations, and begin thinking about the next big celebration, that of Thanksgiving. No more spooks, no more worries of black cats, hobgoblins, witches and monsters. The door to the other side has closed.

But has it really? While there are two times of the year where the other side bleeds more readily into our everyday world (Halloween and Walpurgisnacht), the fact is that spirits can visit us readily at any time of the year. Especially when it’s a big family event such as Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving as we celebrate it today is a far cry from what it originally was. In far older times, it was a harvest festival celebrated by many cultures during all times of the year, depending on the growing season. A “last meal” was created using what was left over from the harvest, and everyone gathered to eat and share memories and stories from days past. In some regions, it was believed that the spirit of life remained in the last ear of corn harvested. Corn dollys or corn mothers were created using the husks from the last of the harvest, put in a place of honor at the table and kept until the next year’s harvest. Because so much depended upon nature, weather, and the will of the gods involved, harvest celebrations were a way to thank the forces for a good harvest, or in the case of a bad harvest, to propitiate the spirits in the hopes that they would look favorably on the next growing cycle and therefore bring about a good harvest.

Many of these celebrations were also a time to honor the ancestors. Food was given to effigies or placed on altars as a tribute to the ancestor or spirit. As western man and western civilizations grew, and different religious groups came together, other celebrations and rituals would spin off the harvest festival, giving birth to what we now know as Halloween, Day of the Dead, and All Saint’s Day, just to name a few. If you think about it, the holidays just mentioned are in reality a celebration of the dead and the harvest is simply the end or death of the growing season.

Honoring the dead is not uncommon in our culture today and Thanksgiving is another time where we can do so. Because we gather together and talk of times past, or events of the prior year, we bring an energy to the table that is easily tapped into by the spirit world. Simply telling our stories and the stories of our ancestors calls out to the dead and invites them in. How many of us have felt the presence of a long gone family member when sitting around the table and sharing memories?

So, set an extra plate that the table at this year’s Thanksgiving feast. Put a picture of a loved one on the plate and honor them by telling their stories. You never know. They might just stop in for a visit.

Debbi Decker is proprietor of twistedpixelstudio Art & Assemblage Emporium. Check out her artist page to find links to her shop and blog to read more of her writings. Visit again next month for the telling of hauntings and ghostly tales by Debbi Decker.

It Just Speaks To Me.

It Just Speaks To Me.-By Debbi Decker

When a good friend suggested that I write about haunted objects, I thought it a great idea and off I went to gather my ideas and how to present them. Halfway through the thought process, it occurred to me that I do not know, exactly, what I believe about this or even how to definitively define the idea.

Haunted objects are a popular subject. People search for these items, sell these items, there are museums that house these objects, and the televisions shows, movies, and stories are a dime a dozen. Paranormal investigators will swear to this phenomena.

The word “haunt” has different connotations. The presence of a ghost in a particular setting. The constant visitation or haunting of a particular place. The haunting memory that comes back over and over. The harmful effects of an action that we took that comes back to haunt us. These will suffice for the subject matter hand.

So, what exactly IS a haunted object? A commonly accepted explanation is that it is a tangible object, be it jewelry, furniture, books, dolls, personal effects, etc., that has a ghost or other entity attached to the object. The simple possession of the object in question brings with it a presence that manifests paranormal activity in proximity of the object. Strange noises, movements, feelings, illnesses are all reported in connection with objects purported to be haunted.

However, there is another equally commonly accepted explanation. That houses and land can be imprinted. Thoughts, emotions, etc., are all types of energy, and energy can affect its surroundings, to include the objects that are in those surroundings. Items from these locations could also be termed haunted.

An excellent example of the latter explanation would be a battlefield where people died and were left in situ. This type of event had enormous energy expended by the people there, so much so that it imprinted the land. The land becomes haunted. People report ghostly battles, see ghostly soldiers. Someone then comes along at a later date finds a button from a uniform or a bullet from a gun, and takes it home. Suddenly they experience feelings of pain, horror, fear, and sadness. And after investigation they realize that these feelings come to them through ownership of the button or bullet, so they get rid of it and then these feelings go away. That button or bullet had been imprinted with the same energy and emotions as the land it came from. The owner is haunted by the energy imprinted on the button or bullet.

The above explanations leave me a bit short, though, when trying explain the phenomena of an object that seems to call out to me. SOMETHING is communicating with me. Calling me to own that item for whatever reason. Which feels entirely different to me from experiencing a run of the mill haunting of a house or bit of real estate. I’ve touched “positive” items and bought them, and I have held “negative” items and put them down fast and walked away ignoring that call. For want of a better explanation I would have to say that the object is haunted.

So now comes my dilemma. Is it a ghost speaking to me? Will that ghost come home with me? Or, is it the ghost’s personality and emotions imprinted upon that object that speaks to my psyche and therefore imparts the feelings of being drawn to that object? I am sure that there were people who had such enormously strong attachments to their personal possessions that they would haunt in either a negative or positive manner the current owner. However, I imagine that as a ghost I would find other, more fulfilling activities to spend eternity on. Perhaps, it’s simply explained as a matter personal preference of the ghost involved. To haunt or not to haunt as it were.

I debate back and forth with myself regarding my personal convictions related to this phenomena so I can’t really offer a solid explanation for the idea of a haunted object. I have, however, adopted the expression that “it just speaks to me”. It is as good an explanation as any leaves me with less angst over my inner debate.

Debbi Decker is proprietor of twistedpixelstudio Art & Assemblage Emporium. Check out her artist page to find links to her shop and blog to read more of her writings. Visit again next month for the telling of hauntings and ghostly tales by Debbi Decker.

A Song of Grief

A Song of Grief-By Debbi Decker

The dog howled. It was a continuous howling, over and over. Plaintive, shrill, and at times quite eerie. I sat down at the table with my grandmother. “How in the world can you stand it? How long has this been going on?” Gramma just shook her head. “The howling started when your grandfather died. It has not stopped since.”

Gramma was in one of her more lucid moments so I knew that she was telling me the truth. Sometimes, it was hard to know what Gramma knew or what she would talk about at any given moment. But to hear this from her set me back a bit. It had been two days since Gramps had died.
“You know your grandfather hated that dog”, she said, shaking her head again. “He never would let it come around, would chase it off with a yell if the dog so much as stepped foot in the yard. But that dog, he did not seem to care. He still came around every single day. Sometimes it gave me a chuckle to see how your grandfather would fret about it. I never understood why he didn’t like that dog. You know he raised dogs most of his life. I just don’t know.”

The dog in question was my aunt’s dog, a black and white English Sheep Dog, one that we all thought was not quite right in the head for a dog. He lived down the street, almost two blocks away. Those howls were loud, and sounded like he was just outside the door. I wondered if I should go down to my aunt’s house and see if I could get him to stop. No, it was time to go to the funeral. The dog would have to wait.

Coming back to my grandmother’s house after the funeral and burial, the silence was almost deafening. No howling. No sounds at all. I helped my grandmother get settled, got some food in her, and chatted for a bit with her and other family members and friends that stopped by.

Later on that evening, while I was walking over to my aunt’s house, one of the neighbors stepped out to say hello, and ask after my grandmother. After expressing her condolence, she asked “Did you hear that dog? My word! That dog just howled and howled. We thought he would never stop.” I had completely forgotten about the dog and its strange behavior. “So, when did he stop?” I asked. She thought for a moment, then she said “I can’t rightly tell for sure but it was around 3:00 this afternoon”.

The impact of her words caused me to step back and gasp. Around 3:00 was when my grandfather was being buried. I could not quite wrap my head around it then.

But, over the years, I have experienced other such behavior with animals, and I have come to believe that animals can sense things and know things that humans cannot. You think to yourself that you need to feed the cat. And then watch the cat wander over to its food bowl just after you had that thought, even though you have not moved yet. A dog looks into the air and barks and whines. Or a cat suddenly hisses at a corner and runs from the room. You investigate, but find nothing out of the ordinary. It’s obvious that something spooked them, but what it was you cannot tell. Did they see or hear something that you cannot see? Are animals capable of reading minds, seeing ghosts, or hearing voices that you cannot hear? I believe that they can and they do.

Gramps may have hated that dog for whatever his reasons, but that dog did not care. That dog loved my grandfather, knew the moment that he died, and the moment that he was buried. I now think of those howls as the dog’s song of grief, his only way of letting us know that he too was sad and felt the loss of someone he loved.

Debbi Decker is proprietor of twistedpixelstudio Art & Assemblage Emporium. Check out her artist page to find links to her shop and blog to read more of her writings. Visit again next month for the telling of hauntings and ghostly tales by Debbi Decker.


EEKS!-By Robyn Madison

Eeks, What Was That? …I Don’t Think I Want to Know!

I’m a little obsessed with TV shows about paranormal subjects. I frequently tune in to such shows as my little guilty pleasure. My husband looks askance and goes to another room when I do. And there is a wealth of spooky reality shows on television – Ghost Hunters, Paranormal State, Haunted Collector, The Long Island Medium, Ghost Adventures, Celebrity Ghost Stories – to name just a few of those I can think of off the top of my head.

While I have had my own experiences with various psychic phenomena of which mediumship, i.e. contact with disembodied spirits, is a type, the more hair-raising contact [with those who have left our plane of existence] that is ghost hunting is something different all together. I have to admit, while the concept of ghost hunting is titillating to me – I’m sure I’d run away screaming if I personally experienced the first sign of ghostly activity. So, I’d rather watch someone else do it at a very safe distance through the airwaves.

Oh, I have all the buzz words down. I know all about EVP’s, EMF’s, orbs, full spectrum infrared cameras, spirit boxes, full-body apparitions, residual hauntings, intelligent entities, poltergeist, etc. (But again, all at a safe distance.)

I’d just love to be a fly on the set of one of the paranormal reality shows just to see what is real and what is staged or even fabricated. It really does not seem possible that paranormal activity will just happen on demand as is often portrayed in these shows. And while some of the supposed “evidence” certainly looks convincing, there is undoubtedly a bit of chicanery involved to close out production of any one episode.

That being said, it still gives me a little thrill to hear an electronic voice recording of something in the Lizzie Borden house in Fall River, MA saying “…but I was a good daughter!”, or misty figures of soldiers appearing while investigators film at Gettysburg, PA, or a flashlight being knocked out of an investigator’s hands by an unseen force at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, CO (setting of The Shining).

But I think being a distant spectator (not spector!) is about as far as I’m willing to go. That, and maybe working off some of my curiosity about other-worldly things through my artwork as a member of the Halloween Artist Bazaar. As members of this consortium of artists, we all have a certain fascination with things paranormal. We are perhaps offering a little peek through the “veil between the worlds” through the sometimes bizarre things we make. After all, Halloween is the time when that veil is the most penetrable, thus it is our main theme.

Bringing that sense of something extra-sensory versus what we experience in everyday life into our artwork, with a sense of humor and whimsy to mitigate any true evil, is a common theme among the HAB artists. Each artist works out in her/his own way a curiosity & fascination with things a shade darker than daytime allows.

So, I think I’ll just keep my ghosts in my art and not go seeking them out myself, how about you? If I ever do encounter one, I’ll let you know…that is, if I survive the experience…

Robyn is proprietor of Shrine Maiden. Check out her artist page to find links to her shop.

An Accidental Haunting

An Accidental Haunting-By Debbi Decker

I have often wondered what it would be like to be a ghost. What would I do, who would I haunt? I suppose it would depend upon how I left this mortal coil. Sometimes I think I would like to hang around, maybe play practical jokes on my loved ones. But what if that were not the case? What if I were caught in some kind of time warp, where I would be doomed to repeat things over and over?

There is a type of ghostly activity called a residual haunting. The ghosts re-enact the same events repeatedly. Think of it like a taped show that you watch or a song you play again and again. Examples of a residual haunting would be seeing Civil War soldiers marching on the anniversary of a battle in a particular area. Or the screams heard yearly in Hampton Court attributed to Catherine Howard as she was being dragged away to prison on the orders of Henry VIII.

Years ago, I used to travel to visit my mother in South Carolina every April 16th. I would get up in the wee hours and begin my journey. Flying down the road, my car windows would be open, and my music would be cranked to full blast. Rarely would there be anyone on the road with me, maybe a trucker or two, here and there.

I would pass this little farmhouse right around 4 A.M. every single year. The house would be completely dark, the inhabitants sound asleep. Imagine, being woken up each year at the same time to music. At first it comes softly, and then rises in volume, only to fade away again. The way the house was situated, the headlights on my car would not have been seen.

Years later, it crossed my mind that the people who lived in that house might have thought that they were the victims of a haunting! I imagined that they would wake up, confused, and a bit frightened. I could hear the conversation in my mind, something along the lines of “Pa, there’s that music again! Its April 16th and its come again! Same time too! I swear we got a ghost in here!”

I stopped my annual journeys some time ago. But, sometimes I remember the little farmhouse and I wonder, do they still listen for the music? Did they ever wait up and watch to see exactly what it was? In all likelihood, they probably never heard me pass by. Its fun to think that I could have been an accidental haunting and it sure gives me a chuckle to think about it.

Debbi Decker is proprietor of twistedpixelstudio Art & Assemblage Emporium. Check out her artist page to find links to her shop and blog to read more of her writings. Visit again next month for the telling of hauntings and ghostly tales by Debbi Decker.

A Matter of Perception.

A Matter of Perception.-By Debbi Decker

You walk into a room where a conversation is taking place about a recent ghost sighting. On the table there are several pictures, and your eyes immediately lock onto an old, creased and frayed picture of a woman taken during the early 1920s. You think to yourself, that’s the ghost she must be talking about.

But wait. As the story unfolds, you realize that the conversation is centered on another picture. A picture of a young man taken in the past year. A young man who passed away just a few months ago. The details are blurry, and really, you are not listening now to any of the conversation because your mind is adjusting to the shock of the fact that the ghost is not that of the 1920s woman. That picture was simply on the table because the owner was working on a family album.

It’s a matter of perception. A matter of the brain processing details that stand out or are out of place in the current environment. A matter of preconceived notions of what should or should not be. Someone walking down the street in jeans and a cowboy hat is not going to startle you. But someone walking down the street in a pin-stripe suit and a bowler hat will give you pause. That person is out of context, out of the realm of what is perceived to be the present norm. A ghostly apparition? No. The person in the pin-stripe suit and bowler hat is on their way to a costume party. The person in jeans and a cowboy hat? That was the ghost. You might even have felt something off about that person as you passed them by. But, given the context of when and where you saw this apparition, and the modernity of the dress, you probably passed off the “something” you felt as a normal reaction. You don’t like cowboy hats. Maybe the jeans were not to your taste. You gave yourself normal explanations for the fact that you felt that “something”.

Ghosts are not always see-through apparitions, grey misty beings floating three feet off the floor and passing through walls. Ghosts can look just like you and me. We hear stories all the time of the recently passed coming to visit their relatives and loved ones. So, if those ghostly visits are given recognition and consideration, why not the possibility that at any time and in any place, you might just have walked by a ghost?

The next time you are out and about, and you feel a little tingle and the hair rises on your arms, take note. That little old lady you just passed by, walking her dog in that pretty flowered dress… Could it be?

Debbie Decker is proprietor of twistedpixelstudio Art & Assemblage Emporium. Check out her artist page to find links to her shop and blog to read more of her writings. Visit again next month for the telling of hauntings and ghostly tales by Debbie Decker.

A Haunting At Christmas

A Haunting At Christmas-By Debbi Decker

The stockings are hung, the tree is decorated and the fire is flickering. Gather ‘round. It is time for a ghost story.
What?! Wait! It’s Christmas!
Not the time of year for that kind of thing!
We want stories of Santa, and Rudolph!

Believe it or not, telling stories of hauntings and ghosts during the Christmas season was a popular Victorian pass time. You are perhaps familiar with the story written by Charles Dickens and published in 1843, titled “A Christmas Carol”. The story not only features three different ghosts, but many historians also believe that publication of this story brought about the mid-Victorian revival of lost Christmas traditions and beliefs. This Victorian revival drew heavily upon the old pagan symbols such as the Yule log, caroling, the holly and the ivy, and the “Father Christmas”, the precursor of our modern-day Santa Claus. All of these practices had their roots in pagan festivals such as Yule and Sol Invictus, and it was believed that during the Solstice season, the barriers of the earth are at their thinnest and ghosts cross over to complete unfinished business.

Merry Olde England is awash with tales of Christmas hauntings. Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII, has been sighted each year on Christmas Day near Hever Castle, her ancestral home. The White Lady of Cornwall appears each year on the day of the Winter Solstice, and it is said that to see her is to bring misfortune. Small white swine or pigs with red ears are said to cross the road every year on Christmas Eve in Calcutt, Wiltshire. These, and stories like these, were told during the Christmas season each year.

It’s almost a lost art. There are, however, some more modern instances that recall the practice of telling ghostly Christmas tales. Dr. Seuss’ 1957 publication of “The Grinch that Stole Christmas”. Tim Burton’s “Nightmare Before Christmas” which was aired in movie theaters in 1993. And, have you ever truly listened to the words to that popular Christmas song “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”? This song was written in 1963 by Eddie Pola and George Wyle, and recorded by Andy Williams. I call your attention to this verse:

“There’ll be parties for hosting,
Marshmallows for toasting, and
Caroling out in the snow.
There’ll be scary ghost stories and tales of
The glories of Christmases long, long ago.”

The stockings are hung and the tree is decorated. The fire is flickering. Let us gather together, revive an almost lost art, and tell tales of ghosts and hauntings this Christmas season.

Debbie Decker is proprietor of twistedpixelstudio Art & Assemblage Emporium.Check out her artist page to find links to her shop and blog to read more of her writings. Visit again next month for the telling of hauntings and ghostly tales by Debbie Decker.