For Thanksgiving: The Beauty of the Earth: photos by Todd Atteberry

Thank the Goddess for the beauty of the earth!

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For those of you who want something to do after dinner beside watching the football game, I have a special treat.

I found Todd Atteberry’s  wonderful blog “A Gothic Cabinet of Curiosities and Mysteries” while I was hunting for images.

I don’t know what Mr. Atteberry does, but his photos look like paintings by the Old Masters such as Rembrandt, or Vermeer.

His work is so beautiful, that I  commented on his blog and went back a few times to his many galleries of  evocative, eerie, haunting images. When he told me he was going to Salem for the first time, I sent him my blog post Haunted Salem so he would know a little bit about how it was before the 1980′s economy crash in New England inspired a true horror  show of commercial theme park kitsch exploiting the town’s reputation for witchcraft.

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He made his trip, told me via Facebook that the article helped him a lot which was nice to hear.  I was then directed his page where I found a gorgeous picture of one of the old graveyards under a spreading old oak tree. I have been to Salem many times over the years and have never seen such an evocation of the power in the land as that photo. Todd seems to be able to erase all evidence of the modern world. You feel like you have walked into that time over 300 years ago when America was still a colony of England and our King was George III.

These new images of Salem are on his blog now –  GO HERE NOW:

http://www. gothicghoststories.com

I hope you enjoy these gorgeous images of autumn in New England and their evocation of the true meaning of Thanksgiving by a true artist who has the gift of Seership and records his visions with a camera.

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Go off into cyberspace and explore Todd Atteberry’s many art galleries. And, if you feel like you have to own something,

or want to send your Friendly Witchy Blogger a Yule Prezzie — he sells these for a song!

Here is a link to his big gallery:

http://toddatteberry.com

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Haunting Childhood Memories…

Do you have strange, haunting childhood memories? Or is it only my morbid love for eerie ghost stories that makes these images stick in my mind?
I am sure you have had some odd occurrences as a child?  Perhaps even paranormal ones. Isn’t that one of the gifts of childhood? A time wondrous strange, when anything is possible because we haven’t learned that some things are not?
Nostalgia is heightened when I hear a  child song like this from the dazzling film, The Innocents, based on Henry James’s eerie Victorian ghost story, The Turn of the Screw.

Play it while you read this post, and maybe you will have a mysterious memory or two…

The Horse in the Woods on Crow Hill

My mother’s parents, Meme and Pepe Caron, lived in a rather ramshackle house in a clearing at the bottom of Crow Hill in Worcester, Massachusetts. As children my brother, Jim, and I spent many long summer days up there. I remember the slopes being covered in golden rod, young birches, and slatey rocks that shone like silver in the bright sunshine. Unlike the humid, swampy, mosquito filled woods that surrounded it, the top of Crow Hill was drier, the air fresher, weeds pricklier, and the views went on forever.

Crow Hill

Crow Hill

One side of my Grandparent’s yard sloped up to a narrow plateau used for parking, and from there was a straight path up the hill. To the left was a stand of trees that turned into deep woods. There were the remains of a house that once been next to the woods, but was now only a basement with a treacherous wooden floor and a fireplace with a fallen chimney. I was about nine years old, when, always the explorer, I decided  that instead of climbing the hill from the obvious path, I would see if there was a way through the woods.

I walked for quite a while, always wondering if I should back, but then there was a brambly little path to follow so I wouldn’t get lost. I always loved the way pine needles layered the ground like a brown carpet, so that the little streams shone black and sparkling in their rocky beds, ferns glowed bright green, and the occasional prize of a Lady’s Slipper would appear. Eventually I arrived at wide clearing and saw a fenced enclosure with a horse inside trotting back and forth under a canopy of oak leaves. I had never seen this horse before! And even stranger, there were no buildings anywhere about, no shed, barn, or house anywhere nearby.

I have the ability to converse with horses — an Irish jockey who came to me for a Tarot reading in London told me I was Horse Whisperer — and so the beautiful bay horse and I spoke for some time; he was a gentle civilized beast who like to run around pretending he was free.

I went home and told my Grandmother. She listened as always with her mind someplace else. She didn’t seem to know about the horse and the fenced yard in the woods. I decided to go back the next morning and bring my brother along.

And indeed, I picked up the path of the day before, walked across the brown needle floor, stepped over the little streams, but could not find the fenced yard or the horse! Jim told me I was making it up! But I wasn’t. I just could not find it. I think I was still looking when we were called in for lunch. I never found it again….

White Rabbit Trick

One Easter morning, I received a very fine toy rabbit. It was white, and had a fine blue dress, and very long ears. I was so happy with this rabbit, that when we went to visit some family friends, I brought it with me.

The adults being boring, I went outside with my rabbit and wandered around in the large back yard. In those days every house had a swing set…I don’t seem to see those any more…This one was in front of a tall green hedge , probably of the ubiquitous mountain laurel.

I always loved to swing and would always try to force myself higher and higher. I had the idea that if I flew high enough, I could swing in a full circle over the top bar and come back down safely. Good thing I never accomplished that! But I was holding the rabbit, and flying so high, that I was pulling the legs of the swing set out of the ground. Suddenly the rabbit flew out of my arms, straight behind me, and into the hedge!

So what? you say. A rabbit in a hedge. Big deal! But I couldn’t find it! I looked up, and down, inside and out. I remember walking through the hedge into someone else’s yard, and still, no rabbit. I called the adults out into the yard to look for it, and they couldn’t find it either. I was distraught! I had only just gotten it after all.

I still don’t know what happened to that rabbit. At the time, I imagined it went into a Time Tunnel, those being quite popular back then. Or maybe the Easter Bunny took it back. But even now I wonder if I had swung myself into another dimension without realizing it, lost time, and simply forgot to bring back my toy rabbit?

UFO Dreaming: Speaking of Other Dimensions…

When was a child, I used to love The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits. This drove my my mother crazy for some reason. She could never understand my taste for the macabre and the paranormal. But maybe the era of the 1960′s, with all the buzz about the 21st century, when everything would be robots, space ships, we would love on other planets, and automation would make life so easy that nobody would have to work any more. When I was small, TV was fairly new, and it only came in black and white.

As I have said many times, I grew up in a house in the woods in Massachusetts. (If you want to see it, you can google map it, and explore the whole neighborhood. It is still the same! Google 4 Lexington Avenue, Leicester, MA. and you will find it, including the woods.) At night there was always a light over the treetops, moving from side to side, in what appeared to be the depths of the forest. Many times we got on top of the old stone walls that ran all through the woods, intending to follow them to the other side where we were convinced we would find alien spaceships. The stone walls didn’t go straight or very far, as they were the remains of pasture boundaries from 200 years before. We never made it to the space ship, so the mystery lingered on.

It was one thing for there to be a light above the woods at the back of the houses. We were used to that! But one hot summer night, a light appeared above the trees in the direction where the sun came up, above the tiger lily stream and the grassy clearing where grasshoppers, frogs, and crickets lived. This was the bright place.

I decided that that was definitely a UFO and told the other kids that we should try to go and find it. It couldn’t be that far away. But they poo-pooed me! I guess they weren’t as into the Twilight Zone as I was.


One night, though, I had  a dream that was so real I have never forgotten it. It was like a black and white B-movie scene. I was wakened by the sound of thunder and a flash of lightning! I opened my eyes, and saw that the wall where my window was had been peeled back  like a piece of steel, leaving a large space through which I could see a lone tree on a low bare hill lit like something from Night of the Living Dead. Around the tree, these little gray people with large black cat eyes, and vestigial features, were gathered. Suddenly, they poured through the gap in the wall, and  into my room, to stand there, just looking at me with all of these big, glassy , vacant black eyes. Then a very tall figure, wearing a floating gossamer robe surrmounted by a very large bald head, and the same pupiless black eyes, walked through the crowd of Greys and sat on the edge of my bed. To this day, I can feel the touch of its hands as it slid them around my body. I began praying to Jesus.  He came did His shepherd thing, herding them  all back out through the gap in the wall, out to the tree on the hill.

What was that about?

When I was in my healing practice for a few years, I attracted clients who complained of being kidnapped by ETs, taken onto space ships to be subjected to horrible scientific experiments, and implanted with monitoring devices much as the ones we use to tag wild animals for study. I took much of this with a pinch of salt, for it was all over the media in the 1990′s, and people can be highly suggestible. Still, my healing energies seek to clear the source of the trauma, the symptoms are not the defining thing.

Having remembered this dream I had as a child, I would tell it to my clients. Every single one of them told me that that was what their dream/visions were like: very real, very B movie, and very surreal.

One of these clients had an actual photograph of two spirits she saw in her hedge. They were very clearly there, looking mischievously out, but they looked like faeries to me, not ETs. It was a remarkable photo either way! There was no way it was doctored. It was an actual image of these two faces peering out of the hedge.

Do you believe in the Grey Aliens? In my childhood in the 1960′s, they didn’t have a common description; they weren’t called Grey Aliens. I didn’t even know about them. Sometimes I wonder if they were a breed of faeries. Disappointed in me when I called on Jesus, they fled.

Walk-in Closet

My Hebert grandparents lived in a very spooky Victorian house with deep walk-in closets, and steep rickety stairs going down into a dark basement worthy of H.P. Lovecraft. The father of my grandfather had been very clever with his hands and made mahogany bookcases, a wonderful box incised with apple branches that I loved dearly and that my mother couldn’t wait to get rid of. It was made as box for a handmade wooden jig saw puzzle of a Guardian Angel escorting two children over a bridge in the forest. My great grandfather also made weird things such a wooden Crucified Christ inside a large bottle you would normally expect to have a ship in. He  made a splendid medieval style cabinet for a Communion Chalice and the Host, or Blessed Sacrament. This  cabinet could be brought up beside the bed so the priest could give Absolution to the dying.

My grandparents bedroom was wallpapered in wine colored brocade, with French windows that opened out between lace curtains, all very down at heel, the faux luxury of the French. The bed was against the north wall under a painting of the Virgin Mary, and I often slept in it. At the opposite end of the room was the walk-in closet, full of hatboxes, powdery smelling old people’s  clothes, high button shoes, and my father’s childhood toys.

Among these was a wooden rocking horse. I remember one night, I was having trouble sleeping beside Meme who was snoring. Living in the country, I was used to absolute darkness, and absolute silence in the night. This house was in the city — in a back road off of a busy street, and the noise of snoring combined with passing cars bothered me so that I tossed and turned for ages. Also, the moonlight, or streetlight, was streaming in through the lace curtained window, casting a wide beam of light across the floor that touched off glints and shines on things stored in the shadows of the open walk-in closet.  At the threshold of the door was the old rocking horse, white as a ghost with a pale, stiff flying mane, and tail.

Someplace between waking and sleeping, I remember opening my eyes and gazing at the rocking horse as it rocked back and forth, back and forth. There was no wind, no sounds of the house settling. The horse just rocked and rocked, creaking quietly. I fell asleep for a while, until I was disturbed by intense moonlight at the window. I opened my eyes again. The horse was standing still, but then, as if it knew I was looking, it began rocking. Intrigued, I shut my eyes, and kept them closed until the creaking stopped. As I slowly re-opened my eyes, the horse was standing still, but again, as if it knew I was watching, it began to rock back and forth back and forth all over again.

There is probably some rational explanation for this. Of course there is! But still, it was one of the spookiest things I ever experienced, and that is a big part of it, don’t you agree?

The Grave in the Woods

Last but not least, have you ever stumbled upon a lone grave in the woods? My friend, Mary, and I did. We were walking across a field, looking for wild strawberries, when we came to a stand of maple trees and  a grassy clearing. Since wild strawberries grew very close to the ground, we were combing through the long grass and there it was! A grave with the name Abigail something, who died in the late 1700′s.

It was strange to find a grave all alone like that. One could not help but wonder why she had been buried far from everyone else, rather than in one of the cemeteries that had been built when Massachusetts was a colony of England. I don’t think she was very old, which for kids like us, would make it doubly shocking.

In my adult years, I have since learned that suicides would be buried far away, in unhallowed ground. The reason was fear of haunting, or that the suicide, being damned, would come back as an Undead, and Vampire…

Did a Vampire stalk the night in Leicester, Massachusetts?

If you like these type of stories I have a related post about Salem Witchcraft and my experiences with some dolls.

Click the links below:

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Haunted Salem

Witch Museum

Witch Museum

Salem, Massachusetts is famous for witchcraft. I should know, for the vibration of witchery spreads far and wide throughout the countryside running through the roots of the trees and rising with the sap to blossom in weedy Springtime. Crickets sing, the grass glows under the moon.

I went there for the first time in the 1970’s, with a friend, to visit the famous Witch Museum. I came away with something quite different than I expected, and no less haunting.

Salem

The small town of Salem, Massachusetts leans against the sea. Victorian mansions, with their airy widow’s walks, and doors hung aslant to close with the rolling of the tide, speak of an era when this was a prosperous maritime city where merchant ships sailed in loaded with luxuries gathered all the way from Europe to the Far East. Eighteenth century householders filled their rooms with Chinese vases, Indian bedspreads, Russian samovars, jade carvings, Italian art, and other exotic items quite foreign to Puritan New England — things Cotton Mather and his Calvinist fold would have frowned upon.

Witches

But of course, the Puritans thrived over three hundred years ago, when Massachusetts was a colony of the English Crown and the English Crown was hanging witches. The early days of Salem Village were a darker time, as dark as the lowering winter clouds that turn everything gray, cold, and blustery. When the long night was relieved by a small hearth fire, and a few bayberry candles, and the wind shrieked into the cracks around the window sills to blow them out. Populated during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, the colonists did not leave their superstitions behind in England. Their belief in, and fear of, witchcraft were carried to these shores.

The graveyard where the accused witches were buried in 1692, lies there still. Behind a nearby hedge is a memorial to those who were hung, mainly for being grumpy neighbors, eccentric old women, or for having attracted the jealousy and spite of the hysterical girls who made the accusations. The memorial is semi-circle of stones marked with the names of the executed. Whether any of them were guilty of witchcraft or not is still uncertain, but when one walks under the brooding clouds of the New England sky that roll in on a wild Atlantic Sea, where the cawing of the crows chills the blood, and the full golden moon rides low and shining through the bare trees, it is easy to understand why those be-nighted souls were so easily convinced. This land invites magic.

In the 1970’s, Salem was still in its pure state. Not yet a theme park, the Witch Museum stood on its own, a stone and mullioned stable where the jails were small, barred, and filled with straw. Incarcerated within were waxworks witches still suffering fear and degradation, awaiting trial, and the certain journey to Gallows Hill.
Outside, in the garden of the Witch Museum, a large bronze statue of Cotton Mather, in a swirling cloak and peaked hat, still wields his authority with an iron fist.

Witches Poppets: Another Kind of Ghost

Much of Salem is still quite old. Houses from Colonial times still parade down the treelined streets. An old church broods on a corner, and of course Nathaniel Hawthorne’s house and gardens are colorfully squeezed between the parking lot and the road. Once Pam and I had seen these attractions, we went for lunch in a bustling seaside cafe. Alll that was left for the afternoon were tours of the many historic mansions that reared their heads behind the high hedges and stone walls of the old town of Salem.

In the pre-Nixon era, when money was actually worth something, one could take a guided tour through one of these mansions for 50 cents. For high school students whose history courses were severely narrowed down, watered down, and rife with propaganda, the lifestyles these houses revealed were a surprise. Three stories tall, with room after room of exotic furnishings, they seemed more European than American. One house in particular stands out. After we climbed its many stairs and explored its many rooms, we  exited through the back garden. There, a small playhouse took up the far corner in the hedge. Inside was a collection of maybe fifty antique dolls.  French fashion dolls, wax dolls, Colonial wooden dolls, and white china dolls, stiff as corpses, sat on rocking horses, velvet sofa, rocking chairs, had a tea party, and lay in little beds all on their own. I enjoyed looking at them. All shapes and sizes, they were beautiful, mysterious, and even spooky with their glass eyes and frozen stares.

A few weeks later, I came home from school with the disabling menstrual cramps that plagued me every month since I was fourteen years old. Back then the only pain reliever on the market was aspirin and that didn’t work. I lay down on the couch and fell into one of those heavy slumbers that you get when you want to escape from pain. My mind was whirling, whirling before I blacked out.

I began to dream a dream that was so vivid, it not like a dream at all, but real. My eyes were closed and at the same time open, for I saw a  large number of antique dolls , like the ones in Salem, come out of the closet, and crowd into the room. In their white muslin gowns, curling wigs, china faces, they stood on the floor beside the couch, and staring up at me with their myriad glass eyes.  “Oh,” I thought. “I do have a large doll collection!” I rose up on one elbow to see them better, and suddenly snapped back to reality. They were gone!

Now call me what you will, but I always thought these poppets were witches that followed me home from Salem, from that little house in the back garden. Witches work through dolls, and these were a cross between dolls and faeries — those spirits of nature that grant witches their powers.

Those dolls were enchanted, I tell you!

I went back to Salem in the 1980’s and found it had become a large and ugly theme park of Haunted Houses and witchy souvenir shops. Much of the old magic was lost in the midst of so much tacky commercialism. The dolls house in the back garden was gone of course; it probably wouldn’t have survived in a time when vandalism had become the norm. In 2006, the theme parks had dwindled down to few and New Age shops had moved in. With less ostentatious clutter, the austere beauty of the old town can breathe again.

I carry the witches dolls inside me now.  They continue to work their magic in my imagination and stare out at me from the shelves in my walk-in closet, and my kitchen cupboards, and make appearances in my poems and stories. As witches poppets, of course.

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How to Know if Your House is Haunted

How to Tell if Your House is Haunted

by Lucifera, Queen of Elfhame

You can find my stuff elsewhere on the web. At EHow.com I write humorous paranormal articles under the name Lucifera, Queen of Elfhame.  This is my first post ever online. It has been very popular. If you like this let me know and I will write some more. Better yet, you can find more in this vein at EHow.com.

Could it be? Could it be?

When we move into a new house, we have so many concerns, that the atmosphere of the place may be the last thing we consider. The rent is so affordable, the rooms so spacious,and the location so perfect that we ignore the clotted shadows in the corners, the creaking basement stairs plunging into darkness, the dead, evil tree leaning near the front door. But, once we settle in, an unaccustomed weariness overtakes us. We have nightmares, or see strange lights floating in the air, hear cries and moans in the night. We tell ourselves these are merely symptoms of the house settling. Yet, we jump when we glimpse a sudden movement at the corner of our eye! We wake to find the kettle boiling on the stove, or dishes lying broken on the floor. We cannot blame the cat for she has fled…
In time, depression sets in; we have a run of bad luck. Somehow, home becomes the last place we want to be.
The back of our neck prickles. “The house is haunted,” our mind whispers. But we don’t believe in ghosts…

Surely, it is just our own problems assailing us. But how do we know for sure?
Below is one method that has worked for me.

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Instructions

Difficulty: Challenging

Things You’ll Need:

  • Courage
  • Mirror

  • White Candle
Step1

no, no, no no, no, no

Do not use a ouija board in such a place! Do not check yourself into a mental ward! Use the following methods in your investigation. They are safer.

Step2

Realize that ghosts cannot hurt you physically. Their power lies in the way they effect your subconscious mind.
Knowing this, resolve to prevent your imagination taking over. Be strong.

Step3

Ghosts live in the in-between, therefore, learn to look through your eyes using your peripheral vision. Gaze at the empty spaces between solid objects. An empty doorway is always good, as is an empty corner of the room, or the empty air at the end of your bed. Still your racing pulse, be receptive. Use all of your six senses…

Step4

You can detect them best in the night, for they are of the night. Determine to stay awake until sunrise.

Step5

Light a candle. Place a mirror flat in front of it. If the flame flickers and flares up, you can be sure the ghost is nigh. Look down into the mirror. If fear creeps up your spine, the ghost is there!
Do not react. Simply say, “Hello”.

Step6

With practice, you will notice things. Like the shadowy shape that stands up when you enter a room. It was sitting in your favorite chair! Or that at 3:00 AM you are awakened by a spectre standing at the foot of your bed.

Tips & Warnings

  • You may have noticed that the neighbors shun you. When they see you, they cross the road. Their children run to the edge of the yard and stare at you silently when you come out of the door. A sure sign that the house is wrong! Ask someone, if they will speak to you, what they know about the place. Even if they say nothing, you will be able to tell by the look in their eyes that they know the whole story.
  • Realize, beyond the shadow of a doubt, if you can see them, they can see you… How do you get rid of ghosts? Before you move out, read my next article: “How to Politely Ask a Ghost to Go Away!”

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