Meandering thoughts on ghost stories and the paranormal/paranatural Part 1

Trigger Warning:
This one meanders a bit and is long. I found myself meandering much longer than I initially expected as I let myself think "aloud" about these things. For the sake of simplicity I lump all stories of the paranormal/natural together as a ghost story. This includes faeries, demons, ghosts and everything else. It's just easier that way for me.

I discuss my thoughts on ghost story comments, similarities in stories and then share a couple short experiences I've had. There is mockery as well as sarcasm. There is a little thoughtful exposition and a lot of "hmmm".

If you can't handle scary stories, then skip this one. I know some people don't like them, and I don't want to cause nightmares.

This is part one. Part Two, tomorrow.

I've said it before, I love a good ghost story. Every where I've lived I've sought out the stories that happened "just over there, in that building". I love hearing people's experiences and have no problem scaring myself silly and then sleeping that night. I don't have nightmares about things I hear or read. I guess I'm lucky that way.

The other day I was having a scary-story day. One of those days where I spent too much time reading stories on one website or another about people's "true ghost stories". I seek out scary clown doll stories a lot-- because of that damned clown that haunted me so long ago. I also love stories of so-called "black-eyed kids", and find them to be scarily similar, but not so close that they're caused by self-hypnosis or the influence of prior-stories (in fact, most of them have never heard of BEK's before experiencing one).

So I'm reading Your Ghost Stories, primarily, meandering through the possession category. I like those the best, they tend to be the easiest to debunk and are often unintentionally hilarious-- no matter what site you're reading them on. It strikes me, as it often does, the tone of the comments.

Like any sites that allow comments you have your Commenter Camps.

One camp automatically decides everything is demonic, and you have to get Jesus and be baptised and go to church. This is also the "call your priest and get an exorcism" group, and it's the best when they say things like "You need to get to a bible-believing church, maybe an Orthodox one." I realise the Orthodox Church tends to be sorta mystical, but I wouldn't call any of them "Bible-Believing". That's a phrase thrown around by Evangelicals, and fundamentalists-- usually of the Baptist persuasion.

The second camp are the "Great story, bro, I think I saw that on a movie once" group. They're beyond skeptical, they're nasty about it. I'm lumping the grammar Nazi's in here, too. I don't expect someone gravely shaken by an experience to always remember apostrophe rules, or notice if the spell-check missed something. These people expect you to be perfect while you're terrified but sometimes in the retelling, it's still terrifying.

The last camp are the empathic ones. They're the ones who offer the best advice for getting a cleansing, or finding answers. They're also not afraid to say, "have you spoken to a medical professional?"

My favourite group, is the first one.

Why in the hell would you go to a ghost story site if you believe they're all demons?! To pyrolyse, of course! Tell them all about your Jesus, and how they're missing out on his protection and blah blah blah. Throw in the "lake of fire" and "hell" threats on occasion and you've done your part in the Great Commission-- you've told them and now your hands are clean. If they don't listen to you, it's not your fault!

Besides, you look to righteous, so christian, telling these terrified people who think they saw some demonic entity take over their friend/mother/father/sibling/lover/cat that all they need is to "burn the book" and "pray to Jesus" and everything will be OK.

That fucking kills me! Absolutely slays me.

It's the same people who are virulently pro-tea bagger and troll liberal sites. They use the same handful of catch-phrases, the same basic three thoughts. They're in the right, you see-- they Know the Truth, and you need to hear it from them, because you've lived your entire life in the middle of Siberia and never heard of this thing called "The True Church" or this person called Jesus...

But their trolling aside, they do tend to harp on the same things. One of them, though, I'd caution people never to do.

Never taunt an entity/negative presence/creature.

Their whole "call upon Jesus' blood" shtick is taunting the entity. It's stupid, it's like telling a robber "I've got a bible and I'm not afraid to quote it at you!" Pathetic and totally isn't going to work. I'm sure "calling" upon any Deity, God or Goddess, Spirit, Angel or whatever, if you have no real belief behind it is the same thing. Most people who do that whole "calling on the blood" thing have never seen anything they can't explain in their lives-- if they do, they gibber in fear. There's no calling on anything. But it's very easy to tell someone to use a phrase or say the "Our Father/Lord's Prayer" or "Ave Maria" or whatever formulaic set of words-- especially if they think everything that could be encountered is a Satanic minion and "flees at the sound" of the name Jesus.

I had rock-solid faith in that name. I was a kid, still pretty naive and innocent. I embodied the child-like faith that Jesus himself is purported to have told his followers to have, and I couldnt' even authoritatively use his "name" to case out an entity plaguing me. If a kid who believes with all her heart and soul can't do it-- I highly doubt that some dude in a white collar or slick suit who's jaded by life can.

But hey, internet advice is never wrong-- right?

One thing I did notice--again, is the similarity of stories. That site above lets you input where your story happened, and treats it like a keyword. I dig that, because haunting and happenings around the world are so different, and yet, so much the same. I don't think it's influenced, as a rule, by things we've read online, or in books. I wouldn't be surprised to find it's a form of racial conscience though.

Think about it-- how many people were afraid of the dark as kids? Most of us, right? Even if you tell your kids, "Sweetie, there's nothing in the dark that isn't there in the light" it's still scary not to be able to see, and the shadows and shapes just seem to alien. My mother always tried to convince us that there was nothing at night, nothing in the dark that could hurt us.

I never believed her. See, we had an old farm house. It was built in parts, and when we lived there was 150 years old, or something like that. Even the newest parts of the house were over 50 years old then. It creaked and groaned and popped and cracked; I knew that was settling-- the house was primarily wood.

But it had a "Michigan basement" and those things are creepy as hell.As the eHow explains, a Michigan basement is a cellar, a crawlspace, a dirt walled place with a cement floor. Ours was about the size of our kitchen, so maybe 12 by 15. It has a walk-up, meaning there was a door to get out of the house, and therefore possible for someone to break in that way until my Dad built a cover over it that looked like a Kansas-cellar opening without doors (that weirdly angled door way). At some point in the history of that house someone has installed an dead-bolt on the door. The key was rusted into bolt, and I don't know if it ever turned. My Great-Grandfather had bricked the door up about thirty years before I was born, but I was told Dad made that cover-thing because the mortar was getting old. "And we don't want any of you kids falling down the stairs."-- it would have been impossible to fall down the stairs, none of us could open the cellar-style doors that were already there there was a Masterlock on them. Dad just ripped them off and built a new cover. It was all very odd that old wooden door, with dirty windows and an old bronze coloured door knob plate that went to nowhere.

The floor was half dirt, half cement, and there was a built-up place that used to hold animals. I told you, this was a farmhouse, and I think have the basement was part barn at one point (yes, we had a barn, too and once had a cow and a pig).

Down there was the furnace, the coal-hopper (which had been bricked up), and the "fuel-oil" spout that the man from the Fuel Oil Company would come out and use a huge hose and pour it in like he was gassing up the house. You could see the pipe come in across the ceiling and go to this tank that attached to the furnace.

There were some shelves for storage, too. My mother used them to hold her canned goods and the fruit and veggies she canned because it was cold and dark down there. There was a weight bench, and Dad's reloading stuff down there, too.

I think there was some thing down there, too. I was always told it was mice, but mice don't scare me. That basement did. There was a lot of light, when we'd turn them on, it wasn't dark for a basement. But if you sat on the top step-- right there by the pantry, still in the house-- and listened, there was always a whispered murmur coming from behind that door to the outside. The scary part for me, as a kid under 12, was that I knew I shouldn't hear that whispering sound; the door was down the 13 steps and almost 20 feet from me. But I heard it clear as if two people were whispering behind me.

I got brave once, my sister and I both, and we went down there and listened to the door itself. The murmuring stayed just as loud as it was before, and no clearer. A weirdly whispered conversation that we never understood, just on the other side of those bricks.

When I got older, I asked about it. My mother's face went white and she sputtered for a moment. Then claimed it was the wind.

Right. The wind, blowing against a door that was bricked closed when my mother had been an infant. A door that had been behind a cellar-styled swinging doors, but was then (when I heard it) behind a closed off, you can't get this open without a hacksaw and a pick axe to break the boards cover.


Then I heard about a cousin she had, a convicted rapist, kidnapper and torturer, and figured the susurration I heard was related to his negativity. I'd love to go back, if the new owners let me, and see the basement again... My point though, is that there was something in that dark, that I couldn't see in the light. I felt that she lied to me.

Another thing humans tend to be afraid of, altogether, is bugs-- usually the biting stinging kind. That makes sense. As does the heights. The small vermin I can understand, as a fear of starving because the mice ate all your food.

I am surprised at the sheer number of people terrified of clowns, though. According to a little blurb at Psychology Today of the adults who have phobias, eight percent of us have coulrophobia-- phobia of clowns. It also says that curing us is merely a matter of exposure-- which would be pants-shittingly scary for me, and something that I absolutely Will Not go through. Fuck mental health if it means "eventually dressing as a clown". Fuck that all to hell.

What also surprised me was the number of doll stories I found. Many with clown dolls, or porcelain harlequin dolls, or rag-dolls. It got me to thinking about how humans see clowns, and dolls, and how they're very like humans but very much, not. I wonder if it's part of the uncanny valley phenomenon, or if it's something else, something more primal. I will explore dolls and their creepiness in another blog, another time.

One set of stories I enjoyed a great deal was "From the Shadows" blog (link below), and were about a visitation from a creature they're calling "The Harlequin". One of these was likened to a dream and seemed to be a cross between a kid's fear of clowns and a "Nightmare on Elm Street" dream. Most of the rest have to do with a man named Dan and the creature he saw as a kid.

[N.B. Now, I can't vouch for this, I don't know this man, I've never emailed, spoken, written or had any interaction with him, or with the person who keeps the blog. All my thoughts and observations are my own, influenced by by experiences, knowledge and interpretation.]

This gent said that as a kid he'd have visitations from this creature, an androgynous personage, very long and ungainly in the limbs who wore motley-- or something very like it, and had overly-large eyes. It would speak with him, although he can't remember what it said. Another woman had the same experiences, and when she went to Uni found that the stories of the Tuatha de Danann were familiar to her-- even though they should not have been-- and thinks the Harlequin told her those stories. We would call the Tuatha "sidhe" or faeries today. They're still called "The Good People" by many people, because no one wants to offend the Sidhe.

The man details a couple other sightings of this personage. I am loathe to call it a creature, because it seems to care for this man. When he was little it didn't want him to be afraid, and he never felt threatened by it. So, what does it want to tell him? Kinda curious, isn't it?

It could be that these persons are indeed creatures, that they are the fae, earth spirits or some other fairie taking the form of a person. There are other stories of these sorts of creatures taking the form of humans and appearing very strange to those around them. They didn't dress right, or seemed overly interested in the city they were walking through-- like tourists of modern life, almost. Their articulation is said to be very odd, maybe jerky or disjointed, like they're not used to walking, and their faces are subtly wrong-- usually too big of eyes, and too small mouth. I've never seen one of these Harlequins, so I can't say. I'd like to, though-- wouldn't it be intersting?

Whatever they have to say to people, though, they try to be non-threatening, and seek to calm the children they're visiting. That reminded me of something my youngest son told me when he was about four years old.

We were living in Michigan, and my two older children were at school. I was trying to get some work done, and was researching something on the computer. He was sitting next to me on the bed playing on a Game Boy. It was spring, and the windows were open.

"Mum, when you are done, can we go talk to the man without a face?" he said out of the blue.
"The man without a face?" I asked, very confused.
"Yeah, the man without a face. He lives down there," he pointed to a tumble of mossy stones that were part of the old foundation of the house that had been on the property decades before. They were about two hundred feet from the house, down the hill where the woods started; my parents had told the builder to just ignore them, they weren't in the way, and didn't need to be moved when the house was built.
"In the stones?" I asked.
"Yes, in the stones," my son looked at me like I was stupid. "Where the faeries live, in those stones."
I had called that the faerie mound myself for awhile, but never aloud to my children.

So I asked as causally as I could, what he and the man without a face talked about. My youngest son has always been a little odd, and does things with a gravity that's hilarious at times. He carefully saved his game, and put the toy on his pillow. Then he started telling me stories about what the faeries did, under that mound, stories that paralleled things I had read in my own books of faerie tales-- stories I had never read to my children, and they only recently started reading for themselves.

"Is this man scary?" I asked.
"No, but he is weird. He has a blurry face, like," my kid paused and made a motion like he was washing his face. "Like it got messed up." I could see him searching for words, but lacking. "And he talks funny."
"Funny how? Like he sounds like Rogue?" I referenced the X-Men heroine-- my kids grew up on a steady diet of super heroes. "Or like Batman?"
"No, like singing. His voice sounds like he's... like almost singing," again I could see him searching for words, and not finding them. No four year old knows the phrase "sing-song" with reference to accents.
So I did a quick Google for Indian and African politicians-- I played a vid of each, and asked "Like that?"
"Sort of," he said. "More like that man," he pointed to the gentleman from Africa.

We talked more, and I never felt completely comfortable with the idea, but my son wasn't afraid, and said he only heard the man talking to him when we were outside. Considering we never let him outside alone, I wasn't worried it was some kidnapper.

How many kids see faeries who tell them stories?  Is this something that happens to all of us, or just some of us?

Makes me wonder, too, about the parents of these children. Are they terrified of the sound the "Speakers" made, or do they ignore the whispers? Can we hear them at all? I know my mother ignored anything that didn't fit her black and white world. I'm not as rational as that-- I do believe in the Good People, and that I have seen them... my world is not black and white, though-- it's sort of grey and silvery, with shadows and light. Part of my religious tradition is accepting that we can't see everything, and we don't know everything-- but isn't it fun trying to figure it all out!?

Tomorrow I'll pick up here and go on. This blog needed to be truncated, and this was the best place to do it. Tomorrow, BEK's and lizard-people and shadowmen.

Just a couple story collection sites. I can't vouch for anything on them as truth or conspiracy or the ramblings of madmen and women. I just occasionally take a look at them and giggle or think, "Huh, they need to get out more". Some of them make me wonder if they did, indeed happen.

Your Ghost Stories
From the Shadows
True Ghost Stories
True Ghost Tales


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