Lay Me to Rest

Thanks to Laurel from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for this story!

It had been a year since Laurel’s grandfather had passed away.  It being Samhain, the Wiccan celebration of Halloween, she decided to hold a private circle to bless her ancestors.  Her grandfather had been cremated and his ashes distributed in vials among the family.  Gathering her supplies, she decided to bring one of her grandfather’s vials along to further include him in the ceremony.

Since it was such a lovely, fall morning, Laurel decided to hold the ritual outside.  At the top of a small hill behind her house is a beautiful grove of trees.  Sitting with her back against one of the trees, Laurel began the ritual.  She set the incense burning to cleanse the area around her.  She blessed the herbs that she had brought as an offering to the Gods.  Then she lit her candle and sat back to say her prayers and to meditate.  She had her grandfather’s ashes beside her.

Once she had closed the circle, Laurel began to collect her things.  Then she made an astonishing discovery.  The vial was gone!

“It couldn’t have gone far,” she thought.  “I had it right next to me.”

She started scrambling through the leaves, thinking perhaps that the wind had shifted some of them and hidden the vial.  She couldn’t find it anywhere.  Maybe the Gods were playing a Samhain trick on her?

She looked up at the sky.  “Okay.  I acknowledge that you’re there, but this isn’t funny.  Can I have my Grandpap back now, please?”

As if in response, another thought came to Laurel.  “Grandpap was a trickster in his own right.  What if he was the one who took his vial?”  Laurel felt comforted.  If her grandfather wanted to remain in this special spot by her home, then she would honor his wish.  She smiled, knowing he would always watch over her and her family from the grove on the hill.

 

Keep the Light On

Thanks to Stephanie from Massachusetts for this story!

Whenever I think of haunted states, the ones that come immediately to mind are New York, Virginia, and Massachusetts.  Maybe it’s because they are all from the original thirteen colonies and have so much history, but it’s not surprising to hear of ghost stories.  From houses to colleges to battlefields, almost everything is haunted.

Stephanie works the night shift in a residential home for children with extreme developmental issues.  Part of her job is to check on the children routinely throughout the night.  She does this about every five to ten minutes.  The house that she works in has four bedrooms, a kitchen, bathrooms, laundry room, and a living room that functions as a common area.

Stephanie sits watch in the hallway.  The living room is behind her.  Two bedrooms are at the front of the house.  In order to get to the second bedroom, she had to walk around the staircase and pass through the living room.

Last October, it was a normal night like any other when things suddenly became strange.  It was about two or three in the morning.  The area by the craft table in the living room was dimmer than usual.  For some reason, Stephanie had forgotten to turn the light on in the room that night.

As she turned into the living room, the figure of a man materialized.  He had short hair, was muscular in stature, and looked to be anywhere from his twenties to mid-thirties.  It happened so quickly that Stephanie didn’t even have time to react.  One second he was walking beside her and the next, he had passed through the wall by the craft table and disappeared.  She only caught the side profile of his face and didn’t notice any particular details about his clothes.

Stephanie is a no-nonsense person.  She had a better reaction than most other people would have had in her situation.  Once the man was gone, she resumed her nightly duties.  Since that night, Stephanie always remembers to keep the light on in the living room.  The mysterious man is yet to make another appearance.

A Ghostly Interlude

This happened to me when I was a teenager growing up in the Bronx.  My family lived on Campbell Drive in the second floor apartment of a two-family house.  Built in 1942, it even still had the original glass doorknobs and other structural furnishings from that era.

From the beginning, Mom and I sensed that the place was haunted.  We’d see shadows moving out of the corner of our eyes.  The hallway lights that were activated by motion sensors would come on when no one was around.  Sometimes late at night, we’d get the feeling that there were people talking in the living room.  It was that kind of elevated energy vibe that you experience whenever you are at a party or in a restaurant.  The second we stepped into the living room, the atmosphere would return to normal.

One night, I was waiting for my mother to get home from work.  I was sitting on the couch deeply engrossed in a book when I suddenly heard piano music.  Before that moment, ghosts were the furthest thing from my mind.  The neighbors weren’t home, so it wasn’t a radio or someone else’s television.  The music was coming from our old, out of tune piano that we almost never played.

Steadying myself, I looked over to my left.  Just as I expected, the piano was closed and no one was sitting there.  I stared at it as the eerie music continued to flow beneath the invisible musician’s hands.  The tune was unfamiliar to me.  After another minute, there was a loud jarring sound as if someone had purposely banged on the keys, then the music stopped as quickly as it had begun.

I swallowed once or twice, the oppressive silence roaring in my ears.  Nodding, I got up and said, “Well, so much for watching the electric bill!”  Then I turned on the television, switched on all of the lights, and waited for mom to get home.

 

The House that Never Sleeps

Thanks to Renee for contributing this story!

On Englewood Avenue in Teaneck, New Jersey there is an old, white house with high levels of paranormal activity.  Renee states that her family has known very little peace since buying the house in 1960.  The spirits are particularly disturbing at night.  After everyone has gone to bed, you can hear doors opening and closing and sounds of a loud party going on downstairs.  However, if you brave your fears and check below, the noise stops.  Family members have reported seeing dark shadows walking around and incidents of waking to find ghostly figures standing by their beds.

Built in 1917, the house was part of Dr. Gaylord’s extensive property.  The original house included six bedrooms, four bathrooms, a powder room, and a kitchen.  Renee’s family built on additional rooms.  Most of the negative activity takes place in the newer parts of the house.

One account that Renee shared with me happened when she was a child.  She and her siblings were playing outside.  A little boy appeared and asked if he could join in their game.  After a while, Renee’s mother went into the yard and called for her kids to come inside.  They turned to say goodbye to their new friend, only to see him vanish.  They never saw him again.

A man resembling President Ulysses S. Grant has been said to appear inside of the house or on the grounds.  The scariest part is all that you see is his head floating by as if he is walking, but there is no body attached.  The family has found flags and bullets on the property.  While the former president could not have been in the house being it was built after his death, there is evidence that he knew the Gaylord family and perhaps had visited their estate before.

Big bursts of activity usually occur around the holidays.  One Thanksgiving, Renee’s sister saw the face of a red-headed man and she screamed.  Later on that same night, she was carrying a bowl of gravy when a portrait suddenly fell off the mantel, causing her to drop the platter she was carrying and scald herself.  Renee’s aunt was visiting and mentioned that she wanted to see a ghost.  The red-headed man must have taken this as a challenge because she woke up to see his face leering above her bed.  Unable to get back to sleep, she went to stay in a hotel.

Unlike other places where the spiritual phenomena fluctuate, this house continues to have a high level of activity.  It would seem that both the living and the dead residents are constantly vying for space.  Thankfully, most hauntings are not as intrusive as this one.

 

I Thought I was Alone: Marillac Hall, Part 2

I woke up early the next day to get ready for the start of Welcome Back Weekend.  My room wasn’t one of the suites, so I had to use the hallway bathrooms.  Gathering my things, I headed for the shower.  My dorm room faced the stair landing, so that I could see people coming up or going down the stairs.

I was still feeling a bit drowsy, when I noticed a young woman descending the stairs in front of me.  At first I thought her brown garment was a robe, but I quickly saw that it was actually a dress.  She was swaying back and forth as she glided down the steps.  “Gee, she’s going awfully slow!” I thought to myself.  If I had been more in a hurry, I would have tried to pass her, but instead I kept up my steady pace.

She reached the third floor ahead of me, but continued going down.  As my view turned the corner, I could see down into the next stairwell.  She glanced up at me before continuing on her way.  I didn’t think much of it at the time.  I reached the end of the stairs a moment later and stood on the landing.  An odd feeling made me look back.

She was gone!  I couldn’t even see her going down the stairs anymore and she had only been a few feet ahead of me.  She should have still been visible.  I lingered there for a couple of minutes before heading to the bathroom.

“If I’m the only one on the fourth floor right now, then who was that?” I mumbled to myself.  It was like she just appeared out of nowhere.  The woman hadn’t made a sound.  She had been wearing a long, dark-colored dress.  Her hair had been pinned up in an old-fashioned manner.  Staring into the bathroom mirror, it hit me.  I had seen a ghost.  More than that, I had just followed a ghost down the stairs.

I thought back to the words of Hans Holzer, a famous paranormal investigator.  He said that ghosts were people too and that it was important to treat them as such.  Be courteous, but honest about your expectations of sharing living space with them.  Taking a deep breath, I looked into the mirror and said aloud, “Listen.  You can’t keep popping up out of the woodwork like this.  I have to live here.  You know I can see you, but I won’t get much studying done if you keep spooking me like that.”

Thankfully after this incident, the rest of the students moved in and the ghosts were less noticeable.  Even so, every night that I had to stay up late, I would repeat my entreaty asking the peaceful, but strong spirits of Marillac Hall to stay hidden so that I could do my homework.  Fortunately, they were quite obliging spirits.  Well, most of the time…

 

 

A Strange Welcome: Marillac Hall, Part 1

I’ve had my share of ghostly encounters and strange experiences.  So, I was understandably nervous about moving into the oldest and most haunted dorm on the College of Mount Saint Vincent’s campus.  What made it even creepier was that I was going to be there a week before all of the other students because I was helping with college orientation that year.  Marillac Hall was built in the late 1800s.  Everyone had a ghost story about that place, but I couldn’t pass up a chance to live in that truly beautiful, historic building.

My room was on the fourth floor of one of Marillac’s two wings.  The room was larger than the other surrounding suites.  It had originally been the floor lounge, but had been converted into another dorm room to maximize space.  This was a smaller floor and had fewer rooms than the other three levels in the building.

Every fall, my mother would spiritually cleanse my dorm room for the start of the school year by mopping the floor with perfumed water.  My then boyfriend, George, and I went down to the kitchen on the second floor.  As I turned on the sink, I sent a mental message to any spirits that might be in the building saying hello and that I was just borrowing a pot for some water.  I don’t know why I did this other than that I was nervous.  Directly after this, George and I both heard a woman calling my name from the stairwell above the kitchen.  She distinctly said, “Tara, where are you?” in a sort of sing-song voice.  Both George and I thought it was my mother and I answered, “I’m here in the kitchen.  Don’t go walking around or you’ll probably get lost. This building is confusing.”  We went up the stairs, but did not see my mother anywhere.

When I got back to the room, I asked her why she didn’t wait for me when I came up from the kitchen.  She insisted that she had never left the room.  That’s when George and I told her what we had heard.  My mother’s eyes went wide.  Our family friend, Artie, who had helped move me in, started giggling, “You’re in for a quite a year if they have already made contact with you, Honey.”

That night as I fell into an uneasy sleep, I could have sworn that I heard the doors upstairs opening and closing.  I was the only one on the floor that night, so I kept telling myself that it was the wind running through a drafty, old building.  Of course, that didn’t explain what I saw the next morning.

 

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Footsteps after Dark

Thanks to my mother, Lady Rhea of Magickal Realms from Bronx, NY for this story.

Lady Rhea is a third degree, Wiccan high priestess.  For over forty years, she has held circles, crafted candle magick, and has performed various types of psychic readings.  She has done Ouija board readings and done other types of oracle-based rituals.  However, in this case, she did not try to make contact.  Her New Age store was located in the Bronx’s City Island at the time of this ghostly encounter.

It was February 2013.  Lady Rhea was alone in the basement glittering candles.  It was 8:30pm and the store was closed.  Rhea was the only one in the store at this time.  She paused in her work as she heard loud, heavy footsteps walking across the floor upstairs.  They went down the aisle, turned the corner to the basement stairs, came down three steps and stopped.  From the angle of her work table, Rhea could not see who was standing on the staircase.  Picking up her Exacto knife and a pan of glitter, she crept up to surprise the intruder.

Only, she didn’t see anyone there.  Cautiously, she went up the steps to investigate the store.  The front door was still secure.  She turned on all the lights, checked the two bathrooms, and any other possible hiding places, but again she found the place empty.  Rhea called one of her friends to come pick her up and take her home early.  After this unnerving incident, she refused to stay in the store by herself at night again.

Later in 2014, a photographer was interested in filming the store for a potential show.  He took two pictures of the basement area to show where Lady Rhea created her candles and manufactured other products.  After the photoshoot was done, Rhea received a call from him saying that she might be interested in seeing what his camera had captured in the basement.  Rhea’s heart thudded when she viewed the photos.  One picture was a normal shot, but the very next shows the shadowy outline of a tall man.

Another time, someone who was doing psychic readings at the store took a picture of the entrance to the basement along with other pictures of the store.  The picture of the basement showed the area shrouded in fathomless, dark, grey smoke.  This was when the lights had been turned on and there was no one smoking nearby.  They had not left any incense burning either.  Between these and other problems, the store was relocated to Westchester Square in the summer of 2014.