Dorming with Ghosts: The Many Spirits of Marillac Hall

Ouija boards are the subject of much controversy.  Having grown up with a psychic mother, I am pretty comfortable using them, although I know that it is wise to take some precautions, such as lighting a white candle and placing a chalice or bowl of water nearby to help attract positive spirits.  I had some spectacular experiences with ghosts during my years at the College of Mount Saint Vincent, especially at Marillac Hall.

I lived in Marillac Hall in my Junior year.  I’m glad that I had a roommate because I don’t think that I would have been brave enough to live there on my own.  The oldest building on campus, Marillac was built in the late 1800s.  My college always had a lot of fun hosting haunted houses and ghost tours for Halloween.  After getting permission from the Residence Director, I invited my mother and a friend up to do a Ouija board séance at Marillac Hall.

I was standing downstairs in the lounge, waiting for my mother to arrive.  Suddenly, I heard a tapping sound.  Looking up, I saw a face grinning back at me through the porch door’s window.  I must have jumped ten feet high.  The woman on the other side of the doorway laughed hysterically.

“Very funny, Mom,” I chided her.  “You have to come in the front door.  The porch is always kept locked.”  She nodded and I went around to get her and our family friend, Artie, signed in under me.  Artie, also known as Lord Tammuz, is another elder of the Craft in New York City.  He and my mom have been friends for many years and they are used to doing the Ouija board together.  Mom, Artie, and I spent some time catching up while we waited for people to arrive for the event.

Once everyone was there, I introduced Mom and Artie to the group.  Mom explained how we were going to respectfully ask any spirits who were around if they wished to communicate.  This was not going to be an aggressive event where we tried to coerce spirits into making contact.  While there were never any guarantees that spirits would decide to come thorough the board, Mom was hopeful that there would be a high level of activity that night because it was Halloween.  The veil between the Spirit World and the living is thinnest on Halloween night, which is also known as Samhain in Wiccan traditions.

Due to fire safety precautions, we could not light any candles, but Mom said that was okay.  She didn’t think we would run into any negative spirits.  The Mount is a peaceful, holy place.  CMSV was founded by the Sisters of Charity and Marillac Hall has a tiny chapel located on the first floor where the Sisters sometimes hold special, private prayer sessions.

We turned down the lights, keeping only the low lamps on so that we could see the board clearly.  Mom and Artie did the board while I recorded the words that the spirits spelled out.  The first spirit that came through was a gentleman from the 1940s.  His wife had attended the College of Mount Saint Vincent back when it was still a women’s college.  He had fond memories of visiting her here while they were courting.  They had gotten married after she graduated.

The room that we were doing the Ouija board reading in is known as the “Engagement Room.”  Mom and Artie didn’t know this, but my classmates and I did because we knew the history of the building.  When the school was still exclusively for women, male visitors weren’t allowed to go upstairs to visit their girlfriends.  The front desk attendant would escort the gentleman caller into the “Engagement Room” to wait.  Then they would let the young lady know that she had a visitor.

The second spirit that came through was a priest with a heavy Irish brogue named Father William.  During his life, he had resided on campus and taught mathematics.  This was reflected in the friendly, but professorial manner in which he addressed us.  He told us that many spirits chose to “haunt” CMSV, but not in the negative sense.  Very few, if any were stuck there.  Rather, the positive experiences that they had at the Mount forged a bond with the place that kept them coming back to visit long after they had gone to the light.

Father William went on to explain that sometimes spirits returning for a visit would be surprised by the changes that the Mount had undergone in their absence.  His former abode was now a large broom closet.  One of my classmates gasped, “Are you the ghost that haunts the storage closet on the third floor whose door always opens up on its own?”

“Aye,” Father William spelled out.

“Why do you stay there?” we asked.

“The landlord hates me,” he responded.  Then Father William told us all to study hard and said that he had to be going because there were other spirits who wanted to come through the board.

A couple of other spirits came through.  One commented on a student’s velvet curtains and said that she could leave them open if she ever wanted to see the ghosts that congregate on the balcony outside her window at night.  Just like the porch, the balcony had been sealed off many years before and students were forbidden to climb out onto it, even if their windows overlooked it.  The young woman shook her head, “After this, I’m always keeping them closed.”

Then the last spirit of the night arrived.  This one was a female from the 1950s.  “Hi, gang!” she chirped out over the board.  She introduced herself as K.M.  “I love Marillac!  I have a monument here.”  We all looked at each other.  As far as my classmates and I knew, there was no monument to any student on campus.  We were curious about how she had died.

K.M. grew sad.  “I did something foolish that led to an accident.”

“What did you do?” we asked.

She spelled out one word.  “Dumbwaiter.”  She had apparently climbed inside of one and the resulting accident had led to her death.

I nodded.  “Oh…That must be why all of the old dumbwaiters in the building are sealed up now.”

The spirit circled “YES” on the board.

We were all silent for a moment.  Then one of the students asked, “Where is your monument?”

K.M. responded, “In here.  Turn on the light.”

We didn’t understand what she meant, so we kept turning on and off lights for a few minutes.  We didn’t see any monument though.  It was close to midnight at this point, so we had to bring the event to a close.  We all said goodbye to K.M.  Then Mom thanked the spirits for joining us and closed out the session.  As we were cleaning up, Mom noticed something behind a tall lamp.  The lampshade had been hiding a brass plaque that was attached to the wall.  The initials of the person who the plaque commemorated were K.M. from the Class of 1955.

You can read more about the hauntings of CMSV in the following Ghost Posts: A Strange Welcome: Marillac Hall, Part 1, I Thought I was Alone: Marillac Hall, Part 2, The Ghost of Marillac Hill, Legends of CMSV: Sarah’s Story, and The Ghost Chase.


If you have a real ghost story that you would like to share with The Ghost Post, send me an email to theghostpostreporter@gmail.com to set up an interview.  I’m always in the mood for a good ghost story! 

For more ghost stories, paranormal phenomena, and updates, follow Tara Theresa Hill on Facebook and on Twitter at @TaraTheresaHill.

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“Spook” – Artwork by Mara Cordova, Copyright The Ghost Post –  April 2017

Want to show off your passion for ghosts with a little fashion flair?  In celebration of The Ghost Post’s 1 Year Anniversary, I have launched a Café Press store featuring The Ghost Post’s official new mascot, Spook. 

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A Haunting Halloween

One of my favorite ghost stories is “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving.  So, when Mom was approached to do a ritual at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery for a kid’s paranormal television show, I was thrilled to go along.  When our car first pulled into the cemetery parking lot, I was astounded by the sheer size of the place.  The endless rows of old graves amongst the fallen leaves and stark grey sky was an impressive sight.  We were given a brief private tour of the cemetery before leaving to grab some dinner at a nearby diner.  As the shadows lengthened, I asked when Mom and Sandy were going to start the circle.

“Oh, that will take place later tonight, once it gets dark,” said Mom.

“What?  How long are we going to be there?” I asked.

“All night,” Sandy sighed, sipping her coffee.

“You mean to tell me that we’re going to spend Halloween night in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery?”

“Yes.  I thought you knew that,” said Mom, as if walking around a haunted cemetery at night was the most normal thing in the world.  “I’m going to do a ritual that climaxes at midnight.  We should start wrapping up at about one o’clock in the morning, unless of course the film crew wants to do multiple takes.”

“Terrific…” I mumbled.

Of course, growing up Wiccan, Halloween (also known as Samhain) had always been a bit different in my family.  While my mother encouraged me to participate in the secular activities of dressing in costume and going trick-or-treating, it was also a deeply spiritual event.  One of my earliest Halloween memories involves sitting around a flickering jack-o’-lantern in our darkened living room listening to my mother tell me about the history of All Hallows Eve.  She told me about how the veil between the Spirit World and the Living waxes and wanes throughout the year, becoming thinnest on Halloween Night.  Mom raised me not to fear the dead, but to honor our ancestral spirits as they watch over and guide us on our life mission.

So, that’s how I found myself standing in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery at midnight on Halloween Night.  While Mom tried to make contact with a trapped spirit, I went wandering off into the cemetery with my friend and coven member, Carrie.  I had been instructed to stay out of the way of the film crew.  This was before the creation of Smart Phones or Kindles, so I didn’t have much to do to keep myself occupied.  I wasn’t interested in the screeching teenagers and it was too dark to read.  I wore one of my mother’s heavy, hooded cloaks and had bundled up in multiple layers, so at least I was warm.  Carrie and I were standing near a section of graves that were in-between the parking lot and the filming area.  I could just make out the cemetery gates and the outlines of a few tombstones.

We had been silent for a few minutes when out of the darkness, there came a low moaning.  My spine tingled at the woeful sound.  “Do you hear that?” I asked Carrie.

“Uh huh…”

“What do you suppose that is?”

“I don’t know.”

The sound was coming from one of the nearby graves, but it was so dark that we couldn’t be sure which one it was.

“Maybe it’s a sick dog or some other animal,” I ventured.

“I don’t think so,” said Carrie.

My next thought was that it was a sound effect from the film crew.  I looked over toward where one of them was standing in the parking lot.  He seemed oblivious to the noise.  Perhaps someone was playing a trick on us, but we were too far away from the staged area for that to make any sense.  The unearthly wailing continued.

“Okay.  Whatever it is, I’m leaving,” I said.  I struck out into the darkness thinking that whatever lay in front of me was better than staying next to that moaning tombstone.  I walked all the way back to where Mom was doing the ritual before I realized that Carrie wasn’t with me.  To be fair, it was pitch black and I had sped away, so it was hard to tell.

I made my way back through the cemetery, trying not to trip over any gravestones as I went until I found Carrie again.  The tombstone was still moaning.

“You left me with it!” Carrie hissed.

“I’m sorry.  I thought that you were following me.”

“No…I’m too scared to move.”

“Well, come on.  You can’t hear it once you step a few feet away.  Let’s leave whatever it is alone.”  I grabbed Carrie’s arm.  “Sorry to have disturbed you,” I said to the invisible, but clearly audible spirit.  “We’re leaving now.  Have a Happy Halloween!”  Then I dragged Carrie away as fast as we could go.

On the way home, Mom told us that she hadn’t been able to contact any spirits because of all the noise that the terrified teenagers kept making.  The television crew had purposely spooked them to create an artificial atmosphere that wasn’t conducive to speaking with the spirits.

I nodded.  “You can say that again.  I think they annoyed any ones that were hanging out tonight.  Carrie and I heard one ghost groaning.  Perhaps, she or he did not like a bunch of noisy people tromping around the cemetery at night.”

“Yes.  I wouldn’t have even done the show if I had known that they were going to make a spectacle of it.”  Our eyes met in the car’s rearview mirror.  “Remember, Tara.  Always respect the dead for they are people too.”

Please Note: I have visited Sleepy Hollow Cemetery many times since this story took place.  Here are some pictures from a recent trip that I thought that you would enjoy.

Happy Halloween from The Ghost Post!

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Picture of Sleepy Hollow Cemetery –  Photo Credit: Tara Theresa Hill
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Sleepy Hollow Cemetery –  Photo Credit: Tara Thersa Hill
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Sign for The Headless Horseman Bridge – Photo Credit: Tara Theresa Hill

 

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The Former Site of The Headless Horseman Bridge – Photo Credit: Tara Theresa Hill

If you have a real ghost story that you would like to share with The Ghost Post, send an email with your contact information to Tara Theresa Hill at theghostpostreporter@gmail.com to set up an interview. 

I’m always in the mood for a good ghost story! 

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