A Haunting Halloween

Dear Readers,

I hope this letter finds you well.  I will have another new story for The Ghost Post up next week.  In the meantime, I thought I would repost one of my favorite Halloween stories with an additional update at the end of the blog.  Thank you so much for all your support!

Have a Happy Halloween and a Blessed Samhain!

Tara Theresa Hill


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 were 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 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.”

Update 2017: One of my recent interviewees told me that the sound that I heard in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery might have been the Weeping Woman.  She said that the Weeping Woman is a spirit who haunts the cemetery.  Some people hear her moaning or wailing.  She is supposed to be connected to a statue depicting a crying woman that is in the cemetery.  I do not recall if I was near a statue because it was too dark to see, but some versions of the legend claim that she walks the cemetery at night.  The statue is called the Bronze Lady and is located across from the tomb of General Samuel Thomas.


Do You Have a Ghost Story?

Send me an email to theghostpostreporter@gmail.com to set up an interview.  I’m always in the mood for a good ghost story! 

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

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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.

Spook
“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. 

“Told you that we have a ghost.”

Soon after we got married, George and I moved to Yonkers, New York.  The apartment was a large studio with a walk-through kitchen and a wide hallway that led to the bathroom.  The hallway was so big that we turned it into a mini-library and storage area for some of George’s Star Trek models.

Having grown up in Yonkers until I was about eleven years old, I was happy to be back in my old neighborhood.  The building was from the 1920s, although the city itself dates back to the mid-1600s.  There was even an old Jewish cemetery located a few blocks from our apartment building that was usually kept locked.  The earliest gravestones had dates from the 1950s.

One night, about two weeks after we had settled in and unpacked everything, I was walking by the bookshelf when one of George’s toy Star Trek phasers went off by itself.  To say I nearly jumped out of my skin is an understatement.  I ran out of that hallway so fast that I’m sure the ghost must have been in a fit of hysterics.  This happened a few more times, including a couple in front of George.

Our second year there, George and I decided to throw a Halloween party.  A few of our friends came over and we all dressed in costume and played some board games.  We also gave out candy to the trick-or-treaters.  I had told my friends about the events in the house.  I had by this time taken George’s electronic toys and stuffed them in the closet so that I couldn’t hear them if they decided to go off on their own.  Some of my friends were skeptics, some believed me, but we were all in for a surprise later that night.

Everyone was standing around, saying their goodbyes, and getting ready to go home.  I had just finished telling them that I was in the middle of writing a ghost story that was quickly turning into my first novel.  Then inexplicably, our TV turned itself on.  No one was near the remote or standing by the TV.  This was one of those older television sets with a built-in DVD player from the early 2000s.  You had to press the power button firmly to get it to turn on.  Everyone looked at me.

“Told you that we have a ghost.”

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! 

If you enjoyed this article and would be interested in supporting my work, please check out my Patreon page. 

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! 

If you enjoyed this article and would be interested in supporting my work, please check out my Patreon page. 

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.