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. 

The Banishing

While this story is my own, I have changed the names of those involved to protect their privacy.

Growing up with Wiccan high priestess, Lady Rhea, for a mother made for an interesting time.  Aside from glittering Enchanted Candles, crafting perfumes, and giving clients psychic advice, my mother occasionally performed banishing rituals to remove negative energies from close friends’ houses.  This was much different from the spiritual cleansings that she did to purify a space.  These spells involved deeper, older magick.  For those of you who don’t know, Wiccans and Pagans often spell magick with a “k” to differentiate from the stage “magic” that magicians use as entertainment.

When I was a teenager, a close family friend of ours, started experiencing a lot of problems.  Anne had a big house with several people living there.  Over a few months, her family experienced a slew of bad luck with illnesses, financial setbacks, and a rise in heated arguments.  While various circumstances could lead to this happening, Anne felt that something in the house was “off,” so she asked for my mother to give her a reading to see what was going on.

Mom shuffled her cards and turned them over.  Taking a final drag of her cigarette, she shook her head.  “Oh, no…This is not good.”

“What is it?” asked Anne.

Mom turned over more cards.  “What I’m going to say might sound ridiculous, but I need you to listen to me.”  Anne nodded.  My mom paused before continuing, “The cards indicate that there is something inside of the house that is causing the problem.  It’s a negative entity of some sort.”

Anne’s adult son, Peter, who was also seated at the table turned his head at this news.  He said that he had recently woke up and saw an apparition of a bat-like creature with a human face hovering over his bed.  He hadn’t mentioned it before because he thought it was just a nightmare.  Mom looked back at the card reading.  She turned to Anne’s son.

“Can I see your room?”

He nodded.  Even I tagged along upstairs.  After hearing Peter’s story, I didn’t want to be left alone.  Mom entered the room.  After a minute or two, she nodded.  “Yes.  Whatever it is, it’s upstairs and it generally stays in this room.”

We went back downstairs.

“What can we do?” asked Anne as she made more coffee.

“You can light some white candles and incense to help cleanse the space, but ultimately, I’ll have to do a banishing spell for you,” said my mother.

I almost choked on my soda.  Mom always prescribed candles, prayers, incense, that sort of thing.  She only spoke about conducting rituals for serious problems.

“Great,” said Peter.  “I’m staying downstairs on the couch until this thing is gone.”

After Peter went to hang out with some friends, Mom asked Anne about the history of the house.  A large, three-story, white, Victorian house, it was the kind that you see iced with snow on picturesque Christmas cards.  The house had been remodeled in the years following an older relative’s death.  Mom asked if there were any strange events that had happened in the house.  Anne said that there was one.

The last owner of the house had met a tragic end.  Two hours before his daughter’s wedding, he had excused himself saying that he would be right back.  While everyone was in the house getting ready, he left the car engine running and sealed himself inside the vehicle with the windows shut.  Without any warning to his friends or family, he had committed suicide on the day that his daughter was to be married.

“Why’d you even buy the house?” I asked, after Anne was done telling the story.  I was about fifteen then.

“TARA!” Mom glared at me.

Anne laughed.  “It’s okay, Rhea,” she said.  “We didn’t find out until years after we bought the house.  Some neighbors told us.”

Later on, I shivered as we got into the car.  Even though I had been over Anne’s house hundreds of times, I was afraid that the ghost of the dead man was going to jump out at us in the driveway.

“Could Anne’s neighbors have made up that story?” I asked.

“Perhaps,” said Mom, “But I don’t think so.  That negative spirit has caused trouble before.”

“What are we going to do?”

“It’s okay,” said Mom.  “We’re going to get rid of it.”

“How?”

“You’ll see.”

The first thing Mom did was call our coven members.  She told them that she needed their help doing a special favor for a dear friend of hers.  They all knew about Anne and were happy to help.  I had already been initiated and since we needed as many people as possible, Mom decided to bring me along.

A few days later, our coven met at Anne’s house.  We went upstairs to the second floor where all of the bedrooms were located.  My mother turned off the lights and then lit some candles.  She and her partner cast circle to help protect us during the ritual.  Then we all started running clockwise to create a cone of power while chanting a Wiccan banishing spell that is sacred to my mother’s coven.  As we did this, we were running past the bedroom doors which were all standing wide open.

At one point as I was running past Peter’s room, I saw a pale face glaring back at us from the dark.  The apparition was about three or four feet off of the floor.  The face glowed white and had three dark spaces where the eyes and mouth should be.  I didn’t dare break the chain and by the time that I had come around again, the thing was gone.  After the ritual was done, I mentioned the incident to my mother.  One of my older friends who was also in the coven turned to me.

“You saw it too?”

In addition to the banishing spell, we also said prayers that night to help the previous owner’s spirit move on to the light.  After the ritual, everyone was much more at peace in the house and Anne’s family life returned to normal.

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.