A couple of years ago, I remember waking from a dream that was so real and so impressionable I never forgot it. I recall standing in a baron field with a two story farmhouse off in the distance. Everything was dead , the trees had no leaves and all the grass was gold and brown. I didn't move like we do here in the waking world, it was as if I was floating and teleporting. I entered the house and the first thing I saw was a set of stairs. Then I was in the attic.
In the attic it was as if I was opening my eyes from a dream, I was standing, without shoes looking down, I saw a man wearing white. Almost like a yoga outfit, loose fitting, light weight. He was speaking in a language I could not understand. There were symbols on the floor and yellow powder. I remember he looked up at me and when his eyes met mine I felt as if he could stare directly into my soul.
The man only looked at me for a moment, then went on doing whatever it was he was doing. I felt dismissed almost as if I had happened upon this moment, this place, on accident. I moved away from him and looked around the room. It was empty, the floor boards were cracked, the paint chipped off the walls and there was a window. The window was akin to those you see in the old western movies, where it has the wood around it and the cross of wood in the middle, creating 4 sections. Only this window, had no glass.
I was drawn to it, I walked over forgetting all about the man and the symbols. I looked out and took in everything that I could. I felt it was important, I needed to try and understand more of where I was. Again, a sea of golden brown dead grass, a broken down rusty car. It felt as if I was in the mid west but in another world altogether.
Then that was it. The next day I remember seeing faces, come out of the darkness when I closed my eyes, it was only for a brief second like a flash. They were male faces, painted with white markings.
I recount this dream to you tonight because two nights ago I had another dream. This other dream was so vastly different but for some reason something is almost wanting me to join the two together. The dream the other night, I remember being inside my house, a man appeared with blond hair and blue eyes. He was tall and his hair curly, we spoke but I do not recall the conversation, he brought me a green powder I was suppose to use. I do not know for what however, yet it almost seems like it was for protection. Than I woke up.
Maybe these dreams mean nothing, maybe they are fragments of all my research and tv shows that I have watched during the day or even that week, coming together in my own little movie. Or perhaps maybe, they are signs.
You know where to find me if you shall need,
two dirt roads near the reeds.
A handful of dead mans dirt
a drop of blood,
don't worry it wont hurt.
Black cat bones and two small stones.
Proceed with caution
proceed with care
you can find me there.
Come in, come in. Step up into the caravan, warm yourself by the fire. Take this towel to dry your hair, the rain has not let up in days. Would you like a cup of coffee? Or perhaps tea? I shall tell you a story while you drink.
I have been traveling and reading for so long it has kept me away from the blog. Recent events however have brought me back to check in with you. A huge thank you to Heather for keeping you all updated on our adventures and travels.
Do you know what synchronicities are? Significant events that seem to have no connection but feel as if they are a sign, coming to tell you or lead you somewhere? Or perhaps even of confirmation you are on the right path.
This month has been full of these, in fact I think I will be letting them lead me on my next adventure. I have been working on a project with Grimshaw, he works over at KPNL Radio. He has a new blog called Case Files. Something came across his desk the other day, the location was The Stanley Hotel. You can read this entry here.
At first it seemed like any other case, there are many haunted locations around the world especially within the united states. I noticed however that this particular experiencer has also shared multiple other locations, one of which was also not far from the Denver airport (which houses many conspiracies itself). Within the past month, I had been wondering what might be in Colorado to explore.
You see, Denver is a pretty common layover spot. On my way home recently from Ohio, upon landing in Denver, I had wished to stay so I could explore the airport more and discover what else might be near. So this particular case, piqued my interest.
I took note of the locations and looked into staying at The Stanley, I even picked a date and put it in my hopper app. Tickets have changed from 97.00 to 71.00 to a current 57.00 almost beckoning me, to book the flight. That day I had also messaged The Stanley to see what their availability might be for their "Spirited Rooms"
I have not yet heard back, as life has been a whirlwind for us all but something significant happened. Two hours after sending my message to them, I had been watching Supernatural. I am new to the series and had made it to season 2, so two hours later I was on episode 11 of the second season. This was called "Playthings" I couldn't believe it as there were multiple references to The Shining in this episode. How synchronistic right? Well fast forward to the next day, (now I want to add in, that the only other person whom I had spoken to about all of this-up to this particular point- was my sister who has plans to go with me.) Upon waking I was checking my messages on my phone. I saw that I had been tagged on Instagram which doesn't happen to often. There it was, another Stanley Hotel sign not only was I tagged in something dealing with the hotel, but it was a hotel stay giveaway itself! No, I did not win, as I was half asleep and didn't read everything and it was to late to enter but still a significant sign.
So, will the caravan end up at The Stanley Hotel? Will the Ghosts of the past be willing to have a drink with me? We shall see, I shall keep you updated, here of my travels and what messages I receive from the other side.
Now, are you finished with your drink? Please, hand me your cup. Ahh, the crescent moon, look here. Do you see that? The crescent moon symbolizes the need for introspection, it is time to go within, and over here the oak leaf, a very lucky sign indeed. Yes, tis time we part dear traveler. Heed the message of the crescent and rest within the oak.
You know where to find me if you shall need,
two dirt roads near the reeds.
A handful of dead mans dirt
a drop of blood,
don't worry it wont hurt.
Black cat bones and two small stones.
Proceed with caution
proceed with care
you can find me there.
Did you hear chains rattling last night, traveler? If you did, I hope the Krampus wasn’t too rough with you...
You must not have been too awfully misfortunate or you wouldn’t be here right now, would you?
This time of year is full of things that go bump in the night. It shouldn’t be all that surprising, really. The nights are getting longer. The weather is getting cold and harsh. Winter quickly approaches. Soon we will see the longest night of the year on the winter solstice. The deepest dark is yet to come.
So, traveler, you have survived Krampusnacht, but I assure you, there is more to fear.
It is important to recognize that you may not know the proper name of the entity I am about to mention, as there are many titles for The Hunter across various cultures. He may appear to you differently than to someone else. It is best to just recognize what is happening and remember my words:
As we are traveling on these increasingly bitter cold winter nights, take note of a fierce wind that slowly transforms to the sound of hounds baying in the distance. Take a moment, and you can discern if you are dealing with an entire pack or just a couple. If there are only two, you will hear one loud howl followed by a much quieter call. Perhaps you won’t hear canine sounds at all but rather a commotion in the distance. A din that draws closer until you recognize the sound of rushing horses. The cacophony will get louder and louder...at first you may not see what is approaching. The sound will emanate from a direction but yet nothing will be visible. It is waiting to show itself. It is possible that the first inkling that the sound is not simply in your mind will be a rolling cloud or mist barreling toward you.
Then...then you may see them...or it...or both.
The Hunter will appear riding on a horse that may have more legs that any equine creature you have seen. Sometimes it is seen on a great horned goat. Sometimes it will be accompanied by white wolves. Other times black. Regardless of their fur, their fiery eyes will burn into your memory.
This entity has been called by many names. Depending on how it chooses to reveal itself to you, you may see Odin, Woden, Cernunnos, Herne, Gwyn ap Nudd, or another manifestation more relevant to you. You can simply call him The Hunter, if you wish.
This, dear traveler, is known as The Wild Hunt. If you are with us in the Caravan, rest assured we have seen this before and know how to respond. We will make sure we are at a safe distance as we watch the chase. What The Hunter is tracking changes just as much as the visage of The Hunter itself.
If you are alone, though, there are a few things for which you must prepare.
During solo travels this time of year, keep with you some bread and a piece of steel. Should the hounds reach you before The Hunter does, give them bread to appease them. If The Hunter arrives first, place the steel in front of you. If you are without steel, fall to the ground and stay on your stomach or back. Remain perfectly still. When you take the time to observe this procession, you will see that the Hunt never physically touches the ground. If you are unlucky enough to be in The Hunter’s path, by making yourself as small as physically possible, the entire spectacle will pass right over you. You see, The Hunter has a path it must follow. As long as you are not the one being hunted, you should not worry too much. Just be sure to stay out of the way or risk being swept up in the cavalcade.
Regardless of how you attempt to avoid being in The Hunter’s path, you must not interfere with The Wild Hunt. It must play out as is designed. One day, when you have more experience, traveler, you can choose a side in The Hunt.
This year, however, is not the time. First you must learn to recognize The Wild Hunt. Then you must take time to observe it. Does it manifest to you in a different way from year to year?
Why don’t you continue to ride along in the Caravan for a little while longer, traveler? I am sure we will see The Wild Hunt soon enough. Maybe this year, we will choose to follow it!
Until next time,
It has been a while, traveler! Welcome back to The Caravan! I am relieved that our paths have crossed again. Step on up and ride along with me for a bit, I have a story to share with you...perhaps you would even be willing to play a little game with me?
As you may already know, recently I stole away Lady Ann to join me for a few days in and around the foothills of the Appalachians. We went on many adventures during this short visit and brainstormed many more adventures to come. Perhaps you joined us on our final night together. A night of communing with the spirits...or attempting to, anyway. Ouija boards and card games. Have you ever played such games in the dark? Were you there to play along with us that evening?
Aside from the Ouija boards, we opened a little black book filled with pages dipped in crimson. A book that promised to show us something new...a forbidden game. Of course, we found one worth our time. Oddly enough, the game that seemed perfect for us (and of which we readily had the components) was The Playing Card Game. Without going into too much detail, we used a standard deck of playing cards to perform cartomancy in an attempt to see if any entities were around us that evening.
The suits of the cards are key here. Diamonds represent ‘maybe’ while Clubs mean ‘I don’t know.’ Spades indicate ‘no’ and hearts convey ‘yes.’ Before the game can begin, one must light some candles, use a bit of salt, and shuffle the cards the appropriate number of times. Then, the test truly begins. First, you must ask the cards if anyone is willing to play with you. If a spade appears, the game must end post haste. The deck must be destroyed. If any other suit appears, however, it is (relatively) safe to continue speaking with the other side.
Lady Ann and I were able to have some communication with an entity that claimed to be an observer, watching our behavior after we spent some time in a haunted location. The story of that night, however, is for another time.
Now that I have you here, traveler, let us try this game together. Perhaps we will have similar fortune as Lady Ann and I did. Let’s stop the horses for a bit and climb into the vardo. I have all we need ready to go. (I had hoped to run into you soon enough.)
Don’t be alarmed. I took the liberty of having the game setup prior to your arrival. The initial ritual has been complete. I just need you to sit opposite of me.
Now...focus...you are going to be the one pulling the cards this eve, so be careful! Above all else, though, be RESPECTFUL!
Are there any spirits willing to speak with us this evening?
Move your hand over the cards, palm down, until one calls to you.
Did you find it? Yes? Turn it over.
A spade! Oh, dear traveler, the game is over before it has begun! I should have known better. Forgive me for dragging you into this too soon!
Quickly, now! Blow out the candles! Give me the deck. I will destroy it appropriately. We must go at once. We cannot stay here tonight...
Until next time,
“The Playing Card Game.” Dangerous Games to Play in the Dark, by Lucia Peters, Chronicle Books, 2019, pp. 186–193.
Welcome back, traveler! I have a query for you: Have you ever had dreams that were so vivid you awoke certain it was more than just a dream? Perhaps a message or a warning? Maybe a bit of foresight?
When I was a girl, I dreamt my brother returned home after being away for an extended period of time. I knew he would be home that evening. My mother was skeptical as she was sure that he would have told her if it had been his intention to head across the country on a whim. That evening he arrived much to everyone’s surprise but mine.
Years later, on the eve of giving birth to my first child, my brother told me that he had a dream that things would not go well during delivery. In his dream, there were serious complications, and he was worried. I noted his concern but was not worried as everything had gone as smoothly as possible up until that point. Within 24 hours of his warning, however, both the baby and I were near death mainly due to doctor’s error.
This sort of premonition is seen in folklore as well, giving us yet another connection to our ancestors and the weight of dreams in the human mind. For example, on April 14, 1865 an elderly man in Clarksburg had a most terrifying dream. After being asleep a short while, he awoke in a state of panic. President Lincoln was murdered…shot…and he had been there when it happened! He saw the entire scene. Not sure what else to do, he noted the time on the clock as well as the date. Two weeks later, news arrived that President Lincoln had been murdered at the exact time and day that the Clarksburg man had his dream.
Sometimes these glimpses into the future are guided by the spirits of loved ones. This was the case for Vera Taylor, who, unlike my experience, was extremely unsettled in the time leading up to the delivery of her child. In the dark of the night, Vera would hear words of warning to begin making funeral arrangements prior to the birth. She was going to die, the voice promised, and it encouraged her to have everything in order so that her husband, in his distraught state, would have one less burden before him. Shortly after hearing this, a second voice would chime in and discourage her from any such thought or action. If she made the arrangements, the second voice argued, then they would be needed. If she avoided making them, they would not be required. She would survive. Each night these voices bickered back and forth with increasing intensity as she approached her due date.
Vera did develop serious complications and was admitted to the hospital. It was during these terrifying moments that her father who had died years prior appeared at her bedside. He did not speak but his presence eased her enough that she fell into a dream. She was given a premonition that all would be well. She and her child would survive, and they would leave the hospital as a happy and healthy family. This dream proved true and Vera forever credited her father and that dream as saving her life.
Sometimes dreams may be more than just figures of our unconscious mind. Sometimes they might be messages from the other side, glimpses into another place, or a warning of things to come.
Until next time,
Burchill, J. V. (1993). Ghosts and Haunts from the Appalachian foothills: Stories and Legends. Nashville, TN: Rutledge Hill Press.
Musick, R. A. (1976). The Telltale Lilac Bush and Other West Virginia Ghost Tales. University of Kentucky Press.
Let’s get back on the road again, traveler, and discuss some tales of warning and woe. Perhaps you already know the warnings of taking your lover on a late-night excursion to a secluded location. As exciting as it may seem to have some solitary time for romance, sometimes it pays to be cautious of your surroundings.
You have heard of “The Hook,” haven’t you? It is a common story, really. Two teenagers sneak away together under the cover of night. Just when they start to really enjoy each other’s company, their mood is soured by a disturbing radio announcement: A killer is on the loose in the area! Beware of a man who has a hook for a hand!
The girl grows concerned and demands that they return home immediately. The boy, in much frustration, eventually obliges. Once they return home and exit the vehicle, a bloody hook is found on the door handle. Clearly, they had escaped in the nick of time.
This is a common story, and the veracity of it is suspect, of course. However, what if I told you that sometimes the monster in the story wasn’t so…human?
Wisconsin holds such a legend. Long ago, a young married couple naively took their wagon up a treacherous winding road in the middle of the night. This was a grave error, as the carriage was unable to make the journey and broke down. The husband decided to walk back toward civilization to retrieve assistance while his wife remained behind with the wagon. Already nervous to be left alone under such circumstances, she became absolutely petrified when, in the middle of the night, she heard odd animalistic sounds outside. When she tried to catch a glimpse of what could be making such noises, she was greeted with the sight of a fur covered creature that had the horned head and face of a goat but was standing upright on two legs. Unwilling to leave wagon, she cowered in it until daybreak. It was then that the new bride saw something even more terrifying than the goatman itself…cloven tracks in the dirt that led to a tree covered in her husband’s blood which had dripped out of his body as it draped over the branches.
Ever since that fateful night, the creature still prowls for any waylaid travelers or, sometimes, it forces accidents to happen so that it can have a bit of fun. Today there would be no excuse to tempt such fate. The legend is well known. Travelers have been warned.
By this point, traveler, you may be wondering why I am sharing such tales with you this evening. It is simple, really: always be aware of your surroundings, don’t immediately dismiss local legends…and don’t be surprised when the unexpected comes to pass….
Until next time,
Brunvand, J. H. (2003). The Vanishing Hitchhiker: American Urban Legends and Their Meanings. New York, NY: Norton.
Couch, J. N. (2014). Goatman: Flesh or folklore? West Bend, WI: Self-pub.
Up into the Caravan we go, traveler! We have no choice but to follow!
Let us gently open the door and see what may be inside our humble vardo that is of interest to our otherworldly friend.
Oh! It is heading toward the back shelves. I know we have a spirit board back there. Perhaps that is what we are to grab. It would make communication much easier between us and a headless spirit, wouldn’t it?
Yes, it is pulling you toward the shelf with the board…no wait! It is pulling to the bottom shelf?!
There is a story deep in the hollers of Appalachia that tells us of a bold young traveler who needed a place to rest for the night. Upon finding a farm, he inquired if he could stay…just for the evening, as he would be heading out the next morning. The farmer did not have any lodgings available but offered him some food. Unsatisfied with sleeping without proper shelter, the traveler inquired about a house across the creek. The farmer explained that the house was hainted and no one had dared stay there for any length of time in many years. Unfazed, the young man asked for some food and headed over to the long-abandoned house. He would not be frightened by any haints. He was too proud for that.
Throughout the evening, as he was cooking his food over the fire, he was approached by a couple of apparitions. A black cat jumped down the chimney, followed by a dog. He shooed both of them away. Satisfied with his meal, he headed up to one of the bedrooms, only to later return to the fire downstairs after tangling with an unseen spirit over the bedsheets.
After going back downstairs, he was soon aware of another apparition. This time, the spirits were preceded by sounds. At first awful noises echoed down the staircase from the upper floor, then it slowly turned into a pleasing fiddle tune. It was not long before a girl and a fiddler descended the staircase at the bequest of the traveler. He listened to their music and watched her dance for a while before dismissing them. They went back upstairs.
The final haint for the evening descended shortly thereafter. It was a coffin with a hammer upon it. Unwilling to be frightened by such a sight, he approached the coffin, grabbed the hammer, and opened it. A headless corpse was inside. The traveler, harkening back to stories from his youth, asked the corpse, in the name of God, what it was doing in the house.
The ghost spoke to the traveler and explained that he was the owner of the property who had been killed by robbers ten years prior. He wanted the traveler to summon his sons there and let them know that the robbers did not find what they sought. His treasure was still in the house, under the hearthstone.
The spirit’s final wish was to have his sons return home and find his fortune. He wanted them to split it evenly between themselves and the traveler who was the first to actually stay in the house the entire night. After this came to fruition, the owner’s spirit was at rest. The house had no more ghostly activity.
Just as we saw with the ghost of Zona Shue, a spirit can find rest when its business is finished.
I must say, I am surprised that the willow appears to be leading us to this old hand carved box. It is beautiful, isn’t it? Dark wood…walnut, I believe. It is locked. It has remained unopened since it came into my possession.
This box was given to me by a traveling salesman I met alongside a road many years ago. In fact, I purchased a handful of items from him that day…a very interesting fellow, indeed. But this box he insisted I take with me. To be honest, I admired it from the moment I saw it, but I hadn’t even inquired about it as it seemed almost too precious to take. I was drawn to it.
…I think, now, that he could sense that.
Yes, he handed it to me with two keys. He told me that it would be best for me to hold onto it for a while and not give in to any sort of curiosity about what may be inside. He said that I would know when the box would want to be opened. Maybe we should look at it a little closer. Let me get it off the shelf…
The willow bent so hard that it broke! This must be the time to look inside! Now to find the keys…
I only have one left now. It is here around my neck…the other one, as you may remember, is buried at the crossroads.
Well, let me see if this one works…
It is sticking a little, but…there we go!
What a beautiful pocket watch! It is like new! There is an inscription on the inside.
To my dearest Joseph,
May you never miss another one of our dates again.
All my love,
This must have belonged to our headless ghost! His beloved Elizabeth surely would have wanted Joseph buried with such a treasure. I wonder why he was separated from something so sentimental. Well, that is of no concern now. The watch has found its way back to its owner. Let us take it to him!
Until next time,
Roberts, L. W. (1980). Old Greasybeard: Tales from the Cumberland Gap. Pikeville, KY: Pikeville College Press.
Perfect choice! Yes, it seems some magic is within you, traveler! This branch is facing the east and is beautifully forked just as needed.
You do know what we are to do now, right? First, we must thank the willow for allowing us to use her branch. Then, we are going to see exactly how much of that magic is in you!
Here hold it like this: One end of each fork of the Y in your hands, palms up, thumb over the branch. Now, squeeze and slightly push the forked parts together just enough to have some tension. Yes! Exactly!
Ask it to show you ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ It appears that yes is indicated by the pointed end going downward and no is it going up. Wonderful!
Now…as we have no clue what Joseph wants us to find, I think you should start turning slowly until the rod goes downward so we can have an idea of which way to start walking.
Interesting, we are to head away from the cemetery. It seems as if we are being directed back toward the Caravan.
Dowsing exists in many forms and has been around for longer than most of us realize. Cultures from around the world have stories of divination and the tools used to achieve knowledge of hidden items.
Pendulums, wands, angle rods, divining rods, and even one’s own body can be utilized to locate objects. Perhaps the most well-known example of this is ‘water-witching’ where someone who is skilled in divining pinpoints the proper location to dig for a well with the use of rods or a forked branch.
“Witching” can also refer to seeking out lost treasures or even burial locations. For example, if one comes across an old cemetery that has few markers, witching may be able to indicate the lost location of unmarked graves. This technique is still used today, actually.
Rhabdomancy is the term used for divining with a stick or a rod made of metal (or even plastic if you would prefer). Depending on the tradition, there are particular times of the year as well as types of wood used to perfect the divining rod. Some Appalachian traditions indicate that the Y-shaped branch can only be obtained from the eastward facing part of the tree during a full moon. Some are particular about the branch being from a willow tree while others may call for apple trees or any other tree that provides supple branches that will not break when tension is applied to them. While Scandinavian traditions, on the other hand, can call for mistletoe, birch, hazel, or rowan wood. Depending on the goal of the divination, the wood would have to be arranged in a certain way and could only be utilized by a particular individual.
When one speaks of dowsing rods, perhaps the most popular image that comes to mind is that of two metal rods bent into an “L” shape that have the ability to cross over one another. In order to get the most accurate sense of how the rods feel when they start to move, it is recommended to hold them over a bowl of water or even a faucet with water flowing freely. It won’t take long before you are able to witness how the rods move without your personal interference.
Pendulums are similar in nature. Although water is not a necessity, it is important to hold the pendulum by the end of the chain (rope, cord, or whatever may be tied to the stone/metal weight at the end of it). Steady the pendulum so that it is still and then ask for the sign for ‘yes’ and ‘no’. Typically, a distinct movement will appear for each of these. This allows for one to communicate with spirits as well as locate objects. Pendulums are usually used indoors, although not always, while dowsing rods are used for much larger outdoor areas.
We are nearing the Caravan now. Stop! Ask the willow if we are to go into the vardo…
Alright then…perhaps there is something INSIDE which we acquired prior that is of importance. Let’s step up into the Caravan and see if our willow branch gives us direction….
Until next time,
Besterman, Theodore. “The Folklore of Dowsing.” Folklore, vol. 37, no. 2, 30 June 1926, pp. 113–133.
Rasbold, Katrina. Crossroads of Conjure: The Roots and Practices of Granny Magic, Hoodoo, Brujería, and Curanderismo. Llewellyn Worldwide, 2019.
Webster, Richard. Dowsing for Beginners: How to Find Water, Wealth, and Lost Objects. Llewellyn Publications, 2003.
Richards, Jake. Backwoods Witchcraft: Conjure & Folk Magic from Appalachia. Weiser Books, 2019.
Everything is still. The crickets have stopped chirping. The peepers are silenced. The wind itself has stopped moving about the trees. The world around us has slowed to focus on Joseph Wells, standing here in his ghostly form.
Joseph, why did you guide us here from the crossroads? What is our use to you?
He raises his arm and extends his finger. He is pointing somewhere! To the edge of the graveyard, it appears…maybe something is beyond the last headstone. What are we meant to find? Where are we to go?
Welsh folklore suggests that there are three types of ghosts: Spirits of the dead, spirits of the living, and goblins and demons raised by witches. Goblins and demons are maliciously summoned in order to cause harm and torment to an individual. Ghosts of the living are glimpses of a spirit wandering about while the body sleeps. An example of this would be to see your spouse walk through the kitchen only to find them napping in bed. Spirits of the dead, on the other hand, are the ghosts of those who have departed this plane of existence but have unfinished business remaining. These spirits will eventually find rest when their work is completed, but they need mortal assistance for this to occur.
Elva Zona Heaster Shue was one such spirit. A young newlywed woman from Lewisburg, West Virginia, Zona was discovered unresponsive in her home by a neighbor boy. It appeared based on her positioning of her body at the bottom of a staircase, the distraught state of her husband, and the medical examination by the coroner, that she has passed due to a fatal heart attack.
Her husband would not leave the body of his wife until she was buried, sobbing and bemoaning his loss during the entirety of the medical examination as well as while putting her into her casket.
Zona, however, made certain that the truth was revealed. After her funeral, Zona, in spectral form, visited her mother multiple times. She recounted that her husband had lost his temper toward her (not for the first time, mind you) and broke her neck in a fit of rage. She insisted that this come to light. Her husband needed to pay for his crimes.
At the bequest of Zona’s mother, her daughter’s body was exhumed and examined again—this time without physical interference and dramatic theatrics from the husband. Zona’s scarf (an item of clothing her husband placed on her body under the pretense that it was beloved by her) was removed to reveal fingerprints around her neck. Her windpipe had been crushed, her neck dislocated, and ligaments in her neck were destroyed.
Further investigation revealed that Zona’s husband had been married twice prior. Both of his wives passed away suddenly due to ‘accidents.’ He was sent to trial and convicted rather quickly. He lived the rest of his days at the state penitentiary in Moundsville, West Virginia.
No additional stories survive of Zona revisiting this realm after her husband was sent to prison. Her business was finally finished. With his conviction and subsequent punishment, Zona helped not only herself move beyond the veil but perhaps also his other former wives whom he undoubtedly murdered.
Well, Joseph is not moving anywhere, and he is pointing in that direction. Let’s start walking beyond the cemetery and see what we can find while following that vague direction.
It is rather dark, though, so watch your step! Ah, yes! Lightning bugs are sparkling ahead. Look at them amongst the branches of that tree. So odd that I don’t see them flashing anywhere else but in those branches. We will see the type of tree as we get closer.
A huge willow! I must admit this is my favorite kind of tree! I know why we are to here now! We must uncover something…but, first, pay close attention to the shape of these branches. Which one should we choose, traveler?
Until next time,
Farley, Jeremy T. K. Appalachian Magazine Presents Mountain Superstitions, Ghost Stories & Haint Tales: A Collection of Memories & Commentaries from the Mountains of Appalachia. StatelyTies Media, 2018.
Jenkins, David Erwyd. Bedd Gelert, Its Facts, Fairies, & Folk-Lore. L. Jenkins, 1899.
*For anyone unfamiliar with peepers (tree frogs): https://youtu.be/oNhIprMEL78
Yes, traveler, the blue flame wants us to figure out who rests here at this stone. Bits and pieces are missing, and it is so worn. This is going to require a bit of magic and patience.
Some of the best evidence we have today regarding how the people of the ancient world lived lies within the study of funerary markers that have survived the millennia. Rarely are these headstones in pristine condition, often with entire sections altogether missing or so horribly worn that one has to truly study the stone to decipher what once was engraved upon it. The study of inscriptions is called epigraphy, and it is through this discipline that a better understanding of the life of an average person in the ancient world, such as in Rome or Greece, is revealed. Often history books focus on the lavish life of the rulers of ancient civilizations with little attention paid to the average person; however, through the study of headstones, one can get a glimpse into the ideals held most dear by the society, infant mortality rates, and even clues as to how the language was spoken.
You see, illiteracy was highly common amongst professional engravers, so they would carve the inscription based on how it sounded, not necessarily how it was actually spelled. For example, we can be certain that the Romans pronounced their x as a ks (just as we do today in the US), because we have Latin inscriptions with the word uxor (wife) spelled as uksor.
The discipline of epigraphy requires careful study, as ancient inscriptions are formulaic. Once you get an idea of what certain abbreviations mean, that will help you decipher broken inscriptions as they often follow a particular pattern. The same goes with specific military posts, regions, and naming conventions. Knowing this pattern has also allowed epigraphic scholars to reconstruct not only missing pieces from headstones but also much longer inscriptions from larger works such as triumphal arches, with only a few letters remaining from several lines of text.
Although we don’t have the exact same conventions of, say, the ancient Romans, when it comes to our tombstones, we actually aren’t that much different. But before one can safely decipher any inscription, assuming there is anything left to read, we have to be VERY gentle with the headstone. Often seekers get carried away with reading old headstones and unintentionally do more harm to the stone in an attempt to see what was once carved there. We have to be aware of these dangers and ensure that we use safe techniques to preserve the stone as long as possible; and, of course, it is of utmost important to RECORD, RECORD, RECORD, as these inscriptions may not survive another generation.
Alright, so, even with the light from our blue flame friend, we need extra assistance. Just…a…second. Here! Hold this mirror just so. The reflection from the blue flame will help cast shadows.
THERE! We can get some understanding now.
Here we go. Focus!
Here lies Jo__p_ Well_
Aged 19 _ 6 mos 4_
Oh! Excellent! I think we can figure this out! You know some Latin, right?! DMS is typical for ‘dis manibus sacrum’ which means sacred to the spirits of the dead.
Yes! “Sacred to the Spirits of the Dead. Here lies Joseph Wells. Aged 19 years, 6 months, 4 days. Beloved son.” Oh my! He was so young! I wonder what happened?!
Look! The blue flame is bouncing about with excitement!
OK—Say it with me! “Sacred to the Spirits of the Dead. Here lies Joseph Wells. Aged 19 years, 6 months, 4 days.” Focus! The flame is getting even brighter!!!
Oh my!!! It is transforming! Do you see this? It is growing and shaping into a person! But….the spirit isn't complete. The head is missing!
….remain calm…we will figure this out….
We are here for a reason. Stand with me, traveler. Do not despair. We are meant to be here…right here…right now…
Until next time,
Harvey, Brian K. Roman Lives: Ancient Roman Life as Illustrated by Latin Inscriptions. Focus, 2004.
Suggested Reading/Cleaning of Headstones: https://cemeteryconservatorsunitedstandards.org/
Author- Heather Moser & Lady Ann
Paranormal Experiencer; Truth Seeker, Spooky Explorer.