It was late. We were hanging out in the basement of my family home, the usual dark and private place for teenagers to dwell. My then boyfriend and I were squished into one lay-z-boy chair watching a movie, which was the norm when you worked at a video store and got all the new ones free.
I must’ve fallen asleep. I don’t remember what I was doing before…lights. Round, amber flashes before my eyes and the startling cry of a lost child. Someone or something was pushing down on me, pressing the air from my lungs and I couldn’t move to stop it. I had lost all control of my body. I thought I was shaking, but I couldn’t make my arms push the monster on top of me away. I couldn’t even open my eyes. Only darkness. And the increasing panic that I was being punished, or worse killed. Open your eyes! I commanded. Open your eyes!
When I woke from the blackness I sobbed audibly. It was only a minute or two, but it felt like a full nightmare. My boyfriend was holding my arms, terrified. What just happened? I thought you were having a seizure! What’s wrong?! I didn’t know what to say, or what happened, only how I felt. No matter how I tried, I couldn’t move. Was it a sign? Was something after me? Had I gone too far into the paranormal world and now one of them was after me? I couldn’t say anything. Who would believe me anyway?
Several weeks earlier, my family celebrated Christmas and both my sister and I received Sylvia Browne’s Book of Dreams. Browne, a world renowned psychic, was an author my sister had turned me onto, and we’d been reading several of her books about the afterlife, haunted locations, and totem spirits. I’d been slowly making my way through this book, which was more an educational book than a paranormal or spiritual read like her others. The Book of Dreams dealt with archetypes and dream symbology, common images that represent the changes or people in our lives. You know, like how we all have dreams about flying or falling or showing up naked to class.
A week after my scary episode, I was in the living room, stretched out on the couch reading through my Book of Dreams. On sleep disorders, actually. I bolted upright. Sleep paralysis. A condition where your state of sleep is interrupted and your conscious mind “awakes” before your body does. Seriously, check out WebMD. The symptoms include feeling an evil presence, stiffness of the body, flashing lights, loud noises, hallucinations, a weight upon one’s chest, and/or a sense of choking.
So I’m not crazy after all. Or possessed, which was quite a relief. And sleep paralysis is not a chronic condition, it’s rather rare. It only happens if your body goes in and out of a state of sleep and consciousness too quickly. I’ve never experienced it since, thankfully. What I do find odd is the fact that I read about my experience one week after going through it. Was I meant to get that book to help me understand what happened? Was someone watching over me? Or am I just really that superstitious and gullible? Something tells me I wouldn’t be asking these questions if I just dreamed about showing up naked to school.
Have you ever heard of experienced sleep paralysis? What do you think about it being a medical physical condition that attaches negative emotions to its occurrence? It has a paranormal ring to it, don’t you think? Sweet dreams, my ghoulies.
There’s a reason all movies with ouija boards are in the horror section. Why didn’t I pay attention?!
Have any of you watched the movie Now and Then? It was a 90’s film about four friends who grew up together in a small town and the one summer that changed their lives, making their bond last forever. There’s a lot of familiar faces in the film: Gaby Hoffman, Christina Ricci, and Thora Birch playing the young girls and Demi Moore, Rosie O’Donnell, Melanie Griffith, and Rita Wilson playing them as adults. Bonnie Hunt, Janeane Garofalo, Hank Azaria, Brendan Fraser, and Cloris Leachman all support as well. If you were a tween like me who grew up with this film, you probably watched it cause of him…
Anyway, you stock up on Mambas (which are better than Starburst) and watch the story unfold with your sister or best girl friend in tow. One of the main adventures the girls have is a night reading with the ouija board in the graveyard. After numerous failed attempts to conjure up Marilyn Monroe – “she didn’t cooperate last time,” they decide to speak with someone buried in the graveyard, a boy called Dear Johnny, who died the same age as they are. What happens next is the unfolding of how Dear Johnny died and what will help him to rest again.
Now and Then isn’t a scary movie, it’s a movie about friendship. Friendship and a little paranormal mystery. I blame all my willingness to “ouija” on this film. If I had only watched something along the lines of What Lies Beneath or Paranormal Activity instead, I might not have been so enthusiastic.
I will share with you my first experience with a ouija board later this month, and trust me, it’s a creepy one. For today, I’ll share with you a few snippets of experiences and why I will no longer use a ouija board. In case you’re unfamiliar with ouija boards, Catie Rhodes wrote an AWESOME historical post about their creation, the various forms they’ve taken on, and how they’ve been used in film. You really should check out her post! I’ll wait for you…
Hello again! So briefly, the ouija board is a talking board meant to be an inbetween medium for spirits to connect with us. Sounds cool right? Well, it can be. Let me take a minute and explain some of my opinions on how ouija boards work. I emphasize this is just my experience I’m basing this on.
- Ouija boards will not work for everyone. An openness is required and the more connected you are to an individual who is also touching the pointer piece will impact how well the board works.
- Ouija boards let in anything you give energy to. If you don’t know what you’re doing, expect to get messed with.
- Blessing the area helps. Invite only kind spirits into your communication circle. I’ve had positive experiences with this which I will share.
- Do not be disappointed if a loved one doesn’t communicate with you through the board; it means they are happy and healthy on the Other Side.
Ok, when I said that it depends on who’s using the board with you, that’s been my history with the process. I’ve tried to use a ouija board with different friends and gotten gibberish responses that make no sense. But when I attempted to communicate to spirits with my high school best friend we always got full word responses. I accredit this to our ability of finishing each others’ sentences and knowing what the other was thinking without saying a word. We were very close, and I would be so bold to say kindred spirits/soul mates at that time. The energy we channeled was probably better equipped to receive messages.
Prime example, once we used the board to try to communicate with a friend’s family member who had passed. We didn’t get anything when she tried to use the board, but when my friend and I did we believe we made contact with her Aunt and talked enough that the whole experience was so moving and emotional our friend cried.
Remember when I said you can’t control what comes in, but blessings help. That was one instance where it did help. We lit a circle of candles around us and said a little prayer. We asked that only spirits who would bring forth light and goodness enter our circle and that any spirits intending harm be banished from it. We let our friend ask the questions and we read the responses. This was a very powerful experience for her, and even myself to witness it.
I feel I learned the hard way about blessing the circle first. I gave up using the talking board after a spirit we’d been successful talking to several times started mocking me through the board. It was scary and cruel and I wanted no part of it anymore.
That ended the weird paranormal pranks for awhile. I had a few odd occurrences while living in the dorms in college that friends teased was “my ghost” following me to school. I never used a ouija board again, but it could’ve been him moving stuff IN BETWEEN dorm rooms. Our residence hall was set up in what we called “cubes,” which consisted of 3 different squared arrangements of rooms on each floor, so students lived in the A, B, or C cube of their prospective floor. In my cube, objects would mysteriously disappear from one room and end up in others. Since it occurred most often amongst my “cube friends” it was blamed on my ghost.
I’m thankful there hasn’t been any recent activity of that nature in my life. I’m still open to paranormal interaction, but I don’t want them following me around everywhere. I can’t imagine what it must be like for those that can see and communicate with the dead on a regular basis. I would think their lives are very difficult and scary at times. It’s an unknown world to us, but one that will forever intrigue us.
What do you think? Have you ever used a ouija board? What was your experience? Have you ever felt a spirit was communicating with you? How did you handle it?
Hello my Hauntings! Welcome to the first of Wicked Wednesday’s Ghost Story series. Every wednesday I’ll share a personal story about my encounters with the paranormal, and I plan for them to get progressively creepier as the month goes on.
So today, we’re doing a bit of a montage. I’ll share with you some of the spooky moments of my past, and if you’re comfortable, and open-minded, I’d love your thoughts and stories as well. Let’s get started!
Most of you are familiar with the 1999 film by M. Night Shyamalan, The Sixth Sense. A brief summary is a young boy is able to see spirits who don’t know they’ve died, and by helping them, he is able to help a downtrodden childhood psychologist. The very telling scene of the film is when Cole, the boy, admits to Dr. Malcolm that “I see dead people.” Chilling and honest at the same time, if you ask me.
My stories are nothing so dramatic. For one, I can’t pay people (let alone professionals) to listen to my problems, though I’m sure I’d benefit from it. And second, I don’t see dead people consistently. I just see them sometimes. The following is a composite list of the some of the strange, unexplainable, and honest situations I’ve experienced.
The Painted Pebble: This story isn’t scary, so much as unexplainable. My grandmother passed away when I was five years old. I don’t think I understood what death meant for many years later. Because I have so few memories of her living, most of my connection to her came from sleeping with the stuffed animal lamb that was in her hospital room when she passed, visiting her grave with my mother, and leaving a painted pebble on her tombstone that I painted with her favorite colors, pink and purple. I was probably between 6-8 years old, and friendship pebbles were all the rage at school. I made this one for my grandmother and left it atop the gravestone. For over a year, that pebble never left my grandma’s burial site. No matter when my mom and I went, that pebble was still painted and sitting on her tombstone. Now, science isn’t my strongest subject, but I’m wise enough to know that between Wisconsin thunderstorms, tornadoes, and oh gosh, I don’t know WINTER, that pebble should’ve lasted all of week or two at most before the paint washed off or a lawn mower pitched the thing several yards away. I believe it was a token of love and friendship that my grandma kept to let me know she still thought of me.
The Feeling of Not Being Alone: Twice I can recall being in my family home, up in my room and stopping whatever I was doing at the time because I “just knew” I wasn’t alone. The first time I experienced this phenomenon, I was reading on my bed, when I felt the weight at the end of the bed sink down, like someone had just sat next to me. It was so physical that I looked up, expecting to see someone. I stared at the space at the foot of my bed for a few moments before saying aloud, “I know you’re there.” I then felt a finger run up my big toe. A few weeks later, I was again reading in my room. Same thing. I strongly felt I was not alone in the room. This time I asked the spirit if they intended harm or good to me. At that moment I felt the most reassuring hug around me, warm and comforting. I’m sure many of you are reading this and thinking I’m plain batty for believing. But I have done some research on the subject. Most paranormal investigators can agree that a person’s openness to experience is key in what they will or won’t perceive. But take a smaller, more common example like deja vu’ or coincidences. A lot of us have either experienced or know someone else who has where you could finish a person’s sentence, hear the phone ring and know who is on the other line, have a dream and foresee an accident or a new baby. We don’t usually discredit those little signs that present themselves, but when a person starts talking out loud to an invisible person in their room, they’re crazy. Somehow, the line between acceptable and possible paranormal activity is quite gray to me, meaning I believe anyone has the potential to experience things like I described, but not everyone is willing.
The Old Man and His Dog: A tedious and yet annual event in my town is college moving day, and the landlords around here have conveniently scheduled move in day to be 2 weeks after move out day. So for 14 days or so, college kids around the city find storage bins, garages, and trailers to stuff their belongings into and crash on couches until their new leases begin. I was staying at my boyfriend’s house during this time, while he was away visiting family. I had heard from his roommates that the house was haunted, but never before seen or heard anything. During my stay, I woke up early one morning with the heightened sense I was not alone. When I looked down at the foot of the bed I saw an old man with a plaid flannel shirt standing up with a black dog beside him. I knew he didn’t intend any harm, but it was a little freaky. I did have to get up and turn the lights on.
These are just a few of my paranormal experiences. If you ‘re craving more, check out my post on Paradise Road, a real Wisconsin Urban Legend. I list my many ghost sightings there.
Want to know more about coincidences? I recently read The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield and did a book review about his theory of humankind becoming more in tune with our coincidences.
Please share with me your thoughts and stories about the spirit world. Has anything like this happened to you?
As always, Happy Halloween! See you Friday for another guest post blog hop with the Life List Club, costumes not necessary…yet.
True story: Just drive over the third knoll in the road and park your car. Look in the rearview mirror and I swear you’ll see bodies hanging from the trees.
Urban legends. We’ve all heard them. The stories about Mr. Rogers being a marine sniper. What, he isn’t?! The Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary bathroom trick. The Candy Man? We’ve all grown up with our versions of urban legends.
Because there’s nothing to do in Wisconsin, because I went to Catholic school, because I have an overactive imagination Eh-hem, because my childhood friends were experts at uncovering mysteries, I know quite a few urban legend stories. My favorite is Paradise Road.
Paradise Road is the real name of a windy street in Jefferson, Wisconsin, coincidentally my hometown’s neighboring city and longtime sports rival. The road is long and narrow with an S-shaped curve near the end, and surrounded by heavy woods on either side and a few scattered houses that never have their lights on…(ok, I’m playing into the urban legend with the lights part!)
The Truth Behind Paradise Road
The newsworthy story is that Paradise Road is indirectly the setting of the Diane Borchardt Murder Case. In April of 1994, Diane Borchardt, a teaching aide at Jefferson High School convinced three teenage boys, Doug Vest, 17, Josh Yanke, 16, and Michael Maldonado, 15, to murder her husband for her. After a tumultuous marriage, Diane and her husband Ruben were getting a divorce. Rumors include he was seeing someone else, but his two children from his first marriage say the fighting began long before the divorce began. Borchardt convinced the young male students she was being abused by her husband and promised them $20,000 from the insurance money along with her wedding and engagement ring and two cars. On the day of the murder, Borchardt packed up the two dogs and headed to her in-laws alone for Easter. The boys snuck into the main level of the house and woke Ruben who had moved into the basement while divorce proceedings began. They shot him twice which woke his son who rushed downstairs to find his father slumped over a chair. The murder trials began and Vest eventually confessed after receiving no payment from Borchardt. Vest, Yanke, and Borchardt herself are all doing life in prison, and Maldonado received 18 years. The home where Ruben and Diane lived and the murder took place was on an intersecting street with Paradise Road.
Two years after the murder, the Diane Borchardt story was made into a TV movie starring Ann-Margret in the main role. The film was called Seduced by Madness. Other noteworthy performances in the film include Peter Coyote, Tobey Maguire, and Freddy Rodriguez. While the film is based mostly on truth, the depiction of Jefferson, WI as a graffiti-painted, gang trodden town with palm trees is FALSE.
The Not So Grounded Truths Behind Paradise Road
Some of the legends surrounding this creepy street include the introductory mention of driving over the third bump in the road to find bodies hanging from trees.
Inexplicable radio frequency issues that begin and end on the street’s path. It’s totally haunted.
Historical practices of witchcraft in the woods.
Undocumented mentions that it was part of the Underground Railroad.
My Experience Encountering Paradise Road
As I said before, my friends and I had a knack for
getting into trouble, going wherever ghosts might be researching the haunted places or urban myths of our southeast midwest town. The following is a recap of what I’ve witnessed while traveling down Paradise Road (and believe me, we went more than once). I am willing to admit that the frenzy of legend surrounding this street may have toyed with my gullible and willing mind, but I’m also pretty honest, and had friends with me who witnessed the same things I did. With that said, you may take it or leave it.
- Dense layers of fog that parted exactly when we approached the street.
- Having walked the whole street’s length, I was aware of a shadow floating on the opposite side of the street keeping our pace. This was at night, and I tested to make sure it did not belong to any of us.
- A friend and I both witnessed shadowed figures climbing the trees.
- Upon a random stop in the car, our headlights shown directly on the most intricately carved eye on the side of a tree.
- Having thought we parked in front of an abandoned house with no lights on, a friend witnessed a hand pull back a window curtain and disappear again.
We quickly became enthralled with this place that held so much sinister energy. We took it upon ourselves to interview the people that lived on Paradise Road and wrote about it in the school paper. When we began the interviews, hardly anyone would talk to us. One of the houses we went to was still burning peat for heat in the house. And both vehicles we were using nearly got stuck in the mud while at one of the houses. Most of the residents claimed urban legend. The police continue to patrol the street on Halloween as it’s become a popular place for teens to go seeking a good scare.
I just happened to google Paradise Road and was able to find this image from moonslipper.com, an awesome paranormal blog of the author’s own encounter on Paradise Road. Click the image or link to hear her story.
Paradise Road: Fact or Fiction
I can’t say with any proof that Paradise Road is legitimately haunted. I do know what I’ve seen, and that’s enough to make me think this spooky street has a vibe I don’t want to mess with much. It’s creepy, that’s a fact. But I probably wouldn’t have gone there in the first place had it not been for small town urban legends. I’m glad I did.
What urban legends did you have growing up? Did you investigate? Did you ever play Bloody Mary? I totally did. Scared the crap out of myself, and then nothing happened. Still, I’m not about to play it again anytime soon.
The city of New Orleans is known for its “Saints and Sinners” but why is that? A lot of history actually plays into where that phrase originated. You’ll see it in the street names, intersecting each other, one direction named after the saints: St. Ann, St. Charles, St. Philip, and the other direction named for King Louis XIV’s illegitimate children (sinners): Dumaine, Toulouse.
The main reason the Big Easy, the Crescent City, NOLA is known as the town of Saints and Sinners is because only two key buildings survived the Great New Orleans Fire of 1788: St. Louis Cathedral and Jean Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop (AKA: Speakeasy). So there you have it, the saints and the sinners.
The Church has been rebuilt several times surviving fires and hurricanes. And Lafitte’s, now known as the Blacksmith Bar, remains one of the oldest surviving buildings of New Orleans. And, it’s on the ghost tour…
So who was Jean Lafitte? Simply put, he was a pirate. A quick-witted businessman, he set up “shop” as a ruse to throw off the government and law officials who he had common run ins with. Little is known as fact about Lafitte, a journal supposedly surfaced which described him as a Robin Hood of sorts, except instead of giving his treasures to the poor, he kept them for himself. It is believed by New Orleans locals that the Blacksmith Bar is haunted by several ghosts, victims of Lafitte’s rage.
The thing about the blacksmith shop is that the fireplace inside isn’t big enough, nor does it have a proper chimney to filter out the smoke. If the building were to actually be used as a blacksmith shop, the smithy would pass out from the heat that the building contained.
The story says that the four men were forced to watch as one by one their heads were placed in the opening of the fireplaces, scorching their flesh until their eyes burst out and they died. Imagine being the fourth guy…
Locals believe the tales because several people, natives and tourists alike, have mailed in photographs that depict ghostly images around the fireplace. I don’t think I caught anything, but I’m wondering if that’s cause we’re going digital now. Does it make it trickier for ghosts to transcend this new technology?
The other ghost story that occurs here happened years later. I can’t recall exactly how it happened, whether it was a bar robbery or just a wrong place wrong time, but a man coming out of the restroom was stabbed and killed just outside the door. Customers at the bar have reported hearing moaning sounds coming from the restroom and again photos have shown strange figures in this corner.
I always say you know it’s legit when the animals are spooked. I think if an animal perceives some kind of danger or bad energy, you know something’s going on. The intersection outside of Lafitte’s Blacksmith Bar has had the most accidents from horse drawn carriages. There are several tour companies that offer carriage rides around the French Quarter, and apparently, those horses have taken out more street signs than anything. The driver will stop at the bar to allow guests time inside trying to capture any ghoulies or ghosties on film, and it’s happened several times where nothing is seemingly around the carriage, but the horses get so spooked, they’ll bolt up onto the sidewalk taking out the street sign in the process more than once. That, to me, is the freakiest part of this story.
What do you think? Ghosts? Historical energy emissions? A Ruse? What ghostly places have you visited?