FAQ on ghosts and ghostsightings
Archive-name: folklore/ghost-stories Last-modified: 1995/01/20 Posting-frequency: Monthly
Welcome to alt.folklore.ghost-stories!
Alt.folklore.ghost-stories is for the discussion of, well… ghost stories! If you’ve been visited by ghosties, ghoulies, long-legged beasties, or things that go bump in the night, a.f.g-s is the perfect place to tell the world about your experiences. In fact, if you’ve heard any ghost stories at all lately, feel welcome to post them here. Of course, like all newsgroups, a.f.g-s has its share of frequently discussed topics. Thus, the alt.folklore.ghost-stories FAQ. I’ve tried to make the FAQ as comprehensive as possible, without getting too bogged down in useless rhetoric. It will probably be most useful to those new to the group, but hopefully there’s something in it for even long-time readers. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please don’t hesitate to send them to [email protected] (that’s me!) or post them to the group. There’s always room for improvement! And speaking of improvement, this FAQ would not have been the same without the advice, suggestions, and contributions of the following people:
Nikki Taylor [email protected] Leesa Kern [email protected] Lisa Korneluk [email protected] Matt Hucke [email protected] Jay Gitomer [email protected] Prabal Nandy [email protected] Mike Czaplinski [email protected] Susan Lynds [email protected] Proserpina [email protected] David Fluker [email protected] Mark Korven [email protected] Arturo Sanchez [email protected] Thomas Grotenhuis [email protected] cjs [email protected]
A very special thank you goes out to Susan Lynds. She wrote the section on the Wendigo and sent me oodles of info on will o’ the wisps. She was also invaluable as a proofreader and constructive criticizer. In fact, a few of the sentences you’ll read come directly from her. Many of the books you see in the Interesting Reference Material section were also sent to me by Susan. To sum it up, we should all bow down in deference to Susan for making this FAQ a better document to read. A note on quotes: I have enclosed quotes from authors or people on the net in quotation marks (“). [These parts might be edited a bit for clarity or grammar.] The exception is the section which Susan Lynds wrote, which I have preserved intact, and not enclosed in quotation marks (any quotation marks in this section mark the work of a published author). This FAQ is posted on the 20th of every month to alt.folklore.ghost- stories, alt.paranormal, alt.paranet.paranormal, alt.answers, and news.answers. This FAQ is also available via anon FTP at the following address: ftp://ftp.netcom.com/pub/ob/obiwan/GhostStories/FAQs.
Here’s the outline of the FAQ. To try to make the FAQ easier to search, I’ve used the following key: A = Answer Q = Question S = Subject
I. Some Posting Guidelines Q1.1 Are all the stories posted to alt.folklore.ghost-stories true? Should they be true? Q1.2 Do I have to be some kind of paranormal nut in order to post here? Q1.3 Which topics are appropriate to post about? Q1.4 I have this great ghost story! Should I post it? Q1.5 I’m writing a book/article, and I’m reaping the net for stories and ideas. You don’t mind if I steal yours, do you?
II. The Ouija Board Q2.0 What is a ouija board? Q2.1 A lot of people on this group say the ouija board is evil, and to stay away from it. Is this true, and should I stay away? Q2.2 Where can I buy a ouija board? Failing that, how can I make one? Q2.3 Are there any ‘rules’ I should follow when using the Ouija board? Q2.4 What does “ouija” mean? Q2.5 A Brief History of the Ouija Board
III. Famous Hauntings and Spooky Spots S3.1 The Amityville Horror S3.2 Battlefield Hauntings S3.3 The Bell Witch S3.4 Borley Rectory S3.5 Haunted Universities S3.6 Haunted Theatres S3.7 The Tower of London S3.8 Winchester Mansion S3.9 The Chase Vault
IV. Urban Legends S4.1 La Llorona S4.2 Three Men and a Baby S4.3 Mary Worth/Bloody Mary S4.4 The Vanishing Hitchhiker S4.5 Haunted Traintracks
V. Miscellaneous FAQs Q5.1 What is the Wendigo? Q5.2 What are will o’ the wisps? Q5.3 How did that girl in -Poltergeist- die? Q5.4 What are some different categories of manifestations? Q5.5 Who are Ed and Lorraine Warren? Q5.6 What is “Old Hag”? Q5.7 Are cars really rolling uphill in that graveyard near my town? Q5.8 What is the best way to photograph a ghost? Q5.9 Can’t you sue if your new house is haunted, and no one told you about it? Q5.10 What are some theories of what ghosts are/why they exist? Q5.11 What is a caul? Q5.12 What is an incubus?
VI. Non-alt.folklore.ghost-stories Resources S6.1 Other USENET groups that a.f.g-s reader may enjoy S6.2 Some interesting reference material S6.3 Good Supernatural Fiction S6.4 Other Net Resources
And now, away we go… it’s the official
ALT.FOLKLORE.GHOST-STORIES FAQ ——————————
I. Some Posting Guidelines Q1.1 Are all the stories posted to alt.folklore.ghost-stories true? Should they be true? A1.1 It is highly doubtful that everything posted to a.f.g-s is true, or even meant to be true. However, unless you mark your story as fiction, readers tend to assume you are telling a tale you believe to be true. Hence, it is considered polite in these parts to MARK FICTION AS FICTION. People may otherwise assume that you’re trying to pull the wool over their eyes, or else take the story at face value and start giving you advice. It’s also common to start out “true” tales with “This really happened to me,” or “This is a true story,” although technically it’s not really necessary, as any unmarked story is considered to be true. CASE IN POINT: In the fall of 1994, someone posted a rather fantastic concoction about a spirit which he said had been attacking him for a good part of his life. He pleaded with the readers of a.f.g-s for help with his dilemma. Many kind readers responded with sympathy and advice, while one or two others posted their doubts about the story. The original poster acted hurt that someone didn’t believe his story, insisting that it was true. A flame war ensued. Eventually the pos- ter admitted the story was made up, and the people who had believed and defended him felt hurt, betrayed, and/or embarrassed. This all could have been avoided if the poster had marked his story as fiction in the first place. Q1.2 Do I have to be some kind of paranormal nut in order to post here? A1.2 No. Although there are lots of people here who believe in paranormal activities, certainly not everyone does. Many people like reading the stories, but generally take them with a grain of salt. Everyone is welcome here, but remember: Flaming someone because they believe or don’t believe in something is *not* welcome. Q1.3 Which topics are appropriate to post about? A1.3 Obviously, ghost stories (preferably true ones) make up the most appropriate posting material. However, I’ve also seen great threads about guardian angels, mysterious monsters, psychic phenomena, and of course ouija boards. I don’t see any reason why we can’t discuss these things here in a.f.g-s, as long as it doesn’t degenerate into a flame war or something. This is a friendly and relatively flame- free newsgroup, and I’m sure everyone would like to keep it that way. General discussion of ghosts (e.g. “What are ghosts?”) is also welcome.
Basically, if it’s paranormal and scary, you’re on pretty sturdy ground (I would, however, discourage UFO posts, as there are already plenty of groups for those). Q1.4 I have this great ghost story! Should I post it? A1.4 YES! If you have a good story to tell, please don’t hesitate to post it. There’s nothing more frustrating to a.f.g-s readers than a post containing nothing but the words “Something scary happened to me. If there is enough interest, I’ll post the story.” We *want* to hear your story… honest! Q1.5 I’m writing a book/article, and I’m reaping the net for stories and ideas. You don’t mind if I steal yours, do you? A1.5 Ha. Ha. Ha. Yes, as a matter of fact, we do mind. I’d suggest that if you’re going to take other people’s stories and give nothing back, you should find another newsgroup. It’s OK to use someone’s stories if you have written permission from the person and/or are paying them in some way. It might also be a nice idea to *give* a story for each one you take. Just a few things to think about.
II. The Ouija Board The ouija board is a hot topic around here, and everyone seems to have a strong opinion about it one way or the other. I’ve tried to summarize those opinions, and also some questions about the board that get asked a lot. Q2.0 What is a ouija board? A2.0 A ouija board is a game in which messages are supposedly communicated by the dead to or through the players of the game. [Note: some people consider the ouija to be “more than just a game,” but it is marketed as a game, and for purposes of convenience it will be referred to here as a game.] The playing pieces consist of a game board (like a Monopoly board) and a pointer, called a planchette. The game board has all the letters of the alphabet written on it. The numbers 0-9 are also usually included, along with yes/no and hello/goodbye spaces. The layout of a typical board looks something like this: _________________________ | | |A B C D E F G H I J K L M| |N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z| | 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 | |YES/NO HI/BYE| |_________________________| The pointer is made of plastic or glass, and either points to the letters with one end or has a clear window embedded in it through which one can view the letters. To play, two or more people lightly touch the pointer and concentrate on a question. The pointer will (hopefully) move and point to letters and numbers which will provide answers to your questions. Ouija boards are also known as “witch boards” and “talking boards.” The nickname “ouiji” or “weejie” is also used quite a bit. Q2.1 A lot of people on this group say the ouija board is evil, and to stay away from it. Is this true, and should I stay away? A2.1 Since it’s nearly impossible to merge the two views on this topic, I’ve tried to accurately sum them up here: * The ouija board is not any more evil than your Monopoly board. It’s just a toy, a piece of cardboard, and any “evil” force you feel emanating off it is purely a result of your imagination. Yes, the pointer does work, but that’s the result of tiny involuntary physical movements, and the messages you see are coming from your subconscious or psychic mind. * The ouija is in fact a powerful tool, and its powers cannot, and should not, be written off entirely as your subconscious. Inexperienced ouija users are especially prone to being affected by malevolent forces which communicate through the board, often masquerading as a departed loved one. The best way to avoid this sort of thing is not to use the board at all. Q2.2 Where can I buy a ouija board? Failing that, how can I make one? A2.2 You can, in the U.S. anyway, find a ouija board in a toy store or a game store. You might also be able to find one in a large bookstore. Parker Brothers make a nice, relatively cheap, model. To make a board, arrange all the letters of the alphabet on a smooth surface. You might also want the words “yes”, “no”, and “goodbye”, as well as the numbers. Use something that glides easily over the surface (like a glass) to use as a pointer. Now, place your fingers (this works best with a friend, by the way) gently on the glass and concentrate. Hopefully the glass will start to move and point to various letters, which will form words and sentences. Oh yeah, it helps if you ask a question first. Q2.3 Are there any ‘rules’ I should follow when using the Ouija board? A2.3 If you consider the Ouija board as just another toy, then there are no hard and fast rules to follow. Holding on to the pointer helps, though. 🙂 If you believe that you are really contacting spirits through the board, you might want to follow a few basic guidelines. Here are some that I’ve gleaned off the net and from other sources: * Use a silver coin as the planchette (pointer), or wear an article made of silver. The silver is supposed to protect you from harmful spirits. * To improve “reception”, use a solid wood board, and work in male- female pairs. * Draw a circle around you and the board, or make a circle of candles. Concentrate on creating a safe, protected place as you do this. Some people believe that spirits must stay outside this circle. Also, a well-lit area is said to drive away evil spirits. * Always say goodbye to the entity you are talking with when you want to end a session. If you don’t say goodbye, and the spirit doesn’t reply in kind, he may be trying to stick around, maybe to make your life miserable. Additionally, do not explicitly invite the spirit to enter someplace, since this will make it hard to get rid of him later. * It helps to have one additional person (not touching the planchette) present to transcribe the session. Sometimes the pointer starts moving too fast for you to read and process the words it’s spelling out. The transcription might also be helpful later on so you can look back on what happened. Another way to transcribe is to have someone call out the letters to a tape recorder. * Don’t take anything the spirit says literally. Ouija boards are famous for lying or otherwise giving false information. Q2.4 What does “ouija” mean? A2.4 The word “ouija” is actually a combination of two words, the french word “oui” and the German word “ja.” Both words mean “yes” in english. Q2.5 A Brief History of the Ouija Board A2.5 From [email protected] (Thomas Grotenhuis): The ancient Egyptians used a device LIKE a ouija board. They used a ring attached to a strand of thread, held over a circular table with symbols on it, and the ring would strike the table to spell out answers. The Ouija board, the kind we see in toy stores today, came about in 1889 when William Fuld of Baltimore, Maryland, and his brother Isaac, marketed Ouija boards to the American public. They had a small operation and the board was the hottest item they would ever produce. People bought the board not as a game, but as a device with which they would talk to their loved ones killed in battle (note the two World Wars happening; this was where the board’s popularity really soared). During this time, the fad spread, and so did Ouija’s notorious reputation as being more than just a “game.” Finally in about 1960 or thereabouts, Parker Brothers approached the two Fuld brothers since they were having trouble making enough boards to satisfy the demand for them. PB then took over the rights to the ouija board and the rest, as they say, is history. Ouija came about as kind of a by-product of the whole spiritualist craze that was all the rage in the early 1900’s, and during Houdini’s time as he debunked many ‘mediums’. Table-tipping was being done back then, and a Frenchman, who’s last name was “planchette”, produced a device that looked like a small table like a ouija pointer, that stood on two small stilts and a pen or pencil at the third point. The operator would sit with his hands as lightly as he could resting on the planchette, this device named after it’s inventor, and the thing would move, producing writing. Ouija replaced the messy planchette (the writing was messy cursive scrawls) when a board was used in place of the sheet of paper, and all three stilts on the planchette were covered with felt enabling it to slide in any direction. This made the communications fast, clear, and easy. And specifically meant to be done with a partner, “gentleman and lady preferred.”
III. Famous Hauntings and Spooky Spots Following is a brief rundown of the most popular hauntings discussed on alt.folklore.ghost-stories. Note that these are all relatively famous hauntings, and not urban legendish or my-aunt-Edna’s-house type tales. S3.1 The Amityville Horror The Amityville Horror, although now considered a hoax, is one of the most famous “hauntings” of all time. The small house in Amityville, New York was made famous in the mid-70s when George and Kathy Lutz told the media of bizarre happenings which were alleged to have taken place at the house during the month they lived there. These happenings included such things as flying demented pigs with glowing red eyes (my personal favorite), walls that oozed blood, an infestation of flies in the attic, and a pit to hell in the basement. Supposedly, whatever had tormented the Lutzes was also the thing that had driven Ronald DeFeo to shoot and kill his entire family in that house in 1974. S3.2 Battlefield Hauntings What better place to find ghosts than a former battlefield? Certainly there are many accounts of ghostly soldiers and regimens, forever fighting long-since resolved wars. Many Civil War and World War battlefields are said to be haunted. In addition, many sites of confrontations between whites and Native Americans echo with the sites and sounds of conflict. [More info to follow here; please be patient. :)] S3.3 The Bell Witch “The Bell Witch” haunted the Bell home in Tennessee in the early 1800s. The “witch” was actually a poltergeist, which did lots of annoying things like throw things around and scream/knock loudly at all hours. John Bell, the father, died during the Bell Witch’s tenure. Some claim he was poisoned by the Witch. Betsy Bell,
John’s daughter, is suspected of having faked the whole thing. Reliable records are lacking, so we’ll probably never know whether the Bell Farm was truly haunted. S3.4 Borley Rectory Borley Rectory is often called “The most haunted house in England.” The site of the rectory originally held a monastery, which was inhabited by Benedictine monks. Subsequent to this, the monastery came under the ownership of the Waldergrave family, who occupied it for three centuries. In the late 1800’s a descendant of the Waldegraves, the reverend H.D.E. Bull, built a new rectory on the site of the old monastery. It was not until after the new rectory was built that strange things started to happen. One of the spectres that was said to roam the grounds was a nun who in the 13th century fell in love with and tried to elope with a monk. According to legend, the nun and monk were caught in their get- away horse and carriage. As punishment, the monk was hung and the nun was walled up alive in the rectory. Some people reported seeing the ghostly form of the horse and carriage in addition to the nun. The reverend Harry Bull, who died at Borley, also was reputed to have haunted the rectory. He would appear dressed in the grey jacket in which he passed away. In the late 1920s, the house was owned by a reverend (Lionel A. Foyster) and his wife who reported poltergeist-like phenomena. Supposedly the prankish spirit locked the wife in the bedroom, and other times threw her out of the bed. There were also pebbles thrown at the windows, and mysterious writing which would appear on walls. Harry Price, a famous ghost hunter, investigated Borley Rectory in 1929, and again in 1937. He supposedly witnessed some of the activity, including the ghostly nun. Although Price spent a great deal of time in the Rectory, his research is generally considered to be biased and therefore flawed. Unfortunately, Borley Rectory burned down in 1939, taking its secrets with it. In 1945, human remains rumored to be those of the nun were found on the site, and were given a proper burial. But the legend of Borley has not died yet; people still visit the site today to see if they can spot the ghostly nun. S3.5 Haunted Universities There are many stories of college hauntings. If you wish to read of them, you can ftp to my alt.folklore.ghost-stories archives (see address at the bottom of this FAQ). Relevant files include: cmu.children mary.reed cmu.haunting phantom.typist ghost.elevator und.haunting haunted.dorm upei.haunting I haven’t run across any university hauntings that are well known outside of one particular school but if anyone knows of any, let me know and I will include it in this section. S3.6 Haunted Theatres Mike Czaplinski ([email protected]) writes the following about the ghost of Drury Lane Theatre: “Drury Lane Theatre. From my fuzzy recollection, the ghost is described at various times as a soft green glow, or a handsome young man. I seem to recall there being an entry on this particular haunting in THE BOOK OF LISTS (circa 1980). According to the entry (again, subject to my faulty memory), during renovation in the late 1970’s, they stumbled on a skeleton with the remnants of a grey riding coat with a knife sticking out of its ribs. The folklore is that whoever sees the ghost is destined for theatrical greatness.” Further details (provided directly from -The Book of Lists-, Bantam, 1977): The ghost is that of a young man who was murdered in 1780. J. Wentworth Day, a ghost hunter, reported seeing a moving blue light in the theatre in 1939. If anyone knows of any other famous haunted theatres, I would be happy to hear about them. There are a few files in my archives that are about haunted theatres: lyric.theatre, playhouse.ghost, and theatre. ghost. S3.7 The Tower of London The Tower of London has a long and bloody history, and of course many ghostly legends are associated with the Tower. In 1483, two young princes were murdered in the Tower, and their ghosts were reported to have haunted the tower until the year 1674, when their bones were found and buried in a proper ceremony. The most famous and most often reported ghost in the Tower is Anne Boleyn. She was beheaded by her husband, Henry VIII, in 1536. Other Tower ghosts include Sir Walter Raleigh, Guy Fawkes, and even the apparition of a bear. In 1816, a palace guard who was on duty spied the bear. Not realizing he was facing an apparition, the guard attempted to lunge at the creature with his bayonet. The guard reportedly later died of shock. In 1864, a soldier saw a ghost and again attempted to use his bayonet. The soldier fainted when he realized his antagonist was a ghost, and was later court-martialed for neglecting his duties (hard to guard the castle when you’re fainted dead away). However, the charges against the soldier were dropped when two witnesses came forward to support the soldier’s ghost story. S3.8 Winchester Mansion The Winchester Mansion, in San Jose, California, was built by Sara Winchester, the widow of William Winchester. Sara visited a psychic who told her that she must build a house large enough to house the souls of all those who’d been killed by Winchester guns, and Sara spent the remaining 36 years of her life (until she died in 1922) doing just that. The mansion’s construction is just as odd as Sara’s personality. There are stairways and doors that go nowhere, secret rooms and passages, and elevators that only go up one floor. The number 13 is prevalent throughout: 13 bathrooms, stairways with 13 steps, and so on. There is a rumor that Sara would never give her workmen the day off, because she was afraid that the day she stopped building she would die. One day, however, after many complaints, she finally gave her staff a day off, and that is the day she died. S3.9 The Chase Vault (AKA The Moving coffins of Barbados) Contributed by Matthew Hucke ([email protected]): In Christ Church cemetery on the island of Barbados there is a burial vault of unknown origin. The earliest records call it the “Chase vault”. It was first used for the burial of a Mrs. Goddard in 1807, followed by two-year-old Mary Ann Chase in 1808 and her sister Dorcas in 1812, a probable suicide. A few weeks later, Dorcas’ father Thomas Chase died. When the vault was opened, all the coffins had been moved from their original places. It was thought that thieves had been in the vault, but the concrete seal of the tomb was still in place. Two more burials were made in 1816. In both cases, when the vault was opened, the coffins already present had been moved about. The casket of Thomas Chase was of lead, weighing 240 pounds, far too large to be moved by a single vandal. In each of these burials, the workers returned the coffins to their proper places and sealed the mausoleum with cement. It happened again in 1819. This time, the Governor sprinkled sand on the floor (to show footprints), and pressed his personal seal into the fresh cement. In 1820 the tomb was opened again, and the coffins were again out of place, even though no footprints showed and the concrete seal was undisturbed. The governor ordered the coffins removed and the vault left open; the mystery has never been solved. [ information taken from Daniel Cohen’s _The Encyclopedia of Ghosts_, Avon Books 1984.]
IV. Urban Folklore and Legends S4.1 La Llorona La Llorona is the legend of a woman who has lost her children, and who can be heard, and sometimes seen, weeping in the night. La Llorona (the name means “She who weeps” in Spanish) is in most stories said to be Mexican, although sometimes she is a woman who lived in the American Southwest. As with most urban legends, there are many variations of La Llorona, but the central plot remains intact: The woman has lost her children, usually because she herself has killed them because she wants to marry a man who doesn’t want any children. She is so anguished over the depressing circumstances that she kills herself as well, and is thus doomed forever to roam her native land, weeping and wringing her hands. Sometimes she is said to be searching for her children, and sometimes she is said to appear only as a warning to those who see her. Here is a typical version of the La Llorona legend by Proserpina ([email protected]): “Sightings abound throughout the Southwest. Supposedly she drowned her children in the acequia (irrigation ditch,) and now she roams the ditches looking for her, or any, children. Usually the story is told with the intentions of keeping kiddies away from the ditches, so they won’t drown.” -The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits- by Rosemary Guiley tells a more traditional Mexican version, which occurs in Mexico City around 1550. According to legend, an indian princess fell in love with a Mexican nobleman. The nobleman promised to marry her, but betrayed her and married someone else instead. The ultimate result of this bit o’ treachery is that the princess murdered her children in a fit of rage, with a knife given to her by the nobleman. Afterwards, she wandered the streets crying for her children, and was eventually hanged for her sins. Since then her ghost has been searching for children. Another interesting feature of the La Llorona legend is that it appears to have merged with the Vanishing Hitchhiker legend (see below). La Llorona is reported by some to hitch a ride on a road near to the place where she drowned her children. S4.2 Three Men and a Baby If I had to pick just one topic from this FAQ to post, this would be the one. There is a scene in the movie -Three Men and a Baby- in which some people claim to have seen the ghostly figure of a small boy who was killed in the house in which the scene was filmed. In some variations, the boy’s parents are said to have sued the movie studio, or the owners of the “house”, for letting their boy’s name be released to the press. There are also tales of other ghostly objects being seen throughout the movie, most notably a rifle pointing at the head of the “ghost boy”. That is the legend. Here are the facts. The scene in question was not shot in a house, but on a soundstage in a Hollywood studio. The “ghost boy” is in fact a life-sized cardboard cutout of Ted Danson (who stars in the film), which had been left in the background, presumably accidentally, by a crew member. This cutout is seen in full view in another scene in the movie. There is no ghost boy. No boy ever died on the set, and no one involved with the movie was ever sued by the mythical parents of said ghost boy. No one appears to know how the legend started. Some have suggested it was a promotional scheme perpetrated by the producers of the film to get people to buy/rent/go see it. Most likely the flub was simply noticed by one or more innocent movie goers, who told a friend, or perhaps a newspaper… S4.3 Mary Worth/Bloody Mary Here is a popular legend which many remember from their childhood. The Mary Worth (also known as Bloody Mary, Mary Margaret, etc) story is popular at sleepovers. As the story goes, a beautiful young girl named Mary Worth was in some sort of terrible accident (or occasionally the wounds are inflicted purposely by a jealous party), and her face was hideously deformed. From then on, she is shunned by other people, and she sometimes becomes a witch. Now for the scary part. Supposedly if you say Mary Worth’s name three (or five, or ten… it varies) times while looking into the mirror, Mary Worth will appear and scratch your face off or kill you. She is exacting a hideous revenge on the undeformed people who made fun of her in life. There is a great Clive Barker movie, -Candyman-, based on this sort of legend. S4.4 The Vanishing Hitchhiker This legend is probably familiar to most readers. It is a dark and stormy night. A person driving sees a forlorn figure at the side of the road and decides to give him or her a lift. Usually the hitchhiker is a young woman in some sort of trouble… her prom date dumped her, or her car broke down. The driver gets to her house only to discover that his passenger has disappeared without a trace from the back seat of his car. He knocks on the door to the house, maybe to make sure the girl is ok, and the door is answered by the girl’s parent. Eventually it comes out that the girl died some years ago, and every year on the anniversary of her death (or her birthday), the girl hitches a ride back home with a stranger. There are *many* variations of this legend. Sometimes the girl appears to make it home safely, but the driver finds something the girl left behind in his car, and goes back to return it, thus lear- ning the truth about the girl. Sometimes the driver lends the girl his jacket or sweater, and goes back the next day to retrieve it. Often, he finds his jacket hung over the grave of the dead girl. It is interesting to note that this legend has made it into many regional folklores. In Hawaii, for example, the hitchhiker is often said to be the goddess Pele. It has already been mentioned that La Llorona has also been connected with the story. In the Chicago area, the vanishing hitchhiker takes the form of Resurrection Mary. S4.5 Haunted Traintracks Occasionally a reader will post the following story, usually attributing it to a local site. Once, there was a tragic accident on a set of traintracks: A busload of children was crossing the tracks, and could not get out of the way in time to avoid the approaching train. Now, if your car stalls out on the tracks, it will be pushed over the tracks to safety before the train hits you. The ghosts of the children have saved you, and sometimes you can see their small handprints in the dust on your car.
V. Miscellaneous FAQs Q5.1 What is the Wendigo? A5.1 [This section brought to you by Susan Lynds ([email protected] edu). Thanks, Susan!] “The wendigo is a Canadian entity, half phantom, half beast, who lives in the forests and preys on human beings, particularly chil- dren. The belief in this horror dates back to the earliest Indian legends and it is said that the wendigo will eat the flesh of its victims. According to R.S. Lambert in “Exploring the Supernatural” (1955), ‘Wendigos (who might be women as well as men) were believed to have entered into a pact with evil spirits, lurking in the for- est, who helped them kill their victims.’ The legend of this crea- ture has been immortalized in Algernon Blackwood’s short story “The Wendigo” (1907). In W.T. Cox’s “Fearsome Creatures of the Lumber Woods” (1951) a number of other Canadian “wood horrors” are listed, including the hodag, the whimpus, the hoop-snake, the celofay, and the filamaloo.” –A Dictionary of Ghost Lore, by Peter Haining Q5.2 What are will o’ the wisps? A5.2 Will o’ the wisps are a natural phenomenon that never the less appear ghostly in nature. The wisps, which are actually ignited pockets of swamp gas, hover over swamps and swampy areas and glow blue. They can move (carried by breezes and air currents), and many observers have noted that the wisps seem to mimic a person’s movements… when the observer moves forward, so does the wisp. Will o’ the wisps can appear as one glowing ball or as many tiny flickers. Will o’ the wisps have also been called such fanciful names as “corpse candles”, “fox fire”, and “elf light”. The phenomenon is also knows as “ignis fatuus”, which means “foolish fire”. Some believe the mysterious floating lights to be portents of bad luck or even death. Researchers believe that many people have mistaken will o’ the wisps for the ghostly lanterns of trains and/or their long-dead conductors. Q5.3 How did that girl in -Poltergeist- die? A5.3 Contributed by Christine White ([email protected]): According to People magazine February 15, 1988: “It happened so fast. At 9:25 am, Monday Feb. 1, only hours after developing what appeared to be flu symptoms, Heather O’Rourke, child star of the Poltergeist horror films, was rushed from her home in Lakeside, Calif., to the hospital; she was in septic shock and cardiac arrest. An hour later she arrived by airlift, alive but in critical condition, at Children’s Hospital and Health Center in San Diego. There she was operated on for intestinal stenosis, an acute bowel obstruction, a congenital condition neither her mother nor stepfather had suspected. At 2:43 pm, Heather died on the operating table. She was 12 years old.” Subsequent issues of People tell how doctors first diagnosed and treated her for Chrone’s disease. The parents sued the doctors for wrongful treatment, but I don’t know what happened to the suit. Q5.4 What are some different categories of manifestations? Ghostly visitations fall into several distinct categories. Here are a few of the most common. * Crisis Apparitions — These ghosts appear most often to their loved ones at a moment of great crisis or death. Typically, the ghosts appear only once to a special loved one who may be many miles away at the time of the accident. * Doppelgangers — Doppelgangers are ghostly doubles of living peo- people. Often the doppelganger is not visible to the person him- self, and will simply follow the person around. In some cases a person will come upon his own doppelganger who is typically engaged in some future activity. Doppelgangers are traditionally consid- ered omens of bad luck or even death. * Repeated Actions — Many apparitions are always viewed repeating the same motions or scenes. Many classic hauntings fall into this category. An example of this type of haunting is The Brown Lady of Raynham Hall, who was always seen moving down a hallway with a lan- tern in her hand. Usually these ghosts pay little or no attention to the observer. * Poltergeists — Poltergeists are the only spirits who leave immed- iate physical traces. Poltergeists are best known for throwing things about and producing rapping sounds and other noises. In fact, the word “poltergeist” means “noisy ghost” in German. Pol- tergeists often occur where there are children on the brink of puberty, and often interact with people.
* Ghostly Sounds and Lights — Sometimes a haunting will consist en- tirely of the sound of footsteps or ghostly music. There are also many legends of ghost lights, which are often said to be caused by someone’s ghostly lantern or by a spectral motorcycle or train. * Possessed Ojects — Sometimes inanimate objects are said to be cursed or possessed. A very famous example of a supposed cursed object is the Hope Diamond. Sometimes a particular piece of furn- iture will refuse to stay in place, even moving in front of the owner’s eyes. Q5.5 Who are Ed and Lorraine Warren? Ed and Lorraine Warren are a husband and wife team who investigate paranormal activity. Their most famous case is probably the Amity- ville horror. The reliability of their research is considered ques- tionable by many. The Warrens currently make a living by travelling the lecture circuit and releasing the occasional book. Q5.6 What is “Old Hag”? A5.6 From the alt.dreams FAQ, maintained by Olaf Titz ([email protected] sub.org): “3.1. What causes sleep paralysis? “A. Conventional wisdom: REM atonia is a normal function of the body. The muscles that move the body are “turned off” during REM sleep, which prevents you from acting out dreamed actions in rea- lity. Non-REM sleep paralysis after waking up (“old hag”) is caused by a failure to re-activate the muscles immediately. Nor- mally this condition lasts only a few seconds, but sometimes it can go for a minute, which causes a very scary feeling. You are damn sure you’re awake now but you can’t move. This is extremely unpleasant but at least not dangerous.” Symptoms of old hag include hearing footsteps, seeing a presence (often an old woman, from which the name derives), and a feeling of not being able to breathe or move. Q5.7 Are cars really rolling uphill in that graveyard near my town? A5.7 There are some places where the land is shaped in such a way that it can sometimes appear that things are going uphill when they are really going down. [I’m not sure of the physics of this, but if anyone knows what causes this phenomenon, please let me know.] Some people attrib- ute this type of activity to paranormal causes. Q5.8 What is the best way to photograph a ghost? A5.8 The following information was provided by David Fluker ([email protected] delphi.com). “If anyone out there is interested in attempting to photograph para- normal activities or spirits, here is how to do it right!! 1. You need to purchase 35mm Kodak HIE-135/36 film. This is B&W Infrared film used for this and other more scientific purposes. You can either purchase the film at a local professional photo shop or order it direct from Kodak at 1-800-242-2424 in Rochester, NY. The roll costs around $10.00 each including shipping. 2. Once you have the film in your hot little hand, you need to ask your friendly photo-pro at the shop for an 87 filter to use with it. (if he/she doesn’t know what this is, have them call the 800# above and get Kodak to tell him/her. ** the reason for the 87 filter is to eliminate all existing light du- ring photography and only to have the IR on the film. (Even though it may be dark in a room, there is still existing light that will effect your exposure so use the 87 filter!!) 3. Once you have captured you entity on film, either send the film back to Kodak or get it processed at the best quality lab in your area. It needs to be processed under three types…hc110, d19, or d76. The best for supernatural purposes is d76 as this gives the most normal overall exposure. You can also have it processed HC110 but this is a much higher contrast index and used mainly for special scientific pro- jects.” Q5.9 Can’t you sue if your new house is haunted, and no one told you about it? A5.9 Mark Korven ([email protected]) gleaned the following quote from the book -The Scandal Annual 1991-. “A Wall Street bond trader sued for return of a $32,000 down payment he made on a $650,000 Victorian mansion on the Hudson River in Nyack, New York. The Reason: he said nobody told him that three Revolutionary War ghosts haunted the dwelling. The owner of the house had refused to return the money, saying that the ghosts were very friendly. The judge ruled in her favor, stating that the law can’t take supernatural enti- ties into consideration. “That ruling panicked lawmakers in neighboring Connecticut, which evi- dently has more than its share of spooks. Legislators pushed though a “Ghostbuster” bill, making it mandatory for all home seller to disclose any spiritual phenomena related to the property.” Q5.10 What are some theories of what ghosts are/why they exist? A5.10 There are many theories of what ghosts (if they indeed exist) are. Some people believe that ghosts are the residual energy left behind by an emotionally strong person or event. This theory holds that more energy/electrical impulses are expended during periods of high stress or excitement, and that the energy lingers for a long time. Freud thought that ghosts are actually the visions of people who are afraid of death. In this sense, ghosts would not be real at all but rather a projection of our subconcious mind. A somewhat plausible theory is that ghosts are telepathic images. That is, a sensitive person would pick up past vibrations from the area they were in and witness an event or person as it appeared many years ago. This would also explain instances where a person sees a loved one at or near the moment of the the loved one’s death, since the loved one could be unconciously projecting their thoughts to the receptive person. Ghosts might also be the result of time slips, if time is nonlinear. An event that happened in the past might be seen briefly in our time because of a fluctuation in time/space. Q5.11 What is a caul? A5.11 A caul is a piece of the fetal membrane that covers the heads of some babies when they are born. This occurrence is relatively rare, and because of this folklore says that a baby born with a caul possesses psychic powers. In the past, people would keep cauls and placed great value upon them as good luck charms. Q5.12 What is an incubus? A5.12 An incubus is a demon which assumes male form and lies on people (usually women) and has sexual intercourse with them in their sleep. The female version of an incubus is called a succubus.
VI. Non-alt.folklore.ghost-stories Resources S6.1 Other USENET groups that a.f.g-s reader may enjoy: alt.folklore.urban discussion of urban legends and their varia- tions and meanings alt.folklore.suburban moderated discussion of urban legends alt.horror discussion of horror films and literature alt.magick magick stuff alt.pagan wicca and other non-christian religions alt.paranet.paranormal discussion of paranormal phenomena alt.paranet.metaphysics discussion of metaphysics alt.paranormal discussion of paranormal phenomena sci.skeptic debate on the validity of strange phenomena S6.2 Some interesting reference material: *BOOKS Auerbach, Loyd -ESP, Hauntings, and Poltergeists: A Parapsychologist’s Handbook- 1986, Warner Books Bardens, Dennis -Ghosts and Hauntings- 1968, Taplinger Pub. Bord, Janet and Colin -Unexplained Mysteries of the 20th Century- 1989, Contemporary Books Brown, Theo -Devon Ghosts- 1982, Jarrold & Sons BRUNVAND, Jan H. -The Vanishing Hitchhiker: American Urban Legends and Their Meanings- 1981, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. Bullock, Alice -Monumental Ghosts- 1987, Sunstone Press Canning, John (ed.) -Fifty True Mysteries of the Sea- 1979, Dorset Press Colby, C.B. -Strangely Enough!- 1959, Sterling Pub. Co. COHEN, Daniel -The Encyclopedia of Ghosts- 1985, Dorset Press Coleman, Michael H. (ed.) -The Ghosts of the Trianon, the complete ‘An Adventure’ by C.A.E. Moberly and E.F. Jourdain- 1988, Aquarian Press Corliss, William R. -Handbook of Unusual Natural Phenomena; Eyewitness Accounts of Nature’s Greatest Mysteries- 1977, Anchor Books Forman, Joan -Royal Hauntings- 1987, FONTANA/Collins Pub. Antonio R. Garcez, -Adobe Angels: The Ghosts of Santa Fe- 1992, Red Rabbit Press GUILEY, Rosemary -The Encyclopedia of Ghost and Spirits- 1992, Facts on File, New York Haining, Peter -A Dictionary of Ghost Lore- 1984, Prentice- Hall Holzer, Hans -Yankee Ghosts- 1966, Ace Books Holzer, Hans -Where the Ghosts are: Favorite Haunted Houses in America and the British Isles- 1984, Parker Pub. Co. HUNT, Stoker -Ouija: The Most Dangerous Game- Harper & Row Hurwood, Bernhardt J. -Haunted Houses- 1972, Scholastic Books MacKenzie, Andrew -Hauntings and Apparitions- 1982, Granada Pub. Marsden, Simon -The Haunted Realm- 1986, E.P. Dutton Marsden, Simon -Phantoms of the Isles- 1990, Webb & Bower Martin, MaryJoy -Ghosts, Ghouls and Goblins: Twilight Dwellers of Colorado- 1985, Pruett Pub. Co. May, Alan M. -The Legend of Kate Morgan- 1990, Elk Pub. Munn, Debra D. -Big Sky Ghosts: Eerie True Tales of Montana Vol. 1- 1993, Pruett Publishing Munn, Debra D. -Big Sky Ghosts: Eerie True Tales of Montana Vol. 2- 1994, Pruett Publishing Munn, Debra D. -Ghosts on the Range: Eerie True Tales of Wyoming- 1989, Pruett Publishing Murray, Earl -Ghosts of the Old West- 1988, Dorset Press Myers, Arthur -The Ghostly Register, Haunted Dwellings– Active Spirits, A Journey to America’s Strangest Landmarks- 1986, Contemporary Books Myers, Arthur -Ghosts of the Rich and Famous- 1988, Contemporary Books MYERS, Arthur -A Ghosthunter’s Guide to Haunted Landmarks, Parks, Churches, and other Haunted Places- 1993, Contemporary Books MYERS, Arthur -The Ghostly Gazetteer, America’s most fascinating Haunted Landmarks- 1990, Contemporary Books, Chicago PRICE, Harry -The Most Haunted House in England- 1940, Long- mans, Green, & Co., London PRICE, Harry -The End of Borley Rectory- 1946, George G. Har- rapp & Co., Ltd., London Roberts, Nancy -Haunted Houses: Tales from 30 American Homes- 1988, Globe Pequot Press Scott, Beth, and Michael Norman -Haunted Heartland- 1985, Warner Books -Strange Stories, Amazing Facts- Reader’s Digest, 1976 Underwood, Peter -The Ghost Hunter’s Guide- 1986, Javelin Books Underwood, Peter -Gazetteer of British, Scottish, and Irish Ghosts- 1985, Bell Pub. Whitaker, Terence -Haunted England- 1987, Contemporary Books Wilson, Colin -The Encyclopedia of Unsolved Mysteries- 1988, Contemporary Books *TELEVISION -Unsolved Mysteries- Reruns are shown on Lifetime at 8:00 PM and 11:00 PM weekdays E/P time. -Arthur C. Clarke’s Mysterious World- Shown on the Discovery chan- nel; check your local listings. -In Search Of…- A&E; check your local listings. -Sightings- FOX (or might be syndicated?), Sundays, 6:00 PM -Encounters- FOX Sundays at 7:00 PM (Pacific Time) -The Extraordinary- Syndicated; check your local listings *Movies -The Legend of Boggy Creek- A quasi-documentary about a bigfoot- like creature roaming the Louisiana bayou. (1972) S6.3 Good Supernatural Fiction *BOOKS Anson, Jay -The Amityville Horror- Flies in the attic! Walls that drip blood! Pigs that fly! (And you thought your faulty plumbing was a problem.) Dickens, Charles -A Christmas Carol- A good ghost story any time of the year. King, Stephen -Pet Semetary- You’ll never look at your cat the same way again. *TELEVISION -The Twilight Zone- Umm, do I really need to explain this? -The X-Files- Two FBI agents investigate paranormal stuff. A great show! (FOX, Fridays 9PM E/P) *MOVIES -Candyman- Clive Barker movie inspired by Mary Worth- type urban legends. Tres scary! (1992) -The Changeling- George C. Scott stars in a chilling yarn about a house haunted by the spirit of a murdered child. (1980) -The Entity- Barbara Hershey plays a single mom who is being tormented by a rowdy spirit. (1983) -The Exorcist- A modern story of demonic possession. Linda Blair vomits pea soup. (1973) -Ghostbusters- Comedy about ghost-catchers in New York City. (1984) -The Haunting- A classic tale of a haunted house. Based on -The Haunting of Hill House- by Shirley Jack- son. (1963) -Poltergeist- A family experiences otherwordly activity cen- tered around their young daughter (Heather O’Rourke). (1982) -The Shining- Based on the Stephen King novel about an old hotel haunted by lots of mean ghosts. (1980) -Witchboard- Tawny Kitaen is tormented by an evil spirit conjured up with a ouija board. Actually a really good movie despite a somewhat low budget. (1985) S6.4 Other Net Resources *FTP ftp.netcom.com pub/obiwan/GhostStories This FAQ, some stories taken from alt.folklore.ghost-stories, some GIFs *BBSs isdn37.eng.uc.edu [telnet] forums on paranormal topics (416) 631-9996 THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE BBS (205)830-4485 The Highland Citadel; Ghost GIFs *Gopher The Skeptical Inquirer gopher://gopher.enews.com:2100/11/magazines/ category/science/General/skep_inq *WWW Fortean Times Online http://forteana.mic.dundee.ac.uk/ft/ Archive X http://www.declab.usu.edu:8080/X File archives featuring horror and paranormal topics Spirit WWW http://zeta.cs.adfa.oz.au/Spirit.html Yahoo
http://akebono.stanford.edu/yahoo/Entertainment/Paranormal_Phenomena — * [email protected] * THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE * 1313 Harbor Blvd * * “Rambo’s Great. I love Rambo.” -Steven Spielberg * * Soylent Green is PEOPLE! * 4 cats, 2 bunnies, 8 rats, 10 mice * * ftp://ftp.netcom.com/pub/ob/obiwan ghost-stories archive *