Are you spooked by cemeteries? Or, do you walk through them to check out your own ancestral history?
Cemetery excursions often evoke fond memories of a favorite friend or relative. Some cemeteries are destination outings for those who wish to visit famous people buried within the hallowed grounds.
But sometimes, the visits are not about honoring the departed. Most European cathedrals have graveyards outside, but also house the remains of royalty beneath the slate and tile in the sanctuaries. Walking across the stones in certain corners of Canterbury Cathedral can stir a feeling of the presence of evil. The crowds that have worn away the stones over the centuries have not removed the sense of death and sorrow that seems to linger in the darkened alcoves.
We read about souls lost in between this earth and another dimension. We tell tales of being scared beyond rational thinking when stuck in a graveyard at night. Reports abound of an unnerving feeling, as if life-forces come out after dark to dance or moan soulfully of their own unfortunate, untimely demise. What if the dead haven’t yet crossed over to another plane and need to reach someone in this world in order to be able to rest in peace? It’s the stuff of novels and movies galore.
We have ghost hunters searching for restless spirits, cemetery researchers looking for the ancestors of a client, and the curious wondering what all the fuss is about. Whatever your belief system, it is possible to take cemetery walks all over the world, some for free, others at stiff prices for the privilege of being frightened in the name of fun.
The Oakwood Cemetery Saints and Sinners Tour (oakwoodcemetery.net/ ) The tour through this Fort Worth, Texas, cemetery features a reenactment of famous people buried there, and even has a section just for bartenders. Do the ghosts need a drink after death? Hmmm.
Fort Worth Spirit & Paranormal Adventures (dfwparanormalresearch.com/) takes small groups of ghost/spirit hunters through the area, stopping at famously haunted cemeteries. EMF meters and thermal scanners are supplied so that tourists/believers can see glowing tombstones and floating orbs. The Arlington tour promises active ghosts everywhere. Let us know what you see if you go. Pictures welcome. Yup.
During the Princeton University Ghost Tour the Ghost Hunter Guides train the attendees in the use of EMF Meters, dowsing rods, and therma-meters to allow for interaction with those that have crossed over. No mention of what kind of interaction that might be, but iPhones and cameras are encouraged. Not sure if it will make you jump and scream, but the tour is rated PG-13 because of its adult-ish content.
Because of the 2020 Pandemic, a Cary, North Carolina haunted cemetery tour will be virtual for Halloween. The Friends of Page-Walker, a local volunteer historical group, will explore Hillcrest Cemetery, one of Cary’s most haunted cemeteries, sharing its strange history and spooky stories.
Remember Ichabod Crane and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”? Sleepy Hollow, New York is the home of Sleepy Hollow Cemetery , the definition of spooky. There are tours scheduled for day as well as night and must be booked ahead. A Lantern tour at night promises to deliver on the scare factor as stories are shared about some of the inhabitants.
Salem, Massachusetts is well known for the Salem witch trials. One of the most famous judges from the trials is interred at The Burying Point cemetery. Spellbound Tours, delivers what they call Salem’s “original and best haunted tour,” and includes the cemetery on the agenda for the evening.
Check your town’s website to see what events will be held locally. If the Pandemic has caused cancellations in your area, set the DVR for Halloween movies and wear your costumes anyway. Whatever you decide for your Halloween observance, stay safe and have fun.
Tis the season for skeletons and other Halloween traditions, but did you ever wonder about the origin of the phrase “skeleton in the closet?”
The prevailing view implies that someone has skeletons in said closet if the person in question has something nefarious to hide, but historically, there’s a bit more to the story.
In England, until the early 1800s, physicians were not allowed to collect and dissect bodies other than those of executed criminals. Even after an Act of Parliament was passed to allow other bodies to be used for research, doctors hid the bodies (presumably in closets or cabinets) from the squeamish eyes of the public. The bodies might still have had a great deal to reveal medically and might have been kept until all that remained was the skeleton.
Hiding a skeleton might have cast a bad light (from a legal as well as a squeamish perspective) on the keeper of same, but as time went by, humorous and/or serious references to deeds or activities not related in any way to skeletons, arose.
But skeletons don’t always get a bad rap. They have been included in Halloween celebrations all over the world for thousands of years for the purpose of warding off evil spirits.
How many skeletons do you have in your closets?
Stay safe and have a Happy Halloween!
*Thanks to Toni L.P. Kelner (Leigh Perry) for many hours of fun with her Family Skeleton series. “The Skeleton Haunts a House” is the book appearing in two of the photos.
*Photos by Patti Phillips
Clowns creep me out. They always have. Not the rodeo clowns with fun painted faces and red ball noses, but the clowns with masks and fixed artificial smiles, as well as the clowns that paint faces that are intended to scare or horrify. That’s probably a subjective statement, because what may be scary to me might make you laugh or the other way around. I always thought that clowns were meant to be cheerful or goofy, but that has not been the case in certain parts of the country in the last couple of months. When the cops have to get involved, definitely not laughable.
Now, most likely as an unfortunate reaction to recent horror movies, clowns are being used for nefarious reasons. Since the end of August, people dressed up as clowns have been reported luring children into the woods with the promise of money, heard banging on doors, and standing on the road in the dark, looking creepy to passersby. The police are taking the threats/reports seriously, and actively follow up on the leads.
Some schools have banned the use of masks and even face paint for this year’s Halloween celebrations, and many have banned clown costumes altogether.
Target and Wal-Mart have put away the clown costumes and/or masks for this year in reaction to the rise of menacing clown sightings. Their reasoning? Halloween is supposed to be fun, not dangerous, and neither company wants to fuel the actions of some misguided individuals. Other sources for costumes are selling out the clown outfits, however.
The clown craziness continues to make news as people posing as clowns take to social media, with tweets, hashtags, and Facebook pages that make threats, cause school lockdowns, and otherwise create havoc. Parents and school officials alike are perplexed as to the motivation behind the social media attacks, but are taking action to avoid any possible actual harm. Several arrests were made after people reported sightings or crimes involving a clown and they turned out to be hoaxes.
Law enforcement continues to investigate each new sighting, because as one officer said, “This is neither funny, nor cute.” Sadly, one teenager lost his life in a stabbing as a result of a clown related incident.
Stay safe this Halloween and be aware of your surroundings. As always, don’t send the children out alone, even in supposedly safe neighborhoods. A trusted adult should be in sight at all times.
Our town has a ‘no mask’ policy for the younger skeletons and princesses. That’s a great idea, because the little ones are less likely to trip and fall if they can actually see where they’re stepping.
Every year, our community center holds a Halloween party after school for kids who don’t walk the neighborhood. A couple of police officers stop by to help out and show the crowd that cops are the good guys. Some local churches now host gatherings for the families in their congregations. Children hear the hype on TV, see the candy in the store, and want to join in, so supervised parties can be fun in some areas that aren’t really right for trick-or-treating.
Best tip? Make sure the kids look both ways before crossing the street to get to the ‘best candy’ house on the other side. Getting hit by a car tops the list as the most dangerous thing that happens to children on Halloween.
*No clown photos included, on purpose.