Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Coffee Break: More About Talking to Dead People

By Pat Stoltey

I read Janet Fogg's post on A Sixth Sense? yesterday and spent a little time thinking about the notion of talking to the dead. I believe some people do just that.

I'm not one of them, at least I don't think I am. There was that one incident with a Ouija Board when I was in my twenties...but I threw the board away and vowed to stick to human communications.

My writer friend Kenneth W. Harmon, however, has had such an intense experience with a ghost in his old house that he wrote a book about it. Ghost Under Foot: The Spirit of Mary Bell (A True Story of One Family's Haunting) will be published by Llewelyn next year. As I fretted about a topic for today's Chiseled in Rock post, I received this e-mail from Ken:

"Well, it looks like our ghost followed us when we moved. I believe I mentioned before that since we moved in, we have experienced things such as, someone knocking on the doors, a door opening on its own, unexplained banging noises etc. I actually made a connection with our ghost using the dowsing rods shortly after we moved in. But I did not pursue an investigation.

One day last week, I was alone in the house during the day when I heard what sounded like someone moving around upstairs.

Last night, we had dinner with my parents and a couple who are their friends. My mom told them about our ghost. I then had to give them the entire story about how we came to find out we had a ghost and what transpired. Later, I was talking to my oldest daughter and she shocked me when she told me that she has seen several orbs flying around the new house during the day. The last time she saw one was about a week ago inside her room. She was doing homework on her computer when an orb appeared and started to fly around her room.

After hearing her story, I decided to get out the dowsing rods and try to contact our ghost. I immediately made a strong connection, and the spirit identified itself more than once as Mary Bell Wilson, our ghost from the old house. I asked Mary Bell if she would let me take her picture and the answer came back as yes.

I turned out the lights downstairs and sat in a chair in the hallway. I decided to film here because my daughter saw one of the orbs inside the laundry room. My camera has a nightshot feature that allows me to film in the darkness. I filmed for a few minutes without recording anything.

I then had my daughter Michelle sit at the end of the hallway and asked Mary Bell telepathically if she would allow me to take her picture with Michelle. Michelle sat at the end of the hall for 3-5 minutes without anything happening. Then she started upstairs to bed. I had the camera aimed at her as she started up the stairs and then swung it back toward the hallway. Within 3 seconds, a small white cloud or orb came flying toward me. As soon as it disappeared from view, two larger white cloud shapes moved very quickly away from me. A couple of minutes passed and then I noticed a fainter white shape near the wall that moved toward the laundry room. Needless to say, I was surprised. I really didn't think she would follow us, but I guess I was wrong."

I've resisted asking to meet Ken's ghost. My fictional character Willie Grisseljon is clairvoyant and also saw a ghost in The Desert Hedge Murders, but Willie resists making contact with the dead. He's afraid that opening that door into another world will change his life, not necessarily for the better. I kind of feel that way.

My so-far-unpublished short story, Oatie's Act of Atonement, features a friendship between a man who has had an accident and needs to be rescued and a ghost who needs to earn his passage into the next world. It's a dilemma, because Oatie the ghost cannot physically lift his friend and carry him to safety, nor can he make contact with any of the other people in his tiny town. I like to imagine stories like this, but am not so sure I'd want to experience one.

There are a couple of revealing comments attached to Janet's post, and that always leads to more questions. Have you had an encounter that mystified, intrigued, or scared you out of your mind? Do you read or write about the paranormal?


Shannon said...

I love ghost stories and believe almost all of them. Living close to several Native American reservations in my life, I've heard about all kinds of encounters with the dead. As long as it's not actually happening to me, I love it.

Cairenn said...

I'm going to start writing my stories about all the "visitors" and encounters with shape-shifters I've had - I've held off only because they have such personal meanings to me and I'm still processing some of them. But I really should do it. :) Thanks for getting me thinking about this. :)

Patricia Stoltey said...

When we look at the number of fiction and non-fiction books about the paranormal, we can see the great fascination with all things ghostly. If I encountered a real ghost, however, I'm not sure how I'd react. Seems like a very scary proposition to me.

Ken Harmon said...


When we first became aware of Mary Bell's presence, it was scary, but now that we are accustomed to having her around, we aren't scared. Of course, by all accounts she was a loving wife and mother, and a gentle soul while she lived. I don't imagine it would be very fun to live with the spirit of Jack the Ripper.


Patricia Stoltey said...

Yes, I see what you mean, Ken. I think I'll keep my door to the ghostly world closed.

Jenny said...

Spooky! I like these kinds of stories, except at night. I see the picture of Joe Hill in the CIR sidebar. I read Heart Shaped Box (a creepy ghost story) but I didn't know the Benny Hill connection. That's true...?

Nancy Hansford said...

I have published a book entitled Northern Colorado Ghost Stories revealing first hand experiences people have had.
Some are very comfortable with their experiences and others are embarrassed to talk about them or just wanted no part of it.
Most of the spirits out thete mean absolutely no harm. If you have an experience and can enjoy it, you will experience a whole new dimension.

Although I have written about others' experiences, I have never seen any spirits myself. I regret that, but maybe someday.

Dean K Miller said...

Ok...so I want to talk with Ken and Nancy about their books, and getting one, among other things. (I'd love to meet Mary Bell.) There are so many levels with this subject and each one of us gets our own version, or so it seems.

I am on notebook #4 on my journals with this subject over the last year. I've always been attracted/fascinated by spirit world connections. Is it any wonder my work in progress contains such subject matter?

Just before sitting down to the computer I "bumped" into someone here, though there seemed to be an identity crisis attached.

Pat: I'll be picking up a copy of your book too. Thanks for the blog. Maybe you've opened the door more than you intended.....

Tamela Buhrke said...

Paranormal research and ghost "hunting" have become a big part of our national culture in the last few years. SyFy and Discover channel both have several reality show about people who investigate and/or speak to ghost. I've been on a few local ghost investigations and they are a blast.

I had a ghost that followed me to three different places. He finally was left behind with a chair when I moved into an apartment next door. The new tenant liked the chair and I said she could have it. Three weeks later she comes to me, all pale and shaky, saying she thinks she's seen a ghost in her apartment. She described him exactly the way I, and several of my previous roommates, had seen him.

Later, she brought in her church group to exorcise him. I thought of Beetlejuice. Hope it didn't hurt him.

Fun topic!

Patricia Stoltey said...

More fun than I imagined...I had no idea I knew so many folks with ghostly connections. :)

Cheryl said...

Yes, I definitely have had ghostly encounters. The home I grew up in was haunted. My bedroom was by the attic and one night I felt something jump onto my legs when I was in bed. I assumed it was my dog. I looked, and there was nothing there. I covered my head and was scared! The house I live in now, me and my husband both saw shadows, and he didn't even believe in ghosts before!