Since I’m all about discovery, I would like to share a little bit about the experience that my wife, mother-in-law, and I had last night. We went to St. Charles, Missouri, for a ghost tour given by Dr. Michael Henry, a very interesting, entertaining, and knowledgable man, his history summaries as valuable but not as fun as his acquaintances and brushes with the paranormal.
One of the most intriguing stops to me was at the tiny St. Borromeo Catholic Church, which has been reconstructed based on the best information that could be gathered. The original church was dedicated in 1791, and it was surrounded by a cemetery, in essence. Last night two people from the group, not “plants” because one was my mother-in-law, had readings on special and very sensitive meters, indicating one spirit who has been seen on several occasions, corroborated by independent, unassociated witnesses. It was fun, and a bit spooky to hear the meters go off in the dark night, outside an ancient-looking church, on top of a number of unmarked graves, in the very muggy 90 degree temperature with a 100+ degree heat index. Are there ghosts?
While I do not have the historical information integrated into my stories, I do have some awesome ones. I love to share them at Halloween, or Samhain as the Celts knew the day after, but more about that later. I will be sharing some of these during around Halloween, but our experience last night reminded me of an account that my dad shared with me on a number of occasions. I give it more validity than some I know because my dad was not very convinced of paranormal occurrences.
My dad’s family lived in south St. Louis, Missouri, on Hickory Street. His father, my grandfather, worked at St. Louis Transfer Company, a trucking company where he held a job all through the Depression. The company had a trained guard dog that no one could handle or approach except for my grandfather. They were going to put the dog down, so my grandfather brought him home, rescued him.
It turned out that my dad was like his dad; the dog was only responsive to him and no one else in the house, including his mom and his younger sisters. Dad, being somewhere around twelve years old, thought it quite funny to let the dog into the house when his parents visited relatives up the street. Of course, his sisters were terrorized.
However, they had a defense. They would run upstairs. The dog would begin the chase, but after he went up the first few steps to a landing that turned up to the second floor, his haunches would hit the floor. He would stare wild-eyed up the stairs, hair raised from his tail to the top of his head and growling with teeth bared. He never went past that point.
Animals seem to sense things that we often cannot. Their ability to see a wider section of the electromagnetic spectrum is known, as well as being able to detect smells and sound waves much more acutely. What did the German shepherd sense at the top of those stairs?
My dad dismissed it, thought it was funny, even though he admitted that he had no explanation for the event that transpired when he had been an infant in the first room up there. My grandmother and her sister, who lived up the street, would gather in that room to sew and quilt during their pregnancies. My dad had a cousin who was just three months older than him. Grandma and my great aunt continued meeting and caring for the infant boys in the room after they were born.
One day as my grandmother changed my dad’s diaper, her sister gasped, staring with horror at the wall over my dad’s crib. They both saw a child’s arm protruding from the wall. My aunt thought that it was an omen that my dad was going to die. Three months later, as she changed her child’s shirt, with his arms over his head, it was my grandmother’s turn to gasp. My dad’s cousin’s arm looked exactly like the arm that the ladies had seen suspended over my dad’s crib three months previous. Within three weeks, the child died from complications of an infection.
That was the room that the German shepherd, about twelve years later, would stare into with wild eyes. Neither my dad nor my grandpa could force that dog up those stairs. What was there? Was he just scared of stairs?
Besides an interesting story that I can tell really well when the only light in the room is a black light, it brings up several thoughts. What does our life energy do after it leaves the body? What is that new dimension like? Is it possible that some actually hang around instead of embarking on new journeys? I don’t know, really, but I do know this.
Death has been relegated to the category of dreaded horrors by us. Walt Whitman understood that it wasn’t so for him, and he wrote often about it. He knew that the standard definition of death was the cessation of everything, but he didn’t believe that, at least not as expressed in his poetry: “All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses, / And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.” And then, to make sure that his reader understands his conception, he says, “The smallest sprout shows there is really no death.” Not horrors. Not to be feared.
The ancient Celts speak of the Otherworld, which I in part visualize as the dimension that my dad’s dog could sense all those years ago. On Samhain, which is November 1, the possibilities are increased to commune with those who have gone “onward and outward.” It’s a little scary, and the fact that All Hallow’s Eve, Halloween, is at the same time of year, as well as other cultures with celebrations then — Day of the Dead — says to me that we have a desire to know about that other realm. What can it teach us? Can we communicate with those who have gone on? Why do we want to learn?
Ultimately, I think that it is perfectly fine to be mystified and even a little scared. We need not fear being afraid! We can, in part, celebrate life by valuing other realms and looking into them. At least it’s fun!
Questions to consider:
How many times have you asked yourself or simply thought about the following questions?
Who am I, really?
What is my truth?
How do my actions reveal what I really feel and believe?
What would I do with my life if I could do anything?
What is my passion?
Why am I here?
How can I discover answers to any of these questions?
If you have considered any of these questions, I hope that my experiences and writing will give you some guidance. Please read my blog and comment and share your thoughts. I would love to hear from you!