Friday, October 19, 2018

Supernatural Friday: A Ghost By Any Other Name Still Will Haunt You







Ever done a ghost tour, or been on a paranormal investigation?  Listen to some ghostly tales told before a fire burning in a hearth? I’ve done all three myself. Ever had a feeling of being watched or even dread wash over you—though the dread may be unintentional, as the phantom may not be evil. What are spirits, ghosts, phantoms, and the other various names gave them? Are they each something different, or really a single entity with just many titles?

In traditional belief, a ghost is the soul of a deceased person or animal that can appear, in visible form or other manifestations, to the living. Descriptions of the apparition of ghosts vary widely: The mode of manifestation in photos or seen by the living’s eyes can range from an invisible presence, shadow people, translucent or wispy shapes, and orbs, to realistic, life-like visions—solids. The deliberate attempt to contact the spirit of a deceased person is known as a séance. Paranormal investigators use equipment to find proof of paranormal activity and to make contact with phantoms.

In many tales, ghosts were often thought to be deceased people looking for vengeance, or imprisoned on earth for bad things they did during life. The appearance of a ghost has often been regarded as an omen or portent of death. Seeing one's own ghostly double or "fetch" is a related omen of death.

Another widespread belief that concerns an apparition is that it is composed of a misty, airy, or subtle material. Early beliefs were that ghosts were the person within the person (the person's spirit), most noticeable in ancient cultures as a person's breath, which upon exhaling in colder climates appears visibly as a white mist. This belief may have also fostered the metaphorical meaning of "breath" in certain languages, such as the Latin spiritus and the Greek pneuma, which by analogy became extended to mean the soul. In the Bible, God is depicted as animating Adam with a breath.

Ghosts are also termed spook, spirits, phantoms, fetch, haint (a common feature of southern oral and literary tradition), wraith, revenant, apparition, specter, shade, and entity. Poltergeist, German for a “noisy spirit,” is for a spirit said to manifest itself by invisibly moving and influencing objects. The Bell Witch was considered a poltergeist.

Most times, a poltergeist is just mischievous, although there are instances of it being sinister, not unlike the Bell Witch. Was the Bell Witch a poltergeist or more along demonic lines? Good question. It was an entity that tormented a pioneer family that lived in what was then Red River, Tennessee in 1817-1827 ( Red River is now known as Adams, Tennessee). It was substantiated by eyewitness accounts (other than the family), affidavits, and manuscripts written by those who witness the phenomenon. More about this interesting tale can be found in author Pat Fitzhugh, The Bell Witch: The Full Account.


Besides the poltergeist phenomena, there are three other types of hauntings. First are residual hauntings. These are a recorded playback of what happened in the past. Maybe it could even be a time warp (one idea of mine, though I can’t prove this, who knows, a feasible one like any other theory). There is no interaction with the living -- the ghost does not see or hear you because the ghost is not actually there. Only his/her energy remains, it is a remnant of his living form that you are seeing, just like when you watch a video. This cycle continues in the same place at usually the same time of day or year indefinitely until the energy is exhausted or diminishes to a low enough level that it is undetectable by human perception. One account of residual hauntings is the Union soldiers marching into Centre Hill Mansion in Petersburg, Virginia every year at a certain time on January 24th. An interesting fact about the steps the soldiers march up is that they are not even the original staircase from the Civil War era, but new ones put in by Charles Davis. And yet, like clockwork, the soldiers march up those steps at the same time each January 24th.  None died, but after the fall of Petersburg, Centre Hill became occupied by Union troops, led by General George L. Hartsuff. President Abraham Lincoln visited Centre Hill on April 3, 1865, to go over the local situation with General Hartsuff. This meeting took place only eleven days before Lincoln’s assassination.  The museum holds a Ghost Walk each year on one special date. 

Traditional, or intelligent, hauntings are the second. Whether actual human spirits that had not crossed over into heaven and had some unfinished business with a living person, or a message they wanted to deliver before they could move on, or even those that just want to stay in a place they lived in life or be on our plane of existence (more and more, I suspect they can travel back and forth between here and the “other side.” These ghosts will unlock doors and open windows, run the faucets and even interact with you directly because they are an "intelligent" presence, the personality of a person who was once alive but has stayed behind rather than passing over.

The third type of haunting, and undoubtedly the most frightening, is a demonic, or inhuman, haunting. To me personally, I think when a human was evil in life, they too would be considered under demonic. There have been stories of where priests have gone in to exorcize a possessed person, and instead of an inhuman demon, this one claims to be the parent or someone alive once, tormenting the person. 

The entity is similar to a traditional haunting because the spirit is intelligent and are existing in the present moment with you. These spirits are malevolent and hostile, suffering from psychological instability or distress stemming from an unresolved conflict with the people who are being subjected to the demonic activity. Demonic presences tend to be ‘unleashed' in order for them to manifest. This is one reason why the use of an Ouija Board is customarily discouraged among many ghost hunters. So if you find one in the game section of the store, don’t buy one. Not understanding and without protection, one can open up a portal, letting in things they can not handle and most times, demonic in nature.

With Halloween upon us, ghosts are on people’s minds. When you answer the knock at the door to hand out treats to the trick-or-treaters or head out for a Halloween party, enter that haunted house or step upon the trail of the haunted trails attraction, do be unnerved if you see shadows move in the darkness. It might be shadow people. Spirits roam Halloween as the legends claim that the opening of the veil is more certain on Samhain than any other night.  So maybe, just maybe, you did see something out of the ordinary that is not a person in costume.

After all, the dead want to party just like the living—right?



Thursday, October 11, 2018

Supernatural Friday: Forget Godzilla, the Gashadokuro is Japan's Real Giant Monster!




The Japanese always had giant monsters attacking them. Although, one of the first terrors wasn't radioactive reptilian or a bug or a dragon, it was the gashadokuro. The tales of the gashadokuro goes back over 1000 years to a bloody rebellion against the central government by a samurai named Taira no Masakado. His daughter, Takiyasha-hime, was a famous sorceress. When Masako was eventually killed for his revolt, his daughter continued his cause. Using her black magic, she summoned a great skeleton to attack the city of Kyoto. 

The Japanese have many wild and wonderful legends of ghostly beings, known as Yokai.  One of the most malevolent of them all is the Gashadokuro.  The name literally translates to “starving skeleton”, but that doesn’t do this spirit justice.  Known also as Odokuro, which is apt, as it means “giant skeleton”.  The Gashadokuro is, in fact, a gigantic skeleton that roams the streets after midnight and bites off the heads of anyone unlucky enough to get in its way. It is usually found near mass-graves or battlegrounds and has no diet, but still enjoys feasting on human beings!

The name came from the fact that it’s created from the bones of people who have died of famine.  When a village, for example, dies of starvation, there is a good chance the rotting bones will knit together to form a Gashadokuro, which will then seek to fulfill its unending appetite.  The resulting skeletal ghost is said to be fifteen times the size of a man (or about 90 feet tall!).

if being a giant skeleton wasn’t bad enough, the Gashadokuro is completely invisible before it strikes.  The only way to know one is close is to hear the sound of bells ringing in one's ears just before it attacks.  Shinto charms may also make the monster visible.  There’s no real way to defeat these monsters; escape is the only way to survive an encounter with them.  Laying the bones to rest with offerings of food may work, but the giant ghosts are very difficult to defeat.  Otherwise, eventually, these creatures will burn themselves out, the spiritual energy necessary to hold together all of the bones finally giving way, and they collapse.


The origin of the Gashadokuro is shrouded in mystery, but one possible explanation comes from 10th century CE. During a very bloody conflict within Japan’s government (which are quite common in the island nation’s history), the daughter of a warlord sought to protect her father and castle from an invading army by summoning a giant skeleton.  She used a spell inscribed on a scroll and the skeleton appeared from a dark void to attack the soldiers.  There is the famous woodblock painting by Utagawa Kuniyoshi, titled Takiyasha the Witch and the Skeleton Spectre that depict this event.  It is said that after this mythical battle, Gashadokuro were unleashed upon the world.



Monday, October 08, 2018

Author Book Signing of Ghost Books at Barnes and Noble Saturday

It's October, and with Halloween at the end of the month. A good time to read ghost stories and urban legends. Not just for Halloween, but signed, they make great Christmas gifts as Christmas is not far behind October.

I'll be signing copies of all of my nonfiction ghost books at the Barnes and Noble at Chesterfield Town Center this Saturday, October 13, 2018, from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. That's Haunted Richmond, Haunted Richmond II, Haunted Virginia: Legends, Myths, and True Tales, Virginia's Haunted Historic Triangle: Williamsburg, Yorktown, and Jamestown, and Other Haunted Locations, and Paranormal Petersburg, Virginia, and the Tri-Cities Area. 

So come by and get a book, and there'll be chocolate too in my shadow person candy dish!

Barnes and Noble,
11500 Midlothian Turnpike
Richmond, Virginia 23235
Bookstore Phone: 804-794-6640


Sunday, October 07, 2018

Supernatural Friday: A Dark and Terrible Thing Is Coming! (Original Poem by Pamela K. Kinney)




"A Dark and Terrible Thing is Coming!"

It’s coming,


Like a terrible thing


It’s scary,


Dark, and with a toothy grin.




So you better beware,


Have everything ready


Decorate appropriately,


For the end is near.




Just remember one thing,


It only comes but once a year


Halloween, costumed in orange and black,


A mask upon its gruesome face


Ringing your doorbell with persistence,


Innocent child or demonic being


Feed it candy, just to be safe.


Trick or Treat.


 I hoped you enjoyed this poem I wrote, "A Dark and Terrible Thing Is Coming!" It's an original poem and copyrighted to me, so do share the link with friends, not the poem, please. Thank you. 

Monday, October 01, 2018

It's Ghostober at Last!

Welcome, October, my spooky friend. 


Author Appearance at Monster Fest in Chesapeake, Va. October 6, 2018



Monster Fest returns for its 15th year. The one-day horror convention's free and open to the public, family friendly, with panels, costume contests (one adult, other for children), trick-or-treating at some of the vendors form the kids (must sign up first), and movies. It will be held as always at Chesapeake Central Library, 298 Cedar Road, Chesapeake, Virginia.
I'll have two tables-one for my books that Ill be selling and will sign, and the other for Paranormal World Seekers paranormal reality show--with its DVDs for sale, including the new Barons Pub of Suffolk, Virginia investigation for sale. And I will be moderating a panel on Frankenstein the novel by Mary Shelley, joined by two other writers. It happens at 4:00 p.m.

For further information on programming and what vendors or guests will be there: www.MonsterFestVa.com 

Monday, September 24, 2018

I Have a Poem in a Newly Released Anthology on Kindle

I have a poem, "Warrior Not Forgotten," included in this Kindle eBook just released and it is free until 11:59 p.m. PST Tuesday the 25th. After that, it's 99 cents. (The poem is not paranormal/horror related but about soldiers/veterans). The Kindle includes 2 poems and 4 stories-all entered in the local Richmond chapter's contest for the statewide Virginia Writers Club's Golden Nibs contest. Only the first place winners went on to the state level (mine is one of those).

https://www.amazon.com/Virginia-Writers-Richmond-Chapter-Contest-ebook/dp/B07HGJVQWH?

The Virginia Writers Club Richmond Chapter Golden Nib Contest 2018 by [Smith, Carol, Beightol, Henrietta, Dixon, Luther, Kinney, Pamela K., Wentzel, Frank]

Friday, September 21, 2018

Supernatural Friday: Ravens on My Mind





In honor of Ravencon that I will be at later today and rest of the weekend, I will blog about myths and legends of the raven.




Because of its black plumage, croaking call, and diet of carrion, ravens has long been considered birds of ill omen and of interest to creators of myths and legends.

The raven is the national bird of Bhutan, and it adorns the royal hat, representing the deity Gonpo Jarodonchen (Mahakala with a raven's head; one of the important guardian deities of Bhutanese culture.).  As a carrion bird, ravens became associated with the dead and with lost souls. In Sweden, they are known as the ghosts of murdered persons.

In Irish mythology ravens are associated with warfare and the battleground in the figures of Badb and Morrígan. The goddess An Morrígan alighted on the hero Cú Chulainn's shoulder in the form of a raven after his death. 
Ravens were also associated with the Welsh god Bran the Blessed (the brother of Branwen), whose name translates to "raven." According to the Mabinogion, Bran's head was buried in the White Hill of London as a talisman against invasion. The name of the god, Lugh, is also derived from a Celtic word for "raven." He is the god of the sun, and the creator of the arts and sciences.  He is depicted as giant and the King of the Britons in tale known as the Second Branch of the Mabinogi. Several other characters in Welsh mythology share his name, and ravens figure prominently in the 12th or 13th-century text The Dream of Rhonabwy, as the army of King Arthur's knight Owain.


According to legend, the Kingdom of England will fall if the ravens of the Tower of London are removed. It had been thought that there have been at least six ravens in residence at the tower for centuries. It was said that Charles II ordered their removal following complaints from John Flamsteed, the Royal Astronomer. However, they were not removed because Charles was then told of the legend. Charles, following the time of the English Civil War, superstition or not, was not prepared to take the chance, and instead had the observatory moved to Greenwich.


The earliest known reference to a Tower raven is a picture in the newspaper The Pictorial World in 1883.[  This and scattered subsequent references, both literary and visual, which appear in the late nineteenth to early twentieth century, place them near the monument commemorating those beheaded at the tower, popularly known as the “scaffold.” This strongly suggests that the ravens, which are notorious for gathering at gallows, were originally used to dramatize tales of imprisonment and execution at the tower told to tourists by the Yeomen Warders. There is evidence that the original ravens were donated to the tower by the Earls of Dunraven perhaps because of their association with the Celtic raven-god Bran. However wild ravens, which were once abundant in London and often seen around meat markets (such as nearby Eastcheap) feasting for scraps, could have roosted at the Tower in earlier times. 


During the Second World War, most of the Tower's ravens perished through shock during bombing raids, leaving only a mated pair named "Mabel" and "Grip." Shortly before the Tower reopened to the public, Mabel flew away, leaving Grip despondent. A couple of weeks later, Grip also flew away, probably in search of his mate. The incident was reported in several newspapers, and some of the stories contained the first references in print to the legend that the British Empire would fall if the ravens left the tower. Since the Empire was dismantled shortly afterward, those who are superstitious might interpret events as a confirmation of the legend. Before the tower reopened to the public on 1 January 1946, care was taken to ensure that a new set of ravens was in place.
To the Germanic peoples, Odin was often associated with ravens. Examples include depictions of figures often identified as Odin appear flanked with two birds on a 6th century bracteate and on a 7th-century helmet plate from Vendel, Sweden. In later Norse mythology, Odin is depicted as having two ravens Huginn and Muninn serving as his eyes and ears – Huginn being referred to as thought and Muninn as memory. Each day the ravens fly out from Hliðskjálf and bring Odin news from Midgard.


The Old English word for a raven was hræfn; in Old Norse it was hrafn; the word was frequently used in combinations as a kenning for bloodshed and battle.


The raven also has a prominent role in the mythologies of the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast, including the Tsimishian, Haida, Heiltsuk, Tlingit, Kwakwaka'wakw, Coast Salish, Koyukons, and Inuit. The raven in these indigenous peoples' mythology is the Creator of the world, but it is also considered a trickster god.[ For instance, in Tlingit culture, there are two different raven characters which can be identified, although they are not always clearly differentiated. One is the creator raven, responsible for bringing the world into being and who is sometimes considered to be the individual who brought light to the darkness. The other is the childish raven, always selfish, sly, conniving, and hungry. When the Great Spirit created all things he kept them separate and stored in cedar boxes. The Great Spirit gifted these boxes to the animals who existed before humans. When the animals opened the boxes all the things that comprise the world came into being. The boxes held such things as mountains, fire, water, wind and seeds for all the plants. One such box, which was given to Seagull, contained all the light of the world. Seagull coveted his box and refused to open it, clutching it under his wing. All the people asked Raven to persuade Seagull to open it and release the light. Despite begging, demanding, flattering and trying to trick him into opening the box, Seagull still refused. Finally Raven became angry and frustrated and stuck a thorn in Seagull's foot. Raven pushed the thorn in deeper until the pain caused Seagull to drop the box. Then out of the box came the sun, moon, and stars that brought light to the world and allowed the first day to begin.


In the Talmud, the raven is described as having been only one of three beings on Noah's Ark that copulated during the flood and so was punished. The Rabbis believed that the male raven was forced to ejaculate his seed into the female raven's mouth as a means of reproduction. Interestingly according to the Icelandic Landnámabók – a story similar to Noah and the Ark, Hrafna-Flóki Vilgerðarson used ravens to guide his ship from the Faroe Islands to Iceland.