Friday, January 30, 2015

Supernatural Friday: Risen Dead, Part 2: Revenant, Aptrgangr, and Mummy


A revenant is a visible ghost, or even as an animated corpse believed to return from the grave to terrorize the living. The word "revenant" is derived from the Latin word, reveniens, "returning." Such spirits can be human, parts of humans (such as head, hands, etc.), animals of various sorts, lights moving over graves, vehicles, etc.

How does one become a revenant? Folklore tells of many different ways to become this creature. Some of the more common reasons for rising from the grave include: improper burial, no burial at all, improper handling of the deceased’s body, jealously of the living, a curse, unrest due to sin or unfinished business, or suicide. Some of the lesser-known reasons are more sinister in nature. Though usually, a revenant is created when an individual is greatly wronged before death and rises from the grave to seek vengeance. For instance, a man is murdered on the street for no apparent reason. After burial, he rises again from the grave as one of the living dead to avenge himself on his murderer. However, how one is “wronged” depends on an individual’s point of view. A criminal who is fairly tried by a jury and is legally executed may still rise from the dead. In this case, revenge is the trigger of undeath. 

A revenant can also arise when an individual who has led a sinful or wicked life dies. Such a person may be described vain, wicked, or having no faith in God. Cursed by the Almighty, this individual is doomed to rise from the grave as one of the undead to feed upon the living. When this happens, an evil spirit takes possession of the body, forcing out any of the original person’s remaining personality. The revenant may retain its memories from life, but there is no emotional attachment to these memories whatsoever. The evil spirit inhabiting the corpse is able to gain access to these memories and force the corpse to speak and act like the individual when he/she was alive, so it can deceive that person’s friends and loved ones. It uses the memories for hunting, utilizing the knowledge of former friends, family, and locations as part of its strategies in obtaining prey. It will slake its thirst for blood on the unfortunate, draining them of every last drop ot feasting on their flesh (sometimes one might think the revenant is a vampire, due to drinking of the blood, or even like vampires have been thought of in original Eastern European myths, eating flesh and deink blood, but it is not).

Freshly raised from the grave, the revenant is usually a corpse in an advanced state of decay and still recognizable to those it knew in life. It will have sunken eyes that glow a fiery red in the darkness. Rotten teeth in its mouth and jagged fingernails. Large portions of flesh may be missing, exposing the creature’s bones and innards, with the skin hanging in ragged strips, as maggots and worms infest the exposed flesh, as well as the eye sockets and other bodily orifices. It reeks of corruption and rotting flesh. Like one can detect a Bigfoot due to the odor, so can the revenant be detected from several yards away just by its smell alone. Most times, it is still wearing its burial shroud or whatever clothes it had been buried in.

The Revenant can be obsessed with gaining vengeance on those who wronged it while it was still living, or caused its death. There have been other accounts that it can also be benevolent and protective of its loved ones, seeking only to prove its innocence of the crime of which it was wrongfully accused, or to complete some pressingly important task. However, this is extremely rare in lore and legend.
The Revenant is single-minded and relentless in its pursuit of the one that wronged, betrayed, or even murdered the Revenant while it was alive. At this point, the Revenant will return to its grave, never to rise again.
The Revenant can be found all over the world in one form or another. The Revenant haunts spots important or significant to it in life, but it will go anywhere. This thing is not strictly limited to graveyards, mausoleums, tombs, crypts, or other places of death where the Undead usually dwell.
There are some legends say that claim that the revenant can shape shift, taking the form of a great hound (although this is a rarity). Its decaying flesh and fetid breath are capable of inflicting a terrible disease, causing those infected to waste away and die within a few days’ time.  It can withstand enormous amounts of damage to its body and dealing grievous wounds to it won’t keep it down for long.

A white-hot blaze can put it to rest forever. The revenant cannot be repelled or “turned,” by holding a holy icon in its path, the only exception being if the creature had been deeply religious in life. It is unknown if it is adversely affected by silver or holy water.  Other firms of destroying the revenant involve decapitation, dismemberment, or exorcising the heart and burning it, or driving a stake through the heart, cutting up the body, and then burning the body to ashes.

Aptrgangr  literally means 'again-walker', one who walks after death. This undead being comes from Norse mythology, although the aptrgangr, or draugr, is usually far more powerful, possessing magical abilities and most notably is not confined to a deathlike sleep during the day, unlike a vampire or revenant. It usually stays in its burial mound during the daylight hours and will resist intruders, which renders the destruction of its body a dangerous affair to be undertaken by individual heroes. Consequently, stories involving the aptrgangr often involve direct confrontations with the creature. One learns this creature to be immune to conventional weapons. Such elements are absent from the revenant or vampire lore, where the body is engaged in its inert state in daylight, and rendered harmless.

Mummy comes from the Arabic word mummia, which means bitumen. Bitumen is a naturally-occurring tarlike substance that the Arabs mistakenly thought was used for mummification due to the dark color of the mummies. Only later, in the New Kingdom, was bitumen used in the process.


If awaken, this appears as a shambling, desiccated corpse wrapped in soiled linen bandages. Underneath the bandages, the rest of the body is extremely well preserved, but is entirely dried out. The eyes are red, and glow in the dark. Usually, the Mummy has some kind of amulet hanging from its neck, as this may be the source of the creature’s power.

Normally, mummies do not reanimate. But in myths it was believe they could be. Egyptians believed that a man (or woman) was composed of several different types of souls. Respectively, there were at least nine different aspects of the soul, but only a few have been identified. These aspects of the soul were known as the ba (the personality), the ka (lifeforce), and both were known collectively as the akh. Other aspects included the shuyet (shadow) and the ren (name). An attempt shall be made for an explanation. 

The ba is but one part of the soul, the aspect of an individual that made that person unique, a personality of sorts. It is the part of the soul that is able to detach itself from the body and roam independently by means of astral travel. It was primarily released after death, but it could also be released under circumstances while the individual was sleeping (which was seen by the Egyptians as a state akin to death). Although this aspect was supposedly incorporeal, it was apparently able to eat, drink, and speak, as well as move. Despite this, the ba had to return the body every night, or otherwise the Mummy would be unable to survive into the afterlife. 

The ka is the lifeforce, a sort of spiritual double or doppelganger. It gives each individual their nature, temperament, and character. The ka is created at birth, living through the individual’s life and beyond their death. It is the energy that animates a living person, and perhaps it is also the force that is capable of reanimating the desiccated flesh of the Mummy as well. It continued to exist only as long as it was provided with the necessary care and sustenance. The ka was given daily offerings, and it was the one which partakes of the food and drink offerings buried with the Mummy. 

However, there was the belief that the ka was able to leave the body and wander about, especially if it was not sufficiently provided for. The ancient Egyptians feared that the ka would rise from the grave in a corporeal form as one of the Undead (known to the Egyptians as the kamarupa), clad in its burial clothes, and wander about at night in search of its own food, in the form of human blood, decaying animal flesh, brackish water, or even faeces. Nobody was safe from this walking corpse. 

In order for the dead to achieve true immortality, the ka and the ba had to be reunited in the afterlife. Collectively, these two aspects were known as the akh. This was the eternally unchanging and enduring spirit of the deceased, dwelling in the Underworld for eternity. It was seen as an eternal, living being of light, closely associated with both the stars and the gods (with whom it shared some characteristics, but was not truly divine itself). However, not everyone could become an akh. Those that had not lived their lives according to maat (the concept of cosmic order, truth, and justice, personified as a goddess, and the principle at the very heart of ancient Egyptian religion and morality) would either be annihilated or would not pass into the afterlife. These individuals were especially at risk of joining the ranks of the undead

To become an akh, one had to die first, and completing the process symbolized a successful resurrection and rebirth, transforming from a mortal into an immortal. The akh of the pharaohs (considered to be living gods in their own right) shared the divine power of the gods, and were therefore more divine than their subjects, and thus were far less likely to rise from the grave (although it could still happen).
The ren, or name, of an individual was extremely important, in both this life and the next. A name provided an individual with an identity, and without a name, the individual would utterly cease to exist. To the Egyptians, this was the worst possible fate that they could imagine, and therefore went to extremes to safeguard their names. If one’s name were erased on purpose, the family of the deceased feared for their eternal existence. It was considered to be an effective means of ridding oneself of society’s undesirables forever. In Egyptian magic, knowing an individual’s true name gave one power over that individual. This obsession was common all over the world, and it is still a concern in some cultures today. 

The shuyet, or shadow, was said to be a powerful and quick entity in ancient funerary texts, and is due the protection that it deserves. Shadows were thought to be an extension of the soul, and were also associated with the sun. The shadow’s solar associations were linked to the rebirth of an individual: the sun produced a shadow, an image of that person’s soul. When the sun set, the shadow disappeared. The shadow was then resurrected at dawn the next day, and therefore the sun helped the Egyptians to prepare for eternity in the afterlife, no matter what form the individual took. 
Lon Chaney as Kharis in The Mummy's Ghost (1944).

 Mostly, the Mummy lies at rest within its tomb. However, when an intruder invades the tomb or disturbs the creature’s eternal rest, the Mummy awakens in a rage, seeking out and attempting to destroy the intruder. 

Mummies are in Egypt, where they hide in the Great Pyramids, tombs, mastabas (mud-brick tombs), and forgotten temples. However, mummies are by no means limited to Egypt alone. They can be found all over the world.

Once one is reanimated, it possesses a host of supernatural powers at its disposal, like supernatural strength and endurance. It is nearly indestructible, as bullets have no effect on it. Most blades are unable to penetrate a reanimated  mummy’s desiccated flesh, stemming from the supernatural power reanimating the creature’s body. Any abilities that the Mummy possessed in life (like magic) are usually retained in death. Many of a mummy’s abilities depend on who it was in life. 

Despite the mummy’s strength and immunity to pain, it is not without its respective weaknesses. This reanimated corpse can be destroyed by fire, a common weakness among the undead. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Supernatural Friday: A Light at the End-Guest Blogger Sonnet O’Dell

Welcome my guest blogger for today’s Supernatural Friday, Sonnet O’Dell, as she blogs about near death experiences. I also want to apologized for not having Part 2 of Risen Dead for Supernatural Friday last week, but Marscon had me hopping all week and this Friday, I had promised to Sonnet. I will have Part 2 next Friday. Now enjoy Sonnet’s post and do leave her a comment.

There have been many accounts of near death phenomena. People claiming to have seen a white light at the end of a tunnel, deceased loved ones telling them to go back or seeing their body from the perspective of floating above it. No one can dispute these accounts because of course there is no way to prove that isn’t exactly what happened. These accounts are as fascinating as they are frightening.

No one knows what happens. Is there something after this? An afterlife. The afterlife has been a major theme in most religions. In Egyptian mythology, the heart of the dead was weighed against a feather to determine whether or not their heart was heavy with regrets. In Greek mythology you have the souls of the dead ferried to the underworld by Charon, taken past the three headed Cerberus to be judged by Hades as to whether you would go to the Elysium fields or to Tartarus. Christian mythology though appears to be the vaguest on what will happen when you pass on. There are clear concepts of Heaven and Hell, seen often as grand frescos in churches, but no understanding of proceedings. Do you have to wait in line to be judged? Or do the dead float around about us but we just cannot see them.

This has been explored in various works of fiction. The film Beetlejuice depicts the afterlife as a civil service waiting room where the dead are assigned the living to haunt. The TV series Ghost Whisper dealt with the unfinished business of the dead and crossing them over through a golden light. The Lovely Bones depicts the dead as living in small personalized heavens looking down on the world watching life. Any way you look at it, theories are abound. Imagine if you could cross that boundary and return to tell everyone what it is really like – of course if you believe in reincarnation perhaps some of us already have.

The Morning AfterLife Blurb:
If remembering could bring about the end of everything, would you still try?

Karrin wakes up on the side of the road with selective memory loss; she knows her name and age but nothing more about herself. She walks the highway back to a town to find all but a few people have disappeared and that there are strange but beautiful beings hunting them down. It seems to her that some great apocalyptic event happened but she just doesn't remember it.

Karrin however is in more danger than she realizes as someone in her new group of friends is more deadly to her than those hunting them down. When she finds one of them, a young man roughly her own age named Gabe injured, she goes against all she's been told and helps him. Gabe in return wants to help her, help her to remember. Karrin's memories, however, could put her in even more danger and bring an end to everything she now holds dear.

The Morning AfterLife Excerpt:
A sound came from ahead of her, it echoed in the absence of her own footsteps as she had sat to rest for a while. Slowly she opened her eyes again, letting them flutter slowly as the light glanced off of the metal bus sign, till her eyes had adjusted to it once more. She looked across to the other corner and from around it came a man dressed in a white suit. She wasn’t sure at first that it was the same one she had seen until she saw that he was carrying a black umbrella. Had he followed her all the way into town? If that were true, how had he gotten ahead of her or even know she would come that way?

About Sonnet O’Dell:

Sonnet was born at the John Radcliffe in Oxford, England, and spent the first six years of her life living in the town of Abingdon close to both her grandparents and most of the rest of her family.

She moved after that to Cornwall for three years and then to Devon for another three before moving to where she has lived for the last fourteen or so years. Sonnet now lives in Worcester, Worcestershire, famous for Lea & Perrin’s Sauce and as the site for the last battle of the Civil War.

Sonnet has had a passion for the written word from a very young age and enjoys nothing more than to read a good book. The worlds created by words.

The Morning AfterLife  BUY Links:

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Will Be at Galaction in Virginia Beach March 7th

It is confirmed that I will be selling and signing my books and also Paranormal World Seekers DVDs at Galacticon March 7th. The free one-day mini convention will be held at the Meyera E. Oberndorf Central Library 4100 Virginia Beach Boulevard, Virginia Beach, Virginia,  and will be from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. I will be moderating a panel on the paranormal in the morning before noon.

Vendors at the convention:
• 757 Comics and Cartoon Creators
• Atlantis Comics
• BP Signs
• Phoenix Creations
• Ripping it down
• Trilogy
• Wonder Woobies & Super LampShades

Authors & Artists
• Jim Patterson
• Julie Baggatta & Kayla Gordan
Pamela Kinney

Fan Groups
• 501st (Blast a Trooper!)
• IKV Devastator
• Mandolorian Mercs
• Rebel Legion

Starfleet Atlantic

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Author Appearance at Marscon in Williamsburg, Vrginia This Weekend


I'll be at Marscon this upcoming weekend (January 16-18th) at the Fort Magruder Hotel and Conference Center, 6945 Pocahontas Trail, Williamsburg, Virginia, Virginia.

I will have copies of my books if anyone wants to purchase a copy and get it signed. I won't be doing a signing--I didn't get a table in author/artist alley and only the guests of honor only. Just message me, as so many of them, and I will put aside and let you know the price -I take cash and credit cards through my square.

My schedule:
Ghost Hunt-10 pm to midnight-meet me in hotel lobby-bring your camera, digital recorder, whatever you want to use. I have ghost hunting equipment I will be using.
Imagine a Better World Contest-11 am to Noon-General Early's
25 Years of Costuming--1 to 2 pm--Jefferson Davis 1

Friday, January 09, 2015

Supernatural Friday: Risen Dead: Vampire and Zombie

I will talk about two more well known denizens of the risen dead. Next week, I have to write about more. Today for Supernatural Friday, it is about the vampire and the zombie.


People think any person rising after dying is either a vampire or zombie. Vampires drink blood. Zombies eat flesh of the living.

Actually in Eastern European legends from way, way back, vampires not only drank blood, they ate flesh too.  And they didn’t just attack anyone. They went after their ‘dear ones,’ a term you heard about if you read any of The Strain novels, comics, and TV show.  Dear ones, in other words, their family in life.

Now vampires were almost entirely unknown to the European imagination prior to 1730, and Johannes Flückinger’s strange report became known as the most thoroughly documented–as well as the most widely circulated–vampire narrative in the world. Following the Treaty of Passarowitz in 1718, much of the region now known as the Balkans was ceded to the Habsburg Monarchy by the Ottoman Empire. Along with it came a rich folkloric tradition which quickly merged with European ideas of witchcraft that had gripped the continent for the past three centuries. These stories would be widely reproduced in French, German and, later, in English, to eventually find their way into the hands of an obscure Irish writer and theater manager by the name of Bram Stoker.

 Countess Elizabeth Bathory: said to have bathed in virgins' blood to keep her skin supple and young. She was a real person.

Personally, I am sure that vampires were known, as every parts of the world have blood sucking. Flesh eating fiends in their myths and legends, just not called vampires directly.  In European stories, the making of new vampires came through bites or contaminated blood. They had the ability to transform into specific animal “familiars” (especially wolves and bats), and the method of dispatching the undead by murdering them in their coffins while they slept, would all be borrowed directly from Slavic folklore. These individuals thought to be the undead would later be exhumed, the red fluid in and around their mouth or nose would only confirm the original assumption. In actuality, during the normal process of decomposition the lungs become loaded with a dark red sanguinous fluid and the brain liquefies. Depending on the orientation of the body, this liquid would have leaked out as it was acted on by the pull of gravity. Add to this the eruption of sanguinous fluid when a stake is hammered into their lungs (an event that can emit sounds from a low groan to a high pitched scream as gases are forced outwards) and the misinterpretation would be complete.

Rabies can also be a cause for what might be thought as vampirism. The one with rabies would go and try to bit others. This of course, can be attributed to werewolves. It is notable that in the early Slavic accounts there was no distinction between vampires and what we would now call werewolves; in some versions a vampire was simply what a werewolf became after they died.

Other, older, versions of the vampire were not thought to be human at all but instead supernatural, possibly demonic, entities that did not take human form.  Clear foundations for the vampire are in the ancient world, but it is impossible to prove when the myth first arose. Suggestions that the vampire was born out of sorcery in ancient Egypt, a demon summoned into this world from some other. Many variations of vampires are told in myths and tales from around the world. There are Asian vampires, such as the Chinese jiangshi (pronounced chong-shee), evil spirits that attack people and drain their life energy; the blood-drinking Wrathful Deities that appear in the "Tibetan Book of the Dead," and many others.

Finding a vampire can have many ways to do so worldwide.  According to one Romanian legend, you need a seven-year-old boy and a white horse. The boy should be dressed in white, placed upon the horse, and the pair set loose in a graveyard at midday. Keep an eye on the horse as it wanders around, and whichever grave is nearest the horse when it finally stops will be a vampire's grave. Potential revenants can be identified at birth, usually by some abnormality, some defect, as when a child is born with teeth. Children born with an extra nipple in Romania, with a lack of cartilage in the nose, or a split lower lip in Russia are suspect. When a child is born with a red caul, or amniotic membrane, covering its head, this was regarded throughout much of Europe as presumptive evidence that it is destined to return from the dead. Minor deformities were looked upon as evil omens at the time.

It didn’t help that sometimes someone might die after going unconscious and not reviving. These people are buried. Centuries later, there are coffins unearthed and the contents hold a skeleton with its hands at the top, scratches in the wood. Obviously these people revived—not really dead—and found themselves buried. Then they died for real. If any were exhumed by villagers and found this way, I am sure a wooden stake, or more likely an iron stake or knife, was plunged into the chest or even the mouth.  Other ways of killing vampires include decapitation and stuffing the severed head's mouth with garlic or a brick. In fact, suspected vampire graves have been found with just such signs. In 2013, archaeologists in Bulgaria found two skeletons with iron rods through their chests. this pair are believed to have been accused vampires, according to an article in Archaeology Magazine.  You can read the article here.

Ways to protect yourself if a vampire comes after you? One of the best ways to stop a vampire is to carry a small bag of salt with you. If you are being chased, you need only to spill the salt on the ground behind you, at which point the vampire is obligated to stop and count each and every grain before continuing the pursuit. Another says that vampires cannot enter a home unless formally invited in. Supposedly, garlic keeps the vampire away and maybe a good thing to post at window. Of course, it would keep many away, not just the blood sucking undead.

As for zombies, that was a term a reporter called the ghouls of Night of the Living Dead. Romero thought of them as ghouls, not zombies. A zombie is supposed to be the living dead: people who die and are resurrected, but without their souls. According to legend, a zombi is someone who has annoyed his or her family and community to the degree that they can no longer stand to live with this person. They respond by hiring a Bokor who turns that person into a zombie. They can take orders, and they're supposed to never be tired, and to do what the master says.

Zombies are the product of spells by a voodoo sorcerer called a bokor. The word is believed to be of West African origin and was brought to Haiti by slaves from that region. Slavery was hard and cruel and it coud even be thought that maybe zombies was developed to keep a slave from killing themselves to escape slavery.  To become a zombie was the slave's worst nightmare: to be dead and still a slave, an eternal field hand. There are several ways to destroy zombies in fiction or movies and TV shows (decapitations or gunshots to the head are popular), though according to Haitian folklore the goal is to release the person from his or her zombie state, not to outright kill the person. There are several ways to free a zombie; feed the zombie salt; others say that if a zombie sees the ocean its mind will return and it will become self-aware and angry, trying to return to its grave.

The word "zombi" —spelled for years without the "e"— first appeared in print in an American newspaper in a reprinted short story called "The Unknown Painter" in 1838.  Then William Seabrook wrote about seeing "voodoo" cults in Haiti and the concept of the zombi to many readers. Several film scholars believe the book was the basis of the classic 1932 horror film White Zombie. The most famous studies of Haitian zombies was ethnobotanist Wade Davis' 1985 book The Serpent and the Rainbow: A Harvard Scientist's Astonishing Journey into the Secret Societies of Haitian Voodoo, Zombies, and Magic. Wade studied the case of Clairvius Narcisse, a man believed to have been turned into an actual zombie through a combination of drugs (including puffer fish venom and toad venom) in order to mimic death. Then they gave him the hallucinogenic drug tetrodotoxin to keep him in a zombie-like state.

 White Zombie (1932) Poster

Next week, I will post more undead creatures of legend. Since I have Marscon next weekend and will be out of town Thursday, I will post it a day early, on Thursday morning.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Supernatural Friday: Top Ten Haunted Spots of Richmond, Virginia and Its Surrounding Counties

For the first Friday of 2015, here are top ten haunted spots in Richmond, Virginia and its counties. Whether you agree with me or not, it is about time one of Virginia’s most haunted region have a top ten. (The photos are copyrighted-most from my Haunted Richmond II book, so please just share the link to this blog.)

1. Henricus Historical Park, 251 Henricus Park Road, Chester, Virginia: Not only will you find history about the English settlement of Henricus in Chesterfield County, but spirits haunting the area, too. It started as an island that Native American tribes hunted on and later, lived on. In 1611, Sir Thomas Dale came up river from Jamestown to make a settlement here. Responsible for enforcing the laws, determining punishment and leading military expeditions, Sir Thomas also punished severely those who transgress in the colony. Governing Virginia by brutal martial law, Dale did not hesitate to impose the severe penalties specified by the codes. This included forced labor, capital punishment, and condemning a man who stole food to be tied to a tree and left to starve to death as a warning to others. Henricus was also the site of the first American hospital called Mount Malady.  One famous Native American, Pocahontas, is a part of Henricus’s story. After being captured by Captain Samual Argall in 1613, she was taken to Jamestown, to insure peace between the Indians and English settlers. She met John Rolfe at Henricus and married him in April 1614. Two years later, she traveled to England with her husband and infant son Thomas. Still, Opechancanough, Powhatan’s younger brother and successor, led a raid against English settlements up and down the James River March 22, 1622.  The Citie of Henricus was one of them.  The Civil War was fought here too. Fifty Yankee soldiers died here, from Confederate sharpshooters and artillery. They were from black regiments. Many obviously died from the bullets, while others succumbed to fever and disease.

2. Hollywood Cemetery, 412 Cherry Street, Richmond, Virginia: “You’re going to Hollywood” meant you were dying or had passed away. And yet, the dead still hang around here, making Hollywood, “the most haunted cemetery in Richmond.” Still a working cemetery, there many Virginians buried here, famous and not famous. The famous lying deep in the ground there include Presidents James Monroe and James Tyler, along with Confederate President Jefferson Davis and his family, General J. E. B Stuart, author Ellen Glasgow, and John Randolph, to name a few. One of the true but bizarre stories told are that families used to picnic there by the graves of loved ones. Now there's a stipulation in the contract for those who seek to buy a grave there that no one is allowed to picnic there.

Stories of soft moans rising from these graves on nights when the moon is full, and even in the daytime, voices have been heard. Orbs and other weird phenomena floating above tombstones have been captured in photographs and people complain of feeling chilling cold spots. Paranormal investigators have gotten EVPs of voices. There are those of the living whose energy has been drained, leaving them feeling ill the next day. Author Ellen Glasgow was able to have her two dogs buried with her at Hollywood. It is said that the two dogs run around and whine at the gravesite, late at night.

A statue of a cast iron dog not far from the pyramid stands over some children’s graves. It came originally from the front of a store on Broad Street in the 19th century. The story goes that a  little girl would drop by the store and pet it, talking to it and showing her love for it as if it were a real dog. One day though, she didn’t come. The little girl had perished from scarlet fever in an epidemic in 1892 and was buried in Hollywood Cemetery. Because of her affection for the cast iron dog, though, it was placed at her grave site. Eerily, it stands there to this very day, as if guarding her. There have been those who say that it moves occasionally, that they would pass it pointing in one direction and come back to find it staring the opposite way. The true story behind the dog states that the cast iron dog belonged to one Charles R. Reese. Reese’s children would walk by the cast iron dog on Broad Street every day and they loved it. He bought it for his children and it became a treasured family possession until it was placed in the cemetery to prevent it from being confiscated and reduced to bullets for Confederate soldiers.

Lore surrounds Thomas Branch, who in 1865 moved his family and business interests from Petersburg to Richmond. He established the Merchants Bank, now the Bank of America. He and his sons were such successful financiers that he is considered the “father of Virginia banking.” He has the statue of a lady sitting above his grave. Lore maintains that once a year she comes to life on the anniversary of his death and sheds tears.

The daughter of President Davis, Winnie, is rumored to have died from a broken heart, caused by her falling in love with Alfred Wilkinson, a Yankee and grandson of an abolitionist. President Davis rejected his suit to marry Winnie. Her health failed not long after that and she died at age 34. There’s a statue of an angel in mourning hovering over her grave. Lore has that from time to time it sheds tears, perhaps because even in death Winnie and her lover are still parted.

3. Cold Harbor Civil War Battlefield, 5515 Anderson-Wright Drive, five miles southeast of Mechanicsville on route 156. : Cold Harbor Battlefield had one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. Located in what is Mechanicsville, a section of Richmond, today it is a National Battlefield Park, generally open except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.  The Federal army lost twelve thousand men—dead, wounded, missing, or captured. The Confederates suffered almost four thousand in casualties. Cold Harbor proved to be Lee's last major field victory. This battle also changed the course of the war from one of maneuver to one of entrenchment. Park map:

There are stories of apparitions seen, voices heard, gunfire and cannon fire heard, along with many people capturing orbs or spectral figures in photos. There’s even a legend that tells of a thick fog that rolls in around 1:00 a.m. on the battlefield and no where else. I myself have seen shadows in human shapes moving, got cannon fire as an EVP, heard footsteps following my late at night when no one is allowed in the park (two investigators and I had permission and they paid for a ranger to take us around), and other things.

Two legends are connected to Cold Harbor. One has nothing to do with the Civil War, except that it supposedly took place at Cold Harbor, but it’s still a neat little story. The story goes that a sailor courted the lady of his dreams here. When she brushed him off, he is said to have exclaimed, “Now that really was a cold harbor!” Of course, historians discount this colorful legend.  The other one is connected to the Cohoke Light in West Point. There is a story that wounded Confederate soldiers were loaded onto a train that took off toward the Tidewater Region, but when it got to West Point the entire train vanished! 

4. Belle Isle, 300 Tredegar Street, Richmond, Virginia: Located as a 54-acre island in the James River, you can only get to it by walking or bicycling across a suspension bridge that runs under the Robert E. Lee Bridge from the northern shore of the James. Alternate access is by wooden bridge near 22nd Street, or by rock-hopping from the south shore. Once a prisoner of war camp, today it is a city park of great natural beauty owned by the city of Richmond.  Known as Broad Rock Island, it was first explored by Captain John Smith in 1607. In the 18th century a fishery occupied it. In 1814, the Old Dominion Iron and Nail Company had a nail factory on it. During the 1860's, the island was inhabited by a village complete with a school, church, and general store. The Virginia Electric Power Company built and operated a hydroelectric power plant on the island between 1904 and 1963. Between 1862 and 1865, the island served as a prison for Union soldiers during the War Between the States, around  30,000 POW's, with as many as 1,000 perished. Holding only a few small shacks, the island afforded no protection from the elements to the Union soldiers who were captured and taken there. Prisoners were given tents to sleep in, but the tents numbered 3000, while the soldiers numbered almost 10,000 by 1863. Prisoners were allowed to swim in the James River. The rapid water was perilous, but some men dared to brave the rapids and rifle fire, attempting to escape.  Most died of these, though, drowned or were shot, but some did escaped. Most of the deaths that occurred came from continuous exposure to the weather.

Stories are told of ghostly voices heard when no one is there, people being touched, chills, and spirits that have been seen. One story is told about some people walking all around Belle Isle from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. On the way back, they heard what sounded like horse hooves on the ground, dragging something behind it.  Another tale makes claims to a sighting of a woman apparition. When I was there with a paranormal group, a voice answered yes over my ghost box. When I asked for a name, I got Victor. And when another investigator asked if he would come closer to get a temperature, her equipment lit up as if someone had!

5. Parker’s Battery: Located off Ware Bottom Church Spring Road in Chester, Virginia, these ten acres of land had a battle on it during the War Between the States. It is owned by the National Battlefield Park, open from dawn until dusk. The site was manned by Parker’s “Boy Company” comprised of men from the City of Richmond. Infantry trenches ran from the James River south to the Appomattox River, supported by artillery positions along the line. From mid-June 1864 forward, Parker’s Battery artillerymen were involved in frequent duels with Federal positions located less than one mile east. Confederate forces occupied this site until the fall of Petersburg in April 2, 1865.

Voices have been heard here and occasionally a figure may have been seen. But I discovered best time to see or hear paranormal activity is during the anniversary of the battle. In 2014, I heard footsteps, had voices of men talk to me over my ghost box and even captured one f them in a photo. All this will be in my new upcoming book released August 2015. So I won’t tell more of mine. You can find out more about that book at

6. Byrd Theater, 2908 West Cary Street, Richmond, Virginia: Movie theaters have movies, popcorn, sodas, and snacks. But a second-run movie theater in Carytown has more: It’s haunted! The main ghost of choice there is the theater’s first manager, Robert Coulter. But from paranormal groups that had investigated the theater, it seems he’s not the only one to hang around. A female voice has been heard in the women’s restroom and even a cat’s meowing captured in an EVP in the theater auditorium.  Current manager Todd Schall-Vess said they’d always gotten EMF meters going off from past groups that investigated there.  Three members of one group had a light turned in hallway outside projection booth one night when no others in the group said they did it. Had Coulter been concerned that they might get hurt? Vess also has said that a man had died from a heart attack in the theater in either 1937 or ’38. There have been EVPs of other male voices, so maybe this person still hanging around where he died? Coulter has been seen by works off duty allowed with friends to use the balcony off limits to the public to watch a movie and would later tell him, “I thought you said others aren’t allowed up there. Who’s the old dude in a seat up there?” Bone-chilling cold is sometimes felt up in the balcony by paranormal groups. The person who plays the organ  late Friday and Saturday nights, stayed late one night to practice and around 3 a.m. heard voices when he knew he was the only one in the theater,

7. Evergreen Cemetery: Evergreen Cemetery is a historic African-American cemetery in the East End of Richmond, dating from 1891. There are notable African-Americans buried there including Maggie L. Walker, John Mitchell, Jr., A. D. Price, and Rev. J. Andrew Bowler.

Paranormal investigators investigating the place, have consistently heard voices ranging from grown women and men talking (mostly mumbling) to children laughing and maybe even playing. At one point, during an EVP session, they asked “Is there anyone here?” Then they asked, “What is your name?” Right after the question, one of them swore he heard someone whisper “Jacob” in his left ear. At this same location, both he and another investigator had headaches at the same exact time. When they left that spot, the headaches went away. But as soon as they re-entered the area, the headaches returned.

8. Magnolia Grange, 10020 Iron Bridge Road, Chesterfield, Virginia: Magnolia Grange was a plantation house, with much land.  Nowadays, it is a historical museum on acreage of land, surrounded by buildings and Route 19 in front and a street behind it. It is taken care of by the Chesterfield Historical Society and you can take tours there.

Apparitions, disembodied voices, shadows and such have been observed there. Some people admitted to feeling oddness about the place. A psychic had visited with the George Lutz of Amityville Horror fame, and told the docent she’d seen white-covered tables in the back yard, with ladies in long gowns having tea there, a lady in a 1820s Empire style dress standing on the sixth step of the staircase, on the foyer. Besides the woman, she also noticed a man in the parlor, tall, dark, and brooding, and admitted to hearing children’s laughter drifting from a room on the second floor at the top of the stairs.  Once when I was there on a tour, and our tour guide took us upstairs and stood behind the case that held the map of the area to point out things, the glass doors of the bookcase beside her flew open. She looked at it with a puzzled gaze and said, “That’s never happened before.” One time, at after a wedding while the bride and groom were getting photos take of them, one of the male guests asked who the woman in period costume was standing there with the others. He said she had on a beautiful white dress with a necklace, which matches to a T what the psychic Mary had described of her female spirit.

9. Wrexham Hall, 10301 Old Wrexham Road, Chesterfield, Virginia: Now owned as a place one can rent for weddings, receptions and parties, this historical house is also haunted. The main spirit is the lady in red, Susanna Walthall , whose father, Archibald Walthall, owned the house. Her fiancée went away to fight in the War Between the States but never returned and Susanna lived there as a spinster until her death. And of course, she has never left, but remains around, no doubt checking out the weddings as she never had hers.  Others ghosts are Civil War soldiers, as the house had been a hospital during the war too. The house was moved from its original spot, but it is said that the graves remained where they were, cemented over to become a parking lots for Chesterfield Meadows Shopping Center. The ghosts also haunted the area, particularly the Martins Supermarket, as activity has been experienced there.  The slaves’ cemetery was across the street, where today a CVS stands. None of the employees there mention sseing or hearing anything.

My most interesting experience at Wrexham happened before I wrote the first book, Haunted Richmond, Virginia. After a meeting for a paranormal group, we were allowed to run upstairs and check the place out. I stood I the hallway outside the room the brides used when dressing for their weddings, while two others were in the restroom. Another person was inside the room, staring out the window. Suddenly, the door began to slowly close. 

10. Chimborazo Medical Museum 3215 E. Broad Street Richmond, Virginia: The museum is on the grounds of what had been one of the Civil War’s largest military hospitals. Inside the museum there are exhibits of original medical instruments and personal artifacts of Civil War doctors and surgeons. It has been operated as a park by the city since the 1870s.  Chimborazo became known as one of the best organized, largest, and most sophisticated hospitals of it kind in the Confederacy at the time. Taking its name from the hill it sat upon, it was on the eastern edge of the city of Richmond. According to local legend, Chimborazo Hill was named for Mount Chimborazo, an inactive volcano in Ecuador.  It is figured that approximately 75,000 patients passed through its doors over its three and a half years. The precise number of deaths is unknown. Estimates suggest somewhere in 6,500 to 8,000 died, resulting in a mortality rate of about 9 percent. Men who died at Chimborazo Hospital nearly always received burial in the Confederate section at Oakwood Cemetery, about one mile northeast of the hospital. Also in the area happened Bloody Run, a battle in 1656 where six to seven hundred members of the Shackoconian tribe of the Manahoac Confederacy fought English Colonists under Colonel Edward Hill and members of the Pamunkey tribe under Totopotomoi. So terrible was this battle that there’s a legend that so many were slain (Totopotomoi included) that their blood flooded the spring. In the end, Colonel Hill became disgusted with it and had to pay for the cost of the battle and was stripped of his rank.

There have been stories of voices heard when no one is there, along with apparitions seen. 

Like to read more about this haunted spots and other ones in Richmond. Find them in my Haunted Richmond, Virginia and Haunted Richmond II. Find out a lot more about Parker's Battery in Paranormal Petersburg, Virginia, and the Tri-Cities Area releasing in August 2015.  It is available for preorder now.