Posts Tagged Ghosts

Looking for a Good Fright?

Looking for a good scare this Halloween season?

Here is a teaser on Waverly Hills Sanatorium from our friends over at Ghostly World.

We encourage you to check back with us soon, as we are about to publish our post on the top five locations to get spooked this Halloween season!

Whether you are a firm believer or an ardent skeptic, these locations are sure to get the hairs on the back of your neck to stand up.

Ghostly World™

Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Louisville, Kentucky

Location:Louisville/Jefferson County, Kentucky, USA
Built: Unknown
Operation Time: 1910 – 1962
Status: Open as tourist destination

History

A portion of land was bought by Major Thomas H. Hays in 1883, and called it the Hays’ family home. Since the home was too far from any sort of school, Mr. Hays opened a local school so his daughters could learn.

The one-room schoolhouse soon had a teacher, Lizzie Lee Harris, to teach at it. Miss Harris, having enjoyed Walter Scott’s Waverley novels, entitled the school “Waverley School”. Mr. Hays liked the name, as it was peaceful-sounding, and he named his property Waverley Hill.

When the Board of Tuberculosis Hospitals bought the land, they kept the name and opened the sanatorium; it is unknown when or why the name’s spelling was changed from “Waverely” to “Waverly”. Waverly Hills Sanatorium opened as a tuberculosis hospital in 1910, and had a capacity of…

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Grave New World

By John Morgan
Halloween Symbols

GRAVESTONES

Picture a dark, windy night, you hear the crack of distant thunder, leaves crunch as you approach the cemetery, as you open the creaky cast iron gate to the cemetery, a cat lets out a banshee-like shriek and bolts past you…You get the picture, besides, we were running out of clichés.

Few things are spookier than cemeteries, gravestones, and our bad creative writing.

And you thought math was hard

Death is a tough subject. It is like looking at your bills to pay pile, eventually you will have to deal with it –but there are so many others things you would prefer to be doing first. One epithet put it this way:

Great, so even in death, we are still haunted by debts! Hopefully you have the mettle to stay with us as we step through the cemetery gates and enter the world of gravestones, headstones, and crypts.

This is one Halloween symbol that will make our traditional ancient Greek, Roman, and Celtic friends look like the “New Kids on the Halloween Block.”

Stones in the Stone-Age

Neanderthals and early man left indicators of memorializing those who passed away by performing various burial rituals. It appears, they frequently took great pains to ensure that their fellows were buried in deep caves and pits.

There were some very practical, as well as spiritual, reasons for memorializing the dead. Clearly people need to show respect and remembrance for the departed, but proper inurnment (is also theorized) reduced the spread of disease and kept scavengers from, well, scavenging.

What good are you?

The first headstones and markers were not much more than heavy stones placed over the burial site. The conjecture here has been twofold:

1. Reduces scavengers success rate

2. The dead stay put!

Which will it be…the Carrot or the Stick?

It is fascinating to see the evolution of headstones. Designs moved from a simple rock, to frightening winged death head figures and skulls. This symbolism was not lost on the people of the day: “Better start living a virtuous life or there will – literally – be hell to pay!”

The Victorian era designs incorporated sweet pudgy cherubs, elaborate majestic crosses, billowy white lambs, and large sorrowful angels.

Of course, people did try to “dress to impress,” individuals and families with power would – and still do – build elaborate “I love me” shrines (think Facebook but with a lot more marble) as tributes to their greatness and success.

OK, OK, we hear you…we will try to stay focused on how this all relates to Halloween!

People are dying to see your Halloween decorations

Today, as we rapidly approach Halloween, people are in their garages and workshops preparing to build their own Halloween graveyards. Check out this video on how realistic you can get!

And what would a tombstone be like if it failed to have personalized witty inscriptions. Such as, “Here Lies The Pillsbury Dough Boy. He will rise again.”

What will future Halloween decorations look like? We recently spoke with a Director with the Northern California Neptune Society and he indicated that in California approximately 50% of people are opting for cremation over a traditional burial. So perhaps in the coming years, people will be “urning” for a different type of lawn decoration.

The ceremonies and rituals associated with memorializing are thought to strengthened the bounds of family and community. Grieving is a very natural part of how humans (and some animal species) cope with death. Look at this amazing article: Chimpanzee’s grieving.

Till the bitter end

Even though designs and materials have changed through the years and are still evolving, one thing hasn’t changed – our desire to memorialize, grieve and reflect on those who “assume room temperature.” As someone put it, “Death must be great, because no one has come back from it yet!”…well at least that is until we run out of rocks!

 

Jack & Charmian London’s Grave
Glen Ellen, CA

 

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You can’t fool us Ghosts, we see right through you!

 Ghosts – A misty orb, a cool presence, or a frightening phantom from beyond. Ghosts fascinate our imaginations, haunt our dreams and fuel our fears. This is one Halloween symbol that does hit the historical trifecta when it comes to having its roots firmly grounded (at least as firmly as a ghost can be grounded to anything) in Roman, Celtic and Catholic traditions:

  • Roman – Celebrations of the dead (Lemuria and Feralia)
  • Celtic – Samhain Festival of the Dead
  • Catholic – All Saints Day

Losing a loved one is never easy. All cultures have developed their own beliefs, rituals and customs to help cope and understand death. It is inescapable that our bodies come with a limited warranty for parts and services. Although the scientific RD Team is working feverishly to extend the boundaries of our existing models limitations.

Yet, what happens to our uniqueness, our spirit, our soul when our bodies finally succumb to ravages of time, wear, or unfortunate circumstances has been one of the greatest mysteries and hotly debated topics of all time.

Depending on what historical Halloween resource or expert is doing the telling (and if you have read any of our other posts, you already know that we are hardly what you can call a reliable resource and the only thing we are experts at is wandering off topic and butchering the English language) the Roman celebrations for the dead had some influence in eventually shaping the customs and rituals that led to Halloween. Exactly how much is uncertain, so we will move on to some of the stronger evidence in the ghost’s vapor trail through the history of Halloween.

Let’s look back to those early Samhain festivals; for the sake of argument, we will say the year is 50 AD. Just imagine harvest time is finally over, you are now entering the darkest and coldest time of the year (at least it is in the Northern Hemisphere – you know the top half of the world – where the toilets actually flush in the proper direction).  Eccentric King Ludwig will not host the first Oktoberfest for another 1750 years or so. The Fall Classic, Johnny Depp and Katy Perry are still another two millennium away – even the Jersey shores are nothing more than another unremarkable tidal marsh (That reminds us, if someone shows up at the Halloween for All front doorstep, trick or treating in that awful Snookie outfit we saw at Spirit Halloween last night, so help us, we will sell our pumpkin farm, close this blog down, buy a rodent ranch and open up shop at “Ground Hogs Day for All”).

Where were we? Ah yes, we are in the heart of Celtic territory, year 50. We can almost hear it now, “Mathair, I am bored… there’s nothing to do?” “Angus, why don’t you muck out your room, take your annual bath, and then round-up a Druid priest. Tell him to build up an immense bonfire and start the animal sacrifices without me.  I can’t do a thing until I can put together some goodies to place outside the doors and windows – because as you know lad, ain’t no one happy until our restless, wandering, endoplasmic dead relatives are happy.”

And so it was from the very beginning of the Samhain festivals that we see a strong connection between what would eventually grow into Halloween and the ghostly spirit world. Remember, this is a special time for the Druid priests and the Celtic people.  It is a unique ethereal time; a time for divination and a time for spirits to walk the earth among the living. The supernatural and natural worlds merge as one.

Now let us examine how the Catholic creation of All Saints Day effects Halloween in respects to our ghostly friends. All Saints Day had its foundation poured in 609 AD, but the blueprints to overlay the Catholic rituals on top of the Samhain traditions were drafted back in 601. Now with labor negations, permit delays, zoning regulations and manufacturing shortages, the actual construction for All Saints Day was not completed until 998 AD. That is when a French monastic order – Cluny – began a special mass for all the departed Christian souls. The primary function of holding the mass was to pray for intercession on the part of all the souls in Purgatory.

Ghost really begin to materialize around Halloween in the 1800s as Americans enjoyed telling ghost stories. Spirituality was spreading all across the young nation. Why even before the Great Emancipator became legend for allegedly impaling stakes through the undead’s hearts, he gave his to Mary Todd.  Both he and Mary were utterly devastated at the lost of their son Willie. Many people claim that President Lincoln actually held séances in the White House. To this you rightly say, “what does that have to do with ghosts and Halloween?” To that we reply, probably not much, other than it was a reflection of how wide-spread spiritually was accepted in those years and that Halloween certainly is a perfect vehicle for examining all things ghostly.

You only need to turn on your television to know that something remarkable is happening in Western Culture regarding people’s beliefs in ghosts. Clearly, spirits are on the rise. According to 1978 Gallup poll only 11% of Americans believed in ghosts, less than the number of people who believed in Sasquatch or Nessie at that time. Today, poll after poll indicates that almost 50% of American’s believe in ghosts. (To learn more about all things ghostly, check out Ghostly World ).

Ghost and paranormal shows dominate or at least have more than an ethereal presence on satellite programming. Practically every network offers at least one ghost or haunting themed show. Why there is even a show on Animal Planet, “The Haunted,” which chronicles animal’s interactions with the spirits from the beyond.

Regardless of your feelings on the ghost and spirit realm, their connection to Halloween started as a tribute to love one’s who had passed. And while not everyone welcomes an unplanned for vapory family reunion, it is sobering to reflect that we are just one link in an enormous chain of lives, choices, and events that ultimately allowed you to be here reading this blog and for us to create it. Regardless of what day it is, it is always worth wild to pause to remember the true miracle of our existence. So from everyone here at Halloween for All we would like to thank your ancestors – where ever they are – for allowing you to spend a few of your precious moments with us as we spin laps around the sun together.

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