Welcome to our little blog. Turn out the lights, pull up a chair, light a candle and join us in the Haunted Heartland!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Samhain!

The end of October has arrived.

The air is crisp again. Green has turned to red and gold as the hand of autumn begins to make itself seen upon the mountains. Many leaves are scattered to the ground crunching underfoot as they are trod upon. Pumpkins are wearing faces. Black cats, scarecrows, ghosts and cornstalks stand watch in front yards. Halloween is here and I am ready.

The past month is a busy one for people like me. I often laugh and say October is like Christmas retail season around the haunted office. Many people call and email with spooky stories, unusual photographs and questions about the paranormal. This past month was filled with library presentations, book festivals, haunted cemetery walks and haunted history walks and I loved every minute of it!

The 2 cemetery walks I held in Massillon Ohio in mid October went very well. One night we had a bit of rain but it did little to dampen the 60 some souls who attended on those 2 nights.
I always enjoy the stroll by lantern light and cannot wait to go back next year!

Twilight in the Potters Field of Massillon Cemetery

The Civil War Memorial

We had several people who captured EVPS in the area of the soldiers memorial on our walk. The statue was unveiled in 1876 and is in honor of the fallen Vets.

The cemetery office building as seen on October 11th.  There are always questions asked about this structure. Is it vacant? How old is it? Is it haunted? Find out when you come and do the walk with us next year. (tease tease)
I cannot wait to return to the cemetery in 2012!

The Haunted America presentation with the Tuscarawas County Public Library was a blast. 220 souls attended and I had a great time presenting this new slideshow on haunted locations across the nation. Lemp Mansion, Area 51, Salem, Mansfield Reformatory,Winchester Mansion, and the Trans Allegheny Luntatic Asylum to name a few. It was nice to see old friends and meet new ones as well. Very cool!

The West Virginia Book Festival was held in Charleston, WV at the Civic Center. This was a first time event for me and I enjoyed meeting all who stopped by our booth.

I enjoyed hearing the spooky tales people shared with me and hope to see you on one of our haunts!

I greatly enjoyed leading haunted history walks in Ohio and West Virginia this year. Hard to believe I have been doing this since 2003! The weather was good on the walks and many people brought cameras , tape recorders and camcorders as well.  Local Cleveland news and Metromix covered out walking tours in Canal Fulton. There were kind enough to send us some photos.

Signing some books on the Haunted History Walk of Canal Fulton Ohio

                                                    Instructing dowsing at the cemetery in Ohio

I was invited to film a show in Macedonia Ohio on Cable CHANNEL 9 called Teen Focus and had a great time. The hosts had wonderful questions and the entire program can be seen here
The hosts are local students and did a fantastic job!

                                                      MORE ON HALLOWEEN
Halloween is a holiday filled with mystery, ancient meanings and best of all....candy!
I remember dressing up as a kid and try to carry the tradition on as much as I can every October... to the chagrin of my teenage kids. This year I dressed as a evil Catholic school girl.

Here are my kiddies a few years ago at a Halloween costume contest in Ohio. Mason is a spooky Confederate and Sage is the girl "thing" from the movie The Ring.  Needless to say, Sage took First Place!


The origination of Halloween is veiled in mystery and lore. Halloween has its roots in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced: sow-in). As the festival of Beltaine (another Celtic festival) celebrates the return of lush vegetation to the earth, the birth of animals and the fullness of life, Samhain celebrates the end of these things. Samhain was and is the recognition of the other half of the eternal cycle of life. After the last harvest had been gathered in and before the onset of the harsh cold of winter the people of the Celtic lands marked this time with observations that have been carried forward into our own time and across the sea into the mountains of Appalachia.

It was at Samhain time when livestock was slaughtered and the meat was preserved for winter use. Even today, on family farms in America it is the first of November that marks the time after which hogs are slaughtered. It also marks the beginning of hunting season.

For many centuries throughout Celtic Europe it was believed that the souls of the dead returned at Samhain to visit their old homes and families. It was customary to welcome them in, to once again warm themselves by the hearth fire and share in the family meal. The family would prepare a meal consisting of traditional foods that were always eaten at Samhain for good luck. In Ireland this would have consisted of colcannon which is a mixture of potatoes and cabbage or kale, brown bread and porridge made from the grain harvest. A place was set at the table for each family member and visitor present as usual. But, at Samhain one more place was always laid. This was for the visiting spirits. The extra plate was filled with food just as those of the living participants in the feast. The meal shared with the spirits was known as the "dumb supper" and is still a part of both the European Celtic and Appalachian celebration of Halloween in many families.

Samhain was a natural time for the living to ask advice of the spirit world since the spirits were traveling about the earth at this time. Many customs and games came about as a result of attempts to divine the future with the help of the departed spirits. One old custom is to place two nuts in the embers of a fire, naming one after yourself and one after your sweetheart. If one of the nuts pops and jumps from the fire the match is ill fated. If both of the nuts stay near each other in the fire and burn to ashes, the match is true love. A custom that is still very common in Ireland today is to serve a special fruit cake called a barmbrack. Inside the cake there are charms such as a button for bachelorhood, a thimble for spinsterhood, a coin for wealth and a small horseshoe for good luck. Whoever gets one of the charms is destined for the next year to be blessed by whatever the charm signifies. Since Samhain is the beginning of the dark season of winter, the twilight time of the year, and the Celtic way of reckoning time begins with the onset of darkness, Samhain was considered in many regions of the Celtic world to be the true beginning of the year. Thus, whatever could be divined on this night was fated to be until Samhain came round again. The consuming of special foods for luck during the coming year was an important part of Samhain and later on was transferred to our modern custom of eating special foods on New Year's Day.

The true meaning of Samhain never has been based on Satan, evil spirits or wickedness in any form. In the modern western world, where infant mortality is low and death is confined largely to the sterile environment of hospitals, we have little exposure to the end of life. This was not so in the world of our remote ancestors nor even in the world of our grandparents. Humans have always had difficulty facing death and the Samhain traditions that have been passed down through the centuries were how the Celts did so. It is an affirmation that life and death walk hand in hand.

wanes and the dying light of the shorter days is brightened by the warm glowing fire in the hearth, let us remember the true spirit of Halloween. Let us remember and cherish those that have walked this earth before us.

                                                       Happy Samhain