My Morning Tarot Ritual Box

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I am going to stray from my usual ghost content to share a part of my morning ritual. As someone who deals with anxiety, I like to have some type of self-care routine in place. In a time of COVID-19, taking care of yourself is especially important.

In this post, I’ll describe my morning ritual, which involves tarot, meditation, and journaling. I’ll also discuss how I organize my materials.

The Box

What you (could) need (adapt to your style and beliefs):

  • A box or basket
  • A tarot deck (there are also free apps and websites that let you “pull” a daily card if you don’t have a deck available)
  • Candle + matches/lighter
  • Journal + pen
  • Extras: cloth bag, crystals, tarot cloth

So why put everything in a box? First, it saves me time gathering supplies in the morning. Second, by making this ritual mobile, I can move it outside easily when the weather permits. Third, I have always loved the idea of having multiple altars for different purposes. Of course, you can do this ritual (or your adaptation of it) without a box. 

*I linked the stores I purchased some of the items from in the list above. 

The Ritual

  1. I usually make some tea (I like CBD Chamomile or Cup of Calm) before I start (I like writing with fluids around, I don’t know).
  2. I light a candle and say: Peace surround me, I am present in the moment (from Arin Murphy-Hiscock’s The Witch’s Book of Self-Care)
  3. I mediate 3-10 minutes (usually using a guided meditation).
  4. I then pull a card for the day. Sometimes I’ll ask a specific question, but I usually just pull a card.
  5. I write down or doodle the card, along with a brief description of its meaning. This exercise is also helpful for learning tarot card meanings and interacting with your desk’s design and symbolism. 
  6. Then, I journal. I usually ask myself: What is this card telling me? Does it apply to something going on in my life currently? Sometimes I’ll create an affirmation for the day (based on what comes up during the reading) and write it down in my planner. 
  7. I close my session with a statement of gratitude: I thank the universe for my many opportunities to reflect and explore my spirit. May I always be blessed (from Arin Murphy-Hiscock’s The Witch’s Book of Self-Care).
  8. Then, I put out my candle and start my day!

If the morning is rushed, I’ll set a timer when I’m journaling or do a truncated version of the ritual. I understand mornings are difficult especially with complicated sleep schedules, children, long commutes, etc. This can easily change to a weekly ritual. Pull a card for the week on Sunday!

Maybe this my inspire you to start a new daily/weekly ritual!

I hope you and your loved ones are well during these trying times. ♥

 

Short & Spooky Book Review: Ghosts of the Southern Mountains and Appalachia by Nancy Roberts (USC Press)

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Nancy Roberts, known as the “First Lady of American Folklore,” wrote more than 20 books on Southern hauntings and folklore. Her stories weave archival research, firsthand accounts, and detailed descriptions of haunted locations, locations which she visited and soaked in. The University of South Carolina Press provided me a copy of Roberts’s Ghosts of the Southern Mountains and Appalachia (originally published in 1978, 2019 reprint) to review. I was thrilled as I love local folklore and short stories (as you all know).

Nancy Roberts (1924–2008) was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and returned to North Carolina, where her parents were originally from, in the 1950s. And, thank goodness for it. Roberts was an extremely prolific writer of Southern folklore, selling over one million copies. Impressed by her freelance writing for the Charlotte Observer, she was encouraged by poet and journalist Carl Sandburg to write her first book in 1958 (USC Press). The stories in her books are grounded in historical research, which earned her a certificate of commendation from the American Association of State and Local History. Along with her impressive list of books, Roberts was also known as an excellent oral storyteller and lecturer. Along with the title of “First Lady of American Folklore,” Roberts was also named “Custodian of the Twilight Zone” by Southern Living magazine.

Ghosts of the Southern Mountains and Appalachia contains 18 short stories running around 5-10 pages with each story attached to a particular location, essentially a folklore tour. The stories are rooted in their historical times, yet the narrative view sometimes pulls back to the modern times Roberts was writing in. The stories make use of direct quotes from actual witnesses and fictionalized dialogue between characters (which was never hokey, a problem I find with some stories written about haunted history). Roberts grounds the stories in human emotions, making the supernatural less unfathomable. The ghosts themselves are not merely mists, but beings tethered to the earth by longing, fear, anger, secrets, love, and utter confusion.

I was given the chance to talk to the author’s daughter, also named Nancy Roberts, on the phone about the legacy of her mother. Her daughter mentioned something that stuck out to me on the phone call, something which was a common theme in the ghost stories written by her mother: “Everyone wants to get home.” Whether it’s a roadside ghost looking for a ride home or a mother ghost trying to get her baby back into her father’s arms, Roberts’s ghosts just want to get back home. Roberts is so good at describing this desperation and inciting emotion. While these stories can bum the reader out, there is something comforting in the way Roberts writes: like a mother wrapping you in a blanket, handing you a hot chocolate, and telling you the secrets of the world.

Her daughter spoke of her childhood: bedtime stories about mischievous fairies, adventures to the Bell Witch Cave, and the usual parental embarrassment. For example, her mother would sometimes dress in costume for her readings: “We would tease her about the costumes.” As someone that had a mother dress up as a Care Bear for work, I totally understand these feelings. Everywhere the author went, came recognition as well: “I didn’t like that my mom would be recognized. We couldn’t go places quietly. As I got older, I liked that she was so successful.” Successful writer and storyteller aside, Nancy Roberts also brought a certain energy to every room she entered.”She had a spark about her…” her daughter tells me, “when she came into the room, people could tell how interested she was in them and how trustworthy she was […] She had an honest, open, investigative attitude.”

In many ways, to read Nancy Roberts is to know Nancy Roberts. Her written words carry the very empathetic, comforting, and honest parts of her personality. If you are looking for spooky storytelling that captures human struggle on both sides of the veil, I highly recommend adding Nancy Roberts to your “To Be Read” pile.

About the Book

Ghosts of the Southern Mountains and Appalachia, revised by Nancy Roberts 

2019 Reprint by University of South Carolina Press

You can purchase the book here: https://www.sc.edu/uscpress/books/2019/6041.html

My favorites stories from the book are: Return of The Bell Witch, Chain Gang Man, The Woman in Black, and A Visitor From the Dead.

#25SpookyStories: A Christmas Reading Challenge

Nothing satisfies us on Christmas Eve but to hear each other tell authentic anecdotes about spectres. It is a genial, festive season, and we love to muse upon graves, and dead bodies, and murders, and blood. – Jerome K. Jerome, Told After Supper (1891)

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[Updated 12/20/2019]

Christmas is a time for ghost stories. It’s true! The tradition of telling ghost stories around Christimetime probably came before the holiday itself and definitely before the commercialized version of today.  The origins, as Kat Eschner writes, are “about darker, older, more fundamental things: winter, death, rebirth, and the rapt connection between a teller and his or her audience. But they’re packaged in the cozy trappings of the holiday.” The tradition never really made it over to America (Puritans ruin the party again), but ghost stories around Christmas were especially popular in 19th Century British books, periodicals, homes, and theatres. In 2017, Ghostland author Colin Dickey made a call to resurrect the tradition of telling ghost stories on Christmas, so I’m challenging y’all to read 25 ghost (or just scary) stories this Christmas season. Maybe you’ll read them in your comfy chair with hot chocolate or wassail. Maybe you’ll read the stories aloud around the fire with family and friends. Whatever you need to do to bring this tradition back to life and hopefully start a new spooky tradition in your home. (To learn more, please check out the two articles below that ground this tradition in interesting historical research.)

If you participated in #31SpookyStories, it is basically the same thing. You’ll read 25 spooky short stories each day this December until Christmas. Or, if you are busy, you can choose to read 12 stories instead. Below I have provided some books and FREE sites where you can find some spooky Christmas stories (I’ll continue to update this list throughout December). Feel free to read whatever spooky stories you want, Christmas-themed and otherwise.

Your reading style and availability may be different than mine, so I gave the challenge additional options:

  • You might read from one anthology/story collection or multiple anthologies/story collections.
  • You might double, triple, or quadtrouple stories on slow days or makeup days. Hell, you could read 25 stories in one week.
  • You might choose to read fiction and/or nonfiction spooky stories.

The goal of this? To have fun, resurrect an old tradition, and to introduce yourself to new writers. Below are some ways to join the fun on social media, some sources on the history on the tradition, and possible stories to read.

Join the Fun on Instagram

Some challenge readers (me included) will be sharing our daily reads on social media. Follow me (@notebookofghosts) for fun Story templates, my daily reads, available anthologies from some of my favorite online sellers, and more! I will also be sharing a bit on Twitter if that’s your preferred media.

We’ll be using the hashtag #25SpookyStories!

Some History About the Tradition

Books You Might Purchase

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FREE Reading List

Below are links to some anthologies online. I haven’t read all of these, so I’m sorry for the lame ones! 🙂  Please note: Most of these links take you to Project Gutenberg, which gives you multiple formats to read it in. HTML is best for reading on your computer. You can also send it to your Kindle (I use this email method). 

Happy Reading!

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Cover Photo by Louisa Maljers on Unsplash

#31SpookyStories: October Reading Challenge

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Please note: This post will be continuously updated throughout the challenge, so follow me on social media for any update alerts. 

Every October, I challenge myself to read 31 short stories—a story for each day. I thought this year I might invite my friends—YOU—to join the challenge!

I usually pull an anthology off my bookshelf and then pick a title that speaks to me (here’s my list from 2017). Your reading style and availability may be different than mine, so I gave the challenge additional options:

  • You might read from one anthology/story collection or multiple anthologies/story collections.
  • You might double, triple, or quadtrouple stories on slow days or makeup days. Hell, you could 31 stories in one week.
  • You might choose to read fiction and/or nonfiction spooky stories.
  • You might not have time for 31 stories, so let’s swap the numbers around and make it 13. I’m cool with that.
  • You might choose to participate with your children (I sprinkled in some children’s books below).

The point of this challenge is to read some short stories, so please do whatever works for you. To make this challenge accessible, I have included a list of free short stories online. I also recommend visiting your local library! If you prefer to buy books, used bookstores and small businesses are an excellent choice.

If you cannot join us this round, you can always join our Christmas/Yule/Winter Holiday short story challenge in December! 

Join the Fun on Instagram

Some challenge readers (me included) will be sharing our daily reads on social media. Follow me (@notebookofghosts) for fun Story templates, my daily reads, available anthologies from some of my favorite online sellers, and more! I will also be sharing a bit on Twitter if that’s your preferred media.

We’ll be using the hashtag #31SpookyStories!

Documenting Your Reads

You can keep a list of what you read in a planner, journal, or notebook. You don’t have to be public about it.

But, if you would like to share your reads on social media, here are some ways:

  • Post your daily reads (story, story writer, book title, and book editors) on Twitter or in your Instagram stories. Instagram users: I’m making you templates. Just check my highlights! You might also create your only highlight to archive your daily reads!
  • Share a picture of your book piles periodically.
  • Share your method for picking stories.
  • Write down and share your favorite stories.

Recommendations for Fiction

(that aren’t already in the Free Section)

Recommendations for Nonfiction

FREE Stories

Below are links to some anthologies online. I haven’t read all of these, so I’m sorry for the lame ones! 🙂  Please note: Most of these links take you to Project Gutenberg, which gives you multiple formats to read it in. HTML is best for reading on your computer. You can also send it to your Kindle (I use this email method). 

Keep Notes in a Commonplace Book

Commonplace books are an excellent tool for writing down your favorite quotes and excerpts! To learn more about commonplace books, read this post.

 

I look forward to reading along with you. Feel free to ask any questions you may have in the comments below!

3 Years, 3 #HumpDayHaunts, & A Giveaway

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My cats (Wind and Kitty Kitty Boo Boo) and I are back to haunt your internet! I am excited to continuously and consistently post to the blog in 2019. I will keep bringing that paranormal history, along with some more posts on commonplace books.

This week officially marks my blog’s third birthday! I wanted to thank everyone for reading, commenting, and sharing. My thank-you gift is twofold. First, I am giving you all an extended Friday version of #humpdayhaunts. Second, I am doing a little giveaway. Learn more at the end of my post!

Special #HumpDayHaunts on a Friday

If you are new to the blog or new to my Instagram, I share a small bit of paranormal history on my Instagram page every Wednesday (well, sometimes I miss a Wednesday because of life) using the hashtag #humpdayhaunts. They are not as well-researched (or well-written, ha) as my blog posts, but they are haunted places or stories I just have to share. I thought I would post a version of it on the blog so to entice you over to Instagram!

Helltown, Ohio

Helltown in Ohio, formerly known as Boston, is permanently closed. Whatever was left of the abandoned town was torn down in 2016, leaving only forests and lore. The residents were forced out in the 1970s after Gerald Ford signed a bill that allowed land to be expropriated by the federal government for use as National Parks. The National Park Service planned on making Helltown part of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. This became complicated when they realized the area had a serious pollution problem. For example, the Krejci Dump that was obtained by the NPS turned out to be a $50 million-dollar clean-up project. Filled with leaking drums of industrial waste, the site caused visitors to get headaches and rashes.

The area was polluted with waste AND SATANISM, MUTANTS, and GHOSTS (insert eye roll). One abandoned property is a Presbyterian church allegedly built by Satanists (that was debunked) with upside down crosses. Legend says the whole town was filled with Satan worshipers (insert Satanic Panic eye roll). There is an abandoned haunted bus in the area too. Legend says a bus full of children were killed by a serial killer (I’m thinking no). If you visit the abandoned bus on just the right night, you might see the serial killer sitting in the back of the bus and smoking a cigarette. The main supernatural attraction, though, is a mutant python named “Peninsula Python.” which was created from pollution in the Krejci Dump.

Source / Source

The Blue Hole of Indiana

The Blue Hole of Indiana is a three-acre lake in Vigo County, which is rumored to be a bottomless pit. Supposedly, the bottom of the lake has treasure buried by Wabash River pirates. Cabins around the lake were allegedly used as hideouts for the Chicago mob. The lake is also rumored to be a popular site for disposing bodies (bottomless). So, lots of shady business going on.

Along with illegal happenings, the lake is said to basically suck people and things in. Allegedly, a school bus full of children and later a train crossing the lake both fell in and were never found. In the 1950s, a group of teenage boys went swimming in the lake and disappeared.

And, guess what, this story has a mutant creature too! Rumors started to spread in the 1960s about a relative of the Loch Ness Monster inhabiting the lake. Some say it was just a giant catfish.

Long story short, some Vigo County deputies decided to check the lake out and did not find any treasure, school buses, or trains.

Source / Source

The Witch’s Castle

There’s an old castle in Utica, Indiana on a property named Mistletoe Falls. Legend says a group of witches lived in the castle and were burned alive when the structure was set on fire by angry townspeople. The hollowed out building actually caught fire when a previous owner’s (Joseph Biagi) stepson set fire to the building. Whatever is left is a destination for teenage legend trippers. Visitors report seeing (and hearing) a young girl with black hair and a white dress.

The location is also associated with the horrific torture and murder of Shanda Sharer in 1992 (a warning: it is an awful story so proceed with caution). Four teenage girls lured Shanda (then 12) to the castle where they taunted her. Her eventual murder happened at another location.

*Also called Witches Castle

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The Giveaway

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When

Starts Today and Ends Next Tuesday (1/15) at 8 p.m. EST. I will announce the winner on Twitter and Instagram on my #humpdayhaunts post (Wednesday, 1/16).

What

A relaxing evening of reading and note-taking! A beautiful artisan ghost mug by Elyse Marie Creations for all your warm beverages, a gravestone-inspired notebook designed by Meagan Meli, a Werther and Gray candle inspired by The Ghost Club, a pen (not pictured) for note-taking, and the book Strange Frequencies: The Extraordinary Story of the Technological Quest for the Supernatural by Peter Bebergal. And, honestly, I will be throwing some other little treats in that box. It is my blog birthday and I do what I want!

The Giveaway is Closed. Thank You! 

Halloween #HumpDayHaunts

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Starting November, I’ll be back to my regular blogging. Until then, please follow me on Instagram for some haunted history each day this week!

If you don’t follow me already, you might not know about #humpdayhaunts. Each Wednesday I share a bit of paranormal history. Since it is Halloween, I thought I’d do it all week long. Come join the fun (or horror)!

Spooky Road Trip: The Haunted America Conference

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This Saturday, I drove nine hours total (in some very foggy conditions) to hear some of my favorite paranormal scholars speak about ghosts and other supernatural beings. Since this was my very first conference in the area of the paranormal, I did not know what to expect. I have been to many academic conferences, which can sometimes be very intimidating and stuffy. What I found at the Haunted America Conference was a friendly and welcoming group of people, with interesting stories and insights. I left with my commonplace book full of new avenues of research, along with ideas for growing my own “ghost business.”

The conference was two days with a variety of speakers during the day and activities in the evening. I, needing to work on my dissertation, only attended Saturday’s day sessions (woke up at 3 a.m….I love ghosts!). The evening activities looked so interesting–ghost hunts, a dumb supper, technical workshops, walking tours–and I look forward to signing up next year. When not in sessions, I walked around the Vendors Room and conversed with folks promoting their podcasts, publications, ghost tourism businesses, and products (candles, pendulums, jewelry). There was also an extensive raffle that read like my Christmas List. Unfortunately, I didn’t win the Ouija cheese board and Walking Dead wine.

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A view of the Vendors Room.

Below are some of my conference highlights.

  • I  finally met Colin Dickey and Sarah Chavez! Colin, author of Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places, presented on American grave robbers. I especially enjoyed how the history of medical colleges were woven into the narrative. Sarah Chavez, my favorite death feminist, spoke about the relationship between food and death. Check out more of her work at Nourishing Death and Death and The Maiden. Side note: Sarah had very cool nails.
  • I met one of my favorite bloggers, Jennifer Jones of The Dead History. Once a paranormal investigator, Jennifer now runs a blog full of very extensive historical research on haunted locations and tombstones. I really appreciate the humanist approach she brings to her research.
  • I read so many Rosemary Ellen Guiley books when I was growing up. In her presentation “Strange Encounters and Strange Things,” Rosemary shared stories about werewolves, aliens, cursed objects, and other strange creatures.
  • I also grew up reading the website Prairie Ghosts, so I knew I had to attend a conference hosted by Troy Taylor and his Haunted America team. Troy has written 120 books on ghosts, hauntings, history, crime and the unexplained in America. So, he knows his stuff. He presented on the relationship between music, death, and the devil. He’s a very entertaining speaker; he reminded me of a very cool radio DJ. 
  • I met the very kind folks of the See You On The Other Side podcast. Their website describes their work as “a rock band’s journey into the afterlife, UFOs, entertainment, and weird science.” Their podcast, as I understand, discusses a supernatural topic each episode and includes a song inspired by the subject matter. A creative idea, right? They entertained us during breaks the entire conference. I look forward to giving their podcast a listen!

Overall, it was definitely worth the nine-hour drive. I look forward to attending next year. Maybe I’ll see you there?

January Hiatus

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While not too much of a shock, the blog is taking a hiatus until February. This will give me time to finish work and school projects, while also giving me the opportunity to plan future posts for this site.

Sorry for the delay and thanks for being a friend!

 

My Spooky Christmas Reading List

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This December, I am embracing the holiday spirits. I have decided to (1) read a ghost story every day until Christmas and (2) learn more about the pagan origins of the holiday. Any excuse to buy more books right? The following are books I plan on reading this month. I have also included some online articles for those interested in additional and shorter readings on the season.

My Christmas Bookshelf

Below are books I am hoping to consume or have already this holiday season (except for The Ghosts of Christmas Past and Classic Ghost Stories: Spooky Tales to Read at Christmas which I’m still waiting to have delivered).

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I ordered two books from my favorite online used book seller La Creeperie: Christmas Ghosts and Mistletoe Mayhem. Both books are anthologies filled with short ghost stories. I mostly purchased these books because of the covers. I mean…

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I highly recommend La Creeperie for rare anthologies and some fun covers (along with any horror and occult books you desire). The store gets most of my paycheck. 🙂

My favorite anthologies from the batch are The Valancourt Books of Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories. The stories chosen did not overlap with my many other ghost story anthologies, so I was extremely happy. Each story comes with a brief introduction about the author and where it was first published. Each volume also comes with an interesting historical overview of the Victorian tradition of ghost stories at Christmas.

I am also reading some Charles Dickens’ ghost stories for obvious reasons.

In an effort to learn more about the pagan origins of the season, I purchased two Llewellyn books. While I have not had the chance to to read The Old Magic of ChristmasI flew through Yule: Rituals, Recipes & Lore, which is part of their Sabbat Essentials series. Even if you are not a practicing pagan, the book reveals the reasons behind some common traditions and gives you ideas for some new ones.

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I unknowingly read a Christmas ghost story at the very end of November. Richard Matheson’s Hell House is a Christmas ghost story like Die Hard is a Christmas movie. The book follows two mediums, a parapsychologist and his wife on a investigation of the “Mount Everest of Haunted Houses” during the days leading up to Christmas. This novel is a mix between The Haunting of Hill House and Eyes Wide Shut.

My Christmas Internet Favorites

Christmas ghost stories: Dark Christmas by Jeanette Winterson, The Guardian

Ghost stories: why the Victorians were so spookily good at them, The Guardian

Folklore of Food: Traditional Christmas Food, Folklore Thursday 

The Monsters of Christmas, Atlas Obscura 

Happy Holidays! 

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I am sharing the stories I read each day leading up to Christmas on my Instagram stories if you are interested!

Well, It’s October…

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It is finally October, the best month of the year and the beginning of Halloween (because it is a season, not just a day). I have already blew my paycheck on Halloween decor and pumpkin everything (cookies, tea, body cream, candles, figurines, etc). I am just so damn excited and wanted to share a quick glimpse into my daily spooky life outside the notebook.

I made a cemetery terrarium or a cemeterrariumI am always saying I wish our property had a small cemetery, so I decided to create one. I found some small figurines (a cat, gravestones, skulls, and bones) at Michael’s (a craft store) and plants from my local greenhouse and my yard. This is my first of many. I plan on putting some of the bones and skulls in the soil to create the look of buried bodies with the next one. You might also consider adding small LED fairy lights and/or glow-in-the-dark fillers/sand.

IMG-8297.JPGI have decided to read a spooky short story each day this October. The short story is my favorite genre and I have so many anthologies on occult fiction. I really have no plan; I am just picking up a book and reading what grabs my attention. I will post a final list early November, but will share what I’m reading daily in my Instagram stories.

Since most of my October involves surgery recovery and a couch, I’m really excited about Turner Classic Movies’ Halloween Marathon (here is the schedule). I will also be reading through past collections of Jezebel readers’ scary stories (all the links are on my Library page).

I have been buying so many Halloween items to decorate my writing space (for the entire year). Below are some pictures. Not pictured: my ridiculous drawer full of Halloween office supplies and stickers.

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Snow globe from TJ Maxx
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Ouija Board Tray from Target / Candle holder from TJ Maxx
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Ridiculous naked ghost only wearing boots from Target

What have you been doing to get in the Halloween spirit?