In My Commonplace Book: Japanese Ghost Diseases

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As some of you know, I keep a commonplace book and it is the very reason I started this blog. For those of you that are unfamiliar with the concept or would like to learn more, I wrote about the brief history and use of commonplace books in Dirge Magazine.

I consider myself a lifelong learner and I am, like all of us living in a digital world, constantly bombarded with interesting information. The commonplace book provides a way to capture and reflect on the (spooky) things I learn everyday. My commonplace book is strictly about the occult, so I thought I might share what I’m writing about in it on the blog each week.

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This week, I filled my commonplace book with Japanese spirits that cause infection and diseases. 

Long ago in Japan, human illness was caused by tiny creatures that crawled into your body and wreaked havoc. According to one source I found, there was a book written in 1568 titled Harikikigaki (author unknown), which delineated 63 of these types of creatures and ways to fight them off with herbal remedies.

Another source and a favorite of mine provided details on these types of spirits (although not necessarily outlined in the book mentioned above). Yokai.com is an online encyclopedia on Japanese ghosts and demons with beautiful illustrations and detailed entries. You can easily get lost in there for hours.

I filled my commonplace book with notes from this site, and wanted to share the most interesting ghost disease I came across.

So, the GYŌCHŪ is a intestinal worm with six arms and red tongues. It is sexually transmitted and lives and breeds in the host’s sex organs. It reproduces on Kōshin night (from the ancient Kōshin religion), which occurs every 60 days. On these nights, the Gyōchū left the bodies of their hosts to visit the King of Hell (and Judge of the Damned). These worms were very gossipy and would tell the King all their host’s sins. The King of Hell would then punish hosts for their sins. To avoid having this gossipy worm in your body: don’t have sex on holy nights.

Commonplace book exercise for this week: Check out Yokai.com and take some notes on some of your favorite yokai. 

The Ghosts of Famous Musicians

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According to writer Edward Bulwer-Lytton, “Music, once admitted to the soul, becomes a sort of spirit, and never dies.” Imagine all the souls touched and all the spirits created in the hearts of fans of famous musicians. And, while their corporal bodies may lie underground (or in the the winds of Joshua Tree), their music is still touching new generations of souls and their sightings are constantly on repeat. The following are famous musicians that supposedly still walk the earth. While some of the stories are nonsensical, they speak to our attachment to music and our the immortality of musical legends.

Buddy Holly 

On February 3, 1959, a plane carrying Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson crashed into a cornfield near Mason City, Iowa. The three men and pilot died instantly. Visitors to the crash site today have reported shadowy figures in the distance and the sound of music. If you walk towards the music, the shadows disappear.

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The ghost of Elvis is said to haunt various locations, including:

  • Old RCA Recording Studios (Tennessee). People have reported weird noises coming out of sound equipment, lights blowing out, objects being moved, and the apparition of The King himself.
  • Room 1016 of the Knickerbocker Hotel (Hollywood). Elvis stayed here when he filmed movies. Visitors and staff attribute the eerily cold room to his spirit.
  • Graceland (Memphis). There’s a couple photos circulating online that supposedly capture Elvis looking out the window.
  • Las Vegas Hilton. People have seen his spirit in the penthouse, the basement where he hung out with his band, and the elevator he used to avoid screaming fans.
  • The Ryman Auditorium (Nashville). Lisa Marie Presley claims she heard her father, Elvis, while there. After a performance at the theatre she went into her dressing room. The door was stuck and she could not get it open. Suddenly, she heard the distinct laugh of her father and the door opened.

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Fictional ghostbuster Dan Aykroyd believed the ghost of Mama Cass, of The Mamas & the Papas, haunted his previous house. She also had owned the house at some point and it served as the rehearsal location for California Dreaming.  He says a poltergeist got into bed with him, the Stairmaster was turned on, and jewelry was moved around on the dresser.

Kurt Cobain

Listen, a lot of people would love to kiss Kurt Cobain. A 20-something bar manager from Essex, England claims to have shared a digital kiss with Kurt Cobain in 2000. When browsing the internet late night, Kurt Cobain began to talk to the bar manager through her Compax Presario laptop and asked for a kiss. After an intimate kiss (y’all, I don’t know the logistics), her laptop broke and her digital, otherworldly romance with Cobain ended. I’m calling a big “nah” on this story; just some steamy fan fiction.

Eddie Hinton

The ghost of Eddie Hinton is said to haunt the famous recording studio Muscle Shoals in Alabama. From 1967 to 1971, Hinton played in the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section on records for artists such as Aretha Franklin, Elvis, and Otis Redding. People have reported the apparition of a man in a blue suit that many believe is Hinton, because he was buried in a blue suit. Musicians have also had unexplained equipment malfunctions.

Whitney Houston

The bond between child and parent can sometimes be complicated by, but not broken by, death. Whitney Houston passed when her daughter Bobbi Kristina was only 19. In an interview with Oprah, Bobbi Kristina said, “Throughout the house, lights turn on and off, and I’m like, ‘mum, what are you doing?’ I can still laugh with her and still talk to her. I can hear her voice telling me to ‘keep moving, baby, I’ve got you’. I can always feel her with me.”

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John Lennon has been seen around The Dakota in Manhattan, his home and the site of his death in 1980. Three years after his death Joey Harrow (musician) and Amanda Moores (writer) spotted Lennon near the location he was shot. He was surrounded by an eerie light. They were going to approach him, but the look on his face seemed to say “don’t come near me.” Yoko Ono also reported seeing Lennon sitting at a white piano at The Dakota. He said to her, “Don’t be afraid. I am still with you.” Side note: Before his death, John Lennon reported seeing a Crying Lady roaming the halls of The Dakota (it has quite the haunted history).

Another number of encounters happened with his old band mates. In 1995, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, and Paul McCartney were in the studio recording “Free As A Bird.” Paul commented that he felt Lennon’s presence in the room: “There were a lot of strange goings-on in the studio—noises that shouldn’t have been and equipment doing all manner of weird things.” Later during a photo shoot for the album, a white peacock appeared from a neighboring yard. Paul felt this was the spirit of John Lennon coming to hang out to complete the album. He may have even made his presence known on the album itself. According to Paul: “We put one of those spoof backwards recordings on the end of the single for a laugh, to give all those Beatles nuts something to do […] Then we were listening to the finished single in the studio one night, and it gets to the end, and it goes ‘zzzwrk ngggwaaahh jooohn lennnnon qwwwrk.’ I swear to God” (Source).

Liberace

In the 80s, Liberace opened a restaurant off the Vegas strip called Liberace’s Tivoli Gardens (later changed to Carluccio’s Tivoli Gardens). Paranormal activity at the restaurant includes: cold spots near his piano, faucets turning on and off, unexplainable yellow mists in photographs, and bottles falling off shelves. Could this be the ghost of Liberace? I think this story needs more rhinestones before I can verify.

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In 1997, rock historian Brett Meisner took a picture in front of Jim Morrison’s grave at Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris. It was not until 2002 that he noticed a figure standing behind him: Jim Morrison? The ghost photo has been deemed “unexplainable” by researchers. What do you think?

Meisner says he regrets visiting the cemetery, because things have been weird ever since. After the picture was taken, his marriage fell apart and his friend died of an overdose. He has also been approached by people who claim to be haunted by Morrison: “At first it was sort of interesting to see how many people felt a spiritual bond with Jim and the photo, but now the whole vibe seems negative” (Source).

Gram Parsons

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The story of Gram Parsons’ death and burial is already pretty legendary. Parsons, of The Flying Burrito Brothers, overdosed while staying at Joshua Tree Inn in the California desert. His family wanted his body returned to Louisiana, but his manager and best friend Phil Kaufman knew otherwise. Kaufman says Parsons wanted his body burned on a funeral pyre in Joshua Tree. Kaufman and company stole Parsons’ body from LAX and performed the ritual he wanted (they were arrested, but fined only $750).

Parsons supposedly haunts Room 8 at Joshua Tree Inn, which is available for a spooky stay!

Sid Vicious

The historic Hotel Chelsea in New York has been a temporary home for many creative thinkers, artists, musicians, writers, designers since being build in the 1880s (Tennessee Williams, Mark Twain, Andy Warhol, Janis Joplin, Leonard Cohenx, Jack Kerouac, Frank Zappa, Jimi Hendrix, and Bob Dylan, and many more).  There have been several notable deaths at this location too: poet Dylan Thomas (Room 206 in 1953), writer Charles R. Jackson (1968), and Nancy Spungen (Room 100 in 1978).

Nancy was a figure of the 1970s punk rock scene and the girlfriend of Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious. Their relationship was full of excessive drug use and domestic abuse so, when she was found stabbed to death at The Chelsea, many believed Sid killed Nancy. He was arrested and charged with second degree murder, but died of an overdose while out on bail. Sid and Nancy are both said to haunt The Chelsea. In particular, people have seen Sid in the elevator.

Hank Williams

Country legend Hank Williams haunts the famous Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN. Staff have reported Williams hanging out backstage and a mysterious white mist on stage. Is Hank still playing music in the afterlife?

According to CMT, his spirit makes the rounds:

The legend of Williams’ ghost has also inspired two major country hits — David Allan Coe ’s “The Ride” (1983) and Alan Jackson ’s “Midnight in Montgomery” (1992) — so it’s not surprising that reported sightings are not limited to Nashville. Williams is also said to haunt the Andrew Johnson Hotel in Knoxville, Tenn., where he spent his last night prior to dying in the back seat of a car while being driven to Canton, Ohio for a concert on Jan. 1, 1953. Williams’ ghost has been reportedly seen in private homes in Tennessee and Alabama, as well as various honky-tonks throughout the South.


If you could see the ghost of a famous musician, which one would you want to see? Let me know in the comments!

North of Salem: The Ghost Twins of North Andover

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Since it is the season of the Gemini (and I’m a Gemini), I started doing some research on ghost twins. Down the internet rabbit hole I went, and I’m glad I did. North Andover, Massachusetts encompasses the historic town of Andover and is just an hour(ish) drive north from Salem, home of The Witch Trials. Many argue Andover was overlooked by historians and that many of those accused of witchcraft in the region were actually from Andover. Salem State University historian Emerson “Tad” Baker says, “They should really be known as the Andover Witch Trials.”

The fear of witches in Andover sparked the most interesting (and problematic) urban legend. This is the story of the Albino Twins of North Andover.

Near Baker and Bradford Street in North Andover there is an abandoned road, which is the focus of local teenage curiosity.  This road is now blocked by a gate with a large “Do Not Enter” sign. This road has been nicknamed “Albino Road” by locals.

During witch hysteria, a couple living on this road gave birth to albino twin boys, which was a sign of witchcraft (well, according to this legend). The couple decided to hide and protect their children from discrimination and persecution. Unfortunately, their existence was revealed in their teenage years and they had to undergo tests to determine if they were witches or not. This included being thrown into Lake Cochichewick to see if they would sink. The boys drowned, of course, because stones were tied to their feet. Their parents were burned alive when their house was set on fire.

The spirits of the boys and their parents now haunt the road…supposedly (I don’t believe it). I do wonder where such an urban legend came from. Was it from a fear of the unknown? Or from a fear of those different than us?

Sources

North Andover’s Witchy Past

New England Folklore (a great blog!) 

Pour A Glass of Wine for the Spirits: Haunted Vineyards and Wineries

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To celebrate my return to blogging after a short break (not of my choice!), I decided to explore ghosts through one of my favorite pastimes: drinking wine! I do not have the luxury to see many vineyards in person, but visiting them through their ghost stories is just as fun. The following vineyards and wineries have especially interesting paranormal history. Open a bottle of wine, turn down the lights, and get ready to be spooked (or not, you are so brave).

Bartholomew Park Winery (Sonoma, California)

Before it became a winery, this location served as a morgue, insane asylum and delinquent home for wayward women. According to ghost hunter Jeff Dwyer, “A short time after the winery opened, employees heard voices singing in the cellar that once housed prisoners. The choir is heard in the afternoon and again late at night. Hymns are the usual choice” (source). Visitors have also reported doors locking on their own, a fire extinguisher thrown against the wall, and a piano playing.

In the 1970s, the remains of a woman were discovered in the basement walls during an earthquake retrofit. Some attribute these remains to Madeline, an incarcerated women who lived on the property in the 1920s/30s.  She tried to escape several times and was eventually successful. Or, is that her in the wall?

Korbel Champagne Cellars (Guerneville, California)

Korbel was founded in 1882 and produces the very popular champagne I consume once a year (because I can only afford Andre). The horror film Altergiest was inspired by and filmed at this winery (I haven’t seen it, have you?). People have reported orbs, cold spots, and moving objects.

A lot of the hot ghost action happens in the Santa Nella House. In the late 1860s, the Korbel Brothers called on their friends to help in their Champagne endeavor. One of these friends, Dr. Joseph Prosek, arrived in 1871 and built a large house near the vineyards. He planted grapevines and olive orchards (for medicinal purposes). Now called the Santa Nella House, Prosek’s home is now an inn for those visiting wine country. According to Dwyer, four ghosts haunt this location.

  1. Dr. Prosek’s Wife, Emma (supposedly): She moves, hides, and reproduces objects around the inn. She is seen wearing a long black dress with high collar.
  2. An Elderly Gentleman: He sometimes wears a tophat and mourning coat. He has been seen sitting in a parlor chair and walking around guest rooms. He sometimes makes noises and messes with electronics.
  3. The Veranda Ghost: Seen outside the house (mostly on the veranda), this ghostly man likes to ring the doorbell.
  4. Ghost Cat (yes!): This cat leaves paw prints on the bed and carpet of The Blue Room.

Franco-Swiss Winery (St. Helena, California)

The 2010 Time article “Bringing a Historic but Haunted Winery Back to Life” describes Leslie and Richard Mansfield’s decade-long endeavor to bring this “ghost winery” back to life. This restoration project came with a ghost: Jules Millet, a past owner of the winery who was murdered there in 1882. One winter night, Leslie and Richard were giving their dinner guests a tour of the winery with flashlights. One of their friends shouted, “If you’re here, Jules Millet, knock three times!” Nothing happened. The next night when Leslie was home alone, she heard six loud explosions in the house. The next morning she went to the basement and found the source of the noise: the flashlights used during the late night winery tour exploded into a million pieces.

Belvoir Winery (Liberty, Missouri)

The Belvoir Winery is on the historic Odd Fellows Home site. The Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) was founded by Thomas Wildey in Baltimore, Maryland in 1819. The IOOF “promotes the ethic of reciprocity and charity, by implied inspiration of Judeo-Christian ethics” (source). The Odd Fellows Home site in Liberty served as a place to care for their members, widows, and orphans. This wasn’t considered charity, because residents worked (if physically able) and were expected to remain in good standing. The site had three main buildings: the hospital, the old folks home, and the school. There’s also a cemetery onsite. I recommend reading its history on the winery’s website (super interesting).

Paranormal experiences include:

  • Apparitions of orphan children
  • The sound of children running down the halls, giggling, and singing “Ring Around the Rosy”
  • The sound of a piano playing
  • Doors opening and closing
  • Shadows
  • The feeling of being watched
  • A hug and shoulder grab from an unseen source
  • A “mischievous man” growling

Zephaniah Farm Vineyard (Leesburg, Virginia)

In 1743, Lord Fairfax (a friend of George Washington’s) sold 2000 acres to George Nixon, who then started a dairy farm. In the 1800s, his daughter Mattie inherited the farm. She legally owned the farm until she married British veterinarian Dr. William Casilear, because it was passed to him due to a (sexist) law.

So, Dr. Casilear was a jerk. He was aggressive, carried around a pistol, and supposedly cheated on his wife with the cook. In July 1911, Dr. Casilear shot one of this tenant farmers, Joseph Cross, to death. He believed Joseph left the gate open, accidentally letting the cows loose. Dr. Casilear said it was self-defense and, since this was Jim Crow South and Cross was black, he was acquitted of his charges. Dr. Casilear ran off and was never seen again, leaving Mattie to care for the farm. In 1950,  the Hatch family purchased the property. In 2001, Bill Hatch and his wife Bonnie planted grapevines and started their winery journey.

According to paranormal investigators, there are possibly 35 spirits on the property (mostly in the library), including pets! One of the spirits is Mattie and, according to Bill Hatch, she is especially active when soon-to-be-married couples visit. Maybe she’s trying to warn them of the difficulty of marriage? Bonnie has reported hearing loud conversations upstairs. A carpenter refuses to enter the attic. And, employees have seen apparitions sitting at the table. The owners are not too worried about all these ghosts, though. During a paranormal investigation, it was revealed that Mattie was pleased with the changes made to the property (Food and Wine).

I wonder if there are ghost cows?

Commonplace Book Entry: St. Patrick & the Pagan Corpse

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Recently, I have been filling my commonplace book with notes from The Penguin Book of the Undead: Fifteen Hundred Years of Supernatural Encounters (edited by Scott G. Bruce). In the section “The Discernment of the Saints,” Bruce shares three stories about saints that Manualofprayers-016c-patrickcompelled the dead to reveal their identities and reasons for their unrest (pg 34). The following is one story about St. Patrick (summarized).

While traveling, St. Patrick made it a habit to visit every standing cross along the road. At the end of the day on one trip, the chariot driver told St. Patrick he had missed a standing cross. St. Patrick left his guesthouse and went back to find the cross.

Upon finding the cross he realized it was a grave. He asked, “Who is buried here?” The corpse answered, “I am a wretched pagan. While I was alive, great pain wracked by soul and I died and then I was buried here.” St. Patrick asked the corpse why he received a Christian burial as a pagan. The corpse explained a woman mistook the pagan’s grave as her son’s and placed the cross like so. Then, St. Patrick said, “This is why I passed this cross by, for this is a pagan grave.” With his Christian corpse radar still impeccable, St. Patrick moved the cross to the correct grave. The end.

For more St. Patrick’s Day reading enjoy last year’s post on The Banshee.

Haunted Cemetery Statues in the United States

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Not haunted, but a girl can dream.

In elementary school, our music teacher played a 1980s PBS cartoon set to Camille Saint-Saëns’ “Danse Macabre” on Halloween. The cartoon began with a statue of a cloaked skeleton coming to life after sunset, using his instrument to summon skeletons from their graves. Since then, I have always imagined the statues I see in cemeteries becoming animated at nightfall.

In an article about haunted objects in Collectors Weekly. Michael Shermer of the Skeptics Society said, “[…] anytime you have a human figure, people are likely to think it holds some kind of invisible force, because of our propensity to believe in the afterlife and that humans carry a soul.” What better place than a cemetery, then, for stories about statues coming to life? They are so close to death, bodies, and souls.

The following are cemetery statues believed to exhibit characteristics of the living: moving, bleeding, crying. Some of these statues are also a gateway to the afterlife, having the power to predict or even cause death.

Inez Clarke and Eternal Silence (Graceland Cemetery, Chicago, IL)

In Graceland Cemetery stands a memorial with the statue of a young girl behind protective glass. Legend says this young girl, Inez Clarke, was struck by lightening in the 1800s. On stormy nights in the cemetery, the statue is said to disappear (hiding from fear?), leaving an empty glass case. She then reappears in the morning. There’s an excellent detailed description on Find A Grave (also to be credited for the image).

The Eternal Silence statue (aka “The Statue of Death”) in Graceland Cemetery is, on its very own, very eerie and spooky. The statue memorializes Dexter Graves, who in 1831 led 13 families from Ohio to, what would become, Chicago. The hooded bronze statue, a version of the Grim Reaper, was designed by Lorado Taft.

Supposedly, if you stare into the eyes of Eternal Silence, you will see a vision of your own death. There have also been many reports of the statue raising and lowering its uplifted arm. Further, the statue (up until the 1970s) could not be photographed, “stemming from amateur photographers reporting malfunctioning of normally cooperative cameras, or inexplicable destruction of camera film” (Atlas Obscura).

The Haserot Angel (Lakeview Cemetery, Cleveland, OH)

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Image Credit: Ian MacQueen // CC BY-SA 3.0

This statue, named “The Angel of Death Victorious,” is a life-sized bronze statue of a seated angel. She holds a extinguished torch upside down, which represents a finished life. Some visitors believe that the statue is crying black tears, but could it just be the effects of aged bronze?

The Bleeding Statue (Forest Park Cemetery, Brunswick, NY)

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Image Credit: Pinterest

I discussed a haunted mausoleum in this very cemetery in an earlier post. According to urban legend, this cemetery is a gateway to hell. One day when the mausoleum/receiving tomb was opened, it was revealed that the bodies were missing. So, already a creepy place.

The cemetery also has a headless angel statue with a bleeding neck. One popular theory is that the blood is just moss. Moss is boring though. Let’s go with blood.

Black Aggie (Druid Ridge Cemetery, Pikesville, MD)

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Image Credit: Wikipedia

The Black Aggie is a name given to a statue that once resided on the memorial of General Felix Agnus in Druid Ridge Cemetery. The statue was moved because of damage caused by visitors, and eventually ended up in a courtyard behind the Dolley Madison House in Washington, D.C.

When Black Aggie lived in Druid Ridge Cemetery, there were many scary stories attached to it. According to legend, the dead of Druid Ridge would gather around the statue at night. The statue was also believed to cause blindness and miscarriages (Source).

The statue too became an attraction for local teens seeking a thrill. One story about Black Aggie describes a fraternity ritual where initiates have to spend the night at the foot of the statue. For one pledge, this method of hazing led to his death. From Spooky Maryland

What had been a funny initiation rite suddenly took on an air of danger. One of the fraternity brothers stepped forward in alarm to call out to the initiate. As he did, the statue above the boy stirred ominously. The two fraternity brothers froze in shock as the shrouded head turned toward the new candidate. They saw the gleam of glowing red eyes beneath the concealing hood as the statue’s arms reached out toward the cowering boy.

With shouts of alarm, the fraternity brothers leapt forward to rescue the new initiate. But it was too late. The initiate gave one horrified yell, and then his body disappeared into the embrace of the dark angel. The fraternity brothers skidded to a halt as the statue thoughtfully rested its glowing eyes upon them. With gasps of terror, the boys fled from the cemetery before the statue could grab them too.

Hearing the screams, a night watchman hurried to the Agnus plot. To his chagrin, he discovered the body of a young man lying at the foot of the statue. The young man had apparently died of fright.

The Black Angel (Oakland Cemetery, Iowa City, IA)

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Image Credit: Billwhittaker // CC BY-SA 3.0

In Oakland Cemetery stands a 8.5-foot bronze statue of the Angel of Death, which was erected in 1913 and marks the grave of Teresa Feldevert. Like the Black Aggie, there are many thrill-seeking games involving the eerie statue. On Halloween, young people dare their friends to touch or kiss the statue. Touching or kissing the statue, rumor has it, will strike you dead (unless you are a virgin). And, like Black Aggie, this statue allegedly causes miscarriages.

Little Gracie (Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah, GA)

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Image Credit: Pinterest

Behind a private iron fence sits the grave of Gracie Watson marked by a statue of Gracie sitting on a tree stump. In 1889, Gracie (age 6) died of pneumonia, leaving behind her grief-stricken parents. Her spirit still lingers in her parents’ hotel. Hotel staff have reported Gracie’s disembodied voice in the back stairwell, a place she once hid in during her parents’ parties.

Many visitors to Gracie’s memorial leave small toys and gifts. It is said that if you remove gifts from the site, she will cry tears of blood. Visitors to the cemetery have also reported seeing a young girl in a white dress skipping through the property, only to vanish into thin air.

Commonplace Book Entry: Cemetery Cats

My current obsession is looking up photographs of cats in cemeteries, a marriage of my two obsessions. I am not sure what happens after death, but I like the idea of a cats hanging out near my grave (maybe even howe sitting on it). As I have explored in a past post, cats are associated with death and the supernatural, so cats and cemeteries are not an unlikely pair. Why are there so many photographs of cats in cemeteries? Are they trying to steal corpses? Comfort mourners? Sun bathe and chill?

In the following post, I recreate a entry from my commonplace book on this topic. So, it is a collection of sometimes unrelated pieces (texts and images) rather than a linear narrative.

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Image Source: Daderot / CC0 1.0

“In European and American tradition […] it is commonly believed cats must be kept away from corpses, because they will attack them. In fact, according to medical examiners I have spoken to, this is occasionally observed–cats are carnivorous, after all” (27). – Paul Barber, Vampires, Burial, and Death 

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Image Credit: Brett Hammond / CC BY 2.0

Montmarte Cemetery in Paris is home to a rather large community of cats. “No one is quite sure where they came form, but dozens and dozens of cats live amongst the mausoleums, quietly sunning themselves on the marble tombstones and keeping watch over their long forgotten inhabitants” (Atlas Obscura)

Graveyard Guardian
Image Credit: Bart Everson / CC By 2.0

Kasha: In Japanese folklore, Kasha is a monster cat that steals corpses out of their coffins. “Kasha are occasionally  employed as messengers or servants of hell, in which case they are tasked with collecting corpses of wicked humans and spiriting them off to hell for punishment. Other times, they steal corpses for their own uses — either to animate as puppets or to eat” (Yokai.com). They live among humans as average cats, but can grow into sizes larger than humans and are sometimes accompanied by fire.

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Barney the Cat, Imaged Credit: Guernsey Press

At St. Sampson’s Parish Cemetery on the island of Guersney (off the coast of England), Barney the Cat roamed the cemetery for 20 years and comforted mourning visitors. When he passed in 2016, he was buried in a special place and memorialized with a plaque and bench in the cemetery. Many took to social media to share their personal stories about Barney. More info (and stories): Buzzfeed.

My Cemetery Bucket List (Ongoing)

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Kira Butler from The Midnight Society recently posted her cemetery bucket list, which inspired me to create my own list in my commonplace book. My list is strictly American cemeteries (for now), because mama is broke.

Below is my list, which is always growing. Many were chosen because they are reportedly haunted (of course). Am I missing any must-see cemeteries? Let me know in the comments.

  1. Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah, Georgia
  2. Stepp Cemetery, Martinsvile, Indiana
  3. Gypsies Cemetery, Crown Point, Indiana
  4. Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery, Crestwood, Illinois
  5. Stull Cemetery, Kansas
  6. 100 Step Cemetery, Brazil, Indiana
  7. Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis, Indiana
  8. Green-wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York
  9. Westminster Burying Ground, Baltimore, Maryland
  10. Saint Louis Cemetery, New Orleans, Louisiana
  11. Lafayette Cemetery, New Orleans, Louisiana
  12. Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum, Dayton, Ohio
  13. Unitarian Church Cemetery, Charleston, South Carolina
  14. Forest Park Cemetery, Brunswick, New York
  15. Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, New York
  16. Granary Burying Ground, Boston, Massachusetts
  17. The Burying Point, Salem, Massachusetts
  18. Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California
  19. Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Los Angeles, California
  20. Howard Street Burial Ground, Salem, Massachusetts
  21. Resurrection Cemetery, Justice, Illinois
  22. Cemetery Hill, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
  23. Boot Hill, Tombstone, Arizona
  24. Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond, Virginia
  25. Athens Mental Hospital Cemetery (The Ridges), Ohio
  26. Lake View Cemetery, Cleveland, Ohio
  27. Lone Fir Cemetery, Portland, Oregon
  28. Union Cemetery, Easton, Connecticut
  29. Graceland Cemetery, Chicago, Illinois 
  30. Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Massachusetts 
  31. Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, San Diego, California
  32. Key West Cemetery, Florida 
  33. Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, Georgia 
  34. Magnolia Cemetery, Charleston, South Carolina 
  35. Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  36. Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, New York
  37. Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Concord, Massachusetts
  38. Cypress Lawn, Colma, California
  39. Swan Point Cemetery, Providence, Rhode Island
  40. Sunset Hills Cemetery, Flint, Michigan
  41. Central Burial Ground, Boston, Massachusetts
  42. St Roch Cemeteries (1&2), New Orleans,  Louisiana 

Terror and Tomes: Haunted American Libraries

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My library is filled with used books, which can create a rather haunting atmosphere. Who had these books before me? How did they live? How did they die?  The lingering fingerprints, marginalia, and dust from a distant house, bookstore, or library. It is as though each used book brings along its own trail of ghosts. In The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson writes “Materializations are often best produced in rooms where there are books. I cannot think of any time when materialization was in any way hampered by the presence of books.” It seems, then, that the best place to look for ghost stories is at the library, which is full of used books.

Willard Library, Evansville, IN

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Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

The Lady in Gray has been haunting the Willard Library in Evansville, Indiana since 1937. She was first seen by the night janitor around 3 am (witching hour, of course) in the basement. Several people since have reported her apparition, water turned on and off, the smell of perfume, cold temperatures, moved furniture and books, phantom touches, and odd items appearing from nowhere. You can see the ghost during a trip to the library, in-person or online.

The library has fully embraced their ghost, offering their space to ghost hunting groups and even placing ghost cams in multiple rooms of the library, which you can watch online. Visitors to the ghost cam site share their screen captures of the Lady in Gray on the site’s gallery.

Doris & Harry Vise Library, Cumberland Univ., Lebanon, TN

I am going to be straightforward and honest and say I’m including this library because there’s a ghost cat. Library director Jon Boniol once saw a phantom cat floating across the the library floor, disappearing behind boxes stacked under a table. Jon said, “I did not see any legs or paws and no motion like a normal cat walking on a floor. The apparition was near the floor, about the right height for a cat, but it appeared to be gliding smoothly through the air instead of touching the floor. I couldn’t tell if it came in through the door or came from under my desk.” A former librarian also reported the ghost of a young girl that liked playing peek-a-boo behind the circulation desk (Britannica).

Peoria Public Library, Peoria, IL

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Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

The story goes that this library sits on cursed ground. In 1830, a very prominent citizen, Mrs. Andre Gray, lived where the library now stands. After the death of her brother, she took custody of his son.

Her nephew got into some trouble, so he hired a lawyer and took out a mortgage on the home (for security). The lawyer sued to foreclose on the home when Mrs. Gray’s nephew could not make payments. A very upset Mrs. Gray kicked her nephew out of the house. Shortly after, he was found dead and floating in the river (University of Illinois). Mrs. Gray cursed the house and anyone that would occupy it in the future. In 1894, the building became a cursed library: the first three library directors died under mysterious circumstances. The library was torn down and a new one stands in its place, but ghosts remain. People have reported their name being called in the stacks, cold drafts and the apparition of a past library director.

Julia Ideson Building, Houston Public Library, Houston, TX

A former library intern described an interesting evening at this library:

The Ideson Building is closed on Fridays, and the rest of the staff was either off for the day or out at a conference.

So at around 4:00PM that day I began to pack up the archival material I was working with when I heard the faint sounds of a violin playing a slow and slightly plaintive song.

“That’s….really weird…,” I thought to myself. The stone walls of the Ideson building are fairly thick, and there certainly wasn’t anyone else in the building who would be playing music! Needless to say, it was spooky enough that I packed up my stuff and went on my way. (Houston Public Library)

The phantom violin player was Jacob Frank Cramer, a former nighttime watchman. In the evenings he would play his violin on the roof before bedtime. He was found dead in the library in 1936, but his violin plays on.

Pattee Library, Penn State University, PA

According to legend, in the 1960s a graduate student was in the library doing research over Thanksgiving Break when she was stabbed and killed (Daily Collegian). People can allegedly hear her screams on the anniversary of her death. Other paranormal activity includes touching, moving objects (i.e. book carts moving on their own), transparent girls reading books, and disembodied eyes (Britannica).

Old Bernardsville Public Library, Bernardsville, NJ

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Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

The building itself wasn’t always a library and actually is not anymore. Built in 1790, the building was known as Vealtown Tavern during the Revolutionary War. During this time a woman, Phyllis Parker, found her lover’s body in a coffin awaiting burial inside the Tavern’s taproom. He had been hung for treason without her knowledge. This sight of her dead lover drove her mad and attached her to the building for eternity. While it was a library, visitors and staff reported voices, uneasy feelings, and the apparition of a woman (The Old Bernardsville News).

One Year Later: A Reflection

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The muses are ghosts, and sometimes they come uninvited. – Stephen King, Bag of Bones

One year ago today, I wrote my first post for Notebook of Ghosts. People always ask where the name of the blog came from. I have always kept commonplace books about the occult and wanted to translate this very personal activity to a rather public blog. I am so glad I did. I have been introduced to so many online communities: the folklorists, the death positive advocates, and young adult horror writers. My writing has appeared on sites I admire: Dirge Magazine and Death and The Maiden. Twitter has also been supportive and welcoming. Thank you so much for a wonderful, spooky year.

Before I start 2017 with a new post, I wanted to look back on some of my favorite posts!

Favorite Posts

Favorite Cemetery Visits (Indiana)

What’s Next?

This year, I have several blog-related (and personal) goals, including:

  • Sharing more images from my commonplace book (on the blog and Instagram)
  • Writing more substantial (and maybe less frequent) blog posts
  • Visiting more cemeteries (and hopefully Salem, MA)
  • Reading as many ghost stories in literature as possible
  • (Maybe) Bringing back my Pinterest page

This blog, and the communities attached to it, will keep me going in the frightening political climate of America (to be frank). When I write, I hide; this year won’t be any different. I will savor the moments when I’m in my office with candles lit and a blank notebook page, ready for a new ghostly adventure.