Monthly Archives: June 2014

Dreaming of Apparitions

I’ve never been big on dream interpretation, and I don’t always recall my dreams, but my soul/subconscious/guides sure know how to fill the void with experiences that I long for in the waking world. This is true for when I’m on a diet and I dream about peanut butter cups, but it’s also true in a deeper sense, like my passion for spirit communication and the paranormal. Do you know what I mean?

Last night I believe I had the fourth or fifth dream that I can recall having to do with seeing the apparition of a ghost. I’m not including spirit visits in that statement, though two of those may be questionable, as I’m not sure if they were just a dream or some kind of message from spirit visitors. No, what I’m talking about now is clearly a dream, where I’m minding my own business, or going through my normal daily life (in a dream, anyway), and suddenly I’m allowed to experience the amazing high of seeing the apparition of a ghost before my eyes. There has never been anything like it in any other dream that I’ve had. It’s an amazing feeling!

In last night’s dream, I was apparently seeking out a spirit. This is usually not the case. I was with my father, and we were investigating what seemed to be the abandoned basement of some large building. As far as I know, this location is purely fictional, but imagine a place like Belvoir Winery (the abandoned sections), or an equally creepy large and abandoned facility. I was leading the way with my father behind me, and I had absolutely no fear of my surroundings. I was on a mission, and that mission was to find evidence or proof of a specific male entity’s presence. Suddenly ahead of me, through the debris and the shadows, I saw what seemed to be a person way ahead of me, crossing in and out of the beam of my flashlight. I remember nonchalantly saying something like, “That’s weird. Someone is in here”, as if I wouldn’t have been frightened of a real person hiding or being with us in a dark and abandoned basement. We kept moving forward, and I expressed to my dad how disappointed I was going to be if I didn’t get some kind of evidence of this spirit that we were looking for. Suddenly, the full and solid figure of a human, down to the face and the clothing, was standing in front of me, again in the beam of my flashlight. You have to ignore the fact that in waking life my fight or flight would have kicked in by this point. Clearly, it would be frightening to find that a stranger is in the dark with you in an abandoned building. Remember–this is just a dream. So my brain was clearly not registering what I was seeing, as it appeared to be just a solid person… completely normal. Excuse me sir, we’re trying to find a ghost here. My dad said something like “Well what do you think you’re looking at? This is what you came for!” It was, indeed, the spirit of the person we came for. And as soon as I realized that, the amazing rush happened… and I woke up.

In real life I’ve never seen an apparition. At least I don’t think so. Do we always know? In a recent dream, one that I had about Miss Owen (who is now a celebrity to my students at school), I was given a sketch of an apparition–a sketch of a moment in time that I was present for. So for that one, I proved that even in a dream I can miss the opportunity to see an apparition with my own eyes!

It is only in recent generations that we began to think of apparitions as being translucent or cloudy visual representations of spirit, and I think Hollywood has helped with that. I blogged about another dream in which I witnessed an amazing translucent apparition crossing the road. But this has been the first dream in which the apparition was solid and looked just like you or I would. It was mind-blowing.

I’m a paranormal blogger, experimenter, and now podcaster. I’m fascinated by spirit communication. My mind is nearly always immersed in thoughts of the paranormal. You would think that I’ve had tons of paranormal experiences. I have not. Oh I’ve sat in dark rooms for hours and waited. I’ve attempted to spark a conversation with unseen spirits in an abandoned farmhouse by myself… in the dark. I’ve watched a motionless planchette on a Ouija board.  I’ve studied and tried channeling (it’s supposed to be so easy!) I’ve analyzed hundreds of hours of audio and video, shooting down possible EVP and strange phenomena that don’t convince me. And yes, I’ve gotten a few crazy EVPs. I’ve had a few psychic moments. I recently blogged about a very early fuzzy memory that stands out and could possibly have ghostly significance (but I may never know). I’ve even been grabbed in my sleep by a hand that quickly disappeared. I’ve had fun, but I want to see an apparition! Where is mine?! Bring it!

Is this why I have these dreams? Is this God’s way of giving me some of what I need to keep me going while I wait? Sigh…

Me going down the steps of the abandoned farmhouse. (Thank GOD my dad tried it first!)

Me going down the steps of the abandoned farmhouse. (Thank GOD my dad tried it first!)




A New Look for the Big Séance Family!

So I spent a lot of the day improving the look of the already new Big Séance Podcast banner and iTunes cover art (coming to an iTunes near you very soon). Then, on the same day that BigSé reached its 100,000th page view, I decided that the elder sister of the new addition needed a makeover–a rebranding, if you will. A graphic artist got me started (kind of), then I made huge improvements, then Joe put his amazing final touches on them this evening, and voila! Not only do they now look fresh and new, but they show off their family resemblance with pride. Clearly, the blog and podcast are developing a tight bond, like many sisters do. I may decide to tweak the looks a bit more before it’s all settled, but for now I feel really great about these! What do you think?

I thought I’d include the complete evolution of banners, starting with the original… just for fun. Anyone remember it? It makes such a huge statement, I’m not sure how anyone could forget it. (Kidding.)

You may have noticed that for the moment I’ve dropped the subtitle “my paranormal world” from the new blog banner. Does that make anyone sad? Would you protest and refuse to return if it disappeared? **Update: As you’ll see above and below, it didn’t take long for me to miss my subtitle. “My paranormal world” is back. 




The original Big Séance banner. Fancy, huh?


The longest running and most recent Big Séance banner.




New blog banner!

New blog banner!


New podcast banner!

New podcast banner!


New iTunes cover art! (Coming to iTunes soon.)

New iTunes cover art! (Coming to an iTunes near you very soon.)


New profile picture for the Big Séance Facebook page!

New profile picture for the Big Séance Facebook page!

The Premiere Episode of The Big Séance Podcast!

I am so very excited to finally introduce what I’ve been working so hard on for several weeks now! The Big Séance Podcast is a place for an open discussion on ALL things paranormal, but specifically topics like ghosts & hauntings, paranormal research, spirit communication, psychics and mediums, and life after death. So basically, anything that pops up in my paranormal world. The candles are already lit, so come on in and join the séance!

The podcast can also be found on iTunes, and so many of you may be able to subscribe and download more easily from there. One of the nicest things that you could do to help me out, is to share an episode of this podcast with all of your fellow paranerds. Do you have any comments or thoughts? Please contact me at I could decide to include them in a future show. Thanks for listening!


Dealing with Lower Energies/Demons/Possessions – The Big Séance Podcast #1

Marilyn Painter, a psychic medium, spiritual counselor, and energy linguist, talks about Empowering Individuals with Methods and Tools to Deal with Lower Energies/Demons/Possessions. We also chat about some paranormal hot topics!

Thanks for being a great first guest, Marilyn!


Get this episode on iTunes!
Direct Download Link



For more on Marilyn:

Facebook: Psychic Medium Marilyn Painter


Paranormal Hot Topics Discussed:

  • Marilyn is seeing more and more men stepping forward and coming in for different spiritual consultations!  
  • Waverly Hills Sanitorium will soon be a hotel! 


Other blog posts and articles mentioned in this episode:

Demons, Possession, and the Book I Almost Didn’t Finish (BigSé

The Hand That Rocks Your Dreams (BigSé

The 3 Stages of Demonic Possession ( – incorrectly cited in the show)

A New Haunted Hotel! (Augoeides)


The Big Seance Podcast can be found right here, on Apple PodcastsSpotifyTuneIn RadioStitcherGoogle Play Music, and iHeart Radio. Please subscribe, submit a rating, or share with a fellow paranerd! Do you have any comments or feedback? Please contact me at Consider recording your voice feedback directly from your device on my SpeakPipe page! You can also call the show and leave feedback at (775) 583-5563 (or 7755-TELL-ME). I would love to include your voice feedback in a future show. The candles are already lit, so come on in and join the séance!

Energy Formulas and some thoughts on “My Son and the Afterlife”

One of the books I’ve been reading this summer is My Son and the Afterlife: Conversations from the Other Side by Elisa Medhus, MD. If you’ve ever visited, that’s Elisa. Much of the book comes from the site, which she started not only to work through her grieving, but to serve as a place to share the channeled messages that she received from her son Erik, who committed suicide in 2009. These channeled messages come mostly from Erik’s spirit communicator (medium), Jamie Butler

I was introduced to two or three years ago, and was immediately blown away and overwhelmed with the wealth of information and transcribed sessions between Elisa, Jamie, and Erik. In fact, one of my very first blog posts featured the site. For many, the site is controversial, and you’ll find several sites expressing skeptical opinions about it all. Elisa herself claims to have gone from skeptic to believer because of this whole journey. If you know me, you know I can’t NOT doubt a bit when I read things like this, but who wouldn’t want this to be authentic and real? I do my best to keep my ego and somewhat analytical mind in the corner while I read his messages, and I find them fascinating!  

As I said, the blog itself is a bit overwhelming… and that’s perhaps why I haven’t been a regular reader in a long time. But I’ve really enjoyed the book so far. Having it all organized in book form has really been helpful to me. After giving some background and describing the tragic moments that changed the family’s life forever, Elisa goes right into what I can only assume is a kind of “best of” from Erik. At the moment I’m only halfway through the book, but so far Erik has given answers to most of the typical questions that people wonder about the Afterlife. 


“Energy Formulas”

I don’t know why this fascinated me so much, but I immediately thought to blog on it when I read it. It’s so simple, really. 

Elisa asked Erik how it was possible for him, or spirits in general I suppose, to create smells, good or bad, so that we on Earth notice or sense them. Erik has been known to be a jokester, and so he apparently will often create “rank sock smells”, for example.

He answered by saying “everything has an energy formula on Earth, so I just replicate that energy formula, and I put it in that space.” So stop to think about the energy formula that your perfume or cologne is made up of, or even something we see as solid, like your desk or coffee cup. He says that what we end up sensing or smelling doesn’t actually exist. It’s just the energy formula that we’re sensing.

And do you know what I instantly thought of? It made me think of binary code, or the 1s and 0s used in computer programming, and even the recording of CDs. When would I ever think about or even try to understand binary code? A recording in a .wav or mp3 file, or from a CD playing, can potentially put me in a kind of euphoric state, or make me cry, or transport me to another world. The music and the orchestra isn’t sitting here in my room or living in my headphones, but the code is. So when I stop to think about it now, I totally get it. I mean, I don’t think it’s a concept that we’ll ever completely understand until we get such knowledge and experience on the Other Side, but I’m beginning to process it.


Isn’t it fascinating?

Whether you choose to believe all of this or not, isn’t it truly fascinating when you think about it? Or… am I just a nerd? One of my earliest readers and blogging friends, Ashley, knows a lot about Erik and the CE site, and she created the Facebook group for fans and readers of I hope she chimes in!  *HINT HINT*


A Message for Erik

This message is for Erik, if he’s reading. I know you’ve been known to visit and play tricks on many of the visitors and readers of I’ve made the request before, but I’m sure you’re busy. Consider this a formal invitation to bug the hell out of me for experimental purposes! Bring it. And I’ll keep everyone posted. 







Mad Madame Lalaurie: Part 2 of My Interview with Author, Victoria Cosner Love

Buckner Mansion, used as the exterior of Miss Robichaux's Academy in American Horror Story: Coven. Photo courtesy of Victoria Cosner Love

Buckner Mansion, used as the exterior of Miss Robichaux’s Academy in American Horror Story: Coven. Photo courtesy of Victoria Cosner Love.


Today I bring you Part Two of my fascinating interview with Victoria Cosner Love, author of Mad Madame Lalaurie: New Orleans’ Most Famous Murderess Revealed. Thank you again, Victoria, for the opportunity.


Part Two of My Interview with Author, Victoria Cosner Love

If you missed it, check out Part One


Patrick Keller: The book has an amazing chapter called “What If It’s All True?”, which I really liked and thought was awesome! It seems like it would have been really fun to let go of all the careful fact-finding and let all the rumors and stories come out to play. Was it?   

Victoria Cosner Love: Yes. My co-writer, Lorelei Shannon, is a horror writer. She does primarily Southern Gothic… The first chapter is the ghost tour, and how the ghost tours are given every single night in New Orleans. And I called Lorelei and said, I need you to Goth this up. I need you to add these things, and I gave her the information and let her go to town. And so she came back and said, you know, here’s where my fiction is; it’s the “What If It’s All True?” And we had the best time with it, because you know, as horrifying as the history is, on the Gothic fiction level, this story can’t be beat. You can’t write fiction this good. And Lorelei did a really good job of meshing everything in, and including our beloved devil baby.

PK: That’s very cool.

VCL: Yeah. She is.

PK: Another chapter of the book that I appreciated was “Myths v. Facts”. It helped to clear some things up for me. Was there anything that led you to deciding to include it?

VCL: When we came to the conclusion that perhaps Delphine wasn’t the perpetrator, we decided that this was the time to go back and put her into a little bit more of a historical context, and pull the ghost tours. Because almost everybody who is introduced to her is either introduced to her through a ghost tour or a book like you were, with the chapters. And so we have this real person, we have this mythology, and you have to look at them. At the Holocaust Museum, at the National Museum of Health and Medicine, which is a body part museum, you always had to pull out the myth and the legend, because people would always come in, like to the Holocaust museum and say, Where’s Anne Frank? And it’s like, Yeah, you know there were more women and more people involved in the Holocaust then just Anne Frank, but that’s what they know. People glom onto one piece of history when they go to anywhere, [or a] a civil war site. And so they glommed on to the medical experiments with Delphine Lalaurie. And so we had to go in and break down, because if she did it, how was she doing it? How was she peeling somebody? In her corset? You know with her… did she have a peeling costume that was more of a man’s costume? [I was laughing very hard at this point. “Peeling costume.” Ha!] …these taffeta gowns that she wore, that we know that she wore, would she get blood on them? I mean think about it. Put it into thinking about what a woman would be doing. So like the wax museum has her standing there with the whip, and has her, how did they put it, well-fed personal driver doing the damage. So, you know, then we looked at Bastien, which is his name, we think, and talked about that type of thing, and what that relationship might have been. And, you know there’s a lot of guessing at this point. So yeah, we had a good time!   

PK: It sounds like it. You’ve gone into this a bit, but can you talk a little bit about Missouri’s connection to Madame Lalaurie?

VCL: That’s the Missouri Historical Society, there on Skinker Road, it has the collection. It’s called the Saint Vrain Delassus collection, and like I said, if you want to see handwritten documents… and I hate to tell the general public about it, because you know, that’s when sometimes things start going missing—not that any of your readers would do that—but it’s there, and it’s spectacular!

PK: I was disappointed to learn the mansion doesn’t look like it did when Madame Lalaurie lived there. I wonder how many people know about the changes since the events. Did you know before you began your research?

VCL: No. They kept referring to [the fact] that the mansion had burned to the ground. But for some reason all these ghost tours and stuff kept referring to it like it was this Federal style building from 1850, and it didn’t make sense to me. And when I was going through the blueprints and found the original blueprint, it did burn to the ground. And even Harriet Martineau, which was the first reference to Madame Lalaurie as a serial killer, or a horrifying woman in slave history, she said that the building was still smoldering. Now she wasn’t there until 1848, so that’s [sixteen] years later and that building is still smoldering. It didn’t get rebuilt until 1850, so there was actually nothing there for that… sixteen years until it was rebuilt. And when they say that you can reenact the girl falling off the roof every night, well the roof was one story shorter. And so no one has ever said anything about her… I’m not as much paranormal as I am Goth, but it seems to me if you’re reenacting something, that you would be on the second floor where you did it from. And so everybody would always be looking at the roof… and there was one bricked in window that was a bathroom, you know architecturally 1850, it was a bathroom and everybody would be like, That must be the window that she fell out of. But nobody was falling out of windows. There’s nothing in the story about anyone, except one person supposedly jumped out of a window during the fire, and that was proven wrong by the newspaper and police reports. So the embellishment, I don’t think people wanted to acknowledge that it was right. And as a matter of fact, I made people angry when I came out with this. I don’t know if I mention it in the book or not, but there was this Voodoo woman who cursed me because I had just discovered that it wasn’t the same building and I was all, you know, geeky and, Oh, guess what I found!, you know I’m all from out of town and everything. And she became very angry with me and she cursed me. And when I found out that she was from New Jersey herself, I wasn’t too concerned with the curse anymore, but they were angry. A lot of people still say that I’m wrong, but it was very clear I was looking at the blueprints, because the architect was a very famous architect, and the collection was at the Historic New Orleans Collection, and it was like, Wow. So everybody’s looking at the wrong building. You know, but here we all are. I sat there for hours waiting to see that reenactment. I didn’t get nothing.

PK: Well plus, in those days, I mean, you know a fire truck wouldn’t have just rolled up and put out the fire. It would have burned down.

VCL: Yeah they were doing buckets. And then on top of that, they were angry at her, so they weren’t going to fight the fire. You know, they were throwing stuff into the bonfire. It was, you know, It’s a portrait of her, which is why we don’t know what she looks like. So…

PK: I didn’t think about that. (Moving onto the next question.) Well on several occasions, I’ve shared my opinion and mixed feelings about what I see as side effects from what I call “the great paranormal craze”. And you speak quite a bit in the book about the myths and embellished stories that have been passed on by tour guides and ghost tours to New Orleans visitors for over a century now. The Lalaurie Mansion is certainly one of the more dramatic examples, but I think it’s fair to say that this happens all over. Do you have an opinion about the craze and hype and how it affects our historical “haunted” locations, and maybe even history itself?

VCL: This is one of those… ying and yang answers. Because as a historian, yes it bothers me, that people don’t really look into the history, but not everybody likes history. As a tourism professional, this stuff is hot! I go to them everywhere I go. I go on ghost tours. And that mix of fun and history and paranormal research really, really appeals to me, and so when we wrote this book, we were basically writing to my demographic, you know because that’s who is taking a lot of these tours, except for the drunk kids. And you can always straighten out history. You know history is what it is. And you can always interpret and you can always bring it back. And that’s why I have a job, because history changes, and history changes because of stuff like this. One of the things I found most fascinating was that the extremely gruesome, graphic medical experiments weren’t added until 1947. And so they were saying that it came out in the New Orleans Bee in 1834. It didn’t. They were still very factual about these seven people who were [found in] horrifying [conditions]… but they weren’t being peeled, and they weren’t in a crab, and they weren’t, you know, broken. And they weren’t—oh they were a little broken—but so that’s a fifty year morph from what was being said to when [Jeanne] DeLavigne—and they just re-put her book out, by the way, if you haven’t got it. It’s Ghost Stories of Old New Orleans. She is fantastic, but she wrote it in 1947 and she wrote it as a ghost story. There was no… She says straight up, these are all ghost stories. I didn’t do any research. And everybody’s like quoting her, you know, as fact and as part of the story of history, rather than the story of ghost history. So, I don’t know. Folklore is everywhere.

PK: Well now I have a question from a BigSé reader. Joe asks, “In American Horror Story, by the end they tried to make Madame Lalaurie look like a sympathetic character.” …which I would agree with.

VCL: I think so too, yeah.

PK: (Joe’s question continued) “Do you think she ever had a chance at being rehabilitated?”

VCL: The character… or the historical figure?

PK: (Blank stare from her interviewer) Ah man… um… let’s…

VCL: I’ll do both. [Whew!] The historical figure… I think she was a narcissist. I think she was a sociopath. I do not think that she was torturing people. I think that she either knew that they… I think that she was the type that would come in and say, Fix him. He’s being uppity. And then Dr. Lalaurie would go and do whatever Dr. Lalauries do up there, and I truthfully think that the husband was the perpetrator. I don’t believe in coincidences. I have two Peter Falk Columbo quotes—I love Columbo—that helps with my historical insights and research. One is, “there are no coincidences”, and the other one is, “people don’t often forget to do what it is that they always do.” So when you have someone that is an anomaly, you have to look at the anomaly and see where they fit into those two things, and is it a coincidence that he was into back straightening, that he was a dentist, that he wanted to do pioneering medical… and these people were being held for no reason. Also, why is Madame Lalaurie manumitting slaves? And then torturing slaves. That’s one of those that doesn’t fit. And why did a woman that would manumit a slave, why did she get beaten by her husband on the courtyard steps… on the exact day that she manumitted a slave? Is that a coincidence? No, I think that [Louis] Lalaurie was the perp… I don’t think she knew what was going on all the way. I think that… whether through mental illness or not, I don’t think she had a good handle [of] how bad it was.

VCL: On the TV show I was disappointed that they started making her sympathetic. Although I did want a t-shirt that had her severed head that said “What the head said”. [We both laugh.] And then Angela Bassett says “What the head said”. I wanted that really bad, and I still might make that t-shirt, but I also wanted the one that said “What is this, knotty pine?” You know, with Jessica Lange at the very end and the hell… I loved it. But I would have liked for them to have maintained Delphine’s horror, you know and not made her… I mean the cheeseburger stuff was very funny. Their idea of hell for her was ingenious, but… yeah, either you start with her peeling eyeballs or… you should end with her peeling, you know what I mean? There was no reason to take her into the sympathetic thing, and just let Queenie do whatever.

PK: Is there anything that you want to add or talk about? Any future projects?

VCL: You know, there are so many stories. I’m looking for future projects. If any of your readers have anything that has that historical bent to it. There’s a cave up in Hannibal [Hannibal, Missouri] where a guy supposedly was keeping his daughter’s corpse, and then he moves down here and opens up a hospital down here [St. Louis, Missouri]. It was a confederate hospital. He was doing medical experiments, and I’m looking at him, but I’d rather look at women. The axe man, who was in American Horror Story, the only book that is written on him is a graphic novel. And it’s a well-researched graphic novel, but the mafia connection with that might be a little… I’m not sure I want to go there, even in 1921. So I’m looking at the axe man, but I don’t know whether we’re going to go there. But the publisher has asked for one on the Storyville Madams. Storyville was the area of legalized prostitution in New Orleans at the turn of the century, and there were some incredible women that were… making a lot of money down there, and so we’re looking at doing that. As far as like the true crime stuff, I’m looking for something like the axe man, that everyone thinks that they know the story, but it hasn’t been told, so… I’m looking. The guy with the cave is looking good.

PK: I think I remember reading about that one.

VCL: Yeah. And it’s the same thing as with Madame Lalaurie. It comes up here and there, like in a little article, because he was eventually arrested because he was a confederate. But he was trying to regenerate flesh, and keep decomposition from happening. Which is really funny, because I don’t think he had a daughter. I ran his and I don’t think he had a daughter. It doesn’t look like he ever had one. He had three sons. So… was it a daughter-in-law? Was it a cousin? So right there was already a stumbling block in the legend.


Need More on Madame Lalaurie? 

Visit and the Mad Madame Lalaurie Facebook Page!


The author at the entrance to the Lalaurie Mansion.

The author at the entrance to the Lalaurie Mansion.

Victoria Cosner Lovehas spent the better part of thirty years poking around graveyards and digging for lost pieces of history. She is especially fond of delving into missing pieces of women’s history. She coauthored a book,Women Under the Third Reich (Greenwood Publishing), and now has turned her attention to the infamous Madame Lalaurie and her incredible family. A longtime member of the Association for Gravestone Studies, she has worked in public history facilities for more than twenty years and has her master’s degree in American studies, specializing in cultural landscapes of garden cemeteries. Source:






Mad Madame Lalaurie: An Interview with Author, Victoria Cosner Love, Part 1

Kathy Bates playing Delphine Lalaurie in American Horror Story: Coven. Kathy used Victoria's book to research the role. (Photo via Entertainment Weekly.

Kathy Bates playing Delphine Lalaurie in American Horror Story: Coven. Bates used Victoria Cosner Love’s book to research the role. (Photo via Entertainment Weekly.)

If you’ve ever visited New Orleans, you’ve almost certainly been introduced to the story and the legend. But even if you didn’t know who Delphine Lalaurie was prior to October 9, 2013, chances are the premier of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story: Coven (the third season of the hit FX horror anthology), or at least the water cooler discussions the next day, introduced you to this hauntingly fascinating woman.  

On a beautiful and sunny Thursday in June, I met my new friend, Victoria Cosner Love, at Picasso’s Coffee House  on historic Main Street in St. Charles, Missouri. We’ve met before, but this time I was honored to have the opportunity to interview her about her fascinating book, Mad Madame Lalaurie: New Orleans’ Most Famous Murderess Revealed, which as you’ll learn below, was used by the brilliant Kathy Bates to research her role. As you’ll also see, Victoria is so very passionate about history and how we view it. Her and I could hang out and talk all day. 


Part One of My Interview with Author, Victoria Cosner Love

For Part Two, click HERE

Patrick Keller: So for those readers who may be new to Madame Lalaurie or this story, is it possible to give us a quick glimpse into the life of this strangely fascinating woman?

Victoria Cosner Love: Delphine Lalaurie was a Creole socialite, and the incidents take place in 1834. That’s when it culminated. And she had been married to extremely influential men. She was from a very influential, early New Orleans family. And in 1834 the house caught on fire and everyone kept asking where the slaves were and one of the judges that was a neighbor, broke into where they said the slaves were, and they found seven people who had obviously been, you know, malnourished, tortured, and kept there for a very, very long time. And so they start clearing everybody out. The mob starts growing. Madame Lalaurie and her slimy husband—not that I have any opinions—go on the road and disappear from history, leaving the people there of New Orleans to be angry, and burn down the house. And when you go on the ghost tours, they tell a very, very vivid story of medical experiments, of… I mean just really nasty, pealing skin back type of medical experiments. And for a woman to do that, it was fascinating, because women generally just don’t do that. They have their own ways of torturing men, and it intrigued me, and so that’s where the chase of the story started.

PK: Cool! So obviously I have a lot of questions about the book, but how do you go about researching for a project like this? This was your first, right?

VCL: No.

PK: Like this? No? [referring to Mad Madame Lalaurie]

VCL: Well like this, yes. This is my first true crime. I wrote a bio-bibliography on women under both sides of the Third Reich [Women under the Third Reich: A Biographical Dictionary]. It’s a library book. But we found all these incredible women, and when you go to like the holocaust museum in D.C., which is where I worked for a long time, there’s nothing in there about the women. And so this whole women’s history piece of forgotten history is what fascinates me. In my job I’m a historian. So in my geek world I’m a historian and in my job I’m a historian, and the women generally are left out, along with, you know, the homosexual/transsexual community, along with the people of different colors, along with… they’re all left out. White man wins, white man gets to do it. And you know, this is not mocking you, sir [referring to yours truly]… and your white manness. [We both have a laugh.] But we’ll let that go. But, you know, so why is a woman doing this, in 1830, when she’s filthy rich, she’s rich in her own right, she has a young husband who is a doctor, who happened to specialize in alternative medicine, e.g. straightening spines, among other things. He also had a dental background, which I found fascinating… [I interrupt] …because that was just creepy.

PK: I needed to get to know him probably. (Referring to my scoliosis, while giggling.)

VCL: I don’t know. You should see the… did you see the picture of the… [An illustration of a torture victim in the book.] I don’t think so. I think that you’d want to just live the way you are. So when I started researching it, there were two issues. One is that a lot of it was in French, and luckily my husband is fluent in French. So I felt like the dog in the [Beggin’ Strips] commercial. What does it say? What does it say? But all the court documents were in English, because at that point we are in the United States in New Orleans, even though many people didn’t believe that, nor would stand by it, so you have everything in French and English going on. Lucky for me, I had the internet. I only had to go down to New Orleans a couple times. When I found out there was no book on her, I was… like I said, how can you have tours that go by there every single day, six and seven times a day, and nobody’s ever written on her? And I got asked by a lot of New Orleans people… [as I] I live here in St. Louis. And they’d say why did you write this?, and my answer was always why didn’t you? You know? Why didn’t a New Orleans person write this book? So I started looking at the internet and met some fascinating people, including a guy whose job is making floats for the Mardi Gras parade, which goes into that whole Scooby Doo thing. I don’t know if you know this, but there’s an old floats museum. My co-author and I always wanted to go, because that’s like the Scooby Doo setting… So it led from one thing to another and one thing to another, and then I found out that there is a collection here in St. Louis, and the collection broke the story of where she went, what she thought about it. There were handwritten documents in there from her to her lawyer, who was her son-in-law, who is from the Delassus family. But Delassus, Missouri… her son-in-law found that. He was her lawyer after they fled. And there was a very clear message in her letters that she didn’t know how bad it was. And that led me to start thinking about who was really perpetrating the crimes, or what her mental illness was. If she was doing it and she didn’t get it, then you have this whole mental illness thing, which is another part of history that is always dropped out. And if she did not do it, who was? And why didn’t she know about the true extent of it? And that’s where a lot of conjecture had to come in.

PK: So you found, probably, that not many people knew that those documents were here, because people wouldn’t have probably jumped to think that they were here, would they?

VCL: You know, it’s kind of one of those mixed bags, because if you read the documents, you kind of are disappointed about the story, because it led us to believe that maybe she didn’t do it. And nobody wanted to hear that. But the one guy did an article on it and put it out in the Missouri history museum news, and nobody knew who Madame Lalaurie was. Nobody cared. So it was like this little gem. And I mean, I was standing there, like I said, drooling—they almost kicked me out—on these handwritten documents from Delphine Lalaurie, talking about going back to New Orleans and that she wanted her affairs put in [order]. And then letters from her children saying Mom is crazy. She cannot go back. She cannot go back. The catastrophe of 1834 and the family dynamics… it’s an incredible collection. And it was here in St. Louis, so I didn’t have to travel. So when I did travel down, I went to the historic New Orleans Collection, and they had the blueprints that showed the original Lalaurie Mansion. They had all kinds of stuff. It was just incredible. I found people who were related to her and the McCartys… Yeah. It was an incredible journey.  

PK: In the book there is a lot of discussion about what Madame Lalaurie looked like and the artists who have painted her since her death. What do you think about Kathy Bates’ character and how she was portrayed in Season 3 of American Horror Story? And what are the chances that they used your book as a resource?

VCL: We know that she used our book. She said so in the Rolling Stone magazine, and truthfully, I could have died happy right there. To have Kathy Bates even know that my book, and Lorelei, we both really dorked out big time. It was really, really flattering. Of course we tried to reach out to Kathy Bates. [Her] security guards and stuff were very quick to tell us that… we probably wouldn’t hear from her. But that stalking aside, it was just incredible. That being said, Madame Lalaurie was supposed to be vividly beautiful. There are stories about the Queen of Spain saying, You’re so beautiful that I’ll give you everything that you want, and that they chose Kathy Bates because of her ability to be horrifying, was really cool, that they stepped outside of what could have been or not been a beautiful woman. Kathy Bates is beautiful, but she was not playing a beautiful woman. I mean, nobody plays a sociopath like Kathy Bates. And we were thrilled when they picked them. And everybody asked us, I thought Madame Lalaurie was supposed to be this… and Kathy Bates did that in her flashbacks with the, you know, the demeanor, and the clothes… We loved it. And a lot of people ask the question about, you know, Does it make you mad that somebody does a character and makes, like, her so horrifying, that they went for the legend rather than the fact? And no, because that’s what drew me in. I like the legend, and then when I found out the facts, I was even more fascinated. So as a historian, you want people to question history, whether it’s for good or for bad. It’s the same thing with [when] Pocahontas came out. And…  to the paranormal craze vs. the Disney craze, it’s kind of insulting, but it’s, you know I got the same questions. People would come in at the Holocaust museum and ask about Pocahontas. And then you were able to point them to a true and false story of who she was and what she did, and what’s historical and what’s Disney, and you know, why she was built like a Barbie doll. And you know, but it’s the same as why Madame Lalaurie was glorified as beautiful, you know. So I was thrilled, basically… and geeky.

PK: I would be too.

VCL: Oh man.

PK: Before American Horror Story and before I read your book, I knew about Delphine from reading about her in a few different, you know, just small segments in a few books. I did not, however, realize that Marie Laveau was a real person until reading your book. For some reason I assumed she was made up! Can you tell us a little about the relationship that these ladies were likely to have had?

VCL: As fun as it is, remember Marie Laveau was the Voodoo queen. She was the ultimate Voodoo queen. Her legacy of magic and of Voodoo is incredible. There were three Marie Laveaus, so it always looked like she remained ageless, which is one of the things that American Horror Story really did with Angela Bassett is kept her ageless, and they said through magic, rather than in real life. The three generations very clearly put themselves into power to keep that illusion that the woman was timeless and that it was her power. She’s an incredible woman. She used a lot of her everyday stuff, like she had some beauty shops; she had some other types of businesses, to pull like secrets. And then you can take the secret…  and so she would come to your house and say, you know, I think that your daughter is having an affair with some, you know, slimy man. And here’s a voodoo thing to stop it from happening. So you would purchase that. And then she’d go to the slimy man and say, He’s going to stop you from seeing his daughter, and sell him one. And then she’d go to the daughter and sell her one. And then she’d come back and break the spell for you. And so she just made six transactions on your troubles, basically, that someone spilled while they were getting their hair done in the beauty salon. She was brilliant. She’s an incredible businesswoman. She marketed herself brilliantly. Angela Bassett is probably the best Marie Laveau I’ve ever seen, written or visually. I was in awe of her. So Marie Laveau’s connection to Madame Lalaurie? There’s a story that Marie Laveau got a devil baby. And the devil baby of New Orleans is very intriguing and we make fun of it when we shouldn’t, because it was probably a Harlequin baby, which is a rare disease that makes them scream and screech. But if we’re going to do the paranormal devil baby, he’s really cool, because he growls and grunts. You know, and supposedly she asked Madame Lalaurie to be his godmother. I didn’t find anything that stated that there was any connection between Madame Lalaurie and Marie Laveau. There is a chance that they had a connection, because obviously they had their hair done and Marie Laveau owned almost all of the black-owned businesses. But more likely than not, she had her own girl to do it, which goes to another story of true or false, whether she threw the kid off of the top of the roof, and whether that’s reenacted every night for all to see, which I never got to.

PK: Yeah

VCL: So short answer? I don’t think they had a connection.

PK: [Laughs] Ok. But maybe that’s another book coming or something.

VCL: It might be. There’s a woman that did two books, one on Marie Laveau and one on Delphine Lalaurie. Her name is Carolyn [Morrow] Long. Her research is impeccable. She got incredible grants… She out researched me. They’re very academic. She published after us, because she got the grant to go to Cuba, and I’m jealous… and bitter… I think she debunks the whole… that there was ever a connection documented.


Don’t forget to check out Part Two of my interview with Victoria! 

Need more on Madame Lalaurie? Visit and the Mad Madame Lalaurie Facebook Page!


The author at the entrance to the Lalaurie Mansion.

The author at the entrance to the Lalaurie Mansion.

Victoria Cosner Love has spent the better part of thirty years poking around graveyards and digging for lost pieces of history. She is especially fond of delving into missing pieces of women’s history. She coauthored a book, Women Under the Third Reich (Greenwood Publishing), and now has turned her attention to the infamous Madame Lalaurie and her incredible family. A longtime member of the Association for Gravestone Studies, she has worked in public history facilities for more than twenty years and has her master’s degree in American studies, specializing in cultural landscapes of garden cemeteries. Source:


What?! The Big Séance Podcast? What are your thoughts?

For several months now I’ve been itching to try my hand at podcasting. I never miss a Voices Podcast by Randall Keller. I’ve been a big fan of Jim Harold’s podcasts for years, and I recently enrolled in his podcasting course. As it is my summer break, I’ve had a lot more time to focus on blogging and the paranerdal things that you know I love. I’ve been playing around with some ideas, recording some practice runs, and of course learning a lot from a master in the field, Jim Harold.

I’ve not determined that I will for sure kick this project off, but if I do, it’ll be before the summer is over. I’m having so much fun playing around and planning (which might accidentally be why I haven’t been seen around here for a few days), but I know it’s a big commitment… and it has to be spectacular, obviously.

What are your thoughts? The Big Séance Podcast would probably be produced a couple of times a month and supplement the blog that you’re reading now, and would feature guest co-hosts and/or guest interviews on most episodes.

Would you listen?




Ouija: A New Movie Coming In October!


There’s a new movie about the famous talking board that is due to be released in October! If you’re like me, you’re surprised that you didn’t even know this was a thing. And unless you had a date at a movie theater this last weekend, it’s likely you haven’t seen the trailer, since it hasn’t been released online.

Appropriately named, Ouija was directed by Stiles White and stars Olivia Cooke (who is fantastic in Bates Motel), Ana Coto, Daren Kagasoff (The Secret Life of the American Teenager), Bianca A. Santos, Douglas Smith (Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters), Matthew Settle (Gossip Girl), Vivis Colombettie (Paranormal Activity 2, Patch Adams), and Robyn Lively (The Karate Kid, Part III, Teen Witch), according to IMDb.


From our 2nd Annual Thanksgiving Ouija Session.

From our 2nd Annual Thanksgiving Ouija Session.


Hasbro, the owner and manufacturer of the board, has been working since 2008 to get this movie produced, according to Wikipedia. Remember that if you see the film. The Wikipedia page also describes it as a “low-budget film” and mentions that it only started production seven months ago. Currently, the film’s website seems to be… well, a little under construction, and you won’t find much more on their certified Facebook page, either, other than the lovely banner I’ve included above. That, of course, could change by the time you see this.  

I happened to catch the trailer before watching the painfully sad The Fault In Our Stars on Saturday. It did look spooky and exciting. But where’s the trailer online? According to, this is “an unusual move these days”. In this trending social media age, it seems very bizarre to me that they haven’t already made it available for tweens (and nerds like me) all over the country to “like” and “share”. Clearly, the trailer exists. When it is released, I’ll do my best to embed it right below this paragraph. 

UPDATE! The trailer is here and embedded below! Also, check out my most recent post on the film HERE

I’m not going to lie, I’m very excited about this movie (duh!), but I have mixed feelings. Most likely, this will once again make “experts” out of people who will say it’s an evil tool. And how will they know? Because they saw this movie, or because they used a Ouija board “one night at a party when I was a kid.” As I’ve mentioned several times recently, over the past two years I’ve experimented off and on with the Ouija board under several different conditions, and it’s so very exciting to stare at a piece of cardboard and a chunk of plastic that does nothing.

Does anyone have any thoughts? Will I see you at the theater?  


You might also like: 

The Spirits of Ouija: Four Decades of Communication (Big Séance)

The Spirits of Ouija: Four Decades of Communication (Big Séance)

Fear and Spirit Communication (Big Séance)

Fear and Spirit Communication (Big Séance)

Thanksgiving Ouija Session 2013 (Big Séance)

Thanksgiving Ouija Session 2013 (Big Séance)


The Anderson House and the Battle of Lexington State Historic Site


This mansion, known as the Oliver Anderson house, was built in 1853, and is such a familiar landmark to me. After all, I was born in a hospital just a few hundred feet away from the road behind it. The house and the battlefield are now one of many Missouri State Historic Sites.



The battle, sometimes known as “The Battle of the Hemp Bales”, lasted 3 September days in 1861. The Anderson family was thrown out of their home by Federal troops, though the house changed hands several times over the three days. For the most part it was used as a field hospital for the wounded.



There are several ghost stories and legends attached to this home, yet whether the mansion is haunted or not is something the state is tight-lipped about. Over the years lots of people have worked in and around the house though, and it isn’t hard to find someone ready to share their experiences. I have childhood friends who grew up in this neighborhood, and between the house and the battlefield, they say strange things happened all the time. Obviously I’ve requested access to conduct a paranormal investigation, but Missouri State Historic Sites doesn’t go for things like that.

When I was growing up, a local Kansas City news station would often come to Lexington around Halloween to reenact ghost stories for segments on the news. In 1989, one of them was filmed here at the Anderson House. I was able to find the 1989 KMBC 9 News segment, and it is embedded below.




For most of us that grew up in Lexington, the back of the house is actually the view that you see first, since the front of the house faces the river bluff. The back yard leading to the battlefield looks a lot different now then it did back then. They used to hold the battle reenactments right on site every couple of years. They’d even use the Anderson house as a backdrop and sometimes a character in the drama. Fortunately, though it bugs some, they’ve redesigned the yard surrounding the house to look the way it would have originally, including prairie and a wooded area surrounding it, so it can no longer be seen from the road. I think it’s a really cool decision that has taken time and effort to achieve. However, it disturbs me that in my lifetime a whole stretch of wooded area has had the opportunity to grow and block the view of the Anderson House. I guess that means I’m old. One thing that does disappoint me is the fact that they no longer do the battle reenactments on site. They have them nearby on the riverfront. It is simply not the same.



Imagine it being the 1800s and this being your front yard. In those days, the river down the hill would have had major steamboat traffic. I love this shot. At the time I took this picture, there was actually a couple napping just over the hill.



I found these wildflowers growing in between the battlefield and the house. Unfortunately, my photo of the battlefield didn’t turn out, but you’re likely to find photos on one of the links I’ve included below.



Below is the cover of the brand new book about the Battle of Lexington, written by Larry Wood. I haven’t seen it yet, but Larry asked my permission to include one of my older photos in the book, a photo from the Machpelah Cemetery in town.  Click on the cover below for more information on its Amazon page.




For more information, including many other fascinating photos, visit The Battle of Lexington Historic Site on the web.


You might also like these Big Séance posts related to Lexington:

Images of America: Lexington, Missouri 
Verna Marie Owen (1859-1986), a Lexington Missouri Teacher 
Do Spirits Reside at Papa Jack’s Pizza in Lexington, Missouri? 
Dr. Silkini’s Ghost Show: Do the Dead Return? Spooks Sit Beside You! 
Return to the Old Catholic Cemetery in Lexington, Missouri 
The Iron Fence and the Family Plot




Demons, Possession, and the Book I Almost Didn’t Finish


A photo I took from inside the Lemp Mansion in St. Louis, Missouri.

A photo I took from inside the Lemp Mansion in St. Louis, Missouri.

I’ve done a pretty good job of avoiding the subject of demons or demonic possession on this blog. This isn’t due to being afraid of the topic or needing to leave the closet light on when I talk about it, but because the BS-o-meter tends to immediately start flashing in my head when the topic is brought up. It’s not something I do on purpose, and it’s not that I’m trying to be a jerk, it just doesn’t resonate with me, I guess. I’ve always done my best to not offend anyone in discussions about their beliefs, or when people recount their demonic experiences. As Jim Harold famously says, “I keep an open mind, but not so open that my brains fall out.” Most of the time I just listen and try to see the activity as simply paranormal, just like any other experience that may or may not be explainable, rather than attach a demonic name or entity to it. 


I admit it! 

But I think I need to finally come clean and admit that I have issues believing in the concept. Oh I know what some of you will use to argue already. Light can’t exist without darkness. A belief in angels requires a belief in demons. Those arguments sound nice, but they don’t settle anything for me, and to be fair, I have the same issues wrapping my head around angels sometimes too, with their names and their color coded wings. For a while last year I was involved in a few phone conversations with a popular television production company about the possibility of being involved in a pilot about angels and investigating whether or not they really existed. I’m not sure where the project ended up going, but many of the personalities they were interested in just had a knowing that angels existed, and that’s not what they were looking for. They wanted someone who needed the proof. It was exciting to be approached, but I’m not sure the topic of angels would have been enough to keep me focused or serious for a whole series. One thing is for sure, though. I’d have to see some evidence before I could confidently say I believed in angels. Now ask me if I believe in spirit guides. (Well… I can’t wait all night for you to ask, but just know the answer is YES. My regular readers already knew this.)

Oh I believe in evil, in a sense that there are bad people, good people, and a whole spectrum of people in between. Those same people may just end up being either the innocent ghost or the trouble-making poltergeist in a haunted house. Many people believe, as I do, that we’re placed here on earth, maybe more than once, to learn lessons and allow our souls to grow spiritually. Perhaps these “bad people” are here to be a part of those lessons, and maybe their struggle with being bad has something to do with their own lesson. But believing in an inhuman demonic entity, or the devil himself, is something that I admittedly struggle to take seriously. Some popular paranormal television shows haven’t helped my opinion, either. Often those suddenly possessed investigators or home owners seem to look like they’re simply starving for attention, and oh look, there just happens to be a camera rolling! The spotlight is on me! I don’t mean to be flip, but that’s how it appears. I have absolutely no doubt that spirit can make use of our energy, or manipulate the world around us, and I believe in some cases a person with a gift can be used as a channel for spirit. But sometimes I wonder if people confuse being mentally unstable, or just plain drama, with demon possession. 


The book

This post was originally intended to be a book review, but like it or not, I’ve always had a policy about not mentioning a book by name if I don’t have many good things to say about it. Therefore, I’ll be somewhat cryptic in talking about it, and I hope that isn’t seen as poor taste. I’m far from being qualified to be an English teacher, but if I have the urge to take out a red pen to correct grammar and spelling in every chapter of your book, you simply didn’t try very hard to edit it, and so that certainly means I’m going to have a hard time taking you seriously or trusting your qualifications. The book contains story after story of what is supposed to be taken from actual case files of demonic activity, but they just sounded like good fictional storytelling to me… and I’m not big on reading fiction. I simply don’t believe much of those events happened. And people shouldn’t be led to believe that a simple creek, a rap on the wall in response to a question, or an occasional shadow is a reason to convert to Catholicism, get a crucifix for every room, or look for an exorcist.

If you know me, you know that I can’t NOT finish a book, even if I’m not enjoying it. I take pride in finishing the last word and shelving it ceremoniously. But for the first time in years, I considered not finishing this one. I felt a little silly spending the time on it. It took me forever, but I finished it, sighed, and moved on to the next book on my “to be read” shelf.



Like some things I’ve brought up in this blog, I might change my mind about all of this in a year or two, or maybe even next week! If I’m suddenly involved in an investigation where I have pea soup spat by someone walking across the ceiling while cursing me in 12 different languages, you’ll be the first to hear from me. Until then, this is where I am with it all. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not out in search of evil. I’ve always preferred pleasant spirits “from the light”, but until I’ve experienced it, I refuse to make it something dramatic to fear.


Now it’s your turn to tell me why I’m right or wrong.

I know that many of my readers will disagree with me on this. As I say to my students, “you’ll still like me, right?”

As a counter to probably every opinion I just gave here, you may be interested in checking out the ongoing Hidden Astral World series from Gary Leigh’s Psychic Empaths blog, where he quite literally introduces you to Omen, who he claims is a demonic entity. Gary is a loyal reader of the Big Séance and I have a lot of respect for him, so I hope he chooses to still like me after this post. He’s writing about fascinating stuff. I’m just not sure where I am with it all or how to respond. Go check it out!  


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Categorizing Hauntings (Big Séance)

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