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Help for the Haunted and Vera Van Slyke: My Interview with Tim Prasil – The Big Séance Podcast: My Paranormal World #22

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Help for the Haunted: A Decade of Vera Van Slyke Ghostly Mysteries (1899-1909) by Tim Prasil, The Big Séance Podcast

 

Tim Prasil, writer and author, shares how he inherited the stories of Vera Van Slyke, one of America’s earliest paranormal investigators, from an ancestor who chronicled them. Find these stories in his soon-to-be-published book, Help for the Haunted: A Decade of Vera Van Slyke Ghostly Mysteries (1899-1909) by Emby Press. Who is Finbar Kelly? Tim explains. We also spend a bit of time talking about our common love of cemetery photography. 

 

 

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Tim Prasil, Help for the Haunted, The Big Seance PodcastFor More on Tim Prasil, or for up-to-date release information about the book:

Like Tim’s Facebook page.

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Visit TimPrasil.wordpress.com or GhostlyMysteries.wordpress.com.

 

Thanks, Tim!

 

The Big Séance Podcast can be found right here, on iTunes, and on Stitcher. Please subscribe, submit a rating, or share with a fellow paranerd! Do you have any comments or feedback? Please contact me at Patrick@BigSeance.com. 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!

 


Halloween Merrymaking: Celebrating the Holiday’s Past, and a Beautiful Interview with Writer, Diane C. Arkins

 

Halloween Merrymaking, and Interview with writer, Diane C. ArkinsAfter reading Diane C. Arkins’ Halloween Merrymaking: An Illustrated Celebration of Fun, Food, and Frolics from Halloweens Past, I absolutely knew I wanted to reach out to her. I wanted to hear about her collections, but also wanted to let her know just how inspired I was, as a fellow super fan of Halloween. For years, Diane’s articles have appeared in newspapers and magazines, such as USA Today, Chicago Sun-Times, Country Living, Better Homes & Gardens, Seventeen, and Woman’s Day, to name a few.  Her article, “The Trick or Treat Trails”, just appeared in the Sept/Oct issue of Good Old Days magazine. (Diane’s complete bio can be found at the end of the interview.)

From the preface of Halloween Merrymaking, you’ll find that it’s “a book that will acquaint you with how Halloween was celebrated in America from its early popular incarnations in the 1870s to the early 1930s, the latter decades in particular a period that many consider to be the holiday’s ‘Golden Age.'” If you know me, you know that simply mentioning that time period is enough to get me hooked. But the highlight of the book is the number of vintage photos of celebrations, decorations, postcards, and even complete articles from the earliest magazines to print information on the topic! Much of it is like a how-t0 for throwing a historically accurate “Golden Age” Halloween party. And all of this comes from the author’s amazing collection! 

Fortunately for us, Ms. Arkins agreed to an interview for the blog, and I am incredibly honored to be able to share her beautiful and heartfelt responses. Thank you, Diane!

 

My Interview with Diane C. Arkins

 

What were your favorite costumes from childhood? 

    I grew up in the late 1950s/early 1960s, an era when observances of Halloween were merrily gear toward childrens’ amusements.  When I was young I was always intrigued by the imagery and forms around me, and the place that captured my interest the most was the Ben Franklin 5-and-10-cent store.  The place was always chock-a-block with anything that anyone would want but until I was around 8 or 9 years old, Ben Franklin at Halloween time was THE place I  wanted to be:  there was Brach’s mellowcreme candies shaped like jack-o’lanterns (hereafter referred to as JOLs), cats, grinning moons, tiny owls, maple-flavored little cider jugs and the like that were as fun to play with as they were to eventually eat.  I was captivated by the little wax JOLs and Halloween cat figures made by Gurley Novelty Company – each wax novelty contained a yummy piece of striped orange-and-black hard candy.

    There were irresistible tiny cardboard sets of grease paint that could turn trick-or-treaters to clowns, princesses or pirates and an abundance of eye-catching decorations – like the rolls of black cat and witch face rolls of crepe paper and die-cut wall decorations of owls, cats, witches, haunted houses that I purchased,all by myself with funds from the Brownie troop to decorate the group’s Halloween bash… and, of course, the boxed costumes branded as Collegetown and Ben Cooper.  The store-bought outfits had a cheesy and flimsy feel to them but they were “must-have” attire regardless.  Some years back my EBAY collecting led me to a mint-in-box glitter-adorned Ben Cooper brand BLUE FAIRY identical to the one I wore in the photo in the TRICK-OR-TREAT TRAILS story photo.  Back in 1960 I was devastated when I lost the magic wand on the way back home from Kindergarten show-and-wear but I now enjoy it when the complete boxed set is displayed in one area of my year-round Halloween collection.

    Some of the Halloween “outfits” – so referred-to as they weren’t always costumes per se – that I recall best were the ones devised by my non-sewing mother and memorialized in the brilliant hues of Kodak 35mm slide film.  I thoroughly cherish those pictures!  One early year Mom dressed us up in crisp white blouses and orange crepe skirts adorned with (so classic!) die-cut cardboard Halloween motif decorations – interestingly this style of Halloween attire is in the style of similar vintage early 20th century home-made party attire where abundant home seamstresses crafted simple frocks in orange, black and/or orange-&-black patterned fabric and adorned them with Halloween icons in either fabric or cardboard form.

    Aside from the visual thrills to be found at the dime store I just adored being out amongst the virtual pumpkin patch filled with lit JOLs set up throughout the neighborhood at night for trick-or-treating (for some reason unknown to me we went out on October 30th which they called “Beggar’s Night”… maybe I should GOOGLE the term?).  A thick blanket of crackling dry leaves covering my Mary Janes (shoes) and an intoxicating aroma of burning leaves permeating the air added to the mysterious ambiance.  It is no exaggeration to describe the scene as utterly magical… some special fairyland real-life moments that could overtrump saccharine visions of Disneyland in a snap.  Even as a young child I was especially attracted to the feel and mood of Halloween. 

    Interestingly my research into early 20th century merrymaking has shown me how the boomer-era kids’ birthday parties I attended as a child seem to have been almost exactly mimic the patterns set out by those early magazine mavens such as The Modern Priscilla, The Woman’s Home Companion and the like: a festive overall setting with plenty of decorations; a crepe (or later tissue) paper tablecloth with tiny crepe paper nut cups (de rigueur in 1910 I personally never liked that omnipresent offering of salted peanuts and pillow mints – yuk!) and paper or cardboard hats; a meal with cake; party games with prizes! and parting souvenirs.  Naturally the one Halloween-themed kiddy party I attended back in 1962 – complete with its quintessential feather-tipped blow-out noisemakers –  was my favorite.

 

Your book includes such a wealth of photos and vintage items.  I could  spend all day just looking at every detail of the photos.  Are these from your own collection?  How did you find them?

    I do enjoy my collection of vintage Halloween treasures by handling them and losing myself in their charms when I appreciate them.

    Luckily for those lovers of Halloween memorabilia like myself, writing a book serves as a great excuse to add to and/or splurge on vintage treasures for one’s personal collection.  With the rare exception of a photo or two I shot at the home of a fellow collector, all of the vintage treasures – from paper ephemera to 19th-century magazines – depicted in Hal Merrymaking come from my personal collection. 

    I began collecting illustrated Halloween postcards dating from that items’ “Golden Age” (approx. 1907-1918) during the mid-1980s after I happened upon a few buying leads in magazines for collectors.   (Artistically drawn postcards for any occasion imaginable flooded the mails over the first two decades of the 1900s.  Many of the cards were exquisitely printed in Germany and boasted deeply-embossed details that added to their charms.  The cards remain highly collectible with today’s collectors and I’ve used holdings to illustrate the other books I published with Pelican: Halloween: Romantic Art and Customs of Yesteryear and The Glorious Fourth of July: Old-Fashioned Treats and Treasures From America’s Patriotic Past.

    Before the advent of internet buying and selling I added to my collection of vintage holiday postcards via mail auctions (run through postcard collecting magazines) and browsing for hours at postcard shows (these are still held around the country throughout the year).  In later years I acquired a few vintage Halloween treasures from (again) mail-order purchases (often run in publications like The Antique Trader) and a few well-publicized auctions of collections being disbanding.

   Regrettably the area I live in wasn’t awash with antique stores and I missed out on the likely relative bargains that vintage Halloween fans could happen upon when antiquing in the 1980s and early 1990s.  Once the internet entered the scene, both sellers and potential increasingly flocked to online sites – most popularly EBAY – and soon it became a snap to acquire heart’s desires limited only by one’s pocketbook.  I confess that I DO NOT have a Donald Trump-like bank account by any stretch of the imagination but I have, over many years, been able to build a collection of Halloween and other vintage treasures that I thoroughly enjoy.

 

Knowing what you know about the history of decorating and entertaining for Halloween, what is the holiday like in your own home?

    Like other collectors of vintage Halloween treasures I actually display many items in my home on a year-round basis.  My husband is quite the self-taught wood worker and he has built several wall cabinets and a handsome glass-topped display coffee table for me to display paper items.  I have a good-sized floor cabinet to house larger, more dimensional items and one bedroom wall is filled with framed tear-outs of pages of eye-catching Halloween paper dolls (delightful!) and magazine covers.  To me, vintage Halloween artwork doesn’t get any better than the dust-cover illustration (from the Oct 1931 issue of Holland’s magazine) on Merrymaking.

    Seasonally I usually like to have pumpkins, pumpkins and pumpkins of all sizes, shapes and colors around the house.  The more unusual pumpkins I’ve been traveling to buy since 2001 come in the most intriguing colors:  the deep red-orange of the rouge d’etampes, or “Cinderella” pumpkin; the pale orange Long Island Cheese; the “blue” (pastel gray if you ask me) Jarrahdale; the deep orange-vein patterned on cream of “One Too Much” and so much more.  I usuallyattempt to grow my own “batwing” mini pumpkins (ones with “dripping” deep green accents that mimic bat wings) in my garden but this year’s crop was a flop!

    I also like to use mini pumpkins and/or colorful gourds to craft “pumpkin people,” “gourd gremlins” or  “veggie people” (as they are most popularly known).  My inspiration when I first started making these little charmers was the “pumpkin people” who starred in many of my favorite vintage Halloween postcards (see page 52 of Hal Merrymaking for an example).  So fun!

    Inside I would display more of my cardboard die-cut decorations in windows, on walls, clipped to draperies or perhaps attached to some wire-and-twine faux spider webs I got at KMart.  Although I belong to the group of collectors who consider damage to be acceptable when acquiring vintage pieces (to me they show “character” or the “battle scars” incurred in decorating duty over the decades) you wouldn’t want to do any more damage yourself!  The very old German pieces are really beautifully-crafted of VERY heavy pressed die-cut cardboard that gives them amazing texture and depth… they are truly works of art. The little photo of a German die-cut that appears on page 25 of Merrymaking was an especially large one that measured probably approx. 14″x14″.  Most pieces are far smaller, i.e. a jack-o-‘lantern (or JOL) face that measures around 6″ across.

    Each season I usually send copies or reproductions of vintage Halloween postcards (a companion tear-off postcard book to my first Halloween book is just one source for such cards) or standard Halloween greeting cards… and I often like to make very special little treat bags, or “veggie people,” to give to people who’ve been especially kind to me during the year.  My oversized frosted JOL face cookies are truly scrumptious but the problem is that they are SO GOOD that they all disappear before the mixing dishes make it out of the dishwasher!

 

What kinds of things would we be surprised to find haven’t changed since the Golden Age of Halloween?

    I would venture that is was during the first decade of the 1900s that women’s magazines became to more regularly devoted counseling their readers with regard to home entertaining.  This was a time when a page or two began to be devoted to true soups-to-nuts party planning: invitations, decor (both home-made or more increasingly store-bought), menus and recipes, costuming (applicable back then to more than Halloween attire), party games, favors and party gifts.  I can name some names of women who were the “Martha Stewarts” of their times… indeed they probably invented the genre of party maven!?   

    Nothing has changed in essence that people still want to entertain their family and friends, they want to do it well and they are always looking for some inspiration – whether its cutting-edge new or dependably old stand-by – to guide them.  As always, the differences are in the details.

    One “detail” that remains as true in 2014 as it was back in 1914, for example, is that people like cupcakes.  The problem in putting up the 1906 illustration of cupcakes on Pinterest today might lie with the fact that a lot of folks online now tend to make uninformed, thoughtless snap judgments on things and they would fail to understand or appreciate the history or importance of the old illustration… instead of thinking “wow… that was how thinks used to be” and consequently “that was how WE got from THERE to the-more-improved-NOW,” they would simply dismiss the picture by saying “LOL – it isn’t that picture (stupid)(lame)(name your own insult).”

    Reminder that the merrymaking we enjoy TODAY came from the often rudimentary ideas developed in the past.

 

Your book made me want to pick a year, and plan  a historically accurate Halloween party, using your book as a template!  Have you done this?  Have you heard of people trying this?

    I can’t say that I hosted any Halloween events based upon my books (sadly I am woefully short of people who might attend and/or actually appreciate such efforts) nor have I been aware of anyone who’ve hosted their own vintage-style bashes.  I have, however, imagined how wonderfully such an event must have been for partygoers “back in the day” and have also imagined how an all-stops-pulled-out party could be set up at the handsome old Victorian mansion-turned-special-events-restaurant where we enjoy our Thanksgiving dinners.  The place is spectacular and I usually request a table located in the front turret so things seem both elegant and “just like being at Grandma’s house.”  We’ve been going there for many years now and I CAN imagine PRECISELY how everything could be made up to be absolutely breathtaking! 

 

How would you compare the Halloween entertaining articles from around the turn of the century to the articles I see in line at the grocery store today?

    Well to my mind the vintage periodicals win any comparison on just about every point (and mind you: I hate to bash modern print media in just about any way, shape and form.  I truly mourn the loss of just about anything from The Ladies’ Home Journal and McCalls to the not-quite-daily mail-delivered Christian Science Monitor) but today’s magazines seem to have an edge over vintage ones only when it comes to color illustrations. 

    The early 20th century magazines gave us those fabulous original guidelines for celebrating our holidays with panache.  They educated us, often for the first time, on many of the old customs that led us to understand why we celebrated at all!  And they did it so elegantly.  Compare this 1910 quote from The Housekeeper magazine that appeared in Merrymaking –

            “October, the golden month, when Nature having reaped a wonder harvest of beauty, wastes it like a spendthrift for our joy!  What hostess can fail of success in entertaining this month when there are autumn leaves, flowers, ‘golden glorious,’ and vines flushing with crimson, to bedeck the table?”

– to, well, again anything?

    Today’s magazines are comparatively much smaller than most vintage periodicals.  During Halloween’s “Golden Era,” the many, many more magazines for the lady of the home measured in at a jumbo 14″x17″.  This oversized format allows for far space to be devoted to editorial content… resulting in longer, more detailed information being presented in more beautifully-worded prose.  The paucity of real photographs also allowed to more words to be presented instead.

    For its part Martha Stewart Living, for example, does have an edge over most monthly magazines in the holiday decorating score but it seems that her Halloween focus of late has honed in on dark silhouettes of ravens, decorative (empty) bottles of POISON or WITCH’s POTION, haggly old witches (NOTE: at least 50% of early 20th century “witches” were depicted as beauties on postcards) and the like.  So she does a great job when it comes to inventiveness… she simply represents a different style to what I prefer.         

    For me suggestions for making “mummy hot dogs” out of crescent rolls and red hots pale against vintage inspiration for using hollowed-out squashes to serve condiments.  And this year one highly-regarded magazine presented decorative pumpkins wrapped in rubber bands (huh?) or duct tape images that look to be designed by a 2-year-old.  Clever, eh?  Can’t wait to adorn my pumpkins with rubber bands.  What were they thinking?

    In my book, vintage wins just about every time.

 

Can you talk a little about Dennison’s Bogie Book and what that is?

    Dennison's Bogie Book, Big SeanceThe highly-collectable and much coveted Bogie Books were a series of party-giving guidebooks that were produced by The Dennison Manufacturing Company of Framingham, Mass. to promote their Halloween paper goods.  Named “Bogie Book” after the mythical mischievous little goblins that were said to roam on Halloween, the typical approx. 5″x8″ booklet might give directions on how to conduct a party; craft a simple party favor; decorate a witch’s den suitable for fortune-telling; play party games; create a crepe paper costume; or even decorate larger venues for group celebrations. The booklets also featured pictures of Dennison’s delightful party merchandise (paper napkins, beautifully-illustrated panels of printed colored crepe paper, placecards, boxed decorative seals and more).  Illustrations, either real photography or artist’s renditions, appeared in ordinary black-&-white printing but the images were captivating nonetheless. Party planners could purchase the guides either by mail-order or at one of the company’s stand-alone stores in major cities like Chicago.  They were modestly priced at 5 to 10 cents.

    An initial impossible-to-find booklet produced in 1909 was followed by a series of Bogie Books beginning in 1912 and continuing for most years through 1926.  Dennison also produced similar typically 30-to-36-page holiday guidebooks such as The Christmas Book, The Gala (or Party Book) for Feb-July celebrations and a single 1918 Patriotic Book.  A variety of other larger-format Halloween booklets began in 1927 and continued until 1935.  In addition, Dennison produced a wide assortment of other self-promotional how-to booklets primarily centered on making things out of the firm’s luxe line of colorful crepe paper.

    Though reigning as undisputed king of how-to booklets during Halloween’s “Golden Age” the Bogie Books were not the only well-executed pamphlets around.  Other notable illustrated little guides were issued by food firms (like JELL-O and Staley) and competing crepe paper maker American Tissue Mills.  Respected Halloween decoration maker The Beistle Company of Shippensburg, PA issued The Children’s Hallowe’en Party Book (by Miss Polka Dot).  This last item is a slim 12″x7″ volume consisting of an 8-page story (printed in either tissue-weight orange or ordinary white paper) and several pages of tear-out party accouterments like placecards, candle shades, invitations.  This dandy early 20th century booklet can command a pretty penny IF its party pieces pages remain uncut within.

   Intact copies of rarer Bogie Books (those in the 1910s) can bring hundreds of dollars depending condition, condition, condition. 

 

I wish I could go back in time and interview my Great Grandmother and talk to her about her Halloween memories and experiences growing up in that “Golden Age” of Halloween.  She was such a fun woman.  Has any of your research come from interviewing folks who were around in this time period?

    During the time that I began to collect vintage Halloween memorabilia and write about old-fashioned Halloween customs I’ve never been acquainted with any folks who themselves experienced the holiday’s “Golden Era.” I do, however, love to completely immerse myself in old magazine and newspaper accounts of Halloween entertaining.  Entertaining back then must have been so much more exciting than anything in the 21st century.  After all folks today sit at tables filled with people and still ignore those gathered to devote their (overly ample free time) to tiny electronic devices. 

    Back “then” folks reveled in the opportunity to spend their seriously limited free time to interact with people who you might not see again for some time to come.

 

Is there one single vintage item or article that you’ve discovered that stands out as your favorite?

    In many ways it “doesn’t take much to get me enthused.”  I was delighted to acquire for my collection some of the little wax pumpkins (the ones filled a few pieces of orange-&-black candies) that so fascinated me at the five-and-dime store when I was little – for some reason they still so strongly resonate for me with personal happy Halloween memories.

    The other notable item is a small (8″ long) string of decorative ca 1920s/30s embossed German-made Halloween children party-goer scrap pictures (they appear on page 105 of Hal Merrymaking).  Each of the little children stand only 2″ high but their detailing is so superlative that completely embody the spirit of old-fashioned Halloween.  I was delighted beyond compare when a former co-worker (who passed away many years now) gifted me this tiny bit of paper.  I do cherish the pictures so.  Thanks, Jeanie, for your thoughtfulness… you are missed. 

 

What is your favorite iconic Halloween symbol

    A merrily-carved jack-o’-lantern of course!  He’s always up for a good old-fashioned Halloween time.

 

Diane C. Arkins began her career as a freelance writer at the age of nineteen by publishing feature articles in Seventeen, Co-Ed, and Woman’s Day magazines. In 1984, her work began to appear in the Chicago Sun-Times. After earning a BS in journalism from Northern Illinois University, she continued her writing endeavors by publishing magazine and newspaper stories while employed full time at the offices of the Australian Consulate-General in Chicago.

Arkins’ “Home Truths” humor column appeared in the Homelife real estate section of the Chicago Sun-Times from 1988 through 2000. Her work has appeared on the Op-Ed pages of numerous major daily newspapers, including a stint as a regular contributor to USA Today. Arkins has written for Country Living, Victoria, Family Circle, Brides, Country Collectibles, Country Home, Better Homes & Gardens, Woman’s World, Antiques & Collecting Magazine, and a wide variety of other publications.

Arkins has a passion for animals, gardening, and collecting vintage images, early illustrated postcards, and holiday memorabilia.

 


Raymond Moody’s Paranormal: My Life in Pursuit of the Afterlife

When I set out to read this book, I honestly felt like it was something that I really should read, but wasn’t necessarily excited to read it. And even though I’ve read a bit about Moody in books, the list was lacking a title by Raymond Moody himself. So I cautiously jumped into Paranormal: My Life in Pursuit of the Afterlife (2012), his most recent book.

If you listened to my most recent podcast episode with the wonderful Karen A. Dahlman, or if you’ve been a reader of the blog for a while, you know I easily get lost in some esoteric language, and my head will instantly explode at the mere mention of things like “quantum mechanics” or “string theory”. It takes twice as long for me to read those books, because the first pass over the page sounds like the Charlie Brown teacher voice inside my head. Wah wah wah…

Raymond Moody (photo via www.fyi.tv)

Raymond Moody (photo via http://www.fyi.tv)

Fortunately I lucked out on this one, and I was sucked into the book. It really resonated with me. And if you watch one of the many videos of Raymond being interviewed (one is embedded below), he seems so sweet and down to earth, and I bet he could relate to anyone. Now I’m planning on picking up his first and most famous book, Life After Life.

If you don’t know much about Dr. Moody or his work, you should check out the site LifeAfterLife.com (though it seems to be having some technical issues at the time of this writing). He is often called “the father of the of the Near-Death Experience”, or NDE.

The book pretty much covers his life chronologically, including his childhood, his groundbreaking discovery and research of NDEs (and later, “shared-death experiences), the writing of his first book, personal health struggles, his research on past-life regression, and finally his facilitated apparitions research and his psychomanteum (the “Reunions Experiment”).

I must tell you, psychomanteums have always fascinated me, but after reading this book I feel like I need more on this topic. So… as if I needed more books, I just purchased his Reunions: Visionary Encounters with Departed Loved Ones as well. You know if I didn’t think those around me would have me committed, I’d probably have a psychomanteum constructed in my home next week. Ha! Seriously.

Here’s that wonderful video interview.

 

 

That is all. Onto the next two books, which I’m reading as homework for some future guest appearances on the podcast. Exciting! More to come. 

Peace Out!

 


Lily Dale: The Town That Talks to the Dead

In Lily Dale: The Town That Talks to the Dead, Christine Wicker packs her bags and takes a good honest look at the Spiritualist community of Lily Dale and the mediums that call the place home. She views every experience with an open and respectful, yet unapologetic and skeptical eye, which I appreciated… even if I felt a bit guilty for appreciating it. The reader gets to follow what ends up being a cast of fascinating characters, including guests, mediums, and other members of the community. She asks the questions many of us would probably want to ask, but wouldn’t, because we’d be afraid of being offensive. Christine covers the good, the bad, and the dysfunction of Lily Dale (even juicy gossip among mediums)! And even though she stubbornly refuses to have a spiritual experience, there’s evidence that she does, even if it’s just temporary. 

In the last five years or so, I’ve spent much of my time reading, experimenting, and researching all things “spirit communication”. After first reading about Lily Dale in a book about Spiritualism and the famous Fox Sisters, and after conversations with medium Lee Allen Howard and hearing about his trips to the famous Spiritualist camp, it has been a destination I’ve been very interested in learning about and possibly visiting. Also, six months ago I watched and reviewed No One Dies in Lily Dale, the HBO documentary. As I mentioned in the comments of a recent post about this book, I think I’m going to have to watch the documentary again after reading Christine’s take on it all. I’ll make it to Lily Dale one of these days, but in the meantime I feel like the experience of reading this book was the next best thing. 

Do you have any other recommendations on the topic of Lily Dale? Let me know in the comments below! 

(Speaking of taking my word for it, you may be interested in LeVar Burton’s Reading Rainbow Kickstarter project.) 

 


The Uninvited: The True Story of the Union Screaming House

The Uninvited: The True Story of the Union Screaming House by Steven LaChance (2008), is about a man’s experiences with a haunted house in a small Missouri town during a several year time period in the early 2000s. I was unfamiliar with Steven or the “Screaming House” in Union until this book showed up in an Amazon.com book search. Being from Missouri, I figured it was something I should definitely check out. 

In the beginning, the book focuses a lot on Steven (the author), who is a hardworking single father struggling to make it with three children. After moving from one disappointing rental to another, they manage to find what seems to be a dream home for their family… and this is where the real story starts. I am a person that reads a lot of books that would keep most people up at night, but I don’t usually have any issues. The activity that LaChance describes was enough to keep me from reading before bed. It does tend to be a little heavy on the demonic, and things like oppression and possession, but one thing I liked was that the author was really honest in describing those experiences and his opinions.  

After reaching his limit of paranormal activity, the author finally moved his family out of the haunted home, but activity seemed to follow them, often in the form of nightmares. Fate also seemed to arrange for Steven to meet Helen, the next renter (or victim?) of the home. He felt the need to help her to find answers with the ongoing activity. In doing so, they formed a close relationship, and Steven ended up forming Missouri Paranormal Research (which I believe is now Paranormal Task Force), and the group seemed to spend an exhaustive amount of time investigating in the home. From there, the story focuses on Helen and the extreme experiences she goes through, including signs of possible oppression and possession, threatening both homicide and suicide, and even spending a short amount of time in a mental health facility. Steven seemed to talk himself through the thoughts that I was having while reading. Was she truly being affected somehow by some kind of demonic entity from the house, or was she purely having a psychological breakdown?  

One thing is for sure. You won’t be bored with the twists and turns in the story. 

For Steven’s website, click HERE. For a pictorial tour of the Union Screaming House, click HERE.

 

Author’s bio from the book cover:

Steven LaChance (Missouri) is co-host, with Denice Jones, of the popular Internet radio show Haunted Survivor. He appeared in the documentary film Children of the Grave and his story was featured on The Discovery Channel’s A Haunting. His experiences at the Union screaming house inspired him to form the Missouri Paranormal Research Society.

 

You might also like: 

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

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

Chip Coffey's "Growing Up Psychic" (Big Séance)

Chip Coffey’s “Growing Up Psychic” (Big Séance)

Vintage: A Ghost Story (for the gay teen in your life) (Big Séance)

Vintage: A Ghost Story (for the gay teen in your life) (Big Séance)

 

 

 


The Spirits of Ouija: Four Decades of Communication

From our 2nd Annual Thanksgiving Ouija Session.

From our 2nd Annual Thanksgiving Ouija Session.

There are a few great people out there who have served as inspiration for my recent interest in spirit communication through the Ouija, and I’ve blogged about these folks before. If you happen to be looking for books on the topic, you probably won’t find many. I should rephrase that last statement. If you’re looking for serious books by people with experience and years of research, and not written out of fear, you’ll only find a few. Karen A. Dahlman’s latest book, The Spirits of Ouija: Four Dacades of Communication is one of them.

 

I loved the book! Here is my review. 

Karen A. Dahlman, who is a true Ouija-ologist, begins by giving the reader a brief history of the Ouija Board and the misconceptions that many have, thanks to Hollywood for the most part. As I mentioned in a recent post, Karen and I tend to share the same opinion when it comes to fear and the Ouija.

In chapter 2 of her book, Karen says:

“Fear is a big reason for Ouija being cast off into an oblivion of negativity. People often fear what they don’t understand. It is easier to fear something than to take the time to learn about it. Fear is first and foremost created by assumptions. Assuming that all communications with the Beyond, coming from outside our typical experiences and the world of our everyday senses and faculties, is critically labeled ridiculous or blasphemous, is narrow-minded in itself. Just because these experiences can’t be measured by scientific theory or understood by religious communities, speak to the unfair and harsh criticism Ouija Board has received. Quite often, this type of communication is attributed to ideomotor effects (involuntary and unconscious motor behavior) by the scientific community, while attributed to demonic and evil forces by  many traditional Christians. Could there be a deeper reason for the ridicule and fear, thus the unfair judgment?” 

We then get to learn about Karen’s history with the Ouija Board, how it all began, the spiritual growth she has gone through, and the wealth of experiences and learning she and many others around her have gained over four decades.

 

My favorite parts!

There are several parts to this book that I really appreciate. First off, as someone who experiments an awful lot with spirit communication, I love that she discusses the proper use of the board, preparing the space, and just how she goes about conducting a session. She also includes an example of an opening protective prayer that I’m going to start incorporating into my sessions. 

Through the Ouija Board, Karen has communicated with the deceased, such as spirits and earthbound ghosts, but also communicates regularly with angels, guides, ethereal beings, and the higher self. She includes many of these examples and the messages that came across, but I never expected to read about her communication with animals, both living and dead! Have you ever thought about animal communication and the Ouija? I hadn’t! The communication that she includes from her own living pets is just fascinating! You read that correctly. She communicates with her living pets. 

 

About the Author

From her author page on Amazon.

Karen A. Dahlman believes that life is meant to be a joyful experience, driven by the expression of our creative inner potentials. She believes that we are able to tap this great source within when we open ourselves to all possibilities.

Within her latest book, The Spirits of Ouija – Four Decades of Communication, she shares all of the insights she gained, while opening up her communication with conscious beings from the Great Beyond via the Ouija Board.

Karen has a strong spiritual connection to her spirit friends as she has throughout her entire life. Highly experienced as a Ouija-ologist (one who studies the uses of the board), she teaches others about the positive benefits of using this tool as a means for expanding and deepening one’s world and expression within it in the most profound ways.

Karen’s background is as diversified as her writings are controversial. She began her career as a licensed and board certified art therapist, hypnotherapist and counselor after graduating the University of New Mexico with both her bachelor and master degrees. For over a decade Karen worked within multiple settings, with varying populations, including her private practice and public workshops, while providing creative and expressive means for her clients to find health.

After spending her formative years living all over the United States, she made Southern California her home in 1999. At that time, Karen hung up her therapy shingle and entered the high-tech. industry of telecommunications and founded CVC, Inc, a consulting and utility design firm for the fortune 100 wireless carriers. Coming upon its thirteenth year in operation, Karen remains at the helm as CEO.

Coming full circle within her career, from right brain to left brain to center brain, she strives to maintain a balance of her total brain within her heart. Karen shares within her books, her process of doing this with herself and with others. She endeavors to help others deepen into their unique possibilities to discover their own empowerment to affect personal growth, their spiritual evolution, and a passionate expression of their calling.

 

What’s next for Karen?

I want to personally thank Karen for her advice and encouragement with my own Ouija sessions. She truly knows her stuff. I asked her about her future projects and in her own words, she’s working on a book “based on the personal development my spirit friends have assisted me and other women with via the Board. It’s a book entitled: The Alchemical Woman: Becoming the Queen. It speaks to the transformation we women must go through in order to discover and find out true empowerment. The book is a culmination of all my experiences of evolution/growth via the Board, including my practice as a psychotherapist, and working with many women along the way, helping them uncover their inner truths and strengths. My spirit friends actively participate in the writings as we traverse down this path of balance and evolution. This book incorporates their teachings, our learnings and the process to discovering true empowerment.” I’m hoping boys are allowed to follow along in this future journey. 🙂

 
For more on Karen A. Dahlman, visit www.karenadahlman.com

 

You might also like:

Ouija Gone Wild (Big Seance)

Ouija Gone Wild (Big Séance)

 

Thanksgiving Ouija Session 2013 (Big Séance)

Thanksgiving Ouija Session 2013 (Big Séance)

 

 


Chip Coffey’s “Growing Up Psychic”

Back in October, I was encouraged by a work friend to accompany her and her husband to see Chip Coffey in St. Louis. It was truly awesome, and I blogged about that experience in my 10 important reasons to go see Chip Coffey at a “Coffey Talk” near you. I immediately ordered his book, and just as I expected, it was very enjoyable. But it was also very informative. I know, I know. How boring, right? Keep reading…

When I bought the book, I apparently didn’t read the description on the back. I assumed that like most books by psychics, it would be about his psychic experiences growing up, as the title suggests. What I didn’t quite realize, is that even though he shares his story, it is really meant to be a guide or handbook for those people who may work with or have children with psychic abilities. As the star and psychic from A&E’s hit show Psychic Kids: Children of the Paranormal, there is perhaps no one better fit to write this book for us.

As an educator, I’ve always tried to be sensitive and aware of the many different kinds of children I work with. They come from different cultures, backgrounds, family structures, socioeconomic status, etc. But they also come to me with different gifts and exceptionalities. As someone who has grown up with a disability and some exceptionalness myself, I’d like to think my students know that they can trust me to be there for support. But with so many students, and with so many crazy days where I don’t get to stop and breathe or have more than a few moments to myself until the buses leave the parking lot (and sometimes not even then), I wonder how many students I’ve had with exceptional psychic abilities. How many of those students may have been struggling? Am I open to seeing the signs? Have these students viewed me as someone who is accepting and sensitive to those abilities or gifts? 

Like clockwork, just a few days ago a student mentioned to me that she was going to have to spend some time alone in her house after school, and that she wasn’t a fan of having to do this. When I asked her why, she said her house was haunted. She said she’d seen apparitions and scary things, “like Jack the Ripper stuff”, according to her. As I walked with her out of the classroom while she talked, I consciously made an attempt to listen to clues and be supportive. In fact, as it seemed that she was working hard to convince me that her story was true, the last thing I said to her as she went off to her next class was “I believe you.” I’m not sure I would have been on my toes or “with it” enough if it hadn’t been for just finishing this book. 

Do you have children? Do you work with them? This will be worth checking out. 

 

From the back of the book and Amazon.com

NO one knows more about psychic kids than Chip Coffey, and no expert on psychic kids is better known throughout the world. These kids are widely misunderstood, misjudged, and misdiagnosed. InGrowing Up Psychic, Chip Coffey offers indispensable information for anyone who interacts with these extraordinary youngsters—parents, educators, medical professionals, mental health clinicians, members of the clergy, paranormal investigators—and adults who faced the challenges of growing up psychic.

In Growing Up Psychic, drawing on his firsthand experience and the true stories of kids he has worked with and helped, Chip Coffey shows you how to:

• Determine if a child is really psychic—as opposed to simply imaginative or
seeking attention
• Identify the different kinds of psychic abilities kids (and adults) might have
• Gain control over when and how psychic information is received
• Safely connect with others in the psychic community
• Deal with skeptics and disbelievers

 

Me with Chip Coffey

Me with Chip Coffey

For more information on Chip, visit www.chipcoffey.com.

 

You might also like: 

10 important reasons to go see Chip Coffey at a “Coffey Talk” near you (Big Séance)

Béla Bartók, Wet Goblins, and the Post Halloween Blues (Big Séance)

Vintage: A Ghost Story (for the gay teen in your life) (Big Séance)

Angel Moments: Music as Meditation… Or is it? (Big Séance)

Children who have spirit friends (Big Séance)

House of Darkness House of Light, Volume Two, by Andrea Perron, and more on The Conjuring (Big Séance)

 


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