Lisa Morton, Halloween expert and author of Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween, joins Patrick in the parlor to discuss our favorite holiday! Topics include Dennison’s Bogie Books, yard haunts, common misconceptions, bobbing for apples, candy, movies, music, and the question of whether we can save Halloween in 2020!
How much do you really know about the goth community? Have you considered that the goth and paranormal subcultures might have a lot more in common than you realized? Enjoy this fascinating discussion with The Count and Mark, the hosts of the Cemetery Confessions podcast.
The Big Seance Podcast can be found right here, on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, TuneIn Radio, Stitcher, Google 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 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!
You may be familiar with my Annual Thanksgiving Ouija sessions. This year Karen A. Dahlman encouraged me to have one on Halloween, and so I did. I decided to call this one a Ouija Séance, because well… it sounds cooler.
My planchette partner was my mother. I was so very lucky to have them visiting us over the Halloween weekend. It was really nice, and I wish we could have extended it for several more days.
In this post, I will share with you a brief report along with some audio artifacts from the séance.
But first… Trick-or-Treaters…
It was such an unseasonably windy and cold night for trick-or-treating, but along with the neighbors, we did our usual “schtick” out on the front sidewalk. I was sure that we’d have a much bigger turnout this year with it being Friday and all, but I think the cold kept many of the kiddies in… or it at least kept them from being out too late, unless your costume involved a winter coat, ski mask, and gloves. But my hot apple cider was a bigger hit than ever. I always offer it to the “big people” who accompany most of the little costumed goblins. (I even had one family show up and say “We remember your hot apple cider from last year! We were hoping you’d be out here again!”) Thanks to the neighbors’ fire pit, we managed to stay warm and enjoy ourselves for most of the evening!
Oh yeah… and my Halloween window dressings were a big hit this year too! I think we’ll use them again next year!
I was very tired from an incredibly crazy week and busy night, and my mom was tired from being on the road, but once we were sure the trick-or-treaters had given up, and after we had the chance to watch the original 1978 version of Halloween, we began our séance shortly after midnight.
The Ouija Séance… just call me the Spirit Rapper Whisperer…
Our séance began after the rest of the house was asleep and bundled in their beds upstairs. All the candles on the Halloween Altar were lit, and we sat with the board, which was surrounded by many of the vintage Halloween cards and photos. I recorded our session with a digital audio recorder, and was also prepared with the spirit box that I got from Stephen Hill.
We opened the séance by clearly stating our intentions and having a moment of silence for prayer/meditation. We discovered fairly quickly that we’d have to cut the silence short to keep from falling asleep. (Seriously… I was nodding off.)
Within the first 5 minutes, we were hearing many knocks and pops. I acknowledged that the water line to the fridge (for the ice maker) was making a few noises, and it was clearly our first really cold and windy night of the year. But the heat was not on, and other than it being Halloween and having two extra guests in the house, nothing else was out of the ordinary in our immediate surroundings. I have never before noticed or heard so many loud knocks and pops in the lower level of our home in such a short time. I really want to be able to explain them, but the curious timing of the knocks (almost every one happened after a question, as if in response) combined with how loud they were, makes them really hard to ignore. I don’t know why I always seem to be the Spirit Rapping Whisperer, but I’ll let you be the judge on what exactly this is.
A few audio artifacts of the knocking/rapping:
4 minutes and 24 seconds into the séance
11 minutes into the séance
13 minutes and 5 seconds into the séance
Then we turned on the Spirit Box
I don’t know that I can make a guess as to what any of these possible messages say. All I know is that I don’t typically flag too many interesting spirit box artifacts, especially those recorded in my own home. Most of the voices in the audio artifacts below seem to be the same voice that crosses over several to many frequencies or stations. That makes it significant in my book. I was sweeping the AM frequencies.
A few Spirit Box audio artifacts:
17 minutes and 55 seconds into the séance Original Audio with no enhancements Slowed down
19 minutes and 3 seconds into the séance Original Audio with no enhancements Noise removal and amplification
20 minutes and 27 seconds into the séance
I had just asked, “What is today?” Original Audio with no enhancements Noise removal and amplification Noise removal, amplification, and slowed down
20 minutes and 49 seconds into the séance
I had just asked, “Do I know you?” Original Audio with no enhancements Noise removal and amplification
21 minutes and 43 seconds into the séance
I had just asked, “What am I touching right now?” (Hands were on the planchette/Ouija board.) Original Audio with no enhancements Noise removal and amplification Noise removal, amplification, and slowed down
One other interesting detail is that at 20 minutes and 27 seconds into the séance, the little skeleton man that was sitting up in the center of the buffet/Halloween Altar, fell over. I was sitting in a chair directly in front of him with my back facing him. My mom watched it fall. Paranormal? I’m not sure. It was probably a couple of inches away from the back of my chair, but I wasn’t doing much moving around.
When we stopped after 28 minutes, it was because I was falling asleep. Once again, I must point out that we experienced no movement or activity coming directly from the Ouija board. This has been the case for every Ouija session I’ve had in the last three years or so.
Did you find this post interesting? You may want to check out some of my other Ouija posts.
Yesterday I carved my jack-o-lantern for 2014. As usual, I decided to go with a classic look that is very close to last year’s grin. And yes, that’s the Halloween Altar in the background, with the addition of the Beistle reprints that I ordered this year. As usual, I always have difficulty choosing which photos to share with you, so you’re getting several.
It has been so warm for October lately, and our 80 degree days will kill a jack-o-lantern in no time. I’ve decided that for the next few days we’re bringing them in late at night when we blow them out. That way they’ll be much more comfortable inside and away from the sun and heat during the day.
As you may know, Joe always has to break the mold with his jack-o-lanterns. Here is this year’s polka-dotted disco ball jack-o-lantern! We like the reflections on the post.
Another look at the Halloween Altar.
This evening I took a trip to the cemetery to pay my adopted souls a visit for my 2014 grave adoption project. I discovered so many beautiful trees that weren’t in this condition on my last visit. It cooled down quite a bit by the time I got there, and so it was beautiful weather. It’s still weird to be wearing gym shorts and a t-shirt in a cemetery on the week of Halloween.
One of my grave adoptions for the year. The small pumpkin is still going strong from 3 weeks ago. All of my small pumpkins that I kept in the comfort of my home rotted long ago, so I’m pretty impressed.
For last year’s Halloween Altar and more information about them, visitA New Spin On Your Halloween Altar and Decorations.I really tried to keep what I liked from last year and make some improvements. I’ve always wanted to time travel to the late 1800s and early 1900s to hang out with the Victorians, so in my eyes, my altar is meant to kick the atmosphere of Halloween spookiness up a notch… with a historical flair! The altar is really two surfaces in my dining room, the buffet (seen below) and the dining room table. The most noticeable additions are the twocandelabrasthat I purchased at World Market. I LOVE THEM! If looking up close, you’ll realize their quality might not make them great for all year round, but perfect for this occasion! A special thanks goes out toKaren A. Dahlmanfor spotting them for me. She knew what I was looking for. With the added candles (which you KNOW I love), I decided to ditch the lamps and candle sticks that I used last year.
Something else that makes a big difference in the feel of the altar, is the addition of the Ashland brand artificial flowers from Michaels, which were 50% off. You’ll notice there is also a vase of flowers on the dining room table. I really feel that it helps to balance out the presence of the skulls and my sitting skeleton. Some may say those things are borderline tacky… but maybe I’m borderline tacky. I love it! Halloween is such a mix of culture, traditions, and history. And now it’s mostly secular and just FUN! There are certainly “tackier” Halloween Altars out there.
An especially nerdy addition to the altar, are pages from things like the Dennison Bogie Books and other magazines from the early 1900s. These are spread throughout the house, actually. I printed them in color on cream-colored card stock (and then trimmed them), so the yellowed antique look from the photos make them look vintage. Many of the pages I printed come from the 1920 issue and can be viewed in its entirety onPublicDomainReview.org. So it turns out my Halloween Altar can also be a history lesson.
The woman framed above, as well as the gentleman framed on the opposite side of the buffet, were also 50% off at Michaels, and if you look closely while walking by, their images change from a stately appearance to a skeleton. The decorative leaves, which I used last year as well, are also from Michaels.
Like last year, I had a lot of fun searching for vintage photos and Halloween artwork. Most of the framed photos are from last year. I just printed them on paper and framed them in cheap frames that I picked up at both Walmart and Target, I believe. Several of the framed photos are placed in other areas in the house as well. The additional photos and artwork that I added this year include old photos of trick-or-treaters, costume parties, and just some flat-out bizarre and creepy moments captured in photographs. These were printed on the same cream-colored card stock that I mentioned earlier. For most of them, I trimmed around the photo, leaving a white (cream, actually) frame on the outside. Some of them I glued to black card stock backing to stand out.
Will you give a Halloween Altar a try this year?
What will yours look like? What mood will it set? Please contact me if you try one… or even if you find other interesting altars or decorations out there!
Have you ever decorated a Halloween Altar? Do you know what a Halloween Altar is? There are different types of these altars. Some are downright spooky and clearly meant to be, but others are very reverent and sometimes referred to as “Ancestor Altars”. These altars are used in the Mexican Day of the Dead traditions, but they were used by other cultures as well, like the ancient Celts and in the Gaelic festival of Samhain. In the Ancestor Altar, one would place photos or artifacts belonging to their ancestors on an elaborately decorated table, which even sometimes displayed fruits and vegetables from the harvest. According to psychic mediumMarVeena Meek, in the beginning, these altars were designed out of fear that one’s recently passed family members would come back to haunt them if they didn’t show that they were honoring and remembering them. She also says that often altars were used as a plea to passed on spirits to help them (from the Other Side) make it through the winter after the harvest. The skull is almost always a part of one of these altars, and apparently they’re symbols of the wisdom that we gain with each and every life we live. Other “dark” items like this are sometimes meant to ward off evil spirits.
By no means am I an expert on this topic, but in my research I’m finding that there are many versions of these altars, and their meanings and their personal elements depend on the tradition or culture. It seems that some modern Halloween Altars are more fun and about decorating with all sorts of trinkets, candles, and anything else that says “Halloween”. Please see my related links below for more information on Halloween or Ancestor Altars.
Now for my spin on this tradition. I wanted to try something a bit different for my first altar, but also decided to tame it down a bit while I continue to research them . Mine falls into more of a fun Halloween Altar category. I’m not even convinced I’m done with it, but let me know what you think.
As you can see, I used the buffet in my dining room for the main altar. I extended the idea onto the dining room table.
I love this little guy. I used him for no other reason than he looks awesome and he’s even holding his own skull. He just had to be center stage.
Behind Mr. Skeleton is a still from a movie that most of you probably recognize. This photo was used in the final shots of The Shining from 1980. I’ve always loved that moment from the movie, and I thought it would add just the right amount of subtle creepiness.
I want to point out that all of the photos used in my altar decorating were found online. I searched for spooky retro photos and printed them in 4X6 and 5X7 sizes, with the exception of the still from The Shining, which is an 8X10. Some of the frames I had, but many of the frames were purchased from Target and Walmart for anywhere from $1 to $3. I was going for a classic or antique look.
I’d seen the photo above before, and though I don’t know much about it, be sure to look closely in the back off to the left. See it? Yeah. Good luck sleeping tonight.
Many of the other photos that I printed were simply fun (and super creepy) shots of children in costume from the old days, like the one above.
The other end of my altar displays two more retro photos of adults and children in costume. Candles are on my list of favorite things, so along with the other candles, I just HAD to have skulls that have the ability to bleed through the eyeballs when lit. The two center candles on the altar are bleeding candles as well, which is why they are a pinkish white color.
Along with some seasonal artificial floral and beautiful leaves, the dining room table is decorated with copies of various vintage Halloween cards and ads from the turn of the century, some from old magazines. This idea was inspired by my previousPlanning a Halloween Party (in 1911)post.
With most of these photos and printouts, my goal was to find things that would spark a conversation, like this one. You can find an easier to read page with this poemHERE.
Finally, I took some of the remaining photos and spread them throughout the house. The one above is on a book shelf next to the front entry.
I just love the two pictures above. These are on my piano in the living room.
Anyone planning on trying a Halloween or Ancestor Altar? Let me know! Send me pictures! And if you have experience with or knowledge on these altars, please feel free to enlighten us in the comments.