In culture after culture, people believe that the soul lives on after death, that rituals can change the physical world and divine the truth, and that illness and misfortune are caused and alleviated by spirits, ghosts, saints ... and gods.

STEVEN PINKER, How the Mind Works

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Our Plans for 2009

Hey there everyone!

I just wanted to post some information on the sites we here at Prairie Specters are working on visiting this year. Plan is we are going to be visiting some northern Saskatchewan and Alberta locations so here's hoping things work out.

Fort Battleford
Saskatchewan Hospital
The Crooked Trees

Fort Saskatchewan

A return trip to Weyburn and Fort San.

P.S. Be on the look out for Ghosts of Saskatchewan 3 in your local bookstore. Your favorite blog Prairie Specters will be one of groups featured in this new book. Thanks.

Early Ghosts of Canada

The early French and English settlers thought that the new land was too young for ghosts. According to Canadian author Catharine Parr Traill, there had to be centuries of human habitation before ghosts could exist. But it was not long before soldiers and settlers were complaining of ghosts and poltergeists in the woods and cottages of early Canada.

On October 15, 1785, two British officers stationed at Sydney, N.S., reported the figure of a young man, pale as death, passing through their quarters. It sent a sorrowful glance in their direction, then vanished. One of the soldiers recognized the face of his brother who, he assumed, was enjoying good health and living in England. They later heard that the man had died in England at the very moment the apparition was sighted in Sydney. This is among the best-known ghost stories of all time.

A poltergeist was said to be responsible for strange happenings at the Cox cottage in Amherst, N.S. Objects flew through the air. Lighted matches fell from nowhere. Small unexplained fires broke out. Pounding sounds were heard on the roof and words appeared mysteriously on the bedroom wall. The cottage itself rocked on its foundations, furniture would move from place to place, turn upside down or pile up on top of each other. Household items would disappear, objects would fall from the ceiling and table knives would even fly through the air.. All the disturbances took place between 1878 and 1879, always in the presence of Esther Cox.

Esther herself would become feverish and her body would swell leaving her screaming with pain. She would be slapped across the face with such force that left a hand imprint. Pins would come out of the air and stick into her body leaving her marked from head to toe with scratches and once it was reported that she was stabbed repeatedly in her back with a clasp knife. Perhaps, one of the most terrifying events was the night in Esther's room when everyone heard the sound of writing and saw deeply indented in the wall the threat "Esther Cox, you are mine to kill".

Neighbours maintained that the 18-year-old Esther was possessed by the devil. Others argued that she was responsible for all the commotion because she was unhappy in love. With all the unquestionable and unanswered actions it became no longer safe to have Esther in the house so she left, never returning. Esther survived the ordeal and eventually married. To this day no one really knows what went on in the Cox cottage.

In all the provinces and territories there are houses that are said to be haunted. Their ghostly reputations are based on what people describe having seen and felt in their rooms. There are reports that the 19th-century judge, T.C. Haliburton, may be glimpsed now and then in the study of his former house in Windsor, N.S. Similarly, a short, bald man resembling William Lyon Mackenzie, and a dark-haired woman, are said to wander the corridors of Mackenzie House in Toronto.

Ghosts and poltergeists may come and go, but there is one ghostly image that remains on permanent display. This is the well-known "Ghost Photograph"" in the archives of the B.C. Parliament Buildings in Victoria. It is a group photograph of 11 members of B.C.'s first Legislative Council, plus the clerk. It was taken on December 12, 1864, at New Westminster, B.C. The legislators posed for the photographer on the outside stairs of a wood-frame building. The clerk, Charles Good, was sick in bed that day and was unable to be there ""in person."" Yet he appears on the photographic plate ""in spirit,"" or at least in a blurry way. There are many ways to account for Good's image. One is that in the early days of photography, time exposures were common. Perhaps Good did arrive for the photographic session, but late. Perhaps he positioned himself on the landing at the last moment, thereby creating the blurry image." (above taken from "Farshores". )

Friday, February 13, 2009

Native Skinwalkers

Possibly the best documented skinwalker beliefs are those relating to the Navajo yee naaldlooshii (literally "with it, he goes on all fours" in the Navajo language). A yee naaldlooshii is one of several varieties of Navajo witch (specifically an ’ánt’įįhnii or practitioner of the Witchery Way, as opposed to a user of curse-objects (’adagąsh) or a practitioner of Frenzy Way (’azhįtee)). Technically, the term refers to an ’ánt’įįhnii who is using his (rarely her) powers to travel in animal form. In some versions men or women who have attained the highest level of priesthood then commit the act of killing an immediate member of their family, and then have thus gained the evil powers that are associated with skinwalkers.

The ’ánt’įįhnii are human beings who have gained supernatural power by breaking a cultural taboo. Specifically, a person is said to gain the power to become a yee naaldlooshii upon initiation into the Witchery Way. Both men and women can become ’ánt’įįhnii and therefore possibly skinwalkers, but men are far more numerous. It is generally thought that only childless women can become witches.

Although it is most frequently seen as a coyote, wolf, owl, fox, or crow, the yee naaldlooshii is said to have the power to assume the form of any animal they choose, depending on what kind of abilities they need. Witches use the form for expedient travel, especially to the Navajo equivalent of the 'Black Mass', a perverted song (and the central rite of the Witchery Way) used to curse instead of to heal. They also may transform to escape from pursuers.
Some Navajo also believe that skinwalkers have the ability to steal the "skin" or body of a person. The Navajo believe that if you lock eyes with a skinwalker they can absorb themselves into your body. It is also said that skinwalkers avoid the light and that their eyes glow like an animal's when in human form and when in animal form their eyes do not glow as an animal's would.

A skinwalker is usually described as naked, except for a coyote skin, or wolf skin. Some Navajos describe them as a mutated version of the animal in question. The skin may just be a mask, like those which are the only garment worn in the witches' sing.

Because animal skins are used primarily by skinwalkers, the pelt of animals such as bears, coyotes, wolves, and cougars are strictly tabooed. Sheepskin and buckskin are probably two of the few hides used by Navajos; the latter is used only for ceremonial purposes.

Often, Navajos will tell of their encounter with a skinwalker, though there is a lot of hesitancy to reveal the story to non-Navajos, or (understandably) to talk of such frightening things at night. Sometimes the skinwalker will try to break into the house and attack the people inside, and will often bang on the walls of the house, knock on the windows, and climb onto the roofs. Sometimes, a strange, animal-like figure is seen standing outside the window, peering in. Other times, a skinwalker may attack a vehicle and cause a car accident. The skinwalkers are described as being fast, agile, and impossible to catch. Though some attempts have been made to shoot or kill one, they are not usually successful. Sometimes a skinwalker will be tracked down, only to lead to the house of someone known to the tracker. As in European werewolf lore, sometimes a wounded skinwalker will escape, only to have someone turn up later with a similar wound which reveals them to be the witch. It is said that if a Navajo was to know the person behind the skinwalker they had to pronounce the full name, and about three days later that person would either get sick or die for the wrong that they have committed.

According to Navajo legend, skinwalkers can have the power to read human thoughts. They also possess the ability to make any human or animal noise they choose. A skinwalker may use the voice of a relative or the cry of an infant to lure victims out of the safety of their homes.
Some tribes believe that skinwalkers and other witches can use the spit, hair, or shoes and old clothing of a person to make curses that will attack that specific person. For this reason many Navajo will never spit or leave shoes outside. They also take great care to see that any hair or nail clippings are burned. Children are advised that if they urinate outside to kick dirt over the spot so that a skinwalker cannot use it to make a curse against them. (above taken from "Wikipedia". )

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Heavyweights of the Paranormal - The Whaley House

This 1850s brick house has long been la haunted spot and it lives up to its ghostly reputation. Located in historic Old Town San Diego, the “birthplace of California,” the Whaley House stands today as a classic example of mid-nineteenth century Greek Revival architecture.

Few houses in San Diego are as historically important as the Whaley House. In addition to being the Whaley Family home, it housed a granary, the County Court House, San Diego’s first commercial theater, various businesses including Thomas Whaley’s own general store, a ballroom, a billiard hall, school, and polling place. Significant events, such as the siezure of the court documents and records in 1871, and the suicide of Violet Whaley in 1885 profoun
dly affected Thomas and Anna Whaley. These events, as well as the hangings which occurred on the property before the house was constructed, have suffused the Whaley House with an air of mystery and added to its reputation as something more than just California State Historic Landmark #65.

The earliest documented ghost at the Whaley House is “Yankee Jim.” James (aka Santiago) Robinson was convicted of attempted grand larceny in San Diego in 1852, and hanged on a gallows off the back of a wagon on the site where the house now stands. The local newspaper reported that he “kept his feet in the wagon as long as possible, but was finally pulled off. He swung back and forth like a pendulum until he strangled to death.” Although Thomas Whaley had been a spectator at the execution, he did not let it disuade him from buying the property a few years later and building a home for his family there.

According to the San Diego Union, “soon after the couple and their children moved in, heavy footsteps were heard moving about the house. Whaley described them as sounding as though they were made by the boots of a large man. Finally he came to the conclusion that these unexplained footfalls were made by Yankee Jim Robinson.” Another source states that Lillian Whaley, the Whaleys’ youngest daughter who lived in the house until 1953, “had been convinced the ghost of “Yankee Jim” haunted the Old House.” A visitor to the museum in 1962 men
tioned that “the ghost had driven her family from their visit there more than 60 years [earlier]… her mother was unnerved by the phantom walking noise and the strange way the windows unlatched and flew up.”

Many visitors to the house have reported encountering Thomas Whaley himself. The late June Reading, former curator of the museum, said, “We had a little girl perhaps 5 or 6 years old who waved to a man she said was standing in the parlor… We couldn’t see him. But often children’s sensitivity is greater than an adult’s.” However, many adults have reported seeing the apparition of Mr. Whaley, usually on the upper landing. One said he was “clad in frock coat and pantaloons, the face turned away from her, so she could not make it out. Suddenly it faded away.”

The specter of Anna Whaley has also been reported, usually in the downstairs rooms or in the garden. In 1964, “Mrs. Whaley’s floating, drifting spirit appeared to [television personality Regis] Philbin.” “All of a sudden I noticed something on the wall…,” Philbin reported. “There was something filmy white—it looked like an apparition of some kind…I got so excited I couldn’t restrain myself! I flipped on the [flash]light—and nothing was there but a portrait of Anna Whaley, the long-dead mistress of the house.”

Other visitors have described seeing or sensing the presence of a woman in the courtroom. “I see a small figure of a woman,” one visitor said, “who has a swarthy complexion. She is wearing a long full skirt, reaching to the floor. The skirt appears to be a calico or gingham, small print. She has a kind of cap on her head, dark hair and eyes and she is wearing gold hoops in her pierced ears. She seems to stay in this room, lives here, I gather…” None of the Whaleys fit this description, but the house was rented out to numerous tenants over the years. Perhaps the mysterious woman in the courtroom was one of these.

Another presence reported by visitors and docents is that of a young girl, who is usually found in the dining room. Psychic Sybil Leek encountered this spirit during a visit in the 1960s. “’It was a long-haired girl,’ Sybil said. ‘She was very quick, you know, in a longish dress. She went to the table in this room and I went to the chair.’” Urban legend has it that this is the ghost of a playmate of the Whaley children who accidentally broke her neck on a low-hanging clothesline in the backyard, and whose name was either Annabel or Carrie Washburn. There are no historic records of any child dying this way at the Whaley House; nor is there record of any family named Washburn residing in San Diego at the time. It is believed that the legend was believed to have been started by a one-time employee of the Whaley House, in an effort to add to the house’s mystique.

Even animals aren’t left out of the singular occurances. A parapsychologist reported he saw ‘a spotted dog, like a fox terrier, that ran down the hall with his ears flapping and into the dining room.’ The dog, he said, was an apparition. When they lived in the house, the Whaley’s owned a terrier named Dolly Varden.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Another video of an apparent full body apparition

Video of an apparent full body apparition...supposedly of a 'cowboy'. It was also filmed in night-vision. Frankly, this may be an overlay deception. I'm interested in observations. Here is the statement with the video: The P.I.T. Crew investigators reveal the best full body ghost footage they have ever seen. In fact, this may be the most authentic paranormal activity ever caught on camera by an investigation team. With two on site deaths, the team asks, is this apparition the spirit of a dead former employee? (above taken from "Phantoms and Monsters.". )