50-34 – Stonehenge

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I’ve been once. Very nearly thirty years ago. What is most amazing apart from the stones themselves and the sacred space itself is how much of the feelings remain with me after so many years away.

I’ve always had a thing for rocks. Pebbles and larger, colored and polished, rough, formations that can’t be moved no matter how hard you try. When I returnd to Wales in 2009, I touched the stones of castles and rock formations, and almost none gave me the feeling that I experienced at Stonehenge.

I was lucky when I went. You could still touch the stones and move in and out, around them and about. There were some ropes to keep you from sitting on the flat ones, and of course, they didn’t want you climbing, but just being there, surrounded by the cool plains air, the cold to the touch stones, gigantic, and not just tall but broad and sturdy.

The sun was setting. We were one of the last buses allowed in for the day, and I was very thankful. This was our only chance to visit, and this was one of the important places that I wanted to see. To touch. To feel. To be.

If you’ve never been to a place of great spirits, you can’t imagine the electricity coming off of not only the stones, but the ground below them. I’ve been to Gettysburg, and I imagine Standing Rock in North Dakota has the residual of all that has gone before it, but Stonehenge….Stonehenge is in an entirely other category; another world.

You almost don’t notice the other tourists. I was spellbound, moving from one monolith to the next, placing my hand, palm flat against the cold, rough edifice. I didn’t have to imagine what had gone before in this place; I could feel it: the heartbeat. The pulse, the pulsating of life, of forever.I never wanted to leave.

The sky dimmed and then darkened, the powerful stones becoming shadowed and dark against the darkening sky. I can remember leaving, sitting in the bus, looking out the window at the stones growing smaller as we ambled slowly away, getting further and further distant, and yet, they are still with me; within me.

There is magic there, so much that it is able to let a little bit leave with its visitors and keep them in touch with the pulse of the land, the stones, the past, and the future, and of course, whatever else we believe is out there, be it Druidic or Diety, Nature or Nurture, Spirit and Faith.

It’s taken thirty years to get this much down, and I still feel more wanting to bubble up, but not ready – I’m not ready to let it all out. I want to be selfish and keep it inside for me alone. It can’t be shared in a way that anyone else can feel what I feel. It’s too much to share so I’ve shared what I could.

(c)1987, (c)2016


(c)1987 (c)2016


Amazing. (c)1987, (c)2016


Stonehenge. (c)1987, (c)2016


Sunset at Stonehenge. (c)1987, (c)2016

50-19 – Ghost Stories

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​As skeptical and full of cynicism as I am, I still believe things. While it’s still in the mainstream, I don’t need to see G-d to know He exists, but I also believe in other spirits. I’ve seen them and felt them, and unexplained things are unexplained for a reason. Sometimes, it just is.

One of the reasons I never watched The X-Files or came so late to Supernatural and hated The Twilight Zone is how much of it I believe can be reality. The supernatural and unexplained aspects of shows like that, of seeing things in the corner of your eyes, of hearing things that others don’t – I could never accept it as fiction because I’m a believer in those spirits and happenings. Some of those types of stories are just too real. For me, there is no suspension of disbelief; my disbelief is already suspended and I clutch one hand to my armrest, and one over my eyes with barely separated fingers.

The first experience that I can recall was as a child visiting the Jenny Wade house in Gettysburg. Jenny Wade was the only civilian casualty of the Battle of Gettysburg. A bullet propelled through her street facing closed door and hit her, killing her instantly while she was kneading bread. As a child, there was a mannequin of a soldier in the kitchen that told her story. They projected a talking face onto the mannequin that creeped me the fuck out. Even as a kid, I knew it wasn’t a ghost or ghostly figure, but it was still scary for me. The promotion of the house was that the walls could talk as the only eyewitness to the death.

I visited there again with my husband and later on with my kids when they were younger, and I remember a distinct feeling of not being alone in the cold cellar of the house. The simple act of opening the doors tilted and facing outside, and descending down the stone steps left a profound feeling.

Gettysburg is full of spirits, though. Out of all my encounters, three have taken place in Gettysburg or areas of the Civil War battles. I distinctly remember waking up to find a soldier in a Civil War era uniform standing at the edge of my hotel room bed. I still get shivers when I picture him; like now.

The third time, my husband took my son exploring some of the gravestones on the Battlefield while I stayed in the car with the two younger kids, and I could feel it all around me – the unrest.

I think of all the battles we’ve experienced as a country, the Civil War has the most unrest, the most restless, the most tragic spirits still roaming about.

Once, after college, I was driving my car and was stopped at a red light. I think I drifted off to sleep. My foot stayed on the brake and there was no one behind me to honk, but when the light turned green or just after, I felt a hand on my shoulder. It just nudged me and I was awake. I’m not sure, but it felt like my grandmother. She had recently died, and of course, no one was in the car with me.

In 2010, I kept a dream journal on post-it notes. I had been having odd dreams, and so I kept track of them at that time. I didn’t discover it until several years later, but one of those dreams was of my friend getting shot. When I looked at the date, it was exactly one year before he was actually shot by a mutual friend’s ex. That definitely gave me pause.

That mutual friend was murdered, and a few of us, some who knew her and some who didn’t, drank a variety of teas and wrote or journaled about them and/or our friend, B. There were five different varieties of tea that we were all sharing at different times and in different places, and I could definitely feel her presence during those tea drinking moments, and while journaling about them. She was very present for about a year after she died; maybe a bit longer than a year, but it was palpable, almost a tangible feeling of her spirit, encouraging me to taste the tea with all my senses and keep writing about the feelings. Her spiritual presence was one of the many influences on this blog coming together more consistently.

There have been others, including the moment that my belief in Jesus Christ came upon me in cliched and literal glowing white light and sudden understanding, but other than that the other moments were much less, just there nudging me forward, sometimes a comfort and sometimes a question, but my mind and my heart are both open to these and other encounters.

Vintage Supernatural

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One week ago, Supernatural (Episode 11.5) took the brothers to the site of the grisly 19th century murders of Andrew and Abby Borden, father and step-mother of Lizzie Borden. There is much controversy as to who murdered them in their home, the popular nursery rhyme sing-songing one theory:

Lizzie Borden took an axe
and gave her mother forty whacks,
when the job was finally done
gave her father forty one

Amazing what lurks in the childhood memories and recesses of our minds. It comes unbeckoned as if I were still jumping rope in the grassy courtyard where I grew up far, far away from the murder of her parents. Lizzie was put on trial and acquitted. She died of pneumonia in 1927. Her sister died nine days later. Despite having not seen each other in many years, they are buried side by side. There is a monument that marks Lizzie’s final resting place.

In her will, Lizzie left money to pay for the perpetual care of her father’s cemetery plot.

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Lizzie Borden

In viewing the previews for this episode, titled Thin Lizzie, they mention the family home in Fall River, Massachusetts, not all that far from where I live. I thought the Bed & Breakfast mentioned was a joke – was there really a place? One Google search and there it was. And before anyone asks, no, I have no desire or intention of visiting, no matter how close it is.

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Borden Family Home that is now a Bed & Breakfast & Tourist Attraction

Some things should be left, and this is one of them.

On the morning after the episode aired, the Washington Post had an article, Would you buy a murder house? I personally don’t know, and I hope I don’t find out. I certainly do believe that houses can have spiritual remnants of previous owners, not to mention other places where spirits dwell. I’ve had my own encounters, the most visceral being in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, both on the battlefield and in the Jennie Wade House, one of the places that is always on my to see list. I had gone as a child, and again while on vacation with my husband, and then went again while on vacation with my three children. There is something compelling about Jennie’s house and her story that calls to me. I’ve been searching for the last week to find the photos that I’ve taken at the house, both in the 70s with my family and again in 2008, I believe with my children. I have a memory in a darkened stone masoned cellar that you had to climb down into from the outside. I’m not sure why that flashed through my head as I’m writing this.

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The house where Jennie Wade was killed

The Jennie Wade House is located on a major road in Gettysburg; one that is extremely busy with traffic. It is in a tourist area, and directly across from a Rita’s Italian Ices Shop. My kids sat on the benches eating ices, and I watched the house, seemingly waiting for something to happen. Her death created the name of the landmark, although it is not actually Jennie’s house; it is her sister’s. Her sister had just had a baby, and Jennie and their mother came to help her. Jennie was baking bread, kneading the dough in the kitchen that adjoined the street. A stray bullet came through the front door, lodging in Jennie’s back, severing her spine and killing her.

She is the only civilian casualty in the city during the Battle of Gettysburg.

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Jennie Wade

Ever since I was a little girl, I have always felt a presence in this house. Despite the obvious, poor special effects in the kitchen that give the soldier mannequin his face as he narrates the story of that fateful day, there is still something powerful in the “talking walls”. His projected face scared me beyond belief as an adolescent, and I still had that creepy vibe when I went there as an adult. I know much of the sounds and creaks were theatrics, but you couldn’t help but feel something in this house and that some of those “theatrics” weren’t all faked.

In the preview and then last week’s episode, Supernatural showed some artifacts from the house. I don’t know if they were really artifacts of the Borden murders or props made to look like the actual items, but the photo of Lizzie reminded me both of Jennie Wade and Laura Ingalls; possibly because of the camera techniques of the 19th century, the black and white, head and shoulders, the pose, the lace collars and pinned hair. It led me down a rabbit hole of googling and reading various accounts from both times of both of their lives, Lizzie and Jennie. They couldn’t have been more different, and I wondered at what point childhood me decided to devote so much of my time to Jennie rather than the nursery rhyme. Maybe I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea of killing my parents. For a variety of reasons, I would never, but still why was I compelled to ignore her? I almost skipped the episode because the subject matter bothered me. I still wonder why I was never interested in Lizzie’s story – did I think she was guilty? I don’t know. I was much more compelled to the story of poor Jennie, baking bread for the soldiers. Her fiance was killed hours before she was. Neither of them knew the fate of the other.

I do love a good mystery, but I think I might need to not only have compelling characters, but also ones that are easier to feel compassion for, to put myself in their shoes, and I suppose, no, as I’ve said, I know that I could much more easily do that with Jennie Wade.