August 20, 2011

Trippy Tale # 35..."Growing Up With A Poltergeist"

 (From Jamie, and the files @ "Phenomena Log")

"I'm researching for a book on living with ghosts and I wanted to share my poltergeist story, which is the reason I got into this field.
My parents divorced in the 1970s and my mom bought a house that had been built into the side of a hill in the mid 1800s. The activity started as we were fixing the place up before we even moved in.
First, a brief discussion on poltergeists. The common thinking, at least here in the states, is that poltergeists are usually associated with an adolescent or pre-adolescent girl (the agent), and involve psychokinesis. More current studies acknowledge that there's often another child involved and that one child is often epileptic. Additionally there are usually high levels of emotional stress in the family. I was on the young side of what is considered the age range for being an agent when we moved in, just turning 11. I had a younger brother who, unknown to us at the time, was epileptic. Add the stress of my parents divorce and the move, and you can see why my mother blamed all of our poltergeist activity on me.
However, as much as our haunting was very poltergeist in nature, it had some aspects that were very different. Most poltergeist activity is violent in nature, involves "non-purposeful" noises and moving objects, and happens when the agent is around.
In our case, no one needed to be around, and the poltergeist remained just as active for years after I move out (and I'm betting he's still there today). Our ghost was also rarely violent, and the things that happened were highly intelligent attempts at interacting with our family.
I finally found the research of a man named Ian Stevenson who founded The Division of Perceptual Studies at Virginia University. After reviewing all of his poltergeist cases he identified two types of poltergeist hauntings. Some were attributed to an agent. In these the activity was "without purpose and often violent". The other cases involved the spirits of the dead and "featured intelligent communication, purposeful movement of objects, and little violence." Ours was the second type. So, with the understanding that this poltergeist may be different than other poltergeists you've heard of.
Here are a few of my stories:
When we first moved in we bought three cans of paint, a light purple for my room, a light blue for my brothers room, and gold for the hallway. We painted my brother's room first and under each faceplate we removed, we found the walls had previously been the exact same shade of light blue.
When we went to do my room we took the light switch plate off first. I remember all of us staring at the light purple under it. Then it struck us to check under the other switch plates and they were all light purple too. Finally, my mom suggested we try taking off the hall switch plates. I think she was really hoping it would just take some of the weirdness away when she saw they just had off white under them. But, the didn't. They were all removed to show the same shade of gold we were about to paint the hall.
The poltergeist generally kept to it's name with being very noisy. We'd all be downstairs and hear footsteps upstairs. Or my brother and I would be asleep and my mother would hear footsteps coming down the stairs. The sounds were frequent and constant.
Our dog slept in my brothers room and would wake up in the middle of the night barking and snapping. We later found out that the stairs used to be circular and the dog's bed would have been right at the bottom, just where those disembodied footsteps were heading.
Other times, the dog would stare at something not there in the hall and bark and growl incessantly. In my room I had shelves that went from the floor to the ceiling and at one point I had them filled with nothing but stuffed animals. I woke up one morning and every stuffed animal was on my bed, carefully placed so that they made a complete circle around me - even over my head.
One morning, my brother was getting ready for school and couldn't find his sneakers. This activity was so prevalent at that point with other things going missing that he remembers thinking "darned, now the ghost has my sneaker!" He missed the bus and walked to school in his dress shoes since my mom was already at work and couldn't drive him.
I was the first one home that day and went to get something from his room. I stopped dead as soon as I walked in. There were his sneakers, smack dab in the middle of his round rug, placed perfectly together with toes pointed directly at the door. I had the feeling that it was sorry to have caused so much trouble and was trying to apologize.
In the living room, there was a rocking chair on top of the corner of a rug. Sometimes we would find the rug pulled out from under the chair, folded forward over itself, and the chair sitting on the hard wood floor.
My mom used to look out at the barely paved one lane road between our house and the ruins of the mill at night and see a lantern going down the street. No one carrying it, just a lantern bobbing along...
Our ghost like to open all the kitchen cabinets and drawers when we weren't looking. It's a bit unnerving walking into the kitchen to see every single drawer and cabinet open when you were just in the room a few minutes before and they were all solidly shut.
We also had a bathroom with a very old door that required the original key to lock it. There was no reason for any of us to ever take the key out of the door, but somehow, the ghost was fascinated with hiding it on us. Sometimes it would pop up back in the bathroom somewhere a day or two later, and sometimes it would show up somewhere else altogether.
One Sunday, my mom was having friends over for dinner at 4.00. She had everything ready, but they showed up at 5 and she was pissed. They swore they were on time and finally talked her into calling someone to check. They were right - they had arrived at 4. Every clock in our house had been moved ahead an hour. even the one on the electric stove with the missing knob so you needed pliers to turn it.
The next Sunday, every clock in the house somehow turned back to be an hour early. At first we thought maybe the power had gone out for an hour, but even the battery powered clocks had been turned back.
Again, consistent with a good poltergeist, was the throwing of small metal objects. In our case, it was pennies. We'd all be in the family room and hear the familiar quiet thud-thud-thud down the wooden stairs and in the hall. We'd go out to find yet, another penny had been thrown down the stairs. This must have happened at least 20 times. They were always older pennies too - from the 1930s and 40s I think. We'd try to save them in one place so we could remember the dates, but somehow, they always had a way of disappearing.
And here are a few stories from the woman who had the house after us, a friend of my mom's:
In the family room, there was a 10 gallon gold fish aquarium in the corner, sitting on a large wooden packing crate. One night, the woman heard a huge crash in the middle of the night and ran in there to find the aquarium on its side in the middle of the room, a good three or four feet from the crate, which was still standing and fully intact.
She told me how she would share the ghost stories with all of her guests, and if they didn't believe her the ghost would convince them otherwise. She had a couple over one night, who didn't believe any of her stories, so she warned them it would make an appearance.
A little later she was telling them how safe it was there at night, because the old stone stairs you had to climb up the hill along the side of the house were impossible in the dark, and the porch creaked badly. No one could make it to the back door without injury or an alerting noise.
Just as she finished saying that, there was a knock at the door. She laughed and told her friends it was the ghost, as expected. They didn't believe her, so she made them open the door. Of course, there was no one there.
And finally, a missed opportunity to communicate. She had a glass jar of stones in the dining room and came home one night, to find it empty. When she went into the kitchen, she found them in patterns across all the counters. She scooped them right back into the bowl and called a friend to come stay the night with her.
Later, she was talking to a local historian, who told her that soldiers from the war that took place in the area used to leave stones in patterns on the trails as coded messages for other soldiers. That fit with the fact that we had found a cannon ball from the war in the ground, right next to the foundations of the house. I think we finally learned a bit about the identity of the ghost!
It has been 35 years since I lived in that house. The one I live in now has some paranormal activity, but nothing like that one! As often happens with girls who grew up with poltergeists, I have had a few minor psychokinetic experiences over the years, so maybe there is some sort of interaction between an agent and a spirit. But I know in my case, there was a spirit and it wasn't just me!"

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