Thursday, October 25, 2012

Update! Remembering in November: Artist Spotlights to come..

A funny thing happened upon needing and leaving the restroom…And a recent brush with the other side of the veil, a reminder that it is coming soon the time to give thanks, to think about loved ones that have gone before in the wilderness of the unknown. In honour of the holidays of remembrance this November, I present my featured Artist profiles. 
There are fantastic people I have met on my journey, intuitive, empathic hardworking people that give a genuine care about the world they live in, enough to be inspired to comment in the direction of the happenstance in the form of artistic output, calling attention, not so much to themselves for personal glory or popularity… but to the causes they take to heart.
An idea that has bounced around in my head for the last few months got the kick to the forefront by a visit from a group of Civil War Soldiers.
 Soldiers too, in common with these Artists that I know, know all too well the idea of sacrifice for the good of people they do not know. Maybe perhaps they hold the memories of loved ones they wish to protect in their hearts much like inspiration of an Artist that feels so strongly the need of a message that has to be shared with the world. In their own ways they give their life for the betterment of their fellow man: Soldiers quite literally and Artists figuratively. 
Now this comparison is not to negate the huge sacrifices of life that Soldiers give, and especially their families when their loved one dies a hero’s death, perhaps you are very curious as to why I would make such an unusual comparison?  I will get into that. But to digress a little:
As a child, like any child, I had ideas of what I wanted to be when I grew up, of course they changed over time as life’s happenstances adjusted my path and nudged me in way I couldn't have guessed. I was naturally artistic kid and love to draw, sing and dance, but had no idea that it would be my professions. I wanted to be a Nun or a Soldier, a Marine in particular, and since I was no longer at Catholic School, I sent off a form to join the Marines at the tender pre-teen age of 11. Well, needless to say they thanked me and said they would get back to me in a few years which they held to their promise. Life, by then had taken one of those turns and I saw first-hand what happened to someone I love returning from war and not being the same. He was a great Marine and the adjustment to civilian life proved to be difficult, I contemplated this as I held the ID of an Iraq Soldier who had surrendered to my Brother in Law during Operation Desert Storm.

Perhaps it was something I did in a past life? Being a Soldier, dedicated clergy? I was drawn to the discipline and the relief of having someone dictates your path. It seemed having someone telling you right from wrong rather than deciding and making mistakes and learning experiences on your own would be such a relief then to overthink each experience wondering if I am doing the right thing.
  It was not to be for me. I was not to be the hero or saviour but more of a commentator. A demotion that I am making the best of and perhaps I had already done my turn at that and now it is time for my soul to learn something new.
Perhaps the Universe has other ideas for my talents that it nudges gently for me to learn and apply that I need to listen for in the stillness.
On Tuesday, I had errands to run and they took me all over town, before going to get milk for the household, I was on the South East part of town and thought it would be neat to see the outside of Waverly Sanatorium , one the most famous and haunted places in Louisville and take some pictures.  I was chilled by the communications I saw on the Season 7 part 2 of Ghost Hunters where the Nurses who fell ill during their tenure communicated to the investigators by rapping on the walls.
Since the street leading to the Sanatorium is not loudly marked, I blew past it when I discovered a sign for Union Fort Duffield, a Civil War fort which construction started on Nov. 1st, 1861 in West Point, Kentucky just shy south of Louisville on the Dixie Highway.  

Intrigued, I decided to go check it out instead. By this time I really needed to relieve my bladder, it is a well-tended attraction, so I gathered there might be a latrine or at the very least a private bush I may relieve myself in the wilderness.
There was signage and a place for brochures; I hadn’t brought a larger stroller for the little one but an Ergo baby carrier that I strapped my toddler in whilst we pursued the map of the area. Happy for the adventure in nature, she was excited by the prospect of exploration and eager for a hike.
A hike it was! There was a toilet but it was located on the top of the fort some 300 feet above where I was standing. Looking around there wasn’t a private place in which to take a my little one and relieve myself, not to mention disturbing bugs and snakes. The area felt a little sacred to conduct such mundane business on. I saw the path and the incline and started up the hill.
Not many people had traversed what once a road that tourists, were at one time, allow to drive up. After a steep incline where my shuffling of the fall leaves startled some sunning snakes, I turned the corner where cleverly painted benches assured climbing folks that they could rest and the assent would be worth it in the end. 

Thinking it would be harder to keep going if I rested the 25 or so lbs Toddler & backpack weight on my already sturdy dense frame, I kept trudging up the hill. Honestly it was steep but the air fresh and the view of the Ohio awe inspiring. A mountain biker was doing the same, a full forward lean to get his bike up the incline so he could deflate his tires some and take the fast track back down.
As I made it to the top I was rewarded with the restroom building and made haste to relieve myself.  As I exited, a gentleman making the same trek asked if I had also climbed the hill carrying my little one.
“Yes”, I panted, happy and proud I made it to the bathroom with no accidents.
“Good on you!” he complimented and I thanked him, happy I had a witness as I was a little worried about my flagging cell battery and the possibilities of falling down the mountain, understanding now the service of GPS on my phone to find me if such a thing should happen. My brain often works out worst case scenarios, just in case.
We were rewarded for our efforts by a huge earthen fort with a fantastic view. There were informative signs, cabin and a left over cannon which I photographed.
Sitting down by the cabin and giving my daughter a chance to stretch her legs we settled to have some water and inspect the dirt which I collected a little in a Ziploc baggie.
I collect different dirt. I have since I was a kid when my father brought me back a small block of a “witchdoctors hut” (his Native guide’s words) from an Anasazi ruin that I knew I was probably facing some curse for having. When it later vanished I imagined it went back home where it belonged.
This hand full of dirt I collected from under a shade tree would fulfill a collection I was making for a bucket I was creating for the Spirit Black Hawk, where dirt from a Mountain is required. I thought it was a bonus that the dirt from an impregnable fort on a mountain would be even much more a boon for an offering for this great warrior and after looking about to see I was not observed went about my giving thanks to the land & Spirits for the dirt.

On my way out I noticed another sign, for the Fort Duffield Memorial Cemetery. 
Many of the original resting places of the Soldiers had been moved to other cemeteries but I could still feel that perhaps some of their remains stayed at the fort. Looking up at yet other climb and vista, I contemplated not climbing another 100 or so feet. I realized I may never have a chance to see this again, as we will be returning the borrowed car and soon my adventuring would be relegated to what I could reach on foot and bus. So I resolved myself to climb up the mountain and thought perhaps if it felt right collect some of that dirt as well. Soldier’s grave dirt is good for protection.
The road had not been walked upon since the leaves of the season begun to carpet the path. I shuffled up the hill taking small breaks to take in the quiet, catch my breath and take in the reverence around me. 
My little one reached her arms out to touch the light rain of goldenrod leaves that floated down upon us. We finally reached the Apex and upon reading the sign proceeded to the memorial.

I could feel the presence of the 61 men who had not seen battle in the Fort but lived in constant awareness of it possibility. Many died in the elements while stationed there in the 4 years of the Civil War that it was active. I felt them as sentinels as I gazed on their raised flag and gleaming white stones re-positioned in a circle around the flag they defended. I felt very strongly I would not gather dirt here, it did not feel right. I instead read out each of their names aloud and took a couple photographs instead.
 I saw their faces in life, in my mind’s eye, proud and tired soldiers in uniform, 61 of the 1000 that were station there to protect General William Tecumseh Sherman’s supply base in West Point, Ky.

I thanked them for their time and I felt lightness as I left the cemetery by a different path. This is a precaution taken by many who visit cemeteries so that they less likely to be followed home by other worldly visitors and ghosts. This path was much more of a downhill hike to be taken very slowly and carefully, especially with my precious cargo. It was with relief when I finally found the road and could see the car in the distance.
After finishing my errands and a good nap to be had for the little one, I made it back home  and shared my photos of our recent adventure with a little history lesson for the folks back in my hometown. I was grateful for the exercise and that our adventure’s outcome was a safe one when I exited the bathroom after placing the bag of dirt in our art/altar room where my Ancestors & Orisha’s reside.  Standing in the Nursery playroom I had a strong sense that the room was very crowded with unseen visitors, surprisingly I was not at all scared when a loud and strong voice spoke to me.
“You have done much to give voice to us; you do much to insure we are remembered. This does not go unnoticed. For this we want to provide for you, and protect you”
I started to cry, a sign that something supernatural was indeed occurring at that point. The voice came from the shapes that had formed in my mind’s eye. Shapes of these men that crowded the room, the men whose names I had read on the tombstones just hours before. I had never in my experiences with the other world heard a voice so strong and clear, and swooned before I regained composure to answer a simple “thank you, for that I am very grateful”.
With that, they vanished, the room lightened and I walked back to the living room where I contemplated how I could insure I do right by this acknowledgment.
An idea had been brewing for some time, of giving voice to other folks who straddle these worlds, inspired by their touches with the Spirit world that they expressed in healing, artistic expression and act of compassion. A lot of these folks came forward to help my family and I when we faced very difficult times in the previous year. Some I only knew through the internet but had spread the message amongst their friends, of when we needed assistance. Their acts of charity helped keep the roof over our heads, food in our bellies and their prayers & well wishes for trips to the Doctor for our little one for testing for Spina Bifida Occulta which thankfully came back as negative, her signs being only topical.
These folks, struggling as we do, to make a living at and providing for their families whilst communing, giving reverence with their passed on family and Ancestors; who in turn give them guidance and inspiration for art they sell. I want to dedicate this virtual space this November to these folks that dedicate their time and life to those that have gone before and theirs who come back to ours to help guide and inspire.
When you think of gifts this season for yourself and others please consider taking a look and or sharing with friends the links from the folks I will be gathering here. Not only does this benefit the immediate needs of the families they support but the Spiritual family beyond they also support with offerings and prayers. Our families are not just the ones we see, hug and spend time with but all that grace our walls and altars, family Bibles and photos walls, remembered in our hearts and songs.
Cold touches on the arms and voices calling our names from the beyond will happen with more frequency this month so leave out a class of water and a candle for those that are still looking out for you from the other side of the Veil.

***I have decided to update this post with feedback that I have received from other folks in concern to my impressions...reliable and trusted sources put forth the idea that perhaps the Soldiers I had felt came with an Native Spirit voice as they let me know that Ghosts often are not as strong or as focused (they are working out their own things here) to offer what I had heard and that perhaps it had to do with more the Native dwellers of the land I was exploring. I was retrieving dirt for Father Black Hawk after all. However, something else may have piggy backed on my way home, something that showed up in a photograph that was taken of me during rehearsal for the Victorian Ghost Walk in Old Louisville. Stay tuned as I hope to receive this photo and report back this cautionary tale in the next blog! 

Up your protection and prayers folks! 

Monday, October 8, 2012

My date with Elizabeth....

I started this particular blog sometime back, during the time of Mercury Retrograde. Not the best time to start new projects, or for electronic devices either, we lost 2 phones and retired ye old computer for its years of good service.
Mercury Retrograde is often a great time for review, a great time to take stock and see where you are at.  Now as the fall chill is in the air and the Halloween, All Saints Day, Samhain and Dios de la Muertos is coming, I thought this would be an interesting time, when our internet is up and running to post this story. It is spooky, and like a scar this one sticks with me. It can be considered a cautionary tale for the knowledge seeker and it one of those rare occasions that I have actually used an Ouija Board and it actually worked.  Another time was short and sweet and didn't scare me. A spirit came back to tell me my boyfriend sucked and to ditch him, while I hardly think that the poster child of so called romantically bad ending relationships would have time in purgatory to warn me about my teenage jerky boy, whatever or whomever spoke through that board had a point. I didn't value myself enough and I picked a jerk for a boyfriend.  And I am no authority; it could have been him hoping to burn off some bad karma built up in his life. Or perhaps a spirit who cared enough to use a name that I would find interesting, whatever the case, I should have headed the spirits warning a little better. But I learn most lessons the hard way, especially then.

Fast forward to about 2005, I and a group of my Occult interested friends formed a fun little group where we would go on Ghost Tours, explore points of interest in spooky San Francisco and hang around as my hubby cooked us delicious meals as while we watch movies and discussed magic, ghosts, religions and the etc. We came from all different walks of life and interests. One of us (and it wasn't me at the time ) was an initiate of Santeria, another couple of Wiccans, La Vey Satanists, Chaos  Magicians,  and just Peaceful nondenominational folk..  a catch all if you will.

Two of our group were older Gentleman, both very knowledgeable and a total hoot to be around, and in one such field trip, they suggested that we would go visit and attempt to communicate with Elizabeth Short better known as The Black Dahlia. She was a beautiful movie starlet hopeful better known for her untimely demise and her unfortunate, ghastly and horrific murder. The Elder who was just shy of being a Santero, hoped to perform a ceremony where her soul would be at peace.

Her final resting place happens to be in Oakland, California, a far cry from the bright light of Hollywood, and a somewhat quick Bart and Bus ride from San Francisco.

I had heard that camps of Goths would picnic near her grave. She was  known for her raven tresses and love of wearing black, complete with a huge Dahlia in her hair as she was for the mystery surrounding her death. In Jan. 15th,  1947, her nude body was dropped in a field, dissected, to be discovered by a passerby a woman taking her baby out for an early morning stroll. Her story has been made into countless true crime dramas and Hollywood movies. While she never made it as a star in life, she would haunt Hollywood forever as a reminder of the dark side of fame seeking.

My Elder recognized in my mediumistic ability that at the time I was pretty reluctant about. They had a fun time dragging this reluctant Medium around and saying “sit here, what do you feel?” in all sort of haunted hotels, theaters and the like. Knowing that natural gifts should be appreciated, it actually really helped me to see my abilities in a new light as well as test them in places I hadn't been before that they had.

On our field trip to Oakland we brought cameras, paper and crayons (for my collection of grave rubbings) as well as spiritual items to perform a ritual to help her spirit if it was not at rest, prayers, rum and a gourd rattle. Another item they brought was an Ouija Board.  There were so many beautiful monuments to take pictures at and we tried to snap a plenty while we made our way around to locate Ms. Short's resting place.

While I cannot remember what order each of these occurred in, I know I politely asked her if I could make a rubbing of her marker in my sketch book. We had also brought her flowers, it just seemed right that we should gift her with lovely things if she was going to speak with us and let us hang out with her so to speak. Though this cemetery is a very well cared for and maintained place, I took a moment to clean up her monument, brushing the dust and leaves off and after addressing her and letting her know what we brought her, laid my paper torn from a handmade sketch book my coworker had made and gifted me and set to complete my rubbing.
First test rubbing.

Before cameras, grave rubbings were actually a quite popular pastime. You take a piece of paper, though wax paper works best, and a crayon of a sort: could be a regular colour crayon or fancy art school conte crayon and after placing the paper on the headstone you rub the crayon across it and it will leave the impression of the raised or engraved monument on the paper.
One great book I picked up at Aardvark’s Bookstore in the Castro of San Francisco for $6.00 is called “Early New England Gravestone Rubbings” by Edmund Vincent Gillon, Jr.  it is put out by the fabulous Dover Books. It is a great way to be able to see these older tombstones as many are in such a state over time that to even do a rubbing can compromise them.
My test rubbings. Best to use wax paper as images will show up better.

Next up they recruited my other friend to sit with me and use the Ouija Board. I elected to keep my eyes closed so that I could not influence the outcome of what was said or rather spelt out. Other friends observing took note of what was the outcome of our questions.
Perhaps keeping my eyes closed was the reasons that I had such vivid visions, the like which I had never experienced except for perhaps dreams! Her spirit, I was surprised to note did not feel in peril but more at peace and acceptance, something that quite surprised me given her untimely and horrible death.  She answered our questions and I heard my friend relaying what was spelled out as the images flooded me.

I saw the horizontal slats of a shed like place and heard a group of men’s voices, discussing the deployment of her organs and the draining of her blood and she walked me through these steps of her final hours, when the question was asked how many persons were involved in her death, the number 8 was chosen on the board. I shuddered thinking that there is just no “why” answer that would make sense to me as to why this happened to her. I grew nauseous as the images grew progressively gorier as the men took turns with various tools, carving and cleaving hurriedly to imply there was more to the significance of the motive of deploying remains in such a fashion.

When she had finished showing the sequence of events, I made a note to read what I could about her since all I had heard in the past were asides from old coworkers that were into true crime stories. I am not a huge follower of serial killers and the like so other than some very basic knowledge, I was unaware of any details surrounding her case.

It was after we thanked her for her time that our other friend stepped forward to offer prayers, libations and should she need them help in moving on. What I learned is while she has moved on in her acceptance of her fate as a cautionary tale; others have not as the Black Dahlia case has gone down in infamy as one of the unfathomable cold cases in America. Sometimes some folks find themselves in situations, being the right or wrong time and place; privy to information that can come back to haunt or some cases hurt us.

Photo courtesy of : 

A great blog I found whilst doing an image search.Please read!

Where to find Elizabeth and other folks you may be looking for:

After the ceremony we took more pictures of the surrounding area which strangely none of which came out. I thought I had remember seeing them in the camera but something happened after transferring them to the computer, given my track record with electronics it doesn’t surprise me but this was one of the rare occasions where my computer didn’t crash. The pictures simply just …vanished.  All I have left are the gruesome visions in my head and the grave rubbings. I sent the best one cross country to a friend and kept my trial ones I scanned here. I thought I would never be far from Oakland but I realize how life has amazing twists and turns you can never anticipate, as I am writing this in Kentucky!

I later found out my own great grandmother is buried in the same cemetery and I hope next time I make it back to California that I can visit her. Of course I’ll bring a Dahlia for Elizabeth too.  I’ll never forget what she shared with me and what I learned about some Spirits,  not all haunt, not all are trapped some simply move on.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

October! Where have I been?? Here's where I'll be:

Hello my dear folks! It seems like I have been gone forever! Now that I have a moment to breathe , it is time to catch you up on the happenings of your Guide of the Blog-o-sphere!

Our lil family was able to save up and get a new computer for all Borg needs (that's what my hubby calls my connection to the internets) alas we have had connectivity issues for the last couple months. Our apartment comes with free WiFi but somehow spooky old limestone and brick mansions do not make the best for those wayward signals. We finally adjusted our budget and got a mobile hotspot from our phone service and here I am! I have a spooky Ouija story I had been working and reworking on for you dear readers. One of maybe a handful of times I have ever used one. It needed a little further working on from one computer to the next, so I hope to get that out in the next couple days.

Speaking of signals, I turned the Wifi on my phone and opened a maps app. The signal actually showed the blue dot wandering in the walking court just outside my house. The Walking path of a certain nieghbourhood ghost.. coincidence or ???

Which leads me to other app I found for my phone through the Google Play feature (I am sure they must have it for you Apple folks in your iTunes market) It is called "The Ghost Speaker" (c) by Krugism. The Ghost Speaker works like Ovilus , which you may have seen on some Ghost Hunting type shows where it take the EMF reading of your environment and turns it into words. I like to just turn it on and see what comes up. Sometimes it isn't so random and that's the fun part. It's quite inspiring and a lot of the reviews by actual ghost hunters using it on investigations seems very promising. I have other plans for this app actually that are inspired by it but not necessarily it's intended purpose. I think it could be more of a inspiration for the writing of stories and songs...

Which leads into my next topic of catch! For those who may just know this blogger as a writer of "spooky things that happened to me" may not know that for the last 20 years or so I have spent a bulk of time as a professional musician, namely a singer. I have been lucky enough to get to create and craft great music with really talented folks. In the last several months I have been afforded a nice break from the constant gigging that I have been doing since my teen years! Wow , being almost 40 and realizing that I have spent all that time on a stage somewhere singing my heart out is something that makes my head spin a little bit. The only other break I took was for 1 month in 2008 when I got my tonsils removed and had to be silent to heal. This current break is more a scheduling challenge. My husband and I have played music together in bands since our re-meeting at a band rehearsal in 2004, we had our first child in 2011 and living in an new town where we don't know anyone makes gigging together a little hard with a now mobile toddler. Previously we took shows where we could take her along, either strapped to my chest where she could be sung to sleep with a full band (with proper ear protection, of course) or sitting in the lap of a family member  watching Mum sing or play Theremin or Flute.
Sketch of my band & I (and baby!) by Suzanne Forbes

So what pray tell does Music have to do with Spooky Ghost stories? Well the Beyond is the inspiration for a long underground music project of mine which technically for the next scheduled performance is a "solo" project. Not that there isn't room for other folks, especially my multi talented family, should my toddler like to join at some point and my hubby is a much more prolific and talented songwriter then myself. 

This project is called "The Wazzoo Sound" ( )   which includes myself and my crafted just for me Theremin and a various Spiritual Mediums in the form of Antique phonographs. I figured since you can put on a disk, preferably at 78 rpm and through a needle and reproducer, hear the words from the dead: Cole Porter for example, then technically my phonographs can be Mediums. I play a long dead tune and write a part for it on my Theremin and I have connected with the past.  Here is a pic of me dresses as a phantom Hitchhiker (a ghost!) playing my Theremin for the rock opera by the Slow Poisoner called "Lost Hills" you can get the record here :

photo by Shannon Friend

Now if you are in the Midwest on Nov. 17th I will be performing this at the Time Travelers Ball in Ohio. More info here:

Now unto local to Louisville Ghostly happenings:

I have written about my spooky neighbourhood before and how we celebrate the fact we are one of America's most haunted 'Hoods and cities. With Louisville's history alone spawning book after book by our beloved and talented local Authour's, come October we gather together for a little street theatre and retelling the tales of our beloved passed on residents. David Domine, whom I have mentioned previously as my fave Authour on the subject (as well as yummy cookbooks!) along with director Ron Harris have created a seriously fun, informative and spooky good time. Ron ,who you might has spied in Law and Order along with his actress wife Jane, are the creators of the Old Louisville Candy Company. They make those delicious bourbon "Happy Balls" given out  to our guests on our on regular Ghost Walks , which are oh so very yummy, they are truly haunting..(oh yes I just went there didn't I?)

For 3 days around Halloween Oct. 26th, 27th & 28th from 7-9 pm you can go on the tour and see live actors portray the bygone (or is it really?) era and get a taste of what makes our 'Hood so special. Then for those with a real taste for the supernatural there is a special fund raiser for our beloved Congrad-Caldwell House (it really is more of a Castle!) for its upkeep on Sat. Oct 27th. The Spirit Ball! There will be Victorian Seances! Card readers, music and food. In a haunted Castle! Here are some links:

Victorian Ghost Walk Tickets:

Oh did I mention "yours truly" will be performing the role of a famous resident Mystic Romany, Madame Zanskaya? 

There is no lack of fun stuff in my 'Hood, currently they are setting up tables outside my door for the most famous St. James Art Show which is happening this weekend: 
My losing entry for the Poster Contest. The woodwork on the top is from the inside of the Congrad-Calwell House. I probably blinded my nieghbour judges!

Artists from all over the country come to sell their wares and I heard local Brewery Against The Grain will be there! Cool, since it is literally in our front yard we will be there. 

For folks that feel that locals are not as represented these days since the clotheslines of the yesteryear's there is the Mag Bar's Unfair Faire which is just outside the faire where you can find more what "Keeps Louisville Weird" I certainly want to hit up both events!

I hoped to have some goodies to sell but honestly, I am trying to pair down my workaholic nature and  concentrate on the aforementioned performances.

Last but not least, this little lady went back to school! I am attending Crossroad's University:  where I am learning : Foundations in Southern Rootwork, Foundations in New Orleans Voodoo, Indian Spirit Hoodoo, The Spiritual Traditions Of Marie Laveaux,
and Doll Baby Conjure.  I have been having so much fun learning how to make Dolls in the traditional way, including scouring Central Park in the night for sticks (which is getting me an interesting reputation in my nieghbourhood btw) and telling people that I am studying African American and Native American History. Which is not a fib but an easier way of trying to explain to folks what I am studying. The cool thing is that folks will often remark that they have heard of the school, which is pretty nifty, is there a lot more folks like myself out here then I know? Maybe we'll see each other in the cemeteries putting out our coin offerings to the dirt we are collecting?

Well that's all for catch up! Please take a look see at all those links and come hang out if you are in the area, now onto rehearsing and homework and getting that blog done. Thanks for reading!