Heather L. Stream Dr. Stilwell
English Comp 101
Losing My Religion (Or How I Learned to Face My Demon)
“Oh life…is bigger, bigger than you and you are not me. The things that I would go through…” (R.E.M.) I must start this essay out with one clear confession to the reader, “Yes, I am a ghost hunter or ghoster, as I call it.” For over forty years, my life has been a breve of ghosts in one form or another, seeing the ghosts of people who were supposed to love me to actually seeing non-corporeal entities either in houses or in haunted places. Because of the numerous ghost sightings in my own life, I delved into a pit of darkness and, not trusting anyone to my personal feelings, I faced my issues alone with rebellion in mind against the words of anyone I knew. In the end of this dark period in my existence, I learned to “not play with fire” and to forgive those who hurt me, even if that meant a demonic wakeup call from Charles Starkweather in Wyuka Cemetery, Lincoln, Nebraska, over one year ago. I didn’t know I was a ghoster until memories of a long ago period visiting Kure Beach in North Carolina brought about an incident back from my childhood. As some ghosters know, Fort Fisher at the beach of North Carolina is somewhat haunted by several spirits or ghosts of Civil War soldiers. Before I begin my story of redemption, let me explain what a ghost or spirt is, the P a g e 2 | 13 differences in various hauntings and what you might experience with a haunting to decipher what kind of ghost you’re dealing with. “We KNOW ghosts exist. What is a ghost but the spirit of a once living human being; or of course a ghost COULD be something that has never walked the earth in human form. There are many reasons why spirits remain earthbound,” the late Demonologist Ed Warren stated explaining what a ghost is. (Butler) I also know that ghosts exist as well as I’ve seen them on many a ghosting adventure and sometimes, when I least expect it. Here is probably the best known photograph of a ghost or spirit caught by Indre Shira, assistant photographer of Captain Hubert C. Provand of Country Life Magazine for the December issue of 1936:
“The Brown Lady of Raynham Hall”, Lady Dorothy Walpole, sister of the first Prime Minister of Great Britain, Robert Walpole (Wikipedia) Many people in the world have had ghostly experiences ranging from a residual haunting to a full demonic possession of the house or a person. With my own house haunted at the moment, I can tell you that cold spots, shadows, words come from the mouths of my spirits of those long ago happily reside in my cozy abode. I currently live in a two story house, built in 1906 and the history of the house is unknown to me. Although I have not researched the reason why my house is haunted, I still can feel the age of house through the walls as if they wish to tell me the story of why it exists. Various hauntings or infestations of spiritual activity can range from a residual visit to a full on demonic infestation that leads to possession of the emotionally compromised. There are poltergeist activities that could be explained by knowing if the teenager or children in your house are going through prepubescent angst and many other reasons to explain these irregular events I can’t even start unless I was having a lecture on the paranormal. One might experience a paralysis of fear when seeing or confronting such entities when they see one or many roaming around in various locations. Another person might show complete indifference and say it’s a normal occurrence that happens quite often and they (the spirits) don’t hurt anything or anyone. I cannot predict the reactions of others when it comes to entities however, the majority of people I’ve talked to in regards to the paranormal don’t wish to “discuss such things” meaning it’s against their religion, even though they brought up the subject. Go figure. My first experience, as I stated earlier, as a ghoster was at Fort Fisher, NC, with my biological father and his girlfriend Judy, my big brother Joel and me looking over the sacred area as the tide rolled in for a windy afternoon. Fort Fisher was a Confederate stronghold of long ago that was overcome by the Union armies due to its defensive system of the Cape Fear River system near the end of the Civil War. (Resources) In the instance that everyone ventured off to see the rest of what, to me, seemed a bunch of mossy rocks, a man in a blue uniform appeared to me. His demeanor seemed quiet but he seemed to look out into the distance and then at me, handlebar mustache and all. I must confess he was brown-haired handsome as he began talking
to me with questions about why I was there. I answered but wasn’t afraid of him as his aura spoke of pleasantries but purpose for a young girl of 7 years of age. In my broken memory, the next thing I can recount is my father kneeling before me with his hands around my arms worried about who I was talking to as if shaking me out of a stupor. The group stared at me and all I could utter, being in fear of my father’s temper, “The man in blue was really nice.” “Who were you talking to? There is no one here besides us,” my father corrected with a tinge of “’you’re lying’ in his voice, “there is no man in blue.” “But I saw him,” I shot back with a quiet and concerned voice as if I did something wrong, “he wore blue and he was right in front of me. I saw him.” My biological father then looked at his girlfriend with a strange look and Judy nodded at my father. “We’ll talk about this on the phone,” I remember her telling my father in a voice reminding him to be gentle with us, “I think I know what’s going on.” In the meantime after Judy and my father spoke, she knew that I was “special” in regards to seeing ghosts and therefore, that is the backstory to my essay or story depending on what you call this writing. I knew I was special since I was small in thinking that I was “misplaced” in this family but genealogy speaking, I found out that my great Uncle Walter was also a seer like I am today but was kept hush-hush as “things like this were not talked about in polite company” in the Bible Belt. My family was nothing short of a dysfunctional mess; let me explain. Going to the present tense with this part of the essay, I dumped my biological family at the sensible age of forty-two. The last thing I ever said to my uncle/Dad was that he was a “narcissistic prick unable to feel love without someone stroking his ego”. I was divorcing my P a g e 5 | 13 ex-husband and the fury of accusations flew across my bow from everyone from my biological father stating that ‘I was not his daughter’ to my older brother going on an insidious rant equal to the manic sickness my father had about how I was to blame for everything bad in his life. Apparently, he called my abusive ex-husband, Daryl, with a screaming, crying fit growling that I caused all of the problems in his world. Worst yet, my so called ‘sinister in law” (sister in law) told me with a self-righteous indignation full of narcissistic bluster about how she was my ‘advisor (news to me!)’ via email and, after her egotistic piousness ended with a ‘You’re going to Hell because of what you’ve done’ seethe. Many would call this the “straw that broke the camel’s back” as I became fed up that those denunciations of religious forgery and the culpability that I supposedly “did so much wrong” was so erroneous and dishonest that I had to turn away. The words stung that my family turned their charlatan backs on me because they loved my ex so much but they never lived in the world of Daryl Brock, my former narcissistic and abusive husband. For twelve years, we were married and, after all I had to done, he believed that being married was not on his agenda since I lost over 210 lbs. and became a threat to his existence. People were paying attention to me instead of him and Daryl couldn’t stand the competition so he dumped me in a vicious bout of antagonism. I became what was standing in his way of success and, as all “narcs” do, he wanted to be the “center of attention” at my expense. Well, he became the center of attention and I was severed by my family due to his actions, as I tried in vain to defend my honor. To tell someone that they’re going to Hell because of a divorce due to the abuse they did not see was adding salt to a very deep wound. In my response, I replied to my sinister in law when she told me to ‘go to Hell’, “You first.” Finally, my mind was made up. God had turned his back on me through the puncturing venom of my “Christian” sinister in law Donna. Therefore, I started delving into P a g e 6 | 13 magic and the Wiccan belief as I felt God turned His back on me through the words of a person so pious, so Godly and eventually, so demonically. “…don’t accept that what’s happening, is just a case of other’s suffering All you’ll find that you’re joining in the turning away….it’s a sin that somehow that light is changing to shadow…driven on by a heart of stone…we can find that we’re all alone in the dreams of the proud..” (Floyd) Candles, incense, an altar, stones of various energies surrounded my home along with my person who followed the darkest road imaginable. Although Wicca is an earth-based belief of peace and non-judgment, there is a darker side of this faith that people try to delve into. The spells can backfire on you and your person needs to be aware of constant attack from entities both human and non-human. The self that I knew was gone as I realized I had no more family, no one to reach out to and worse, was mocked by the support she needed desperately during this torrid divorce. In my realization, my family loved my ex-husband a lot and I was nothing more than a pile of shit since we were getting a divorce. I was the bad guy. I was the asshole. I was the reason why we were splitting up. I was the problem, according to what I wanted to be ‘family support’. I was alone. As I sit here looking back on the whole scenario, my issue with my family festered into a pure hatred that started to become who I was. I became a demon of my family’s makings; I became someone who cut herself when she was in emotional pain. I became someone who didn’t care anymore. I became a statistic just as I was diagnosed with PTSD from the horrors of my past memories. I just became immortal for a limited time or so I thought. “That was just a dream, just a dream, just a dream, Dream…” (R.E.M.) P a g e 7 | 13 My involvement with the paranormal became my focus as ghosting groups from all over the world friended me on Facebook. Demonologists, non-profits and even celebrities on television became close confidants as I ignored the mind I was living in, not focusing on any recovery but making up my own. To be blunt, my mind veered into a direction of diving into a self-imposed emotional exile disguised as ‘tough shit’ instead of tough love. I was powerful in my own mind; I was invincible and didn’t care, me, holding electrical storms in my veins. In that time, I read up on Lincoln’s history and found about Charles Starkweather. In questioning who he was, I bought a book at the Armadillo Antique Store on the way to Omaha one afternoon. My friend pointed the book out and I read just a little bit until I felt the overwhelming sense of curiosity get the best of me. “He’s buried here in Lincoln,” they told me, “Right in Wyuka Cemetery downtown.” “What?” I wondered aloud as such an expressive way to show my peaked interest, “He’s buried here?” “Yep. Don’t go looking for his grave,” they warned me, “His family still gets shit because of their last name and relations. They aren’t responsible for what he did.” Don’t ever tell a ghoster about a serial killer buried in a town where she/he/they currently live because that spells out OPPORTUNITY. So, off I went with Scott in tow after an argument earlier in the day. I decided to go and see where this creature was buried in Wyuka after looking up the infamy on the Internet. Charles killed 11 people including the family of his fourteen year old girlfriend however, on another website, it stated he murdered 13 people with two of his victims buried only 100 yards from where his body lay. Shivering slightly, I was on the hunt to find where this damned soul slept, eventually finding Section 23 as spoken on the Wyuka P a g e 8 | 13 Cemetery website. My friend was not all too happy to find Charles’s grave as I kept putting black tourmaline on certain graves that ‘spoke’ to me (another topic entirely). I was knelt down at one grave when two people came up to me with a friendly smile on their faces. “You’ve stopped at my brother’s grave,” the older woman spoke to me, “Hi I’m (forgot her name). Very nice to meet you.” I told her my name and, ironically, she was from an Iowa based ghosting group that I knew quite well. She was the well-known medium (or psychic) that goes with the members to haunted places and, finally, I met what I would call a ‘kindred soul’. The medium was with her niece using an EMF detector measuring electromagnetic energy to find spirits. When the machine went off, I saw an older man walking on by cussing under his breath. My head moved in the direction of where the spirit was going but then he disappeared as if he were impatient. “You more than have the gift,” she detected in me, “you can see spirits as well. I know this in you.” I was taken aback by her own ‘gift’ as she read me like a book, warning me about this person and that. The lady kept telling me about her group and so forth as I looked left still trying to find him. In finality, I admitted what I was doing here. “Heed my warning. Don’t try to find him,” she cautioned heavily, “he wants to be found by you.” “Why?” I questioned, observing her now solemn mood, “Is there something I should know?” “Leave him alone,” her ultimatum rang, “just don’t go near him. We’re going over here to Babyland to pray. I will see you and talk to you soon?” P a g e 9 | 13 After replying yes, I went about my business trying to still find Charles. I knew from her warning that she was right after the fact but I didn’t care. My goal was to find him (or it, as I came to find out) no matter what because, in my compromised frame of mind, I didn’t care what happened to me. I had a death wish because of my compounded anguish regarding the disowning of my biological family, the traveling to an unknown place to escape their dysfunctional abuse. My being didn’t care one iota as I notice a white cross with a child’s writing on it. When I got closer, I read the cross as it said: “We love and miss you, Uncle Charlie.” I found the grave, alright. Never fearful in my bravado, my body approached the grave with caution and then my eyes beheld a most horrible sight! In the ghosting world, if you desecrate a grave in any way, shape or form, you’re asking for trouble. The white cross was a misnomer for something horribly wrong as I closed my eyes for a moment, taking in the dreadfulness of the medium’s words. Charles Starkweather’s grave had no marker for the faceplate that now contained an empty slab of concrete. Someone removed it and then I became wary of my stupidity. Swallowing my fear, I knelt down over his burial place and place two black tourmaline stones (good for warding off evil), two quarters I found in a parking lot and did the sign of the cross on the concrete (even though I didn’t believe anymore). My words came out peacefully as, ‘You’re forgiven. Go and rest in peace now.’ To this day, I can’t help but cry because I “stirred up a hornet’s nest”, bringing ‘alive’ something much worse that haunts me to this very day. Fast forward to that day. A different friend of mine from work was photographing me for my book as I laid three “silver” roses at the feet of the angel in Babyland. I was in Wyuka again and, to set the tone of the book, being amongst the graves was a great background to what I was P a g e 10 | 13 to write. After the event, both the photographer and I went our separate ways as I passed through Babyland, thanking the children for helping me start the car of the medium (a subplot of the story that I won’t discuss here). I promised ‘them’ (the spirits of the dead children) that day I ‘met’ Charles, I would be back and then the medium’s car started up. With silver roses, I thanked the sweet spirits for letting the wonderful psychic friend go, ten minutes before the gates closed. My truck was ready for me to leave as I started to drive, unfortunately, to Starkweather’s grave as I avoided it like the plague. Turning the corner by his site, something horrible happened and to this day, it makes me upset discussing it. I passed the corner quietly until, suddenly the door of my truck flew open with the force of at least several men trying to get it off! I was still in drive when I felt a demon-like burning on my left arm trying its best to yank me out of the moving vehicle and the burning was unbearable to say the least. I fought and fought, slamming on the brakes and yelling in a vicious anger, “YOU ARE NOT GOING TO TAKE ME, CHARLES! GET YOUR (insert nasty word) HANDS OFF ME, YOU SON OF A BITCH!” I wasn’t going to succumb to the awakened demon as I somehow got loose and pulled the door shut, driving as fast as I could out of the cemetery. I drove home without telling the demon not to follow me as I exited the now forbidden area for a very long time. From that moment on, I changed my beliefs. God intervened on that day to help me escape The Devil. Unfortunately for me, this was only the beginning. The next day, the car door was hanging on by a thread and, with Scott knowing what happened, I drove to the place in downtown Lincoln where someone would fix the door cheaply. When I was walking downtown, I saw a man with blonde hair, rolled up jeans from back in the 1950’s with a red James Dean jacket, smoking a cigarette staring at me as he was leaning against the thrift store wall from across the street. The man kept his eye on me closely, taking a drag every now and then studying P a g e 11 | 13 me closely. He was real and I went into stores to avoid what I saw. To take my mind off of the incident, I bought some clothes to better myself image. Again, I walked out and saw the same man staring at me, this time with eyes squinting as he took another drag of the same cigarette. My heart wanted to ask who he was but my mind screamed, “OH HELL NO!” Turning my back to see if the tattoo parlor was opened, the sign read, “Hours: 1:00 pm until 10:00 pm”. I was out of luck for a piercing as I turned around. He was gone. I turned my back for a minute and he was gone. It was Charlie; I knew it was. Breaking my thought pattern, my old, weathered cell phone rang with the shop calling me to come and pick up the truck. As I meandered through the streets to ‘avoid’ Charlie, I ended up at the shop but the mechanic was at a loss for words. Pulling the pin out of his back pocket, my mouth flew open as an abject fear flooded my veins. “Either someone was trying to break into your truck with a forklift or something,” he commented with a tone of growling concern, “I’ve never seen a pin bent like this. It took me a little bit to bend it back but this is as far as I do to remove it. I almost had to saw it off your door hinge.” After his words completed, I broke down and fell to my knees in tears. “What have I done?” I whispered bawling silently. “Did you do this?” the man asked confused at my words. “No,” I replied getting to my feet, “Someone else did. I can’t talk about it, I’m sorry.” P a g e 12 | 13 “You didn’t get into an accident-“ “No!” I corrected him quickly in fear, “I waited too long and the door was getting loose from wear and tear. I should’ve brought it in earlier.” I had to lie to him and the nice and caring man nodded his head in affirmation. “This kind of wear and tear happens all the time. I’m surprised that the door stayed on for as long as it did.” After I paid him for his work on the truck, I zoomed home and decided that this incident was a bout for change. Praying for the first time since the divorce, I asked for forgiveness and then went to the Catholic Church at the urgent behest of caring friends. I stared at the cross and prayed and prayed and prayed. I was given a holy water flask by a former work supervisor and filled it trying to cleanse myself of what I did. Now, my faith has changed to a spiritual Catholicism in which I say my prayers and protect myself against demons at all costs. I forgave my biological family but still decided that no contact was the best solution in my case. This morning, I admitted to a psychic friend of mine of what I kept inside about seeing the man. Her only words were, “That was Charlie. You saw Charlie.” “…Every whisper of every wakin’ hour, I’m choosing my confessions. Trying to keep an eye on you, like a hurt, lost and blinded fool, fool. Oh no, I’ve said too much..” (R.E.M.) P a g e 13 | 13 ‘
Works Cited Butler, Jay. http://www.warrens.net/index.html. 2010. Website for Ed and Lorraine Warren, Demonologists and New England Society for Paranormal Research. 2015. Floyd, Pink. “On the Turning Away.” Momentary Lapse of Reason. By David Gilmour and Anthony Moore. 1987. R.E.M. “”Losing My Religion”.” Out of Time. By Michael Stipe, Michael Mills, Peter Buck Bill Berry. 1991. Compact Disc album. Resources, North Carolina’s Department of Cultural. North Carolina’s Historical Sites. January (Last updated) 2015. Electronic media. January 2015. Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_Lady_of_Raynham_Hall. September 2014. Electronic media. January 2015.