Weird Wikipedia Wednesday: Bélmez Faces

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Bélmez Faces

“The appearances in Bélmez began on 23 August 1971, when María Gómez Cámara claimed that a human face formed spontaneously on her concrete kitchen floor. María’s husband, Juan Pereira and their son, Miguel, destroyed the image with a pickaxe and new concrete was laid down. However, the Pereira story goes, a new face formed on the floor. The mayor of Bélmez was informed and forbade the destruction of the new face. Instead, the floor concrete was cut out and taken for study.

“María’s home was advertised to the tourists as La Casa de las Caras (The House of the Faces). By Easter of 1972 hundreds of people were flocking to the house to see the faces. For the next 30 years the Pereira family claimed that faces continued to appear, both male and female and of different shapes, sizes and expressions.”

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Haunted Dolls on eBay

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You can buy a lot of weird things on eBay, and apparently haunted dolls are on that list. Like with most supernatural things, I can’t help but wonder about these dolls, and the people selling them, who have written elaborate descriptions of what the dolls have done, and even the names and stories of the spirits are haunting the dolls. (Which they know…how?) Are they sincere? Did they actually experience these things? Are they delusional, and they only think they did? Or have they come up with inventive stories to increase the amount of money they can get in for an otherwise unremarkable doll in an eBay auction? The cynic in me thinks it’s probably the last, because ghosts aren’t real but human greed is. yet there’s still part of me that wants to believe, that wonders what would happen if I bought one of these dolls…

Call Off Your Ghost

One of the themes I explore in my book Haunted, and the reason for the title, is how all of us are haunted by our own ghosts. In one aspect of the story, that haunting is very literal, but there are several other hauntings going on: Steven is haunted by his feelings for Tara. Paul is haunted by his abilities and the effect they have on his life and relationships.  And Tara, both literally and figuratively, is haunted by her past. And I think we can all relate to this. We all have our ghosts, the shadows that darken our thoughts and will not leave us alone, and yet when we reach for them our hands go right through the mist.

This is Dessa with “Call Off Your Ghost.” I wish I could say I haven’t been where she is, but I’d be lying.

The Ghosts of Christmases Past

We’re all familiar with the Dickens classic A Christmas Carol.  What you may not know, however, is that the story is part of a long tradition of ghost stories told at Christmas.  We’ve lost that tradition in present day America, but I propose we bring it back.  Our horror stories about the holidays tend to center on this tacky sweater, that drunken office party, the shrieking insanity of our dysfunctional families and the crushing disappointment of socks when you expected Samsung.  But that’s falling into the same problem as focusing on the commercial aspect of the holiday season: it is materialistic.  Christmas is about the transcendent; the spirit world touching the physical world, and that is an awesome and, yes, scary thing (it’s not for nothing that the angel’s first words to the shepherds was “Be not afraid!”)  Telling ghost stories is the perfect way to celebrate!

For some awesome ghost stories, check out this post from the Paris Review.

Merry Christmas!

Snow in the Cemetery

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When I was working for a funeral home in Chicago, my office was in the administration building at Rosehill Cemetery.  I’ve always loved cemeteries, and Rosehill is fantastic.  The monuments are beautiful, and the place is steeped in history.  There are Civil War soldiers, famous people, and a number of reported hauntings.  The mausoleum has hallways of family burial niches, little rooms closed off by padlocked wrought iron gates through which you can see the sarcophagi, the mini altars, all suffused with light tinted by the Tiffany stained glass windows.

Of course, the best part of being excited about something is sharing it with others.  So one weekend I took a friend of mine who had similar proclivities to Rosehill to show him around. It was a cold and overcast day (in other words, your typical Chicago December). We started at my office, then headed toward the mausoleum, which was all the way on the other side of the (very large) cemetery.  The road wound through the grounds, lined with headstones and statues and individual mausoleums, and was a very pleasant walk.  By the time we got to the mausoleum, though, we were very grateful to be out of the cold.

Once we had explored the mausoleum (lingering at the Shedd tomb, the largest in the building and a beautiful combination of opulence and decay) we headed back through the cemetery.  It had started to snow while we were inside, and the fine layer of white accented the monuments, adding another layer of beauty to them.  It was wonderful.

Then the snow got heavy.

We were a third of the way through when visibility narrowed to fifty feet.  The snow covered the road, and shrouded the monuments in a thick blanket of white. My friend and I were in the middle of a huge cemetery with no road, no landmarks, and we were freezing cold.

Obviously, we managed to make it out alive. (Unless this is being written by a ghooooost…wooooo!  Okay, maybe not.) But what if we hadn’t?  The cemetery is huge.  Many parts of it are populated with graves that are old enough that no one visits them anymore.  If we had frozen to death out there amongst the headstones, the heap of our huddled bodies covered with snow…when would we have been found?  Perhaps we would have tried to pry the wrought iron gates open on one of the individual mausoleums.  Maybe when we were found our fingers would be raw to the bone from scrabbling at the chains and padlocks and hinges.  Maybe the cemetery would have had two more ghosts.

Brrrr.