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Spooky seance conjures dreams of Gothic Christmas
Wednesday, 01 November 2017 20:50
Special to the Daily Planet

I have been fantasizing for a whole year now about putting one of the most amazing, wiry, fantastical looking candelabras I own into a most unusual and esoteric use: a seance! 

I donít know why this seems like such a whimsical idea. Itís not like I donít have contact with dead people on a daily basis. And I was part of a seance just last October at the Byrish Haus & Pub in West Asheville. Me and a hundred or so of my closest friends.

Maybe itís the intimacy of a seance that intrigues me. Guests gather around a grandiose old wooden table set with scores of candles and join hands in a darkened room, one person chanting in an eerie voice for spirits to follow the light of the candle glow and reveal themselves as knocks, disembodied voices or channel their essence through a medium. 

Of course, we donít always need a medium. Iím reminded of a ghost story that happened long, long ago in Greenbriar,W.Va. The year was 1897. The coupleís names were Zona Heaster Shue and Edward Stribbling Trout Shue. They had been married only a short time when the wife suddenly died. She was young, but the newlyweds were so happy that no one thought anything about it, except how sad it all was. And how loose her head was when it came time to move her body to the cemetery. And how strangely her husband was acting during the wake.....

Shortly after Zonaís death, her mother started dreaming of her daughterís ghost. Every night, for four nights, the daughter came to her, pleading with her to bring her husband to justice for killing her. Stories say she suffered a broken neck and turned her ghostly head backwards to prove it!

Finally, the young brideís body was exhumed, an autopsy performed, and sure enough, she had died exactly as the ghost had described to her mother! The husband was found guilty in the only case I know of where a ghostís testimony was entered into evidence. 

According to Wikipedia, he was found guilty of murder and died three years later at the Moundsville State Penitentiary in Moundsville, W.Va.

This case, known as the Greenbrier Ghost, reminds us that there are several means of spirit communication. We donít really need a spooky setting to ask questions and receive answers. But itís so much more fun that way!

Tell me, wouldnít you rather be invited to a spooky old Victorian mansion on All Hallowís Eve to commune with the dead? Doesnít that thought send a delicious chill up your spine? I imagine that itís foggy and you have to pass an old graveyard with crumbling tombstones to get to the house. The moon peeks out of the clouds just enough to make you think you see a dark figure among the twisted trees. You gasp and instinctively close your eyes. When you open them again the figure is gone. Probably your imagination you assure yourself, not quite convincingly.

Warm lights from the house spill out onto the ground and beckon you inside. The strains of music from the festivities call to you to join in. The flames from an enormous fireplace warm your chilled bones. You join in the revelry, laughing and dancing the night away. Until the clock strikes midnight and the real fun begins.

In the now quiet, darkened room, the candlelight casts shadows on the faces of the costumed guests gathered around the table. What earlier had been high-spirited and jovial entertainment now looked grotesque and ghastly. Even the spirit medium looked scary, her eyes sunken and her face hollow. Her raspy voice instructed us to hold hands. She closed her dead eyes and beckoned the spirits to appear.

At first, nothing. Everyone looks around the table at each other. Then a slight breeze fans the candle flames. The temperature suddenly drops. A chill wind sweeps through the room and then the medium starts groaning. Louder and louder she groans. The table lifts up off the floor and slams back down again. The dark figure from the graveyard suddenly appears in the corner. Everyone screams.

See? Now, thatís the kind of sťance I want! Scary creepy atmosphere, cold phantom winds, disembodied voices, dark figures hanging around crumbling cemeteries, levitating tables... Totally Scooby Doo!

This is doable. I donít need Halloween to perform a sťance. I can do one any time I want. Christmas is coming up soon. Nothing like ghosts at Christmastime! Nothing says Christmas canít be spooky. I have the Midnight Syndicate gothic Christmas CD to prove that! And I can decorate that fabulous candelabra with Christmas greenery too. I have weird friends; they will totally go for this. Stay tuned.....


Shelley Wright, an Asheville native, is a paranormal investigator. She owns and runs Nevermore Mystical Arts shop and works at Wrightís Coin Shop, both in Asheville. Wright also is a weekly participant in the ďSpeaking of StrangeĒ radio show from 9 p.m. to midnight on most Saturdays on Ashevilleís WWNC-AM (570).



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