Ghosties for Halloween

tombstones in Prince Geoge Winyah graveyard

These tombstones from the 1700’s are in the graveyard of Prince George Winyah Episcopal Church in Georgetown, S.C., where I grew up.

People who know me know that I am a huge fan of ghost-hunting shows. I make no secret of it; in fact, I was openly put out that I had to miss the season premiere of Ghost Hunters a little over a year ago when city workers accidently dug up our power lines. I had been looking forward to that for weeks! I was, frankly, more annoyed about that aspect of losing power than any of the others, at the time. (Well, except the food in the freezer. No one wants to have to replace food.)

I myself have had very few experiences that could be thought of as paranormal, and most of those could probably be debunked quite easily. However, people I have known and trusted not to stretch the truth have had personal experiences, reinforcing my idea that there is a lot more out there than that which we can see and touch.

What ghosts are and how we can experience them is something I do not presume to know. Science tells us that time may not be linear – are ghosts the result of time slippages? Science, string theory in particular, also tells us that there are multiple dimensions – are ghosts echoes from those? The religion that I follow tells us that we have souls – are ghosts souls that have not yet found their way to whatever comes next? Whatever their source, I find the idea of ghosts interesting.

I suppose my interest in ghosts partially a product of where I grew up – the South, where if ghosts were rocks, you’d trip over one every time you turned around. The town I grew up in, Georgetown, South Carolina, was established in the early 1700s, and has many historic buildings, more than a few of them supposedly haunted. (Again, my personal experiences were minimal, and might be explained by faulty wiring and that sort of thing, but it was always fun to thing I might have annoyed one of the ghosts by sitting in the chair he was currently occupying.)

The clock tower of Prince George Winyah Episcopal Church in Georgetown, S.C.

Looking up at the clock tower of Prince George Winyah Episcopal Church. Both church and the surrounding graveyard date back to the 1700’s. History and ghosts are part of my cultural upbringing.

My childhood included the stories of the Grey Man of Pawleys Island, who supposedly warns people of hurricanes, and Alice of the Hermitage, who still searches for the ring her fiancée gave her, among others. Every child in the region knew those stories, and many had walked around the grave of Alice 13 times backwards in hopes of seeing her ghost; ghosts were very much part of our cultural heritage. Then, when I was in high school, I  took part in a project of collecting local ghost stories by interviewing the people whose homes were haunted. The flame of interest was fanned, and I have been interested in ghosts and ghost stories ever since. The advent of ghost-hunting shows on TV has kept me happily occupied for the last few years.

For Halloween this year, I treated myself to a paranormal presentation on campus. I abandoned Pat to the mercies the neighborhood ghosts and goblins, and went on a parking-spot hunt near the Wyoming Union building – no easy task, since there was trick-or-treating for the Laramie kids on campus. But I finally found a space at the far end of the parking lot, and dodged small costumed people all the way up to the Union.

The group presenting was Haunted Explorers, out of Denver. They had a guest speaker/investigator whose name had caught my attention right away when I saw the presentation announced on the University of Wyoming news website – Karl Pfeiffer. I knew who Karl was; I had been quite pleased when he was on the ghost-hunting TV show Ghost Hunters Academy a few years ago – someone from Ft. Collins, Colorado! Someone from my part of the world! Cool!

Karl Pfeiffer

Karl Pfeiffer, paranormal investigator and author

I watched Karl first on that show and later on Ghost Hunters International, so I was delighted to have a chance to see and hear him in person. (I’m afraid I was a bit of a fan girl; oh, well!) These days, he is guiding ghost tours at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. (This is the hotel that was used as the setting for Stephen King’s The Shining, and it has a reputation for being quite haunted.) Karl also has a new novel out, Hallowtide, which I promptly bought and got signed – I will be reading it over the next week or so.

The presentation was interesting, including some photos and EVP’s (Electronic Voice Phenomenon, for those of you who are uninitiated) from several sites the group had investigated in Colorado. Karl spoke next, and he is a very articulate and interesting speaker, bringing a lot of both practical ghost-hunting experience and theory to the discussion. It was over too soon for my liking, but the investigators had ghost-hunting to do.

After the presentation was over, Haunted Explorers, along with a group of students, was going to be investigating one of the buildings on campus. (I hope they had fun and found things – I know people who have worked in that building and had experiences there!) This was a student activity, so I took my employee-self home at that point. I’m not sure I could have stayed awake to hunt ghosts on a week night, anyway!

I had a wonderful evening, attending a presentation on a subject that fascinates me, and getting a chance to see someone in person that I have enjoyed seeing on ghost-hunting shows. This was my idea of a fun way to spend Halloween!

Text and photos (c) 2012, Jane W. Wolfinbarger

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