GHOULA meets for cocktails in haunted places on the 13th of each month. “SPIRITS with SPIRITS” is a casual social gathering of regional ghost hunters and those that just like ghost stories. Open to all, from the curious skeptic to the passionate phantom pursuer. Make friends, and toast a ghost! Let’s put the “Boo!” back into “booze.”
All those who attend will receive a free (square) G.H.O.U.L.A. button. If you already have one, please wear it so others can find you, without asking the staff about our group. (i.e. LOOK FOR SOMEONE WITH A GHOULA BUTTON)
THE DATE: May 13th, 2013 (Tuesday)
THE PLACE: The Hat and Hare Pub @ The Magic Castle
7001 Franklin Avenue, Hollywood (Map)
THE TIME: 8:00pm to 10:00pm
(GHOULA’s festivities begin in the Hat and Hare Pub at 8:00 p.m., but it’s advisable to arrive a little early to explore. A GHOULA representative will be in the lobby to greet you from 7 p.m.)
NOTE: Due to the nature of this unique venue, we have to limit our group to the first 13 people to sign-up. To be one of the lucky 13, simply click the RSVP button below. Also, The Magic Castle is a private club. Guests must be 21 or older and carry ID. There is a strict dress code, including coat and tie for men and dresses, skirts or pants outfits for ladies. For full dress code details, see www.magiccastle.com/visiting/dresscode.cfm
The building we know today as the “Magic Castle” was built in 1909 by banker, real-estate developer and philanthropist, Rollin B. Lane. According to urban legend, the Lane House was the only home built from a failed housing development that proposed to cover those hills with similar Chateau-themed mansions. It is said that the historic Chateau-style Janes House (the oldest house in Hollywood) was the “model home” and sales office for this doomed real estate venture. Fortunately, this French-inspired “castle” wasn’t alone very long, because two years later the equally bizarre Japanese-inspired “Yamashiro” was built up the hill, above it.
Over the last century, the Magic Castle has been a family residence, a multi-family residence, a home for the elderly, an apartment building, and finally an exclusive private clubhouse for magicians. With a life like that, is it any wonder that this old Victorian is said have a ghost or two, or many more, lingering around? (We’re not counting the ghostly illusions of the Houdini Seance Room, or “Irma,” the piano-playing ghost.)
Also, we are purposefully avoiding the specific details about the building’s many haunted areas, because we have something very special planned for our visit…
To help us explore this secret haunted side of this historic hide-away (the side that the magicians would rather not talk about), Tom Ogden, author of “Haunted Hollywood,” will share with those present these little known ghost tales for a casual ghost tour of the labyrinth-like premises… and perhaps during the evening a few spooky magic tricks will be thrown in for good measure.
So come out, and join us for this very unique glimpse inside “the most unusual private club in the world,” and all of its other-worldly members… If you dare!
(to read about the last haunted location… )
(to see a map of previous SPIRITS with SPIRITS locations… )
If you drive through the South, you’ll notice old houses painted in a peculiar shade of blue. The entire house is never blue. It is always the details that are blue. The shudders, the door, the top of the porch may all be this lovely, eerie shade. The blue is deeper than a sky blue and more subtle than an eggshell blue. It is completely unique and utterly Southern.
This blue is called “Haint Blue”. A Haint in Southern parlance is another word for a ghost or a specter. It is the restless spirit of one that has been left behind in the after life. The blue that is so beautiful and so engaging is not just a color, it is a form of magic.
Although Haint Blue can be seen on every kind of Southern house from sprawling mansions and old plantation homes to decaying shacks, the history of Haint Blue goes back to the Gullah or Geechee people. These were the decendants of African slaves that lived in South Carolina and Georgia. Their ancestors were brought to the Americas from Angola which is where the word Gullah is thought to have come from. These peoples clung to the traditions of their ancestors and stories of ghosts and haints were common to their ancestors. Haints were not kind ghosts in their traditions. They were tragic, angry ghosts that were set on causing pain and heartache for the living. As is common in many spirit traditions, however, Haints were unable to cross over water. Therefore the best way to protect yourself from a Haint was to surround yourself in water. The descendants of these African people found the easiest way to protect themselves was to fool Haints into thinking their homes were surrounded by water. They painted their doors and shudders and porches in a watery blue to trick Haints. This Gullah practice spread throughout the South as a method for keeping spirits and Haints at bay. So now you can see the remnant of this old African tradition in homes throughout the South.
My neighbor recently painted her ceiling of her porch and patio Haint Blue. She hasn’t told me if it has driven off any dark spirits yet, but I remain hopeful that this old tradition will hold its power as I am planning on painting my porch ceiling Haint Blue this summer.
To celebrate Ghostbusters’ 30th anniversary, as well as this film’s association with the Southland, GHOULA will be conducting a (ONE DAY ONLY) bus tour of some of the local locations connected to this blockbuster, and discussing the real-life ghost stories connected to these sites and the movie.
In many ways the 1984 comedy “Ghostbusters” set the template for today’s ghost-hunting culture. Long before the glut of paranormal reality shows that follow the antics of ghost enthusiasts in matching shirts, armed with pseudo-scientific devices to measure possible paranormal activity, there was Peter, Ray, Egon, and Winston (played by Bill Murry, Dan Ackroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson respectively).
What made these ghost-hunters (busters) unique was their “nuts and bolts” approach to unexplained phenomenon. They more closely resembled plumbers going out on emergency jobs with their equipment, uniforms, and company car, than that of the typical reluctant detectives traditionally seen in films up until that time. Additionally, the movie gave the whole super-natural operation a decidedly urban feel with its “Big Apple” locales, making it a quintessentially New York movie. However, many proud New Yorkers may be surprised to learn that most of the movie was shot and conceived here in the “City of the Angeles.”
Whether you’re a fan of the film or a fan of phantoms, don’t miss this chance to come out and follow in the Ghostbuster’s footsteps (slime not included).
Seating for this bus tour is limited. (12 guests per tour. 3 tours. 1 Day)
DATE: Saturday, April 26, 2014
TIME: 10:30am, 1:30pm, or 4:30pm
(tours run 1 1/2 to 2 hours each)
MEET-UP LOCATION: The Millennium Biltmore Hotel
506 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles CA 90071 (map)
NOTE: This tour is in no way affiliated, or authorized, or endorsed by Sony Pictures.
Lakeforest is a quiet neighborhood. It is hidden away in one of those areas that used to be farmland and swamp. It is off the beaten path. The houses there vary is size and type. The houses around the lake are million dollar mansions. They are large and presumptuous. They are the houses of people who want the world to know their wealth. In other areas of the neighborhood, the houses are more middle class. They are four bedroom, three bathroom American homes that are perfect for the average family. The neighborhood is new and clean and typical and seems like the least likely place for a haunting. The neighborhood is so young, it is hard to imagine any accumulation of sorrow that could create a ghost.
However, tragedy and ghosts do lurk in the quiet history of this ordinary neighborhood. The pool at Lakeforest is a crowded party during the long Alabama summers. During the day, children fill the water. The sounds of splashing and laughter drift up from the pool and linger in the air around it. During the sticky, hot evenings and weekends the adults come out. They sneak in beer and alcohol that is strictly forbidden by the pool rules. The adults don’t care. It is all in good fun. It was one such group of adults that begins this tale of ghostly woe.
One Saturday night, a group of friends gathered around the pool, drinking and laughing and trying beat the heat. The night progressed and they decided to go back to the house. They all loaded up in one truck. People sat in the bed of the truck. They knew they were drunk but it was such a short drive they thought they couldn’t get into any trouble driving. On the way home, the driver hit a bump. In his tipsy state, he didn’t realize what was coming. When he hit the bump, one of the men in the back was thrown from the bed of the truck onto the driveway of a house he was passing. The man died in that driveway while he was waiting for an ambulance.
The homeowners will never forget that night. Finding a dying man in your driveway isn’t something you forget. They watched the man draw his last breaths and watched him be driven away. It isn’t just the memory that haunts them. It is also the ghost of the man. He lingers in the shadows of their home. He makes odd noises and sometimes they can even catch a glimpse of him out of the corner of their eyes. They aren’t sure what he is waiting for. Maybe he just doesn’t know where else to go.
The plaque in front of the Leroy Pope Mansion reads: During the original Madison County Land Sales of 1809, LeRoy Pope of Petersburg, GA, secured among other purchases a majority of Section 36, Township 3, Range 1 West, the site of the future town of Twickenham, as Huntsville was originally known. Pope created Poplar Grove Plantation on this site and erected his home in 1814 in time to entertain Gen. Andrew Jackson on his return from the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. The residence was among the earliest brick structures in Alabama. Inherited by his son, William H. Pope, the mansion was sold in 1848 to Dr. Charles Hays Patton, who commissioned George Steele to add the handsome Classical Revival portico. Nearby during the Civil War, Federal forces built an earthen breastwork to defend the eastern approaches to the city.
But there is more to the story of the Pope Mansion than can bread on plaques. It is said that Leroy Pope Mansion is haunted by the ghosts of two slaves who still roam the property. These two ghosts like to bother audience members of touring groups, and one was even mistaken for a costumed character once. Steve Gentry caught some wonderful photographs of ghosts at a recent ghost walk. They are posted bellow.
Huntsville Ghost Walk meets at Harrison Brothers Hardware Store. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under and are available at the hardware store all month. It’s good to get there at least 30 minutes early since the walks start promptly at 6 p.m. Cost is $12 for adults and $10 for children 10 and under. Visit the website or call (256) 509-3940.
A coworker told me this story. He has never been quite sure what to make of it, but it still bothers him. A long time ago, he had a home in the rural portions of South Alabama. The house was one of those old houses that groans complaintively at night as if it is protesting its age. The sounds of old pipes and old wood fill the house and make it easy to ignore small noises and sounds that might be out of place in another house.
However, one night he saw something he couldn’t ignore. It was late at night and my coworker was in bed. His children and wife were out of town so the house was quiet. Something woke him from his sleep and he opened his eyes to see a dark figure standing in the corner staring at him. At first, he assumed the figure was of natural origins. Being a proper Southerner, he reached for his gun to drive the intruder from his home. Upon careful inspection, he knew the figure wasn’t anything that could be driven away by a gun. He blinked and pinched himself trying to make sure he wasn’t trapped in some bad dream. The figure remained. Finally, the figure left. He never told his family about the event. He didn’t want to scare them, but he’ll never forget the shadowy figure that lived in the old house, deep in South Alabama.
Owls have been a reaccuring symbol in my life. In folklore and mythology, owls are seen as creatures that can travel between worlds. In Egyptian, Celtic and Hindu cultures owls are the guardians of the spirits of the dead and they guide spirits from one world to the next. They are symbols of wisdom, intuition, and the ability to see the beyond.
A few weeks ago, I had another amazing encounter with an owl. An owl fell onto my car from a tree branch. I didn’t know what had hit my car at first, but I turned around to find out. I found the owl looking almost dead in the tall grass beside the road. I wrapped the owl in my sweater and drove it to my vet. On the way there, the owl awoke and sat up. It didn’t open its eyes. It just sat quietly, wrapped in my sweater. I carried the bird in and it fell down and seemed dead again. Finally, it got up and opened its eyes. Fortunately, Wheeler Wildlife refuge has a raptor recovery program and my vet was able to contact them. The bird was taken to the Wildlife refuge for rehabilitation, but I was left slightly stunned by the beauty and the power of the bird I had actually held in my arms. It was a barred owl and it was beautiful. I have to wonder why owls keep coming into my life sometimes, but I am always grateful.
Here is another post I wrote about owls:
Owls are important symbolically in many cultures. In ancient Greece and Rome, they were linked to Athena and considered symbols of knowledge and wisdom. In Arthurian legend, Merlin is often depicted with an owl on his shoulder and again, the owl is linked to wisdom. In Japan, owl statues are said to ward off plague and illness. In some Native American cultures owls are linked to knowledge and magic. I knew all these things when I chose owls as the decorative theme for my new baby’s nursery. I didn’t know the darker side of owls. In many cultures, especially the Apache culture, owls portend death and are associated with the dead. The Apaches are not alone. Many other cultures see owls as linked death. Of course, I choose to ignore all the cultures that see owls as ill omens in the same way I have ignored the ill omens associated with black dogs and cats. Some of my favorite pets have been black dogs and cats and they’ve only brought good luck to me.
Therefore, as I sat in my owl themed nursery late at night just before my son was born, I saw owls only as good omens. They have become a symbol of my baby boy. They are wise and beautiful creatures of the night.
My neighborhood and my house have no trees. So birds of any sort are a rare commodity in my neighborhood. The lake brings geese and goose poop, but owls are never seen in my neck of the woods. However, the night before my baby was born, as I sat in the nursery, unable to sleep and very pregnant, the call of three owls filled the night air. I sat up and listened to them hoot back and forth to each other with their distinct calls for over an hour before I drifted off to sleep. The next day I held my baby in my arms, making owls forever a good omen for me. I’m not sure if there was any real significance to the presence of the owls, but to me there was something mystical to their presence that night. They were omens of life to come.
This week I found out my new book, The Monster Hunter’s Manual, is going to be released in June. The book is a middle grade novel set in a haunted castle in the Loire Valley in France. In order to celebrate my new release date, I’m reposting the blog I wrote about Chateau Larcher. This castle will always be one of my favorite places and a source of inspiration for me.
I love to travel and I love to rent houses when I travel. I avoid hotels when possible and look for rare and interesting places to stay. When I went to France, I found an old medieval castle that had been broken up into 4 town houses. I was able to rent one portion of this castle. The castle, Chateau Larcher, was a bit of a mystery and still is. I travelled during the off season and the small village’s tourist information center had been closed, so I was never able to learn much about the history of the castle. I read the plaque by the Cathedral which dated the Cathedral built into the church at around 980 and the castle itself wasn’t finished until 1070. Outside of this, I found nothing to denote the castle’s origins. It was located in the Poiters region of France just South of the Loire valley and would have been in Aquitane during it’s highest uses. The location of the castle must have been a sacred place at one time because the area is also known for it’s dolmen. Dolmen are large, neolithic stones arrangements that are usually placed over tombs. The dolmen in Chateau Larcher are placed over a vast necropolis of more than 100 graves. They are usually places in a sacred or important location.
Staying in the castle was wonderful. I loved it and I snuck away every evening to walk in the dark. One time I enlisted help to break into a roped off section of the castle and sneak around. The castle was mostly ruins and in the night as I wandered alone, I found myself chilled. There is nothing tangible I can use to prove that this castle was haunted. There was only a profound feeling that I was not alone. As I have little else to offer, I have posted pictures of the castle.
(Artwork by Jose Cabrera)
GHOULA and LA Hauntings Ghost Tours
The HAUNTED HOUDINI TOUR!
Come join us on the eve of his 140th birthday as we travel across our city and explore the super-natural sites connected to the famous magician’s life (and after-life)…
Harry Houdini is generally thought of as the greatest showman that ever practiced the craft. Additionally, because of his knowledge of the art of illusion and his work exposing the tricks of fraudulent mediums during the age of Spiritualism, he has become the poster boy for generations of skeptics and debunkers of paranormal phenomena. However, despite dozens of books and biographies, the man’s personal views on the occult are still an enigma, with experts debating to what degree did he actually BELIEVE. Ironically, to this day, Houdini is the only historical figure whose ghost people across the country routinely try to contact, usually on Halloween (the date of his death).
Although Houdini did not spend much of his life in Los Angeles, the time he did spend under our palm trees were moments that defined his life, career, and possibly his views on the spirit realm. Indeed, not only did he leave his mark on this town, it may have also left its mark on him… Even all these decades after his death, the great escape artist just can’t seem to get away from LA.
Seating for this bus tour is limited. (12 guests per tour. 3 tours. 1 Day)
DATE: March 23, 2014
TIME: 10:30am, 1:30pm, or 4:30pm (tours run 1 1/2 to 2 hours each)
PRICE: $35.00 (plus a handling fee)
MEET-UP LOCATION: The Hollywood Heritage Museum (The Lasky-DeMille Barn)
2100 N Highland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90068 (map)
NOTE: Your ticket also includes free entry into the museum, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. So please plan to spend an extra hour with their historical exhibits either before or after the tour.