In older times, people had papers. Which in a number of notable horror stories, needed to be sorted after death, resulting in mystery and mayhem. I always wanted to be one of those type of people who kept papers, notes on travels, correspondence.
I realized this while laying in a snowbank, looking up at the stars, in what seems like another lifetime. Since the noxious chemicals in my system rendered me philosophic that night, I asked myself “what truly makes you happy?” The answer was learning things. So I set out to learn something new every day, that way at least once a day I’d be happy.
Coming from a macabre background, I gravitated towards learning about the esoteric, the mystic, the supernatural and the just plain weird. I kept notes. Over time I realized I had become what I set out to be.
I was now the kind of person who had papers. This is where I stick them, my gothic curiosity cabinet.
MY GRANDFATHER WAS A GRAVEDIGGER. My Granny Bert kept a garden and used techniques which a couple centuries earlier would have had her burnt as a witch. I grew up in a haunted house and find myself living there again, forty years later. The first time I saw a ghost I was so young I didn’t even know to be afraid. Keeping me company here is the love of my life, and her roots stretch back to Salem and the witch trials. And of course along with whoever makes those footsteps in the blue room, and leaves little presents around the house.
I come to this shit naturally.
THESE ARE MY STORIES. It’s not scholarship. They’re folk tales, and folk tales change based on who is telling them. I like to start with facts, which makes me different. Just don’t mistake me for a historian.
Folk tales – stories of haunted houses, woods and graveyards – have more of an effect on history than we realize. They are beliefs that are shared by a community, passed down from generation to generation. Urban legends usually have some basis in fact. Often the opposite of the legend. But those beliefs shape history.
Does it really matter if the Blood Stone was the site of human sacrifices, when for two thousand years people have believed it so? That’s history itself.
For me, The Great Work, like horror is about facing and conquering fear. That’s sometimes messy.
NOTE: If you really must reach me, you can do so by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Professional stuff …
I’M A PHOTOGRAPHER and my works can be found in The Wytchery, featuring prints, greeting cards, limited edition prints and gifts. Stock photography and digital downloads are of course available as well.
I’ve been featured in depth by SmugMug, that fine family company which hosts websites for photographers. You can read that here …
My photography and some of what you read on this site has been featured in a startling variety of places. The fucking Smithsonian links to this site. I seem to field a lot of questions from school children who want to know about the murderess Lavinia Fisher, who was hanged in Charleston, South Carolina in 1820. Charleston kids also want to know about pirates as well.
I also recently found myself telling Lavinia’s story in the book Haunted Charleston: Scary Sites, Eerie Encounters, and Tall Tales.
I’ve been credited in Footloose Pilgrims: A Journal of Moped Travels Through Europe by Dick Lynam and Bill Lynam, The Secret Life of Sleep by Kat Duff and The Economic Survival of America’s Isolated Small Towns, Gerald L. Gordon. I list those here because they didn’t ask permission, and thus deserved shamed for having trusted such a notorious source.
In addition to gracing the walls of swanky homes and offices throughout the country, my photography has shown up on the covers and inside pages of History and Lore of Sleepy Hollow and the Hudson Valley, by Jonathan Kruk, and Haunted Long Island II, by Lynda Lee Macken, as well as Gap Creek by Robert Morgan.
You can also find me credited in the following fine publications and websites: The New York Times, The Boston Herald, BBC, The Guardian, CNN, MSNBC, Huffington Post, Broadway World, Indianapolis Post, NY Daily News, Fodors, Country Living Magazine, Town and Country, House Beautiful and Good Housekeeping. Clients include: The Daughters of the American Revolution, a.k.a. the D.A.R, The Civil War Trust, Plimoth Plantation, History Press, Algonquin Press, Black Cat Press, Historic Hudson Valley, Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow, Philipsburg Manor, Horseman’s Hollow, Sunnyside, SmugMug, The Stony Brook Environmental Conservancy.
We make music for pagans, under the name of Folkswitch. It’s not a band, but a project with a name. we take poetry of the romantic era and set it to music. The kind of music that forty years ago would be found in the cars of people driving down country roads, looking for spooks and smoking an awful lot of dope. Why pagans? They have the best taste in music, aren’t afraid of things adventurous, revere the artists of the past and burn the best incense. You don’t have to be pagan, but the incense helps.
More than you want to know …
I find poisons and potions and the horticultural habits of the ancients fascinating, and so have my own witch’s garden. Since I really don’t care a lot for sunny days, I also made it a moon garden, so I have a place to hang out at night.
If you want to know what I told my own kid about paganism, magic and witchcraft, there’s this.
And if you want to know what it was like growing up in the gothic midwest of the 1970s, there’s this as well.
I have an unhealthy attraction to things dark and mysterious, and frequently travel to places where something ghastly has occurred. Which results at times in the sudden realization that I’m sleeping in a bed where a hundred years ago, the former occupant shot himself and has been seen periodically since.
I’ve stood on the spot where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake.
AM I A PARANORMAL INVESTIGATOR? Not a chance. There’s only one way you’ll ever believe in the paranormal. If you see something with your own eyes, or hear a story that makes you believe. If EVPs were going to prove the existence of a great beyond, Zack Bagans would have the Nobel Prize by now.
I go to haunted places, and I love a haunted inn, pub or hotel where I can sit and soak up the atmosphere. There are places where you can feel that something might happen at any moment. And that my friends, is the best you can hope for. That and a good single malt scotch to pass the time while you wait on spooks. Or a shot of absinthe, depending on what type of spooks you’re looking for.
As I said, it’s personal experience that will make you a believer, and having a nip or two won’t dissuade you from believing if something happens.
Occasionally it does. I heard the giggle of Washington Irving’s niece at Sunnyside, his home. I saw the white lady in The George and Pilgrim Inn in Glastonbury, England. I’ve lowered my camera to see colonial era soldiers watching me, and nearly had the shit knocked out of me in the old Talbot Inn, in Bardstown, Kentucky. Weird shit happens and you can’t predict it, and spirits don’t appear on cue or with any regularity.