Journal

Author: Mason Winfield Created: Friday, February 26, 2010
Journal

 I read about psychic phenomena – “spooky stuff.” I write about it. I listen to people who think they’ve seen it. I talk to people about it based on the picture presented by research, as well as the folklore. It’s extremely rare, I think, for any of us to experience psychic phenomena. See what you make of this third of our series of Christmas-season ghost stories at East Aurora’s Roycroft Campus – a potentially psychic Christmas Eve event into whose aftertones I stepped.

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 [Around 1900 a guest of East Aurora’s Roycroft Inn spotted an old employee weeping at her job. When asked what sort of tragedy had brought her to tears, she replied that they were tears of joy. By vouching for her son’s character and guaranteeing him a job, Roycroft founder Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915) had gotten him out of prison early to spend the holidays with his family. He had pulled one of his Christmas-season strings. This is the second in our series of seasonal Campus ghost stories.]

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 The average American stereotypes Halloween as the eternal “spook night” and is surprised to hear that Christmas was once its rival.

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  You’ve all heard about the creepy clowns. The flap may have started recently in England, but by now reports are all over the states, including New York, even Western New York, where sightings in wooded areas near schools and playgrounds have been rumored to be attempts to lure children. Some lawbreakers have indeed started taking clown-masks as disguises, and Johnny-Come-Latelies love getting a rise out of people. But most of these creepy clowns are elusive enough to qualify as apparitions like other standouts of our contemporary paranormal mythology, including ghosts, most UFOs, mystery monsters, and “the Vanishing Hitchhiker” (which may be completely an urban legend). 


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Be these juggling fiends no more believed,

That palter with us in a double sense,

That keep the word of promise to our ear,

And break it to our hope.

 Shakespeare, MacBeth


Wide right!

Van Miller

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  The season of Halloween is on us, and in the human environment, the imagery of our massive entertainment apparatus has already turned to the garish and the monstrous. Before we get to discussing Western New York’s legendary monsters, we should understand the roots of the occasion. 

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  I don’t have a literal belief in folklore, but I write enough about its patterns to be sensitive to its earmarks. I also think there must be something at the root of the major site-traditions, and I enjoy the suspension of disbelief when reality seems to fall into line. 
  In the Native American tradition of the upstate, witches, shamans, and other power-people were expected to be shapeshifters. Either by shifting their conscious processes into the bodies of natural animals or by physically transforming, they used those forms to move about and act. Every one, it seems, had a favored animal-form. The temporary metempsychosis was a long process not taken lightly, and one suspects that the favored animal was often significant to the individual, possibly the totem animal of the shapeshifter’s human clan. The disguise was never total, either; there was always some kind of visual giveaway. My Native American friends suspect that if you spot a strangely-formed animal – or a natural animal acting strangely – a supernatural influence is to be considered. That goes double when it happens in a powerful place.

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