The Fall Equinox approaches, and the witching-season draws.
Attention along the Niagara Frontier always turns to Goodleberg, the dreaded, possibly haunted cemetery atop a hill in the Town of Wales. Don't go there at night. If you do, you may get beat up by outraged locals or out-of-town ghosthunters. You may also get arrested AND beat up by the State Troopers, which, after this warning, is what you deserve. The fact that this morning I met someone on the way to Goodleberg must have been what reminded me of this 2003 query to my website.
My friends and I visited Goodleberg Cemetery one night and we didn’t see anything. We told the spirits we were friendly and asked them to come to us, but nothing happened. We were so disappointed! What did we do wrong?
I don’t think you did anything wrong. I think you were expecting the wrong thing to happen.
I’m sorry to break it to you, but I would never expect to visit a haunted site and see a ghost. Since the development of parapsychology as a study, then a science, nothing anyone has been able to do has summoned a ghost or apparition. Some people claim to have done it, but they’ve never been able to demonstrate it again for critical observers.
Part of your disappointment may lie in terminology. You say you want to call up a spirit. I think you mean that you were trying to observe a ghost.
Some people think you call up disembodied spirits every time you use a Ouija board; every time you attend a seance; every time you visit a psychic; every time you attend a Spiritualist service. In these events, communication with spirits may happen, according to your belief, but no one ever sees anything with their earthly eyes, at least nothing that can be photographed (though some of today’s ghosthunters claim to do it routinely).
Whatever may be behind it, a ghost is an apparition, something you see. There’s no guarantee that it’s the spirit of a dead person. If asked, “What else would it be?” I’d have to point out that we see lots of images that aren’t the spirits of dead people. Turn on the TV. It’s possible that most, if not all, ghosts are images caught by some natural VCR and replayed from time to time in selected spots. Some researchers presume that’s what they all are.
We also see “ghosts” - apparitions, images - of living people. One of the classics in early psychical research is PHANTASMS OF THE LIVING, by Harry Price and others. There are also animal ghosts, or, if not, many people for many centuries have reported them.
Ghosts may have more of a tendency to be reported at haunted sites; murder has more of a tendency to happen in high-crime areas. There is no guarantee that either thing will repeat itself for your visit. The contrasts between ghosts and murder are worth mentioning, too. Murder leaves victims, but seldom witnesses. Ghosts never kill, but they almost never leave anything but witnesses.
Your own impression about the absolute power of Goodleberg and other Western New York sites could be partly my fault. I’ve collected regional reports and folklore from many sources and written a couple of books that I hoped would preserve our native folklore and interest the reader. In many places I also applied the insights of parapsychology and other disciplines, which may have made the books look more “scientific” or historic than they were. I’ve also been reinterpreted - liberally - through the gossip-wagon. I never meant to try to convince anyone that they would meet a ghost if they visit the haunted sites mentioned in my books. And I don’t believe there is anything you or anyone else can do to call one up.
Don’t get me wrong. I believe psychic incidents happen, that they could be evidence of a human spirit/soul, even an afterlife, and that what I call “the spooks” show themselves... But they show up in this world when they freakin’ feel like it, not when you or anyone else expects them.