Boo! Are you scared yet? Well, it's time to get in a spooky mood. I like Halloween, because it is a long tradition. What started out as a fifth century "All Saints Day," was originally a day of observance in honor of saints with a weird twist - it was also the day that disembodied spirits came back to possess the living. The poor spirits had only one chance of an afterlife and that was to intermingle with the living on this particular day, in hopes of possessing a body! The living did not want to be possessed and in order to scare off these roaming "body snatchers," they dressed up in terrifying costumes and paraded around their villages making a huge racket in order to drive off the evil spirits. Sound familiar?
If you aren't scared yet, I have even bigger news. Prescott is a pretty haunted place! Many ghosts have been seen and heard roaming around in our most beloved establishments, such as hotels, bars and gathering places. Dear Readers, I am not making this up, so be very aware that many a spirit wanders the city buildings and homes of Prescott. Not convinced? A well-known and local paranormal expert, Terri Cafazzo, provides the annual "Ghost Walk" throughout downtown Prescott and can give you a guided tour of all things strange and ghostly.
Ms. Cafazzo teaches a very popular class at Yavapai College called, "The Ghost & All That Is Paranormal." She also conducts Paranormal Investigation Certification classes that end up in a field trip to a well-known haunted building. Armed with electromagnetic field meters, thermal guns (to detect temperature fluctuations), digital recorders, electronic voice phenomena meters and night vision video cameras, this is a serious adventure. And you thought Ghostbusters was just a movie! Ha ... we have our own "ghost expert" right here in Prescott!
Have you ever seen a ghost? I don't mean the kind that comes knocking at your door for candy on Halloween. It's that experience you have when you realize that you have had an encounter with a spirit from "the other side." I went on a tour of the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California and it is a well-known haunted ship. I had so many strange and creepy feelings on that ship I couldn't wait to get off. I have seen (and talked) to my father many times since he passed away 12 years ago. After my horse, Angel, died, I would often see her standing in her stall in the barn, or looking up at the house while grazing under her favorite tree. Crazy? Perhaps. A paranormal experience? Maybe.
Halloween has always been closely associated with the dead. During the ninth century, beggars went around to every home in their village asking for "soul cakes" on All Saints Day. The Europeans called this "souling." These "treats" were given in exchange for the beggars to start praying for the dead relatives of the kind folks who passed out cakes, since it was believed that the deceased needed plenty of prayer to pass from limbo into heaven. These were the early days of "trick or treat."
Americans must love Halloween, because we spend about five billion bucks on decorations, costumes and candy each year. This day of devils, ghosts, goblins, witches and all things paranormal has been around a very long time. But for most of us, it's a day to watch the kids dress up as we pass out the treats, never giving a thought to some evil spirit trying to possess us. However, it is considered a night when witches congregate, arriving on broomsticks to celebrate with a party hosted by the "horned one." They sit around, cast spells and make mischief on Halloween, but I wouldn't worry. I usually dress up like a witch on Halloween and have never been able to produce much magic (although I do scare a few kids).
Yes, I am seeing lots of little ghouls walking around and plenty of jack-o-lanterns to remind me that it's time to make myself a nice, big Bloody Mary. Oops, what I meant to say was, it's time to try to scare up the ghost of "Bloody Mary" by staring into a mirror that is in a dark room, by the light of 13 candles, while chanting "Bloody Mary" 13 times. The vengeful spirit will then appear at your left shoulder. The problem is that once you see the spirit, she will either:
1) scratch your eyes out; 2) kill you, or 3) drive you insane. I think I will pour a really stiff drink and hope for number three.
I live in the country, so I don't expect to see one child bravely walking in the dark up my lonely driveway. I will pay 10 dollars to any kid who knocks at my door on Halloween (adult neighbors pretending to be children will be disqualified). I might wear my witches' hat (just in case) and if I get bored I can put my clothes on inside out, and then walk backwards for 30 paces in the shadow of the moon. If an owl is watching, legend has it that I will turn into a black cat. Who needs a costume for Halloween? Have yourself a bowl of candy, a "Bloody Mary" and look out for strange black cats!
For more information on the Prescott Ghost Walk or other paranormal classes, contact Terri Cafazzo at 499-9332 or at email@example.com.
Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local realtor who lives in Skull Valley. Have a story or a comment? Contact Judy at firstname.lastname@example.org.