Witchery: Paranormal Stories from Friends and Family

It was a long hot summer and the stories of the Goat-man ran wild. In 1969, I was six and a half years old, old enough to be terrified of the stories on the TV, in newspapers, the pictures in the Fort Worth Star Telegram and the stories I heard first hand from the friends of my elder siblings. I do not recall if any of my siblings had been at any of the parties out by the lake that summer, but some of their friends and our neighbors had stories to tell. The sightings varied in descriptions based on how close the storyteller was to the action, but one thing everyone agreed on was the apparent strength of the creature. It picked up old used car tires from the nearby junk-dump area and lobbed them from hundreds of feet away at the teens and twenties who parked to party at the lake. People took to visiting the area at night in order to try to get a glimpse of it. Some described it as terrifying and others as pitiful and in pain. The creature did not stay in the news long, as the moon landing took precedence, but to this day, there are many who swear to seeing the creature that summer. Reports a few years later alleged that a local rival school had set it up as a prank. However, with the reported strength of the creature from several credible witnesses, including on-duty police officers, added to the fact that after all these decades later, no one has come forward to take credit even with the $5,000 reward for anyone who can prove that it was a prank. Witnesses still claim 45 years later, that they saw exactly what they reported. It makes people wonder, to this day, was the Lake Worth Goat-man something real, or just a prank?

Late in middle school, I spent the night with a friend, Denise K., when her high school age sister tried to introduce me to their Ouija board. I had already heard about this particular board from Denise during school for a few weeks, so I was not about to fall for that trick. She told me they used it for months before anything happened, however, one night about two months prior, they had contacted something, which refused to leave the board. It answered their questions with nonsensical answers where previously it had answered in clear responses. After a few times of trying to get whatever it was to leave the board, it became angry and froze them out. When I asked Denise what she meant, she said that the planchette became too cold to touch. She explained that it lost the cold temperature once they stopped using it that night, but every time they tried to use it since, within a few minutes of using it, the planchette would become cold again. Her sister brought it to the little hidden room behind her closet that was a part of the attic. I was bold enough to touch the planchette and it felt room temperature, however, less than five minutes later, while they were trying to talk whatever was there into leaving, they had me touch it again and sure enough, it felt like it had been sitting in a freezer. A few weeks later, they said they burned the Ouija board in their backyard while their parents were out to dinner. They never brought another one into that house while they stayed there.

Another Ouija board, about a decade later was the subject of another story. I had a friend who told me that he had used his Ouija board often when he was alone. He said he developed a bond with it. However, it had taken to moving around their apartment room to room and from closet to closet. When he told his mother about it, she took it outside and tossed it in the dumpster. A few days later, he opened a closet and there it was. She accused him of bring it back into the house, but he swore he had not. Every time she would throw it away, it turned up again. He said that they had already planned to leave that apartment in Oklahoma and move to Texas. On the day of the move, with all the boxes packed, taped shut, and loaded. She had him sit in the car and she took the board to the dumpster, again. He did not see what she did, but it took a couple of minutes before she came back, started the car and they left. Since they had changed states during the move, they were even more shocked when they opened a box in their new trailer and found the Ouija board, my friend accused his mother of finding one and taping it up in his box to scare him. She said she would not do that. He said it had to be the same one then. She scoffed and said it could not be the same one because she had broken a peg from the planchette and torn a section of the backing off without him seeing when she threw it in the dumpster. She said that way she would know if he was buying a new one when he got to Texas. They opened the Ouija board box together and were both shocked to see the peg missing and the backing torn exactly as she had described. They burned it in a barrel out back of their new trailer.

This same friend had an issue in a different trailer about a decade later back in Oklahoma. Several people in the group of friends decided to move into a trailer together. After a week or so of things moving around and things being misplaced, everyone was at each other’s throats. My friend was sitting on the couch with his brunette fiancé and her brother, another friend, and his blonde sister, also living in the trailer, were moving around. The blonde went into the restroom and closed the door. A few minutes later, they all heard a pounding that sounded as if someone were using their fist and trying to break down a wall. The blonde came running out of the restroom a minute later, angry and yelling that they had scared her by banging on the wall on the opposite side of the medicine cabinet and whomever had done it needed to go into the restroom and clean up the mess, immediately. The blonde’s brother, standing in the kitchen thirty feet from the restroom explained to her that the other three never moved from the couch where they were playing a game of D&D. He said he had a clear view over the kitchen island where he was making his lunch and no one had even approached the wall or the restroom since she had gone in. Occasionally over the next few months, the banging continued until they decided to leave the trailer and its unseen inhabitant alone. They split up, and went their separate ways.

An old friend from high school had moved to Florida and came for a visit about a decade after high school graduation. She was thinking about moving home and going to school in Texas. When I asked why she said that she thought someone was stalking her in Florida. She had problems with things moving around inside her house day and night. Even when she was at home, she could hear someone moving around in her apartment when she was locked in her bedroom. When she went to investigate, no one was there. She said it happened most often in the late afternoon and during the night. She would wake to the sound of talking in the next room, she never could hear what was said, and it just sounded like whispering through the walls. First her purse, but then her keys were always disappearing from one room and turning up in another. They constantly moved when not watched. At first, the purse moved from one spot in the front room to another. Then, the keys were the only things that moved. She left them in her purse after coming in and the next morning they were under her bed. She would leave them on the nightstand and they ended up at the back of a kitchen drawer. She made a peg to hang them on in her bedroom, and they disappeared completely and she had to replace them. When I asked who else had a key to her apartment, she said it was only her and that the only door in and out, had a knob lock, deadbolt, and a security bar, which was accessible only from the inside. I was still suspicious. I suspected that a previous tenant was responsible. Perhaps they knew a trick to work the bar bolt open. Perhaps a window lock did not work properly. No, she checked the windows and besides it was on the second floor and no fire escapes nearby. I told her to get a door bar that fit under the knob that she could kick firmly into place each night to protect her bedroom door. When she got home to Florida, she got one and used it religiously every night. The keys left hanging on the peg in the bedroom with her, still ended up in the fridge, the kitchen drawers, and inside the bathroom tub. It never resolved, so she moved a few months later when the lease expired.

Our old house, in Fort Worth, was a joy. Between Nightshade, my youngest son, my niece, and myself we all realized something was going on there and it was not a happy something. The first one to notice more than a general feeling of disquiet was my youngest son. He kept talking to me about the “lady in the kitchen”. He was not yet three and barely verbal at that point because he had stopped speaking entirely when his father crossed over. Usually he meowed and pointed if he wanted to communicate. The house was new to us so I had no idea what had happened there before we bought it. I thought I was just uneasy due to the recent loss of my beloved, and believed my son was talking about the babysitter. I gave up thinking about it when he went back to meowing a few days later, which lasted another 18 months afterward. It was not until two years later, after other things had happened that convinced me something was up that he brought it up again. I was getting ready to decorate the house for Samhaine and our local trick-or-treaters that he suddenly said “Mommy! That is her!” He pointed to a horribly disfigured skeleton-type decoration I was holding. I asked, “This is who?” looking at the grotesque figure. “That is the lady in the kitchen!” He explained.

By that time, I already knew that someone in the house was not alive and not happy about it. I would do basic smudgings, when the feelings got too strong to deal with, but otherwise left it alone. I did not want to send it away without knowing what it needed, why it was there, and I was not up to dealing with it, either. After a few months in the house, I was used to sitting downstairs and watching VHS movies at night while the boys slept upstairs. Every so often, those first few months, I would catch a glimpse of movement at the head of the stairs, which reflected in the huge mirror over the fireplace. It scared me because the stairs were closed on the side next to the kitchen where they shared a wall with the pantry, but opened up halfway down on the side with the living room. At first, I always jumped up and ran upstairs thinking a toddler son was about to plunge down the stairs, half-asleep. I always found them still in their queen-sized bed, curled together like a litter of puppies, so I thought it was just the nerves of the recently widowed, in the beginning. After a while, I would sit still when I saw movement and turn to look at the mirror, the movement always vanished, immediately. Finally, I decided to sit still and watch from my peripheral vision. It was then I noticed that the figure moving was the size of a pre-teen or newly teen child, not the size of my much younger sons, the eldest of whom was four and a half and the two younger sons were almost three by then. The figure would pace back and forth, in an agitated state and then vanish after a minute or two. This went on for a couple of years before I figured out how to soothe him by accident.

Our friend Nightshade was visiting one night, a few years after we had moved in. We had been sitting in the kitchen, talking when he decided to go out to his car to get something to show me. I cannot recall what it was. He left the kitchen and turned toward his left to cross where the staircase opened into the front room. As he came even with the staircase, he said he glanced up to make sure the boys bedroom light was out as they were supposed to be in bed. He suddenly let out a high-pitched squeal that did not fit his 6’ 3” height and a few hundred pound frame and dove toward the couch on the opposite side of the room from the stairs. I thought he was being silly at first and just playing around with one of the boys. You would have to know how much he goofed around with them and what a big kid he was to understand exactly how likely that was. However, the paleness of his naturally tanned face when he turned and explained to me, convinced me he was not playing around. He said that just as he cleared the panty/stairwell wall, something had launched itself down the stairs at his face with a fierce growl. He said it sounded feral and its eyes glowed but he could not identify a shape at all because it moved so fast. I asked if it resembled my late kitty Sinatra, as he had been hanging out at the new house with me on occasion, his response, “not unless Sinatra is about 4 feet tall now!” I explained at that point, apparently, the shadow boy was not fond of Nightshade for some reason. I sometimes wondered if he was jealous of the attention and fun the boys had with Nightshade.

The event that surprised me the most was with my niece, who was staying with me then and currently lives with me, again, in this new house with her father and two kids. She and her father had lived in the old house previously. I bought it from him when he moved onto his land a couple of months after my beloved crossed over while this niece was out in the Carolinas. Several years later, I went to spend a month out in Alabama tending to my dad, who had recently been diagnosed with cancer. I took care of his daily errands, cooked for him and ran him to doctors, biopsies, and surgeries for a month before I had to come home and go back to work or lose my job. My niece moved in and stayed in the house with my boys, running them to and from daycare while I was away. She and her six-year-old son had been living with her dad, but they stayed with me even after I returned for several months longer. It allowed me to work massive amounts of overtime to catch up with my Resource job and replace the funds I had lost during the month without paychecks. One day after my kids were in daycare, her son was downstairs playing, and I was at work, she said she was lying down in the bedroom which had been converted from a loft. She said she was sleeping with her face to the wall when she heard someone quietly call her name. She thought that I had come home unexpectedly, and she said “What?” without turning over or getting up. She said she waited a minute expecting me to say something else. When she heard nothing else, she turned over and saw the door to the room, still closed and locked. She told me about it when I came home that evening. My response, “You have the closet door closed in your room, you need to open it and leave it open.” She said, “How do you know it is closed?” To which I explained, “He doesn’t like it when the door is closed. I think he used to get locked in.” I told her about the other issues we had with the house and she said she never noticed anything during the decade she lived there, but I noticed that whatever was there felt comfortable enough with her and her name enough to call it, yet it never spoke to the boys or me. I suspect it was there all along and she had just never noticed it before. She opened the door and left in open for the duration of her stay.

specter, spectre, ghost, apparition, spirit

Witchery: The Dark Specter

The house I grew up in was small for the number of people it housed. When my parents moved us to the small town of Saginaw, Texas, in the early 60s, my eldest brother was three months from thirteen, my eldest sister almost twelve and a half, the middle brother almost ten, middle sister almost 9, my youngest brother was a few months from six and I was a whooping two months old. As such, with only three bedrooms, I lived in my parents’ room for a time before being lumped in with the rest of the girls.

As we were growing up, many things happened in the house that should not have occurred. I blame much of it on the dark specter that resided in the room set aside for my brothers. He seemed to be able to affect the males much more than most of the girls, from what I could tell at that age and from the stories, I heard after growing up. My brothers fought a lot between themselves and with the older sisters. As the “baby”, I was mostly left on my own. When I say fight, I mean “ball up your fist and slug them in the face,” type fighting, not the type of fighting my sons do, where snippy tone of voice and rude comments occasionally come into play. In my family, there was a lot of violence and abuse behind closed doors.

My parents did not have a happy marriage to begin with, due in great part to the alcoholism my dad spoke of suffering during the first two decades of marriage. However, even after the alcohol was gone, his violent outbursts toward the elder children and my mother remained. My mom hid from life inside her books, soap operas, and puzzles. She did not want to “get involved” with the problems. As such, neither parent really paid much attention to what went on between the children, themselves.

In today’s society we would have been removed from the home, but back them, we thought what we were going through was normal, so none of us ever bothered to talk about it to anyone. It was not until I was in my mid twenties that something happened to trigger a discussion with most of us kids. We got together and compared notes. I guess as the baby of the family I was spared from most of what went on, I had few horror stories of my own comparatively, and the ones I had infuriated my eldest sister as she blamed herself for going off to college and leaving me “alone” in the house. “Unprotected” was the way she phrased it as she cried, but I reminded her that both of my parents were in the house and responsible for bringing me to this life, while she was absolutely not responsible.

The specter lived in the room that the boys shared from the earliest time I can remember to the day I left the house after I turned 18 and left high school. I could see it, and worse, feel it every time I went into the room. It scared me to think about going into the room. I never wanted to unless someone else was in there to protect me. Sadly, on occasion, that did not work as well as intended. Instead, the specter sometimes used the other person against me, physically, instead. It seemed drawn to my father, one brother, and one sister in particular, though I could feel that it wanted to use us all.

It was not until I was 9 ½ years old, that I got to live in a room without other people being there. That summer, my middle brother and middle sister were graduating from high school and they both had weddings planned about one month apart. My sister married her high school sweetheart first and went to live with her new husband in the house he picked out for them, several blocks up the street in the same small town. My brother was marrying a high school sweetheart, whose own abusive parents had thrown her away and she ended up moving into the house with us for a couple of years or so prior. That last month it was just her and me in the “girls” bedroom. She kept telling me that she and my brother were moving out soon, too.

It seemed exciting, though I knew I was really going to miss my brother. I was never that close to my sisters, the eldest had been more like a mom, but moved out when I was graduated first grade, so she could to go to college. The middle sister was the one affected by the specter, along with our eldest brother, so I was never too comfortable around her. As the specter affected her, she told others that I was “too young” to remember things she did, but I was not. I have always remembered. That left my two younger brothers. The youngest was my closest friend while growing up. The elder, who lives with me now, was always my hero; (in many ways he still is today) so losing him was going to be devastating. However, I was going to get a whole room to myself, he kept explaining, so I should be happy. I was a little bit happy, until the day of the marriage when I found out that my youngest elder brother wanted the room that I thought was going to be mine, and I was going to have the “specter” room.

The day came and I was inconsolable. Not only was my hero leaving, but also my bed had been moved to my “new” room. The specter room. I remember lying in bed that night and crying, begging my bigger brother to not leave me there, to take me with him. He was so gentle and wonderful, telling me I could come and visit him as much as I liked in his new place, which was only a few blocks and around a corner from the sister who had just married.

It started immediately, I could feel the specter pushing and taunting. I never wanted to enter the room, but was always being sent to my room as my parents believed strongly in the old adage that “children should be seen and not heard” and enforced that rule all the time. As such, over the years I grew accustomed to the specter. I became used to the feeling of being watched constantly and poked at mentally. This was when my lifelong fight with insomnia began. Sometimes I listened to him talking in my head, but most often, I tried to tune him out. I was not always successful.

When I was around 11 or 12 years old, I got my first hand-me-down stereo and discovered that if I used my parents’ old headphones and kept the music loud enough, I could feel him watching me, but he could not get into my head to poke at me anymore. After that, I still dreaded entering my room when I got home from school, but once I was in there and had the music going at full blast, I did not mind him so much. I still felt him watching me and I could feel the tightness in my head, but I learned to sleep with the headphones on and that helped. I kept this up all through high school and through my first job until I had enough money saved up to move in with my first roommate.

To this day, I do not know whose specter was in the house or why he was there. I do not know if he was there when we moved in, followed us from the city I was born it, or joined the family at some point after we had moved in. All I know is that he was there by the time I became aware of other people around the age of three or four. I can recall seeing it for years before my eldest brother joined the Navy in the late 60s. Its handiwork had already been abusing us, by then.

I researched in my preteens and early teens and discovered what it was, but never whom. I think its presence in my family’s life is one of the things that drew me to study witchcraft and the occult. I needed to understand what was affecting my family and only in studying witches, the occult, and specters did I find the answers I needed.

He was not present when I returned in my mid-thirties with my own three small children for 10 weeks while I searched for a job and a house after Az crossed over unexpectedly. Only one spirit was in the house with us at that point and that one was one I needed. For that, I am thankful, as I never wanted my children to meet him, ever! I do not know if he was trapped in the rebuilding after the tornado, or perhaps, knowing I was now a full grown witch and knew enough about him to send him away, he left voluntarily, or involuntarily. I only know that he was mercifully, absent when this witch returned with her “spawn” to the house and for that, I am grateful!