The First Rule of Haunting Club…

As you’ve no doubt gathered by this point in my Halloween series, there are some of us who engage with alivelies as sport.

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Sorry/not sorry

But, honestly, it’s not nearly as horrifying as you might think.

Because the first rule of Haunting Club is: You do talk about Haunting Club. You talk about it until it’s borderline tedious and you’re not really sure why you signed up in the first place, and only once you can state the involved risks and rules in your sleep are you allowed to begin the process of registering as a haunt.

To begin the process, I said.

So, paring away the tedium…because what fun is that…I thought I would tell you just a bit about how a ghost becomes a haunt, and what we do once we arrive, using my own experience as indicative.

My first Halloween in ghost world, I did not pay much attention to haunting. This was largely due to the fact that I spent the evening at a gay strip club in an amateur drag contest, wearing a number of bird-related costumes and unexpectedly catching the eye of a modeling agency. But that’s a different story…

It was only after Marc and I met up with our mates Ed and Jacques to swap Halloween stories that I realised haunting was an actual free-time pursuit and not just the invention of horror writers.  I was immediately taken with it, and I asked when their next haunting expedition would be and if I could attend.

“Well, sure, I love an audience,” said Ed.  And he does.  “But first, you have to read the handbook and pass a bystander exam.”

Excuse me?

So, Ed went to fetch the Haunting Handbook.

I have to admit, I was expecting something straight out of a Hollywood film, covered in mysterious runes and full of pressed herbs. But it is nothing so much as a corporate-looking binder, about three inches thick and hole-punched. It can be purchased in leather-bound hardback, mind you, but the rules, restrictions, and taboos of our game are updated quarterly, with new jurisdiction and indicative case studies, so it’s easier to just keep a binder.

Marc took one look at it and determined he was 100% right the hell out. His English wasn’t yet at three-inch-binder-full-of-legalise levels, and there was no existing Latin translation at that point.

(There is now…because he wrote it.)

I was determined, though. I was going to read this damn handbook and take my bystander exam if it killed me, as it couldn’t very well do that.

It took me a month. It was arduous and boring and I found myself reading the worst of it out loud to Marc just to watch his eyes glaze over, as it made my ennui seem more valid. And when I finished it, and Ed allowed that my practise quizzes were on the mark, I paid and sat for my bystander exam—a four hour, plodding, horrible test that requires you go on a practise haunt and not involve yourself, despite the pull of participation.

I got a stamped certificate at the end of it, and Ed and Jacques were allowed to take me on haunts, where I would sit and watch the former tamper with faucets and turn on showers, and the latter disrupt curtains and billow sheets, and delight in the ensuing alively panic.

To note: Ed and Jacques are incredibly advanced ghosts to be able to manipulate elemental, physical spaces. Most ghosts are able to induce a feeling of unease at best.

After a few ventures, I said to them, I’m sold. When do I get to start haunting?

As it turns out, Ed had to sponsor me for membership in the Toronto Haunting Club. Then I had to attend classes, building up curriculum points and cultivating a deeper understanding of the handbook, generally. Once I could prove that I had put in the time and effort, I was able to apply for a Haunting Registration, which, again, required a test.

That whole process took a damn year. And then, when my registration came through, I was allowed to pick a specialty upon which to focus:

I chose Aural Production, which is, in essence, a form of haunting in which you produce the sounds that would accompany manipulations of physical space without actually moving things about. So, I am the haunt that knocks at your door, creaks the floorboards, or pretends to slam the cupboards.

And–let me just dust off this trophy–I am very good at AP.

Once I proved to be a quick study, the moment I had been waiting for arrived…

…I picked a target.

As soon as I did, all the rules of Haunt Club rained down upon me. I had to submit the name and location of my selected target for an intense vetting process. And once all the information was gathered, the board had to make the final call—was this person strong enough to handle some interference?

They were determined to be so.

So, I got a letter in the mail saying that my target and been approved for haunting, but first, please see enclosed addendum to handbook.

Enclosed addendum was another inch of hole-punched material, detailing the identified cultural and spiritual beliefs of my target, as suspected due to ethnicity and about a month of observation. The board required that I read the addendum and then take yet another test, demonstrating that I knew how to get a rise out of this person without altering their fundamental way of life or treading upon them in a manner disrespectful to their beliefs.

In other words:

Good goal—knock on target’s front door once a week for a month and giggle when they jump

Bad goal—simulate the sounds associated with culturally specific demons and drive target into therapy

With this particular target, I simulated the sounds of hard-soled shoes on hardwood floors because their house was entirely carpeted.

BOW BEFORE MY UNABASHED POWER

BOW BEFORE MY UNABASHED POWER

In the end, they pulled up the corner of their living room carpet, revealing the original wood beneath, and then scratched their head and went to the public record office to see about the history of their home.

Truly, an excellent target. I was sad to see them go after the six month haunting allotment was up.

And that’s about the long and short of it—learning to haunt takes a very long time, requires that you jump through about a hundred hoops, and if you’re really, really good, culminates in a glorious moment where your target looks up, and asks…is someone there?

Of course, there are exceptions to rules, special cases as regards friends and family, and any number of unregistered, maverick ghosts and energies.  But for this post, there’s really only one last thing you should know about haunting:

All bets are off on Halloween.

I’ll see you at sundown…

Manifesting as a Ghost

In the fall of 2003, I manifested as a fully formed, communicative, and aware ghost.

My energy had been lurking around prior to that. In fact, it turns out that the potential to become a ghost had always been with me. But my converted-to-Catholicism consciousness had been so wrapped up in the belief that I had already reached the afterlife—for me a grey, wasted purgatory space—that I had resigned myself to live in bleak guilt, not really trying to manifest.

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But by 1993 or so, I realised that someone was hearing my occasional cries—bits of voice and whiffs of de-ja-vu—and my outlook changed. I continued trying to make contact over the next ten years, and then, in 2003, I broke out of my purgatory, suddenly opening my eyes and looking at the world around me.

I didn’t see much to begin with, for two related reasons.

First, it takes time and training to see ghost world as a proper world. At first, it looked like I was standing suspended in various shades of light, watching them ripple over various surfaces—like if you poured a starry, golden, liquid metal over the entire Earth.
If you manifest to another ghost, this starriness quickly fades, via techniques of memory/sight sharing. There are whole squads of ghosts who work to catch new manifestations and help with the transition.

But I had, second, made contact with an alively, not a ghost.

This, I’m led to understand, is quite rare. There are very few alivelies with the inner sight necessary to communicate in a substantial, sustained manner.

But there he was, his inner eyes quite open, his outline clear to me. He was secure, with shades of personality that added depth to the shimmering light, and when I waved at him, he waved back.

I vividly remember the feeling of making contact and sinking into his presence, finding that my consciousness fit well with his. We mapped on to each other, and I opened my eyes a second time—this time my inner eye and his outer—and in so doing, I was able to look out into the alively world through his gaze, at all its colours and breezes.

I bawled like a child.

I had been dead for over a hundred years at that point.

It was a lot.

For the next seven years, I essentially forgot about ghost world. I mean, my options were to either live in something akin to…I don’t know, a giant, golden fondue…or to live in the world, safely ensconced in my host’s awareness, going to his classes, recitals, and concerts, telling him about my life, and making the occasional new friend.

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Live in the pot, or with the people. Actually…this is a bad analogy. The 70s were a strange time.

Then, early in 2010, another ghost manifested to me and my host, and everything changed in an instant.

It was Marcus, my eventual husband, and his manifestation was like an eruption. He came vaulting out of his perceived afterlife like…well, like a charging Roman soldier, pulling me back into some awareness of ghost world. And as soon as he saw me, he rushed forward and…

…cut off my head.

That’s right, his first action in our relationship was to Cut. Off. My. Head.

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First date.

And he wonders why I didn’t like him to start.

Anyway, Marc’s manifestation was also unique in that he appeared not only to an alively, but to a ghost who had been ‘living’ like an alively. He was massively confused, because although he took our shared world at face value, he was over 2000 years old, and it looked like nothing he had ever seen before. And he also, unlike me, kept one foot firmly in ghost world, occasionally wandering off to pull something out of his energetic existence and place it on the line between inner sights. He fashioned a horse out of energy, for instance. He retrieved a pallet bed and some ferns from his memories. He put together a small kitchen. And he kept looking at me like I was crazy because in seven years I had not done so much as construct more than a lamp and a chair.

And there I was thinking any combination of the following:

a) What an asshole
b) Lord I wish he spoke English
c) Lord I want to bite his shoulders
d) How does he move so easily between worlds?

As it turns out, B is not much of a barrier when C is mutual. And once we were regularly partaking of C, A sort of fell away.

So we were left with D—every time I went to retrieve something from my memory, or to make something from energy, I half expected to disappear forever.

I watched him closely, and as his English improved and my Church Latin came back to me, he was able to explain his process, and we began making trips into ghost world together.

The golden stars began to fall away, revealing a vast world without restrictions upon time or place. We could pop off to the beach, traverse a forest, sit on a cliff, and still be back in time to attend a concert with Alex.

And as landscapes revealed themselves, so did the other ghosts upon them, sharing their self-perceptions with us so that we could see clear faces, hear tones of voices, and share stories. We primarily made acquaintances, but then in 2011 we met Ed and Jacques in Hawaii on our honeymoon, and hit it off. They told us about life in Toronto, and we visited, fell in love with the ghost version of the city, and began dividing our time between alively world and our host, ghost world and our mates.

The rest is essentially the subject of this website–not only do I have a ghost world to share with you, but I have an alively platform through which to share it.

A full manifestation.

Why Ghosts Love Seances

Ghosts love shows about ghost-hunting. We have an entire channel dedicated to them, and it loops through all the best/worst shows out there on alively telly, twenty four hours of the day, seven days a week.

Why?

Well, viewership seems to fall into one of three categories:

First, there are the haunting aficionados. These are the folks who take notes on all the latest and greatest in ghost-hunting equipment, compile lists of the most haunted locations, review the most common modes of alively attempts at contact, and then talk shop about how to use all this information to scare the shit out of you.

Second, there are the self-congratulatory folks who love to relive their ten-seconds of fame, pointing out their appearances on camera with all the eagerness of an extra in a A-list film.

And third, there are those of us, myself included, who think that ghost-hunting shows are just bloody hilarious.

We watch for the juxtaposition of the alively drama with ghostly trolling, laughing like mad when one of our celebrity haunters mugs for the camera and then wings a piece of brick across an abandoned building, causing all the alivelies to lose their minds about demons.

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‘That was definitely a demon. Trust me. This is my serious business hat’.

We watch for the ghosts who didn’t realize they were being filmed, which happens relatively often as we do tend to occupy abandoned buildings and such. These unsuspecting ghosts have the most fantastic candid camera moments, which, when overlapped with the completely unaware alively activities in the background, are sheer comedy gold.

We watch for Chip Coffey.

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‘That was also definitely a demon. Trust me. This is my serious business scarf’.

And we watch for the séances.

Oh god.

The séances.

Now here’s the thing. There are two kinds of séances. There are séances that are conducted in a manner respectful of the dead and hopeful for the living where family members, friends, and lovers attempt to make contact. These are usually carried out privately and sincerely, and although they rarely work for any number of reasons, I do not intend to belittle these attempts. Who hasn’t tried to talk to someone they’ve lost?

No, the kind of séance that leaves me gasping for breath between cackles are the dramatized, publicly-conducted circuses where ghost-hunters plead for contact, begging for a name or ‘just some sign that you can hear us’ whilst gripping the table and moaning and mumbling and jumping at the slightest noise.

Because while the ghost-hunters are doing that—demanding signs and personal information and gory details about murders and madness—we are having a field day behind your backs.

There are any number of ghosts who’ve made a living hamming it up at your on-screen séances, but let me tell you about my favourite, everyone’s favourite, Sylvester.

Sylvester, who is better known to ghosts as ‘Lucky’ on account of his dying on Friday the Thirteenth, is a genius. He started haunting back in the eighteenth century, but he really arrived, as it were, when he famously disrupted Houdini’s attempt to make contact with the other side at a highly publicised Halloween séance in 1927.

By all accounts, he simply explained to Houdini why his communications weren’t working—there were too many people at the séance, they were too centered on the drama and not enough on the pure intention of contact, no one had a mind clear enough to foster proper connection. But Houdini, who was rather torqued about the whole thing, threw up his hands and passed right on out of the world, leaving a spot open for the next great mentalist and magician.

Sylvester slipped right into the opportunity, proceeding to make a great number of hats out of available energy deposits and plop them on the heads of the alivelies attempting to speak with Houdini.

And he did this for the next ten years, honing his energy art and creating ridiculous tableaux after tableaux, until the séance-goers finally stopped trying to make contact with a man who was no longer there.

But Sylvester didn’t stop just because the yearly Houdini séance did. Not hardly. He continued to disrupt every spiritualist he could find, selling tickets and turning alively events into great ghost entertainment. He would pop up behind fortune tellers with supposed ghostly familiars and re-interpret their tarot cards to tell complex and hilarious futures.  He would attend magical shows in Vegas and walk about on stage dodging jugglers and knives whilst revealing all the tricks with stone-faced seriousness. He would perch himself on levitating tables and pretend slapstick surprise when they popped up on strings.

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‘Lucky’ is definitely sitting on that table. Trust me. I’m sipping my serious business tea.

I’ve seen the films—the man is a giant among men.

Now Sylvester is in semi-retirement, but he’s trained a whole host of other ghosts to carry on his silliness and keep his name alive.  But of course, he can’t resist the occasional disruption and so we all watch the ghost-hunting channel on the off chance that ‘Lucky’ will pop up, wearing his Buster-Keaton-esque attire, and drop an energy-balloon hat on the head of one of those raging assholes on Ghost Adventure.

So, by all means, keep trying to contact us.  We love it when you do.

Pumpkin Spice Morte

If I had to pick an arch-nemesis, I would, one hundred percent, without a doubt, select  the most heinous of creations, the most terrible of concoctions—the goddamn Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Stay with me.

This is not another post declaring war on the idea of being ‘basic’. This isn’t even a post declaring war on vapid consumerism. In fact, before I knew better, I’m fairly sure I must have tried the monstrous drink myself.

No, this is a post declaring war on the usurpation of October.  Because ever since that schmaltzy, syrupy drink charged onto the pages of the calendar, leading the way toward “cute” autumnal rituals, ghosts have been slipping away from the scene.

It used to be that crisp October air held a chill because we all knew what lurked at the end of the month.  We knew the pumpkins decorating our doorsteps mutated into ghouls, the scarecrows guarding our $3 corn mazes stalked away to guard real labyrinths, and the brightly coloured leaves in our instagram pictures tumbled away to reveal skeletal hands scraping at the sky.

We knew the ghosts came out to play.

But now, under the September to December pumpkin-spiced reign of terror, one month bleeds into the next in a glaze of sugar, and people forget to be afraid of the dark.

And, even worse, ghosts themselves are becoming blase about haunting.  The number of us who put in the time and effort to learn how to slam doors, open faucets, and whisper curses dwindles each year, because what’s to compel us to provide ghostly visitations when the best we get is a glance up from the Netflix queue?

“Did you hear that?” asked Bill.

“No,” said Mary, looking away from her super cute painted gourd project and taking a sip of her latte.  “Was it the wind?”

Bill considered this for a moment and then nodded and hung up his adorable wreath made of acorns and maize and glitter and plush owls.  “Yeah, I bet it was the wind.”

The mother. fucking. wind.

I’ve had it.

So, for the month of October, the month in which One World Ghost Government looks the other way, I shall be bearing my ghostly teeth in a series of posts on topics true to the spirit of Halloween–seances, manifestation, and haunting.

And in the meantime, I have defaced some propaganda posters to show how serious I am, which you will find below.

goddamn ghost game

pumpkin spice stop

ruining afterlife

worst nightmares

So serious!

(My husband says I’m shit at declaring war.)