Paranormal Hangover

imageThe day after a paranormal investigation is often a wasted day for me. I am often so bone-deep tired, all I can consider is spending the day on the couch watching television until my eyes glaze over. The first time I really noticed this was after investigating the Houghton Mansion in North Adams, Massachusetts.

The mansion has been featured on many paranormal television shows and stands out as one of the most haunted venues on the East Coast. I’ve investigated there four times and have never walked away without either an amazing personal experience or a dozen or more EVPs. The last time I was there, I saw a partial apparition in the basement.

There are very few locations that can offer the same results. Most of the time when we go to an investigation, it’s a hit or miss situation. Sometimes we capture evidence, but sometimes we don’t.

Another place where I always capture a plethora of evidence is the Haunted Victorian Mansion in Gardner, Massachusetts. It has also been featured on many paranormal television shows and is also one of the most haunted venues on the East Coast. I didn’t make the connection between the two until I wrote an article about ghosts and energy. Then, I realized the similarities. Both places give me amazing evidence, but they also give me horrible paranormal hangovers.

Why does this happen?

There are many theories. Some people think it’s due to a change in our sleep patterns. Instead of going to sleep at our normal times, we stay up all night for a ghost hunt. Others feel it is due to physical exhaustion or from subjecting ourselves to excess temperature ranges.

I think it’s due to energy thieves.

Ghosts need energy to communicate and we are nothing more than big nine-volt batteries. At most locations, the ghosts haven’t figured out how to take it from us, but not at these two locations. The ghosts are advanced and they’re very clever. They nearly drain me dry as soon as I step through the doorway.

There are a number of ways to prevent this from happening:

  • Always thoroughly ground yourself before and after each investigation. Allow the negative energy to flow through your body and into the ground. This leaves you in a better position to protect yourself.
  • Shielding is very important during investigations. It prevents ghosts from getting too close to you. If you find that you are still feeling weak and exhausted after an investigation, this might be a sign that your shields aren’t working to full capacity. Work on your visualizations of building a protective white light around you. I’ve found that working with a psychic medium is also incredibly helpful. They can see what you need to improve on and help guide you in the right direction.
  • Protection prayers are important as well. If you are feeling drained, ask for help. Whether it is a religious prayer or a conversation you are having with your guides or guardians, ask them to help keep you shielded from energy vampires.
  • Never tell the ghosts they can use your energy and never invite them to touch you. You are only asking for trouble when you do this. If you don’t end up with an unwanted attachment, you’ll probably find yourself depleted of energy the next day.

Recovering from a paranormal hangover is actually fairly similar to recovering from an alcohol induced hangover. Here are some tips:

  • Get enough rest afterwards. If you stayed out until four in the morning and didn’t get to bed until six, then it stands to reason that you will need to sleep until one or two in the afternoon. Many people just can’t do this since it interferes with their internal body clocks. The best thing to do is to sleep as long as you can and then get up and make the best of it.
  • Keeping yourself fully hydrated will help as well. Even though you might crave coffee or energy drinks, stick with water until you’re fully hydrated. Caffeine can act as a diuretic, causing you to dehydrate even further.
  • Get out and stay busy. When faced with a paranormal hangover, most people just want to vegetate on the sofa in front of the television set all day. While it does help kill the time, it won’t help you recover. Get out and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel.
  • Eat a balanced diet, but make sure you load up on protein. Our bodies crave protein when we are energy depleted. Proteins, such as lean meats, nuts, and eggs can help us recover.
  • Stay away from refined sugars and processed, salty foods. I always crave soda and chips when I’m feeling energy depleted, but neither serves to help me regain my energy. Wholesome foods, like green leafy vegetables, fruits high in Vitamin C, and plenty of water are our best allies for regaining energy.
  • I also find that an investigation often disrupts my normal sleep pattern, leaving me off schedule for days later. I combat this by taking a melatonin supplement before bedtime on a daily basis. I’ve found that 5 mg works well for me, but always check with your doctor to find out the correct dosage. This will vary from person to person.
  • Go to bed at your normal time the day following an investigation. Fight the urge to nap during the day. This will only prevent you from getting to sleep later when it’s your normal bedtime. Avoid watching television or using a computer for several hours prior to bedtime, as well as staying away from caffeine. Everyone is affected differently by caffeine. I’ve found that if I avoid it after two in the afternoon, I’m usually fine by the time I retire for bed at ten in the evening.

Being a ghost hunter often comes with a price, but I’m not willing to sacrifice an entire day for one night of fun. Not even for a good EVP.

Joni Mayhan

Joni Mayhan is a paranormal investigator and the author of 17 paranormal books. Click on the cover to learn more about each book.

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Winter Woods – The Spirit Board

Many people have messaged me, telling me how much they’ve enjoyed my true paranormal stories, but most of them aren’t aware that I also have two fiction trilogies as well. I’d like to introduce you to Winter Woods. Here are the three chapters.


Chapter 1

In my dreams, I’m not paper white.

I’m golden brown like my twin sister Summer with hair the color of my mother’s wedding band and eyelashes that flutter like black butterflies above storm cloud eyes.

I can run in the golden sunshine with the tall green grass whispering at my ankles without worry that I’ll develop second-degree burns. I can see without benefit of thick ugly glasses and can tilt my face to the heavens without my insides exploding like shattered mirrors.

My waking life is a bit different.

My skin is as pale as my long white hair. People say that I have delicate features, which really means they think I’m as weak as my color, a tepid cup of tea that is missing its constitution. What they don’t know about me is that the outside doesn’t match the inside.

Inside I am fierce. I am a silent warrior, steadily seething bit by bit. The only thing that holds me back from total rebellion is the glimmer of hope that finds me when I am at my darkest. It soothes the rough edges, always making me search for the bright side of things. In this way, I am like a tornado. Cold and hot blowing together, swirling and pushing. Sometimes I think it won’t take much to push me over the edge one way or another.

A flash of movement catches my eye. I glance up as a black crow lands on the tombstone beside me.

I want to move away, because he’s too close for comfort, but I find myself rooted to the ground nonetheless. I’ve never been a big fan of birds, not since my old neighbor’s cockatiel tried to remove a chunk of my finger, but something about him is mesmerizing. I couldn’t look away if I wanted to.

“Hey buddy,” I say to him.

He eyes me boldly, fluttering his wings as though he wants to tell me something.

“What?” I ask him.

The cemetery is always full of crows, but he’s not like the others I’ve seen. While his feathers are the same glossy black, his eyes are pale blue, almost the same color as mine. He continues to stare me down.

Despite my mistrust of birds, I find myself reaching out, hoping to touch him, imagining him climbing onto my wrist like a pet.

He tilts his head sideways like a puppy and continues to watch me, unmoved by my gesture.

At first, I think he’s probably never seen a girl with white hair that matches the color of her skin, but then I realize he’s looking at the silver bracelet dangling from my wrist.

It has a small cross on it, something my mother gave me on my seventh birthday. Summer has one that’s exactly the same, except hers is gold instead of silver. I wear it out of habit, but if the truth were known, it means nothing to me. It’s just another reminder of our differences.

I unclasp it and toss it on the ground in front of me.

He watches it fall, the excitement almost vibrating off him. I’ve read that crows love shiny things, and he is no different. After a few seconds, he flutters down to the grass to see what I’ve offered him. His inky feathers ruffle in the breeze as he hops over to the bracelet.

“You can have it,” I tell him.

He stares up at me, as if he’s trying to figure me out. Intelligence swirls below the surface of his gaze. Something about him makes me think he is more than merely a bird.

Finally, he snatches the bracelet off the ground and takes flight, leaving me alone again.

“You’re welcome!” I call after him.

I watch him until he disappears into the distance, feeling the loneliness fill all the empty spaces around me once more.

I sigh, wishing for more.

I pull myself off the ground and tuck my Diary of the Dead under my arm. If I don’t leave the cemetery by dark, people will think they’ve seen a ghost.

Chapter 2

I find the spirit board quite by accident.

My bedroom is dark when I come into the house, the shadows knitted together into one black mass, turning my room into a place of unknown truths.

There could be a monster standing in the corner or a ghost sitting on my bed. In the darkness, anything is possible. I switch on my nightstand light and chase the fantasies away, almost disappointed to find my room the same as normal.

Something is missing in my life, and I yearn for it, even though I don’t know what it is. I just feel like there should be more to my existence than this unending trail of boring daily routines. I want, I want…

I sigh and flop down on my bed.

I don’t know what I want, but it isn’t this.

I look around my room, bored with everything in my life. I thought that moving to a new town might bring some excitement to my life, but Harmony is as dull as the last city my family lived in.

I stretch out on my stomach with my chin propped on my hands and watch the cemetery for a moment. It shares a hill with the caretaker’s cottage where we live, giving me a perfect view. I love the way the moon glints on the stones, making them look like headboards, a final place for people to rest their weary bones. If I’m patient, sometimes I can see hazy shapes moving between the stones, but nothing is stirring tonight.

I give up after a few minutes and reach for my Diary of the Dead.

I started the diary a month ago when my family moved to Harmony, Indiana. After spending the first seventeen years of my life in Massachusetts, the move was difficult. I needed to find something to occupy my mind. The cemetery provided me with an easy hobby.

When I get bored, which is pretty much every waking moment of my day, I sometimes meander around the graveyard and study the stones. If one captures my attention, I copy the name from the tombstone and then research it at the library, learning everything I can about the person. Most people would probably think I’m off my rocker, but I don’t care. It gives me something to do.

Today, I’ve jotted down two names that seem interesting. One is a woman named Mary Davis who died in 1920 at the age of twenty-five. Another is a man named Frank Jeffries who died in 1978 at the age of eighty-nine. Frank’s was fascinating because his epitaph read, “I lived a good life, but I’ve had enough,” making him sound like someone I would have liked. I love the weariness in his words, the way he was ready to hang his hat and move on.

My mother appears at my doorway, frowning when she looks around my messy room.

“Winter, please put away that last box. It’s been a month. You’ve had plenty of time,” she says, as though the world might end because of my clutter, and then disappears again before I have a chance to protest.

I groan, looking at the box. It’s filled with board games and old photo albums, things I didn’t need right away. If I’m truly honest, if I haven’t needed them in a month, then I probably don’t need them at all, but I’m too lazy to figure out what else to do with them. The only empty place left to put them is in my closet.

I try to slide a box onto the shelf in my closet, but it catches on something, refusing to budge.

“Great,” I say with a sigh.

I drag my desk chair across the room and climb up. Even on my tiptoes the shelf is still too high to see, so I run my hand across it, immediately finding something square pushed up against the back. It feels like the panel for a board game. I pull it down and carry it to my bed. When I unfold it, I can’t help but smile. It’s a spirit board. Maybe things won’t be so boring in Harmony after all.

“Holy cow.”

Summer hears me and pops her head through my doorway.

“Everything okay?” she asks.

“Check out what I found,” I tell her, my thoughts as happy as Christmas morning. My sister doesn’t seem quite as enthused.

She tucks her hair behind her ear and walks over to get a closer look. The way she looks, one good “Boo!” and I might have to peel her off the ceiling.

“Is that one of those spirit boards you talk to ghosts with?” she asks.

“I think so, but I can’t find the triangle piece,” I say. I return to the closet to feel around for the missing planchette, but don’t find it. I look around the room, my gaze landing on the penny jar on my desk.

I unscrew the lid and draw an arrow on the top with a permanent marker. I’m a wiz at improvising a situation. I once unfroze my mother’s car lock with hand sanitizer. Making a homemade planchette is a piece of cake.

“There. This will work. Wanna give it a shot?” I ask.

Summer takes a hesitant step backwards, her blue eyes widening. She’s dressed for bed in an oversized navy jersey, making her tanned legs look even longer than they already are. We are similar in height and weight, but everything looks better on her. Sometimes I imagine us being items in a catalog, offered in two different colors and I can’t blame anyone for choosing Summer over Winter. I’d do the same thing if I had a choice.

“I don’t know if this is a good idea, Winter,” she says, retreating to the doorway. “Let’s play Monopoly instead,” she suggests, but I make a face at the suggestion. Monopoly is for losers and kids under the age of ten.

I climb onto my bed and sit cross-legged in front of the board. “Just try it for a minute?” I ask, using my sweetest voice, one Summer can never resist.

She holds my gaze for an eternity, fear rising to the surface of her face.

“Are you sure about this?” she asks. “I’ve heard of people getting possessed from these things.”

I roll my eyes at her. I don’t know how I became the braver twin, especially given our profound differences, but I’ve always been the risk taker while she takes the safe route.

It’s something my parents have commented on since we were babies. I was always the adventurous twin, the one who tried to climb the stairs repeatedly, while Summer was content to sit back and watch me. As we grew older, it extended to more dangerous venues, like exploring the abandoned house down the street from us, or approaching stray dogs that wandered onto our lawn. Summer would stand back and watch as I took the lead, time and time again.

“We’ll be fine. Don’t worry so much,” I scold her.

She bites her lip, like she does when she’s teetering on a decision. Finally, she pushes away from the door and joins me on my bed.

“I don’t like it, Winter, but I’ll try it for a minute,” she says.

I place the jar lid on the board and rest my fingers lightly beside the black arrow. Summer does the same on the other side. If something paranormal is supposed to happen, I can’t feel it. Maybe we need to set the mood.

“Hang on a second.”

I jump up and flip off the overhead light, plunging the room into darkness. Before Summer can protest, I grab a Mason jar candle off my desk and light it with a match. It sends an amber glow around the room, making the shadows dance on my wall like apparitions. I return to the bed and resume my position.

“What do we do now?” Summer asks.

I stare down at the board, looking at our fingers on the lid. “I don’t know. I guess we ask a question and see if anything happens.”

“Is there anybody here who wants to talk to us?” Summer asks, surprising me.

The lid doesn’t budge.

“Can you give us a sign that you’re here? We won’t hurt you…it’s okay,” I say.

After a second, I feel the slightest nudge on the lid. It sends a chill down my spine. I look around the room, examining the shadows.

“Did you do that?” Summer asks.


My breath catches in my chest as I watch the lid. The candlelight quivers for a moment, as if caught in an invisible breeze. I feel a tingling in the air, as though it is filled with sparkles of electricity. I don’t know whether to be afraid or excited.

“Can you spell out your name?” I ask.

Something changes in that minute. The slight flicker of electricity in the air becomes a massive surge, making every hair on my arm stand up.

The candle flickers and sputters, drawing a gasp from my sister. She looks at me, seconds away from pulling her fingers away, when the lid scoots halfway across the board, stopping on the letter S.

“Did you do that, Winter?”

“No. Of course not,” I tell her, and then look back down at the board. “Can you give us a second letter?”

The lid slides back to the left, stopping on the letter A.

“Thank you. S-A…can you give us the next letter?” I ask.

The lid slides to the right again to the R, then makes a quick turn back to the A, before stopping at the H.

“Sarah,” Summer says, pulling her fingers from the lid. “That’s enough for me. This is creepy.”

She slips off my bed and wrings her hands, as if trying to wash off the spirit energy. “I don’t like this, Winter. I don’t think it’s a good idea,” she says. She toys with the cross on her bracelet for a minute before retreating to her bedroom.

“Good night,” I call after her, but don’t hear anything in response. A few seconds later, she pops back into my room and flips on my overhead light, her face consumed with worry.

“Winter, please don’t do that again. Plain and simple. That’s not right. You don’t know what you’re messing with. I read that demons will pretend to be little girls to get you to talk to them. Just because it spelled out the name Sarah doesn’t mean that’s who it really is,” she says.

My mother comes up behind her and looks over her shoulder at me.

“What are you two doing?” she asks.

Summer shifts over, giving my mother room to pass through the doorway. As soon as she sees the board on my bed, her eyes narrow.

“Where’d you get that?” she asks.

I nod my head towards the closet. “I found it in my closet.”

She walks over to the bed and touches the lid that I’ve marked with an arrow. “One of my friends had one of these when I was a teenager. They always made me a little nervous. They remind me of Pandora’s Box. You never know what’s going to happen when you open it,” she says, eyeing me, knowing instinctively that I was the instigator.

When we were little and something showed up broken, she never even glanced in my sister’s direction when she asked what happened.

“We asked if there was anyone here and we got the name Sarah,” I tell her, hoping she will catch at least a small trace of my excitement. “How cool is that?” I say, but she shakes her head.

“I don’t want that in our house. Give it to me so I can throw it out,” she says, her eyebrows arched in a way that defies argument.

“But, Mom…”

“Winter, don’t test me,” she says firmly.

I scowl under my breath, but I close the board anyway and hand it to her.

“This isn’t something you want to mess with,” she tells me as she grabs the board and leaves my room. Summer follows her out, giving me an “I told you so” glance over her shoulder at me as she leaves. I breathe out a sigh as their footsteps trail down the hallway.

I don’t understand their irrational fears. I found the entire experience to be perfectly exhilarating.

I was actually communicating with the dead.

I think about all the mysteries and unanswered questions I could solve if the dead were willing to share their secrets with me. I could find out what happens to us after we die, and if there’s such a thing as a soul. I can’t imagine not using it.

I turn off the light and climb into bed.

I listen to the sound of my mother walking through the kitchen to the back door. The door opens with a squeak, and is followed by the thump of something being tossed into the metal trash can.

Something fierce rises up inside me. I don’t care what they think. I’m going to try it again. I have a lot of questions I want to ask.

I wait for thirty minutes, until the house grows quiet, and slip out of the bed to retrieve my spirit board. I tuck it back onto the top shelf of my closet where it belongs. If my mother finds it, I’ll profess my innocence and tell her that it must have moved all by itself.

The thought makes me smile.

As I roll over onto my side, I glance around my dark room, wondering if the ghost is still with me. The shadows on my wall remain the same, giving me nothing to work with.

“Good night, Sarah,” I whisper, just in case.

I think I hear something in return, but I can’t be certain if it’s real or only my imagination.

Sleep finds me in an instant.

Chapter 3

At midnight, I’m jarred awake by the sound of tapping at my window. I roll over onto my side and try to make sense of what I’m hearing.

Before I can figure it out, something white sweeps past the window. I reach behind me and snag my glasses off the nightstand, but by the time I have them on, it’s long gone.

I sit up in bed and stare out the window, wondering what it was. Did a ghost come to visit? Was that who tapped on my window? I think about the name from the spirit board.

“Sarah?” I whisper.

I push open the white framed window, allowing the aroma of fresh-cut grass and lilacs to fill my room. I study the darkness outside, but all I can see is the occasional flicker of fireflies in the shadows.

The moon is high and full, hanging in the clouds like an omen. I pop the screen out on my window and slip outside.

I feel as though I’ve escaped into a fairytale landscape. The languid moon paints the cemetery in shades of sapphire and indigo, making it feel magical and surreal. The crickets and cicadas sing from the shadows.

I tiptoe barefoot across the soft green clover, feeling the edge of my pale pink nightgown brush against my knees as I make my way to the old oak tree that separates our yard from the cemetery.

“Hello?” I call softly.

The crickets grow silent for a moment, as if frightened by the sound of my voice. The night engulfs me, making me feel like I’m standing in a bubble.

I pause at the tree, putting my hand on the firm, rough trunk as if steadying myself. I look upwards, taking in the weighty branches that reach up to the heavens. I’ve been drawn to the tree since the moment we moved in. I sometimes bring a book here in the pretense of reading, but my attention is always stolen by my surroundings. I sometimes imagined being agile enough to climb the boughs all the way to the top, hiding among the leaves while I take in the glorious view of the world below me.

Tap, tap, tap.

I pull my hand away from the tree and stare into the darkness, trying to will it into better focus.

“Who’s there?” I whisper.

I strain my eyes to see, but nothing stands out. All I can see is the picturesque view of the cemetery, backlit by the bright night sky.

I take a step forward, leaving the shelter of the tree, my heart hammering in my chest.

The larger tombstones standing beneath the cover of the tree are nothing more than black obelisks against the blazing stars, casting dark shadows behind them like the train of a black gown. They stare up at the moon, reminding me of a silent army gathering on the hillside.

Without warning, a dark shape flits down from the oak tree and lands on a tombstone.

I step backwards, wanting very much to retreat to the safety of my bedroom when I realize what I’m looking at. It’s a crow. My crow.

“Oh, dear God…”

I find my way to where he landed, stopping several yards away so I don’t frighten him, curious why he would be here at night. I kneel down, feeling the short prickly grass poke into my knees.

“Why aren’t you home in your nest?” I ask him.

He cocks his head at me like he did before, making me laugh. I spent some time earlier researching crows online. I don’t know everything there is to know about them, but I know more than I did before.

“You are a member of the Corvus family,” I tell him. “Judging by your blue eyes, you are probably a Jackdaw.”

He regards me silently. The moonlight glints on his inky feathers, bringing out the sheen of blue. Some of the folklore suggests that finding a dead crow is considered lucky. Others think of crows as bad luck or a sign of impending death.

“A crow in the thatch, soon death lifts the hatch,” I tell him, reciting what I read online.

He tips his head again, making me smile.

“That’s okay. In Tanzania, people kill albinos like me because they think it brings them good luck,” I hold out my arm to display the long stretch of white skin. “A body like mine could bring in as much as two-thousand dollars. Not bad, huh?”

The crow regards me for several seconds, before tapping his beak on the tombstone. The sound is softer than before, but still recognizable as the sound I heard earlier.

“Were you tapping at my window?” I ask him.

He regards me with his pale blue eyes.

“What should I call you?” I ask. It doesn’t seem right to keep calling him The Crow.

He taps on the tombstone again, as if in answer. I squint at the name on the stone. The letters are large and bold, spelling out the name Edgar.

“Edgar?” I wrinkle my nose. “How about Poe instead, as in Edgar Alan Poe?” I ask.

He eyes me steadily.

“Of course that would be your name. Why would I have thought any differently?” I say, amused.

He taps on the stone again and then flies to another stone, apparently not a fan of my humor.

Tap, tap, tap.

His beak hits the stone. It’s almost as if he wants me to follow him.

I glance behind me at the caretaker’s cottage. It’s small and squat with a wide front porch and dormers on the second floor. My parent’s bedroom window flickers with a faint blue light, but is otherwise quiet. My father often falls asleep with the TV on. Sometimes he pops his head into both of our rooms to check on us before going back to bed, which means I’ll need to be back before he wakes up.

“I don’t know, Poe. It’s late and I should be in bed,” I tell him.

He taps on the stone again.

I smile and shake my head.

“Seriously, Poe. You need to work on your patience. I’m coming!” I tell him.

As I reach the next stone, he taps again and flies a little further ahead to another stone. The ground is soft beneath my feet, something that has always unnerved me a little. I know the bodies are buried in concrete boxes at least four feet beneath the soil, but it still makes me squeamish. I imagine dead people reaching their hands through the soil to grab my ankle as I walk past. The thought makes me move a little faster.

A gust of wind blows across the cemetery, causing a floral grave topper to sail through the air. It bounces across the dark lawn, coming to rest in front of another gravestone. I think about the filmy white thing I saw pass by my window and wonder if it was merely something caught in the breeze. Before I can ponder the thought further, Poe flies to another stone.

I look back at the cottage again, not comfortable being so far away. If something happened, will my father hear me scream? I study the darkness around me, not confident that he can. My mind begins playing games with me, bringing up every possible worst-case scenario. What if the crow is actually someone’s trained pet and they are luring me away from the house?

“I don’t know, Poe. This is creeping me out a little,” I tell him.

He holds my gaze before tapping on the stone.

“Maybe we can play again tomorrow, in the light of day,” I suggest, but the bird doesn’t waver. He continues to stare at me. I watch him for a full minute, while my curiosity battles with my common sense. Why am I following a crow through a dark cemetery? What could he possibly want with me?

The only problem with this line of reasoning is that I’ll never find out unless I follow him. Chances are, he’s simply moving further away from me, and it has nothing to do with him attempting to lead me somewhere. My overactive imagination has gotten the better of me again.

“Okay. I’ll go a little further, but not into the dark part,” I tell him, eyeing the bottom of the hill where the tree line hugs the edge of the cemetery, creating a ring of shadows that terrifies me to the tips of my toes.

The crow cocks his head and lets out a sound before flying to the next stone. Instead of tapping his beak, he flutters to the ground in front of the stone and stares at me.

I feel silly for following him, but I can’t leave until I know what’s going on.

“What is it Poe?” I ask.

He waits until he knows I’m watching and then hops over to the stone to tap on the front. As I approach, he flies up to the top of the stone, seemingly unconcerned by my close proximity.

“What?” I ask him.

He stares at me with his pale eyes.

I run my fingers across the front of the stone, feeling the engraved letters, but it’s much darker here in this part of the cemetery. There’s no way I can read the words in the moonlight. With my poor eyesight, I’ll barely be able to make them out in broad daylight. I sigh and look up at the heavens for inspiration.

“This is crazy. I’m following a crow that I’ve named Poe through a dark cemetery in the middle of the night.” I start to get up to head back to my house when an idea comes to me. I rip off a strip of fabric from my nightgown and wedge it into one of the engraved letters. Chances are, the wind will blow it away by morning, but I don’t know what else to do. I’ll come back when the sun comes up and see if there’s something on the stone that seems important.

“All right, Poe. I’m going back home. I’ll see you tomorrow if you’re still around,” I tell him.

As I start back across the cemetery, I glance back to take one more look at the bird. What I see nearly makes me faint. Standing directly in front of the crow is the filmy white shape of a man.

I finally remember to breathe again as I bolt towards the cottage.

If you’d like to read more of Winter Woods – The Spirit Board, please click the photo below.


The Dangers of Ghost Hunting


It looks like fun, something entertaining to do on a boring Saturday night. You imagine calling a few friends and heading out to the closest graveyard to see what it’s all about. The truth is: paranormal investigating can be dangerous.

I know this firsthand. After making several beginner’s mistakes, I encountered several low vibrational entities that followed me home and made my life a living hell for months on end. Had I known what I know now, I would have done things much differently.

A paranormal investigation shouldn’t be treated like a fun night out. It should be planned with the same care and respect that you’d use if you decided to start cave diving. You certainly wouldn’t just go out and purchase scuba equipment and head to your nearest cave. You’d spend months, if not years, learning how to dive first to prevent yourself from getting lost and drowning inside a cave. You’d then research and train with someone who knew how to cave dive. You would also bring a map, as well as a companion who knew the cave well.

The biggest danger with paranormal investigating is the unknown factor. Ghosts come in many varieties. Like people, there are harmless ones and there are dangerous ones. Unlike people, ghosts are invisible and you might not be able to tell the difference until it’s too late.

People who are sensitive to spiritual energy have far more to worry about than non-sensitives. Not only do ghosts see us and recognize the fact that we can also detect them, they might grow curious enough to follow you home. Once they’ve attached to you, they will attempt to get your attention. This could include moving items around your house or making sounds that you can detect. If the entity is negative in nature, they will probably attempt to pull your energy, something they will use to grow stronger. The footsteps and misplaced items will quickly escalate to more serious dangers. They might turn on burners on your gas stove, something I’ve had happen before, or they might push you when you walk down a steep flight of stairs. If they think they can get away with it, they might even attempt to take you over.

We often think demonic entities are the only entities that can possess a person, but this isn’t necessarily true. There are some very high-powered human ghosts who have the same capabilities. Beyond even demonic or earth-bound ghosts is the possibility of entities from other dimensions. The problem is, when they cause your EMF meter to spike at an investigation, they all look the same.

Sensitives should be well-versed in paranormal protection before they actively put themselves in harm’s way. They need to study the various protection methods until they find one that works for them. As they start out, they should always investigate with a mentor who can help keep them safe.  Here are some tips to help you stay protected:

Grounding and Shielding

Learn how to ground and shield yourself. Grounding is the process of removing all negative energy from your body. My favorite technique for this is to imagine a ball of pure white light above my head. As I inhale, I visualize this white light filling my body, while simultaneously pushing the negative energy down through me, where it can sink deeply into the ground. Some people visualize themselves as trees with deep roots as they do this. To shield, you build a bubble of white light around you, and then set a time limit on it. I usually set my shield daily, infusing it with the intent that it will keep me safe from any energies that aren’t mine for 24 hours, the maximum time amount. If you don’t set a time, your shield will only last for several hours.

Protection Touch-stones

Many people carry gemstones in their pocket, such as black tourmaline or tiger’s eye, which have protective properties. Other people wear crucifixes or religious medallions. While these items will help you stay protected, they also serve as a reminder. Many people believe that you already have everything you need to keep yourself protected inside you. By touching the stone or wearing the cross, you reinforce your internal belief that you are protected.

External Assistance

Whether you are praying to a higher power or calling in your Spirit Guides, you should always utilize this extra assistance. It’s like having a posse of warriors who will run defense for you. Without them, you are vulnerable to attack.

Keep Your Vibration High

Everyone and everything vibrates with frequency. When people are feeling good and everything in their lives are running smoothly, they vibrate at a high rate. When they are feeling depressed or are physically ill, they’re vibration decreases. Ghosts vibrate at different rates too. A positive entity will vibrate at a much higher rate than a negative one. They can only attach to you if your frequencies are similar. If you don’t feel well or have had a horrible fight with a friend, don’t go on the investigation, especially if you are a sensitive. You will be much more vulnerable to picking up an attachment.

Some other tips:

  1. Never antagonize the dead. Provoking comes with a heavy price considering you don’t know what you’re truly dealing with. You could be screaming at a lost child who has been trapped in our world for centuries or you could be taunting something inhuman, who considers your insults an invitation. Tread lightly and be polite.
  2. Unless you have several years in the field, always investigate with a mentor, someone who can help keep you protected. If you are a sensitive, find an experienced medium who is willing to take you under his or her wing. They can not only alert you to possible dangers, but they can help you advance your own abilities.
  3. Stay away from unknown factors. This includes cemeteries, old prisons, old hospitals and location where humans have suffered. Start out with public events at locations that have been fully investigated before. It might initially seem like driving with training wheels, but you should always learn in a somewhat safe environment. With that said, still employ caution. Ghosts often come in with other investigators and decide to camp out at new locations.
  4. Don’t attempt private investigations at people’s homes until you have several years of experience under your belt. Yes, you do need to learn the craft of investigating sometime, but don’t learn at the expense of a homeowner. Any mistakes you make will be left for someone else to deal with. Private events are also risky because you don’t know what you’re dealing with until you investigate the location, which puts you at risk, as well.
  5. NEVER investigate your own home. If you have a ghost in residence, call in someone else to help, preferably a medium who can communicate directly with the entity. If you do EVP sessions and frequently try to capture the ghost on a camera, you are giving it more fuel to stay. The attention you provide it with acts as an invitation, which will make it much harder to remove later.
  6. Do not give ghosts permission to touch you or use your energy. Essentially, what you’re doing is inviting them inside the shield you’ve carefully constructed, giving them an opportunity to connect to you. If they use your energy, you will probably find yourself on the brink of exhaustion the next morning, making you more prone to illness.
  7. When you leave the location, I recommend doing a closing ceremony. Basically, this entails telling the ghosts that they must remain at the location and cannot follow you home. We will often burn sage and do a smudging of each participant before they leave, as an extra measure. You should also cut your cords. Entities, and even people, connect to one another with invisible energy cords. Cut these with your non-dominant hand, envisioning the ethereal cords breaking in half. Then imagine white light filling all the holes where the cords were once located. Once you’ve done this, leave. Don’t stand by your car and talk. This gives the dead more opportunities to attach to you.
  8. Cleanse yourself when you get home. I recommend taking a bath infused with sea salt and lavender. This cleanses the spiritual energy off you and also serves to relax you after an eventful investigation. Eat something healthy, as well. It’s recommended to eat foods that will help you ground. Nourishment that comes from the earth is usually the best. Nuts, grains, root vegetables and even chocolate are good for grounding.
  9. Ground and shield yourself before you begin reviewing your evidence the next day. If you didn’t fully cut your cords to the entities at the investigation, you will re-attach yourself to them when you begin listening to your audio recordings or combing through your photos or video captures.
  10. Never cut corners. Even if you are in a rush, always take the time to protect yourself before, during and after an investigation. The investment could end up saving you a lot of pain and suffering after the fact.

As an author and investigator, I’ve encountered dozens of scenarios that you will not want to experience. Ghost hunting is not fun and games. Sometimes it can be deadly. If you would like to learn more about the ins and outs of being a sensitive or would like to explore other avenues for paranormal protection, please check out my book Dark and Scary Things – A Sensitive’s Guide to the Paranormal World.

Joni Mayhan is a paranormal investigator and the author of 13 books, including Dark and Scary Things – A Sensitive’s Guide to the Paranormal World,  Devil’s Toy Box, The Soul Collector and Bones in the Basement, all available on, as well as and Smashwords. Click on any of the covers below to learn more about the book.

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Schooled by Ghosts at the Houghton Mansion

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It was to be my fifth investigation at the Houghton Mansion, which meant that my intrigue level was fairly low. I was well-versed on the history and had a good idea what to expect. While I was excited to be returning to one of my favorite haunts, I was looking forward to the social aspect more than the actual haunting. I would be in for a shock. My fifth visit was a wild ride I will never forget.

On previous visits, I investigated with like-minded investigators, eager to seek out the truth and experience the haunting firsthand. I wasn’t disappointed. While conducting an EVP session in the basement of the mansion, I saw a partial apparition materialize before my very eyes before it darted across the room and disappeared. This trip would be different. I would actually learn something about ghost behavior.

The Houghton Mansion is a somber place with a sad story.

In the spring of 1914, A.C. Houghton took several friends and family members for a pleasure drive in their new Pierce-Arrow Touring Car. When the car hit a soft shoulder of the road, it tumbled down the steep embankment, rolling over three times, killing Houghton’s daughter Mary and her childhood friend, Sybil Hutton. Feeling immense guilt over the accident, the driver of the car, John Widders, a long time friend and servant of the Houghton’s, put a gun to his head three days later and ended his life. Mr. Houghton died ten days later, possibly from undiscovered injuries incurred during the accident. Most of them never left the mansion.

In 1920, Houghton’s surviving daughter sold the mansion to the Masons, who built a tremendous Temple behind the house. The mansion has been under the care of the Lafayette-Greylock Lodge ever since, adding another layer to the haunting.

Since my last visit, I began teaching a Paranormal 101 class in the town of Gardner, Massachusetts, located 75 miles west of the mansion. Through the classes, I’ve met several talented psychic mediums who agreed to attend the Houghton Mansion investigation with me.

I have a theory that the ghosts at haunted locations usually follow the strongest medium during investigations. If they wish to communicate, they have a better chance at cutting right to the source, instead of being forced to navigate through tricky equipment to get their message across. This proved to be true at the Houghton Mansion, as well. While our group experienced ample activity, the other group didn’t have the same experiences.

I co-hosted the event with Jason Stanton, host of Ghost Chat Radio and author of several paranormal books. Since eleven people showed up for the investigation, we divided into two groups. My group consisted of Ken Murray, a budding psychic medium with immense talent, Dianne Truax, an experienced psychic medium, as well as Barbara Niles, Patricia White, Chantel Szlesok, and Lynda Szlesok, who were all developing sensitives.

While we spent the night investigating all the hot spots and gathered ample evidence, the three locations where I actually learned something were in the basement, in Mary’s room and in a third floor room filled with lockers used by the Masons.

The Basement

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I knew there was a dark entity in the basement of the mansion. We encountered him there several times before and saw him in the form of dark shadows moving in the darkness. There was also supposed to be a little girl there who answers to the name Laura. While the Houghtons had a daughter named Laura who died at the age of three, many aren’t convinced this is the same little girl. They theorize that the mansion was built on an existing foundation, so the ghost of the child could belong to the first house that sat on the property.

As we came into the basement, our adrenaline was running high. The mansion’s basement is downright creepy. It looks like it could be featured in a horror movie without needing any additional props. We went to a central room to the right of the staircase where most of the activity has been reported. I started my recorder before we entered the room, knowing that I might catch the ghosts off guard.

The chairs are arranged in a loose circle, which makes it easy for conducting EVP sessions. As we selected our chairs, I captured this chilling EVP of an entity giving us further instruction.

Before beginning the session, someone in the group needed fresh batteries. It’s not uncommon for investigators to discover their brand new batteries drain down to nothing in haunted locations. It takes energy for ghosts to communicate, and they will often pull energy from the batteries in our equipment. While the investigators were swapping out batteries, I caught this EVP.

As we settled into the session, the mediums in the group could feel an energy building. The darkness grew to epic proportions, filling the room with a sense of anger and loathing that even the non-mediums could feel. At one point, one member of the group became so overwhelmed with the dark energy, she needed to remove herself from the building to recoup her energy.

Once the session started up again, I began seeing a dark shadow pacing back and forth in front of a doorway (pictured above). I called several other investigators over to watch it and they saw it too. Typically when this happens, the activity comes to a grinding halt, but this time was different. The dark shadow person continued to pace back and forth for a full five minutes, allowing all of us to witness it. Unfortunately, none of us had a night-vision camera to capture it with. I’ll be adding that item to my wish list ASAP.

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Mary’s Room

While we had amazing experiences in all the rooms, perhaps the most interesting part of the evening for me was the exchange going on in Mary’s room. According to our psychic mediums, there were two women and a man in the room. The woman was fairly quiet, but the male was vocal. When Ken asked Mary if she rode side-saddle, knowing she was an avid rider, the male responded with “probably.” Then, he added an insult to the mix. “Fat bastard!” he said.

The insults weren’t contained to just Ken though. When Dianne asked who the woman was, the male spoke up again, saying, “slut.” Was he talking about the female entity or was his insult directed to Dianne?

Dianne commented that the woman was standing in the corner. She kept trying to get a reading on her, but the woman was illusive. Dianne knew she was an older woman, but she couldn’t glean much more from her. As soon as she made the comment, a male voice on the Spirit Box responded with, “It’s that poor bitch.” Was he talking about the female entity in the room?

When Ken mentioned that he no longer felt the male presence, but still felt the female, it appears that the male attempted to coach her. “You need to cloak,” he said clearly.

I find this interesting on several levels. First, who was the woman in the corner? When we detected the male, he quickly disappeared. I always thought that when they vanished like that, they actually left the room, but apparently I was wrong. Are they capable of cloaking themselves?

The second curiosity is the word he used: cloak. To me, it’s a word straight from an episode of Star Trek. I guess I figured that the afterlife would have their own special words for what they do, but this man was apparently once a Trekkie. Does this strike anyone else as being a bit surreal?

This brings me to the third interesting factor: the male ghost is probably not one of the Houghtons. For him to be aware of the terminology from a show that aired in the 1960s, he must have either lived in our time period or watched it on the mansion’s television. I might be making the wrong assumptions, but I just can’t envision A.C. Houghton camped out in the library room, watching old Star Trek reruns.

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The Locker Room

There is a room on the third floor that’s filled with old wooden lockers. We were told by Dave, one of the mansion’s caretakers, that the Masons used to use the room to change into ceremonial robes.

The minute we entered the room, our two mediums felt a sense of anger.

“They don’t like us up here,” Dianne commented. Ken was quick to add to her statement.

“They don’t like any of us up here, but they especially don’t like women in here,” he said.

It made perfect sense. Since the mansion was taken over by the Masons in the 1920s, the majority of the house became a male domain. While females were allowed in some of the public areas, they weren’t allowed in spaces the Masons felt were sacred areas. This included the locker room where they dressed.

Chantel asked if they wanted us to leave and a male voice responded with, “If you could.”

One of my mentors told me that there are often layers in a haunted location. One layer might be from one time period, while another layer could be from a different era. In some locations, they interact with one another but in others, aren’t aware the other layer exists. This seems to be the case in the Houghton Mansion, as well.

While we were talking to the angry Mason, a little girl was trying very hard to get our attention. In the audio clip below, you can hear her saying “Yohooo!” If the Masons objected to female investigators in the room, why would they let a little girl run around unless they didn’t know she was there?

I love going on investigations where I learn something and the Houghton Mansion didn’t let me down. I will certainly return to the mansion again and again, hoping for more insight.

For more information about the haunted Houghton Mansion, please visit their Facebook page by clicking here.
Joni Mayhan is a paranormal investigator and the author of 11 books, including Dark and Scary Things – A Sensitive’s Guide to the Paranormal World,  Devil’s Toy Box, The Soul Collector and Bones in the Basement, all available on, as well as and Smashwords. Click on any of the covers below to learn more about each of her books.

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Surviving the Soul Collector

After the Soul Collector blog picture

In 2011, I went through a horrific experience that will always remain with me. I think about it every time I walk into a dark room. It follows me into the shadowed hallways of my dreams and comes to me in quiet moments, like a whisper in the wind. I was the victim of an extreme haunting.

In many ways, I imagine it is similar to what people feel after they’ve survived an avalanche, a house fire or a near death experience. The symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress are very similar. My heart races and my self-defence mechanisms kick in. All I want to do is take flight and bolt from the room, even though I know this is something I can’t outrun.

People often ask me why I still continue to investigate the paranormal after living through something that has changed me to the very core of my being. I honestly don’t have a good answer for them. In some ways, I don’t think I have a choice.

I was born a sensitive. I can feel and hear the sounds that ghosts make when they wander into my space. It starts softly with a buzz in my ear that many dismiss as simple ear ringing. When I hear it, I’m helpless to resist it. It becomes stronger and louder, demanding my attention.

Most of the time, when I hear the sounds a ghost makes, I try to ignore it, but it’s often like trying to ignore a mosquito that buzzes near your ear. If I give it more than a few seconds of my attention, it acts as an acknowledgement. I can imagine them saying, “Oh, you can sense me!” That’s when they hover closer, often following me home to continue the one sided conversation.

Even though I practice paranormal protection, they still find a way to latch onto me. I have grounded and shielded. I have protection stones in my pocket and on my wrist. I carry religious medallions that make me feel safe. I spray my head and feet with Holy Water every time I leave the house, and  I keep a white light of protection surrounding me. I say prayers before and after investigations, and we always burn sage before we leave. While this would be enough for most people, it doesn’t work for me. They follow me no matter what I do. I’ve since learned that they can even come through the phone lines.

I was interviewing someone for the book I’m writing when I felt something drift into the room. It was dark and scary, the tone very similar to the one the Soul Collector possessed. In an instant, I was mentally back in that place in my mind. I remembered the way the Soul Collector hovered inches above me as I tried to fall asleep, and the way he caressed my hair as I lay on my side. I thought about the way he threatened to come after my daughter, holding me hostage with his demands, and the way he followed my son from his room one night. My stomach clenched as the sound moved closer. I could imagine him, licking his putrid lips as he imagined taking me over.

He could have been a serial killer in life. He had no conscious. All he had was the burning need for my soul. In that moment, I knew that I needed to do something to save myself. Thankfully, I had a savior in the wings who was eager to help.

If I’d known Michael Robishaw years ago, the Soul Collector would have been a three page book. Since meeting him, he’s helped me dozens of times in removing entities from my house. Michael is a Shaman, as well as a spiritual healer, Empath and medium. With the assistance of his Spirit Guides, he assists me remotely.

At one point, he recommended that I stop ghost hunting for a while to clear my aura, but it became abundantly clear that that didn’t make a difference. They followed me home from normal places too. I picked them up at grocery stores, movie theaters and from friend’s houses.

I excused myself from the telephone conversation as quickly as possible, promising to send the woman information that would lead her to more help, and contacted Michael. Shortly afterwards, I heard his spirit guides swoop into the room. The sound was like laser lights as they zipped around the room. I couldn’t see them, but there was no doubt they were there. The entity quickly retreated back to where he came from and the room grew quiet again. Michael had saved me once again.

Michael has helped hundreds of other people in the same way he’s helped me. One of those people was the woman I was speaking to. Unfortunately for her, the persistence of the dead will follow her through the days of her life just like it does mine. There will probably never be an escape. There will only be options.

Not all of the entities are as dark as the Soul Collector. Some of them are simply lost souls, looking for help. Those are the easy ones. I can help them cross over into the light and find their way to peace and tranquility. It’s the dark ones that bother me. They have no desire to cross over. All they want is to wrack havoc into the lives of the living. Those are the ones that make my blood run cold.

I will continue to search for answers. I won’t let the fear stop me in my pursuit of the solution to ending this madness. I will still walk into dark rooms, not allowing the entity to have power over me. I will fight it tooth and nail until it’s gone, but in the back of my mind I will never forget what it feels like to be helpless and afraid. I will carry that memory to my grave. And most of all, I will share what I’ve learned because knowledge is power.

Joni Mayhan is a paranormal investigator and the author of 13 books. To learn more about Michael Robishaw, read her chilling book Ruin of Souls.  Her other paranormal books include: Dark and Scary Things – A Sensitive’s Guide to the Paranormal World,  Devil’s Toy Box, The Soul Collector and Bones in the Basement, all available on, as well as and Smashwords. To learn more about her books, click on any of the covers below.
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The Reincarnation of a Haunted Mansion


It takes a special type of person to own a haunted mansion, especially one as paranormally active and famous as the S.K. Pierce Haunted Victorian Mansion in Gardner, Massachusetts.

The Pierce mansion was built in 1875 by furniture magnate, S.K. Pierce in the town that came to be known as “Chair City” due to its abundant production of furniture. During its 140 year history, the 6,661 square foot mansion was witness to a variety of lifestyles. Starting out as a luxurious family mansion during the Guided Era, it took a slow decline as a boarding house through the Depression years, before landing in the hands of a wealthy, if not eccentric, artist. When he abandoned the mansion in the 1970s, the house sat vacant for thirty years until a private buyer decided to transform it into a private home once again. While the Veau family was aware of the haunting and frequently saw the ghost of a little boy race up the grand staircase, they didn’t experience the same level of terror that the next owners did. Edwin Gonzalez and Lillian Otero only lived in the house for two and a half years before the extreme haunting drove them out.

By May of 2015, the house was back on the market. People speculated about who the new owners would be. Some hoped the house would remain a private residence, while others wished it would be opened for tours and paranormal investigations. The reality landed somewhere in the middle.

In June of 2015, after only being on the real estate market for two weeks, the house was purchased sight-unseen by a couple from New Jersey.

Victorian owners - old and new

On the surface, you wouldn’t peg Rob and Allison Conti as your typical haunted house buyers. The parents of three young children, Rob is a dentist, while Allison is a former investigator for a commercial investigative company. They live in a nice house in the suburbs of central New Jersey with a family dog named Capone and a pool in the backyard. If you dig a bit deeper though, you’ll see the reason.

Rob always wanted to run a haunted attraction. The dream started in childhood and followed him through his adulthood. Once he finally had the opportunity to realize his dream, fate stepped in and handed him a major obstacle.

Due to a tragic fire at the Six Flags Haunted Castle In 1984, where eight teenagers died, the laws for freestanding haunted attractions were dauntingly strict, essentially preventing anyone from opening another haunted house of its kind in the state of New Jersey. Even though he had the mental image of his ideal haunted attraction set firmly in his mind, he pushed it aside and came up with a completely different concept.

In 2010, the Conti’s opened The Dark Carnival in Freehold, New Jersey, a carnival-themed attraction held in an 8,000 square foot open-air circus arena, along with several other structures. Visitors to the amusement enjoy a winding maze filled with terrifying clowns, as well as attractions like The Meat Grinder, The Sanatorium, and a dark hallway filled with frights known as Night Terrors.

The Dark Carnival is heavy on creepy clowns, something that impacted Rob at an early age. When he was six years-old, his parents brought him to Madison Square Garden for the circus. The clowns came into the audience, looking for a volunteer to bring onto the stage. Despite the fact that he was hysterically crying, they were persistent about dragging him onto the stage. It was a traumatic experience for him, making him now appreciate why so many people are fearful of clowns.

When the S.K. Pierce Mansion went on the market, a friend of his wife sent them the MLS listing, thinking they might be interested, knowing about Rob’s childhood dream. Rob was astounded. “It was the house out of my head and the price was relatively affordable,” he said.

When he showed the listing to his wife, her reaction was a bit different. “Absolutely not!” she laughingly told him. After some further discussion, they decided to at least look into it and see if it was even feasible. Rob called the real estate agency the next day and immediately met with resistance. Known for its haunted history after being featured on numerous paranormal television shows, as well as the subject for my 2014 book Bones in the Basement – Surviving the S.K. Pierce Haunted Victorian Mansion, many people were calling the agency hoping for a peek inside the haunted mansion. The agency was careful about only showing the house to serious buyers.

After doing extensive research into the property, the Contis finally set the wheels in motion and put in an offer on the house.The real estate agency was astounded. In 25 years of business they had never sold a house sight-unseen. Rob knew what he was getting himself into though. It was the house of his dreams.

The Contis plan to fully restore the house, starting with the outside. Restoration on the crumbling soffits will begin within the next few weeks, with power washing and repainting soon following. Interior work will include the installation of a sprinkler system and some upgrades to the electrical and plumbing, as well as restoration to some of the plaster work. After a year of renovations, they will open the house to the public.

“Everything needs to be original looking,” he said. He will restore the Victorian to its former glory, down to the smallest details, such as having reproduction iron roof finials made for the top of the infamous widows walk. He was pleasantly pleased to learn that, besides the exterior decay, the house is structurally sound and in excellent condition.

The current plan is to open the house up for daily, weekly, or monthly rentals for eleven months of the year. People who have always wanted to spend the night in a haunted mansion will have an opportunity to do so. During the month of October, the house will be transformed into a weekend haunted attraction, complete with hired actors and high-end props. They are currently working on obtaining off-site parking options, as well.

Rob has been astounded by the attention his purchase has generated. “People are already trying to make reservations, even though the opening is still a year out,” he said. He was recently interviewed by Channel 7 News in Boston, in addition to being a guest on several paranormal radio shows. “Everyone has been amazingly supportive,” he said, of the town and the mansion’s multitude of fans.

(above) New owners, Rob and Allison Conti, with former owners, Lillian Otero and Edwin Gonzales

Rob understands the way people feel about the mansion. “It almost seems like it’s a community house. We own it, but it’s our responsibility to fix the house, so that needs to be done,” he said. Will they open it for paranormal investigations? Rob is still pondering the idea, knowing that it will require different handling from a normal rental. His primary focus, for now, is to fix the house. “Once we get that done, we can consider all the other options,” he said. One thing’s for certain: there won’t be any clowns, something that was hashed and rehashed by fans on social media.

During our hour long interview, one question kept rising to my mind. I waited until nearly the end of our conversation to ask it. Does he believe in ghosts?

“I’m starting to now. I’ve never been in this situation before. It’s hard to not to because there are tons of people all telling me the same story. I find it hard to believe that hundreds of people are in on the same hoax,” he said with a laugh. I’m fairly certain his opinion will be solidified in the coming years, if the Victorian ghosts are true to form.

The Conti’s set up a website, as well as a Facebook page where fans of the house can keep track of the progress. If you’d like to read more about the mansion’s dark history, check out my book by clicking the photo below.

Joni Mayhan is a paranormal investigator and the author of 11 books. For more information about her, check out her website or her terrifying true paranormal books on, including Dark and Scary Things, Devil’s Toy Box, The Soul Collector or Bones in the Basement.

Bones in the Basement front cover 3

Secrets from the Grave – The Haunted Victorian Mansion

The Haunted Victorian Mansion has many secrets.

As I began writing a book for the owners, unanswered questions began piling up, one by one, making me realize there is a lot we still don’t know.  Finding the answers has proven to be very daunting because all of the residents are long deceased, and the historical trail they left behind is filled with gaps.

Here’s what we do know:

After becoming one of the wealthiest men in the county, furniture magnate, S.K. Pierce decided to build a house that matched his stature. He hired two hundred men to work around the clock for a year and a half . When the house was completed in 1875, it was a marvel to behold.

Standing three stories tall, the Second Empire Victorian boasted twenty-six rooms, including four bathrooms, two cisterns for running water, and a tower that provided grand views of South Gardner.

It wasn’t a happily-ever-after kind of story, though. Soon after the house was build, S.K.’s wife Susan died of a very painful bacterial infection that literally ate her flesh. He remarried two years later to Ellen, a woman who was barely older than his son Frank.  S.K. and Ellen had two more sons between them, Stuart and Edward.

By all accounts, the rivalry between the oldest son, Frank, and his step-mother was legendary. After his father’s death in 1888, the house passed down to Ellen, not to the eldest son, which was more customary of the time period.  His brothers Stuart and Edward left the furniture business to invest in car dealerships.

When Ellen died, the house was passed down to her three sons, who squabbled and fought each other in court for many years. The youngest son, Edward, ended up with the house and lived there with his wife, Bessie, and their daughter, Rachel, who turned it into a boarding house.

Tragedy descended upon the Pierce family once more, when 2 year-old Rachel died from Influenza. When Bessie died in 1951, the house fell into quick decline. The boarding house began developing a seedy reputation. There were reports of gambling and prostitution. When Edward allegedly lost the house in a poker game, a man named Jay Stemmerman became the new owner.

Jay was a wealthy man by his own right and would bring another layer of intrigue to the Victorian. After he abandoned the house in the 1980’s, the house sat empty for nearly twenty years. When the next owners purchased it in 2000, some of his odd paintings still graced the walls. Portraits of half-woman/half-beast, as well as full blown orgy scenes were depicted on the canvases. Due to the graphic nature of the paintings, many people wondered what else transpired during that time period.

The current hauntings only make the story more complex.  Having so much of the history at our disposal, we thought we’d be able to identify the ghosts who still linger there. Unfortunately, there are many we can’t identify.

Like, who is the little boy who has been seen in the windows and on the grand staircase? There aren’t any reports of a young boy dying in the house? We’ve asked many times, getting different responses.  Here’s one response we received while doing an EVP session in 2012.

And who was the full body apparition who appeared at Edwin’s side as he worked in his home office? Was it the ghost of Eino Sauri, the Finnish WWII veteran who died in the house in 1963, some say by self-combustion? Or was it the man who died of a heart attack at the pizza place across the street just before the ghost appeared?

And who is the evil entity in the basement?

Some psychics feel it’s Frank, the eldest son, who battled with his step-mother. Others say it is Edward, the youngest son, who lived in the basement after losing the house. Still others feel it’s a demon, brought in by an investigator with an Ouija Board. What does the house say?

Listen to the EVP by clicking on the link to find out.

We have asked this question numerous times, getting different responses many of the times. While in the basement, here’s another response we received.

Probably the biggest mystery of all revolves around the tunnel in the basement. Why would S.K. Pierce build a tunnel to his factory across the street? I’ve spoken to two separate people who have confirmed that the foundation of the building across the street has an identical blocked off opening. Although the original factory burnt to the ground in 1938, it was very likely that the new building would have been built on the existing foundation. If there was a tunnel, it has long been collapsed. Only the entrances remain.

What was the tunnel used for?

As I reached out to various people who have investigated there while researching my book, I heard various opinions. While tunnels of this sort were typically used for home heating, capturing the steam from the factory, opinions differ. Almost every psychic feels like it has something to do with children. Several have voiced an opinion that children were often used to work in the furniture factory across the street, which would make sense considering child labor was legal in the late 1800’s.  Another psychic suggested something even worse happened to children in the basement, alluding to physical and sexual abuse. Still another psychic thought that dark magic was practiced in one of the rooms at the factory across the street and that the tunnel was used to spirit them across unseen. Much of this will probably go undiscovered. Even if we were able to track down descents, no one will willingly provide this kind of information if it did indeed happen. The only hope we have is for the ghosts themselves to finally tell us.

One thing is for certain: some of the Victorian ghosts want help.

And we won’t stop digging until we find the answers.

Joni Mayhan

Joni Mayhan is a paranormal investigator, as well as a free-lance writer. Please check out her paranormal thrillers on and For more information about the author, please see her website: Click on the covers below to learn more about any of her books.

Dark and Scary Things- A Sensitive's Guide to the Paranormal World cover Devil'sToy Box  bones-in-the-basement-cover-small  The_Soul_Collector_Cover_for_Kindle

To read more about the Haunted Victorian Mansion, check out Joni’s book Bones in the Basement. Click on the photo below to learn more about Edwin and Lillian’s harrowing experience in the S.K. Pierce Haunted Victorian Mansion.

Bones in the Basement front cover 3

Haunted New Harmony


The Haunted Victorian Mansion has many secrets.

As I began writing a book for the owners, unanswered questions began piling up, one by one, making me realize there is a lot we still don’t know.  Finding the answers has proven to be very daunting because all of the residents are long deceased, and the historical trail they left behind is filled with gaps.

Here’s what we do know:

After becoming one of the wealthiest men in the county, furniture magnate, S.K. Pierce decided to build a house that matched his stature. He hired two hundred men to work around the clock for a year and a half . When the house was completed in 1875, it was a marvel to behold.

Standing three stories tall, the Second Empire Victorian boasted twenty-six rooms, including four bathrooms, two cisterns for running water, and a tower that provided grand views of South Gardner.

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