"It's easier to dismiss ghosts in the daylight." - Patricia Briggs
Hello from The Grove in Jefferson, Texas! We survived Christmas, and are launching into another new year. It boggles the mind how fast time seems to be flying... but ready or not, 2016 is here! We spent part of the holidays at one of our favorite haunted places, the "Grand Old Lady of the Ozarks," the Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. It was a great little getaway - we did last minute gift shopping in their cool shops downtown, ate at some of our favorite restaurants, and had some much-needed down time.
If you have been reading the GroveZine for a while, you may remember that the last time we were at the Crescent I stubbed a toe on the bedpost and broke it - the saga went on for a couple of 'zine issues. One reader emailed me a photo showing how to prevent that from happening again, so I used that defense strategy when we first got there. Every time that I took my shoes off, I put them in an "L" shape around the heavy bedpost (most rooms have large beds like that) to protect my tootsies. And it worked! I came away with no injuries at all this time.
And... I bought a kilt. I've been thinking about it for a year now; you see, the Mardi Gras season here in Jefferson kicks off with the Queen Mab Ball, where people wear everything from costumes to their finest dress outfits. I thought that a kilt would be perfect for me to wear to the 2016 ball, so I've been looking at them online, checking out different kinds, etc. I finally bought one on our trip to Eureka Springs - and that should be the end of the story. I bought a kilt, simple and done. However, everything in my life seems to have some weird twist to it; nothing is ever simple and done. So here's the rest of the story. The place where I bought the kilt had two sizes smaller than I wear, and two sizes larger - but not my pants size that I've worn for years. The smaller one was out of the question, but I tried the larger one on a few times. It had a couple of snaps to hold it on, and when I fastened them I easily had a couple of extra inches in the waist. My wife was helping me, and she assured me that she could work some magic with velcro and make it fit perfectly. Satisfied that we had a workable solution, I bought the kilt. When we got it home I was trying it on again, and made a terrible discovery - there were actually two sets of snaps, not one, and we'd been fastening it wrong. The kilt wasn't a couple of inches too big... it is actually a couple of inches TOO SMALL! I don't know if the size was mis-labeled, or if kilts are measured differently from pants, but to wear it to the Queen Mab Ball on January 23rd I'm going to have to lose some weight. Starting from Christmas, that gives me just a month. I'm going on a diet that my doctor gave me a couple of years ago that worked pretty well, and we'll see what happens. Watch for the January GroveZine to see if it includes a picture of me in the kilt or not. Right now, I don't know which way I'd bet.
A day or two after Christmas, we were back in Jefferson and a severe storm hit - one of the worst ones that we've had in a while. We were under a tornado warning, and as we were following the storm on television, at one point the city was surrounded by red - you can see the screen shot that I grabbed. The red indicates the tornado warning area, and the green areas are possible tornado activity. I was constantly checking the sky from the front and back porches to see whether we should get to our safest room (an interior bath), and of course, snap a photo for the GroveZine before running. See? I'm always thinking of you guys!
In all seriousness, though, we did have a tornado or two touch down. One was just east of town, and this is a photo of it that a friend sent me. It did some property damage, but thankfully it went through a very rural area and no one was hurt. A little bit to the west, and Jefferson could have been hit hard, and lost a lot of historic structures. It makes me shiver to think it, but The Grove could have been one of them. After this one came through, we had a scare with another tornado that was on the other side of town, but I don't know if it actually touched down or not. Very strange weather for Christmas, but thankfully we made it through okay.
I wanted to start the year off by sharing a case that I've been studying for some time now. If you were at the History, Haunts & Legends paranormal conference here in Jefferson last fall, you heard me do a presentation on it. This one really fascinates me... it's called, "The Philip Experiment."
I wanted to end 2015 off with a case that I've been studying for a couple of years now. If you were at the History, Haunts & Legends paranormal In 1972, a Canadian group named the Toronto Society for Psychical Research (TSPR) had been around for a couple of years studying the supernatural. There were eight members from all walks of life, everything from a nurse to an engineer to an accountant. The TSPR decided to conduct an experiment in the paranormal, where they focused their attention on a 19th century aristocrat named Philip Aylesford. Philip was married to Dorothea, a daughter of neighboring nobleman; they lived in the family home of Diddington Manor. That's a portrait of Philip that you see.
As Philip Aylesford's biography goes, he fell in love with a gypsy girl and began an affair with her. When his wife found out, she accused the girl of witchcraft, and the gypsy was tried by the church and burned at the stake. Philip was afraid that his wife would divorce him, so he did not speak up to protect his girlfriend during her ordeal. When it was over, Philip was so distraught that he paced the parapets of Diddington Manor at night, and one evening, jumped off to his death.
The members of the TSPR immersed themselves in Philip's story. They brought items from that time period to their meetings, learned songs from the 19th century to sing, and held candlelight seances to try to contact Philip. After a year of no results, they changed their tact a bit. The kept the lights on, adopted a more jolly, happy mood, and placed their hands on a table and invited Philip to knock on it to show his presence. Suddenly it happened - contact was made. Philip would answer their questions by knocking once for yes, and twice for no. He then began to move the table under them in dramatic ways.
So what makes this story so interesting? Well... the fact that Philip never really existed. The TSPR created his story from scratch, and even sketched the portrait of him. They completely invented Philip - and yet he began to manifest when they immersed themselves in his story and began to call on him. So how could that have happened? Well, there are a number of proposed explanations. One is that the group faked the entire experiment - but they had two observers who didn't participate in the experiment, just watched the results. Also, to what end? They ended the experiment when it finally became so routine to them that they just let it go. No one got rich, they didn't make a movie, there would have been no real purpose in faking it. Another explanation is that a demon came in to impersonate Philip - but again, to what end? The experiment had no real impact on the world for good or evil, so the demon would have spent a considerable effort just wasting time. Others say that another spirit was impersonating Philip just for fun, and perhaps that could be the case. If you've been reading the GroveZine for a while, you know that we have quite the prankster spirit here at The Grove. Yet another possible explanation is that the manifestations of Philip were only the collective psychokinetic energy of the people in the group, in kind of the same vein as a poltergeist haunting. I find that last explanation very interesting, because I do believe that our minds have much more ability that we can even fathom.
Whatever the case, the Philip Experiment is very interesting, and I've read/watched everything that I can find on it for several years now. You can get a lot more information by doing a web search, and you can see an actual video of the TSPR by clicking here.
I really enjoyed getting to write about the Philip Experiment - it's fascinated me for some time now, and I'll continue to ponder it as time goes by. But that wraps the last GroveZine of the year, and you'll hear from me again at the end of January 2016... including whether I got to wear the kilt or not, and if not, some very convincing excuses as to what happened. As we're heading into 2016, it is my sincere wish that we all have a happy, healthy, and prosperous year. Thanks so much for reading the GroveZine. Talk to you soon!
Here's what's coming up around Jefferson...
1/22-1/24/2016 - Quilts on the Bayou annual quilt show
1/23/2016 - Queen Mab Ball
2/5-2/7/2016 - Jefferson Mardi Gras
3/18-3/20/2016 - Route 49 Biker Rally
4/28-5/2/2016 - The Diamond Bessie Murder Trial Play
4/28-5/1/2016 - Jefferson Historical Pilgrimage Weekend
7/4/2016 - Jefferson Salutes America
...and much more throughout the coming year!
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