MetaParanormal 👻🛸👽 May 23, 2019 10:52 AM   Subscribe

Nearing the end of another week, let's talk about something else that is not related to politics. Let's talk about supernatural phenomenon, things that cannot be easily explained, (ghosts, UFOs, aliens, Bigfoot, chupacabras, telepathy, etc.). Have you ever experienced something like this? If so, please share with the rest of the community. Or maybe you firmly disbelieve in things like this and that's totally cool too. As always, be kind to yourself and to others. The truth is out there.
posted by Fizz to MetaFilter-Related at 10:52 AM (106 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

I get deja vu, hard as in "I've been here in this moment before", every now and again but I basically just chalk that up to something in my brain's circuitry/plumbing shorting out or blowing a gasket or a glitch in the Matrix or whatever.

I'm also plodding through season 8 (it's been a bit downhill since season 3 or 4 to be honest) of Supernatural playing on Netflix in the background while I work but I feel like that doesn't count probably...
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:23 AM on May 23, 2019 [2 favorites]

While I'm not totally convinced of everything its enthusiasts believe, I think there's something to cryptozoology, in the sense that "yes, I believe that some of the mysterious legendary creatures out in the world may not be that legendary". This world is big enough that we're every so often discovering "oh wait here's this entire new critter we never knew existed before", and many of those "discoveries" has had some prior non-scientist sightings. So it makes sense that one of these days instead of "oh wait here's this entire new critter we never knew existed before" it'll be "oh wait we've finally explored enough of the Gobi desert to confirm that the Mongolian Death Worm is actually real".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:24 AM on May 23, 2019 [3 favorites]

Nothing was more thrilling as kid than watching Unsolved Mysteries even though (or maybe because?) I knew it was guaranteed to terrify me. I pulled up YouTube to get the theme song for this comment and I’ve just scared the shit out of myself (aaaaaaaAAAAAHHHHHHHH).
posted by sallybrown at 11:33 AM on May 23, 2019 [8 favorites]

I was laying out in my backyard on a deck chair in the suburbs of Austin, TX. Pflugerville on a clear, starry night listening to music. It was very peaceful. I saw what looked like a star move one direction, okay, so it's probably a plane... but then it reversed course. It went diagonal one way, a different direction back, up and down, and so forth. So it's just kind of going back and forth in a tiny little area (probably big for it, it was very small).

This went on for about 5 minutes until I got my roommates out to look at it. They couldn't find it by then and neither could I.

So yeah. I dunno what that was. It was not a plane, satellite, star and I don't think it was a drone... it legit had the same shine as a star.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 11:40 AM on May 23, 2019 [8 favorites]

I don't believe in ghosts but I do believe that some places just feel a certain way. Our family used to own a hotel and there were times in the winter where our hotel was completely empty and I had a sense that someone or something was making itself known, that there was this feeling of presence. I've had this happen at various points in my life when I'm home alone and it just feels like the house wants to be felt. I know it sounds like nonsense but it's just a feeling.
posted by Fizz at 11:44 AM on May 23, 2019 [16 favorites]

1) I have a spooky cat, Luna. At one point we had two cats, then one got sick. As his health declined, he began spending a fair amount of time in the walk-through closet that leads to the bathroom, hiding out behind the door. After a few months he passed away in the bathroom (a sad tale I won't get into). Luna always loved to follow me into the bathroom, but after her roomie died, for awhile she refused to walk through the closet into the bathroom at all. Later, she would tip-toe warily past the closet door that he used to lie behind, then run the rest of the way into the bathroom. She did this for several years. I sort of had a feeling he hung around here in ghostly form for a few years and she picked up on this. They did not get along in life, so I can understand why she was wary of his spirit.

2) A few years ago, we got a call that my husband's father was about to pass away in another state, so we put my husband on a plane, while me and the cat stayed home. I slept on the couch, which I had done many times, and Luna slept on the back of it right above me. Around three a.m. she jumped on me hard and scratched me, waking me out of a sound sleep. She had never done this before or since. I got up to pee since I was awake, and while I was in there my husband texted me that his father had just died. I've always imagined that she somehow sensed his distress and woke me up because of it.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 11:46 AM on May 23, 2019 [19 favorites]

I found out that my godmother had died a few days after I broke up with my first serious boyfriend. I loved him but I didn't see a future with him, and it was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do.

After the funeral, we went to my godmother's house with the rest of her family. I was looking around the living room for distractions, and I saw a poster covered with text that I must have seen a hundred times before, but had never paid any attention to. So I read it for the first time, and it said:

I saw a woman sleeping.

In her sleep she dreamt Life stood before her, and held in each hand a gift -- in the one hand Love, in the other Freedom -- and She said to the woman, "Choose -- "

And the woman waited long: and she said, "Freedom."

And Life said, "Thou hast well chosen. If thou hadst said "love'" I would have given thee that thou didst ask for; and I would have gone from thee, and returned to thee no more. Now, the day will come when I shall return. In that day I shall bear both gifts in one hand."

I heard the woman laugh in her sleep.

--Olive Schreiner

I was bowled over. Completely. It felt as if she had put that poster there decades ago for that exact moment, to give me comfort and advice after she couldn't.

That would have been enough all by itself - and then, around the following Valentine's Day, her daughter got a card in the mail from her wishing her a happy Valentine's Day.

My godmother had sent it the previous year, and it had been lost in the mail.

I don't believe in the supernatural, but after those things happened, I understood much better why some people do.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:51 AM on May 23, 2019 [28 favorites]

I worked for a time at Disneyland, a place with all kinds of ghost stories, both official and urban mythology. Walt sightings are common, they say he still likes to walk the park after-hours when it's quiet, and you will know he's around when you smell/see cigarette smoke out-of-context. Cast members working in New Orleans square before/after the park is open are most likely - what was his and Roy's offices is above Pirates of the Caribbean. There's a little atrium courtyard between the Pirates shop and the ride exit (visible here, the wrought iron balcony in the upper left was part of their offices) that has long been a paranormal "hot spot" for Walt's ghost sightings/reports of random cigarette smoke. I'm not saying it's impossible for there to be smoke there, but I encountered it once and it was definitely weird.
I have another Disneyland ghost story, but it's longer and much creepier and I probably should do some work today. I'll post more later!
posted by ApathyGirl at 11:54 AM on May 23, 2019 [8 favorites]

I believe in aliens.

Not, like, cow-mutilating, anal-probing aliens. But I believe there are other places in the universe with intelligent life, because it would be some kind of hubris to imagine that Earth is it. There are billions of stars and planets out there, there's gotta be some other habitable ones.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:09 PM on May 23, 2019 [27 favorites]

I was obsessed with the paranormal when I was a teen, and terrified by it. It was the 90s, and Unsolved Mysteries and Sightings and the X-Files, etc. were happening.

I grew up in a rural area where the sky is ten times easier to see at night because nights actually mean darkness. There were a few cattle mutilations in the area. My friends and I would go to cemeteries or old churches or abandoned places that were said to be haunted, during the summer nights. And we did see and experience some bizarre and frightening things. But it never went down in a way that we could be completely sure what had happened...

I've mostly resigned myself to the idea that what we imagine as hauntings is actually some shared experience of an energy that we just can't sense clearly. The odd things that happened to me were never experienced alone, and yet each person had a different story of the extraordinary thing that happened. He heard noises, but I felt a presence. I saw a glow, but she heard singing. Probably a big part of it was that we went looking. And the experience of shared terror is sort of self-amplifying and momentous on its own.
posted by heatvision at 12:10 PM on May 23, 2019 [6 favorites]

Many years ago I was traveling in France and wound up staying at a 14th-century farmhouse that was in the process of being turned into a hostel. It wasn't technically open to the public yet, but my plans fell through and it was a lucky break. My friends and I were the only visitors and we had the run of the place. It was magnificent.

One night I woke up thirsty. Our hostel room was upstairs from the large farmhouse kitchen, so I quietly slipped out of bed and padded down the hall to the stairs. As I came to the stairs I could see a warm glow from the kitchen below, and I heard soft murmuring. I figured that some of my friends or maybe the family that was fixing up the hostel were downstairs.

As I headed down, a sudden gust of warm air that smelled overwhelmingly of rosemary swirled up the steps. Then the warm light in the kitchen went out, and I remember hearing a last merry laugh fading away. When I reached the bottom of the stairs it was still, stony silence.

So, I don't know if I really did wander into a happy ghost meeting at the hearth or if my imagination was just running wild, but it was the closest I've ever come to a paranormal moment. And it was absolutely the most blissful, nostalgic, delightful feeling I've ever had.
posted by Gray Duck at 12:15 PM on May 23, 2019 [32 favorites]

There are billions of stars and planets out there, there's gotta be some other habitable ones.

I was just at a soiree last night (less fancy than it sounds, believe me) to celebrate the release of Nova's upcoming miniseries, The Planets. There was a Q&A at the end with some of the scientists who were profiled in the series, and as planetary scientists with focuses on exobiology you may be shocked to learn that they all believe life (or at least the building blocks for life) are out there, even within our own solar system. Enceladus and Titan are both popular choices, with the oddball pick of the upper atmosphere of Venus from one of them.

A more intriguing (and possibly plausible) idea was that the gas giant moons contain the dormant potential for life that will only be unlocked billions of years in the future, after the sun swells to a red giant and can supply the warmth necessary to get those reactions going. Of course, Earth will have been engulfed by the sun at that point and even the memory of our world will be gone so whatever weird new life pops up won't have any idea we were ever even wondering about them.
posted by backseatpilot at 12:23 PM on May 23, 2019 [22 favorites]

Okay, so on 20 June 2013 I went out for a walk. (My wife was watching a movie and we lived in a one-room studio apartment, and I just couldn't take the noise and needed some solitude.) Luckily, the night was clear, so even though the moon wasn't full, it was bright enough to see fine.

We lived way out in the country, so it was quiet and perfect for solitude. I walked among the farms and forests for an hour or so when I started to hear music. Somebody was playing a violin, solo, coming from a direction off the road. I listen to a fair amount of classical music but I couldn't place the song. It was haunting and beautiful, though, so I stepped off the road into the forest to see if I could find out what it was.

I followed the sound into the forest for a minute or two when I came across a little clearing with a fairy ring in the middle. Now, dope though I am, even I'm not dumb enough to step inside a fairy ring on midsummer's eve, so I walk around it to continue following the music... except it seems to be coming from the fairy ring itself. I walked all around it, but no matter which side of it I was on, the faint music seemed to come from its center.

At that point I was thoroughly alarmed and so I went back to the road just about as quick as I could. The music seemed to chase me for a fair distance, though that might have been my imagination. Anyway, I still wonder about it sometimes.
posted by ragtag at 1:02 PM on May 23, 2019 [42 favorites]

ApathyGirl if you don't come back to post that Disneyland ghost story I'm going to be very upset! I found out two minutes ago that Disneyland ghost stories are my favorite genre.
posted by cakelite at 1:35 PM on May 23, 2019 [14 favorites]

One the one year anniversary of my grandfather’s death, his cuckoo clock that hadn’t worked in years went off. Scared the holy bejeezus out of us. It never worked again.
posted by gryphonlover at 1:47 PM on May 23, 2019 [22 favorites]

I was laying out in my backyard on a deck chair in the suburbs of Austin, TX. Pflugerville on a clear, starry night listening to music. It was very peaceful. I saw what looked like a star move one direction, okay, so it's probably a plane... but then it reversed course. It went diagonal one way, a different direction back, up and down, and so forth. So it's just kind of going back and forth in a tiny little area (probably big for it, it was very small).

I mentioned this in another thread somewhere, but I've seen the exact same thing, except I saw it (twice) in New Mexico back in 2002. I'm very curious to know what that is.
posted by grumpybear69 at 1:57 PM on May 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

"oh wait we've finally explored enough of the Gobi desert to confirm that the Mongolian Death Worm is actually real".

Why did I not know there is a Mongolian Death Worm movie and why have I not seen it yet?
posted by soundguy99 at 2:02 PM on May 23, 2019 [2 favorites]

One hot summer day I visited the Gettysburg battlefield and decided to walk the ground of Pickett's Charge. I started in the woods where the Confederate army had been, then walked the mile across the rolling fields to the stone wall where the Union army had been and thousands of men killed or wounded.

Completely uneventful.

I walked along the Union line for awhile, looking at the monuments, then started the mile walk back the the woods where my car was parked.

About half-way back, while I was in a little dip between two small hills, I suddenly heard yelling. I couldn't tell where it was coming from; the hills bounced the sound and the screams seemed to surround me. I stopped and looked, but there was nothing except the hills, the grass, and the bright sunlight. The hair on my neck started to stand up and I began walking faster. I climbed the hill in front of me...and there was a group of middle school students running around.
posted by lharmon at 2:21 PM on May 23, 2019 [31 favorites]

I told this story before but it might actually be more appropriate for this thread so I'll paste it here too.

When I was in college, three of my friends and I rented an apartment in a large house directly across campus. Our first night there, barely unpacked and after too much wine, I crawled up the stairs, slipped onto my bare mattress under a flat sheet, and I quickly fell asleep from exhaustion but slept restlessly in the hot August night. I had a really odd but sweet dream about a little boy I met in the middle of a field of Queen Anne's Lace. He was so energetic and curious, studying every bird in the trees and the leaf of every plant. He took my hand and led me to a church and took me up the stairs to a choir loft. There he told me that this was where he died. What? ... Who?

He told me that there was a mean priest at the church who hurt all the choir boys, and when he threatened to tell his mom the priest pushed him off that choir loft. Then suddenly the loft collapsed, sending me and the boy crashing into the pews below.

It felt like I had slammed into the bed when I was jolted awake. Shit. Heart beating like a winded beagle. Weird. First night, too. Not a good sign. I went downstairs for coffee and told my roommates about this odd dream I'd just had.

A couple of weeks later we were invited to a party a couple of houses down. Some locals were throwing it. Ex-students who apparently never mustered the inertia to move away and blinked and had spent most of their adult life there. It was a bigger party than I thought it would be, and I met a nice bunch of people, but it wasn't until later in the night that we were all in the kitchen, my roommates and the local couple, maybe a few others, when the husband pipes up, "So you live in the long building on the corner, right?" And I said yeah, we had just moved in a couple of weeks ago.

"You know it used to be a church?"


"Yeah, decades ago. It was kind of infamous. Pedophile priest killed a boy there, pushed him off the choir loft. The church never recovered. The denomination just disappeared from town. Church was abandoned and started to get derelict. About ten years ago they sold it to this developer and he gutted the whole thing, slapped on a new facade, put in a bunch of apartments. They say it's haunted."

I still don't believe in ghosts, but that shit was fucked up.
posted by Stanczyk at 2:23 PM on May 23, 2019 [45 favorites]

As a teenager with a new driver's license, I volunteered to drive my family back from the restaurant we were all eating at. It was late June, pretty warm, and after a nice meal the half-hour drive home through rural farmland put pretty much all of the family to sleep except for me. It was twilight, but still relatively light out. I was driving on a relatively quiet county road, and turning a bend, I saw a large deer in the road. This was pretty common - our part of southern New York State has always had an excess of deer and it was common to come across them hanging out on the road. I slowed down, and looked at this deer, who was in the lane and staring down the car like, well, a deer in the headlights. I slowed to a stop, and sat for what seemed like several minutes watching this deer, which was a pretty impressive buck with big antlers. It was just staring at us in the car - I half expected for it to charge at us or something. Then my dad says "Jas, what are you doing?" and I look over to to see that my dad, in the passenger seat, had woken up. "I stopped for the deer -" I said, pointing to the deer in front of the car and we both turned to look... and there was no deer on the road. There were no deer in the fields on either side of the road. There were no deer anywhere. It was just me, having stopped the car in the dusk on this empty old road in the Hudson Valley with my whole family sleeping in the car with me. I don't know why but this scared me so much - like so much, every time I drive that road when I'm home, 20-some years later, I still get the chills when I drive by that spot. I have the chills right now typing this out.
posted by gyusan at 2:37 PM on May 23, 2019 [18 favorites]

I've been haunting MetaFilter for years.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:40 PM on May 23, 2019 [28 favorites]

I lived in a house that had a ghost cat. I say ‘ghost cat’ while not believing in any sense that there are disembodied souls of cats roaming the earth in semi-corporeal form, and yet I don't have any better terminology because it was a) definitely cat-shaped (and ginger and white with stripes on its tail) and b) also kind of transparent and would appear and disappear out of nowhere.

My best explanation is some kind of natural phenomenon that can induce two people to hallucinate the same thing at the same time. Either that or cats have invented stealth technology.

My favourite RL paranormal story though is from a priest I know. A friend of his had moved into a new house, and several times in her first few days there saw the figure of a man standing at the top of the stairs. She told the priest she’d then spoken to one of her neighbours who asked if she’d seen “the ghost” yet - apparently the house’s former owner from many years ago liked to stick around...

...and if you’re expecting this to go down a route of priest coming round to bless the house and seeing for himself, then so was I, but nope. She continued: “and I wasn’t having THAT in my new house. So I redecorated, and it’s gone.”

(“does redecorating... work, then?” I asked, and the priest shrugged and said “Apparently.”)
posted by Catseye at 2:48 PM on May 23, 2019 [8 favorites]

Not really paranormal so much as natural, depending whom you ask, but just once in college when I was doing aikido, I got the angle exactly right somehow and looked up and could really, physically see the lines of force, ki, streaming along my arm and out from my hand into the air. I've never forgotten. I'm a remarkably skeptical type as a rule, but I knew what I was seeing.
posted by huimangm at 2:58 PM on May 23, 2019 [18 favorites]

I'm not normally one to believe in any of this stuff, but when I was a kid there was a house just outside of town that was said to be haunted. One time I went along with a small group of friends who wanted to go see it, though I thought it was a pretty boring thing to do. Sure enough, we got inside and there was nothing special, just an old abandoned house. Some broken furniture, rat droppings, and a wardrobe with some old clothes were about the most exciting things to see. For some reason, I went down into the basement. It was pretty dark, couldn't really see much. Then it got *really* dark, as if someone had closed the door at the top of the stairs. I yelled "Hey! Who did that?" but nobody replied. Then there was a sort of hollow rattling sound, and I became aware of a presence over where I figured the far corner of the basement would be if I could still see at all, and then it appeared: A ghostly apparition of a small man with a white beard. It looked exactly like James Randi, and it said Woo, Wooooooo! Needless to say, I never went to visit any haunted houses ever again.
posted by sfenders at 3:12 PM on May 23, 2019 [6 favorites]

I've been fascinated with ghosts for a long time, but I don't know that I'd call myself a believer - I've never seen anything, I just like the stories and had my parents take me places like the Whaley House when I was a kid, and the first researched report I ever did for school (in the 6th grade) was on ghosts.

My ex had a similar mindset, so we would do ghost tours on a lot of our vacations if we were in cities that had them. It turns out that there's a bit of a taxonomic divide between schools of ghost tours - Montreal, Quebec, and Stockholm all had tours that were more like "macabre history" tours, going over the sites of various executions, murders and other things; while Toronto, Kingston, Exeter, London, and my current home town of Grand Rapids all visited locations where ghosts had actually been seen. Possible cultural divide between Anglo and European sensibilities?

The creepiest tour was at the Black Creek Pioneer Village in North York, Ontario. Since it's a historical park, you can actually go in the buildings, which you do on the ghost tour instead of just standing in front of a place and having the guide tell you about what people have seen inside. At Black Creek, the tours happen at dusk, and the guide leads you around with the aid of a small LED lantern. It gets pretty dark by the time the tour ends. Generally, you enter a building with the guide, then they tell you the ghost stories associated with that building. Again, didn't see anything, but a building called "the Manse" that they have on site was pretty creepy.
posted by LionIndex at 3:22 PM on May 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

I was moving into the house I’d just bought in a rough neighborhood, and went out for a beer that night with the guy who’d been renting it. He told me kind of slyly, “you should know there’s a ghost, Billy, in the house.” The family who had lived there years ago had been troubled, and the teenage son came and went. Once when he was home, he died in the shower from a heart attack. Everybody in the neighborhood knew about Billy; some of them had known him in life: ‘he was an angry kid.’

Anyway, I shrugged it off as the effect of the beer (on both of us), and fell asleep fairly easily. But I was waked later in the night by someone pushing me from the wall side of the bed, as you would to deliberately wake someone up. Now, somehow I had gotten it in my head that he had committed suicide, despite the shower story; I had been struggling against suicidal tendencies myself. There was no doubt in my mind that this was Billy, so in my mind I scolded him “you coward! You let go of life!” Then the pushing got really hard and aggressive, and I had to cling to the mattress to keep from being pushed on the floor. So again in my mind, I started apologizing profusely, “so sorry, I’m an idiot, I apologize,” and then it stopped. Took me a while to get warily back to sleep though.

I only sensed him again one other time in the several years I lived there. (For a while, I sublet to a guy who had just fallen for the love of his life, and the 2 of them spent much time closed off in his room. I figured Billy was, like a teen, hanging out with them now for the vicarious thrills. A couple of years after that, I put the house in the market, and although a lot of people loved it, things just never worked out to a sale for different reasons. Finally a young couple came with a baby boy in a basket carrier, and bought it 2 days later. I figured Billy was waiting for a buyer he wanted to live with, and who knows whether and how he might have bonded with that baby.)

But the second time I really felt his presence, though not tacticly, was this: I had an little globular tea-candle holder with the face of the man in the moon on one side; it was very lightweight, like a Christmas ornament. I would put it in the windowsill, which was barely above floor level, of the extra room, so I would see the face when I walked in. For several times, though, I would see that the thing had been knocked off the sill and rolled out onto the carpet; I figured that my cat had done it, though she rarely went in there. I would always put it back, face side facing, and after a few times if this, I yelled at the cat to stop messing with it. The next time I came in, the globe was perfectly in place, but perfectly upside down. Then that never happened again.

Obviously, Billy. That scamp.
posted by mmiddle at 3:28 PM on May 23, 2019 [7 favorites]

One night a couple of weeks after my mother died I’d been depression eating and made some French fries before going to bed. Shortly after laying down there was a loud crash in out in the living room. When I got up to check it out I found the house full of smoke. I’d left the burner on and the pot of oil was smoking and boiling over. After taking care of the pot and opening up the house to vent I discovered what woke me up. The Digital wall clock/thermometer on the south wall, and another clock as well as a barometer on the North wall had all fallen off their respective nails.

I’m an atheist and a skeptic and will always look for the rational explanation but I can’t find one for why these things suddenly fell off the walls. They’ve hung there for years, not even moving when a large branch from elm tree in the yard fell across the roof above the living room and shook the house. If they hadn’t fallen and gotten me out of bed it wouldn’t have been long before my kitchen/house was on fire. She died in the living room in the bed hospice set up for her right underneath that clock on the south wall and it is somewhat comforting to think that even after that she may still be trying to watch out for me.
posted by Tenuki at 4:08 PM on May 23, 2019 [19 favorites]

My friend got into law school in St Paul and was scared to go alone, and I had nothing to do after college, so I drove up with her and for the first couple of months until we began to drive each other crazy, we shared an apartment. It was 199...2? Whenever the huge halloween blizzard was. 1991! Anyway, we did a lot of fun Laverne and Shirley stuff together like make Tollhouse cookies and go on hikes, and one night we broke out her Ouija board. She said her sister was really good with the Ouija board and could make it talk. Her sister always claimed she was communicating with a particularly kindly and helpful spirit, name of Cecil.

So we sit down cross legged on the floor across from one another and lightly place our fingers on the plastic planchette, and we wait and wait, and soon it begins swooping all over the board and my friend says, "Is someone here?"
Ouija board: "...[sliiiiiide] ...yes..."
My friend: "Is it Cecil?"
Ouija board: "[swoop, swoop, swoop, slide] yes."
My friend: "Do you have a message for us?"
Ouija board: "[swoop, swoop, swoop--zilch]"
My friend: "Cecil, are you still there?"
Ouija board: "yes"
Me, impatient: "How will we know it's you?"
Ouija board: "...I ...B ...I ...T ... ... ... E"

Then she insisted it was me doing it, but it wasn't. It was totally her. (Neither of us was bitten that night, so clearly it wasn't Cecil.)
posted by Don Pepino at 4:12 PM on May 23, 2019 [3 favorites]

Rather than type it all out I'm going to upload a video* of a story I told at my Father-in-law's memorial service back in 2003. It's a long story that takes a little while to start, and it gets personal at times, but it's 100% true. If you're going to watch it at all you should watch it until the end.

We had the memorial a couple months after his death at a fish and game club in Quebec, where he was a long time member as well as the former president. He was a well-liked man that I had great admiration for and I miss sitting with him on the porch at his cottage in Quebec, drinking a drink and listening to his stories.

I will say now that I do not believe in anything paranormal. I don't believe in ghosts, an afterlife, God, astrology, ESP, or anything like that. I certainly believe that there are things we humans haven't figured out yet, sure. I believe 100% that there is life elsewhere in the universe, hopefully even in our solar system. I also believe people occasionally see flying objects that they are unable to identify, but I don't believe those things have anything to do with aliens. If aliens ever do visit us they're not going to buzz a trailer park in a light-covered smooth silver saucer the size of a Buick. When they visit us we will know it. We will all know it.

That said, here is the story about the time my father-in-law's ghost came to visit us.

*I've been thinking about making a shift to video anyway.
posted by bondcliff at 4:14 PM on May 23, 2019 [11 favorites]

I was laying out in my backyard on a deck chair in the suburbs of Austin, TX. Pflugerville on a clear, starry night listening to music. It was very peaceful. I saw what looked like a star move one direction, okay, so it's probably a plane... but then it reversed course. It went diagonal one way, a different direction back, up and down, and so forth. So it's just kind of going back and forth in a tiny little area (probably big for it, it was very small).

I saw this my freshman year at Boston University too, stargazing out my dorm room window one night. I always assumed this was a thing certain kinds of satellites or other orbiting scientific apparatus could just do. For some reason, my Google abilities are too dumb to find a plausible answer. The movements seemed very precise and deliberate, almost programmed. Balletic, I suppose.

Anyway, on the subject of UFOs and so forth, the Desert Oracle podcast out of the Mojave Desert walks a wonderfully woozy line between ridiculing the fulsome psychological landscape of unnameable creatures and strange sightings, and investing in them absolutely and with great erudition. If you miss the olden days of scratchy, moonlit rural broadcasting from a lone voice in the deep wilderness without all the far-right foaming and scheming that entails nowadays, it is deeply satisfying. (I've been meaning to make an FPP highlighting the best episodes, but I just don't have the time.)
posted by mykescipark at 4:47 PM on May 23, 2019 [6 favorites]

Beginning right after my mother died, I started seeing single feathers on a regular basis. I'd come across them while walking outdoors and even occasionally indoors, and they always felt like a little reminder that my mom was near. I'm not sure why I thought that, it was just a feeling. This went on for about a year, and then I started to notice that the feathers I found were smaller and smaller as time went on, as if she were becoming a fainter and fainter presence.

One day I opened my patio door to see what appeared to be an EXPLOSION of feathers in our backyard, right in front of my patio. In light of my mindset of seeing the feathers as little messages, it seemed like a big "I love you, goodbye!" message from my mother. While I felt bad about whatever happened to the poor bird, it was so over-the-top as a ghostly gesture it made me laugh out loud.

We live near a pond, so it's not unusual for a goose or other large bird to be nearby, but I've never seen this happen before or since. The feather-sightings began to taper off after that and I assume my mother has moved on to her next life adventure.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 5:05 PM on May 23, 2019 [17 favorites]

Either that or cats have invented stealth technology.

I've got to say as much as I desperately wanted to believe in ghosts and aliens as a kid, all of my paranormal stories from my childhood involve letting the cat go outside then seeing it mysteriously appear back indoors. How did it do that?

I don't know, I wasn't a skeptic as a kid, I had mild insomnia and fell asleep many nights to the terrifying stories of Coast to Coast AM, but spooky things never happened to me.
posted by muddgirl at 5:07 PM on May 23, 2019 [2 favorites]

When I was about 10 I found a book on my grandparents' bookshelf that described the various paranormal organisms scientists had discovered floating around in the atmosphere - giant invisible amoebas that you could only see with special lenses or something. That creeped me out for months! I have no idea what book that was - a paperback probably from the late 60s.
posted by moonmilk at 5:08 PM on May 23, 2019 [6 favorites]

I remember hearing a demon howling and cackling outside my dorm room at boarding school, sometime around dawn, in 1994. We've all heard hideous evil laughter in movies and whatnot, but this was something else, something a human throat could not have produced. I was flooded with fear, and I do not remember how I slept again; I could not move. Since it happened shortly before an event that traumatized me, I thought it was a harbinger of my future. Thing was, I was a teenager, and I thought everything centered around me and my personal life. I don't see why a demon would have come all the way from hell to make fun of me for it. It must have been an attack of sleep paralysis.

I think I have mentioned before that, in my parents' house, I have heard footsteps on the stairs when I knew that no one else could be there or be expected. Just footsteps, footsteps; no arrival on the landing. I also know that a little girl died in the family that had the house in the '60s. I do not believe in ghosts, so I am awaiting the explanation, whenever it comes around.
posted by Countess Elena at 5:42 PM on May 23, 2019 [3 favorites]

(I failed to mention that my school was, although history obscures it, located in what was one of the hotspots for the witchcraft accusations usually blamed on Salem. So maybe those woods had been on the demon's way before.)
posted by Countess Elena at 5:46 PM on May 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

There’s some interesting brain stuff on one side of my family. I don’t think it’s freaky paranormal, but I’d really like to know what’s going on there. Examples:

When I was a young adolescent a whole family of my relatives died in a murder-suicide. The family’s mom was very close with my aunt. The night that it happened, apparently WHILE it was happening, my aunt woke up out of deep sleep, woke up her husband, and yelled “he has a gun, they’re all going to die,” but couldn’t explain who she was talking about. They had to sit up and wait for the phone to ring. Turned out she had had a few experiences like this, and I remember when my great grandmother died she called my dad and told him so before anyone had contacted the family.

My grandfather on that side worked in a factory when he was young, and he freaked out his coworkers by being able to identify which of whatever they were inspecting had a problem without actually inspecting it.

When my brother and I were kids, we woke up at different times one morning and described the exact same strange dream to our mother. I myself used to have low-stakes dreams about people I later met or things that later happened (what my new-to-town first grade teacher looked like, getting a camera for Christmas that was broken and had to be exchanged, that kind of thing).

Most of these incidents were witnessed and verified by people who don’t believe in the paranormal. My dad is a super atheist science skeptic, and when we talk about my aunt he just says “I believe those things happened and I don’t want to think about it,” and changes the subject.
posted by centrifugal at 6:06 PM on May 23, 2019 [15 favorites]

Great question.

In the house I own, there's definitely at least one ghost. The house was only owned by one family before I bought it, and the most recent owner, a family friend, died in the front bathroom. To this day, the faucet turns on by itself in there. When I lived there, I'd be sitting at my desk, right on the other side of the wall, and suddenly realize I was hearing it running again.

There are of course other practical explanations for this, but then there's also the fact that when I'm down in the basement, doing laundry, even when I know for a fact I'm home by myself, I frequently hear footsteps in the kitchen above me.

Before I moved there, I experienced this stuff and this. That's another great thread.
posted by limeonaire at 6:45 PM on May 23, 2019 [4 favorites]

posted by clavdivs at 6:49 PM on May 23, 2019 [7 favorites]

Nothing was more thrilling as kid than watching Unsolved Mysteries even though (or maybe because?) I knew it was guaranteed to terrify me.

There was a show called "Strange But True" that was this for me when I was a kid. I remember they seemed to frequently have stories about people who's spirits travelled to get help when they were injured. Like some relative or someone would see them appear in the kitchen all bloodied and then disappear and so the relative would go running to their house/whatever and find them critically injured.

The other one I remembered was a woman who had a panic attack going through a car wash and realized she was having a flashback to a past life where she drowned on the titanic.

Oh! And a woman who dreamed she was watching her car go over a cliff and there were scrolling letters underneath (like on the news) saying a woman had died in an accident on day X time Y etc. so she went to have her car checked out and the brakes were about to fail.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:23 PM on May 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

I was laying out in my backyard on a deck chair in the suburbs of Austin, TX. Pflugerville on a clear, starry night listening to music. It was very peaceful. I saw what looked like a star move one direction, okay, so it's probably a plane... but then it reversed course. It went diagonal one way, a different direction back, up and down, and so forth. So it's just kind of going back and forth in a tiny little area (probably big for it, it was very small).

I saw something similar once backpacking in mountain range in Wyoming. I was sitting outside my tent just watching the stars in complete darkness. The light caught my eye because I thought it was a shooting star. . . . and then it changed direction. And the rapidity of it! It moved kind of zig zaggy across the sky and then just vanished. It happened at a campsite that I'd been to dozens of times, and continued to go to dozens of times after that, was miles away from a road or human habitation or anything like that, and for years I wondered if I had actually seen something. . . . woooOOOOoooo.

More than 10 years later I was camped in the same spot. Despite all the times I'd been there - hell, at this point I've probably been there over 50 times - I'd never seen a repeat of that light. But due to some flooding of the stream in the little valley I was in I was forced to camp higher up on a hill. And that night there was not just a repeat performance, it was repeated several times. And then abruptly stopped. But there was something familiar about the lights this time. . . and it was driving back home the next night when I realized what it was: the lights looked exactly like headlights do when cars come down the mountain and go around hairpin turns (thus getting cut off and often reflected from the rocks in the other side of the canyon) and seen from the valley below. But there was some pretty steep mountains between my camping spot and the nearest road like that. It didn't make any sense. .. woooOOOOoooo still strong.

I returned to that spot for a few years and didn't see 'em again. . . until one night I did. By that time, I knew a lot more about optics, and I realized that it was from headlights miles away, perhaps even as many as sixty, going down the mountain, and I was experiencing an optical phenomenon due to atmospheric refraction, possibly due to a thermal inversion, which is a Fata Morgana.

Not saying at all yours has the same cause! :) But oh golly gee - I gotta admit the scientist in me was pretty relieved to find the rational explanation for *my* particular weird light. (Just as a fun side note: once you start learning about them, atmospheric optical phenomena are not that hard to find! I'm fond of sylvanshine, but so far the coolest one I've seen is a space jellyfish.)
posted by barchan at 7:49 PM on May 23, 2019 [17 favorites]

I've mentioned this before on some other part of MeFi, but last month I was in West Texas and spent two or three evenings at the Marfa Lights Viewing Center. I love it there. I can't think of a more pleasant way to experience the uncanny. You can google likely explanations for the lights easily enough, but that elides the incontrovertible, delightful eeriness of watching those things dancing around on the horizon among the mesas in the middle distance.

There is also the joy of hanging out on the platform and listening to the groups of people that gather there. It is a public demarcation between the everyday and supernatural in the American West where one is free to dip a toe in the weirdness. Watch the lights, but listen to the conversations, arguments, and stoned giggling repeating across the hours like waves breaking on the shore. Let in the other sounds—dopplered highway moans, passing trains, RV compressors churning through brilliant sunsets and darkness—the noise of modernity and rational machines gaining and losing ground along this border, pushed back by the Native American spirits, cowboy ghost fires, and UFOs that entertain us as we entertain them.
posted by lefty lucky cat at 8:04 PM on May 23, 2019 [6 favorites]

I saw a ghost while I was staying at Casa Del Mar last year. Given the place's history I suppose if one were going to see a ghost anywhere that'd be a reasonable place to expect it. I was deeply creeped out by it but didn't move rooms and stayed two more nights, because while I know what I saw I don't really believe in ghosts to the point where I was going to wreck an otherwise lovely hotel stay. The ghost didn't return.
posted by potrzebie at 9:29 PM on May 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

bondcliff, I love your story!

I am having some things lately where my agnosticism/atheism is not so much anymore, due to very concrete things happening, but I feel weird talking about it so I'm trying to avoid doing so. But someone definitely stole my shoes the other morning (I live alone).

In terms of ghosts: I lived in a 1900s-ish house in Massachusetts for a while. I would sometimes have flashes of an older, very tall 1900s-ish man in our bathroom, in the tub, and less defined flashes of a 1900s-ish woman in the hallway near my bedroom. Yeeeeeaars after I live there, my roommate from that place (to whom I had never mentioned my ghost feelings) talked about how he always thought there was a ghost of a tall man in 1900s clothing in our tub.

I also think my mother visits me in the form of hummingbirds, though it's getting less often now.
posted by lazuli at 10:39 PM on May 23, 2019 [7 favorites]

I absolutely love paranormal and religious imagery and so on, but don't personally believe any of it. I want to! I want to believe! I just don't, which is kind of a bummer.

I've been obsessed with spooky stuff since I was a kid. I used to visit Boston a lot when I was around 7-8, and I COULD NOT GET ENOUGH of the Salem Witch Museum, with that big room that had all the dioramas telling the story of the witch trials. The room was all black, and as I remember it, there was a big, glowing red pentagram in the middle of the floor; as a 7 year old, I thought that was just the coolest thing I'd ever seen. I feel like I must have gone there dozens of times.

I was also beyond obsessed with the X-Files (I was a proud owner of both volumes of the X-Files Book of the Unexplained). I read and reread Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. My mom liked to buy me tapes of storytellers, and I used to fall asleep listening to folktales about ghost and other spooky stuff. My favorite movies were Beetlejuice and The Nightmare Before Christmas. Halloween was my favorite holiday, naturally.

As an adult, one of my few hobbies is trawling used book stores for books of ghost stories and folktales. I've managed to build up a pretty decent collection over the years, with remarkably little redundancy between books (a few anthologies have the same stories). I keep them around like reference books, sort of a personal library of hauntings. They're pretty much the only fiction books I ever buy.

I've put my purchasing on hold while I'm unemployed, although a couple months ago I found a neat book I couldn't pass up for $2.25: I don't have it in front of me, but I think it's called People Who Weren't Afraid of Ghosts, and it was published by a Chinese-American society in the 60s. It's all stories from classical Chinese texts about people who outwitted ghosts or otherwise refused to be intimidated by them. My favorite of the stories I've read so far was about a man who pays no attention a series of gruesome hauntings, after which he is visited by a ghost in formal clothes who compliments him on his wisdom and bravery, and promises that "we will bother you no further" -- before bowing respectfully and promptly disappearing. I think that's cool stuff.

My young nephew is already really into spooky stuff, and I can't tell you how happy that makes me. He already loves books about ghosts and monsters. I can't wait until he's old enough to start watching Hammer movies.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 11:40 PM on May 23, 2019 [8 favorites]

When I was about 11 I received a GI Joe as a gift. I had always gotten Big Jim-related action figures, but I had always wanted a GI Joe, because pew pew, and finally I got one. That day I played with my new GI Joe for a normal amount of time, placed him in his coffin-like box, and set him upon one of the shelves in my closet with the rest of my toys. The next day I went to go play GI Joe and the box (and doll) were gone. Never saw him again. Poof.

Five or so years later, I finally and belatedly bought my first Misfits cassette, I believe it was Legacy of Brutality. They had logically been in my wheelhouse for quite some time, so I picked it up on impulse one day, challenging the image of Glenn, "OK tough guy, let's see what you got." Got home, listened to about half the first side, put it back in my cassette case for the night, and that was the last I saw of that one.

To this day, I have wracked my brain trying to figure out what happened to either of them. Neither of these objects left the house. Additionally, my older only brother was into neither of these objects and at any rate was not a pranker.

So, I've had to accept that they simply fucking disappeared into thin air, which is not a conclusion my Sheldonic side accepts easily.
posted by rhizome at 12:03 AM on May 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

I saw what looked like a star move one direction, okay, so it's probably a plane... but then it reversed course

I saw something similar last night - it's very dark where I live and so stars, oh the stars, but also see satellites often, one apparent satellite last night was jogging to the left; so forward a few degrees, then 45° angle and then back to parallel with previous track and then again, and again. Quite odd, see a lot of odd things down here tho - many very high alt planes heading down the ice, but even if they're ?15km up you can still see winking from wing lights.

When I was about 8 to 12 years old I used to get some really hyper-real deja-vu - e.g. seeing a car crash down to exact position and colour of wrecks.

In '90 I spent the summer cycling Alaska. South of Anchorage the highway was very narrow, the early summer foliage muffling sound to nothing, so trucks would just turn up from behind with life-threatening consequences. So I'm just riding along and I hear as loud as day "GET OFF THE ROAD NOW!", it sounded like someone right next to me so I obliged and ... roar...whoosh, huge logging truck - this command happened all that day as I headed south to Homer.

I still get these sorts of things and I listen to them - Nowadays I have a lot of formal training in understanding situations and people so it's sometimes harder to tell where a warning comes from - but I rely on them.

I think our rational Western way teaches us out of being fully human and using ALL the ways of sensing our world.

but some of these gifts\skills may have been 'inherited' see this this - a fanfare discussion from a while back
posted by unearthed at 12:06 AM on May 24, 2019 [5 favorites]

1982. Houston. Winter, maybe January, February. I was still drinking and drugging then but wasn't out of it that night, maybe half a beer on the table next to the bed as I fell asleep.

I'm literally thrown from sleep, waves of energy pulsing through my body, top of my head and down my spine and arms and legs. Again and again. And: "Pray for Janice. Pray for Janice. Get on your knees and pray for Janice."

I'm not a guy who prays. It's all such bullshit. You can take you bibles and your religion and shove it where the sun don't shine. It's foolishness. It's delusional. It's jive. It's just such bullshit.

But this was undeniable. It was unquestionable, it was alive, it was insistent, it was pulsing in me, and through me. I'm on my knees -- because no way was this shit going to let me do some half-ass pray-as-I-lay-in-bed crap -- I'm on my knees praying for my sister. I don't know how to pray. What the fuck is happening to me?

I don't know how long, maybe two minutes -- Three minutes? I couldn't say. -- but not too long and now I'm off my knees, I'm like "OK, I prayed for Janice. Beat it."

Nope. Back onto my knees. Literally, there is energy pulsing through my body. waves, one after the next, It's the freakiest thing, and it's not letting go of my lame ass.

"Pray for Janice. Pray for Janice. Get on your knees and pray for Janice."

Another sister, Joy, who had just in recent years gotten religion and wasn't yet nuts behind it, and whose love and judgment I trusted, and trust still, so long as we can keep Leviticus etc out of it -- I called her. Woke her, told her what was happening. But really, I *asked* her what was happening. What is this? Joy is savvy, she's life-smart, she told me the truth and she gave me great advice. She said "I don't have any idea what's happening to you. But you'd best pray for Janice."

At least now I wasn't the only sib suffering this jive. Joy wasn't getting blown out by these waves of energy but she's on her knees, too, and so is Don, my brother-in-law.

Janice was in real trouble. Downtown Chicago, a cheap room, a dangerous hotel, someone is outside her door and trying to be inside her door. We didn't know about it for a few days.


I've written here about being in the difficult position of getting my sister Janice committed, written about that process, which is about as deep as you're ever going to want to be in your family. Janice suffers paranoid schizophrenia, and it's not been fun, not for her and not for those of us who love her, either. When we were in that process, Janice knew I was with her, she trusted that I loved her. But -- paranoid. She can't really trust anyone. I'd not told her about being thrown from my bed praying etc lo those long years gone by, just hadn't come up. But one night, she's out of the hospital but we're still deep in that whole show, we were sitting that night at our parents dining table, playing Yahtzee, and Western Round-Up (a *killer* dice game, just lots of fun), we're sitting at that table and somehow it came up, and I told her what happened that night that she was in that room, and she looked me dead in the eye, knew that it wasn't at all bullshit, and it really helped her trust me more.


Anyways. I'm still of the same mind w/r/t bibles and religion.* But prayer? There's something in it. I still don't know how to pray, though I've got more experience, and that being on my knees part, that humbling, it seems that prayer on my knees reaches deeper into me. It's kind of like those old phones that you set on their charger, and the juice came through those two pads -- it's like the power pads are on the front of my knees. There are plenty of things that are beyond my understanding -- accounting, just as one example -- but though there are things beyond my understanding, experience has led me to understand that there might be something in some of them. Prayer fits in this line.
*A relevant Mark Twain quote here, about the bible: It is full of interest. It has noble poetry in it; and some clever fables; and some blood-drenched history; and some good morals; and a wealth of obscenity; and upwards of a thousand lies.
posted by dancestoblue at 12:59 AM on May 24, 2019 [21 favorites]

I lean towards atheism, but the following experience at my mom's deathbed years ago shoved my default skepticism a good ways toward "There are things that we and science as yet have no explanation for":

She'd been declining at home for 2 years and, finally, in hospital for a week. We kids took turns keeping vigil. She'd heard for years that hearing is the last sense to go. So when the time came, she wanted to hear Bach. I had set up my keyboard on the ledge in front of the window, so when playing, I faced away from the bed. I alternated between various Bach chestnuts, other classical composers, 1920s-1950s folk songs, movie and tv theme songs, musicals, torch songs, Simon & Garfunkel. If there were lyrics, my brother and I sang. She was talking less and less. (Her last words were probably "Go home, go to bed," because even to the last, she was trying to take care of us.) On what turned out to be the last day, I was in the middle of Scarborough Fair when I heard my brother start crying. He'd done that every so often, that week. We all had. I didn't think anything of it.

"Play Bach," he said.

"OK!" I turned to her favourite, Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring. I started playing. That week, I'd been getting plenty of practice with it and all the other pieces too, and I'm a decent-ish amateur pianist, but not a great performer -- I make little mistakes even at the best of times, out of self-consciousness or whatever.

This time, about 1/2 of the way down the first page, a wave of peace and joy and calm saturated me, mind, body, and spirit, into and through me, like I was both in and of it. My playing became bloody amazing: no mistakes or hesitations but rather, focused, perfect technically and interpretively, not an extension of me but rather, coming through me. It carried me to the end of the piece and I thought Hey this feels so amazing, I'll segue back into the beginning and keep it going!

So I segued from the end back into the beginning, and about halfway down the first page, the peace-joy-calm wave receded and I started making my usual little mistakes. I played to the end anyway. Then I turned around. My brother said, "She's gone."


"Yeah, pretty sure I saw her take her last breath. I'll call a nurse to double check." The nurse said he was right.

No doubt someone will pop in with a scientific explanation. Like, I know that Mikhail Csikszentmihalyi's concept of flow could apply to this. (Though really, I think it's unlikely that technical perfection would happen at that moment given the chronic stress I'd been under.)

But to me, the peace-joy-calm wave, and the playing piano way better than I ever have before or since...those were Mom. She was saying goodbye, and giving us her benediction. (Oh my cod, I miss her. She'd have loved you people, for your geekiness, and love of science, and sticking up for vulnerable people, and hilarious micro-dissecting of body weirdnesses).
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 1:25 AM on May 24, 2019 [20 favorites]

The Mexican village that my parents come from is such a large source of ghost stories that I should probably write a book about it sometime. It is as if the residents of the town reside half in this world and half in the spirit world. One example:

My parents have a house there. A few years ago my brother woke up in the middle of the night. He couldn't explain why but he felt drawn to the window. The moon was bright and when he looked out he saw figures standing near the edge of the property. As he describes it, they looked like white statues, human figures that did not move at all. He watched them for a while but then decided to go back to bed.

In the morning, he spoke about it to the neighbours. Everybody else was intrigued and a bit mystified as to what he had seen.

The next morning my brother was woken up again, this time by what sounded like shovels digging into the dirt. He looked out the window again and saw men digging furiously in the same spot he had seen the figures. But he recognized these men. They were neighbors.

He went out and asked them what they were doing. They replied that they were digging for buried treasure. As he had seen ghosts there, then surely the explanation was that the supernatural beings were signalling that something was buried there. Nothing was discovered, of course.
posted by vacapinta at 2:10 AM on May 24, 2019 [4 favorites]

About a month ago around 3 in the morning my 5 month old daughter was crying in her room. It didn’t sound too bad so I thought she would just work her way through it and go back to sleep. But the crying got louder and just when I was thinking “Ughhhh whyyyy” I heard a loud crash. I immediately turned on the screen of the baby monitor and saw that she was fine but had rolled over into her tummy. She hasn’t done this before and didn’t know how to turn back and so was obviously distressed. I went through, nursed her and we all went back to sleep.

I told my husband the story the next day. The crash had been the sound of a wooden ornament that was attached to the side of her crib. I was convinced that she had a friendly guardian angel ghost who detached it to get me to look at the monitor and go in. I even said a little thank you to them in the dark. So I’m telling him the story:

Me: “ and I found the wooden sign on the floor so that was what the crash was and I think -“
Him: “Oh right yeah baby must have kicked it through the crib bars”
Me: “... um yeah that’s it. She did it. Not a friendly ghost. Nope.”

posted by like_neon at 2:37 AM on May 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

My mother believed that her dead parents came to visit our house in the middle of the night. She heard knocking and went to the window and they were on the front step, my grandfather wearing a coat that my mother remembered from long ago. My father persuaded her not to go down and open the door, but to go back to bed.

This sounds like a waking dream to me, but my mother was really convinced it had happened and that they were there. When she told me the story, years later and the only time she ever brought it up to me, she put it, “My mother and father came to visit me once.”

She couldn’t explain why she didn’t run down to see her parents, and I’m guessing she would have done so if it had just been her mother, whom she dearly missed. Even if—this was the vibe I got from her—there was a Pet Sematary thing going on where it would be a bad idea to interact with them. I think she thought my father believed they were there too and just didn’t want to let them in. Very, very unlikely if you knew my father. More likely he was deeply alarmed that my mother was, to him, acting irrationally.

At times I have come close to imagining that because my mother had this belief, and maybe other similar ones she never bothered mentioning, her reality actually included visits from the dead and that in fact she could now visit me. When my dog got sick, I had a dream that she came and said, “It’s all right, Lucy, you’re just going to go to sleep now.” A few months later, the vet said those words, in that order, as I held her for the last time.

My mom died quite young and was sometimes very upset as it approached. She asked one of our cousins why this was happening to her so early and he said, “Maybe you’re going to lead the way.” That’s how I feel about the dying now, that they are going on ahead. Not that they are waiting for me, but they did prepare the path.
posted by BibiRose at 7:07 AM on May 24, 2019 [10 favorites]

It's not a paranormal story per se, but I recently observed my first few full autopsies. Whatever makes us human, whether it's material as we think of it or not detectable in our material world, it is absolutely, finally, extremely gone from the body after death. I was prepared for a lot of things because, y'know, autopsy. But I was not prepared for how obvious it is that whatever makes us human exits our weird beautiful gross meat sacks and leaves something so empty behind.
posted by WidgetAlley at 9:57 AM on May 24, 2019 [16 favorites]

I don't believe in ghosts, but some... I've experienced some strange things.

Once, when I was in 5th grade, my father moved us to a small town for his job and we rented an rundown old house on a lake. One night, after my sister and I had both gone to bed, I heard my parents both come up the stairs and go into their room to sleep. I knew they were both upstairs because I could could hear them quietly arguing about something as they came up the stairs and down the hallway past my bedroom door. About 15 minutes later, as I was starting to fall asleep, someone ran--very loudly--down the stairs just outside my bedroom door. Silence. then, someone ran back up the stairs, equally as loudly. More silence. Then I heard my father came out of his bedroom and go check on my sister who must have been fast asleep. He then came and knocked on my door and asked: "did you just go downstairs?" I said no. He stood there outside my door for about 15 seconds, then said under his breath, "well, shit." And went back to bed. I soon fell asleep, but have never forgotten that weird incident. Nobody ever ran up or down the stairs again that I recall.
posted by Chrischris at 10:49 AM on May 24, 2019 [12 favorites]

He stood there outside my door for about 15 seconds, then said under his breath, "well, shit." And went back to bed.
Ha! Among the top dads of the thread.
posted by Don Pepino at 10:53 AM on May 24, 2019 [10 favorites]

I was born into the Episcopalian church, became agnostic during high school, chose paganism in college and practiced it into my early thirties, and landed at atheism.

It's been the hardest to shake the belief in ghosts, and I'm told and reminded over and over by fellow atheists that it's because the fear of death and just simply ending and ceasing to be is so powerful that we cling to these last bits of possibly continuing in some form.

And I try to remember that and look for the honest reasons that things happen.

But sometimes things are just weird in ways that stick deep and I continue to think... maybe? Maybe some people have so much passion or energy, and such a refusal to die or acknowledge their death that they force every one around them to validate their panic at the precipice of nothing? Gasping breaths before they disappear?

I told a couple stories on Monkeyfilter at one point, lemme see if I can sit down and remember the details.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 10:53 AM on May 24, 2019

upon the final signature executing my purchase of his house, the seller leaned over to his attorney and asked, "can i tell him about the ghost now?" i have not been aware of said ghost, particularly, though there have been certain plumbing issues that inexplicably resolved themselves with no intervention.

have seen
strange things levitate over the interstate 'tween shreeveport and south shriver
where blazing skies have dazzled the eyes of many a sunday driver:
one, totally embarrassing for how stupidly cliché it appeared -- i was on the highway, and declined to veer off the road to get a better look, though there were some moments of dangerous deliberation; the other way less imposing, but genuinely odd -- best interpretation now is that it was some sort of drone. there person i was with on that second occasion refuses to speak about it. (links to twitter pics of sketches i made trying to document/explore my impressions)

also one occasion of hearing treads on the stairs outside bedroom, where the only person in the house was asleep next to me. i lay there in bed listening, increasingly sure that they were footsteps, and that they were ascending the stairs. they reached the top, the floor squeaked like it oughta when trod upon. at that moment, i opened my eyes, to direct my gaze through the bedroom doorway at precisely the same time my significant other woke suddenly and sat up, screaming inconsolably. (my best explanation is that she absorbed my growing anxiety in her sleep and was wakened by some slight movement of mine. i am aware of no other occasions of her behaving so).
posted by 20 year lurk at 11:51 AM on May 24, 2019 [2 favorites]

I've never experienced anything that seemed even remotely paranormal, or if I have, I've rationalized it out of my memory, but I'm unlikely to have done that. I'm very much open to finding, experiencing, and exploring something that actually seems paranormal, to the point I'm willing to make horror movie protagonist Are You Kidding Me Don't Go In There level mistakes. For instance, if I'd encountered ragtag's fairy ring I would gotten my wife out there pronto and we would have been gonzo. See you never, have fun with climate change, we're checking out Faerie. We'll risk being eaten by ogres or redcaps. (Not making any decisions for my wife, I discussed the comment with her yesterday.)

On the other hand, if I have to tolerate more existence after I die I'm going to be very put out. I would very much just like to RIP, thanks. I'm so tired.
posted by Caduceus at 12:07 PM on May 24, 2019 [6 favorites]

Oh yeah fairy rings. Loads of them in Northern Cali when I backpacked as a kid. It's the grave of a redwood- all the nutrients left behind from the dead tree in the perimeter where the old trunk was feeds mushrooms. That and you know, the fae folk.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 12:15 PM on May 24, 2019 [2 favorites]

(TW: animal abuse)

One morning when I was 15 and sitting down for breakfast, my mother, standing at the stove with her back to me, said: "Jimmy, I had the most awful dream last night. I dreamed somebody cut your sister's cat's tail off and put it in her mailbox." My sister had left home to move to San Francisco (just in time for the Summer of Love) on her 18th birthday – with her cat – 3 years before that, and very much against the wishes of my parents. We hadn't heard from her for a year and a half at that point and had no idea where she was or what she was doing.

That night the phone rang, and when I answered, there was only sobbing at first, and then my sister managed to gasp out: "Oh Jimmy, somebody cut my cat's tail off and put it in my mailbox!"

My mother's mother, who lived thousands of miles away from us, and with whom we had almost no contact (I have no memory of her from the only time I saw her at age 3) had been notorious for calling us when my sister, me or my mother were very ill, and saying she'd had a bad dream which matched the illness closely in the couple of instances I remember – when I had hernia surgery, for example.

But I don't remember any such dreams from my mother before her mother died just after I turned 14. I wish I'd asked more about all this before my mother died, but I didn't. Yet when my mother did die, I felt it. In fact it knocked me off my feet. I happened to be in a circle dance around Rabbi Schlomo Carlebach at the time, and the locked arms of the dancers on either side of me kept me from any more than falling to my knees. I knew what had happened and ran from the auditorium to a pay phone just outside, and reached the hospice center a moment before they called my father to tell him she'd passed.

After that, I started having prophetic dreams myself, including a dream about Watergate of all things, and a dream about 9/11, which was not really prophetic, since the dream took place while it was happening. I've had only a double handful of such dreams, but I only count the ones I've told to other people prior to the occurrence (or prior to finding out about it in the case of 9/11).

After a severe subdural hematoma, which cost me most of my ability to do higher math among other things, I assumed the dreams were gone too. But one day, idly ruminating about various lost things, on impulse I said to myself "Are you still there?" And the response was wave after wave of physical pleasure rolling through my body from end to end, and more intense than several orgasms put together. It was the most intense physical pleasure I've ever experienced, and the dreams have continued.
posted by jamjam at 12:24 PM on May 24, 2019 [13 favorites]

My whole life, I've wanted to have a supernatural experience. I always joke with my friends that ghosts are allergic to me, because I've never seen anything I couldn't explain. I'm loving all the spooky stuff that everyone else has experienced!
posted by d13t_p3ps1 at 1:07 PM on May 24, 2019 [3 favorites]

I was hoping to cut and paste, but alas... anyway.

I've experienced weirdness in exactly 3 houses and 2 college campuses.

House 1 - Butler, NJ
We (me, my then husband, and my housebound mother) moved there while I was pregnant. The weirdness started immediately.

Late at night the living room would get a "heavy" feeling to it and everyone would start feeling like they were being crowded against even though the room was big. It was such a unrelenting feeling and mom and my husband would turn in early and watch TV in bed, and leave me at my computer desk.

I began feeling like someone was standing right behind me, and sometimes saw a shadow out of the corner of my eye, usually by my left shoulder pretty much reading my screen over my shoulder. It also paced behind my chair. I didn't hear foot steps, but I could feel the floor boards rock under my feet as it moved. I usually ignored it until thoroughly creeped out, and then walked very fast to my bedroom.

Once my name was called from down the hall. I walked down to the bedrooms and asked first my mom if she called me. She said no, but it sounded like my husband. Asking my husband got the same no but it sounded like my Mom.

Then we started putting the nursery together. My desk was up against a wall that allowed me to look into the hallway at the nursery room, and I would often close the door forgetting to turn off the light, noticing later as it got dark and I saw the light from the gap under the door.

One night I was suddenly pulled out of reading an article and glanced around, and saw the light. I was about to get up when a shadow passed like someone walking by the closed door. I t shocked me and I hopped over and swung it open to no one. I woke up my husband who told me it was car lights from the window and it sounded so rational that I was immediately at ease.

A week or so later my husband came up from work with a laundry basket of baby supplies from his coworkers. I was busy with dinner, so I popped open the nursery door, slid in the basket, and closed the door.

Later I'm at my desk and glance over seeing the light. A shadow starts to pass and my head says car. Then there's the sound of tripping, the basket moving, and someone stumbling. My mom called out, "Are you all right? Did you hurt yourself?" I opened the door and there was no one in the room.

And after he was born, can I just say, he refused to sleep in that room? He didn't sleep one damn night in there, he hated it.

One last story for the house. After my son was born we kept a baby gate across the kitchen doorway at all times. I tripped climbing over it all the time. One time I was going back into the kitchen holding my mom's pill bottle and tripped over. The bottle went flying and spilled pills out from one end of the kitchen to the other.

I cleaned up the pills as best as I could, but felt like I was still missing a couple. I was getting ready to just get on my hands and knees to scour the floor when my son cried.

I was gone for a couple minutes and when I went back, just as I was going to step over the gate, I saw to pills neatly lined in a row, drug stamp side up, waiting for me.

We moved after that.

House 2 - Vernon, NJ

My sister after college rented out a tiny farm and lived in a one bedroom studio apartment over a garage. The place had two fenced rings, a tiny trotting field, and a small barn. It used to be a much bigger property but the family died off and sold it, and the B&B and small housing development behind it, used to be the same property.

Grace told me there were two ghosts on the property, but only in the barn, and she'd only tell me about them when I was done house sitting, so she could tell if they matched the stories.

Okay, great. I was there for a week to take care of her dogs and her friend would come do the horses, I only had to go to the barn to feed the chickens she used for tick control.

Everything is find for the first couple days. Third day I'm reheating soup and hear a young man call out, "Maaaaa! Maaaaa!" Thought it was some of the development kids and stuck my head out the door. I can't quite describe how still and heavy everything felt, it was just an unnatural feeling. Went back inside and kept the dogs with me all night.

Next day as I was feeding the chickens I heard foot steps walking across the barn floor above me. Thought it was kids again, and then remembered the night before. Took the dogs with me and we went up to find no one.

Told Gracie when she got home and she told me the stories. Ma!Ghost was a young boy in his teens that had been in the loft tossing down Hale bales. He lost his footing, yelled for his mom, then fell out the loft door and broke his neck in the riding ring below. Her horse would shy in the spot he landed.

The second ghost was the family patriarch. They were going broke and he was forced to break up part of the farm to sell. Afterwards he went into the barn and hung himself in the rafters. If you're in the horse stalls below you can sometimes hear him walk across from the batn door to the ladder.

Okay, two houses down. I gotta get milk and run my child some so he'll sleep later.

I owe another house and two colleges when I get back.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 1:20 PM on May 24, 2019 [8 favorites]

1. Grew up with a ghost in the house. I never told anyone because, well, ghost. Much later in life, my wife and I were sitting at dinner with my parents and, of course, reminiscing happened. Just because, I told the story of this ghost (well, it was more like a naked disembodied leg and foot always disappearing around a corner) Suddenly, the room got quiet. Turns out, not only had my parents seen it, so had my wife!

2. Died once. Saw the big white light. It felt amazing.
I told the story awhile ago, but heck if I can find the post
posted by Thorzdad at 1:46 PM on May 24, 2019 [11 favorites]

My college was a converted seminary, a very old building with a whole abandoned wing that could only be accessed by climbing through a hole in the attics. The whole place was a little eerie, with loooong corridors lined with doors and strange old nooks and crannies, and ancient plumbing. The story was that a third floor corridor was haunted by a woman in white. I never saw her myself, or indeed had any strange experiences on the third floor, though I had a studio space off the corridor for two years.

Being a seminary, there had been a chapel attached to the building. By the time I got there it had been converted to an exhibition space, with the choir loft used for building installations. I spent a good deal of time working in the loft and came to feel that it was haunted. The ghost was not...unfriendly, but he had very strong opinions on my music choices. I brought my radio/CD player/boombox/1st gen iPod mini speaker system up with me to plug in while I was working (have I just exactly dated myself?) and discovered that the ghost would NOT. TOLERATE. listening to Modest Mouse, turning the volume down whenever a Modest Mouse song came on. He also disliked Bright Eyes. However, he liked Placebo and would start the CD again after a while if I let it finish and didn't have 'repeat' set.

Was it probably a combination of old wiring and a beat-up old boombox? I mean, yes, it must have been. Ghosts aren't real. But I liked having company up there and it made me try a few new CDs in an effort to please him.
posted by DSime at 1:49 PM on May 24, 2019 [3 favorites]

I am both skeptical and insensitive by nature, I suppose, and so have never had anything really spooky happen. The closest I ever get to a spiritual experience is the coincidence. None of them are all that strange, really, not nearly as unheimlich as some of the stories above, which I enjoyed reading - thanks for sharing. Though along coincidental lines, I admit I was mildly amused to see this particular topic of the week, given that the chapter I just started in the book I'm reading is "The Reality of the Unseen."

The most recent coincidences in my life all have to do with my daughter. (Unromantic interpretation: I am thinking a lot about her right now, so the mindspace open for receiving coincidences is very wide.) Example: I'm looking for information about a diagnosis she's gotten, and one of the first papers I find in PubMed is first-authored by a close colleague (who has since switched disciplines entirely into mine, so this is legitimately a surprise) and so I'm able to take the colleague to lunch and get a quick rundown from an actual expert in the field. When I told my religious Christian officemate about this she said, "huh -- it really is ordered --" and then seemed to feel she'd said something too intimate, remembering I guess that I'm an atheist. I always get a strange feeling, though, from the idea that God sets things up just so for someone like me. Does that imply that the perfect storms that topple other families were set up just so, too?
posted by eirias at 3:01 PM on May 24, 2019 [2 favorites]

I've been a fan of eerie stories most of my life, but not really a believer, and in fact rarely actually find them scary, just entertaining (and hate those "true" ghost story movies because if you don't find them scary and aren't buying in they are incredibly boring). As a young man I became one of those guys who believes everything is "rational". As I get older I laugh at that young man.

I believe many rational explanations for the ways of the world only slightly more than I believe superstition and folk tales. I think they all have their nugget of truth but we are grasping at things that are so far beyond our understanding that it's laughable to argue about which really wrong thing is more right. That said;

Like most I've experienced Deja Vu, but as I've gotten older I've also had a weird version of it, not like that spacey sort of "I've been here before", but a very clear "Oh shit, is this happening again? I remember how this goes" almost exactly like watching a show I've seen before but forgotten until just now.

I once worked at a place that people would joke was haunted. This was not a Victorian mansion, it was the least creepy place you can imagine, a nondescript office building. I didn't buy it for a second but still I would be walking past certain areas, not thinking of anything, and nearly jump out of my skin, literally jump, like something was there. We would all laugh about it, but nearly everyone (many outsiders) experienced it and would admit it was strange. And everyone pointed to the same areas as being the problem, specifically the closer you were to one room. It was a common occurrence, like almost every time, that people would come in for the first time, tour the building, and say "Wow, I get a really creepy vibe from that one room" but no one could explain why. There were no stories to go with it. It was just a plain room. But you know, people like to build up that sort of thing. Except one time a group of foreign clients who didn't speak English came in and had a meeting in that room. The translator came out after a while and told us they thought the room was haunted.
posted by bongo_x at 4:17 PM on May 24, 2019 [7 favorites]

My dressmaker's dummy was humming the other day--the sort of hum you'd expect a metal object to make when it's vibrating rapidly. But touching the dummy did not stop the hum and she did not feel like she was shaking. I could see no heavy machinery running--not in the building nor in the alley; I could not hear anything else vibrating. I've never heard that noise from the dummy, not even when there is heavy machinery shaking the building.

I went and got spouse, asked him to shhh! and stand next to the dummy and he said "whoa! what is that?" And we laughed.

It was exactly like an early scene in some 90's horror movie.
posted by crush at 5:37 PM on May 24, 2019 [8 favorites]

Okay. Back.

House 3 - South Amboy, NJ

It was my grandparents house. My mom's parents. Grandpa graduated high school in 1942 and immediately started work for Dupont, he married my Nana in 1943, they bought the house from his uncle in 1944, and my Mom was born in 1945.

That has nothing to do with the story, but it's so improbable these days to do that, that I'm sure Grandpa was magic.


House 3.

When I was in 6th grade my grandfather was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Rather than go through chemo and slowly dying in the hospital, he set up a bed in the living room and all his children and grandchildren moved in unti he died. It took three months.

Afterwards Nana couldn't bring herself to sleep upstairs in her bedroom, so it became a room to use during the big cousin sleepovers.

However, after the first big sleepover, no one would sleep there because if you laid down in bed, about 15 minutes later, the bed would dip like someone had sat down on the edge.

There were two of us in the bed that first time, me and my sister. When the bed dipped, my sister rolled into the middle and pressed to my back. Then the bed shook like the person had laid down. We jumped out and went to the boys and begged to switch rooms.

Two boys marched off, 20 minutes later they dashed into the older cousins room.

We cycled until we went through all the cousins and then piled in the back bedroom furthest from Nana's room.

That room remained empty until my uncle moved into it after Nana died and he bought the house.

We figured he was waiting for her, and when she died they left together.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 5:53 PM on May 24, 2019 [9 favorites]

College 1 - Georgian Court University, Lakewood, NJ

I went here in the 90's before it reached university status and was just a small women's college known for its teaching program. There were only two dorms then, and while men could take classes, then weren't allowed on campus overnight, and the 1st floor of the freshman dorm held novice nuns. Each floor of both dorms had two student resident assistants and two nun resident advisors.

The story of the college is that George Jay Gould owned the property. It was his summer place with a mansion, a lagoon, several gardens, a huge golf course, and the pavilion with an indoor clay tennis court, bowling alley, an indoor pool, and a gymnasium.

He would invite his friends up and they would vacation with him, stage living chess matches in the gym and Great Gatsby it up.

The love of his life was Edith. She was very fashionable and trendy and fell into whale bone corsets. One hot summer they were all playing golf in the heat and Edith fell into heat exhaustion, unable to breathe from the corset and overwhelmed by her dress. They moved her into the nearby shade, but she succumbed to a heat stroke.

After that George couldn't bear to live there. He was heartbroken. The church and the Sisters of Mercy approached him thinking it would be perfect for a women's finishing school and a place to house novice nuns.

George Jay Gould sold it to them at a steep discount on some conditions. First, they couldn't cut down the tree his wife died under. It's still there today between the soccer field and the softball field. Second, the buildings would be kept intact as is and the gardens he made for Edith would remain - sunken gardens by the lagoon, the Japanese garden, the Italian statue walk, the hedge maze. And third, his name, George, would be part of the school name - hence the name Georgian Court.

I told you all that because it's Edith that haunts the school. She loves the students and when I was there you would often hear the piano in the basement lounge playing yet find no one downstairs. She liked to open the washing machine doors and look inside. You could start a machine, turn your back to fill a dryer, look back at the washer to the door open. Foot steps along the halls on the weekends when the dorm was half empty and quiet, and there was no one there.

And at night there would be lights floating around the tree. If you approached, they'd go out.

And that's Edith.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 6:26 PM on May 24, 2019 [8 favorites]

I have also seen a bunch of weird stuff in the sky, including fata morganas and Marfa-light like reflections. I've seen a bunch of cool stuff I can explain or plausibly explain.

Another thing I've seen most of my life and I don't really have a proper explanation for yet is transient star bursts or flashes, where what appears to be a star brightly lights up for a split second, but doesn't leave any kind of trace or trail like a meteor, not even a tiny one, and it never seems to light up or twinkle again no matter how much you stare and wait.

I don't know if this is already an explained thing in astronomy or not, but I've never heard anyone really talk about it.

I have a couple of plausible theories. One easy one is that it's just atmospheric lensing and shimmer, and you get a glimpse of a dim star focused just for you. Another is that they might just be cosmic rays hitting one's eye causing a flash as reported by astronauts, since I'm sitting in the dark staring up at the night sky with dark adjusted eyes.

Or it could be micrometeorites, particularly ones aimed more or less directly at the observer. That could make a pinpoint of light varying from barely visible to bright enough to read by if it lasted longer than a split second.

But another wilder theory is that they might actually be transient stellar phenomenon. The sky is - technically, at vast distances - seething and saturated with stellar violence and bent space, pulsars, gamma ray bursts and all kinds of spectacularly bright, energetic events. Gravitational lensing is a thing, atmospheric lensing and distortion is a thing. A few random photons slip through the bent, foamy cauldron of space and bam! What the heck was that?

I've also seen a bunch of stuff I can't really explain at all. I mentioned this before but I've seen stuff that was pretty obviously satellite-like objects moving at satellite-like speeds and presumed LEO altitudes drastically change direction or velocity. Which as far as public aerospace engineering is concerned isn't supposed to be possible. *shrug*
posted by loquacious at 6:48 PM on May 24, 2019 [3 favorites]

Last one.

College 2 - Centenary College, Hackettstown, NJ

My sister went here and there are so many stories, but I'll just tell you the story of one of my weekend visits.

Tillie Smith was a maid that worked in the school kitchen. One night after work she went into town to see a music group. When she got back, her dorm was locked. She decided to sleep in the stable until the dorms opened in the morning.

The next day her body was found in the quad in the middle of campus, raped and strangled. Despite the windows of four dorms looking down on the field, no one would admit seeing or hearing a thing.

Then to make it worse, her family refused to claim the body. The townsfolk buried her in an unmarked grave.

She haunts the school, especially the dorms or floors dedicated to women. There's tons of stories. My sister became an RA her sophomore year, and the resident assistants had to go in almost three weeks early, and the things she saw and heard during that period are great fun to hear.

Well one weekend I drove up to spend with her. It was pretty empty with a lot of kids off home or out and about.

I wandered down to the bathroom. While I was in the stall, the sink started up. Grace and I were the only ones on the floor so I called out, "Grace?" Nothing. "Hello?" I finished and opened the stall, the water was running and no one there. I turned it off and started for the door and the sink turned on behind me. I froze to the spot. Suddenly the shower next to me went on, I could see right into it and no one was there.

I ran all the way back to my sister's room and scared the crap out of bursting into the room. She marched down to inspect the bathroom and found no one and the water off. She came back and was standing in the open doorway telling me it's an old building with old pipes and if there's an air pocket, it could maybe force the air through and turn on loose faucets. I was nodding along and we suddenly noticed a song being hummed with some la la las. It was coming down the hall behind Grace. She leaned out and no one was there. She jumped back into the room and we watched the hall through the open door. The humming /singing passed by and kept going past, getting softer and disappearing at the end of the hall. She closed the door and we stared at it a few minutes then turned on the TV real loud.

Also during the visit, a tomato was left at her door over night. Some students report Tillie brings them gifts from the kitchen she worked at, so we thanked the empty hallway and Grace put it on her window sill.

And that was Tillie.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 7:05 PM on May 24, 2019 [7 favorites]

I only have two unexplainable things. I saw something in the sky driving home on the highway once. Three lights horizontaly blinking red, blue and green. Sitting up in the sky too high to be on a building or billboard. They just stayed there blinking one by one for my entire ride home. Never saw them before and never saw them since. There's gotta be a simple explanation, but I have no clue.

The weirder one was when I was working at a movie theater in high school. I was in back washing dishes when I saw one of the projectionists come through the backdoor to clock out. I acknowledged him and went back to washing dishes. He exits to the front. No big deal. Then a few seconds later the backdoor opens again and the same guy comes through again. There was a way to get from the front to the back by going around, but not that quickly. I ask him if he just came through and he looks at me like I'm crazy. And he wasn't the type of guy to fuck with you like that. It was like the hardest sense of deja vu I can remember.

My favorite though was my grandma's story. My grandfather had died a short while earlier and she was alone in the house as it was storming pretty hard outside (this is Oklahoma after all). She hears a sound coming from one of the rooms and goes in to find a cassette player playing a tape my grandfather has recorded for her before he died. Him singing songs. Telling jokes. Stories. Somehow the battery powered cassette player turned on right at that moment and he was there to assure her when she needed him.
posted by downtohisturtles at 7:28 PM on May 24, 2019 [6 favorites]

So, the backstory is this: Mr. gudrun's family has been going to a particular island in Maine in the summer for more than 110 years. The family "patriarch" built a house there, but as the family grew, they have wound up owning a number of houses on the island (I think there are currently 7 in the extended family hands.) My mother-in-law loved it there, and her parents bought the house next door to the original family house, which was an older house that had been moved to that location sometime about 100 years ago, and MIL inherited it.

So, when we got together, Mr. gudrun and I started going there in the summers (it's pretty and it was a cheap vacation). We also eventually began taking on more responsibility for the house and maintenance as MIL got older, since she used to rent the house out to different people for most of the summer.

Anyway, we always liked to use one particular bedroom (not the master bedroom), which was right at the top of the stairs, at one end of the hallway that ran through the entire upstairs. The space in the hall that was right outside "our" bedroom always "felt" creepy to me, though I never could put my finger on why (and it was so nebulous I never told anyone about it). I just knew that if I was going to the bathroom at night, I would crack open the door, reach out, and turn on the switch for the bright hall light prior to opening the bedroom door the rest of the way and going out, because otherwise it was too creepy to go out through that part of the hall to get to the bathroom (and I'm not a person normally fearful in a dark house).

Anyway, one particular summer, we got to the house in early September, and MIL tells me casually that some of the renters had felt the house was stirred up that summer ... that stuff had been happening (and the creepy hall spot was definitely still creepy.) Our room had a ton of framed family photos hanging up on the walls. So one afternoon, I go into the bedroom and find all the pictures hanging on the wall are cockeyed/askew. I go around and straighten them all, and then go to the bathroom, and go back to the room to find every picture askew again. The windows were closed and it was not a windy day and I was alone in the house, so there was no way in the 3 minutes or so that I had gone to the bathroom, for all the 30 some pictures to go askew. I got kind of annoyed, and so I straightened all the pictures yet again, and then said to the room: "Well, I think it looks dumb, but if you like the pictures crooked then go ahead ...". I then went downstairs. When I went upstairs a few hours later, the pictures were all still straight, and after that the hallway began to feel distinctly less creepy. Some years later we sold the house to a cousin, and the hallway was fine by that point.

Sometime a few years after we sold the house, a group of us are talking at some family reunion or wedding or other - me and Mr. gudrun and a number of his cousins - and I tell my picture story, and one of his cousins then says she once saw a figure of a man in the hallway when she was staying in the house one time, and Mr. gudrun shares that he used to find the hall really creepy, in the exact spot I did, but that the creepy feeling had faded out over time. That was the first time we had all compared notes. Mr. gudrun and I did not know previously that we each had been creeped out at night by that same particular spot in the long hallway, just outside the bedroom door.
posted by gudrun at 8:11 PM on May 24, 2019 [7 favorites]

My two cents:

1. During an after-funeral dinner, my straight-laced Presbyterian second-cousin looked me in the eyes and declared, “I don’t believe in ghosts, but...” She then related two incidents involving her rental property, formerly occupied by her parents. “I got a phone call from an unmarried couple who’d moved in; the man was shaken after seeing a ‘grumpy-looking old guy’ behind him in the mirror while he was shaving who vanished when he turned around, and the woman reported hearing ‘someone shuffling around’ at night. Jackie swore that the man’s description of what he saw matched her father, who disapproved of cohabitation. Another time she rented to a gay couple who moved out two weeks after moving in as “some old guy kept harassing them—even after the locks were changed.” Jackie was deadly serious. “I have no explanation for these things.”

2. After an out-of-town trip I was unable to find a piece of jewelry, specifically an opal necklace my late father had purchased for my mother at the end of WW II. Though not particularly valuable it had huge meaning for me and its loss was distressing. I spent hours hunting through luggage and checking floors, counters and drawers. Perhaps two months later I was awake very late at night—it was a still, dark and quiet moment when I said, aloud, “Dad, where is that thing? I know you know where it is.” Seconds later I heard the merest suggestion of a sound—quieter than a sigh—at my feet. On the floor lay a small pouch and within that was the piece I’d spent so much time hunting.
posted by kinnakeet at 9:24 PM on May 24, 2019 [13 favorites]

Something I cannot explain:

A few years ago I purchased a pendant beautifully carved from fossilized mammoth ivory. I’d coveted it for months and finally saved enough to buy it, and immediately put it on a chain around my neck. It was there when I set off to cross-country ski at a nearby park, where I spent perhaps four hours covering miles of trail.

On returning to the car I checked my chain and found the carving gone just as daylight failed and a heavy snow began to fall. The parking lot held perhaps 80 cars and I’d been all over the park. The likelihood of finding a tiny object in those circumstances felt remote so I returned home. I had images of it being skied over, trampled, crushed under tires, frozen into mud but knew realistically that any sort of search, in that setting, would be a waste of time.

The next morning I awoke at dawn, dressed and returned to the park. Something compelled me—I did not think through any plan, but simply drove to the the large, empty lot, now under a thick blanket of fresh snow. Not fully awake, I parked seemingly randomly, got out, set my feet toes-out and began sliding them forward through the powder. On perhaps my third step forward I felt and heard a *clop* as my boot struck something and, feeling strangely unsurprised, I reached down to retrieve the lost object. Wiping away snow I noticed that stones set in it had gained an odd new sparkle. I returned home and went back to sleep. Hours later I awoke and assumed I’d dreamed the incident until I verified with amazed skiing companions that it had ever been lost.
posted by kinnakeet at 9:50 PM on May 24, 2019 [8 favorites]

I'm agnostic on the subject of ghosts -- suspect there aren't any, but am not prepared to say so with confidence.

When I was little, I lived in a very old house with my grandfather, who'd lived there pretty much all of his life. (My parents, my grandmother, and my uncle all lived there too.) We weren't close, per se, but he had the fondness for child!me that a grumpy old man might have for a young granddaughter who hadn't had a chance to get on his bad side, and he was a lot more pleasant to me than he was to anyone else in the house.

Awhile after he died, his very-long-term room was given to me, a larger space than my previous room in the house.

For all of my life I've had sleep issues, including being constantly plagued with nightmares. One night when I'd had one of the worst in a long time, I woke up, and I was frozen with fear. I absolutely could not move at all, the inside of my head was screaming, I was still hearing things from my nightmare (this was really common for me at the time, waking up and still being half in a bad dream) and it was just horrible.

I heard his voice say "Stop!"

And the sleep paralysis or whatever it was broke, the noises went away, everything was fine.

Yeah, it was probably just my brain confabulating about a night terror and all, but it comforted me to think of it like he'd given the boot to whatever had a hold on me.
posted by gloriouslyincandescent at 9:55 PM on May 24, 2019 [11 favorites]

There’s gotta be a switch that gets thrown, or something, in your brain. When I was a kid I yearned for the uncanny but had a rigidly rational brain. Then in my 20’s (after spending a good 6-7 years of late adolescence/early adulthood as ‘off my face’ as I could) I washed up in a yoga class that I took more and more seriously until they stated offering Ashtanga Yoga and I dove in. Ashtanga is a particularly vigorous style of yoga where the movements, vigorous, are coordinated with your breath - as a beginner it was quite hard. After a week or so I was over the hump and then the woman practicing opposite me burst into flames. It wasn’t distressing because it wasn’t painful or destructive but it was, let’s say, powerful. I didn’t tell anyone. The next day I put down my mat she came in after me and put hers down in the same place and after the warm-up series she burst into flames again. This went on for a week or so and didn’t seem like it was going to stop anytime soon and though it was far more vivid than any psychedelic experience there was also something profoundly positive about it, so that I wasn’t ‘afraid’ of it. I told David, the teacher, finally because it was kind of wild and he smiled - David was/is a deep guy who has gone very far and if he’s not as famous as Ram Das he was every bit as tuned in - and suggested to me that it was an apparition of Shiva, come to destroy and rebuild. Whether me or the woman I was practicing opposite he wasn’t going to guess but I know those months rebuilt me.

Like a lot of people, there are cities are rooms and places that I visit repeatedly in dreams but forget about in waking life (you know, a dream starts and you think, oh right, I’m here again). For a couple months I dreamt about a plaza before some kind of entrance point : more I can’t remember but I can still call to mind the feel and look of it. So, we were on our way to visit my parents and our connecting flight was canceled and on a try we took a different flight that got us closer and hopefully to a third flight that would bring us the rest of the way. Which flight, when we got to the airport, was also canceled. And it was now late, around midnight, and we had been traveling for about 20 hours from overseas and the airline wouldn’t give us hotel vouchers, cause they ran out put they had some taxi vouchers and we could get a ride a little ways out to a knot of hotels. Which we did and got by dumb luck a room in the first hotel we tried (dead cell phones) and collapsed into bed for eight hours of sleep before finishing our trip the next morning. We slept soundly and the next morning we call a cab and go down to wait and there, across the street is the plaza. Exactly as I’d been dreaming it. The light’s quality, the emptiness - and after a second I realized it was the entrance to a giant amusement park, which we neglected to point out to the kids. It meant nothing, oddly, but it was way uncanny.

About atmospherics - I’ve spent a good amount of time sailing around and there is nothing quite so intense as seeing cliffs that should be thirty miles away and far beyond the horizon, pop up - until the weather changes and they disappear again.

(These are awesome stories, thanks all!)
posted by From Bklyn at 9:58 PM on May 24, 2019 [7 favorites]

And finally:

I was a teenager when I had an intense, vivid dream about my father’s 78-year-old mother.

She stood next to me in a large, blue tiled room which I now realize was likely part of a hospital. We faced a mirror in which we could see each other, but I sensed her presence beside me. Wearing a bright blue gown and keeping eye contact with me in the mirror, she told me, firmly, that I was to look only at her reflection—under no circumstances was I to turn to face her.

She explained that she was very sick with cancer and would likely die soon. When I protested, she insisted that she was at peace with this but that my grandfather would fare poorly. Again, I protested that he was a tough old bird but she told me that was not true and that we should brace for him to crumble.

The next morning I told friends at the bus stop about my dream but did not tell my family as I saw no reason to cause them distress when nothing was then amiss with my grandparents.

About a month later my grandmother, who’d never complained of ill health, passed out while preparing food for her husband and was quickly diagnosed with advanced cancer. She lasted a few months after that. When she passed, her husband fell completely to pieces; he spent his last months mourning her, unable to function.

It took a lot for me to tell my father what I’d dreamed. I think we both took comfort from it, and I am convinced that my grandmother reached out to me intentionally as someone who was able to receive her message.
posted by kinnakeet at 10:03 PM on May 24, 2019 [9 favorites]

I don't even believe in myself. :(
posted by Literaryhero at 10:42 PM on May 24, 2019 [4 favorites]

Not fully awake, I parked seemingly randomly, got out, set my feet toes-out and began sliding them forward through the powder. On perhaps my third step forward I felt and heard a *clop* as my boot struck something and, feeling strangely unsurprised, I reached down to retrieve the lost object.

I wanted to mention this kind of synchronicity, but it is so pervasive in my life it's practically commonplace every day magic.

I have a knit hat made by a MeFite many years ago. I've nearly lost it dozens of times, and have found it again through dumb luck and a little effort. One time I was walking a friend home from a very drunken Thanksgiving dinner in the snow and somehow lost it on the way to her doorstep. When I checked my pockets it wasn't there and I was really upset, so I stumbled off on a non-metaphorical drunken walk back home, not remember exactly which way we'd had walked, because it could have been dozens if not hundreds of logical turns on the city-block street grid.

I'm watching the snowy, muddy ground in the dark, the hat is a earthy light brown with white stripes so... it's not exactly going to stand out. At some point I end up making a left turn instead of a right, distracted by passerby, then make another right one or two blocks up, tracking back to my original route and... there it is, rather trod upon and half-buried in the snow.

I was about to give up and make for home, so if it wasn't for that detour around a couple of blocks I never would have found it.

But when my life is going well this kind of stuff just happens all the time.

I end up flat broke, having spent my last few dollars either on something essential, a friend or some small emergency and I might find some money on the ground or a side job that makes it more bearable. Just before getting snowed in this year, I was given a really kick ass pair of rubber XtraTuff muckboots. I was one of the only people I knew during all of that with dry feet. And ankles, and everything else.

Or I run into or randomly reach out to someone at just the right time, and yes, I have a bandaid, tweezers, an ibuprofen or a hug. Or a piece of good or timely advice.

I may not have a whole lot of nice things or financial stability in any real sense, but more and more I've learned that if I just relax and go with the flow it's usually just enough to know what it's like to be content.

And, honestly? Sometimes this may freak me out a little more than ghosts or UFOs.
posted by loquacious at 11:27 PM on May 24, 2019 [11 favorites]

I flew Aer Lingus to Dublin when my aunt was dying last year. She was an Aer Lingus "air hostess" in the fifties and early sixties. She died the day before my return flight. On the flight back, I was the only person with an empty seat beside me. I found myself in the same lucky position on two subsequent transatlantic flights, one of them Aer Lingus. Maybe it's magical thinking, but I like to believe Aunty Marie was looking after me from the great check-in desk in the sky...
posted by Morpeth at 2:11 AM on May 25, 2019 [7 favorites]

I don't even believe in myself. :(
posted by Literaryhero at 10:42 PM on May 24

Well, that's probably because you're a literary hero, so you can't; it would wreck the story. But everyone reading you believes in you because we've suspended disbelief. <3
posted by Don Pepino at 4:50 AM on May 25, 2019 [9 favorites]

My Junior League chapter owned a beautiful old Queen Anne mansion as our headquarters/event space, and it was popularly believed to be haunted, by a little boy who died a little before 1900 (of some vaccine-preventable childhood illness, prior to vaccines, I forget which one). He'd been haunting it for 100 years and liked to laugh, close and open doors, and play tricks like knocking things down. TONS of very sensible people refused to be alone in the house after dark because of the ghost (I was not bothered).

However, since he was a mischievous little boy, if you were a middle-aged woman, all you had to do was say, "You stop that right now!" in a mom-voice, and he allegedly stopped. So if he was banging the doors around or knocking things over, and you told him to knock it off, he would. The woman who managed the house would always address him by name and she claimed he liked that.

Me, I think it was just an old house with uneven floors and doors that sighed as it settled. But I was one time working on something in the dining room and we heard an almighty crash in the smoking room, and we went in and a sturdy piece of furniture had fallen over, and nobody could figure out how that could have happened without someone tipping it over on purpose. I assume there was a rational explanation, but nobody could come up with it.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 7:29 AM on May 25, 2019 [3 favorites]

I worked doing grief counseling at a non-medical hospice (we provided counseling and relief workers, but not medical care) in a big old converted Victorian house for about a year. I'm fairly sure it was just wonky wiring and old construction, but we CONSTANTLY had lights flickering and windows doing weird things as I sat in rooms with grieving people talking about deceased loved ones. Most of them seemed to find it comforting.
posted by lazuli at 7:38 AM on May 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

I told my ghost story on the blue once, and I can't really tell it again any differently, so I'll just leave you this link.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:09 AM on May 25, 2019 [3 favorites]

Every potentially paranormal experience I've ever had has turned out to be caused by cats.

(Cats can be pretty damn eldritch, though, so MMV.)
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:50 PM on May 25, 2019 [5 favorites]

I could've sworn I wrote this up before, but here's another one. In one of my first jobs out of college, I was scooping ice cream and making waffle bowls at a shop a couple blocks from where I lived. I was working three jobs at once just to get by and this was one of them.

Well, some strange things happened there. On at least one occasion, the lid I'd put on a box of waffle bowls just flew off of it entirely, up and over the counter. The stacks of waffle bowls would sometimes fall over of their own accord, though sometimes it also seemed as if the wall behind where we stacked them kind of vibrated in a weird way.

In the back room, sometimes a box of supplies would seem to get tossed down from the high shelves on its own, into the middle of the floor, and when we'd put it back, it would frequently get tossed down again. And the automatic sink in the back would also come on by itself, when no one was anywhere near it.

Coworkers told me that there was a ghost, named I want to say George. That would make a lot of sense, given that the building had been there for a very long time!
posted by limeonaire at 5:24 PM on May 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

In high school I worked at a children's theatre in a strip mall that backed up to a set of train tracks, near the building where the station had been located when it existed. The director I worked with seemed rather convinced of the presence of a young female ghost, having spent time there late at night working. A strip mall seems like an unlikely place to be haunted, though a children's theatre seems like it could attract a young female ghost, but you know, theatre, wild imaginations, it was a fun story to embellish.

Many years later, when reading an oral history of the area, I learned that in 1947 a young woman, standing waiting to board the train, had been killed when a derailment occurred as the train came into the station.
posted by jocelmeow at 6:09 PM on May 25, 2019 [3 favorites]

Every potentially paranormal experience I've ever had has turned out to be caused by cats.

I mostly do not miss having cats, but after the last of them were gone there was a few months of hang-time where my brain still automatically went "cats nm" any time there was a weird noise, and then it finally rewired and I slept substantially shittier for a long time.

On the other hand, one of those cats routinely stared at absolutely nothing and meowed mournfully and patted the air/wall, so maybe cats are a net negative on the paranormal front.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:31 PM on May 25, 2019 [5 favorites]

I've got a list of strange stories, and I wasn't the only witness to the weirdest ones.

One time I was backpacking with a friend in Venice, Italy, and we had to stay in this strange apartment that the hostel had bought but hadn't yet redone. It was still filled with some old person's picked over stuff. There were still suits in the wardrobe, and the bed had a big indent in it where I guess the person had laid for years. The first night I stayed in that apartment, there were a bunch of other people there and we were crammed cots into every corner and it wasn't all that creepy. Then the next night it was just me and my friend. We stopped in with food to cook for dinner and there was this whistling, like a person whistling a tune (but tunelessly), and a door kept banging (but we could never see WHAT door? I even checked out in the stairwell, but nada), and there was a very eerie feeling. I made my friend get up and leave and eat out at a restaurant with me, I got the heebie jeebies so bad being there. But we couldn't stay the night anywhere else, it's not like there were cheap hostel beds available all over Venice. So we went back. And that night, the door kept banging and rattling and the whistling kept wondering through the apartment, and it was creepy as hell. But what were we going to do? We nicknamed the ghost "Granny" and went to bed on a couple cots. In the middle of the night, I woke up to Granny clomping around the apartment. There was this Step STEP...Step STEP....STEP! STEP! Step STEP...Step STEP rhythm, like the ghost was walking with a cane and stumbled a little bit. And there was that tuneless but loud whistling again, too. At first, I was terrified and was sitting there in a cold sweat. But was late! I was tired! I started getting really irritated. Finally, I was just thinking, "Go to bed, Granny! Enough!" Eventually, I fell asleep again. The next day, my friend and I left town, and I told her, I wasn't joking about that ghost. It kept me up practically all night ffs. And my friend looked at me and just said, "yeah, I know, I heard it, too."

Another strange experience was when I was on a bus tour in Scotland. The tour was amazing, the guide made the history come alive. But it was all supposed to be on a shoestring, so we stayed in hostels the whole time. One night we were at a hostel up in a tiny village in the highlands. There were two bunk beds in the narrow bedroom, one against each of the longer walls, and I was sleeping in one of the top bunks, per usual (I always to sleep in the top bunk, or by the window, it's just some quirk). I woke up in the night with this feeling of being the object of INTENSE rage and hatred, it felt like someone was glowering at me like they wanted to kill me. So I tried to look around, but it was very dark in the room, the town was too small to have streetlights or anything like that. I could kind of glimpse a shape in the room back behind the beds, but it wasn't anything clear, it kept shifting. It seemed like I was looking at a man with a thick mustache and beard, but it was more a feeling than actually *seeing* it, as odd as that sounds. Like when you look at a shirt on a chair in a dark room and you sort of know what you're looking at, but god forbid you have to describe it? The feeling of having rage and hatred directed at us from that shifty shape was so intense, though, it really gave me the creeps. And then the girl in the other top bunk suddenly sat straight up in bed! Anyhow, I fell back asleep around then, because the moral of all these stories is that apparently, after a while I just get tired of being scared and go back to whatever I was doing before. Just can't sustain that amount of emotional intensity or something (hahahaha). So the next morning, we all troop onto the bus, and the tour guide says, "I didn't want to tell you before, because I didn't want to scare you, but this hostel is haunted. It used to be a church, and the old priest must not be so happy about it not being one anymore, because they say he haunts the place." So I turn to the friend sitting next to me and I'm like, "I saw that ghost! The priest!" And she just kind of rolls her eyes at me. But then we stop for breakfast a little while later, and wind up eating with some of the other girls who'd been in our room. And as soon as we sit down, one of them says, "I think I saw that ghost last night!" And some of the others nod, and I nod, too.

The truth is that I don't believe in ghosts per se, I don't think that a specific person's specific soul hangs out here on earth indefinitely. But I do believe in the existence of things that our senses can't detect too well, but can still detect enough to creep us out a little. You know, like how ultraviolet light exists but we can't really see it? Just because our senses have trouble picking something up doesn't mean it's not there. And I also do wonder about whether intense emotional/mental energy does leave some kind of echo behind. It doesn't make sense that it would, really, but it's pretty common to feel what seem like those echoes anyway?
posted by rue72 at 7:38 PM on May 25, 2019 [11 favorites]

I love these stories but have never experienced anything remotely supernatural. I've felt scared in dark/eerie places but I assume that's just normal mammalian nervousness about not being able to perceive predators.
posted by emjaybee at 8:48 PM on May 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

I sat with my father all night on what turned out to be the last night of his life. I was alone and it was late and I was exhausted, so you know; plenty of reasons for dismissal. But at some point I looked up from my chair beside Dad's bed and I clearly 'saw' my grandfather there, a man I have never met. I had an impression of tallness and austereness, and it was clear to me that he was there to meet my father and guide him on. And while I am a rationalist and I know such things are an improbability stacked on an improbability, I am equally certain that he will come to guide me when my time comes.

Goddammit I miss you, Dad.
posted by StephenF at 10:10 PM on May 27, 2019 [9 favorites]

I was in ninth grade and sitting in orchestra and having a dumb conversation with my friend and a few other guys. Friend was in a brand new Teen Rebellion phase and was in peak "whatever, I do what I want" cockiness mode. She was drinking, smoking, ignoring schoolwork, talking back, newly mean and unpleasant. We wouldn't be friends for much longer.

Anyways, our conversation turned to deceased grandparents and her grandma had been dead for a few years at that point. I forgot the context but it culminated in her jokingly shouting "YEAH, FUCK YOU, GRANDMA!" and suddenly her chair tipped backwards and she fell ass-over-heels onto the floor as the chair hit the ground with a loud CLANG.

We stared at her, silently, as she quietly got back up and sat down on her chair. To this day I still kind of think her grandma smacked her disobedient granddaughter from the afterlife.
posted by castlebravo at 8:40 AM on May 28, 2019 [12 favorites]

I regularly have insomnia, and perhaps this is some sort of pre-sleep hallucination. I do not know. Cat sitters have heard the same sort of thing, however, when they are in the house.

Perhaps 2-3 times a year, I hear, as I am laying in bed with my two kitties, the tapping of my departed, beloved cat Melon's claws on the hardwoods as he is making his way to the bedroom and the soft meow he would give before he jumped up onto the bed to settle in for the night.
posted by oflinkey at 9:37 AM on May 28, 2019 [8 favorites]

I had a really odd but sweet dream about a little boy I met in the middle of a field of Queen Anne's Lace.

Stancyz, I was struck by your story, and wanted to see what Queen's Anne's Lace looked like. During my googling, I also ran across the symbolism of the flower: sanctuary.

Just thought it added an extra level of significance to your dream in relation to the church. So sad.
posted by nanook at 1:20 PM on May 28, 2019 [5 favorites]

I'm a Christian but ghosts do not figure into my theology. I don't believe in spirits, hauntings, etc. But in the late '80s my disbelief was sorely tested.

It was summer and I was back at my parents' house in Louisiana, doing summer courses at the local university. For a year or so before that, I'd heard weird things when I was back at home on vacation: music playing (when the radio wasn't on), footsteps in the attic space, all sorts of unexplained noises. One of my aunts--and exceptionally pragmatic woman--had visited the house and was utterly creeped out by the music and muffled voices and footsteps.

So that sets the scene. I woke up one morning after Mom and Dad had gone off to work. My brother was still asleep in his bedroom at the back of the house. I was sitting in the kitchen eating my bowl of cereal when I heard the TV turn on in the living room. Again, this is the '80s. The TV had to be turned on manually by pressing a button on the TV itself. We had cable but the channel changer had a mechanical sliding mechanism to choose the channel. As far as I knew, my brother was planning on sleeping until noon (his usual summer schedule), plus I hadn't seen him walk into the living room (the hall was directly within my line of sight).

So I dashed into the living room and... no one was there. Somehow the TV had turned itself on? I checked the channel changer and it was (again, manually) set on a children's channel that none of us ever watched. So I looked over at the TV to see a cartoon character that I'd never seen before or since. That is unusual because I LOVE cartoons and thought that I had seen them all (that was entirely possible in the '80s).

The character was a weird old woman in a rocking chair, facing directly at me. She rocked, then looked up--again, directly at me--and said, "Don't worry, little girl. We're all afraid of what we can't see."

I of course freaked out. I turned the TV off, grabbed my shoes and textbooks, and ran out the door. I didn't come back home until I was sure that my parents would be back from work. My mother's reaction to this story was to tell me that it was probably only the thing with the single glowing red eye that hangs over our beds sometimes at night, and that I should just ignore it and it would eventually go away.

Which yes, it eventually quit stalking me after a couple of years but geez, those were tense visits back home. No explanation for this that makes sense to me.
posted by tumbling at 10:09 PM on May 30, 2019 [8 favorites]

Come to think of it, my sister has a long history of incredibly accurate premonitions. I never thought of that as being paranormal, but I guess it could be considered that.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:01 AM on May 31, 2019 [2 favorites]

....This is an anti-paranormal story. Instead, it's a story about how I was thrust into coping with people who believed in the paranormal a little too much.

When I was 14 I was one of the junior counselors at my regular summer camp; they only had week-long sessions, and I was paired up with one of the senior counselors in one of the cabins for my week. We were in the cabin for 11-12 year olds. A couple of my friends were junior counselors themselves in other cabins.

Typically, there was a quiet hour in the cabins after lunch; you didn't have to sleep, but you had to stick around the cabins and do quiet activities; read, write home, stuff like that. For whatever reason, one day the girls in my cabin decided they wanted to hold a seance; our senior counselor had joked about our cabin being "haunted" when a window unexpectedly slammed shut, and the girls decided to check that out. I thought briefly about stopping them, but then shrugged and thought "eh, it'll keep 'em quiet." (....This, as you will learn, was a mistake.) The girls holding the "seance" set a flashlight in the middle of the room, gathered in a circle around it, and attempted to contact the ghost by asking it to dim the flashlight. It flickered a bit, they freaked out, then asked the ghost "if you can hear us, appear to us at midnight tonight." a couple minutes later the flashlight dimmed agian, they freaked out again, I rolled my eyes, quiet hour was then over and we went on with our day.

Now - after lights-out, the junior counselors had an extra couple hours off hanging out down by the lodge, where they had to set the tables for breakfast the next day and then could just chill out a bit. Our senior counselor also had the night off in our cabin as well. So before I left the girls in my cabin for lights-out, I reminded them that there were a couple counselors on duty outside on the rock in the center of the girls' cabins, and then went on my way, thinking nothing was amiss. Went to set the table, chilled with my friends.

When I got back to the cabin...I found ten whimpering wide-eyed eleven year olds (and blessedly one girl who was asleep). When they saw me walk in they all began talking at once, begging me to save them from the ghost that would be coming at midnight.


"The ghost! We had the seance and it said it was going to come at midnight and now we're scared!"

I tried to talk sense into them as best I could, but I was a little clumsy about dealing with kids still, and there was only one of me up against ten freaked-out 11-year-olds, so I finally asked "hey, does anyone maybe wanna go talk to the senior counselors on duty?"

"YES!" they all said, huddling around me.

I lead them out to the rock, explained the situation to the senior counselors on duty as best I could - our senior counselor's night off, ghost fear, etc. - and then went back into the cabin to keep watch with the one girl who was still asleep in case she woke up. After about ten minutes, the girls all trooped back in and started pulling all their sleeping bags off their bunks, waking up the one sleeping girl too. I blinked at this, and one of the senior counselors came in to talk to me - "okay, they're all way too freaked out to sleep in this cabin tonight. So - we're going to split them up among the other cabins for the night tonight so they can at least get some sleep. In the morning we can handle this more properly." They roused my two friends who were JCs to come into my cabin that night so they could make room for my girls, and also so they could be backup when my own senior counselor came back at 1 am so it wouldn't just be me standing there in an empty cabin and saying "so, it's kind of a funny story...."

She wasn't mad at me, blessedly. She wasn't thrilled, but agreed that the situation had been way over my head.

We all slept that night in our various cabins. My cabins' girls came back early the next morning, and before breakfast, the senior counselor had a come-to-Jesus with everyone about how Ghosts Aren't Real, You Guys, and talked them all out of it. The girls were all a little sleepy all that next day, but then slept fine that night and that was that.

Well, that was that except for the fact that I had a lot of people singing the Ghostbusters theme at me all the rest of that week, and someone telling me that never in my camp's 40-year history had anything remotely like that ever happened before.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:17 AM on May 31, 2019 [4 favorites]

My mother's reaction to this story was to tell me that it was probably only the thing with the single glowing red eye that hangs over our beds sometimes at night, and that I should just ignore it and it would eventually go away.

omg, tumbling, what a reaction! "Only" indeed.
posted by lazuli at 7:34 AM on May 31, 2019 [2 favorites]

My mother's reaction to this story was to tell me that it was probably only the thing with the single glowing red eye that hangs over our beds sometimes at night
One of the top moms of the thread.
posted by Don Pepino at 7:42 AM on May 31, 2019 [9 favorites]

omg, tumbling, what a reaction! "Only" indeed.

And Mom was completely serious. Apparently this thing still occasionally tries to frighten her. My mother is a very down-to-earth woman who does not have any truck with tales of ghosts, the supernatural, astrology, etc etc. She has always been determined to have me face reality: that I need to be able to support myself (pretty progressive for the time!), that I can't engage in wishful thinking, that I can't be dependent on a man, that I need to be able to do simple home repairs myself, ... So it was a pretty big shock to discover that I also need to be able to deal with the fact that occasionally a random entity will attempt to scare the wits out of me.

Oddly, about 10 years ago a friend of mine spent a few months in North Louisiana, near my home town. After that visit she told me about waking up in the middle of night a few times to find something with a single glowing red eye floating above her bed.
posted by tumbling at 9:22 PM on May 31, 2019 [5 favorites]

I have a bunch of paranormal stories, and it takes a lot out of me, for some reason, to share them, so I will try doing them one at a time and see how far I get.

I moved out of my parent's house when I was 20, and into an old apartment building with my friend, Monica. My family is evangelical, and it was a relief to finally be on my own, and out from under their judgements about my lifestyle. We moved into this very cool historic apartment with high ceilings, a formal living and dining room, two long hallways that allowed you to enter the apartment and bypass the living spaces to go to your bedroom. And the rent was so cheap two students on very pathetic Canadian student loans could afford it.

So I had a lot of fun during that time of my life. One of the best parts was being able to have boyfriends spend the night. I had two boyfriends while at that apartment. On several occasions, we would be hanging out on the bed (I only remember this ever happening during the day), maybe just talking or reading, and the boyfriend would suddenly jolt up and say that they had been hit by something. They described it as being jabbed, and it wasn't a light tap, the jabs were hard enough to hurt. They described it as feeling like it had an aggressive intention. It never happened to me, and it never occurred again after I moved out.
posted by nanook at 9:40 AM on June 1, 2019 [3 favorites]

So another weird thing that happened at this apartment. I am still friends with my old roommate, Monica and we see each other maybe once a year, when I go home to visit. During our last visit, we were reminiscing about living together. We both remember being half-asleep, and having the other person sitting by our bed and carrying on hours long conversations. Sort of a dream, but not really. Just as if our dream self had wandered over to chat. That also never happened after we moved out.
posted by nanook at 4:25 PM on June 1, 2019 [3 favorites]

So several years back, I moved up from California to the Pacific Northwest and moved in with my husband. Up until that point, I had been using utorrent to download HBO shows (I know, I know). I was really excited to rewatch The Wire with my husband, so I downloaded a few episodes and we happily started watching.

One night, a few weeks later, in the middle of the night, I woke up to this booming voice right next to my head that said "Stop downloading NOW". And then the very next day, we received one of those warning e-mails from the ISP telling you to knock it off. And I did. I have never downloaded anything again.
posted by nanook at 4:33 PM on June 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

A few days late to the thread but I’m gonna post anyway.

For about a year I worked in a building that was pretty old. The basement was completely different construction from the upper floors but the whole thing was old. Weird things would happen at night. Sometimes you’d hear the back door slam open and go back to find it still dead bolted shut. Sometimes we would come in in the mornings and find the little boom box we had was switched on and set to a frequency that was just static. (And it wasn’t just the night shift messing with us, there were times I worked back to backs and that radio was turned off when I left and it had been set to a real station). One time there was a cop taking a report and we all heard the basement door slam open and someone come thumping up the steps and slam the back door closed. Only when he came back with us to see what was up, the back door and basement door were still dead bolted...but there were footprints in the dust on the stairs. And the only people on the security cameras were us and the cop. He said it was definitely one of the weirder things he experienced. There were smaller things too. Like sometimes you’d come in and find the stuff on your desk scattered. And not just like a fan had come on, like someone had thrown your stuff everywhere. Or a pen would randomly fly across the room like someone picked it up and threw it. We were mostly bemused, I guess, like “I guess we have a ghost but he doesn’t seem to be hurting us so whatever.” The office had security cameras and a motion sensor alarm so if it was someone living in the building and hiding out they never tripped those or showed up on camera.

I was curious one day and typed our address in to see what the building had been and...

It was first built as a gatdam funeral home and served as one for many years.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 1:32 PM on June 5, 2019 [6 favorites]

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