"Death is no more than passing from one room into another." – HELEN KELLER

The Loretto Staircase

A chapel located in Santa Fe, New Mexico holds a significant mystery about a staircase. What mystery could be tied to a staircase? Well, there are a couple unanswered questions about the Loretto Staircase, but lets start at the beginning.

When the Loretto Chapel was finished in 1878, there was no way to access the choir loft. Several carpenters were called in to address the problem, but they all said that the only way to access the loft would be by ladder. They concluded that a staircase would take up too much space in the small chapel. The Sisters of the Chapel prayed to St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters, for an answer and on the ninth and final day of prayer, they got one. An unknown man showed up at the Chapel with a donkey and toolbox looking for work. Months later, the elegant staircase was completed and the carpenter disappeared without pay or thanks. The Sisters tried very hard to find this man, even put an ad in the local newspaper, but never found a trace of him. They concluded that it must have been St. Joseph himself who answered their prayers. The staircase has two 360 degree turns and wooden pegs instead of nails.

Some basic questions that surround this legend are: who was the mysterious carpenter, what kind of wood was used, and how does it stand without any visible support.

At this point I don't think there is a definite way of knowing how the St. Joseph was identified as the mysterious carpenter. Some believe that the Sisters may have used it as an explanation for their students. However, a woman named Tamar Stieber wrote an article for a New Mexico magazine in January 2000 that revealed the true identity of the carpenter. It is believed that Francois-Jean "Frenchy" Rochas, an expert worker in wood, was the one who built the miraculous staircase. The credit for the discovery goes to an amateur historian named Mary Jean Cook who was able to debunk the legend after finding Rochas obituary.

The wood used for the staircase is possibly foreign to the United States. Some thought the wood was so rare that they began to call it Loretto wood. Others think that the wood at one time did exist but not is extinct. After it had been tested, it is now believed to be a type of Spruce.

The structure of the staircase has attracted many questions as well, the main one being about safety. When it was first built, the staircase didn't have a railing and many were afraid to attempt to walk on it. They climbed the stairs on hands and knees. Ten years after it was built, an artisan named Phillip August Hesch added a railing. Many can't believe how it is still standing, seeing that it doesn't have a center support. Although, a wood technologist observes, "the staircase does have a central support." He observes that of the two wood stringers (or spiral structural members) the inner one is of such small radius that it "functions as an almost solid pole". Another possibly support is an iron brace or bracket that stabilizes the staircase by rigidly connecting the outer stringer to one of the columns that support the loft. Whether it has a center support or not, it has been deemed unstable and closed off to the public since the mid-1970s.

I don't believe that the Loretto Staircase can be considered an actual "miracle", but I think Archbishop Michael Sheehan did say it best: "It will always be referred to as a miraculous staircase. It was an extraordinary piece to have been done in its time."

Sources: The Loretto Chapel website, Skeptical Inquirer (1998 and 2000)

GS Question of the Week

Do you think children should be exposed to the paranormal if they don't have to be? Why or why not?

My Answer: I know experts say that children are more sensitive than adults on this subject. However, the purpose of this question was to discuss whether a child should be exposed to it if it was preventable. This field has so many unanswered questions. If a child sees a ghost, how is a parent suppose to explain that to them. I think most parents would probably dismiss a claim like that as being nothing but a part of a childs imagination. Is that healthy for the child?

There is a show on Discovery Kids channel called Mystery Hunters were kids investigate mysteries and myths. I've seen a few episodes and from what I've seen it takes a skeptic view on things like ghosts and UFOs which is presented to the kids that watch it. If I had a kid, that is what I would want them exposed to. I would want them to know exactly what they have or are experiencing rather than just dismiss it, but not all parents are like that.

Did Ya Know Friday

A few little facts about a healing herb called Lavender:

Active Ingredients of Lavender

1.) Lavender oil contains up to 50 percent of the alcohol linalol. Linalol helps to kill bacteria and viruses. It also helps to heal burns, wounds and sores.
2.) Ketones are compounds that help to relieve pain, build new skin tissues and reduce inflammation. They also have a sleep-inducing effect. Ketones can be toxic, so lavender that contains an amount above 35 percent should be avoided. Diabetics, epileptics and pregnant women should avoid them completely.
3.) Esters are compounds that ease swelling and soreness, prevent muscle spasms, fight fungal infections and prevent scarring. They also help to regulate your moods, preventing you from experiencing depression and hysteria.
4.) Lavender is one of the few essential oils that can be applied undiluted. It can even be used on sunburned or damaged skin.

A Natural Relaxant

5.) Prepare for a night of blissful sleep by adding a few drops of lavender essential oil into a deep, warm bath.
6.) Dab pulse points such as your temples and wrists with lavender oil to relieve stress or anxiety.
7.) To relieve headaches, massage a few drops of undiluted lavender essential oil into your temples.
8.) Drop lavender oil on your sheets or place a small bag of flowers under the pillow to help you drift off to sleep.

Magical Lavender

9.) Lavender is the sacred scent of the Celtic month of the Willow Moon (April 15 to May 13). Picking lavender during the full Moon enhances its magical powers.
10.) The Romans burned lavender over hot coals to surround a new mother and child with the scent of compassion.
11.) The ancient Greeks dedicated lavender to Hecate, their goddess of witches, sorcerers and enchantment.
12.) Sprigs of lavender were worn by medieval monks to banish evil spirits.

Improving your Skin and Hair

13.) To prevent dandruff, add a few drops to the water of your final hair rinse or sprinkle some onto your hairbrush.
14.) Treat minor cuts, bites, strains and bruises by adding a few drops of lavender oil to a bowl of water, soaking a cloth and pressing it over the affected area.
15.) Treat spots and pimples by dabbing them morning and night with lavender oil.
16.) Make an after-shampoo rinse for dull and oily hair with a jug of mineral water, a few drops of lavender oil and the juice of a lemon. Leave to infuse for 30 minutes before use.
17.) Use a soft, warm cloth compress on damaged or broken skin. This will ease swelling and pain as well as promoting skin regrowth.

Ease your Period Pains

18.) To relieve period pain, gently massage the lower back and tummy with diluted lavender oil. This will aslo balance your spirits.
19.) To avoid the emotional symptoms of PMS, combine 3 drops lavender, 3 drops Roman chamomile and 30ml carrier oil and dab on your pulse points in the days leading up to your period. The calming, soothing smell of this combination should help to regulate your hormonal system.
20.) The esters in lavender oil reduce muscle spasm, thereby easing period cramps.

Using Lavender

21.) When using lavender oil in a massage blend, dilute it in a carrier base, such as grapeseed oil, at a ratio of 10 drops lavender to 30ml carrier. Some massage oils may be already diluted.
22.) Pulse Point Blend - Blend five drops of lavender with 20ml of a carrier oil such as almond for pulse point use.
23.) Room Fragrancers - Add three drops to water in your vaporizer bowl to gently fragrance your room.

Source: Enhancing Your Mind Body Spirit

Ghostly Thirteen - Egyptian Gods & Goddesses

Ghostly Thirteen is based on the Thursday Thirteen concept except it's paranormal based only. You can list thirteen haunted places, ghosts, myths, etc.

The following is a list of thirteen gods and goddesses from the lovely county of Egypt:

1. Anubis - He guided the souls of the dead from the world of the living to the world of the dead. He is considered the inventor of embalming and mummification.

2. Bes - God of recreation, music, good food, relaxation, and dancing.

3. Osiris - God of goodness and ruler of the underworld.

4. Atum - Atum was considered a very protective god. It was his role to raise the dead pharoahs into the stars.

5. Ptah - Ptah was the god of crafts, skills, and the guardian of all knowledge. He was also the patron god of the city of Memphis. Some priests also believe that he created the world, and yet others claim that he was a type of fertility god.

6. Ra - God of the sun and one of the most important members of the Egyptian pantheon.

7. Bastet - Goddess and protectress of cats and the people who cared for various cats.

8. Nephthys - This goddess did not have any specific attributes but was sometimes personified as a symbol of the desert edge, often barren but sometimes fruitful. An interesting thing to note is that Nephthys and Set never had any children of their own. However, Nephthys was able to con her brother into getting her with child after a drop of alcohol. When her husband attacked and killed Osiris, Nephthys went to the side of her sister Isis and helped her take care of her husband. Because of this, she is now associated with Osiris's council of the dead.

9. Isis - Goddess that taught the Egyptians marriage, household management, medicine, weaving, motherhood, and the working of magical spells and charms. She represented the great parts of women: love, loyalty, protection, motherhood, and sexuality.

10. Set - Set was the god of the desert, storms, chaos, and foreign lands. He was said to be associated with an animal that has no current zoological equivalent.

11. Hathor - Goddess of joy, love, dance, song, and alcohol. Hathor often looked after young ones and children in general. She was also known to carry the dead into the underworld.

12. Thoth - Thoth was the god of wisdom, the moon, and sacred writings. Thoth played a very important role in aiding Isis to save Osiris and promote him the the leader of the dead. Thoth was later to claim the throne of Egypt after Osiris's son Horus.

13. Maat - Goddess of truth, justice, harmony, and world order. Maat was also a member of Osiris's ruling party of the dead. She was responsible for weighing the souls of the dead against her single ostrich feather. If there were too many deeds that weighed down the soul of the deceased, the monster Ammut would eat the dead person and their soul. If the soul was good and pure, they would be promoted to live with the gods for eternity. She was also responsible and was in charge of regulating the seasons and the movement of the stars.

Source: Gods, Heroes, and Myth: World Mythology

GS Question of the Week

Some believe Stonehenge is a monument of a crop circle. Do you agree or disagree? Why?

My Answer: I believe I heard this explanation for Stonehenge on a show about crop circles. It was the first time I've ever heard of it and it seems I'm not the only one. I don't think Stonehenge is a monument of a crop circle. It may have characteristics like one, but I think it's more like a religious symbol or something to that effect.

Meet my new renter....Observing Hermann!

The Most Mysterious Manuscript in the World

The Voynich Manuscript was discovered by an Polish-American antique book dealer and collector named Wilfrid M. Voynich in 1912. It was found among a collection of ancient manuscripts kept in villa Mondragone in Frascati, near Rome. The origins of the manuscript is unclear, but experts believe based on the drawings that it is European written between the 15th and 17th centuries and that it may be a book about alchemy. It is seven by ten inches, containing 235 pages minus about 30 missing pages.

The manuscript is filled with hand-written text and crudely drawn illustrations depicting plants, astrological diagrams and naked women. The illustrations are strange, but the text has proven to be more mysterious. After many attempts, it has yet to be translated. However, they have identified it as an alphabetic script with nineteen to twenty-eight letters which doesn't resemble any English or European letter system. There is evidence that it contains two different "languages" and more than one scribe, basically a code scheme.

The Voynich Manuscript has traded hands numerous times over the years, but it is believed that it made its' first appearance in 1586. An unknown person sold the manuscript accompanied with a letter to Emperor Rudolph II of Bohemia for three hundred ducats or fourteen thousand dollars. However, the first definite appearance shows Jacobus de Tepenecz, director of Rudolph's botanical gardens, as the owner in 1605. Since then, the manuscript traded hands several times. It's unsure as to how many owners the manuscript had due to a 200 year time gap where there was no records for it.

The letter that accompanied the manuscript claimed the author to be Franciscan Friar and polymath Rodger Bacon (1214-1294) though some don't believe he was the actual writer. John Dee a mathematician and astrologer at the court of Queen Elizabeth I owned many manuscripts of Rodger Bacon and was assumed to have been the one to sell it to Rudolph even though his diaries does not mention the sale. Because of monetary reasons, it's possibly Dee wrote the manuscript. Wilfrid Voynich was suspected of fabricating the manuscript himself but evidence eliminated him from the list.

We may never know what information the Voynich Manuscript holds within its' pages. Perhaps it is nothing but an elaborate hoax - a meaningless sequence of arbitrary symbols. For the moment, it remains in the Beinecke Rare Book Library at Yale University, waiting for someone to unveil its' secrets.

Source: Crystalinks

Happy Valentine's Day!

To celebrate, I have some Valentine's Day facts, myths, legends, superstitions and folklore for you to enjoy:
  • Valentine was a Roman priest who was martyred because he refused to renounce his faith and defied the law prohibiting marriage. He was clubbed, stoned and beheaded on 14th February A.D.269.
  • Valentine was imprisoned for refusing to renounce his faith. While in prison he befriended the jailer's daughter. Shortly before his execution he wrote a letter to her thanking her for her friendship and loyalty, which he signed 'Your Valentine'. He also communicated with friends sending them notes asking them to 'remember their Valentine'.
  • Some people believe the custom of choosing a partner on St. Valentine's Day has its origins in the Roman feast of Lupercalia, a pagan festival of love. Part of the festival involved boys choosing a girl's name from a box. These pairings were then regarded as couples for a year.
  • In pagan times people believed that birds began mating on 14th February. Lovebirds soon became associated with St. Valentine.
  • If a young girl saw a particular bird then she would marry a particular type of man.
  • Ancient Romans honored the goddess Juno on February 14th. Juno was the Queen of the Roman Gods and Goddesses. The Romans also knew her as the Goddess of women and marriage. The following day, February 15th, began the Feast of Lupercalia.
  • In the Middle Ages, young men and women drew names from a bowl to see who their valentines would be. They would wear these names on their sleeves for one week. To wear your heart on your sleeve now means that it is easy for other people to know how you are feeling.
  • Some people said if you found a glove on the road on Valentine's Day, your future beloved will have the other missing glove.
  • Some believed the first man's name you read in the paper or hear will be the name of the man you will marry.
  • Pick a dandelion that has gone to seed. Take a deep breath and blow the seeds into the wind. Count the seed that remain on the stem, and that is the number of children you will have.
  • Cut an apple in half and count how many seeds are inside, you can also tell how many children you will have.
  • The story of Cupid and Psyche.
  • a bunch of two roses indicates that the person wishes to tie the love knots forever as in he/she wishes to marry you. When red and white get blended it would mean pure love
  • Paper valentines originated in the 1500s, being exchanged in Europe and being given in place of valentine gifts and oral or musical valentine greetings. The first written valentine (formerly known as "poetical or amorous addresses") is traditionally attributed to the imprisoned Charles, Duke of Orleans, in 1415.
  • For more than a century, the makers of NECCO Sweethearts Conversation Hearts have come up with some of the sweetest ways of saying "I love you." Every Valentine's Day the company presents new messages on the tiny colored hearts that have been a holiday tradition since the Civil War. Some favorites among the more than one hundred Sweetheart sayings have been in circulation since the hearts were first factory-made in 1902. - Glitter Graphics

Horror Movie Fan?

I was watching E! News for updates on the bizarre story of Anna Nicole Smith's death and the legal troubles that followed when I saw a commercial for a horror movie website. I checked it out and it seems pretty informative on past, current and upcoming horror flicks. The site is called FearNet.

Not only can you socialize with other horror movie fans in the chatroom or the forums(sign up is free) but you can also watch some movies for free. Others, you can download to your computer, but you have to either rent or buy them. Plus you can participate in a trivia game to have your name thrown in a drawing for a free hoodie.

I think the only reservation I have is that it takes FOREVER to load with dial-up, roughly about 4 or 5 minutes, but so far, I think it was worth the wait.

Don't forget to check out my renter's place. His week is almost up.

GS Question of the Week

Iridology, also known as iridodiagnosis, is an alternative medicine practice in which patterns, colors, and other characteristics of the iris are examined for information about a patient's systemic health.

Do you think Iridology is a fraud or do you believe someone can actually diagnose health problems by examining your iris? Why?

Have you checked out the latest update of his quest to be a millionaire?

Time Off

I've decided to take a couple of days off from blogging. I have an assignment due next week for my writing course that I need to finish. I also need to catch up on some editing and reading. I'll be back posting more ghostly tales on Saturday or Sunday.

Before I go, I want to introduce to you my renter for the week. Low Hang Wei from First Million Challenge has a huge goal that he is trying to accomplish. As his blog title suggests, he is looking to become a millionaire before he turns 26 (about 4 years). Can he do it? Well the only way you're going to find out is if you check out his blog.

Have a great weekend!

Mysterious Wis. Wonder Spot soon to go

I can't believe they are getting rid of this place just to put in a road.

Mysterious Wis. Wonder Spot soon to go

By: Todd Richmond, Associated Press Writer
February 5, 2007

LAKE DELTON, Wis. - In a wooded ravine tucked away from the water parks, restaurants and mega-resorts that dominate this tourist town, a piece of history is quietly dying.

After more than half a century of wowing tourists (and causing probably more than a few cases of nausea), the Wonder Spot, a mysterious cabin where people can't stand up straight, water runs uphill and chairs balance on two legs, is no more.

Owner Bill Carney has sold the iconic attraction to the village of Lake Delton for $300,000. The village wants to build a road through the crevice where the Wonder Spot has stood since the 1950s.

Now, the Wonder Spot, one of more than a dozen sites around the nation dubbed "gravity vortexes" and a throwback to postwar, family-oriented tourist attractions, has a date with a bulldozer.

"We're kind of wondering how the town is going to deal with the gravitational forces under the road. That might be an issue with driving and how you bank a curve," joked Doug Kirby, publisher of, which catalogs odd tourist attractions.

Kirby's site lists the Wonder Spot as one of 21 so-called "mystery spots." Lake Wales, Fla., has Spook Hill. Irish Hills, Mich., has the Mystery Hill. California has the Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz.

The story behind each one is similar — gravity doesn't work in them. People seem to grow smaller, can't stand up straight and can barely walk.

Promotions boast that strange forces in the spots trump the laws of physics. Others say they're just elaborate hoaxes.

Another "gravity vortex" is The House of Mystery in Oregon. Anyone have any theories about these places?

GS Question of the Week

A movie called The Number 23 starring Jim Carrey and Virginia Madsen is set to premiere on February 23. Synopsis via Moviefone.

Do you think seeing a single number repetitively can have any special significance to you or is it mere coincidence? Why?

Have you stopped by my renter's place yet?

I won a DVD!

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the Lawson Family and a new documentary about what happened to them. Shortly after that, BoD Productions posted a bulletin at Myspace stating the first 50 people or so that added A Christmas Family Tragedy as a friend would be entered into a drawing for five free DVDs. I was one of the lucky five to win a DVD. Yay!!

I didn't want to say anything until I had the DVD in my hand because I wanted to announce that I won it as well as give my thoughts about it all in one post.

My mother's short and sweet review is " Pretty good. Better than I thought it would be."

Allow me to go a bit further. A Christmas Family Tragedy is compiled with interviews, newspaper clippings, photographs and reenactments. The movie not only depicts the tragedy of the Lawson Family massacre but also the effect it had on the community. I wasn't surprised to learn that not only were people allowed to turn the house where the murders took place but some chose to steal some souvenirs. I don't think I'll ever understand why people do that.

In addition to the haunted tales of the Squires Inn Bed & Breakfast, some believe that Payne Rd. may be haunted as well. A creek that runs under a bridge on the road also runs through the Lawson property and is believed that Charles Lawson washed the blood of his family off in that creek a long with the spirits of the children. On the documentary, they stated that some kids went over the bridge slowly and the engine shut off on its own. While in a panic stage, the windows fogged up and little hand prints began to appear on the windows as if they were trying to get in. Even the director had a ghostly encounter of his own.

One thing that stood out to me was when interviewees were discussing Charles Lawson's character, stating that he was a respected and good man to most people but was violently different behind closed doors. I recognized the behavior not because it's common with domestic abuse situations but because it's a familiar side that I've noticed with my dad. A lot of people see him as a good Christian man but he's short tempered. He would get extremely angry over little things. The only difference is that my dad never laid a finger on me in a violent way. There were times I felt like he wanted to but he never did. It seems my younger brother even picked up a little on the behavior. There was only one time that my brother got violent to the point I was afraid for my life. Hopefully, that is the only time it ever happens.

I haven't seen a lot of documentaries in my short life, but I would recommend this one. It's not just about a man who killed most of his family and then himself. It's also making awareness of domestic abuse. It's time to stop minding our own business and get involved. This movie explains what could happen if you don't.

Blog Annoucements

Just a few quick announcements. I haven't done a Ghostly 13 in a while. I've scheduled the next one for February 20th. Mark your calendars if you would like to participate.

If you would like to see episodes of Ghost Hunters Season 1, here's a website for your viewing pleasure.

I also have a new renter this week from altjiranga mitjina. A blog about music, books, comic books, TV shows, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy the Wonder Dog, writing, working and so on.
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