Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Monday, October 16, 2006

Moody's Believe It or Not, pt. I

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are now on final approach to Halloween. Actually, according to the ancient Celts, nature's inevitable pendulum swing toward darkness and the corresponding strengthening of the forces of the dead started on the Autumnal Equinox (September 23rd this year), but the festival originally known as Samhain (November 1st) not only celebrated Summer's end, the beginning of the Celtic new year, and the time the Celtic gods were closest to the Earth, but also marked the time when the forces of evil and death began to emerge from the underworld, bringing cold and darkness and destroying living things (i.e. bringing Winter). With the coming of Christianity, Samhain was changed to "Hallowmas", when the blessed dead were remembered, and the night before became "Hallowed Evening", or "Halloween", the one night when the old traditions of Samhain were maintained.

The Celts originally observed Samhain by bringing their livestock indoors, battoning down for the coming Winter, and doing different things to protect their homes and families from supernatural harm. They also lit huge bonfires and made offerings to the gods, asking for their protection. I won't bother going into how such things as jack o' lanterns and trick-or-treating came about, because that would make for a long and irrelevant story. Suffice to say, many if not most of our Halloween traditions still hail from surviving Celtic cultures, i.e. the Scots, Irish, and Welsh.

Now to my main point...

Once again on a recent post on Happysurfer's blog (my, but she has been appearing here a lot lately, hasn't she?) the topic of ghosts came up. I mentioned that I could probably write a book about all the strange and possibly paranormal events I or people I know have encountered. She said that sounded like a good idea. Well, I won't go quite that far, but I will post some of those events here in installments leading up to Halloween. It's not exactly "Life in the Land of the Rising Sun", but it is my life, so it still counts. I'll stick to stories that won't embarrass me or anyone else. Remember, all these least to the best of my knowledge...are true.

Chapter One: Feline Senses
It was mid-October. I was in my last year of senior high school. My parents and sister were away, so I was home alone.

I was sitting on the sofa watching TV when I started feeling a draft on my right side. First I didn't think anything of it, but when I started getting serious goosebumps on that side I got up and walked over to the door to the garage, which I figured was the culprit. It wasn't. The draft seemed to be coming from a nearby corner in which there was a large bookcase. I couldn't figure out what it was all about, so I went back to the sofa and resumed my TV watching...doing my best to ignore the prickly feeling on my right side.

Then I heard a low, feline snarl. I turned to see my cat sitting in front of that bookcase staring at it, his ears turned back and the fur on his back raised.

"Oh, what's the matter?" I said to him.

He glanced at me, licking his lips nervously, then turned back to the bookcase and let out another low growl.

"Do you hear something?" I said, getting up and walking closer.

Right then, several of the books (all of them large hardcover volumes) came tumbling out of the bookcase, frightening both of us half out of our skins. The cat bolted away, needless to say. I didn't, mainly because I'd just noticed the draft had suddenly and completely disappeared.

I put the books away, and the rest of the evening passed normally.

Chapter Two: It's All in the Cards
During my first year at Oregon State I basically had two different circles of friends. One of them was some of the guys in my dorm, and while they were an eccentric lot they were still eccentric in a normal sort of way. The other circle, however, was another story. This group later broke into several different ones, some more "normal" than others, but in the beginning it was a rather chaotic mix of would-be pagan/occultists, fantasy buffs, escapist intellectuals, and people just trying to break away from the mundane world. They were a very interesting group, to be sure, though dealing with them sometimes took a special kind of mindset. Anyway, I don't remember when and how tarot cards suddenly came to be the "in" thing with this group, but for a while at least it was an obsession that sometimes got to be pretty scary.

Basically, it got to the point where just about everything they did involved use of tarot cards. They would use them to make decisions. They would use them to try to reassure themselves of the outcome of an upcoming event. They would use them to try to gain knowledge. They would also use them to spy on each other. Yes, I know; that sounds rather silly. I thought so too at the time. However, I soon came to be a lot less certain.

One evening I went to visit the person who had inadvertently become the focal point of that group, a woman who was a close friend from my high school days. Not surprisingly, I arrived to find several of the others there, eagerly poring over the Celtic Cross spread of tarot cards on the floor.

"Oh, good! You're here!" said one of them. "Guys, let's start the reading again!"

As the others complied, I asked what was up with that. They told me that their cards always seemed to work better when I was nearby. Trying to ignore that remark, I asked them what they were trying to learn from the cards. They informed me that they were spying on John D., a rather problematic member of the group who wasn't there at the time.

Shaking my head, I moved over to the corner so I could talk to my friend.

"He's definitely in his room," said one of the card-searchers. "It looks like he's studying."

"Studying what?" asked another.

"I don't know," said the first. "This is weird. It looks all wrong." He quickly gathered up the cards and began shuffling them again for a clarification.

"It looks to me like he's using his cards," said a third. "Maybe he's spying on us."

"There's one way to find out," said the first, and he began dealing out a new spread. Then, all at once, he stopped. "Shit," he said, "you're right! He's on to us! Quick!" He and the others began scooping up the cards as if they were about to explode.

Right then the phone rang. I picked it up. "Hello?" I asked innocently.

"This is John," he said. "Tell them to put their cards away and stop spying on me before I come over there and do something really nasty."

"Will do," I replied even more innocently, but John had already banged his phone down.

The group decided to put the cards away for the night, which suited me just fine.

Actually, I wasn't immune to all this. As the year progressed, that group started putting more and more pressure on me to join in their "paranormal" activities, claiming I had some power I wasn't aware of. (Yes...they learned it from the cards.) However, they seemed content just to have me in the room. As for me, I didn't want to have much to do with it all, so I started pulling away from it, but in the process I wound up buying my first tarot deck, and for a while I became quite interested in them (though not quite to their extent).

A rumor apparently got out in the music program that I was good with tarot cards, and one of the trumpet players decided to use me as a test subject for a research project he was writing on the occult. What he did was have ten different people write down questions on a piece of paper which he put in his pocket without showing me. Then he asked me to use my tarot cards to answer the questions without telling me what they were. By the time we were finished, he and everyone else in the room was seriously scared, because in nine out of the ten cases the answer I gave matched the question so closely that it didn't seem to be just a random result. These are a couple of the ones I remember:

My answer: You are considering some kind of apprenticeship or training as a prelude to a major career decision. You might as well go for the apprenticeship, since you'll have plenty of time to play with, but don't make any big life decisions just yet. The training you'll receive will probably wind up helping you in other areas.
(The question: I'm thinking of entering filmmakers' school because I'm considering going into the movie industry. Is this a good idea?)

My answer: The path you're on doesn't suit you, and you're unhappy. A change of direction might be wise, but be prepared to suffer the consequences. It will cost you a lot of time, effort, and money, but you'll be happier in the end.
(The question: I'm almost done with my college major, but I'm not sure it's what I really want, so I'm thinking of changing it. What will happen if I do?)

I was pretty scared, too. I've seen a lot of other instances when tarot cards have turned out to be eerily accurate, but I've since distanced myself from them and rarely touch them. (I don't really seem to have the "touch" I used to, either.)

More and better to come!!!


  • oh no, oh no... here comes the trend of spooky stories online! Nowadays I have to read blogs with my skin full with goosebumps...

    Hey, moody, have you seend anything special? like bizzare things at bizzare places?

    By Blogger YD, at 9:45 PM  

  • YD,

    Wait. Like I said, these stories will get stranger.


    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 12:30 AM  

  • i believe in tarot cards. i've had mine read and it was terribly, terribly accurate. i've also had my palms read in jamaica. that was spooky in that the guy looked like a witch dr. and he came in, took my hands and started making symbols over them.. then started telling me all about my life - things that he could have NEVER known about me.

    i find it fascinating that each of these groups or ppl in the groups were spying on each other w/ the cards. i didn't know this was possible.

    how do you think this comes about? spirits?

    By Blogger tooners, at 7:09 PM  

  • I've met some people that were really talented with their tarot cards. As for me, during my last few years of college I seemed to be getting pretty good with them, but when I stopped using them so much my "touch" seemed to fade. Now my cards collect dust.

    I have to wonder whether it's spirits or something more Jungian, i.e. a subconscious sense that all of us have but few of us are able to use. I suppose there's no way of knowing.

    However, I do know that, after I bought my first tarot deck, I followed the advice of experienced users and slept with them under my pillow for a while in order to "charge" them. I know the whole thing seemed rather silly, but hey...if it works, it works, right? Anyway, on the third night I put the deck under my pillow again, crawled into bed, and then, as soon as my head hit the pillow, I had a brief but very vivid flash of a dream and woke up immediately. In real time it probably only lasted a fraction of a second, but the image was very strong.

    I saw a trap door open in my pillow. A hideous-looking creature (a demon?) jumped out, glared at me, and then ran away.

    After that my cards seemed to start working.

    Sometimes it's just so hard to think rationally...or not believe in things that just seem ridiculous...

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 9:59 PM  

  • you make me want to buy some. there's a place here that sells them. i've thought about it a few times but get a little spooked w/ the idea. i think if i started, i might become obsessed....

    By Blogger tooners, at 5:40 PM  

  • It seems to happen really easily. I'd be careful if you do decide to start playing with them.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 7:37 PM  

  • The bookcase thing spooked me. As for the tarot cards, I leave well enough alone.

    By Blogger Olivia, at 7:12 AM  

  • MM, talk about spooky, the long comment I wrote disappeared after I hit 'Preview'. Let me re-gather my thoughts and try again.

    By Blogger Happysurfer, at 12:52 PM  

  • MM, those are spooky experiences, alright. Blogging is a good way of archiving them.

    Here in Malaysia, probably in other Chinese communities, fortune-telling is also done with normal playing cards. The fortune-tellers are able to tell past events accurately.

    The Chinese believe animals are able to see ghosts that humans cannot. When a dog howls, it means he is seeing one and we would normally move away from the area unless we are not afraid.

    Not sure if this is true, if one applies a dog's tears to one's eyes, one would also be able to see ghosts like a dog does. This could probably be an old wives tale but who would dare to try it as there is no turning back.

    Thank you for the link (again).

    By Blogger Happysurfer, at 1:06 PM  

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