Saturday, August 21, 2010

To Be, or Knot to Be...

Today has knot been my day. After working a thirteen hour day, I was getting my things to attend a writing seminar in the morning. (Sumsion Publicity Bootcamp, taught by Publicity Expert Extraordinaire, Sabrina Sumsion) I decided it would be a nice touch to wear the “healing crystal” bracelet I got as a birthday gift. However, the bracelet was knot designed for someone with quite petite wrists. (I wish the rest of me was as petite, but alas…knot so)

The bracelet is constructed with cord, rather like a hand-knotted pearl necklace, and an adjustable slide. Knot a difficult task to untie the knots, remove a couple of stone beads, retie the cord, and voila! Right??? (Cue evil laughter here)

Let us keep in mind that I grew up in the 70’s. Hell, I even remember part of the 60’s, unlike many who are actually older than me. I was a Girl Scout, and in 4-H. In those groups I think I attempted every sort of macramé project imaginable. I know how to knit, sew, quilt, and crochet. My grandmother even tried to teach me how to tat, which is nothing more than tying really thin cord into a series of knots, and making things like…oh, bedspreads, let’s say. Then I taught CCD, and Vacation Bible School, where it is a prerequisite for every student to turn a handful of beads, a length of cord, and a plastic crucifix into a rosary using a series of knots. The bottom line is, I should be quite comfortable tying a couple of knots.

So I grabbed a pair of scissors, a nice sturdy needle, and began to untie the first knot. I must mention at this point that one of the first lessons in knot-tying is knot to tighten the knot until you are very certain that the knot placement is perfect. Why? It is a royal pain in the ass to untie knots. I will say that the person who tied the knots on this bracelet was damned sure they were perfect! Holy cow! I needed to remove two stone beads, so this should be two knots. HOWEVER, the second stone is really pretty, so I wanted to keep it, and take out the third stone instead. So, make it three knots.

Here is the process.

Step one: Pick, pull, tease, untangle, swear under your breath, pull the light closer to the cord, go get your magnifying glasses, (the ones you wore as a joke for the Harry Potter book release event), pick and pull some more, swear louder, jab the needle into your finger, blame the dog for plopping on your foot right as you were stabbing the needle through the middle of the knot, make your fingers numb pulling at the cord, wiggle things around a bunch, pick, pull, and tease some more, swear louder when instead of pulling out the whole piece of cord, you manage to unravel a portion instead, and finally you will get it untied.

Remove the stone, and repeat the process.


Fast forward about 45 minutes, and you can restring the pretty green stone that you now hate with a passion. Might have been easier if you hadn’t unraveled half the cord, huh?

Step two: Discover that the needle will knot fit through the bead with the cord threaded. Trim the end of the cord, wet it by running it though your mouth (where did this awful custom originate??) get it halfway through the bead where it gets stuck. Use the blunt end of the needle to poke the now frayed cord the rest of the way through the bead. Jab your finger a couple more times, since the sharp end is facing the wrong direction. Swear some more. Ahhh, success.

Now you must reknot the cord. Remember the rule of knot tying? Don’t tighten the knot until you are SURE the position is perfect?


Go back to step one.

Repeat this process at least twice.

Now, thread the ends through the adjustable slide, and repeat the bead-threading process from step two, only with a much smaller bead.

Measure the cord and tie the final knot in the end. Measure it again. Does it match the other side? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Do knot pass go, do knot collect $200, instead descend to a brand-new inner ring of Hell, where you once again are forced to use your now bloody fingertips to untie and retie the same knot a few more times.

Are you happy with the way it looks? Do you really give a damn anymore? I didn’t think so. NOW you can go back and tighten all those knots. Really tighten them, because you sure as Hell don’t ever want to do this again.


So, if you see me tomorrow, I’ll be sporting a “healing crystal” bracelet that fits. If you comment that the stones do knot resemble anything from a crystal therapy book, (I am already aware of this fact, thank you very much), I will punch you square in the face. What do I have to lose? I’ve already been to the inner rings of Hell.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Villisca, Part II...Tarot and Explanation

Tarot after Dark...

I use tarot for many things, including personal exploration, and for character and plot development.  So, I'm actually a little surprised at myself that it took fellow writer and Villisca investigator Katie to suggest that I attempt a tarot reading in the Villisca Axe Murder House.  But, a brilliant suggestion!  I'm alone in a house where eight people were bludgeoned to death, and the crime has never been solved. 

I spent a few minutes with my eyes closed, just meditating about the murders.  I didn't really know what "question" to pose."  What I ended up asking was something along the order of, "Help me understand what happened here."

Here's what I got, and my interpretations.  Feel free to make your own conclusions.  Leave me your comments  :)

Spread:  Celtic Cross with clarification spread

Situation:  10 of Pentacles:  This card speaks of financial security and happiness.  At first, I thought this represented the Moores.  They owned a business, and seemed at least outwardly happy.  But as I got further into the reading, the more I became convinced that the meaning of this card was a motive.  This was a kill for hire.  The motive was MONEY.  The killer thought he'd get happiness and security, along with financial rewards.  A treasure chest.

Crossed by:  XIII  Death:  Normally, the death card signifies a sudden change, bringing about a new beginning.  In this case, I think the Death card means--well, death.  But, along the same lines as the situation, for the killer, I think that he sees this as a way to a new beginning. 

Subconscious/root of the situation:  XIX  Sun:  Now this card threw me.  The Sun is usually a really positive card.  It tells us to look for the positive in everything.  It took me a while to remind myself that this is the KILLER's subconscious.  And he does see a positive here.  He believes he will gain financial rewards.  Plus, most mass murderers crave the attention.  They want and NEED people to remember them.  To talk about them. 

Past Influences (relative to the crime):  8 of Wands:  In the year 2010, I would say that this means a sudden burst of energy, and most likely travel by air.  Not likely in 1912.  But, I think this card is saying that the person responsible for this crime arrived suddenly before the murders, and the closest thing to flying in Villisca in 1912 would be by train. 

Conscious thoughts about the situation:  III  Empress:  Ahh the archetypal mother card.  The killer is thinking about Sarah Moore.  Whether she is the intended target or not, this is what he's thinking about.  He did have a hiding place in the barn with a peep hole to spy on the family.  Perhaps he took more time watching Sarah Moore?  Then there are the theories that this was a killing for hire, perhaps a result of an affair of Mrs.Moore.

Future Influences:  (relative to crime):  Knight of Cups:  As an event, a romantic invitation or proposal of marriage?  Now this can go a couple of ways.  Either the killer was obsessed with Sarah Moore, or perhaps the affair was going to interfere with another relationship for whomever hired the murder out. 

This is how "you" view things:  9 of Wands:  He feels as though all of his energy has been spent.  He doesn't feel like he can go another step.  But he believes if he can stop and regroup, and persevere, he will win.  He can't come this far and stop now.

This is how the "others" will view you:  10 of Wands:  What once seemed like a good idea is now a heavy burden.  He's bitten off more than he can chew.  But, he hasn't given up. 

Hopes and Fears:  9 of Pentacles:  This indicates financial success and security usually attained through one's own means.  The figure in the card is depicted alone.  So, this could represent both hopes and fears.  He hopes for financial security, but fears being alone. 

Outcome:  XI  Justice:  Well, I'd like to think there was some kind of justice for the eight people murdered in Villisca on June 10, 1912.  If not in this life, certainly in the next.  Call it Divine Justice, Karma, the Wiccan Rede, Judgement...

 But since I sense that I'm reading the murderer's thoughts, this also speaks to the fact that he believes that somehow justice is being served by his actions.  I don't begin to fathom how someone can think that eight people deserved to have their heads bashed in with an axe.  But, since the estimates are that each person was struck in the head between 20 and 30 times, the math says the killer struck between 160 and 180 blows.  That's a lot of work.  There had to be something that kept him swinging. Maybe I'm just lazy, but this is serious overkill (pardon the pun).  This excessiveness, along with the other details of the crime (lamp chimneys placed on the floor, mirrors all covered, heads covered, bacon on the floor??? would indicate a serious level of obsessive-compulsive disorder as well.  The balance of the Justice card would also speak to the release of relieving those compulsions. 

I drew three clarification cards as well. 

Knight of Pentacles:  Very methodical approach to things.  In this context, it reminds me of a horror movie, where the victims are running, running, running, and no matter how fast they run, the killer is always right behind them, even when it's a plodding zombie. It kind of fits with Mr. OCD Killer.

7of Cups:  So many choices.  Who to kill first??? Who to kill next???  Once someone has committed a crime of this magnitude, it isn't likely that he will want to stop.  He'd continue to crave the high that can only be obtained by perpetrating even larger killing sprees. 

6 of wands:  Recognition for his accomplishments.  Now this seems really odd, until you get into the mind-set of a mass murderer.  This is a person who wants--no, make that needs--recognition.  And think about it.  Nearly a century later, we are still talking about him. 

Summation:  I'm seeing a murder-for-hire by a guy who has plenty of mass murder OCD tendencies (wouldn't he have to??)  Someone who came to Villisca right before the crime.  The reason is centered around Sarah Moore. And in case it wasn't apparent... he is nuts. 

The thing I haven't done as of yet is to listen to the audio recordings from our night in the Villisca Axe Murder House.  I had a digital audio recorder running the whole time I was doing this spread, so I'll update my findings if the spirits had anything to add.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Villisca, Part I

(L to R:  Beth Punko, Lisa Kovanda, Katie Cloran, Phyllicia Spidell, and Sandy Spidell.  Photograph courtesy of Punkography)

Villisca Axe Murder House...Part I

The Date:  August 3rd, 2010.  The Place:  Villisca Iowa, Scene of the Villisca Axe Murders.  The Event:  A group of five writers/colleagues/ and good friends take on an overnight investigation of the location Travel Channel lists as "#1 Most Terrifying Place in America"

The first question I got when I told people I was going to go spend the night in the Villisca Axe Murder House was, "WHY?"  To that, I say, WHY NOT?  In reality, I had my own paranormal experiences in the mid 1980's.  I can't explain what happened in that house, and I can't go there to investigate, as the house has since been torn down.  I'm also a writer, and much of what I write has paranormal elements.  In fact, one of my novels (Emmaline, completed, in revision) has a ghost hunter as a main character.  So, in a practical sense, this is all research for writing projects. 

Much deeper than the research aspect is a curiosity.  Among our group, we counted devout Catholics, Goddess spiritualists, agnostics, and apathetics.  All of us had our own questions about what the presence of ghosts or spirits means.  Is it proof of an afterlife?  Does it negate the traditional Judeo-Christian theories?  Is it residual energy?  Or, is it all a bunch of hogwash?

I won't pretend to have answers.  These are questions one must answer for themselves.  I think if you ask the five of us who went, you'll get five different answers about what it "meant" to us.  I also can't tell you what anyone else hoped to get out of the experience, although I do know through our many discussions through the night that all of us have had some level of encounter with the unexplained before coming to Villisca. 

One question that kept coming up through the course of the night was, "What do you hope to get out of this?  What do you hope/need to see or experience while you're here?"  For me, I've seen apparitions, had something touch me, and had things move on their own in ther past.  What I wanted from Villisca was something concrete and measurable to back up those experiences from the '80's.  An EVP, solid K2 evidence, or something caught on video or camera.  Beth said she wanted to be touched. 

Did I get what I was after?  Well, I have HOURS of audio and video to pour through, and a lot of photographs as well.  But as far as experiences from the night, I can't explain the K2 activity.  I can't explain the closet door, or getting my hair pulled.  Beth got touched, as did Phyllicia.  Could there be other explanations?  Will our evidence stand up to scrutiny?  I don't know.  But I do know that for the two of us who asked for specific things to happen, we got what we asked for. 

Another thing I was after on this trip was to challenge my own limits.  I didn't think I'd be able to go sit in a dark closed closet with the K2 meter flipping out.  I didn't think I could go hang out in a dank dark cellar where shadow people have been reported.  I didn't think I'd be able to sit all alone in the house and do a Tarot spread.  I did think I might panic if anything actually happened.  (Other than the one squeal when the big boom of thunder hit)  Guess what?  I did each and every one of the things I didn't think I'd be able to do.  WIN!

The other thing that is a WIN?  Having an adventure with four amazing friends.  We formed some bonds through this experience that will never go away.  I can sooo see the allure of ghost hunting.  Some of us are already talking about finding the next location!

Coming:  Evidence review; Tarot spread and explanations; Bloopers and Outtakes... and anything else you want me to talk about!