Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Angels and Miracles

Do you believe in miracles? It was over ten years ago when a stranger approached me in a store and asked me that very question. He came to me during a very difficult time in my life, when my father was battling multiple sclerosis. It is never easy watching someone you love die. I had given up all hope and faith. Meeting the man changed my life forever, and the experience ultimately led me to write my latest book. 

Illness can change a family. It is not only about the one who is ill, but it is also about the caretakers, those we love who are often pushed to their limits; those whose hearts are broken. It is a selfless act of kindness to care for another human being, to take on their suffering and to hold it all in. I've been there. I've watched it in my own family. So when all hope is gone, how would you react if someone said to you, "Do you believe in Miracles?" 

Miracles do happen. I know this because I've had one happen to me. It occurred within hours of my father's passing seven years ago. As much as I would like to reveal what that miracle was, I cannot do so because I would spoil the ending of my debut novel The Medal, a work of inspirational fiction, that is loosely based on a true story...mine and my family's. 

The point is, that sometimes the miracles we are hoping for or praying for, just aren't supposed to happen. Sometimes people are cured of illnesses, and sometimes they are not. The one thing I learned though, was that other miracles can come out of hardships. It might not be until years later when you realize or understand the deeper meaning as to why things have happened in your life. 

Why do bad things happen to good people? Why did those children in Connecticut have to die? I cannot answer those questions. I don't think anyone can. Where were the miracles then? For us, the miracle we would have wanted to have happened, would have been for all those children to have somehow survived the ordeal. For reasons we cannot understand, that did not happen. Back here on Long Island though, little miracles are taking place because of it. Miracles we may not even think are miracles. Are we not hugging our children more? Are we now saying I love you to a spouse before they leave the house? Are we not finally seeing the true meaning of the season? Why does it take something bad to happen, to make us realize what's important? Miracles take place every day, even if they're just in our own hearts.  

As for angels, they exist too. Sometimes they may come in the most unlikely of forms, but they're there for a purpose. They're there when we least expect it. They're there to guide us, to console us, to lend a helping hand. Look at all the angels who came out to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy. Angels are among us, whether they be in earthly form or as celestial beings. There were angels with the children last week...those first responders who arrived at the scene, and those unseen who led them up to Heaven.

Whatever you may believe, miracles and angels are available to all of us, regardless of who we are or what religion we may be. During this season of miracles, let's try to find the good amongst all the bad in the world, and maybe we can make a difference in someone's life. 

Believe in angels for they are the messengers of miracles.  

I wish each of you a happy and healthy holiday season, and a very Merry Christmas. 

For more information on miracles, including my own miracle, check out my videos on my website www.padrepiomedal.com.





Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Long Island's Legends and Myths - Part III - Sweet Hollow Road

It's been a while since I've written my blog, for obvious reasons. Even now I am sitting here at my desk, watching the snow and the nor'easter come through. I am amazed at what Mother Nature has thrown our way. I am still haunted by the stories and images of what has been happening in people's lives due to Hurricane Sandy. I was fortunate to have gotten my power back three days after the storm. I still have family members living with me, who still have no power at home. It is absolutely incredible that any of this has happened. 

Before the hurricane, I was just coming off my book launch at the Book Revue, in Huntington for my new novel The Medal. Thank you to all those who attended. It was a standing room only event, with over 200 in attendance! I have been overwhelmed by the responses I've been getting from readers, especially now in light of our recent devastation. To hear people say they were reading my book by candlelight, and that it gave them hope and faith to get through these difficult times, makes what I do worthwhile. To learn more about my book, be sure to check out my last blog from October 5, "From Ghosts to a Mystical Saint Who Bore the Stigmata." 

So I debated when I should post this blog. My original intention was right before Halloween, and then all hell broke loose. Part of me feels like I shouldn't post it all, in light of everything that has happened. Reading a blog about Long Island's legends and myths seems so trivial compared to what is going on here, but then I thought that many of us might just need the diversion, even if it comes in just a simple blog. For those of you who have power, I hope in some small way this helps get your mind off things. For those of you still struggling, I continue to keep you in my thoughts and prayers. 

Sweet Hollow Road. How many of us have driven there as teenagers at the stroke of midnight waiting to see if our cars would mysteriously turn off? It's ludicrous, I know, but people have told me countless stories of doing this very thing! I have to admit to taking my midnight blue, 1979 Camaro (with power windows, I may add) up there to see if the car would in fact, turn off. I went with my best friend, and we were terrified. Luckily nothing happened at all. Ahh...youth. 

Yet all these years later, people still bring up Sweet Hollow Road to me at my lectures. Are they true ghost stories? No. Instead, the stories that surround this road and the neighboring woods are legends and myths; stories which have become part of our culture on Long Island.  

This long and meandering road is located in the West Hills/Melville area of Huntington, and it is probably the most talked-about road on Long Island. In the early 1800’s, the area that stretched from today’s Jericho Turnpike at West Hills through Broad Hollow Road in Melville was known as Sweet Hollow. At the time, the area supposedly had an abundance of wild honey. Another story claims that a farmer was traveling there with a barrel of honey when it fell and broke, “sweetening the hollow.” In either case, it was the talk of honey that caused the locals to name the place Sweet Hollow.

By 1854, the town was beginning to develop and the name, for reasons unknown, was changed to Melville. The long stretch of trails through the woods, which eventually became a road, kept the name Sweet Hollow, as it remains today. Houses can be seen through the trees and are set away from the road. The surrounding area is comprised of a public riding stable, a state park and county parkland with trails, and a cemetery. There are places along the road where one can pull over and venture into the park, where all sorts of strange things have been said to occur. Just when and where these hideous tales originated is unknown.

One of the most well-known tales in the area is the story of the Lady in White. It is said that sometime between 1840 and 1851 a hospital was located near the crossing at Mount Misery Road. It mysteriously burned down, and many patients and staff were trapped inside. It was rebuilt fifteen years later. Only five months after the rebuilding, it supposedly was torched by an insane woman and burned to the ground again. The Lady in White, also known as Mary, was said to have been a patient at the hospital. It is rumored that moans, screams and cries for help can be heard, and even today, small burning specters can be seen. Other stories claim that the “Lady” or Mary was pushed out of a car on Sweet Hollow Road by a jealous boyfriend. While her injured body lay in the street, she was hit and killed by another car. An even earlier story goes back to the late 1600’s, and talks about Mary being a witch who was hung and buried in the area.  

Then there is a tale that there was a school at the end of the road, and the teacher who taught there killed all the children. Another version is that the school burned down, killing all the children, and still another claims that a camp counselor killed a group of children there. 

In many of these cases, there have been reports of a “veiled lady in white” wandering about the road and in the woods, especially near the area of Mount Misery Road where the hospital was. The lady is said to appear and walk right out into passing cars, terrifying their drivers until she quickly disappears. Some say, if she was the woman who was hit by the car, that she roams the street looking for her killer.  

Another source I came across mentioned a lady in red who was actually a gypsy, and is said to occasionally roam the area, as well as a man in a checkered shirt who walks the woods at night, carrying an ax in his hand.  

The most hideous and terrifying ghost I heard about was that of a slain police officer. As the story goes, there is a police officer who stops cars parked on Sweet Hollow Road. The officer seems normal until he turns around and has blood on his uniform, and the back of his head is missing. An officer is said to have died in the area while on duty. When and if this ever happened, no one seems to know for sure. 

Non-human ghosts are also said to haunt Sweet Hollow Road and include a black Labrador, a horse and a mysterious dog-like creature. The “Black Dog of Misery,” as the Labrador is called, is “an evil creature rumored to be a harbinger of death.” It is quite rare for anyone to see the dog, but if you do, it’s supposed to mean that death is on the horizon.  

The ghostly horse has been seen and chased into the woods near the crossroads of Mount Misery Road and Sweet Hollow. Once it enters the woods, it simply vanishes. In addition, there have been sightings of a dog-like creature who digs along where the woods meet the road, then stands on its hind legs and walks back into the woods. 

One of the most recent ghost stories is about a teenager or several teenagers who hung themselves from the Northern State Parkway overpass in the 1970’s. If you honk your car’s horn three times right before going under the overpass, it is said you will see the kids. A different version states that two boys were killed when they were hit by a car on Sweet Hollow Road. According to the story, they were unaware of the car heading toward them because the driver didn’t beep the horn. They say that today, if you don’t beep your horn before going under the overpass, the ghostly boys will jump in front of your car.  

Finally, there is the story of a thirteen-year old girl who was beaten and strangled in 1976. Her murdered body was found along the road. Supposedly the killer was never found, and the case remains unsolved.

So beware as you travel along this haunted roadway. You'll never know who, or what, you may run into.




Friday, October 5, 2012

From Ghosts to a Mystical Saint Who Bore the Stigmata

My blog has been a fascinating culmination of Long Island's history, ghost tales, spiritual stories and "make you think" stories, and it's been wonderful to see all the great comments my readers have to each of them. When I give lectures, I get the same types of responses. The one thing I hadn't anticipated was the number of people who have brought up Padre Pio during my ghost lectures. I have frequently been asked, "Do you know him?" For those of you who may not know him, Padre Pio, now Saint Pio, bore the stigmata, the five wounds of Christ, for 50 years. He died in 1968, but he is alive and well in peoples' hearts, and he continues to perform miracles to this day. There are over 2 million entries if you do an Internet Search on Padre Pio. It's astounding! He also happens to be the subject of my newly released sixth book, THE MEDAL, a novel, which takes place in the seafaring town of Northport. 

Padre Pio was born Francesco Forgione in the southern Italian village of Pietrelcina on May 25, 1887. He entered the novitiate of the Capuchin Friars when he was fifteen years old, and he was ordained a priest by 1910. Eight years later after offering his daily Mass he received the stigmata on his hands, his feet and in his side. Besides the stigmata, Padre Pio was blessed with divine gifts which included prophecy, miracles, bi-location, healing, reading hearts and the gifts of tongues and fragrance. At one point he was shunned from the church because of his miraculous powers. There are countless stories of people who had been cured by Padre Pio. Even more interesting is the fact that he still continues to perform miracles today, despite the fact that he's been dead for forty-four years! 

I attended Padre Pio's Feast Day at the Church of St. John the Baptist in New York City on September 23, the release date of my new book. I was taken aback by the countless stories people were telling me about their encounters with Padre Pio and their cures. On June 16, 2002, Pope John Paul II canonized Padre Pio a saint. The largest crowd ever attended the canonization at St. Peter's Square in Italy. One of the miracles that enabled Padre Pio to become a saint had to do with a man who was cured by Padre Pio after his death. This man, believe it or not, is from Long Island. I was blessed to attend a presentation he was giving many years ago at a church in Bayville. 

My own quest in following Padre Pio began when a stranger came to me during a very difficult time in my life when my father was battling Multiple Sclerosis. He gave me a medal containing a relic to give to my father while he was ill. It was that medal that ultimately changed my life, and what inspired me to write my first novel. 

THE MEDAL is loosely based on experiences I had during my father's illness and watching him die. The true life story of Padre Pio is woven throughout the book and is told by an unlikely, cannoli loving, Godfather-type character named Jimmy. Jimmy gives the main character, Bethany, a medal that changes her life. The miracle that happens at the end of the book is true. It happened to me. 

Like my Ghost books, I believe I was meant to write this story. For anyone who has ever been a caretaker, for anyone who has given up on God and faith, this book is for you.  

Padre Pio is loved by thousands on Long Island. I think just about every pizzeria in Nassau and Suffolk County has a picture of Padre Pio on display. I've seen him everywhere, and he is beloved by people of all faiths. I spoke to a woman who was Jewish just last week. She keeps a medal of Padre Pio in her wallet. She had breast cancer, she prayed to Padre Pio and is now cured.

So I wanted to share this story with my fellow Long Islanders who love Padre Pio, but also for those who like me, didn't know a thing about him.  

I will be at the Book Revue in Huntington for my official book launch on Friday, October 19 7:00 PM. All are invited to attend. 

If you have a story about Padre Pio that you'd like to share, please leave your comments here.


Friday, September 21, 2012

Long Island's Legends and Myths - Part II - Lady of the Lake

There have been many tales surrounding Lake Ronkonkoma in Long Island’s Suffolk County. Because it is a story that has been passed down through the ages, I have come across several versions. As we know in our own lives, stories can often take on a life of their own, getting wilder or more exaggerated each time they’re  told. What once may have been a simple tale becomes something much more complex and possibly even farfetched. In this blog, I’ll recount all the versions I have come across. There are some common threads in these legends, as you will see, which may actually reveal to us the “true” story of the Lady of the Lake.

Lake Ronkonkoma is Long Island’s largest freshwater lake, and a beautiful one at that. For years it has been rumored that this lake has no bottom; it goes on and on into the depths of the earth. Some have said that there is a series of underwater tunnels that lead out to Long Island Sound, or to a river in Connecticut. Others say the water mysteriously rises and lowers, and yet another story says there are reports of whirlpools. How these myths came about no one knows. They set the stage, however, for our Indian legend.

The most popular story tells of an Indian princess who was deeply in love with a member of her tribe. On the night of the wedding, her husband-to-be was attacked and murdered by a settler. The princess, totally swept away by grief, decided to take her own life by tying rocks to her ankles and walking out to the middle of the lake, where she ultimately drowned. Her body was never found, but her spirit remains and haunts the lake. The legend says the princess was so distraught that, seeking revenge, she vowed to return each year and claim the body of a young virgin male. Supposedly, one male a year has drowned in the lake, although this has never been confirmed by the Suffolk County Police. The ghostly princess dressed in a long flowing gown is said to sadly roam the perimeter of the lake, where she seeks young men to lure into its waters. Noises and strange unexplainable lights have been heard and seen coming from the lake. It is said that these are the cries of the princess’s unending grief.

Another version of the story states that the princess committed suicide for  unknown reasons, and that her lover dived in after her but could not save her. The woman’s body was found, but mysteriously in a river in Connecticut.

Then there is a version where the beautiful princess fell in love with a pale- faced settler, and was not permitted to marry him. She was so distraught that she went off on her own and canoed into the middle of the lake. When the settler went after her, he found her dead in the canoe He then got into the canoe, and as the story goes, he was swept away and was never seen again. The drownings that are mentioned every year are supposedly caused by a curse that was placed on the lake.

The last of the Indian princess legends simply states that the Native American woman was sacrificed at the lake to appease a god. No other information is given.  

There does exist one story involving a Setauket Indian male. It is similar to the princess story, in that he was not permitted to marry his love. But in this case, it was he who paddled his canoe out onto the lake and committed suicide by plunging a knife into his heart. Supposedly it was his body, rather than that of the Indian princess, that was found in a Connecticut river. 

Did any of these events really happen? Interestingly enough, there are many similarities in the stories. To this day no one knows the truth, but neither can anyone explain the strange sounds they hear coming off the waters of mysterious Lake Ronkonkoma.


Monday, September 3, 2012

Long Island's Legends and Myths - Mary's Grave

Legends and myths abound on Long Island, and I'm sure many of you are familiar with several of them. Probably the most well known legend is that of Mary's Grave. How many of you have searched for the infamous grave of the lady in white?  

For generations, people have been looking for its location. Some claim it is located in the woods off Mount Misery Road in the West Hills area of Huntington. Other stories place her grave in Stony Brook, Head of the Harbor and Mt. Sinai. Who is Mary though? 

The legend of Mary herself, who doesn’t seem to have a last name, has changed several times over the years. One story claims that Mary murdered her two children and her husband, and because of doing this dreadful deed, she cannot rest peacefully in her grave. It is said that her tombstone has her birth date but no death date, and the location of her gravesite is a center for strange happenings. Supposedly, if the tombstone is found and you shine a flashlight on it at night, the face of Mary appears. 

Another story claims that Mary became possessed by an evil spirit. She was a lonely girl who was the daughter of a wealthy landowner. She didn’t have any friends because the family lived some distance from town, so she kept herself occupied with her animal friends. Her father built her a stone clubhouse on their property, where she played with the animals. As the story goes, it was at the clubhouse where she became possessed. She started mutilating the animals she had loved, and then set out to kill her brother and father with an ax. As time went on, the townsfolk wondered where the landowner was. When people came to the house to check on him, they found Mary sleeping in bed next to her dead father, who was covered in blood. Mary was hung by the townspeople in a nearby tree. This tree is said to still exist, although no one seems to know where. Burn marks from the rope supposedly can be seen on the tree branch, and the tree itself appears to be dead all year long. It is rumored that her stone clubhouse exists somewhere in Stony Brook on private property.  

In the 1960’s and 1970’s there was another story surrounding the Stony Brook location where the grave was said to be located. Young men were considered brave if they went up to the haunted gravesite and urinated on it. However,  rumor has it that whoever did so would get into a car crash on his way home, trying to avoid hitting a ghostly girl wearing a white dress.

There is also said to be a stone clubhouse located somewhere in Head of the Harbor. This particular story states that the father was abusive, and would abuse Mary at the site of the stone clubhouse he made for her. Not being able to bear it any longer, Mary took her own life by hanging herself in a tree. Her body was buried somewhere nearby, and her gravesite contains an angelic statue. The statue appears to be crying, and some believe it is Mary crying for other abused girls that she cannot protect.

Finally, there is the story of Mary’s grave being on the old Chandler estate in Mt. Sinai. When Mrs. Chandler converted her house to a boarding house, a girl named Mary came to stay. Supposedly, she had been a patient at Kings Park Psychiatric Center. Whether Mrs. Chandler was aware of this or not is unknown, but as the story goes, Mary disappeared suddenly and Mrs. Chandler was concerned about her whereabouts. The rent had not been paid, yet her room looked still lived in. At night, the lights were said to go on in her room when nobody was there, and strange noises could be heard. Mrs. Chandler was quite worried, but never did she see Mary again.  

Have you searched for Mary's grave?




Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Long Island's Haunted Restaurants and Bars

It's common knowledge to many Long Islander's that Katie's Bar in Smithtown is haunted. It's been investigated on TV's "Paranormal State," and there has been a lot of hype surrounding the place over the past few years. It's not the only popular eatery that has a ghost or two, however. Paranormal investigator Joe Giaquinto and I have had the opportunity of investigating several haunted Long Island establishments. Good food and a ghost! Who could ask for more?

As I've mentioned in past blogs, one of the most "active" restaurants for ghostly activity is the Country House Restaurant in Stony Brook, which continues to be haunted by the ghost of Annette Williamson. Annette was brutally murdered in the house back in the days of the Revolutionary War. Orbs, EVP's and light flashes continuously abound and have been witnessed by many patrons as well as staff. Several people, including the restaurant's owner Bob Williamson, have actually seen the apparition of Annette. For reasons unknown, Annette refuses to move on.
DEK's American Restaurant in Rocky Point has a an assortment of mischievous ghosts including one who will mess up previously set tables. By the bar area, shadowy figures can be seen swiftly moving around. There was a bartender who worked there for years who never believed in ghosts until he had his own encounter with the shadow person. From that point on he refused to be in the building alone. The building itself has a long and interesting history and is Rocky Point's oldest commercial building. It served as an inn for many years, and there are also rumors that it once was a brothel. Who knows what kind of energy could be left behind there?
On a smaller scale, the 1930's Sayville Modern Diner, located on Main Street in Sayville, realized they had a ghost or two when the chef reported that things were falling off the shelves in the kitchen. On one occasion when he opened up the diner one morning, the chef discovered a multitude of items lying about on the kitchen floor. He had been the last one to leave the night before. Joe Giaquinto has also received numerous EVP's (electronic voice phenomena) there over the years.
Heading to the North Fork, the Jamesport Manor Inn in Jamesport also has a ghost. The present building was rebuilt exactly as it was after a mysterious fire had burned it to the ground in October of 2005. The history of the place, which dates back to the 1750's, includes tragedies, death and scandals. Countless people have claimed to see the ghost of a young woman in a second floor window. It possibly could be the daughter of one of the original owners who died there tragically.
Moving on to bars, Del's Union Square Bar in Holbrook has had a plethora of ghostly activity. Apparitions, glasses flying off the bar, a TV set that turns off by itself, a glass exploding on its own, doors opening and closing...the list is endless. The building was built in the mid-1900's. It is unknown who could be haunting this establishment.
Lastly, in Nassau County, the beautiful Glen Cove Mansion in Glen Cove is said to be haunted by the ghost of its previous owner, Mrs. Pratt who died in the house she loved in 1965. The Georgian Revival building was built in 1910 and is presently a hotel and conference center. Although there has been ghostly activity throughout the building, the most haunted area seems to be upstairs in the bar. Countless employees have seen the apparition of Mrs. Pratt, and many have claimed to have felt her presence. During our investigations there, Joe and I photographed many orbs, and we received EVP's as well. Did Mrs. Pratt love her home enough to stay there permanently in spirit?
I'm sure there must be more haunted restaurants and bars on Long Island that I haven't heard of or investigated. So if you have a story a two you'd like to share, please let me know. All the above stories with the complete histories can be read in my Ghosts of Long Island books.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Past Lives and Reincarnation

Do you believe in past lives?

 The idea of past lives and reincarnation is not only a hot topic, but one filled with controversy as well. I find it's a 50/50 split when it comes to people's opinions on the matter.  

I first learned about reincarnation back in the 1980's when Shirley MacLaine came out with her book, Out on a Limb. It was a topic that fascinated me, so I decided to pursue it further and started reading some books by Edgar Cayce. Despite being a Catholic (Catholics as a whole don't really believe in reincarnation), I happen to think there is some truth to the theory. 

How can we possibly accomplish everything we're supposed to in one lifetime? There are lessons needed to be learned, relationships that must be formed, work that needs to be done. And I don't mean housework or our careers. I'm talking about spiritual work...the kind of work that brings us closer to God and makes us better people during our lifetimes. I believe it takes multiple lifetimes to achieve this. Many lifetimes, but one soul. God creates only one of us. Our physical bodies are kind of like cars. When it gets old and worn out, we get a new one. 

How else can certain things be explained, such as why do babies die? Why does a young person die tragically in an accident? Is that all their life was supposed to be? I don't think so. I believe their lives continue in Heaven, and that eventually, when the time is right, they come back. We usually come back with other family members and even friends who've we shared other lifetimes with. 

How can a child protégé be explained? How can you explain meeting someone for the first time, yet you feel you've known them your whole life? How can you explain being familiar with a place you've never been to? So many questions, so much to consider. 

Last August I decided to find out for myself, and I met with licensed psychotherapist and past-life regression therapist Richard Scheinberg. Richard has a very successful practice in East Islip called Sunrise Counseling Center. Richard happens to be a wonderful author as well, and I've known him for a number of years. Richard trained under Brian Weiss, who is world renowned when it comes to reincarnation and past lives. So I knew I was in good hands working with Richard.  

I was a bit apprehensive and wasn't sure if the process would work for me, despite my believing in it. I spent a lot of time talking with Richard ahead of time. He explained the whole process and he relieved my fears. I had agreed to work with him on creating a short video which would include excerpts from my session, along with my journey to discovering more about my past life. We spent months working with video reporter Chris Collora, who did a wonderful job in filming and putting it all together. The video is really quite remarkable. If you'd like to view it, go to this link: http://www.richardcscheinberg.com/video/?vid=102 

I'm not trying to convince anyone to become a believer in past lives. I'm simply presenting information to you, so go easy on your comments. I know my blogs have caused some controversy in the past. I'm simply giving you some food for thought...something to contemplate. If you're interested in having your own past life regression session, you can visit Richard Scheinberg's website at www.richardcscheinberg.com. Richard was also a recent guest on my blogtalk radio show, "The Kerriann and Joe Show - Spirit Connection." For your free download go to: www.blogtalkradio.com/kerriannandjoeshow/2012/07/13/past-life-regression--therapist-author-richard-scheinberg 

Watch the video, listen to the radio show and check out Richard's books. See if you then become a believer in past lives.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Top Ten Most Haunted Towns on Long Island

There are all kinds of lists out there which name the top ten most haunted cities in the United States. These include Savannah, Georgia; Gettysburg, Pennsylvania; Salem, Massachusetts; New Orleans; San Antonio, Texas; St. Augustine, Florida; Charleston, South Carolina; Chicago; San Francisco and Portland, Oregon. Why is Long Island, New York not on this list? 

After having investigated more than sixty haunted locales on Long Island, I truly believe Long Island is worthy of at least being included on the top ten list of most haunted places.

We have a rich and intriguing history here on Long Island which includes a prominent Native American past and the American Revolutionary War, amongst other things. How many people on Long Island, let alone in the country, know about the Indian massacres which occurred here, or the famous Battle of Long Island and the Culper Spy Ring? The Battle of Long Island was the first official battle following the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The Culper Spy Ring was a group of ordinary people who got together and changed history because of the information they were able to provide to General George Washington regarding the British and their plans for attack. With this much history, there is bound to be spirits and energy which remain.  

Much of our history has also been preserved on Long Island's North Shore, where Gold Coast Mansions are still scattered along the shoreline, or on the east end where the North and South Forks are a host to numerous historic homes and buildings. The fact of the matter remains that everywhere we go is haunted. Spirits are with us everywhere and all the time. They're not necessarily ghosts. There is a difference. Ghosts are usually place centered, where spirits come and go and may help us on our own journey. They may even be people we loved and knew. In either case, communication with the afterlife abounds on Long Island. Researching, investigation, and writing Ghosts of Long Island has convinced me of that, so of course I'd like to give credit where credit is due. Long Island is one of the most haunted places in the United States. 

If I had to compile my own list of the top ten most haunted towns on Long Island, here's what I'd come up with. At number one, I'd have to say it's Stony Brook which features such haunted locales as The Country House Restaurant, the old Grist Mill and painter William Sydney Mount's house.  Coming in at second and third would be the old whaling town of Cold Spring Harbor, and St. James with its haunted General Store, old schoolhouse and Deepwell's Mansion. From there the list includes Strong's Neck, Huntington, Montauk, Glen Cove, Oyster Bay, Southampton and Cutchogue. Chapter after chapter in both my ghost books mention these extraordinary places where paranormal activity has taken place.   

Do you live or know of another haunted town on Long Island that you think could make this list? If so, tell us about your experience.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Journey Through a Totem Animal Labyrinth

A few weeks ago I took part in a very unique and beautiful spiritual experience. I walked through seven colorfully lit labyrinths at the Melville home of Christine Guardiano. Christine is an author, spiritual teacher, Reiki healer and channeler, and she's also a labyrinth builder. For over ten years, Christine has been creating indoor and outdoor labyrinths by using Christmas lights, black lights, string and crepe paper. The labyrinths measure between thirty-five and seventy-two feet in diameter. She enhances them with candles, music, pyramids, canopies, fire pits and altars. I have to say, it is a spectacular sight!  
Friend and paranormal investigator Joe Giaquinto has been telling me for years that I had to attend, and I'm so glad I finally did. It gave me a chance to relax, to meditate and to connect with my animal spirit guide totems. We all have spirit guides and angels to help us along life's journey, and animal totems are believed to hold the power and knowledge that we can use to become one with nature. Animal totems have always been part of Native American culture. It is said that animal totems "awaken the natural balance with nature that you already possess." If you honor your animal totems, you can become not only healthier, but happier physically, spiritually and emotionally. 
So how does this all work? The power of labyrinths have been used by Spiritualists for centuries, and for more than 4,000 years labyrinths have been used in a spiritual manner. According to Christine's research, "Walking a labyrinth can create a heightened awareness within the human condition and aid in psychological and spiritual growth. Even those who say they are not spiritual are enlightened by walking the path." 
Many people confuse labyrinths with mazes. They are different. A labyrinth has one, unicursal path, and you enter and exit from the same place. A maze, on the other hand, has blind alleys, twists and turns and dead ends. You can't make a wrong turn in a labyrinth like you could in a maze, so it makes for a more relaxing experience. Perfect for me. I'm certainly not a big fan of Fall harvest corn mazes! The labyrinth...that I could handle.  
When I first arrived at Christine's I was amazed at the amount of people who were attending. She has definitely developed a following over the years. I was there with my husband and a friend, and Christine quickly came over to greet us. After handing out paperwork explaining labyrinths and animal totems, she lead us to a warm fire pit in a front section of her yard, which was tucked away by some beautiful landscaping. We familiarized ourselves with the handouts and spent a few moments gazing into the fire and meditating. After about ten minutes, we walked down a candlelit path towards the backyard where Christine told us we'd find a gazebo. One person was allowed in the gazebo at a time. In its center was a table and chair. I took a seat, and on top of the table was a very large tray with hundreds of plain white cards faced down. The tray was surrounded by votive candles and the gazebo was decorated with miniature lights. I was told to gently mix the cards up, and when I was ready, I was to pick seven cards out of the pile. On the other side of the card, the name of an animal or mystical creature appeared. The handout we were given contained pages where we were to write the name of the animal we chose. When all seven were written down, it was time for me to make my journey past a tranquil pond to where the labyrinths were set up.  
It was simply exquisite to see the labyrinth's against the dark night sky.  Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple and white lit labyrinths were spread across Christine's expansive backyard. Each labyrinth coincided with a Chakra, which are the seven centers of spiritual power in the human body. Each Chakra represents something. For instance, the first Chakra, which is located at the base of the spine, gives strength to the physical body. It controls fear and helps to keep us grounded. As I meditated on that Chakra, I entered the first labyrinth...red. In the center was a chair and a small table containing a lantern. I made my way toward it, and sat down. I then concentrated on the first animal totem I picked up, which was a cheetah. The packets contained different questions and affirmations you could read when connecting with your totem. It was very peaceful. 
I sat for two to three minutes and then slowly walked back through the labyrinth and the next person entered. Everyone continued on in this fashion until all the labyrinths were completed. While you waited to go into the next labyrinth you could mediate and listen for information from your animal totems. I used some techniques I've learned from reputable mediums and applied my clairsentience, or my ability to "sense" information. Before long, I found myself writing things down. 
Once all the participants were through the seven labyrinths, Christine lead everyone in a silent group walk through each one again. At first, I wasn't too sure about this, but it turned out to be a remarkable experience. You could feel everyone's energy working together because we were all connected by holding hands. It was silent, except for the beautiful New Age music playing softly in the backyard. When the journey was complete, we formed a large circle where Christine lead us in a guided meditation. I couldn't believe how powerful it all was, and how wonderful I felt afterwards.  
No photographs were allowed to be taken until after the event, at which time we were encouraged to try to capture orb photos. Many of us did pick them up. 
It wasn't until a day or two later when I was at home doing research on the totems I had chosen, that I came to realize how accurate the totems really were. Not only did they match my personality and things I was going through, but much of what I had written down at each of the labyrinths matched what I had researched as well. I believe it's true that the totem chooses you!  
For more information on Christine's labyrinths, you can go to the Internet and check out the archives on my blogtalk radio show, "The Kerriann and Joe Show - Spirit Connection" where you can hear an interview we did with Christine last year.   

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Planning a Vacation? Why not Take a Haunted Trip to Montauk?

Montauk , Long Island has always been a very special place for me. I spent many a summer out there as a child, and I still go back now with my own family. It's just one of those magical, mystical, and beautiful places. It's also known to be...well...haunted.

All sorts of stories abound in Montauk, from haunted resorts to haunted lighthouses; from Big Foot to time travel and even more recently the alleged "Montauk Monster" which washed ashore in the summer of 2008. What many people don't realize however, is that it's also a very historical and spiritual place, which could also be the reason for a variety of paranormal activity which has taken place there.

Archeological excavations have shown that Montauk was inhabited by Native American Indians more than 3,000 years before any white man set foot in North America. The tribe called the land Montauket, meaning “hilly country.” The tribe itself was known as the Montauks, and the Indians were called the Montauketts. They were a peaceful tribe who fished the waters and farmed the land. By 1620, Chief Wyandanch had become known as the greatest chief in Montauk history. Unfortunately, his friendship with Lion Gardiner, and his tribe’s involvement with the British settlers would ultimately cost the Montauk tribe their land in years to come.

The Montauketts lived in peace with the white men, but they were almost constantly at war with more aggressive tribes from New England, the Pequots and the Narragansetts. In 1653, the Narragansetts once again set foot in Montauk, waging a surprise attack on the Montauketts. The fierce warriors nearly destroyed the Montauk Indians in one of the worst attacks ever made on the tribe. The ambush took place at the foot of the present-day Montauk Manor. Because of the terrible losses inflicted on the Montauketts, the low-lying land just east of Fort Hill next to Signal Hill became known as “Massacre Valley.”

The land on which the Montauk Manor stands is therefore very much connected with the Montaukett Indians. There were camps, bloodshed and burials there. Next door to the Manor is Fort Hill Cemetery, which was established by East Hampton Town during the 1980’s. It was named Fort Hill after the fort the Indians once had there. There are many Indians buried in this area, although the graves are not marked. The entire area was disrupted during the Manor’s construction.

It was Carl Fisher’s dream in the summer of 1925 to create the “most fabulous summer resort ever imagined in the western world"...a magnificent English Tudor-style “castle on the hill." Fisher was a multimillionaire industrialist who was responsible for the development of Miami Beach, Florida. He envisioned Montauk as having a beach club, a yacht club, polo fields, a golf course, a ranch and a health spa. His centerpiece would be the Montauk Manor, a 200-room luxury resort hotel. In 1927, part of Fisher’s dream became a reality when the Manor was officially opened. The rich and famous of the day flooded its grand ballrooms, played croquet on the rolling front lawn, drank tea on the veranda overlooking the Manor’s 10,000 acres, and ate in the finest of restaurants, which served international cuisine.

Did anyone at that time know the events that had once occurred there? Did they know about the amazing history that lay beneath the massive structure … Indians, wars, plagues and graves?

The Montauketts weren’t the only ones who died on the land. During the late 1890’s many of Teddy Roosevelt’s soldiers came down with yellow fever. It spread among the troops so quickly that Roosevelt decided to lead them up to the sacred site on the hill. The hill was steep, and the soldiers struggled in their weakened conditions to climb it. It is said that over 300 men died en route. Some died in a detention hospital that was set up near the present Manor. The soldiers were temporarily buried above Indian remains, both at Fort Hill and nearby at Lake Montauk. Eventually, most of their bodies were exhumed and sent home. Neither of the makeshift cemeteries were marked.

Throughout the years, many people visiting the Manor have claimed to see an Indian chief in full headdress wandering the floors. Some guests were so alarmed they had reported what they saw to the front desk. Strange banging sounds have been heard coming from a fourth floor room when no one was there, and another story, apparently more recent, mentioned a cleaning lady. The woman was cleaning the men’s sauna downstairs when she heard the door slam. That noise was followed by a baby’s cry. Terrified, she ran to the management and said she would never work there alone again.

I've gotten a number of orb photos at the Manor, and on one very foggy and quiet night I heard Indian drumbeats on the property when no one was around. Next door at Fort Hill Cemetery, a nine-year-old girl who lived next door claimed to have seen an American Indian in full headdress “perched on top of the hill” two years after the new cemetery was established in the 1980’s. Before she could show anyone, the man was gone.

In recent years, ghostly phenomenon has begun to slow down at the Manor. Perhaps the Indian chief has passed on. You could always check out the Montauk Lighthouse then, which is also rumored to be haunted. I have yet to research and investigate the lighthouse, or you can take a hike in the old Camp Hero which is loaded with all kinds of stories. I don't know who or what you'll run into there.

Even if you're not into ghosts, Montauk remains for many, one of the best places to vacation on Long Island, whether you're staying at the Montauk Manor or in one of the motels in town. Do take a trip up to Fort Hill Cemetery though. It is a beautiful and spiritual place, and offers one of the most spectacular views of Montauk.

Excerpts from this blog have been taken from my book Ghosts of Long Island; Stories of the Paranormal. If you're interested in reading more about the history and haunted phenomenon in Montauk, check out the chapter entitled, "The Spirit of an Indian Chief at Montauk Manor."

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Can Anyone Learn to be a Medium?

If it's true we use only ten percent of our brain, what is the other 90 percent used for? I've come to realize that there is a portion of our brain that everyone can use to communicate with spirits on the other side. How do I know this? I actually was able to give a very basic reading to three different people, two of whom I didn't know, at a recent workshop with world renowned Scottish Medium Bill Coller.

Bill Coller lives in Switzerland and comes to the United States at least twice a year. He gives his mediumship workshops all over the world, and he's probably one of the best technical mediums there is. For the past three years I've attended his four hour workshops. Every single time, I leave the workshop completely and utterly amazed.

I don't consider myself a medium, and I don't have any talents or gifts in this area. I started taking the workshops to further my knowledge on mediumship for when I lecture, write and do my radio shows. Twenty to thirty people, mostly mediums starting out, attend these workshops, and then there was me. The first year I felt a bit out of place, working with strangers and trying to connect with their dead grandparents. I knew there would be absolutely no way I could do such a thing. We were asked to get five points of evidence to prove to the person we were reading for. I had a difficult time, to say the least, but then Bill came over and we took it step by step. Before long, I brought in the woman's grandmother, and she knew without a doubt that it was her. We both sat there shocked. She too, was able to read for me, and she was not a medium either. She brought it my father. It was truly incredible.

So in the beginning of March, I attended my third workshop and felt at little more at ease. It was called "Understanding Your Clairaudience, Clairvoyance and Clairsentience." I know a thing or two about these "tools" as Bill calls them, because I've studied them and I've written about them in my blogs and books. I work with paranormal investigator Joe Giaquinto who is a clairaudient medium (able to hear spirits), and I started developing some clairsentience (knowing/feeling the presence of spirits) while writing the Ghosts of Long Island books. Clairvoyance is the ability to "see spirits."

Over the course of four hours, Bill explained all three "clairs" in detail, breaking it down so we would understand how each means of communication actually works. For the hands-on portion of the workshop, we had to work with a partner and only work on one form of communication. My first partner happened to be a very seasoned medium who Joe and I have had on our blogtalk radio show. I jokingly told her that she obviously had an advantage over me, a non-medium. She laughed and said she believed I could do it. Don't say, "I can't," she said. We'd take it one step at a time.

For this exercise we had to use clairsentience only, so I had to "feel" or "know" who was coming through. We sat holding hands to keep the energy flowing. My eyes were closed and all I could see and feel in my head was darkness...nothingness. Sharon told me to keep paying close attention. Within a few minutes I started "sensing" the presence of her grandmother. Was this for real though? Couldn't I be just guessing or imagining it? I certainly had my doubts. I started sensing other things before long, her grandmother's house in the country, a winding pathway, a swing. I told her about the relationship she had with her grandmother, and how she had a peaceful death from old age. The things I was able to describe to Sharon were accurate, and she understood it to be her grandmother. She wasn't surprised, because this particular grandmother she was very close to. She often comes to Sharon in spirit and helps her on her journey.

The next exercise was dealing with clairvoyance. I worked with gentleman I didn't know. Now I had to try to "see" him in my head, in spirit. It started out the same way, holding hands and trying to get the energy flowing. Just like before, all I saw was blackness. I waited. All of a sudden I saw an image of a man, with black hair and a flannel shirt. He was in his forties or fifties and he was kicking up his heels and dancing. I told the man I was reading for what I was seeing, and then to my surprise I blurted out, "It's your uncle." The man said that was correct. I found out he was kicking up his heels because he always wore cowboy boots. Because I saw him dancing, I kept telling my partner he must have liked to dance. He was unsure when I mentioned it. At that point, Bill Coller happened to come over, and he was able to see the uncle as well. He also saw him dancing. He said it was great that I picked up on that, but I was misinterpreting what he was doing. Bill then asked my partner, "Was your uncle unable to walk the last year of his life?" My partner said that was correct. Bill then told us he was dancing and kicking up his heals, because he wanted his nephew to know that he was fine now. He could walk and dance again, and he no longer had pain. It all made sense now, and I was in awe.

For the last exercise, I worked with Joe Giaquinto, who I know well of course, but I gave it a shot. We were to work clairaudiently now. Within a few minutes I picked up his grandmother on his mother's side, and even though I was hearing my own voice in my head (which is how Bill said we would hear the spirits) I knew it was Joe's grandmother, and she gave me a very specific message for him. It was unbelievable.

I don't consider myself a medium, but through guidance and training, I was able to give a very basic reading to three different people. I was tapping into an unused part of my brain. For me, the workshop was more of a learning experience. I don't plan on reading for people as a living, but it's nice to know that if I pay attention, communication is possible.

Most mediums are born with the gift and then develop it later in life, but each of us has the capacity to pick up on the spirits every now and then. Even the best of mediums need proper training in how to control their mediumship, and how to validate the information they are receiving through the five points of evidence.

If you'd like to see a short video of Bill Coller's workshop, here is the link. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPhWuTjzPuM. I'm interviewed by reporter Chris Collora, and you can also see me working with my three partners.

Do you think you are capable of communicating with spirits? It's never too late to try.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Winter Retreat in the Haunted Berkshires

Every winter for the past twenty years my husband and I have left the rat-race of Long Island behind, and have taken a long weekend in Lenox, Massachusetts. Everyone asks me if we go there to ski, and I have to say that we don't. Although the skiing in the area is great, from what I've heard, we go for the peace and tranquility that the picturesque Berkshires have to offer. Lenox is the home to artists, musicians and the literary set. In fact, Brook Farm Inn on Hawthorne Street where we have been staying all these years, is a beautiful Victorian inn surrounded by poetry, writers and books...the ideal place for me.

I spend my time reading, or going antique shopping with my husband. We visit the Yankee Candle shop, the Norman Rockwell Museum, the Baldwin Extracts (where Martha Stewart and I get our vanilla) and we eat the best Cheddar Ale Soup I've ever tasted at the Barrington Brewery. There are endless things to do in the Berkshires at any time of the year, and it's quite historical as well.

There is of course, one other thing that intrigues me about the area...it's haunted. I've never encountered a ghost at Brook Farm, but I have dragged my poor husband around on ghostly adventures to see what we could find elsewhere.

Perhaps the most well known "haunted" locale is the old Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge. Built circa 1773 for Anna and Silas Bingham, it began as a general store and then evolved into a tavern, inn and stagecoach stop. It was a popular spot for travelers back in the 1800's and still remains so today. Ghostly rumors abound at the old inn which has seen the likes of many paranormal investigators and mediums. The fourth floor, in particular, has been said to have the most activity. Both cleaning staff and guests have claimed to see a "ghostly young girl carrying flowers" and "a man in a top hat." It has been said that guests have awoken to the feeling of someone standing over them at the foot of the bed. Cold spots, unexplained knocks, and electrical disturbances have all been reported. Room 301 is also known to be a haunted hot spot.

Traveling back to Lenox, the beautiful Ventfort Hall is open to the public for tours. They have all sorts of interesting events there, including on occasion, ghost hunts! You may remember this magnificent Jacobean Revival Mansion when it appeared in the 1999 film The Cider House Rules. It was originally built as a summer home for George and Sarah Morgan, sister of J. Pierpont Morgan, in 1891, and is a wonderful example of the Gilded Age in Lenox. George and Sarah lived there until their deaths, at which time it was rented out for a number of years. By 1945, the house had a series of owners and was eventually used as a dormitory for the nearby Tanglewood students. It was then used as a summer camp and hotel amongst other things. In the mid-1980's the property was sold to a nursing home developer who wanted to demolish the building. A local preservation group formed to help save the historic structure. The Ventfort Hall Association was formed in 1994, and by 1997, enough money was raised from private donations and loans, that the Association was able to purchase Ventfort Hall.

It has been investigated numerous times by the prestigious Chicopee Paranormal Investigators (CPI) who have seen and photographed apparitions and orbs. They have witnessed doors opening by themselves, and have recorded countless EVP's (Electronic Voice Phenomenon). There is no end to the ghostly activity at Ventfort Hall.

Then there is my personal favorite, Edith Wharton's house, The Mount, which can also be found in Lenox. Perhaps it is the fact that Edith was a writer which has drawn me to this location. Despite the fact that she was deathly afraid of ghosts, she spent a considerable amount of time writing about them. Her home in Lenox was built in 1902 as a writer's retreat, but her tumultuous marriage lead the Whartons to sell it by 1911. By 1942, The Mount became part of the Foxhollow School for Girls. The residents claimed to have heard unexplained noises as well as cold spots and other unusual sensations. When the school closed in 1976, Shakespeare & Company used The Mount for both their theater productions and as a dormitory. Ghostly apparitions of spirits in period clothing were reported, along with shadowy figures and continuous strange noises including footsteps, whispers and slamming doors.

The ghostly activity must still be occurring, because The Mount, like Ventfort Hall, offers ghost tours at certain times of the years.

It was just after dark when my husband and I drove up to the deserted home of Edith Wharton. He wasn't thrilled by the idea, by any means, but I was intent on taking photographs to see what I would get. I'm accustomed to photographing orbs, but the ones I captured that night at The Mount, were just incredible. Taken from the car window, it was as if the spirits were right there, coming into the car. They were simply spectacular.

So if you're looking for a little rest and relaxation, and hoping to come across a ghost or two, historic Lenox and the Berkshires should most definitely be your destination.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

After Life Communication

It was during my busy lecture and book signing season, when comedian Jack Simmons called me with a request. He was bringing his one-man play "Buddy's Gift" from California to Long Island, and he wanted me to not only see his play, but partake in it as well. When he told me the heartwarming story of his father, Michael "Buddy" Simmons, "a man who never stopped loving his family, even after he died," I knew a connection had been made. I agreed to briefly talk about after life communication immediately following his monologue in both East Marion and Huntington, Long Island.

There were so many similarities to Jack's story and my own. His dad, like my father, was a down to Earth, loving and sarcastic Irishman who lived life to the fullest. He was the patriarch of his family...strong, confident, until a disease began to take what life was left in him.

One of the worst things I've had to live through was watching my father suffer from Multiple Sclerosis for close to sixteen years, and even worse, watching him die those last few months. Listening to Jack talk about the denial, the hope, the all-encompassing thoughts that permeate every waking moment of your life...well, it all hit home because I too, had lived it with my own family.

I always said that during that time period, as well as the months that followed my father's death, that I was a part of some secret society. A society I didn't want to belong to. A society filled with grief and loss. Looking back now, I see that it was a part of a journey for me. It's what lead me to write the Ghosts of Long Island books, and to ultimately help others to overcome their grief through my writing and my lectures.

That's not all that happened though. As the months went on, strange things began to happen. I always have a radio playing softly in my house. I had gone out for an hour and when I came back, I could hear the radio playing from outside! It was blaring! How could this be? No one else had been home. Other times in the middle of the night, my Ipod would start playing in its charger. It would wake me, and I would hear one of my father's favorite songs or a song that actually answered a question to something that had been on my mind. Signs. They were signs from my father, without a doubt, and they were comforting.

I took this one step further and went to see medium Richard Schoeller who is now a very good friend of mine. He told me things he couldn't have possibly known, and I was reassured that my father was well, and was in a better place. I also came to realize that just because a person dies, it doesn't mean they leave us. Physically they do, of course, but they are always here with us spiritually. They know what we do each day, they know when we're feeling sad or stressed, they're there at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and at the birth of a new baby. They're always there, helping us on our own life's journey.

I can help people through my writing. Jack Simmons through his play. Jack's life changed when he came to his own realization that Buddy was still there, loving his family like he always did. It's nothing short of a beautiful gift.

There are a lot of people out there suffering and feeling alone from a loss of someone who has died. Look for the signs, and don't give up hope. Those we love who have died live on, and we will be reunited with them again someday. After life communication is an amazing thing. Be open and believe, and maybe one day, you'll be writing about your experiences and helping others too.

If you're interested in attending an upcoming performance of "Buddy's Gift", now playing in Huntington, go to HuntingtonPatch.com and search Jack Simmons. You'll also see a wonderful video about the play from reporter Chris Collora. Be sure not to miss it. Lastly, visit my blogtalk radio show "The Kerriann and Joe Show - Spirit Connection" for an interview with Jack Simmons, as we discuss after life communication.