Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Indiana Ghost Stories (con't.)

In our last installment, we discussed Hoosier author Karl C. B. Muilliwey's book, Haunting at Sycamore Lake. Muilliwey has had numerous encounters with the paranormal, including one possibly out-of-the-body experience (OBE), which could have been clairvoyance, or, arguably, hallucination, although this latter explanation would, in most instances, require a pathological or chemical cause, and none was present in this case. Muilliwey recounts the episode (shown in blue below):

Although I have experienced unexplained paranormal phenomena, I am not psychically inclined. On one occasion, however, I recall awakening from sleep to a level just below complete consciousness. I was unable to open my eyelids, which were closed throughout the experience. Nevertheless, I could see my bedroom clearly. While continuing to be aware that my eyelids were closed, this strange ability to see panned from left to right, observing in complete detail the arrangement of items on the dresser and night stand. I noticed one of my children's photographs on the dresser had been partially knocked over, probably by one of our house cats; I was certain that the frame was not in this condition when I went to bed, as I placed my pocket contents immediately adjacent to the picture. The room was bathed in a bluish-white/grey light, which evenly illuminated the entire room. No lights were on in the bedroom, as I had extinguished them upon retiring; the moon was covered by clouds, so little illumination entered the window when I lay down. It was quite dark in the room when I fell asleep, and I was positive that it was still as dark. But this eerie bluish illumination lit the room brightly enough to have read a printed page.

My peculiar ability to see clearly with my eyes tightly shut continued. As my perception of the room slowly moved, I saw, plainly and vividly, a figure standing in the bedroom doorway. It appeared to be male and as solid as any person in the flesh. He was wearing clothing typical of Hoosier pioneers from the middle 1850s. The type and length of coat, coupled with the buttoning on both coat and shirt, and the style of pants and boots he wore were typical of this time period. (Indiana history is something of a hobby of mine.) He had a satchel that rested at his left hip with the strap extending over his right shoulder. He wore a hat that looked similar to those I had seen in historical photographs from around the Civil War. I was able to note all this in a twinkling.

Then, a powerful wave of fear flooded through me--there was, after all, an unidentified man standing in my bedroom door in the middle of the night--but I felt a weird paralysis over my entire body. With a supreme exertion, my body began thrashing upon the bed, with my legs kicking wildly toward the doorway figure. (I must add that the man stood still and made no menacing gestures or movements. In fact, his facial expression seemed one of curiosity or possibly mild amusement.)

I was now fully awake. The room was almost completely dark, but a small nightlight in the hallway outside the bedroom offered meager illumination. The man in the doorway was gone. Everything appeared as it normally would. Beside me my wife lay asleep and undisturbed by my thrashing about. (My wife could sleep through a tornado lifting the house as it did in the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz). I checked the entire house, but there was nobody present apart from my family.

The easiest explanation, of course, is that I dreamed the entire sequence; however, one knows the difference between dreaming and waking consciousness, and my thought processes during this experience were clearly the same as when I am awake. I was cognizant that my eyelids were shut and that I could not open them, but I could still perceive everything around me. Hallucination is possible but unlikely--I have never had an hallucination and have never used illicit drugs--and I was taking no medications at the time of the incident.

So what happened? Many of the paranormal books I have read afford various conceivable explanations, but I have reached no firm conclusions. I know that something extraordinary occurred, but, beyond that, I am open to possible interpretations.

Thanks to Karl Muilliwey for permitting us to reprint his account of this unusual, "ghostly" encounter. As with any good ghost story, we observe that there is an ancient cemetery (dating from the 1840s) a few hundred feet from Muilliwey's home, and several homesteads existed during the time in the general vicinity. It may be worth noting that the burial plots have been disturbed over the years as a result of road and building construction. (Muilliwey considers these points irrelevant to his experience. So do we, but we think it makes a better ghostly tale by mentioning them.)

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