Friday, August 23, 2019

Hotel Del Part 2

Well I'm home after giving a final debrief to the guides. I truly hope I did a good job for them and look forward to going back next month to see how they are doing. It is a great location and a tour with wonderful ghost stories. What many do not realize that many locations of this majestic hotel has phenomena recorded. Not only is the famous Kate Morgan room (which I was blessed to be in) but also the entire 5th floor, which is the old servants quarters and even locations outside the hotel proper. I spent a lot of the time on the 5th floor, photographing, observing, KII in hand. I hope to gather all my observations and notes on that great location soon.

I was saving this for the last, my own ghostly encounter in my room. I will preface this with this, I am more skeptical than some of my other investigative comrades. I look at everything that may have possibly explained the phenomena then look at possible paranormal influence.

It was almost 1130 pm, I was conducting a simple EVP section in my room. I was moved by the story of Kate. I knew it well, even wrote a section on her in my book, Piercing the Veil: Examining San Diego's Haunted History. And I spent the last two days going over with information with the Heritage Department there. I turned off the recorder and told Kate my desire wasn't to be intrusive or sensationalistic. I simply cared and one of my goals was to help the guides tell the REAL story. I then told her that I know what it's like to lose someone, to feel alone, abandoned and then I don't know why but I started to tell the story of Sherri. The feeling of helplessness that accompanies true loss. I felt the room, only near where I was sitting get a tiny bit colder. I looked up at the ceiling fan above me. Was it just emotional release? My imagination getting the best of me? I walked away from the fan and the room definitely felt colder than it did before. The KII registering nothing, but my instincts told me otherwise.

As I prepared for bed, I contemplated the small encounter. Fan was always on, controlled air from the AC. As I snuggled under the covers I slept very peacefully, not looking forward to packing up in the morning and leaving this paradise. I awoke around 3am with a start. My eyes darted about the section of the room in front of me. I felt it. I KNEW I felt it! I felt what seemed like fingers gently brushing my forehead down to my cheek. I felt it twice and that's what stirred me from my slumber. I sat up in bed and even though I was mildly freaked out I was also calm. The feeling was almost soothing. Endearing. Was this Kate letting me know she relates and we shared a moment together? I cannot say. I would like to think so. After this encounter, I stayed up a bit. Then actually went back to sleep and slept past 7. And for those who know me, that's late.

The next day,, I didn't tell the ghost guides what I experienced. I wanted to process it and yesterday I finally told Gina what happened. I want to thank the hospitality of the staff of the beautiful Hotel Del Coronado and if you get a chance to visit, please tell the Beautiful Stranger I send my regards.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Kate Morgan and the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego

Sometimes it isn't just who you know, but who knows you back. I am blessed for sure. For you paranormal aficionados, I am currently writing this from inside the room of Kate Morgan at the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego. How this came to be is a story in itself. In a nutshell I am friends with the Manager of the Heritage Department here at the Hotel Del and they recently started doing ghost tours. We go way back and knew that I did ghost tours in Orange County and after taking our tour in San Juan Capistrano, she asked me if I would be willing to come down and work with her staff to look at the stories and work on content etc.

So down I drove and my friend met me and informed me my room was ready already and when I checked in I was informed I was given the Kate Morgan room. I looked too my friend who gave me a smile and stated, "would I put you in any other room?" She asked the person at reception if they informed everyone that it was Kate's room, and she said she was required to. When I asked did people refuse to take it upon hearing this, she retorted, "all the time".

I deposited my bags in my room and left to my friend's office where they were gearing up for a regular history tour. My friend, Gina writes all the tours here and she is meticulous in her research and I was very impressed with the history tour she gave me and some guests during the day.

We then had lunch and discussed the tour and set goals. After a little down time I met the new guides and we had a meeting about the tours. They were all very excited to work with me and see how they can use my tour experience to help them. I took the first tour and then we had a debrief and I got a late dinner then did a little investigation time on my own.

Its so rare to be able to come and stay at such a prestigious site and investigate and know all the stories and get access to many places that you have to be a guest but also interview employees about their experiences. I did some EVP work with a Tascam recorder that I had loaned to me as well as a KII meter. I spent time talking to Kate, hoping to coax something out of her as well as investigate the 5th floor of the hotel, the old servants quarters, where lots of activity has been recorded.

The second day, I worked with the staff on the tour and Gina and I walked the route working on ways that we can make great stories even better. The history here is amazing and the amount of deaths over the years is staggering. But from a historical POV, the age of the hotel as well as the amount of rooms plus staff, its basically a small city within itself.

Investigation of the Hotel Del? As of now, inconclusive at time of writing. Still have some work to do here but I'm hopeful.

Do I feel like this trip has been productive? Definitely. The staff here from the history department and the guides have been very wonderful and we worked great together and I will spend a little bit of time with them in the morning before heading back home. I'll miss the Hotel Del, just like I miss my home town San Diego, but I leave her in good hands until one day I may return. Talk to you soon, Kate.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

My travels to the Rosicrucian Museum of Egyptian Antiquities

As you may know, history is my life. Its my passion, my pursuit and by the Grace of God, my occupation. I get paid to teach history. There is no greater joy. One of the fringe benefits (or curses) of my job is the need for us to travel. This year was no exception. I spent a goodly time in the San Francisco Bay area. This gave me plenty of time to visit San Jose’s more unusual attractions. The first of course is the Winchester House. One of the most supposed haunted houses around. That will get its own post at a later date. Today I wish to tell of my travels to the Rosicrucian Museum of Egyptian Antiquities.

When you talk to the locals in the area, they all know the Museum. They simply refer to it as the Egyptian Museum. I know that 6th grade teachers bring their students there to enrich their education on Ancient history. The museum itself is first rate with several sections dedicated to Egyptian history through its many stages and dynasties. The artifacts are wonderfully preserved and described well in the information placed next to each artifact. They even have a mock tomb that you can walk through that is amazing.

But what most people don’t think about is the word Rosicrucian. They think its just part of the name, or those who are a little bit more enlightened say that they are a community group. They are in reality an esoteric group, that claims to have ties that go all the way back to Egypt but they really came into light in the 17th Century with a book known as The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz written by a gentleman who goes by the name Johann Valentin Andreae. To say that he is the true author of this book is controversial to say the least. I’m putting money on it being a collaborative effort compiled over years of research and editing. The Chymical Marriage is basically part of a manifesto which followers who will later become

The Fraternity of the Rosy Cross or Rosicrucians in their pursuit of esoteric learning and alchemy. Through these learnings, rites and practices it is believed by them to achieve not just enlightment but control over the natural world. Their pursuits include the Holy Grail of Alchemy, the Philosopher’s Stone, or the Emerald Tablet, which not only gave the formula for making base metals into gold but produced an elixir to extend life itself (which is a rabbit hole in itself, if you would like me to write something on JUST that, let me know and I’ll consider it for a later post). I won’t say they are a cult, that term has gathered so much negative press its ridiculous. I will simply say they beat to their own drum. Many members belong to mainstream faiths and still dabble in Rosicrucianism.

But if you are going to the museum, you must visit their research library which is behind the museum. It’s free to the public and open fairly regular hours. The library is full of history of the Ancient World, of course focusing on Egypt, Assyria, Babylonian, etc. The real surprise is when you come across their esoteric and occult section. My jaw literally dropped. Books long out of print or hard to find are here. Eliphas Levi? Yep. Crowley? Got ‘em. Blavatsky? Shelves containing her work. It is literally a cornucopia of occult knowledge. Nothing can be checked out, but they have desks for you to sit at and read to your hearts content and they let you take pictures as well. My favorite was to see an original printing of Francis Barret’s The Magus.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Frank Miller, Zona Gale, and the Musical Mystic Francis Grierson

"Francis Grierson died last night. I sent DeWitt down a few weeks ago with an earnest invitation for him to come to Mission Inn as my guest, with the same thought that you have written me. It is well for the dear man to go as he has."
The telegram stored at the Riverside Museum tells it all. A concert piano/mystic turned author, another author, and the owner of one of Southern California’s most beautiful gems, the Mission Inn. All intertwined and the final crescendo of this musical piece ends in the death of pianist. A telegram tells the end well, but let us talk of the beginning. Not of Francis Grierson, but his former self, Jesse Shepard.
Benjamin Henry Jesse Francis Shepard was born in Birkenhead, England in September 1848. The following year his family moved to America, to Illinois. By 1863, his musical talent is being honed in New York and by 1869, he’s performing in the salons of Paris and London. In 1871, Shepard is residing in St Petersburg, Russia. Performing musical concerts and it is believed he will start performing seances. In October of 1874, he is performing seances with H.P. Blavatsky in Vermont.
In 1887, Jesse Shepard will come to San Diego with his friend and business manager Laurence Waldemar Tonner, and under Shepard’s design inspiration, The Villa Montezuma was built. For the two years that he lived there, this magnificent Queen Anne Victorian Mansion was filled with poetry, literature and music as Jesse Shepard became the model of high- brow entertainment in this booming Victorian town. It is also in this Palace of the Arts, Jesse Shepard will start his career in writing. His articles and essays are first published in the Golden Era, a magazine that was originally published in San Francisco but moved their publishing headquarters to San Diego in 1887.
By 1890, Jesse has left San Diego and went to Europe, meeting royalty and playing the piano for patronage. He crossed the Continent many times but it will be London which he will call home in 1896. There he is will publish Modern Mysticism under his pen name and alter ego, Francis Grierson. In 1913, Shepard/Grierson will return to the states where he will perform recitals and continue to write and lecture on Theosophy. His final home will be Los Angeles in 1920.
In March, 1927, he will have the most enthusiastic house guest, Zona Gale. Gale, having arrived at the Mission Inn, heard of Francis Grierson’s fascinating career as a musician and writer and how several times he performed at the Inn’s cloister music room. She wrote him, announcing that she would be in Los Angeles soon and begged for an audience with him so she meet him, and finishing the letter with, “I hope that I may include an hour when you will play for me.” They met March 5th, and even though it was brief, Gale was impressed with aging artist and was greatly distressed when she heard from Frank Miller upon her return to Portage, Wisconsin that due to his health, he could not perform at the Mission Inn for Easter. She urged Grierson in a letter to accept Miller’s offer.
"I am deeply disappointed that Mr. Miller writes me you are not to be at Riverside for Easter. He wrote ‘Can you not back up my invitation in a way that will induce them (Grierson and Tonner) to accept?’ That service, as you know, is very wonderful. You would be Mr. Miller’s personal guests, would drive up the mountain at Sunrise in their car and would have the day there."
Gale also found that Grierson was financially impoverished and so sent him a check for one hundred dollars. As she sent the check to Grierson, she sent this letter to Frank Miller.
"My Dear Friend, I have hesitated to send this letter, because sends you such letters. But I seem to have no other choice.
Because, of course, the situation haunts me. I already sent one of the circulars about Mr. Grierson to two Los Angeles friends, and to Mrs. Edward MacDowell, whom I hoped would arrange a benefit dinner for Mr. Grierson. And they may do so, I still hope. And now I am sending you a copy of this letter, the original of which goes to you, to the Author’s League, who may be able to do something. And I am sending him something small directly, as I thought to do, and hesitated to do, until this letter came.
But what I am thinking boldly is this: Whether whatever else I am able to collect might be sent to you in return for a corner in the hotel, for Mr. Grierson and Mr. Waldemar Tonner, who acts as a kind of good-angel-without-money to him, and has for years been with him. One room and the food—but most of all the Inn to roam in, and the piano to give what he has to give to whomever knows and loves—well of course this is like asking for heaven, until I know what I can get together. But will you take the chance? Let me send you all that I can assemble, and gamble with me on the outcome?"
She continued in the letter telling more of Grierson’s exploits and his writing ability as well as informing him of the check to take care of his most immediate needs.
The dinner and concert was arranged for May 29th, shortly after her letter went out. Thirty people were invited for a recital from the great and mystical Francis Grierson. He spent the evening playing his piano and talking to his guests about his experiences in Europe. What happened next is best described in a letter from Tonner to Gale.
He turned to the instrument and announced that next and last piece of the evening would be and Oriental improvisation, Egyptian in character.
The piece was long, and when it seemed to be finished he sat perfectly still as if resting after the ordeal of this tremendous composition. He often did that, but it lasted too long and I went up to him—he was gone!
His head was only slightly bent forward, as usual in playing, and his hands rested on the keys of the last chord he had touched.
There had not been the slightest warning. He had seemed to be in usual health (he always had some indigestion), he had eaten well to gain strength for the evening, and he had been smiling and laughing with the company even a few moments before he passed away.
Zona Gale, upon hearing of Grierson’s passing, wrote Tonner and confessed that she thought daily how she had a hand in his death in urging the concert to happen. Gale and Miller will continue a friendship until his death in 1935. In 1938, Gale will publish Frank Miller of Mission Inn and will pass late that same year.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Shrouded in mystery

Shrouds. Burial shrouds. They have been used since the time of the Ancients. Before coffins, it was customary for the family members to wash the body then wrap it up in a shroud before placing it in it's place of eternal slumber. The most famous shroud of all is by far The Shroud of Turin, which supposedly is the shroud that they wrapped Christ in before his resurrection (the jury is out on that one, I am very skeptical of Church relics and their authenticity)

But did you know that the burial shroud is where we get the idea of the famous ghost in a sheet, ala Scooby-Doo? Shrouded spirits though were also a sign of an impending death. This is a section from a famous letter from evolutionary biologist Dr. George Romanes to Frederic Myers, one of the founders of the Society for Psychical Research:

"Toward the end of March, 1878, in the dead of night, while believing myself to be awake, I thought the door at the head of my bed was opened, and a white figure passed along the side of the bed to the foot, where it faced about and showed me it was covered, head and all, with a shroud.Then with its hands it suddenly parted the shroud over the face, revealing between its two hands the face of my sister, who was ill in another room. I exclaimed her name, whereupon the figure vanished instantly. Next day (and certainly on account of the shock given me by the above experience) I called in Sir W. Jenner, who said my sister had not many days to live. She died in fact very soon afterwards. 
I was in good health, without any grief or anxiety. My sister was being attended by our family doctor, who did not expect anything serious; therefor I had no anxiety at all on her account, nor had she herself. I have never, either before or after this, had such an experience."

Shrouds I am pleased to say, are making a comeback. People are ditching the idea of the traditional burial and going to something more intimate. Here is an article about an entrepreneur with a gentle heart bringing shrouds back into use.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Find me on Facebook

I want to welcome you all to my new page, All Things Dark and Beautiful. This page was a long time coming and is a travelogue into the dark journeys of my mind and the interesting and sometimes downright macabre places that I visit.

We will visit places known for their history, my investigations into the esoteric and the paranormal, and we may even occasionally delve into the darker side of popular culture.

This page is also meant to be an addendum to Haunted Orange County, a company that I am happy to say that I've been a part of for ten years. So I may add snippets of history, the more terrifying the better, from our tours that we cover to keep things...interesting.

So buckle up and enjoy...and don't be afraid