This one is not overtly scary,
but it did have its spooky moments!!
The Graveyard Crawl
Gosh, where to start!! Every year, my wonderful group of ladies and I go to a cemetery the full moon before Halloween and pay homage to the dead. It's a way of honoring the death of the old in our lives and to welcome in the winds of change and new life brought by the harvest. It also lets us honor our ancestors who have gone before us and to honor our own lives and consider what is left undone, what is holding us back and the tenaciousness of life itself.
It's also an opportunity to get really, really scared sometimes.
We've had some wonderful graveyard crawls over the year. In fact, they've all been great. This year, Georgia, our cemetery seeker, found one months in advance. It's about 30 minutes from here and was well worth the drive. Eric wasn't able to go because we didn't have a sitter and our pal, Leslie, had to work, so it was the four of us: Me, Georgia, Jen K and Jen F (who we call "the Jen collective"). The graveyard itself was fairly simple. It was in a very rural area (Eric would call it the California-Kentucky border) and right on the road. There was no church around, just the cemetery. In the very center of the cemetery was a wonderful pavilion, probably about 12'X12' with an opening at each of the four compass directions and a wonderful rooster weather vane on top. The stones were both upright and flat and not very old. I think the oldest was in the 1870's and the newest was last month. It's always very interesting to read the stones and work out some of their stories. One lady had been dead for about a 4-5 years and her grave area was particularly lush and rich with deeply green grass. Her name was Carole and her maiden name was, get ready, "Herbage." :) A couple in the corner had a patch of grass beside them that was bright, light green and in the shape of the California flag bear. One guy had a beloved wife buried on each side of him, a tiny stone for him and large stones for each of them. A family plot had a little nub of a stone about 10 inches tall with four sides, listing young children. There was a set of twin sons who died at 2 days, a daughter who died at 7 days, a son who died at 9 years and another son who died at 3. Looking around a the names, there were other children from the same family who had lived to adulthood and then died. No parents were there, but there was a large, plain, upright stone that said, "God's Will Be Done." We did our ritual to give homage and honor all of the things I mentioned above, communed with the energy there, then got ready to leave. It was getting dark quickly and the bright, full moon was riding high in the sky. There had been a hoard of birds, like guardians of the place, all around since we arrived. Georgia found a tiny little frog, about the size of a thumbnail, on one grave. Another had a yellow melon and three beer bottles (empty). Georgia and I noticed a huge pile at the back of the cemetery and went back to check it out. It was a huge pile of dirt and grass clippings. The clippings were obviously from the maintenance of the cemetery. It took us a bit to figure out that the giant mound of dirt was from years of accumulation of the part of a grave that the casket would take up. There were some silk flowers there, so I took them and then Georgia noticed a stone in the garbage pile. It was old, so old that the writing was no longer readable. Obviously, someone had traded out for a new one. We brushed off the dirt and potato bugs and determined that we must have it.
A hush had fallen over the graveyard, unlike the cries of the birds and the crickets from even 15 minutes before. We called the other girls over to discuss the idea, asked the place if they had any problems with us taking it and didn't feel any problems. We gathered around the 400 or so pound block of cement, each took a corner, which put us slightly closer than shoulder to shoulder, taking tiny little baby steps. By the time we got to the pavilion, we had to stop for a rest and it was really most sincerely dark. We set the stone down on one of the benches in the pavilion and took a breath. As soon as we stopped moving, we could feel how much the atmosphere of the place had changed since the sun had set. It was as though they tolerated us kindly during the day, but now we were on their time. I could see shades and shadows slipping around in the moonlight and although there was nothing overtly angry feeling, I felt as though we were someplace where we weren't supposed to be and we were being graciously told it was time to leave. I felt "someone" pass behind Georgia, who was to my right. She looked at me at the same time and I knew she'd felt it too. She's been with me the longest and we are wonderfully well tuned to one another in a way that only long time sister Witches can be. I called her last week..."What happened." "My cat died." I could feel a disturbance in the Georgia force. So when we locked eyes, I knew she'd also caught the drift. I said, "Does anyone get the feeling that we should have left about ten seconds ago?" Georgia said, "Yes and someone just walked behind me." (bingo) The Jens didn't feel anything so I had them feel behind Georgia and feel the air that was around them. Several degrees colder behind Georgia. "Time to go!" We picked up the stone again and began walking with it, just as a cold wind came up from behind me (the North). There had been breezes from the West earlier, but this was constant...strong. "Georgia, tell me you have a remote clicker for your trunk." "No." "Jen, get the gate, get the gate!" "It's stuck." "Get the GATE!" Gate opened, we balanced the stone between three of us while Georgia unlocked the trunk. "CAR!!!!" A car topped the hill and someone got a look at four women dropping something very heavy into a trunk, slamming the trunk and jumping into the car, breathless. The gate slammed shut at the same time and we all jumped. We looked out at the cemetery and it had come alive; milling about visiting one another now that we were off the grounds. No one was angry...just active because it's that time of year, that time of night and their home. We drove away quickly. On the way home, Georgia pointed out that we'd left so quickly that the bird shit made a backwards "L" on the window where it had been dripping down, then whizzzz! We talked about seizing the moment and how this is the way memories are made. :) What a great night.