Saturday, September 26, 2009


Unhappy or improper burials are known to create ghosts, some of whom are very active and some who just seem to wait around their burial place hoping for help.

Cranky ghosts often result from a person being buried in a crummy manner.

And Sometimes from a proper grave being disturbed.

And sometimes from never being buried at all.

I wonder whether people who drown, and are unlucky enough to never have their remains recovered, become underwater ghosts. This may account for the occasional sighting of a mermaid on a moonlit night.

A resultant ghost from an improper burial is one of the most common of all types of hauntings. Seems like every time a person gets sealed inside a wall, you end up with a ghost in the house.

Not all improper burials are accidental or the result of someone hoping to hide a death from the world. There are reasons aside from accident and secrecy for some improper burials. It is a known historical practice to bury the body of someone believed to be evil in a purposefully improper manner.

Those poor folks thought to be witches or believed to be in league with the devil were purposefully buried face-down. This was to keep their remains from digging their way to the surface should their bodies experience post mortem animation. Should they try to claw their way out of the grave, they end up going in the wrong direction.

When a death sentence was not sufficient punishment for a convicted criminal, some communities would see to it that the remains of the executed were interred at a busy crossroads. In this manner, the ghost of the dead might not experience rest in the afterlife.

There was such a case discovered in a community north of Chattanooga and documented by the Tennessee Folklore Society. The remains of the body of a woman was uncovered at a dirt crossroads as the road was being dug for widening and paved surfacing by the WPA in the late 1930s. The skeleton was complete with a wooden stake through the rib bones and the body had been interred face-down.

I wrote about this strange case in The Granny Curse. From time to time on a rainy day here in the mountains, a day like today, I wonder what other secrets rural crossroads might be holding beneath the surface.

As the Asheville area flooded earlier this week, I couldn’t help but also wonder whether ghosts float. If they do, they could end up about anywhere. They could end up tangled in the branches of a tree. If they don't, I wouldn't want to go swimming just anywhere.


Atrueoriginall said...

:) Cut story!

Atrueoriginall said...

Cute rather lol

Loretta Ross said...

I always thought the reason for burial at a crossroads was so the ghost wouldn't know which way to go and would get lost.

As for floating ghosts, consider the Watertown. ;) said...

Nice thought, Loretta! I think your explanation has lots of merit.

Watertown. LOL!

I remember a really bad flood on the Missouri River about 20 years ago and on TV they showed graveyards that had been "compromised." Old caskets had surfaced and were floating downstream. I felt sorry for the ghosts.

Then again, maybe it was a chance for travel.

Loretta Ross said...

Didn't that same "floating caskets" thing happen around New Orleans after Katrina? And I remember reading a news story about ghosts being reported in Asia after the Christmas Tsunami.

I'm enjoying your blog, btw, and I'll check out one of your books the first chance I get.

FARfetched said...

I remember hearing that suicides were typically buried at a crossroads. Then there's the famous crossroads in Mississippi, now US49 & US61, where Robert Johnson supposedly sold his soul for rock & roll.

Floating ghosts… what about burial at sea? Does the ceremony & weighted coffin prevent ghost-generation, or do they walk around with the angler fish?

Atrueoriginall said...

Reading Farfetched's last comment - lol, it reminded me of a post of mine that I'm afraid entails many floating ghosts and even some flying ghost.

This story is about hurricane Ike victim Gail Ettenger. It's sad but true and the music (video) is great.

I thought y'all would enjoy it but bring Kleenex.

What Else Is There
. said...

Atrue: a 10-mile float face-down... there's a ghost somewhere. I'mt hinking too about the Great Dane. Dang.

Finally, though, a reasonable use for old love letters!

FarFuture: I hadn't heard abotu suicides at crossroads. Makes sense, though, because I am certain some churchyards wouldn't allow their burial -- and in some communities that was the church cemetery was the only option.

Most cemeteries have numerous unmarked graves, as I am sure you know. And, yes, the Robt Johnson crossroads!

I think Levon Helm mentioned that in his Mississippi blues-highway documentary. I forget the title of it, but if you ever get a chance to see it, the (PBS?) highway tour with Helm is sure worth it.

quillfeather said...

Great blog. I've always had a fascination with ghosts - floating or otherwise!

Enjoyed my visit. Will pop in again sometime :)