Tag Archives: all saints day

Does Photography Remove Your Soul?

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I used to love the very few times I got to spend with my mother before she died. When she was out of the hospital on her good days; we used to roam the forgotten cemeteries in the countryside. My father sat shaking his head in his old Ford reading his Perry Mason paperbacks as he watched us read one crumbling stone after another.

 

Almonte cemetery- photo Linda Seccaspina

I will never know why she had such a fascination for these places but she always reminded me it was important to remember the dead as their families soon forget about them. So one day, long after she had passed, I started collecting antique portraits of the deceased at country auction sales.

 

 

I gave them names and created stories because like my mother; I wanted them to know someone cared. My favourite picture is a huge Victorian mourning shadow box from 1919. The little girl died a year after her communion and inside the gold framed shadow box is a veil, her picture and dried calla lilies. An elderly friend told me one day that the little girl had probably passed because the photographer had stolen her soul. I never really thought about it again until I went to Peralta Junction years ago in Berkeley and encountered a soul photographer there.

 

So was it true? Did photographers really steal your soul?

 

 

In some cultures any image taken may cause great distress because of religious beliefs, as they believe your reflection is your soul. If you look at some pictures of your great grandmother or possibly grandmother (depending on your age) you will notice no one smiles. There was popular belief that people didn’t like to have their pictures taken and the reason was because it stole your soul.

According to legends, mirrors when you look into them, reflect your soul and do not reflect back light that hits them. There is also an extension of the idea that your shadow is a reflection of your soul. Mirrors were considered an important part of the Mayan religion and culture as they thought mirrors opened portals into the other world, allowing ancestors and gods to pass through between the two planes. They believed when praying to a saint, the soul leaves the body. To help the soul find its way back into the body, mirrors are placed in front of saint statues to reflect back the soul. Many religions today still cover mirrors with black cloth when someone dies so the soul does not get trapped inside the mirror after death.

 

 

Most people today allow their photograph to be taken, however some still protect their infants as some still believe the souls of infants are fragile and are susceptible to leaving the body. Photographing an infant could harm the soul, preventing its return to the body. The soul is believed to be composed of thirteen parts, and photography damages or even removes some of these components and a shaman is sometimes brought in to restore a person’s soul.

 

 

I believe that photos are frozen moments of time and everyone knows first hand you do not get time back. You live for today as there might not be a tomorrow – so why worry about a disappearing soul?

Anyways, current word on the street is using a digital camera does not steal the subject’s soul, film cameras do.  So was Sears Inc. with their family photography promotions in on the soul stealing business all along; because I swear the woman below looks like my soul sister on a bad-hair day.

 

Linda- 1996 – 7:30 am the morning after one of her old stores fashion shows. The flowers survived but looks like she did not. Looks like her soul was sucked out!

Want to see more? Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News

Architecture Stories: Day of the Dead at Ghostly Atherton House

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My name is Dominga de Goni and I was once married to Faxon D. Atherton, who was once a wealthy force to be reckoned with in San Francisco. My family was quite wealthy and although I had my choice of suitors I chose Mr. Atherton as he was a ‘bad boy.’

 

After the gold rush was over we moved to San Francisco and had 7 lovely children. I was extremely happy in my marriage but my husband was not. He had many extra-marital affairs and left our family often to escape the children and me.

 

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Because I could not control my husband’s philandering, I took control of my own life and ruled my family with an iron fist. Because I felt so helpless I began to spin out of control and treated my son George with great cruelty. My son retreated into a fantasy world, stayed at home and somehow continued to take my abuse. When my husband passed away I decided I needed to escape my home and had Atherton Mansion built for me on the corner of Octavia and California Street.

 

My son George came with me and ended up marrying a young woman named Gertrude Horn, who was similar to me in personality. He was originally dating her mother 14 years his senior, but when he saw Gertrude her 17-year-old daughter, he ended up marrying her. With both of us women having domineering abusive personalities it was a wonder George did not attempt to kill himself. Oscar Wilde deemed Gertrude similar to an unattractive man and when I introduced to her to famed author Edith Wharton, Gertrude spread rumours that Wharton’s work was plagiarized. They ended up producing two grandchildren, but Gertrude sent my young Granddaughter to relatives so she could spend her time writing. She was so neglectful my grandson died when he was very young.

 

 

 

My daughter-in-law ended up being a minor success and wrote over 40 novels (including The Californian) focusing on the lives of domineering women. At this point, when my son’s life became part of her words in print, he decided to become like his late father and left home to find a life in my home country of Chile. George didn’t fare well on the trip and he ended up dying on the ship from kidney failure. In those days they could not turn the ship around so my son was pickled in a rum barrel to preserve him for the trip home.

 

The barrel was eventually returned to my home but had no identification on it. My butler, attempting to serve rum for dinner, was aghast when he found the late rum-soaked George in the barrel. After the staff dried him up we gave him a proper burial but my son in spirit refused to leave my home. George’s ghost would continually knock on our doors and I felt like I was being watched by an angry presence. In the end I could stand it no more and moved out of the evil house with Gertrude.

 

 

 

We decided never to go back but had great difficulty selling the home as George would not leave. The tenants moved out almost as quickly as they moved in, as they were made extremely uncomfortable by the haunting presence of my son, and his chilling airs. It wasn’t until 1923 when Carrie Rousseau and her fifty cats bought the house that he simmered down. Rousseau was as tough as nails and lived only in the ballroom of the house until 1974.

 

After Rousseau’s death the mansion was renovated but my son George refused to leave. One will never know what he did all those years when Rousseau lived there. Whether she ignored him or  possibly he could not be heard over the loud mewing of the cats. George remained silent for years.

 

As I float continually through the air I see the studio apartments of Atherton are always for rent. Obviously George is back as the tenants keep hearing arguing voices, and I assume one probably belongs his wife Gertrude, who came back to help haunt the place. It most certainly is not me although Psychic Sylvia Browne says it is. She described the voices as female spirits that just don’t like men and my silly son has been thrown into the middle of the fray. Of course what does Browne know? Was she not ‘outed’ a few years ago as a fraud?

I rest my case and Happy All Saints Day!

 

This is a true story..

Images and Text by Linda Seccaspina 2016

Want to see more? Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News