A decade ago I was casually involved with ghost enthusiasts and their investigations of hauntings. Back then there were rumors of an unrecognized haunted cemetery in northern Illinois. It was said to be an old, crumbling cemetery with incidents of genuine paranormal activity. However, nobody really knew where it was for sure. There are a great many cemeteries in northern Illinois including some that have never been made public. This rumored cemetery was simply called Cemetery Z.
There are a plenty of renowned and famous haunts; we know them by their reputation. Resurrection Cemetery had such a reputation because of the famous vanishing ghost hitchhiker named Resurrection Mary. Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery, suffering from decades of vandalism and desecration, was viewed as one of the most haunted of cemeteries.
However there are haunted sites without any reputation whatsoever, but are often equally significant. Nearly all hauntings remain unpublicized. Most people who experience such things don’t even talk about it, or if they do it’s just word of mouth. My blog reports actual incidents of the paranormal when I come across them. How many never see the light of day? Nearly all.
And so there was the rumor of the haunted Cemetery Z. Were stories of it only an urban legend? Years ago I was invited to join a couple of ghost hunting enthusiasts to check out the possible location of Cemetery Z. They said it was a small, obscure cemetery in an urban area. It fit the rumors. It was very old and suffered from the same type of desecration that possibility turned Bachelor’s Grove into a ghostly place.
The two ghost hunters and myself went to check out Cemetery Z. Unfortunately I didn’t know where this cemetery was. They didn’t tell me. I was just to follow them in my car. When we got there, we checked it out. They brought an EMF meter and a recorder for any EVP. I brought my tarot cards to attract the attention of any spirits around.
Many of the tombstones were very old. The date on the picture to the left is 1862. The cemetery was in a populated area yet it was in bad shape. There was awful graffiti on a crumbling abandoned mausoleum; inside it was worse.
Gravestones were broken and toppled. A cross is missing its arm. I could imagine this site would become a future Bachelor’s Grove type cemetery.
The graffiti on the mausoleum symbolized the type of desecration that could open the door to occult activity, which in turn might result in paranormal activity. Is this the famed Cemetery Z? It is a good candidate. However, we’d need to talk to local residents to hear if anyone experienced anything unusual around it. The problem is we have all left ghost hunting behind us.
Does this cemetery still look the same since I took these pictures many years ago? Worse? I should go back again, but I don’t know where this Cemetery Z is. Does anybody know the name of this cemetery? If I can find out, I’d like to return for another visit.
Below is a video I took inside the crumbing graffiti covered mausoleum.
The grave of Lars and Eddie Schmidt in Forest Home Cemetery attracts attention. It has an evocative statue of two children dressed in the Victorian clothing of the era. Often someone will leave a small gift at this grave. When I took this picture there were some rusty pennies at the statue’s feet, left as gifts for the dead. However, there was one new penny as well, so someone must have placed it there recently. Myself, I left a dime.
Why? It is understandable to leave behind a gift for our deceased loved one we knew in life. But why leave a gift at the grave of a stranger? I suppose it’s a reaction to this statue. They are so lifelike it stirs our emotions. And the deaths of children are the most tragic and sad. All we can do to express our sympathy is to leave behind a coin.
Sometimes someone will steal these gifts left behind for the dead. I thought to myself, how long would my dime remain there before someone takes it? Will it be there for a week from now, a month, or a year? Would someone actually stoop down to remove a dime left at a grave? I understand the cemetery staff removing things to keep the place tidy; that is their job. However, for a passerby to steal from the dead is tempting fate.
Stealing in general is bad karma; only grief will eventually come from thievery. But to steal from the dead is asking for a different type of trouble outside of human justice. Items left for the dead are not meant for the living and could be considered cursed. The dead may well be aware of what transpires in the world of life, and if the dead take offense, even such a tiny act of desecration could have troublesome consequences. Don’t touch that dime!
Below are two stories about alleged grave robbery. One allegedly stole graveside vases for their scrap metal value, and another allegedly stole a valuable guitar. Don’t mess with the dead!
I recently took some pictures in an old cemetery and found the statuary both beautiful and sad. I preferred the grave statuary to blocky tombstones.
A tombstone is a fitting symbol for death. It is an impersonal, abstract representation of death. The angular shape suggests annihilation and oblivion. Gravestones are rock, and stone is similar to bone. Stones could be called the bones of the earth. Rock is an apt symbol for the skeleton. Both rock and death are permanent.
Statues in cemeteries bring the illusion of life to stone. A statue seems to say death is not oblivion. Giving human form to stone hints we endure beyond death. It is a more hopeful symbol then just a square block marking the deceased’s location. Statuary suggests the immortality of the human personality. Statues are an act of creativity that endures beyond death. I prefer that symbolism!
In this cemetery I noticed statues of female angels, mourning women and children. I did not see statues of adult male figures. What could this mean? I’d guess society thinks the female is considered more emotional then the male and is a better symbol for mourning. Men are not supposed to cry, and a statue of a man mourning might be considered an uncomfortable symbol of weakness. It is curious how culture influences even grave statuary.
I was checking out an old non-denominational cemetery looking for unusual gravestones and symbols on tombstones. Always of interest are the Masonic symbols. This cemetery has numerous headstones etched with them. One symbol might take a bystander aback, like the gravestone pictured above. Some stones have pentagrams!
Pentagrams are widely recognized as occult, Wiccan or pagan symbols. When the upper point is aimed upward, it is considered positive. If it is used as a symbol of diabolic intent, then the point is aimed downwards. On some stones are these downward pointed pentagrams. To the casual observer, there would appear to be satanic symbols in the cemetery.
However, all is not as it might first appear. Around this pentagram are the letters OES. This stands for the Order of the Eastern Star. It is a Masonic fraternal organization where both men and woman may join. This is apparent in the tombstone pictured above, where both spouses have their own symbol. The husband has the traditional Masonic symbol of the compass and level. The wife has the pentagram with the letters O E S in the rays of the pentagram. Unlike the diabolic inverse pentagram, this pentagram symbolizes the Star of Bethlehem, the “star in the east” which appeared at the birth of Christ. Here the ray points down towards the birth site of the Christ child in Bethlehem.
Another intriguing tombstone (pictured below) has the same Masonic symbols representing the husband and wife. But underneath is a rare sight. It is a plaque stating “IN HOC SIGNO VINCES”. The meaning is “with your standard you shall have victory”. It shows a cross tilted in a crown. This symbol is associated with the Knights Templar Freemason organization. This organization differed from most other Masonic associations in that they required belief in Christianity and not just a Supreme Being.
Images of pentagrams and Knights Templar conspiracy theories give some religious folk reason to scorn Masons. I think this comes from a misunderstanding of what they are all about. Or more likely, some religion people don’t want any competition from any fraternal organization that is non-denominational. Such institutions might encourage people to think for themselves and we can’t have that happening, can we?
In 1888 the United Ancient Order of Druids (U.A.O.D.), a fraternal order, erected a monument in the Forest Home Cemetery outside Chicago. This cemetery, in the past know as German Waldheim Cemetery, was one of the few non-denominational cemeteries in the Chicago area, attracting an eclectic mix of graves sites, including masons, gypsies, radicals and atheists. I revisited the UAOD monument for a closer look, wanting to examine the symbolism of the monument.
The picture above was taken from a rear view; all photos I have seen of this monument are from the face view of the druid at the top of the pillar. You can see the concentric rings in the form of stone logs surrounding the monument. Within the rings are gravestones, which I assume were members or family of members of the fraternity. Several stones around the monument have Masonic symbols on it, as pictured below.
Mason Gravestone Symbols
Druid Monument All Seeing Eye
There is an image on the pillar (pictured left), of an eye in an upside down triangle, sort of the reverse of the image of the great seal on our dollar bill, the All Seeing Eye. Looking at the details of the druid atop the pillar, I’m not sure what the symbolism stands for. The druid has a sickle over his right shoulder, and holds a staff with the head of a cherub at the tip. He stands with a foot on four stacked stones. The druid’s expression is curious…sort of melancholy. Perhaps the druid, in empathy, is expressing the emotions of those who will visit their departed loved ones here.
Looking at the dates of the gravestones circling the druid, nobody has been interred here for a long time. This curious monument is a part of a history long past, an organization that may have in time become forgotten, except for this monument as a reminder. A dramatic monument is a good way to keep their history alive when all their members are gone. After all, I am writing about this in 2010, 122 years after it was erected.
I took many pictures of the monument with the hope a few would turn out well. It was an intensely hot and sunny day. In one photo below, I captured an orb. It is a photo of the statue from the shaded side, and at first I did not notice it. But then it caught my eye. Orbs are almost always captured as the result of a camera’s flash reflecting off of dust or raindrops. In the sunlight a flash was not happening. Daylight orbs are pretty rare. For sure it could just be an optical affect. Yet we have bright purple orb in the shadow of the druid. The romantic in me likes to imagine there is still a spiritual energy around this wonderful monument, and I caught a glimpse of it.
Is it safe to build an airport runway over a cemetery? Not safe in terms of flight safety, but in terms of bad karma, bad mojo, and bad luck. Here in Chicago our O’Hare Airport has acquired a historic cemetery that was in the way of building a new runway. They will pave a new runway over it. The news article is below:
If you use a Google satellite map for St. Johannes Cemetery you will see this tiny cemetery surrounded by the vast O’Hare Airport. Soon it will vanish.
Here is a quote from the article:
“That heavy equipment should not be in that cemetery in the first place because that is consecrated ground,” Karaganis said. “The only people who know where area markers and the religious headstones are the members of the church. So we’re hoping the appellate court will cease the damage and religious sacrilege being done at St. Johannes.”
I can understand an airport not wanting a small patch of cemetery blocking their plans. However something about this strikes me as wrong. Call me superstitious, but removing the graves from consecrated ground sounds a lot like inviting trouble of the spiritual kind. Who knows if all the graves will be accounted for? The desecration of a cemetery may not seem like much of a concern. Yet, desecration has led to the haunting of cemeteries such as the infamous Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery. In Ireland and Iceland, roads have been diverted around a fairy mound or a sacred tree.
I don’t know if I’d want to be on the airplane that is taking off over a former cemetery. Sort of like whistling in a graveyard. Hopefully superstition is only superstition and all will be well. Regardless, let’s keep an eye on this particular new runway.
I like cemeteries…old cemeteries, not modern ones. Modern cemeteries are sad and sterile places. They serve their purpose, but they are not a place to visit outside of paying our respects to the deceased. However, old cemeteries can be interesting places to visit, trying to find the oldest tombstone at a site. Some people like to make paper rubbings of old or exceptional tombstones. There is artistry in the stones and statuary found in older graveyards. Some cemeteries really are places to visit just for site seeing.
My favorite cemetery around where I live is Forest Home-German Waldheim Cemetery outside of Chicago. It was started in the 1876, has 288 acres and nearly 200,000 people are buried there. A major reason this cemetery is so interesting is because it was the only non-denominational cemetery around Chicago back then. It was open to any ethnicity and faith, or no faith at all. Along with local folk both famous and anonymous, buried here are American Indians, masons, gypsies, evangelists, druids, atheists and famed labor activists. This mixture of beliefs has created a wide variety of fascinating things to see at every turn.
United Order of Druids
Most famous would be the Haymarket Martyr’s Monument that was designated as a Historic Landmark. It commemorates the workers slain in the Haymarket labor riot in 1886. Labor activists from around the world come to visit this monument. The gypsy graves are of special interest as an example of their unique culture. There is a monument for the United Ancient Order of Druids. It really is striking and unique, with a druid on a pillar, the ground surrounded by stone circles carved like wood. Ancient burial grounds were discovered here containing mastodon bones and tusks and the Potawatomi Indians had burial mounds at these grounds. It is definitely a place to visit if anyone is in the vicinity.
Quite a while ago I visited the infamous Bachelor’s Grove cemetery with a couple of fellow ghost enthusiasts.Bachelors Grove is a decrepit abandoned cemetery outside Chicago with a famous reputation for being haunted.
It was really overgrown when I visited it. We all had our cameras ready, our recording devices on.We looked around examining the area, took pictures and wondered if we’d possibly capture something out of the ordinary.What I like to do when I visit a haunted place is to do a tarot card reading there.It is my personal way of trying to make contact with whatever might be around.I will do a layout with my deck of cards which I have owned since I was a teenager.It is the only deck that I seem to get results from.Perhaps my years of ownership with it is responsible for that.I have had some interesting readings with that particular deck over the years.
After looking around, I did a card layout on one of the tombstones.There are not many intact tombstones left in Bachelor’s Grove, and few remaining I could lay my cards out on (picture above).Know what?I felt sort of weird doing a layout on someone’s gravestone.It almost felt like desecration.Heaven knows Bachelor’s Grove has suffered terribly from desecration over the years.The place has a sad atmosphere, a feeling of loss.I feel the cemetery’s abuse has been partially responsible for it’s haunted state.
Bachelor’s Grove has also been a place where people would practice occult rituals.Who knows what practices, what acts, have been performed there over the long decades?I can only imagine everything from amateurs trying to summon the dead or demonic, to genuine occultists, to criminal activity.An abandoned cemetery attracts this type of activity.If dark ceremonies are performed often enough in the same place, it will create a link with the darkest regions of the Unseen World.I believe this is what is responsible for the haunted status of Bachelor’s Grove, a corruption of its original purpose, by the invitation of dark spirits by those summoning them.
And here I was doing the very same thing, if only on a tiny scale.It is disrespectful to use anyone’s final resting place for such purposes.I was using the cards trying to contact whatever was there, like a form of channeling.If there were entities lingering around, the cards were an invitation to make contact.Spirits cannot force themselves on us, but we can invite them in.And that is what happened next!
After my visit to Bachelor’s Grove, I experience a bout of bad luck.Nothing remarkably awful, just random bad events, one after another.Enough bad luck that I began to wonder what the heck was happening, this was all very peculiar. Eventually I started to worry…I was getting a sense of unease which I can’t quite explain.I talked with one of my comrades who joined me at Bachelor’s Grove, and he said he was having some bad experiences after the visit as well.
One evening, sitting at home, I took some random pictures.I was startled to see orbs in some pictures.Never before had I ever see any orb in any photo at home.I don’t take orbs in photos too seriously, as there are many explanations for them, but sometimes orbs can indeed represent something more.I decided that something might have followed me home from my visit to Bachelor’s Grove.I had invited something in.So I thought it was time to purge any potential negative presence.
The ultimate protection from any possible entity is to have a connection with a higher spiritual source, depending on our belief system…our concept of God or a Higher Self.As living human beings, we are all mighty spiritual beings, stronger then an entity that we might encounter.But if we don’t realize this, then we can be victimized by an entity.Spiritual power is useless if we are passive and don’t understand our potential.On top of our own inner strength, we can call on a Higher Power, which is superior to our own efforts alone.We must truly believe in this Higher Power, but if we have this belief, we can banish any threat.Which was what I did.Afterwards, my bad luck also disappeared.I learned a lesson…maybe reading cards on a gravestone is not such a good idea.