Gravely Famous

Ghosts of Taos podcast Season 1 Episode 4: Gravely Famous

Taos has its share of the famous – both dead and living. Kit Carson Memorial Park is a burial ground steeped with history and mystery. In this episode we explore the history and play an interview with Dr. Kathy Cordova of El Prado New Mexico as she talks about what she found out about those three graves over by the Dragoon Lane entrance of the Kit Carson Memorial State Park while she was a Cultural Reporter for the Smithsonian Institute.

The Coco Man, farm spirits and rude gestures

According to Wikipedia,

The myth of the Coco originated in Portugal and Galicia. According to the Real Academia Española, the word coco derives from the Galician and Portuguese côco, which referred to a ghost with a pumpkin head. The word coco is used in colloquial speech to refer to the human head in Portuguese and Spanish. Coco also means “skull”.

Many Latin American countries refer to the monster as el Cuco. In Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado, where there is a large Hispanic population, it is referred to by its anglicized name, “the Coco Man.”

In fact, I have heard the Coco Man invoked to either scare children or to relate just how scary the idea of the Coco Man is to a fully-grown adult who has been raised under the stern influence of a boogeyman that will come to get you if you’re bad, and maybe even if you’re good.

The idea of the Pumpkin Head now meshed together with El Cuco sends a shiver down my spine.

I had originally ascribed the idea of pumpkin heads as some sort of farm spirit that had gained autonomous movement (Read my account of seeing pumpkin heads), but now I’m going to have to re-examine that line of thought.

I am also thinking about one of the local gestures of either extreme dislike or a male full-arm and hand greeting gesture with somewhat “affectionate” undertones, especially between young men who are friends. The position of the hand suggests helping someone to give the gesturer a blowjob, but since the gesture means “skull,” it suggests servitude until death, “you’re my bitch even in death,” etc.

I’m really not sure how all these symbolic ideas fit together, but somehow, I think they are related.

Paranormal distress?

A woman in the historic district in Taos is having trouble that she attributes to the paranormal.

Here is a list of the claims of activity:

  • objects that were supposed to be in one room found in another
  • strange light phenomena in photographs taken with an iPhone
  • toothpaste tube contents being squeezed out and other messes
  • loud, unexplained noises in empty rooms
  • chill areas

Ghosts of Taos has already visited the location and standard measures were taken to persuade the entities to leave. Nothing unusual happened during the time we were there, but we were not conducting an investigation. We were just interviewing the woman, checking out the building and smudging, etc. We did suggest any entities responsible for the activity should stop bothering the woman and move along.

We’ve uploaded photos taken by the woman and we’re curious as to what we might be dealing with, under the circumstances.

We’ve left the comment section open (at least for the time being), and we’re curious about your thoughts.


Got ghosts? Take control of your space

filtered-smudgeYou’ve shopped around. You’ve gone from neighborhood to neighborhood and open house to open house, and you have finally found your perfect, adobe restoration project. Everything is going smoothly until your electrician meets you at the top of the basement stairs and tells you you’re going to have to find another electrician because he’s not going down in the basement again. Ever.

Or, let’s say you’re doing the work yourself and as you begin to work on particular areas of your dream restoration project, your tools begin to go missing or are moved, ostensibly when there’s no one else around.

These are common claims from people who have bought homes in the Taos area. The buildings in question don’t even have to be old to for it to have its own resident spirits, entities or paranormal “issues.”

What should you do if you feel you may have stirred things up in your home with restoration phases, opening long-closed passageways, or tearing down old walls? Should you try to make peace with the spirits that you have stirred up with your changes or do you take it upon yourself to help the spirits to move on?

Renovation: The perfect storm for paranormal activity

Experts say the conditions of changing ownership, large interior and exterior changes in a structure is the perfect storm for paranormal activity. These actions can also release held energies in wood, stone, and adobe.

Additionally, houses that have been empty for long periods of time are susceptible to attracting these energies because the “ghosts” or entities know they probably won’t have much chance of being disturbed or bothered by the living.

dollsSomething else that might contribute to the accumulation of spirits is energies or attachments are what are called “haunted objects.” These are most likely items purchased at estate, yard sales and antique shops. The physics of how an object can hold information is complex, but the field of measuring that information is known as psychometry or the ability to discover facts about an event or person by touching inanimate objects associated with them. Not necessarily a new field of study, scientists are just now discovering the grounds for such information storage in objects, because these phenomena have been reported as long as humans have thought to make note of it.

The most common haunted objects include:

  • Dolls
  • Jewelry
  • Antique bed frames and headboards
  • Paintings (especially self-portraits)
  • Mirrors
  • Clothing (especially gowns)
  • Chairs

If you love antiques it might be hard for you to forego garage sales and antique shops. There’s something special about an item that is found after a delightful hunt. But perhaps that “specialness” is actually a lure to get you to take it home. It is always a good idea to inquire about the history of an item before buying it, especially if it’s especially old and expensive and you’re bringing it into your home. The more expensive something is the less likely you’ll want to part with it, even if you discover it’s the source of your paranormal activity.

Before carrying these object into your home, you might want to give them a spritz with salt water, smudge them and let them sit in a light airy spot for as long as you can. You could even clap your hands, bang on a pot lid with a spoon or ring a bell loudly over the items and say, “Be on your way. I wish you no harm.” This gives any attached spirit an opportunity detach itself and leave before you bring the item into the house.

Be assertive and take charge

If you’re having paranormal issues in your home or restoration project, there are a few steps you can take yourself that might help abate the situation. These are the actions you should be able to take on your own without having to call in experts.

toolsThere are several schools of thought about steps one can take to rid or at least quiet paranormal activity in a building. Most will agree that a tidy, nonchaotic environment is helpful in clearing an area. It may be difficult to keep things tidy while a renovation is going on, but taking the time to return tools to their proper place daily and making sure construction trash is collected outside goes a long way toward appeasing spirits who take to hiding tools and making things rough for the sloppy contractor. Of course, some spirits are so annoyed by the sudden increase in activity and change to their old digs, they might just throw a fit anyway.

This is when you need to step it up a bit with some sage-bundle burning, or smudging. Be careful about the sparks that fly off the sage bundles around construction littler. That’s another reason to keep the area picked up. There’s less opportunity for ghostly pyrotechnic shenanigans and unexplainable accidents.

Another step you can take is to spritz the area with salt water, and if you like, a few drops of essential oils like rosemary, lavender, and frankincense in the water can really make an impact on the heavy feeling in a room.

dreamcatcherAnother thing experts recommend is to keep a log or a journal of any activity that occurs. It’s a great way to recall the events while they are fresh in your mind but also to see if a pattern of activity exists. The determination of such a pattern would be extremely helpful to an investigator.

It could show a natural cause for the activity such as a furnace or refrigerator kicking on If the activity turns out to actually be paranormal you may decide it’s a paranormal investigation or maybe even a spiritual cleaning is needed. Obviously, if it looks like the ghostly events are occurring at a certain time (or day), then this would be the time an investigator to schedule their inquiry.

When you are compiling your paranormal activity journal or logbook, here are a few things that you want to include:

Note the exact time and date when the activity occurred.
Make a note of everyone who was present and what they saw. If possible have each witness record their thoughts in their own words.
Note the weather conditions at the time.

A journal is an invaluable tool if an investigator or medium comes to help and it will go a long way in establishing evidence about the haunting in your home.

There are more steps you can take to regain control of your environment if you think it’s being plagued by spirits. The internet is full of information, from the basic to the elaborate, and it may get to the point with your particular situation that you want to call in an expert.

When it’s time to call in the experts

You know it’s time to call in a professional investigator or medium when your situation is all you can think about, you’re afraid to spend time in your home or when you feel like you are in actual danger or being harmed.

Processed with VSCOcam with a4 preset

If you’re simply experiencing paranormal activity, think about weighing your options before you go about contacting a paranormal exterminator. Are you in any real harm? Are the infrequent yet persistent events easy enough to deal with? If they are you should do what you can to make peace with the spirits and manage to coexist. If you can’t abide them in your space, call a priest, religious leader or do a google search for Taos + psychic medium and a list of local professionals will be presented.

Another avenue for supplies, research and connections is Optimysm, 129 Kit Carson Road, (575) 741-8545

Other items mentioned in the article are readily available on or by searching for other, perhaps more magical providers.

La Lorona sighting along Hwy 64

along-the-ditchWe just got an email from some visitors who asked if the road through Taos Canyon, especially right there in Cañon, was haunted. They said:

Email 1: Good morning, We just spent Sunday night in Taos and have a question. Is there a ‘ghost story’ involved with highway 64 – within the first few miles, leaving the plaza headed up to Eagle Nest? Or locals that may like to play tricks on people driving by? We saw something very interesting and are just curious.

Reply: There are lots and lots of ghost stories along Highway 64, which is understandable. When I first moved to the area in 1986, I lived 10 miles up the canyon, and that first year there were two road deaths right in front of my house in the short time I lived there. Another man who was well-known in the community committed suicide at the Shady Brook Inn in the late 1980s. Also, when I would drive into town, it sometimes looked like a man was trying to wave me down. I doubled back , but there was no one. Another time, I thought I saw a car off the road and signaling with headlights for help. I called the Taos County Sheriff but there was nothing. I’m not even going to talk about the other creepy, weird things I used to hear at night. So … what did YOU see? :)

Email 2: Oh wow! We were going to turn around but decided that we didn’t want to know that nothing was there. We haven’t been able to shake the feeling yet. Something just wasn’t ‘right’ about it! We saw a woman with her hands up to her face on a curve just a few
miles out. She was wearing a lace dress that was blowing in the wind.

Reply: Oh my goodness! That sounds like La Llorona, or the Woman Who Weeps. Sounds like you had a classic sighting! Very exciting, but a good thing you didn’t stop!

Email 3: WOW, well I just got chills…..again! That is what we saw, both of us. The only difference in what my boyfriend (he was driving) and I saw was that I thought she was facing us and he thought her back was more towards us. The feeling we had was sad when we saw her. Both hands up to her face as if crying or screaming, black lace – long dress that was flowing in the wind. The dress was old, from another time period. Very strange and exciting! Thank you for sharing the information with us, I appreciate it very much! Maybe we can ‘shake’ the feeling a little bit now.

Haunted Objects

annabellephotoWhat do you think about objects being haunted? Several people I know personally have reported objects that they have either acquired or have been handed down from relatives seem to have a “life of their own.”

We met a woman on one of our recent tours who actually got to visit Ed and Lorraine Warren’s Haunted Museum and she took a photograph of the famous Annabelle doll.

One our tour we go by several shops which have been reported to have haunted object for sale in them, and a few museums in town have items which have been said to still carry a charge.

We have also been told that simply getting rid of the object by throwing it away or burning it may not be the right way to go about being free of the effects of the haunting.

What about you? Have you ever experienced a haunting from an object? Tell us about it in the comments section, which we have opened for a discussion along this topic.

We smelled cigar smoke

2013-10-14 19.45.40 HDR
This wonderful group, Rebecca Meares with Sunny Turner, her sister Linda, Linda’s daughter Sarah, and Sarah’s boyfriend Craig, smelled fresh cigar smoke while we took a short break at La Fonda’s lobby. Bob Saud, the current owner of La Fonda, showed the group the drawings by D.H. Lawrence, and on the way out of the hotel, we smelled the smoke again — this time, from the vestibule, where no smoking is allowed.

Saki Karavas, one of the former owners of La Fonda, is known to haunt the hallways and lobby of La Fonda. He is described as being a “constant presence in the hotel” by people who work, visit and stay there.

The Pumpkinheads: Calabazos

One night I sat and watched a storm roll in from the west. I had just put my daughter to bed and my husband was at the other end of the house watching television. I saw the storm’s lightning under the shade in E’s room as I tucked her in.

I turned off all the lights in the house and stood at the big window in the kitchen that looks out onto the back pasture. I was surprised at how quickly the storm had come. Before, it was just distant lightning in the far west but now the flashes were high and overhead – lighting up the cloud-filled sky and making the trees and all the green grass jump into sudden color and detail.

Then, what happened next is what I want to tell you about. In a part of my vision – it was not my everyday vision, but I saw something liminal and wondrous in the next flash.

Walking in single file from the little stream that courses through the western corner of the back pasture came a line of people. I say people because I am not sure they were any gender at all, though they seemed to be wearing pants. They were short and stocky – wearing loose clothing made from coarse material. A baggy shirt with large, crude buttons, and a patch pocket and baggy pants – all made from dun-colored cloth. And instead of regular human heads, they had heads like large gourds, squash, garlic and onion heads. (Calabazas. Calabano, Caliban – for some reason, these are the words that come to mind.) They lumbered, nearly swaying like the trees – their stride long and their arms swinging.

I was so unnerved by what I saw, I instantly did not want to look out the window any longer, but a part of me was drawn to it. But I knew if I squinted and looked again as the storm rode harder and mightier, I would become severely frightened.

I ran to my husband – the lightning lighting up the whole inside of the house because of the skylights. I could not help myself but told him what I had seen.

“Oh good one,” he said (not in a sarcastic way, but as if he believed I had seen them). I told him I didn’t feel it was something scary or sinister, but that it was simply farming spirits in a procession from the Rio Lucero to Rio Pueblo, trudging through our yard, walking through our garage as if it was not there – all the way to the next river.