November 01, 2004

A window on the spiritual world

We celebrated Halloween this year by taking a nighttime flashlight tour of the Winchester Mystery House, in San Jose. I feel a bit like a tour guide whenever I say this, but if you're in the area I do recommend checking it out. It's not a cheap ticket, but you'll never see anything else quite like it and there are some fascinating stories behind the various rooms. If you have no plans to ever visit The Golden State, however, and have no idea what the deal is with the house, read a bit here or here to get a flavor.

The flashlight tours are something they do only a couple times a year, every Friday the 13th and on Halloween, and the only illumination really is by the flashlights they hand out. The tour guide wouldn't let me pick my color, though, so that was kind of disappointing. I mean, why would I want a red flashlight when the blue one was so much cooler?

Anyway, we traipsed by and through 110 of the 160 rooms in the house, and I took a few pictures. Some didn't come out that great, but this one of the window was interesting. (I'm sure the people who go in for these kinds of pictures would find my pictures disappointing, because if there are going to be ghosts or "energy designs" to be captured, you'd think that Halloween would be the night to get them. Ooh, ooh, are those blurry, whitish images in the window ghosts? No, they're finger smudges from "gotta touch it" visitors.)

If you read the articles above, or any of the many, many stories and mentions you can find on the Web, you'll hear about Sarah Winchester's superstitious nature, her twice-daily seances to consult with the spirits, a fondness for building features in her house to confuse ghosts, and use of the number 13 in a myriad of ways. But there are some other themes and motifs found throughout the house, including daisies, which were reportedly her favorite flower, spider webs such as in the window that is found in one of the bathrooms, and one that I noticed but that never got mentioned, Celtic knots.

We completed our hour-long tour without incident or eerie encounter, damn it, and (after a trip through the gift shop, of course) headed back out into the chill of All Hallows' Eve with worn-out feet and nothing but respect for any lingering, restless spirits.