FREE Facebook LIVE Event Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum 2021 hosted by World Natural Attractions
We thought as a fan of The Psychic Coffee Shop, you would be especially interested in knowing about this event.
Located in Weston, WV Trans-Allegheny is a gothic era 250-bed mental hospital that operated from 1864 until its closure in 1994.
In 2007 was purchased and has subsequently been a local tourist attraction for those both fascinated with the building itself, and the patients that were treated there.
Some of whom are claimed to still walk the halls.
Originally opened as the height of modern mental healthcare in its time, by the 1950s the number of patients housed there far exceeded its original plan by an order of magnitude, eventually peaking at 2,400 patients in the 1950s.
From hope for those suffering acute and severe mental illness, it eventually became a horror in its own right and a showcase of everything that was wrong with the mental healthcare system in the United States.
From SyFy’s Ghost Hunters to Travel Chanel’s Destination fear, the rich history of this building, and the experiences people have had there, keep this a popular destination for those who like to explore all things paranormal.
I grew up with grandparents who were born before sliced
bread. They were babies or not yet born during WWI, part of what became known
as the greatest generation. They married, set up house, and had a baby in the
middle of the Great Depression. One of the places they lived with that baby was
a duplex in which the family upstairs was diagnosed with tuberculosis Though my
grandmother and my father didn’t get sick, they ended up having false positives
on skin tests for it for the rest of their lives.
I couldn’t help but think of my grandparents today,
especially of my grandmother’s general principles of “learn to do without,
have to be careful, and have to be saving,” at a time in which our country is
thrown into a panic of Coronavirus.
Not all of her stories from those times of struggle were
sad, some of them were about the ability to look back and find humor in what,
at the time, seemed like the worst possible thing that could have happened.
There was the time that my father, a small child doing as small children do, knocked over their cupboard of dishes. Every plate, bowl, and cup they owned was suddenly a pile of broken pieces spilled across the kitchen floor. They couldn’t afford to buy new ones. The rage, the fury that swelled up inside of her was overwhelming, at that moment she thought she could have killed her own child for being so careless. Thankfully my grandfather sent him outside and calmed her down. He was born with a club foot, a condition in which at birth his foot was bent to where his heel and toes were side-by-side. They struggled to get it straightened, my father having to wear casts for years and her having to massage and manipulate the foot to get it as it should be. The fear and worry they had about money to pay for him to see doctors, about whether he would ever walk normally, and there he was running carefree through the kitchen like any other child.
Funny years later when times aren’t as tight and with more dishes than you can use crammed everywhere you can put them, at the moment a horrible problem that you can’t solve on top of all the rest.
Or having a washing machine that broke down in a time in which “just buying a new one,” wasn’t an option. My grandfather tried to fix it and, after struggling with it for a considerable amount of time, realized that it was a problem with the motor. Like anyone else who has tried to fix something, there’s that sudden “I know what I need” rush out the door. He removed the motor and rushed out the door to go take it to see if it can be fixed. He got as far as the car before realizing he didn’t have his keys and laid the motor on the sidewalk beside the car to go get them. Two minutes inside the house later, he comes out to find the motor gone.
WWII saw children doing their part for the war effort,
roaming neighborhoods collecting scrap sat on sidewalks in front of houses. It
was a series of unfortunate, but honest, mistakes. They did without, my grandmother
handwashing all their clothes.
Again, funny years later when you don’t have to use a hand crank wringer washer or a scrub board to do your laundry, but at the time a moment in which you feel so bonehead stupid for doing such a thing.
They survived those events and so many more. They helped as they could whoever they could. From taking care of their parents, and anyone else in need.
Their lives, though no storybook, were a testament to resiliency. To being able to find a way to set aside the harsh realities, be creative, be willing to embrace struggle and hardship, and trying to keep a sense of humor and humility.
In many ways, I feel I have inherited some of those traits.
This weekend we ended up traveling miles from the house just
to realize that the reason for the trip, a small workshop, wasn’t that day, but
a week later.
Upon realizing this there were two very distinct reactions
in the car. Mine, and his. His was one of “I cannot believe what I just did, I’m
sorry, I’m so, so sorry.”
And mine, to find it hysterically funny.
The milk was already spilled, there was nothing I could do,
including yelling, screaming, and blaming that would fix it.
We were 150+ miles from home for, effectively, no good
reason. Why be angry? What does that solve? Sure, I would love to have slept in
and not gotten on the road bright and early to make the drive, but that was already
done. What’s the opportunity, what’s the creative solution, what do we do with
For me, it was to realize that we keep saying, “one of these
days when we have a chance, when we don’t have to be in such a rush, when we can
take some time, it would be lovely to just be a visitor and explore these
places we go to.”
We’re here, let’s choose our own adventure!
We did. We did some light shopping, we stopped at places we normally only get to rush through, we tried a new restaurant, and along the way, we turned the day around. Was it the most awesome day ever? No. Could we have planned better? Yes. That, however, wasn’t what we had to work with. We had to take a moment and decide to get creative. To decide that no, this wasn’t the day we had planned, and it wasn’t going to be perfect, but we could salvage it.
Coronavirus panic has taken the world over, just as the panic of realizing you’ve made a massive mistake or shown up at the right place on the wrong day. The solution isn’t to sit in the panic and let it consume you. Panic is not a place to live, it’s a place to visit, it’s sobering. It lets us understand the magnitude and gravity of what has happened or is happening. You take your moment of realizing what has or is occurring, and you move forward and try.
Coronavirus is here, it’s happening, and it’s a serious
issue that needs everyone’s careful attention.
It is also an opportunity to do great things, to push through
the fear, the uncertainty, and the anxiety and find ways to deal with the
challenges that we encounter.
Resiliency, even when it hurts, even when it’s scary, even
when it’s hard is what we need to strive for. The ability to take those
challenges, accept that they are there, and then begin to find ways to overcome
Only with resiliency can we get out of the panic and see that there will be other days ahead. Nothing, good nor bad, lasts forever. This will end at some point, and every day despite whatever else unfolds is one day closer to the end.
What we must accept that this period of unknowns, though difficult, is a call to dig deep and find greatness within ourselves. To find the spirit of our parents, grandparents, and beyond that survived similar or worse than we are facing right now. Somewhere within you exist the traits of that Greatest Generation, of those who survived what seemed impossible, made do, did without, got creative, remembered their friends and neighbors, and found a way.
Coupled with sound medical advice, like social distancing
and other precautions, we will make it through. And, having survived this, it
will bear the same kind of fruits of art, literature, music, social and political
change that have hallmarked generations before us and those that will come long
There’s a behind the scenes of each show and it comes in a variety of forms. Sometimes it’s from comments from listeners and also our own internal conversations. Sometimes we find more information, sometimes we continue the conversation after the show, but sometimes we catch something in post production that is unexpected.
And this past Friday’s episode of The Mountain Bears, as Aeson was reviewing the recording and prepping it for distribution, he noticed something.
I kept saying “we” in regard to the protest of Pagan Pride.
I didn’t quite believe it at first, but there it is, I have jumped into the situation, me, the athiest, have become part of the pagan “we.”
Maybe it’s all the time on the road, the many wonderful people in the pagan community that have so warmly and kindly invited me in, and the overall welcoming way every event I end up at seems to go. I’m not cloaked in some shadow of existence, an athiest in pagan clothing, but quite the opposite, it’s be a very open thing.
And, oddly, it’s never been an issue. In much the same way the athiests welcome divergent view points, so too does the pagan community.
That, with a willingness to hear and an ability to be open to the premise of different ideas and experiences, there can be difference of belief with opportunities for inclusion.
On that note, I think that’s where my story of the Pagans and Me, a “we,’ begins.
Though, not necessarily in the here and now. From my side it started with an agnostic and an athiest, more colloquially known as mom and dad respectively. It involved years of encouragement to seek, question, wonder, engage, and listen. But most importantly, to respect. Though, not in the way most have come to accept the word. Respect, not blindly and obediently, but objectively and in kind.
Strange though it may seem, I’ve often found myself gravitationally pulled towards pagans. A concept that seems on one hand absurd, as I don’t share the beliefs, but on the other hand makes absolute sense. A sense I have only recently begun to articulate. There’s a certain aspect to paganism that shares so much in common with atheism that it is head slappingly obvious that it seems almost ridiculous to not have realized it sooner.
Pagans and atheists are both explorers. Seeking beyond dogma, authority, looking for more than just expedience and conformity, for something sincere and truthful.
That, although our conclusions diverge, our values align. And presented with the idea of those who share those same values being attacked by those who fail to question, who accept without thought, who attack without understanding, I find myself in the boat with them.
Though one could say this is “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” I feel it goes much deeper than that. Beyond battle lines that need not exist and into the core of humanity, of morality, and is not about enemies of friends, but an affront to the very idea of being a good and decent person. To seeing people who strive for that ideal attacked by a group that fails to see how their actions are the antithesis of decency, of love, of their own conception of God, leaves no room for for me to be uninvolved.
There is a we, in every situation, even if we don’t always agree.
Whether it’s the hottest game, the newest wave of pictures on Facebook, or that story you just MUST read to find out what happened, what we often fail to ask is, “but what about my privacy?”
In the days since Christopher Wylie appeared to testify in front of congress about things that we didn’t know we should be worried about, privacy fears have come and gone. Like a fad that sends everyone into a water cooler gossip frenzy, the challenge of privacy is holding people’s attention. Do we care about our privacy? In many ways we do, but much like someone’s health, you always think you have it until you are confronted with information to the contrary.