Ancestral energy lives in the stars above us, the stones beneath us. Their memory gathers in oceans, rivers and seas. It hums its silent wisdom within the body of every tree.

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

A New Ghost in the House

I am spirit-sensitive but that doesn’t mean I see them in detail. I usually feel a chill, or see a wavering in the air, like the heat over a fire. Sometimes there will be the impression of a silhouette that gives me some guesses at details.

Recently, I had a very different experience.

My wife and I were talking and suddenly I felt a being sitting overtop of me. I did not disappear from the encounter. I did not feel pushed aside. I was not being ridden.

She considered it a greeting, an introduction. And she was so jazzed to be there, her energy was visceral in my body and I was flooded with sensory impressions. I rattled them off to my wife.

A woman was so excited to finally make it to our party. She likely meant our annual Dumb Supper. She had a drink in her hand, like a champagne glass. She punctuated her words with her shoulders. Her energy was very animated. She had short, curly hair and was wearing a fancy dress. She is very poised… in her dress. She was not just a wayward spirit. She was here for one of us.

Her dress was very late 20s/early 30s but her makeup and hair were still mid-20s. After checking my genealogy and my wife’s genealogy, we know who our new visitor is. One of her grandmother’s sisters, one of her great-aunts. She was a secretary in the 20s in Chicago, and there are family stories about them working all day, partying all night, and then using speed to go work again all day.

We’re pretty sure we just met her, and, let me tell you, she is a pip.

[All photos are stock photos from on-line, representative of the time period she would have been living it up through.]

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Communicating Through Music

I have spoken before about how my connection to spirit world is more auditory than visual. I experience temperature fluctuations and the hairs lifting off my neck like others. But I don’t hear voices or messages as much as I hear song lyrics or music.


Blame it on my 80s upbringing, but usually spirit communicates with me through…tv show jingles. That’s right. I swear. The first one I noticed over and over was the Three’s Company theme song. Just the same two lines repeated, over and over:

            Come and knock on my door,

            We’ll be waiting for you…

This usually means a spirit is trying to get my attention.


A newer one that started manifesting for me a few years ago happens less often and, in my experiences, is a spirit trying to warn me about something. It’s usually about, or for another person. If I get a flash or glimpse of who it might be associated with, I have been known to reach out to them. It’s two lines from the song “Outside” by Staind:

            I’m on the outside, I’m looking in…

            I can see through you, see to the real you…

I normally don’t lead with, “Spirit sent me to check on you,” but I will check in and see if they’re all right. I have never regretted reaching out when I do. So, if I hear that song, I listen to it.


This year, a newer jingle has been playing this month. It’s the Sanford and Sons theme song. It’s pretty insistent. My wife says I have been humming it for days now. I don’t know what this music means yet.

I don’t know it’s message for me, but I’m listening.


Always at this time of year, when the garden starts to bed and the winds whip up and the faded garbage blows about the neighborhood… Always, when the air chills and the green things decay and frost… The spirits walk more thickly. Trick is, they are always there, somewhere beyond here, but overlaying us still.

This is the time of year the in-betweens thin.


Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Spirit Talking

While I am sensitive to spirit world year-round, at this time of year, every year, it’s like the phone keeps ringing. Often, it’s so persistent I stop noticing. I have to, in order to get any work done. I am not a psychic. I cannot call in specific spirits. I’m a sensitive. I am useful in a seance. I can open doors. I just don’t know what, if anything, will come through.

I can’t call your Uncle. But he might visit in my dreams. That’s how I usually see them, when I am most open and my brain isn’t trying to do real-world things.

But at the thinning time? I don’t always get that option.

There are always people I am hoping to see or speak to, people I am hoping will show up. But recently, a friend visited me for the first time. We were friends for years. Not terribly close but good friends and confidants.

And I know why he came to me.

I have been feeling low, battling my trauma depression and PTSD as I near another burniversary. And then I was distracted by a song from the 90s I haven’t heard in a long time. It reminded me immediately of my time in college. I hadn’t heard it since Fredonia but it was playing clear as a bell.

            “…when I come around…”

It stuck with me in the way an earworm doesn’t. And then I felt the cool whoosh of a door opening and I heard:

            “Knock knock.”

And as I frowned:

            “I have a joke for you.”

He was king of jokes. In five years, I never heard the same joke twice. And I never did remember a joke long enough to share it with him.

I felt him in my kitchen as clearly as if I were sitting in his office pretending I had no clue who kept filling the candy bowl that was usually empty on his desk. (It was my friend Ann and I.) He seemed to want to cheer me up.

And then he was gone. So, I played Chapin’s song “Taxi” for him, like we used to listen to together. And when I see him again, I know exactly what I’ll say:

            After all this time, I finally have a joke for you.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Got Schmeelk?

I am looking for some help in solving another family mystery involving my 3x great-grandmother.

Her name was Katherine Maria Schmeelk, though the spelling could be Katherine or Catherine and the note on the back of the photo says Marta instead of Maria. She was born around 1834 and died in 1901. Katherine married my 3x great-grandfather Adam Arth, an immigrant from Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany. Within his lifetime the name Arth became Art. 

In with the photo were two obituaries for Schmeelks that must be relatives of hers. One was from the N.Y. Times in 1935 for a Herman Marcus Schmeelk from Hanover, Germany, who had settled in Rockaway Beach, NY and was referred to as a "pioneer developer of oyster and clam beds." At the time of his death only two of his children survived, son Garrett and daughter Kathryn. 

Sounds like Kathryn is our person, right? But no. The second obituary was for Kathryn G. Schmeelk, daughter of Herman, who never married and never left Rockaway Beach, NY. As Katherine/Kathryn/Catherine was a VERY popular name for German women at the time, it is my best guess that Katherine and Kathryn were cousins. 

Except that Herman would have been born in 1850, about 15 years after my 3x great-grandma Katherine. So they could have been siblings? Cousins?

Ancestry has not been much help. They keep trying to push her father as either Blume or Seibel, both of whom did have daughters named Catherine of a similar age and both hailed from Germany, but none of the records for Katherine and Adam that we have line up with their families.

I am left with assuming that my Katherine is related to the Rockaway Beach Schmeelks, and according to Herman's obituary, his parents John and Catherine (Piper) Schmeelk brought him over as an infant from Hanover, Germany. I am starting a search both assuming and hoping this is the right family and maybe I can find her if I trace a lineage down from John.

It is always possible that Schmeelk was her married name before she wed Adam Arth, but there is no evidence to support that theory. And then it would be strange, for the time, for her to keep tabs of her former extended family. But I am keeping my options open.

I can't find any definitive records on her except for this notation on the back of her photo. But I'm trusting the family notes until I learn I can't and I'm writing this post in the hope that maybe someone else is looking for her family, too.

If anyone has any tips or knows of any specific German immigrant sources to search, I would appreciate any and all breadcrumbs.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

A Century from Christmas to Solstice

I am very blessed to have photos of my ancestors' decorated holiday trees from a century ago. How wonderful, right?!

This first photo was taken-- probably around 1920, based on the ties under the tree, by my mom's maternal Art family. George and Katherine worked as groundskeeper and housekeeper for the Kenan family in Lockport. It's hard to say who the family photographer was, as the whole family appear in front of it at some point. The two sons appear least frequently. My guess is the camera was a gift to the family from their wealthy employers.

This photo was taken in 1922 by my dad's maternal Wicker family. Minnie Wicker's father was pretty well-to-do and she had her own camera and was quite the photographer for most of her life, which is a blessing for us, as her daughter, my grandmother, died when my dad was quite young. We are thrilled to have photos that span her entire life, from birth to marriage, to children of her own. We're blessed to have many of Minnie's photographs, including this one of a Christmas tree on their front porch.

Third photo is my family's Winter Solstice tree taken on night-vision setting, 2021, almost exactly 100 years later. While our religious beliefs may differ, we honor our traditions in the same way; by lighting hope in the darkness.

A century ago, our ancestors would have just been recovering from the two years of flu that crippled the country, not unlike where we are now. I'm thinking about my family, across the miles and generations, gathering together, celebrating the importance of togetherness and fellowship.

However you bear witness to the holiday season, whatever it is you celebrate, know we are following in the footsteps of Those Who Came Before Us, coming together to mark the turning years, looking behind and looking ahead.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Lands of My Blood Ancestors

I am Sarah Lyn, 
last of my line,
daughter of Margaret,
daughter of Patricia,
daughter of Margaret,
daughter of Eliza,
daughter of Mary,
daughter of Betsey,
daughter of mothers of Ireland unknown...

My ancestor work has evolved over the last decade. I used to only climb the family tree via names and dates, hopscotching over holes and unverified truths. But I started getting a lot of e-mails from people who were adopted, thinking that it meant that ancestor work wasn’t possible for them. And, while I didn’t know any other ways of doing it at the time, I felt certain that the ancestral energy was available to everyone.

I spent time seeking new pathways, studying new ways of revering the ancestors. Only I didn’t want to just honor them. I wanted to work with them. And I found it easier to think of them as a stream of energy, like a highway anyone could get on.

That work led me to looking inward and backward while standing with my feet in the present. As I sank into my bloodstream, I wanted to know what ancestral DNA had passed through the generations into my breathing body.

What bits of my ancestors are alive in me?
What echoes of actual ancestral soil sing out in my blood?

If I didn’t have any names and dates, with the DNA tests I still have access to knowing the places some of my ancestors came from. I know what lands they lived on. I know where I descended from. It’s not exact but it gives me a place to put my gratitude, and allows me to offer culturally specific dishes and treats to set out on Samhain night.

What is remembered, 
even when still shrouded with things unknown, 
lives on within us.

[All photos screenshots from my results. The brighter colored area within the country is where my DNA most resembles deeply embedded generations of DNA, so is likely where my people most lived.]

Sunday, October 31, 2021

I Open to my Ancestors (A Photo Gallery)

Tonight is Samhain. It is All Hallows Eve. It is a night where the walls between this world and the next are thin. This is the night where the dead bleed through and if you wish to connect with them, you can listen to them, you can sense when they're present, and you can entice them to come. You can also make simple offerings to honor their place and presence in your life.

Because They Were...You Are.

I honor my beloved dead, those I knew in this world, and my ancestral dead, those who paved the way for me.

I pour water in the glass cup on my Ancestor Altar. I light a candle in my fossil candle holder. It is the lighthouse guiding their way to me. I light more candles for specific prayers. I take in a breath and as I exhale I open my heart. I open myself to spirit world. I am not the lighthouse.

I am the light.  


I open to my Grandparents:  

Richard James Riddle & Donna MacDonald, both my beloved dead
With her much-loved cat Bella.
Patricia Art, my beloved dead
Mark Dutcher Eaton, my beloved dead, & Ruth Emma Ruston

I open to my Great-Grandparents:

Harold Riddle & Elsie Elizabeth Durant, my beloved dead

With daughters Dolores & Biddy.
Robert Joseph Art & Margaret Loretta Burke

Frank William Ruston & Minnie Estelle Wicker
Royal Levant Eaton & Hattie Eva Smith

I open to my Great-Great-Grandparents:

Frances & Lafayette are in the center, front.
Lafayette Riddle & Frances Ann Gillette [NY]
George Frances Durant & Emma Louise Burnah [NY]

George Art & Katherine Pils [NY]

Frank Burke & Eliza Conners [NY]
Ruth & Charles are in the center back.
Charles Evan Ruston & Ruth Ireland [both from England]
Hiram & Emma are the center couple.
Hiram King Wicker & Emma Angeline Whitcher [NY]
Bennett Eaton & Theresa Cordelia Tenney [MI/NY]
Silas Parker Smith & Hattie Eva Dutcher [NY]

I open to my Great-Great-Great-Grandparents:

Marquise DeLafayette Riddle & Sarah Clickner [NY]
Levi & Jane are seated in the second row.
Levi Gillette & Jane Berry [NY]
Albert Durant & Rosella LaValley [both from Quebec]

Samuel Burnah [from Quebec] & Mary (unknown) [NY]
Adam Art & Katherine Maria Schmeelk [both from Germany]

John Pils & Mary Burzee [both from Germany]
Thomas Burke & Ellen (unknown) [NY]
David Conners & Mary Dowd [both from Ireland]
Richard Ruston & Anna Richardson [both of England]
William Ireland & Phoebe Lenton [both of England]
Thaddeus Rice Wicker & Cynthia Lusk [VT/NY]
Bailey Harrison Whitcher & Ordelia de Lozier [VT/NY]
Solomon Gould Eaton & Hannah Ann Treadwell [NY]
Philetus Tenny & Malvina H. Targee [NY]
Ammi Smith & Sophia Sears [NY]
Reuben Feagles Dutcher & Eliza Marsh Bird [NY/MA]

I open to my Great-Great-Great-Great Grandparents:

Freeborn Moulton Riddle & Abigail Chaffee [MA/NY]
William Clickner & Mary Ann Hayner [NY]
Ezra Wheeler Gillette & Mary Ann Boots [VT/NY]
Francis Berry & Elizabeth Ann Hill [NY]
George Durant & Safrona (unknown) [both of Quebec]
Francois Xavier Lavalle & Rosella LaRoche [both of Quebec]
George Arth & Wilhemina Wernersbach [both from Germany]
John Burke & Ann (unknown) [both of Ireland]
(unknown) & Betsy Conners [both of Ireland]
Barney Dowd & Betsey (unknown) [both from Ireland]
Edward Ruston & Jane Brooks [both of England]
Thomas Richardson & Mary (unknown) [both of England]
John Ireland & wife (unknown) [both of England]
John Lenton & Mary Wilson [both of England]
Pliney Wicker & Chloe Morgan [MA]
Elizer Lusk & Rebecca (unknown) [NY]
Simon Whittier & Dorcas Kittredge [MA/VT]
Peter DeLozier & Lucy Raymond [CT/NY]
Joshua Eaton & Lucy Gould [CT/NY]
Solomon P. Treadwell & Fannie (unknown) [NY]
Hiram Tenney & Esther or Sally (unknown) [NY]
Thomas Targee & Ellen (unknown) [RI/NY]
David Smith & Betsy (unknown) [NY]
Heman Sears & Clarissa Debois [CT/NY]
Martin Dutcher & Cynthia Ann Feagles [NY]
Amanly Bird & Irene Pond Marsh [MA/NH]

I open to my ancestors, known and unknown. 
I open the front door. 
The air is cold and tinged with winter. 
I invite all who wish us no ill to enter and celebrate this night.

I ask my Ancestors to welcome in the spirits of the Recent Dead, of my beloved and missed Liz Seib. I ask them to watch over our friends Michael Maxwell Carter Davidson, Peter Blakeslee, and grumpy old Oliver. 

Who do you honor and wish peaceful passages to?

Leave offerings of food and liquor, of earthly things that smell strong and potent, of coffee, tobacco and candies. Leave them fresh, filtered water. Listen to the whisperings of the shadows. Feel peace fill your heart.

Let the candles burn low. Pay attention to your dreamings. The dead have things they wish to say. If you have any divination tools, ask the dead to speak through them. 

Lay the cards out. Draw a rune. Throw the bones.

Blessed Samhain. 
Happy Halloween.

George Durant and wife Louise Burnah, their daughter Elsie Durant (who I knew until I was 17), her husband Harold Riddle (who died nine months before I was born on their wedding anniversary). In the front are their children, my Aunt Donna, my Grandpa Dick, and my Uncle Sonny. All are deceased now.

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