Monday, November 23, 2015

Seven Things You Probably Never Did in a Cemetery

We think of graveyards as a place to put our loved ones to rest, to attend funerals, and to visit and lay flowers on anniversaries, but there are some things you might not have done in a cemetery. You might want to give these a try! 

Grave Rubbings 

Always be respectful of the age and the individual's headstone. This needs to be done cleanly and cautiously. Lightweight paper, masking tape, black crayon, a cardboard wrapping paper tube to roll up and store the work, a lightweight dustpan brush to clean the surface. Cover the entire front with paper and wrap it around and tape it. Use the flattest surface of the crayon to make light even strokes. Step back and see if you need to go over any variations in the tone of it so it's even. Clean up everything you used and never leave litter behind. Roll it up and put it in the cardboard tube.

(me as an historical ghost tour guide)

Cemetery Tours

A lot of historic cemeteries offer tours. Why would you do this? Because they do a wonderful job. Many of them wear period costumes, take you around to the famous or infamous graves and learn a lot about the town.


Some states' cemetery associations list the cemeteries they need inventoried, but you can also check places like this one online. You can go to a cemetery that hasn't been accounted for, take photos, write down the grave information and submit it. It's a wonderful way to help out.

Ghost Hunt

Most cemeteries don't allow you to stay after dark, but there are those rural ones that are without posting and open access. These can be a good place to give yourself an experience with ghost hunting. Go before dark, get to know the place and take photos of it beforehand because later if you find something on a picture, you might want to compare it and see how it looked in daytime. I've often found colored signs and flowers and vases that with the flash at nighttime looked like something magical. If it's a quiet location, try EVP. Sit down at a grave. I suggest you go to a newly visited one, they generally have more activity. Do not be surprised if you run into shadow people. These are actually very often seen in cemeteries, small human-shaped opaque black figures darting around.


It sounds odd, but my friends and I sometimes do picnics in cemeteries. It's a peaceful place to lay out a blanket, have a lunch in peace and quiet and contemplate things. Plus, for the spiritual types, this can be a communion of sorts, allowing a very pleasant activity to be shared.

(January 2010 - Julie and I meet at Pioneer Cemetery to clean-up the place and have a ghost hunt and picnic! - three of these listed!)


Bring a large trash bag and a handful of flowers. Leave flowers on the graves of those long-forgotten and no longer visited because they are so long gone. Say their name out lout. Now, go around and set vases upright, pick up trash, and leave the place knowing that you attended to those who were unable to do so for themselves.


Yes, you can take dowsing rods and use them to dowse graves. Divining/dowsing rods can be utilized over a grave. 

To make: Take metal wire hangers and straighten them out or you can get a 20" very heavy gauge wire. Mark it 5" in and bend it at a right angle (a vice works nice for this or countertop edge). Make two of these and you now have dowsing rods.

How to use: Hold rods lightly in hands, elbows at your waist, arms bent at 90 degree angle so forearms are parallel with ground. Do not place your thumbs over the bend in the handle. Do not grip too tightly.

Finding the dead: Walk over the grave. The rods should cross. They should uncross when walking off the gravesite.

Determining age: Standing at head of the grave, take a step towards the feet end. Count your steps. If the rods cross after 1 step, it as a baby, 3-4 steps a child, 5 steps an adolescent, 6 or more steps, an adult.

Gender of the dead: Stand in the center of the grave, hold one rod over head. If it points to the head of the grave, it is a female. If it points to the feet of the deceased, it is a male.

The fun thing about dowsing practice is going to a cemetery with others and then doing this without a glance at the headstone. Don't see the age or sex of the occupant and let others watch you do it. It can have very interesting results, though I can't say why in the world it has such accuracy.

I hope this had you thinking of graveyards in a new way. They are gorgeous memorial parks, worthy of some of your best photographs, as well....

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