Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Plot Thickens – My 1993 Introduction to the Woman Wrongly Accused of Being The Bell Witch

As a professional storyteller, I love to hear and tell ghost stories. Up until 1993, all ghost stories that I performed such as “Black Bubblegum” by Frances Caffrey were all fiction tales. In fact, the only true ghost story I perform is my one-woman theater piece show called “The Bell Witch Unveiled.” I also have written a book on the subject called “The Bell Witch Unveiled At Last! The True Story Of A Poltergeist.”

Feel free to visit my website to read, explore, and receive a free gift:

Newly published Bell Witch Unveiled book

The story of the Bell Witch is probably the most widely-documented ghost story of all time. You may choose to believe only some of the words in my book, but I hope, for the most part, it has the ring of truth. I, personally, believe every word.

The book details the story of the Bell Witch of Robertson County, Tennessee. Robertson County is about 40 miles north of Nashville. Where did the term ‘Bell Witch’ come from? In 1817 to 1821, Middle Tennesseans did not know the term ‘poltergeist’ and did not choose to use the term ‘ghost’. Anything they feared and did not understand, they gave the label ‘spirit’ or ‘witch’. As for the Bell part of the equation, it is simply because this poltergeist tortured the family of John and Lucy Bell for a four-year period.
Here is the Blog about my first encounter with the Bell Witch saga back in 1990:
The Law of Attraction and the Bell Witch in 1990

As I detailed in that Blog, I was asked to research and write a performance-piece tale about the Bell Witch to be included in the Tennessee Storytelling Journal (now called “Storytelling World”). I wrote the story from the point-of-view of Betsy Bell, the teenage daughter.

If you would like a copy of this tale, visit my FREE Gift page on my website. I will e-mail the short story to you as a FREE PDF attachment as my way of thanking you for reading my Blog and for visiting my website. You will get other story links as well.
Free Gifts and Other Fun Stuff

The story of the Bell Witch messed with my mind. It did not agree with my view of the Universe at all. From my readings and from television shows or movies I had seen, it occurred to me that this story was not about a witch, but a poltergeist. As people had been doing since the 1820s, I too concluded that a poltergeist must have randomly selected a pure of spirit, God-fearing family (i.e., the Bell family) and tortured them, one man to death. I felt a presence with me the entire time I worked on this story. I had nightmares. The storytelling professor wanted me to perform it at the Halloween Storyfest, but I absolutely refused. “The story is much too depressing!” I stated. I was very relieved to put the entire experience behind me. My intention was NEVER to have anything to do with that story or other such stories again.

As I have learned many times over: Never say never! Or as the old adage states, “Famous last words!”

Then three years later, a Knoxville high school art teacher hired me to tell scary stories at her school. The performance was scheduled for October 28, 1993. Now I don’t mind telling scary stories. I have quite a repertoire of wonderfully gruesome, spooky stories that high school students love. I never tell “Friday the 13th” type ghost stories. My bad characters are always annihilated at the end and my good characters always live on to have further adventures. A letter was sent to her from one of my past booking agents listing the stories from which she could choose. I believed the whole gig to be set. But when I finally talked to this art teacher on the telephone, my equilibrium went totally off balance.

Read more about that experience in my Blog called:
The Law of Attraction and the Bell Witch on October 4, 1993

It was one of the most bizarre booking phone calls that I had ever experienced. It was almost as if we had just begun our phone call each time she stated her request. I needed to find out what was going on. I am a strong believer that every thing happens for a purpose. We may not understand the reason until years later. But I choose to believe that there is a rhyme and reason for every event.

To back up, it wasn’t until 1984 that I discovered automatic writing. I’m not sure I even knew that there was a term for it when it happened to me. For a short time, I owned an Ouija board. Although I could feel some force moving my left hand around the board, it never would make any sensible spellings of words. I was just about to give up for all time when this sudden electric current went up my fingers to my shoulder. It wasn’t painful, but it was quite strong. I was holding a pen in that right hand, and I felt an invisible force move that hand over to the pad of paper I had laying in readiness nearby. It began to write in an unfamiliar cursive hand-writing. I always printed myself. It identified itself with a first name. It also gave me a last name only because I insisted upon one. (I prefer to keep his real name private; however, I sometimes called him my muse since that was the function that he often served in my life.)

Later, I read a number of books that referred to this practice of automatic writing. I learned to always check that the spirit guide that I was channeling was from the light; in other words, that the spirit guide was of God. I certainly did not want to play with the darkness. So whenever I would begin, I would ask first, “Are you my muse?” If he said yes, then next I would ask, “Are you of the light?” And only if he answered yes to both questions would I proceed. I took great comfort in the knowledge that a spirit could not claim to be of the light if it was not.

Occasionally, I would have other spirit guides write through me, but my main comfort and guide was this particular guide. In 1988, I got my first computer. Since writing long-hand is rather tedious, I asked my muse if he could type or keyboard through me instead. He soon learned; and thus, I have been automatic typing him ever since.

I never ask my spirit guide futuristic crystal ball type questions. Those from the Other Side have no concept of time since linear time is a human construct. But my spirit guide was great to explain people’s motives and present and past events to me. Also, I learned he had quite a talent for writing. Eventually, his main function in my life was as my muse. He would write at least a part of many of the stories that I used in my storytelling performances. Usually, I would get so into the story idea that I would soon take over the writing of the story myself. He didn’t mind. He would just retire and be on hand should I ever get stuck for an idea. The advantage of having a mentor like that is never having to worry about getting writer’s block.

The summer of 1993, marked some landmark changes in my life. I had read many books about past-life regressions and was longing to experience that for myself. As I lived, at the time, in a Baptist Bible belt, I have always kept my New Age experiences totally private. Only a small handful of people had any idea of my beliefs. I decided to be more open to just the couple of people that I thought I could trust. I was hoping they might know of someone reputable who could help me. Much to my amazement, I found out that there were two New Age stores in the Tri-Cities area. I had always assumed that I was the only person in the Tri-Cities area of Tennessee: Bristol, Johnson City, and Kingsport, who believed as I did. When I talked to Arthur Curtis, one of the owners of the New Age store in Bristol, he relayed a fact that amazed me. He said that when he and his partner first moved there a year and a half prior, they placed an ad in the paper. They got over 300 responses. And every one of those 300 was like me. They were interested but their spouses or family members thought it was a bunch of hogwash. I was ecstatic! I had gone about as far as I could go on my own. I felt I had been learning in a vacuum. Now I wouldn’t have to be so much in the closet anymore.

Arthur Curtis, the co-owner, facilitated me in a past-life regression. Arthur is psychic. He or the other co-owner channeled one or more Spirit Guides for the public every Tuesday night. People could come and ask any question and receive guidance. He read Tarot cards. He did all that and more. I found out also that he taught verbal channeling. I was thrilled and immediately signed up. I realized that I probably could have been verbally channeling my muse for years, as I always heard the word that was going to be written a half-second before it got put on paper. That had seemed so tedious, as then I would have had to transcribe a cassette recording of his guiding words afterwards. But now, I was ready, willing, and able to learn more in a protected, class environment.

The five 4-hour and 8-hour classes were spread over a 4-week period. I had no problem channeling on the very first day. It was just before the fourth class that the art teacher and I had our curious phone conversation. I decided to wait and ask Arthur. Besides, I wanted to hear his views of such a dark story. Little did I realize that that class would alter the course of my whole life.

On October 6th, I related the above saga about the Bell Witch and asked most emphatically, “What is going on?”

Arthur looked at me and said, “That art teacher was Betsy Bell. She doesn’t know it, but that’s why she refused to take no for an answer. She needs to hear this story.”

That explained that part of it to me, but still I was wondering, “Why me?”

Arthur tapped in further to that early 1800s incident, he got a look of wonder on his face. Then he said, “DJ, you lived in that lifetime.”

“I did?” I queried with a look of astonishment.

“Do you know who you were?”

I got an uncomfortable suspicion, but I refused to say it at first. Finally, I said, “You mean to say that I was Cate Batts?”

Arthur nodded. I was not thrilled because she was the one accused of doing all the harmful things to the Bell family. All the stories and archives paint her as being quite vindictive and strange.

Then Arthur stated that he had just discovered another one of his past lives because he was my best male friend in that life. In that lifetime, he was a bachelor. He, even less than Cate, was not in the mainstream of society. We were both odd balls as back in that lifetime that he led as Sol and I led as Cate, we were psychic, clairvoyant, we had telekinesis, ESP, and we were healers. But we never used our abilities for anything but good.

I was mystified! If we never used our abilities for anything but good, then who or what had caused all the problems? And even more importantly, why?

Then I learned from Arthur and later from Cate Batts herself, all the facts that I included in my book called “The Bell Witch Unveiled At Last! The True Story Of A Poltergeist” by DJ Lyons.

To order a copy, you can visit my website at or check out the links below.

Now you may ask, if I was Cate Batts in one of my past lives, then how can she lead a separate life from me and how am I able to channel her? That didn’t occur to me to ask until the very next day. I called up the New Age store in Bristol and asked. In the meantime, I had asked the Spirit Guide that I had recently begun to channel and it turned out, I got the same answer. But I needed to hear the answer from human lips.

To use Jesus Christ as an example, he can be in a thousand or more places at once. He can be preaching to a multitude in one place. He can be holding a one-on-one conversation in another. He can be praying to his Father in another. He can be lending his guidance to a channel here on the Earth plane such Arthur and so on.

Similarly, apparently, each of us is able to access a part of the energy or essence of each of our past lives. We are able to tap into that energy. That person that we were is also totally merged with the light and lives in the same place as Jesus Christ. But a little part of their light body is always available to us. Thus, since I was Cate Batts in one of my past lives, I can be the vehicle through which she talks. It is possible for others with psychic ability to channel her too. But needless to say, Cate and I have the primary connection.

So during that class period, I channeled Cate through automatic writing and verbally. She revealed many facts to us. Later, I drove to Middle Tennessee to work as an Artist-In-Residence at a primary school. During that drive, Cate spent two hours instructing me and answering all my questions. By the end of that drive, I realized that this story had been totally misinterpreted by the public. I found out and have later had this confirmed that some members of the Bell family have purposely covered up the facts and suppressed, perhaps even destroyed some of the evidence. It was in their best interests to perpetuate the view that Cate Batts was at the bottom of all the trouble. They certainly did not want the information made public that John Bell was not the pure, God-fearing man that most of the archives make him out to be.

Before leaving on my trip to Middle Tennessee, where the story took place, I returned to the Kingsport Public Library. As I re-read everything that I had read 3 years prior, I was shocked. I realized that I must have read that information through a filter of fear, for the accounts now gave me a totally different feeling. I was excited to be launched on a venture that would empower the listener and alleviate superstition and fear. In other words, I was part of something that was going to bring light to a story that had been shrouded in fear and mystery for far too long. Additionally, I wrote a letter to the art teacher to indicate that I had coincidentally uncovered some new information that gave me a whole new feeling for the story. I stated I would try to have a polished performance on the Bell Witch ready by Oct. 28th.

On Wednesday, October 13, 1993, I had two unusual experiences. As I was walking down the hallway of that K-2 school, two little boys stopped me. One said, “He said that you burnt your hand.”

I held up my hands to both of them and said, “No, my hand is just fine. See?”

That same boy looked at his friend and said, “Well, he said you did.”

That night, I channeled my spirit guide and was told that the little boy had had a dream about Cate Batts and subconsciously knew it was me. Cate was the one who had burnt her hand. That accidental burn was taken as proof of witchcraft by one of her vindictive neighbors, Emily Paine. My book will divulge the full details of that saga, so I won’t go into it further.

To order a copy, you can visit my website at or check out the links below.

The other thing that happened in Middle Tennessee occurred that evening. I went over to the Presbyterian Church to perform for their family night. I was early and the woman who had hired me hadn’t shown up yet. Three older ladies were setting up for the cover-dish supper. One of them said, “Well, you don’t look like a witch at all.”

I chuckled and asked, “Oh, is that what they are saying about me?”

She looked nonplussed, as if the words had slipped out accidentally. She covered by saying, “Well, they said you told ghost stories.”

I politely assured her that I wouldn’t be telling any ghost stories that night.

That Saturday, October 16, 1993, my little brother (age 26), his girl friend, and I drove to Robertson County, Tennessee. I was eager to see where this whole story took place. Springfield is the county seat. I went to the library and photocopied their two thick folders of past newspaper articles of the event. I went to the local book store and bought the four books that were still in print about the Bell Witch: A Mysterious Spirit by Charles Bailey Bell, M.D. (A Descendant), The Bell Witch of Middle Tennessee by Harriet Parks Miller, The Bell Witch Or Our Family Trouble by Richard Williams Bell, and Echoes Of The Bell Witch In The Twentieth Century by H. C. Brehm. But most importantly, I found out that in Adams, Tennessee, where the main events of the story truly happened, there was a Bell Witch Cave. This is the cave where Cate Batts reportedly played as a child. This is also the cave mentioned in the archives where Betsy Bell and her friends would spend many hours exploring and just ‘hanging out’.

A family unrelated to either the Bells or the Batts had recently acquired the property. The tour cost $4.00 each, and I gladly paid for all three of us. Another couple from Oklahoma had also come to take the tour. The six of us walked through the drizzling rain down to the entrance of the cave.

The tour guide, a brother-in-law of Ms. Chris Kirby, unlocked the iron gates. He began to tell us many stories of the whole incident. I was channeling Cate the whole time in my head. Another channeling practice that I’ve utilized for years is asking a spirit guide to give me additional input through my right hand. In other words, I assign one finger to be the “yes” finger or the “Choice A” finger and another finger to be the “no” finger or the “Choice B” finger. Then when I ask an internal question, the spirit guide will raise either one finger or the other. If the answer is in-between, they will raise both fingers.

So the entire time the tour guide spoke, I was asking Cate, “Okay, did that really happen? What about that?” Therefore, I was definitely feeling Cate‘s presence with me the entire time, keeping me safe.

The cave apparently goes back about 150 feet. We only went back about a third of that distance as there was a running stream at least knee-deep that blocked us from going any further. Walking was a bit precarious at times as we had to by-step a shallow stream all the way back. Toward the end, we had to climb this rather slippery rock. I wanted to get down the other side without falling on my face. So when the man from Oklahoma reached out his hand to steady me, I placed my hand in his.

The unusual thing was that once I reached firm ground, he didn’t let go of my hand. I didn’t jerk my hand away. But slowly and firmly, I pulled my hand out of his grasp. Then I forgot all about it.

Later, we were all standing at the mouth of the cave—chatting. The tour guide had just concluded his spiel about unusual sounds that he and others had heard in the cave. The Oklahoma man looked at me and asked, “Have you ever had any experiences with ghosts or poltergeists?”

I hemmed and hawed a bit and finally said, “I’m not sure.” My little brother had specifically asked me earlier not to talk about my experiences with channeling in front of his girl friend. I respected his request and planned to be most discreet.

I asked that man, “Have you?”

Both the man and his companion indicated that they had. They described a house they lived in located in Missouri that was haunted. Then, the man unexpectedly volunteered the information, “I’m a witch.”

I looked at him strangely and he amended, “Well, I’m a modern-day witch. I’m a warlock.”

This was the first time in my life that I had ever knowingly met anybody who claimed to practice witchcraft. I found it unnerving as I wasn’t sure exactly what all that entailed. So I asked, “What does that mean exactly?”

He said, “I can’t say.”

I asked, “You can’t say or you won’t say?”

He was unusually cagey. Then he said, “But I sensed all kinds of evil spirits in that cave. And also, I felt something really strange in your hand.”

Oops! I comprehended that the man must have felt Cate. I glanced back apologetically at my little brother and found myself spilling the beans. My “yes” finger kept going up when I checked to see whether I should keep talking. Cate wanted me to tell all as she was hoping that the tour guide would add some of the correct happenings to his repertoire that was all skewed.

As we walked back to the cars, that ‘warlock’ asked me if I sensed anything when he held my hand. I said, “No.”

With a satisfied look, he stated, “That’s because I didn’t let you.”

I tried to explain that my abilities were not yet at that point. I didn’t know if they ever would be. The only one that I was conscious of was Cate and I felt totally protected, totally safe, and comfortable in that cave.

I tried to get the man to tell me more of what he sensed in my hand. But he refused. He said he had to think about it before he was ready to talk. Finally, we both agreed that what he felt must have been simply Cate. I didn’t advertise to the group that I used to be Cate, but I did tell him privately.

That night, I channeled for my little brother and his girl friend. I had channeled over the telephone before, but this was my first time to do it for an audience. After they both finished asking questions of the spirit guide I was channeling, I asked about that man from Oklahoma.

The spirit guide explained that even as a young boy, that man was unnervingly aware of some powers or abilities that he possessed. He later fell in with some people who practiced the black arts. This further fueled his feelings of fear. He mostly practices the white arts now, but he still hadn’t laid all his feelings of unease to rest. My spirit guide explained that there were truly no evil spirits in that cave; however, it was full of lost or troubled souls.

According to the brother-in-law of the owner of the cave, the Trail of Tears had traversed this property years ago. Perhaps some of the spirits who live in that cave were Indians who died along the way. My spirit guide had the three of us join hands. He instructed us to mentally tell those spirits to go to the light. My spirit guide indicated that we were partially successful, but there were still many left that still felt stuck on a lower astral plane. As you read this, if you feel so drawn, please send those troubled souls love and tell them, “Go to the light! Go to the light!”

In drawing this saga to a close, I will state that the October day at the Knoxville High School was most successful. I told the story of the Bell Witch to six different groups of high school students. They were very responsive! The story was followed by a question and answer session. Afterwards, many students chose to come up to me privately to ask their questions or to tell of their own experiences.

One of the students at that school also asked to see my burnt hand. I had told the story in first person, from the point of view of Cate Batts. The teachers just assumed that I had done such a good job telling the tale that the girl had forgotten that I was DJ -- not Cate. But again, my spirit guides have indicated that this student also had a sixth sense knowledge that I used to truly be Cate Batts.

Over a two-year period, I completed several research trips to Edgecombe County, North Carolina, Robertson County, Tennessee, and other places to do research in the court houses, libraries, and newspaper offices. I wanted to have as many facts as possible to validate the channeled information that people will read in my book.

Finally, I will say that I have learned that soul groups often repeatedly reincarnate together. That is why you may hear people indicating that they have known people in more than one life time with whom they currently live or spend time. I was being bombarded with feelings of recognition or indications from Cate Batts and my other spirit guides that I knew this person and that person in that lifetime I lived as Cate.

Arthur Curtis, my channeling teacher, openly acknowledged being my best friend, Sol. I have told the person who was Emily Paine who she was. She hated the thought that she could ever have been a vindictive person. I tried to comfort her by stating that we have played every role possible in all of our thousands of lifetimes: the murderer and the murdered, the rapist and the one who was raped, etc. We have lived lives as seemingly the “baddest of the bad” and as the “goodest of the good.” But until she feels comfortable, I will not reveal who Emily Paine is today. The art teacher, when she reads this book, will know finally who she was—Betsy Bell.

But as for the rest, I will not reveal who they were, to you or to them. Unless they come to me and say that they have participated in a past-life regression or they had a dream and they know that they were such and such person (and that is unlikely given their current religious beliefs) I will not trample on their feelings of equilibrium. But it certainly does help me understand some of the weird karma I have witnessed between some of the key characters.

A lot of things have happened personally, professionally, and spiritually since October of 1993 when all that happened—too many things to include in this Blog. In any case, I hope my Blog and my book make you feel empowered and enlightened. I send you love and light.

What about the rest of you? Have any of you ever had an experience with the Bell Witch Cave? Have you ever visited Adams, Tennessee? Have you ever had poltergeist-type or ghostly experiences?

Also, feel free to share your responses to this or any of my other Blogs.

Thanks so much! Have a wonderful and blessed day!
Best Wishes to you all, DJ Lyons
Author of “The Bell Witch Unveiled At Last! The True Story Of A Poltergeist”

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