Most families have skeletons in the closet. My family keeps its skeletons buried under the dirt floor of my great-grandmother's basement.

At least that’s where the bodies are rumored to be buried: a cousin's newborn baby, a teenager whose car was abandoned by the side of the road, and God knows who else. All victims of the cult.

I'd always wondered if the rumors about great-grandma were true, or just family legend. When I became a mother, I realized that wondering wasn't enough. I needed to know the truth. I needed to know whether I had strands of evil tangled in my DNA.

This blog documents my investigation into my family's secret past. It's two parts genealogy, one part ghost story: Nancy Drew and the Mystery of the Satanic Panic.

I never thought the investigation would force me to confront skeletons of my own. Parts of myself I wish I could keep hidden from future generations. Things like intrusive thoughts, panic attacks and crippling self-doubts.

We all have skeletons, whether they're as sensational as a Satanic cult, as mundane as mental illness, or as domestic as a deep ambivalence toward that sacred institution of motherhood.

No one escapes the club. But each skeleton has something to teach us, if we're brave enough to dig. So grab a shovel. Join me.

About Kelly Kautz

I'm a writer and mom to two little boys living in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I'm currently writing a memoir about my family's mysterious past, and how its secrets have rippled through four generations of mothers. My work has appeared on Salon, Forbes and other publications