Monday, December 22, 2008

Ghost Hunting Wish List



I'm going to have to do it. Just buckle down and ask the "Big Man" (aka Santa) for anything on my ghost hunting wish list. I'm pleased with my equipment, so I think I'll just focus on where I'd most like to get a hunt done...

My top 10 dream ghost hunts (in descending order from 10th most want to do to #1 most desperately want to do):

10. Gettysburg battlefield. I went there a few times as a child, but other than wanting to leave very quickly because I felt unsettled and didn't know why, I'd like to see it again with the keen eye of an investigator. If my theory that trauma can imprint itself is true, than imagine what a mass killing could do to the land.
9. Goldfield Hotel, Virginia City, Nevada. Not to give the bozo's on "Ghost Adventures" too much credit, but if there is even a tiny chance that brick throwing was for real, I want to be in a place where things might be poltergeist-like and active. I have a really strong ability to stir things up in such places.
8. Wat Promkunaram Buddhist temple. The site in Arizona where a young man entered the site and shot 9 monks dead. It's just a theory, but the combination of many people in spiritual prayer in a site along with sudden deaths to me makes a soup for an amazing hunt.
7. Amityville home. I know, it's a totally bogus story that "Amityville Horror" was based upon, but you can't dispute that a dude killed his family there. That has to leave residue.
6. Cheronbyl. That's mostly just for the intrigue of an abandoned city, but also with ghost hunting equipment, it would be interesting to see if anything about radiation leaves better "imprints" of events to be read.
5. The Fraser family home of descendents of Lord Lovat in Scotland. My mother's family is descended from them and I think that always adds an interesting enticement for things to happen. That, and I seriously want to see Scotland!
4. Sommerou, my father's family home in Norway. I know with all the lineage that's lived in there of the Thorvaldsen clan, it's got to have stories to tell, much of it rather tragic.
3. Bird Cage saloon. There's no excuse for me not to do this one--it's only a couple hours from my home. So, Santa, you can probably disregard this one--I'll get around to it some day.
2. Lighthouses. I'd take any lighthouse, honestly, but my most desired one is the Newpoint Lighthouse on the Chesapeake. I spent a lot of time as a kid climbing up and down the stairs and always felt like someone was climbing right alongside me. I think the combination of routine, water, and a circular building is an ideal "conduit."
1. My childhood home, Aspen Grove. I want to finally prove if ghosts do exist and there is no better place than the house that haunted me as a child. Besides being a hospital during the Civil War, my parents, sister, brother, and family friend promised to haunt it. If there's a guarantee I'll run into something amazing--it's there!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Who Is This Person Running This Blog?















My books on Kindle and Nook (Sharon Day): "Was That a Ghost?" "Abandoned Places: Abandoned Memories (Desert Edition)," "Josiah: Undead Cowboy," "Don't Go There: A Flash Horror Anthology." "Zombie Housewives of the Apocalypse." "Kickin' Up Dust! Getting Lost To Find Ourselves," "Blogging Changed My Life!" and also my horror/dark erotica books under the name Anna Melissa.

I like to be Autumnforest. I have an autumn leaf tatt and I have to admit, it is just me, through and through.

I was raised in a 250-year-old haunted home in Northern Virginia. It was used as a field hospital during the Civil War by the North and then by the South who wrestled it away again. I grew up digging up relics. The house was considered one of the most haunted in the US. TV crews and reporters and mediums all enjoyed checking out the ghosts. As well, I have a psychic skill called psychometry that made it possible for me to discern the histories of people associated with the relics I dug up.

I moved to the Southwest, but I was still filled with so many questions about what I experienced as a kid growing up. I sought answers by ghost hunting. Then, I started this blog in 2008 to try and find others who had theories, wanted to test things, look for answers and further the field.

You will find me at times to be bawdy and brassy, saying it like it is. I have a sense of humor that is a part of much of what I do, but I also have a huge heart and inquisitive mind. If you find yourself on this blog, you have just become a member of my think tank and my tribe. We are rebels and thinkers, curious and funny, considerate and earnest.

I take road trips and go on ghost hunts, bring the video camera and the digital camera and bring you along. There is a tab above for photos/urbex where I give lots of advice on how to photograph abandoned places and road trips I've been on. I have a sidekick ventriloquist doll Dale, who generally hates and distrusts "The Human" (me). I will do zany things and make you snort with laughter if I've done my job well, because I think that education shouldn't be at the cost of your sense of humor. Check out the tab above "Laugh," which is a comedy series poking loving fun at the ghost hunting shows.

I am also a writer and that comes out in the blog a good deal. Sometimes, I put up short stories and also announce upcoming books. On the left-hand side you will find buttons to my books. More are coming about the field of ghost hunting and psychics, and a series of western horror novellas. I have much to contribute and do so with the same thoughtfulness and logic, sensitivity and honesty that I do on the blog.

Who did you find when you came to this blog? A friend for life and someone who generally instigates people to dream and do. I am a cheerleader and a shoulder, a good ear and a mentor. I am also likely to get you into some mischief because I sort of specialize in that.

If this hasn't scared you, please follow me and we will continue the journey into the unknown...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Classic Horror Movies


When I think of classic horror movies, I don't necessarily think of "The Mummy" or "Frankenstein," but I think of the era in which I grew up in, the 60s/70s. The one that started my fascination with horror movies was the 1963 "The Haunting" which I first saw on TV as a child. I remember (living a famously haunted house) how scary it was to watch something that was extremely feasible and in which--like all ghost movies should contain--an unseen element that is tormenting you. What's so scary about ghosts is--we don't know where they are or what they'll do next. "The Haunting" totally delivered on that count.

The elements that make a great horror movie are universal; mood, atmosphere, suspense, darkness, the unseen, and those who are vulnerable. I don't even like the movie "Darkness Falls," but I like a horror movie to take place in darkness and so I enjoy watching it just for that element. If you want mood, you watch "The Others" (if you can stay awake watching her boring days roll by). If you want atmosphere, you might consider seeing "The Changeling." If you want suspense, put on the movie "Amityville Horror. If you're into the unseen, "The Legend of Hell House" will have you wondering what the unseen spirits are up to. And, if you find solace in seeing others who are equally frightened and vulnerable, you might like "The Entity." There's no doubt something out there for everyone, except there's too little of it out there nowadays for those of us who like the unseen forces more than blood and guts. I know there's some sad folks out there scared of snakes and bugs and needles and blood and those slasher movies are horrifying to them, but what about those of us who fear invisible forces that want to torment us slowly, sneak up on us, and offer no way to "kill" them?

I'm pleased nowadays that there is the occasional good quality horror movie that has the 70's feel to it. "Dead Silence" was an excellent case for that. The music, the mood, the dolls (who isn't scared of ventriloquist dolls?), and the lack of ridiculous special effects made it very "other worldly" and sinister. "Silent Hill" was creepy and even with a heavy reliance on special effects, it only helped to put us in a world that couldn't exist which was very creepy. Sometimes when special effects are used in an otherwise serious movie, it falls flat real fast. Everything seems realistic up until we see a computer animation. Anyone who loved "Signs" by M. Knight surely must have cringed as I did at the end of the movie when the creature was full-frontal. Yikes! He had me up until that point so easily wound around his finger. Had he just showed the creature doing its thing as seen on the dead TV screen's reflection instead of straight on, it would have kept me shivering the entire time. I have to admit, I burst into laughter in the theater when I saw it.

I'd like to tell movie makers, spend your money on a great script or a great actor, and screw the special effects. You can make a movie that's dark, creepy, has atmosphere, draws us in, makes us shudder, and you never have to spend a penny on special effects guys. Leave that to blockbuster action films with Will Smith and SciFi movies. Don't taint the pool of scary movies with fake blood, hokey ghost figures, and animated statues. Don't assume we're so basic that we need to see knives cutting into flesh to scream. After all, look at how "Blair Witch" profited.

What's the ideal movie? Location: The house in "The Changeling." (With multiple levels, a central winding staircase, hidden rooms, banging pipes, gigantic and making the person seem small inside it) Atmosphere: "The Haunting." (With no sense of windows, cornered, walls breathing, doorknobs turning). Ghosts: "The Legend of Hell House." (With its truly demented past occupant who has absolute control).

My parents always said, "music was better in the old days." I say, "Horror movies were better in the 70s." Please, please revolutionize the genre by going retro. Do it now. See your fan base who cut its teeth on 80s/90s slashers find a love for what is truly horrifying, not some guy with a butcher knife, but a ghost with a hidden agenda.

String Theory and Ghost Phenomena


Thank you so much History Channel’s “Universe” show for doing an episode recently on “Parallel Universes.” This is very close to what I believe is occurring when we experience ghost phenomena.

In the episode, a scientist sat in a boat and explained how he is riding on a membrane and believes he is part of the entire world, but below him in the water is another world. The two are unaware of each other, as they’re not interacting. If you take this a step further, should a man fall off the boat into the water, he suddenly becomes part of the other world, seen by the fish, and at the same time seen by us in this dimension.

Intriguing.

It’s the very sporadic nature of the ghost phenomenon, the “defying” the laws of physics, like objects being thrown by unseen hands or full body apparitions walking through walls that can understandably be explained by a less knowledgeable man from the 1700’s or 1800s as a spirit. The only other dimension “known” to him is the spiritual world.

But what if this kind of temporary interaction is like the man who falls off the boat? What if we occasionally break the membrane and are a ghost to their world or they break our membrane and are a ghost to our world? People of another dimension living in their own world perhaps believing that’s all there is and then…boom—they see a glimpse of one of us walking through a wall when in actuality we’re in this dimension walking through our office hallway.

Intriguing.

String theory supports the concept of other dimensions. In fact, the Large Hadron Collider in Europe hopes to test this theory when they collide particles at super speed. These theories support "multiverses" instead of a "universe." If such a thing were proven true, it could certainly help us account for vague interactive and rare occasions of sightings, sounds, and sensations that don't seem to be "of this world."

Perhaps the hardest thing to disregard in common hauntings is the sightings occurring in buildings with “reputations” from the past, sites of murder and other drama. Still, if you take this a step further, it’s entirely possible that certain sites attract more energy from a neighboring/interacting dimension and therefore “super energize” the site to be a place of cruelty, murder, or angst. Sites such as Stonehenge might have been logical locations given the “feeling” this region gave the builders. Perhaps it’s the same for the Pyramids.

Are we as humans attracted to those places that are haunted or are those places haunted because we are attracted to them?

Could hair rising on her neck, chilly air, and drained batteries all be signs of a moment in which the dimensions will interact with each other in a way that is able to be picked up by our senses?

Intriguing.


Of course, it’s not the only explanation for ghost phenomenon. There could actually be human souls that somehow didn’t find their way to their promise land and their God forgot to instruct them upon leaving the human body. But, then, perhaps those departed people’s energy simply made the great leap into another dimension where they happily live out a life that occasionally overlaps with ours in which we become ghosts to each other. This would also neatly explain why deceased loved ones don’t usually contact us (except conveniently while we sleep). Had they a soul that could defy heaven and earth, they would have sent word. But, had they been, not a soul in flight but a person in another dimension, their contact with us would be impossible, no matter how much we beg and plead.

Science has a ways to go to test such theories, but it intrigues me to think that we could be encountering another dimension even more than seeing a spirit of a once living person. It explains the randomness, the on and off nature of hauntings, and the difficulty interacting.

The string theory explanation might also work for those who believe in reincarnation, as the possibility that upon death we exit to be born into another dimension’s world would fit nicely into that belief system.

The only people who might have difficulty with the concept of hauntings being interactions with other dimensions are those who are religious. Still, that they believe hauntings are souls confuses me. It defies what the Church tells them of a place that they go to after this life, a reward or a punishment. The concept that God is a parent who doesn’t know where his children are wandering in the afterlife isn’t a very respectful one. I should think the concept that there are other dimensions creating this phenomenon would be much less offensive to their sensitivities.

I’m pleased with string theory and ghost hunting and believe there is something there but it will take quite some time to really grasp just how and why our dimensions might interact. I’m still open to the concept of souls of the living, but there is still no way to prove that souls aren’t in another dimension and not in some filmy between world where they still wander you halls at night rapping on doors and occasionally showing you glimpses of them.

Then, again, it’s quite possible that the other dimensions are the heavens.

See why I love this field?

Monday, December 1, 2008

WHY GHOST HUNT WITH TECHNOLOGY?


There's a real dichotomy within the ghost world of those who rely on their gut feelings and some Victorian-era devices such as ouija boards and seances and automatic writing, and those of us who have moved on to the new millenium.

I'll be the first to admit that I've had a lot of amazing things happen to me that I couldn't debunk and that were filed away in my mind as "phenomena," and yet if I tell you these stories, it's only theory and conjecture. It's entertaining and even at times spine-tingling, but it gets nowhere towards proof of phenomenon. If Einstein stopped with his theory of general relativity and never found ways to test it, it would have just been an intriguing idea from a quirky scientist. It wouldn't have changed the very way we handle astronomy and scientific quandaries. It wouldn't have finally let things like time and space be tangible to us.

In the ghost hunting world it's much like that. Spiritualists used to rule the communications with the other side like Jewish Rabbis used to talk to God for folks, then along came a dude named Jesus and suddenly people realized, "hey, I can talk to God myself without a paid-for representative." Opening the world of ghost hunting to everyone is to our benefit because guess who this phenomenon occurs for? Just the regular guy sitting in his house watching TV one night when he sees a full body apparition, or the little girl who talks to imaginary friend.

When Jason and Grant from TAPS sit in a room and shoot the breeze with the "occupants," they get the feel of the room, they hang out, they make themselves accessible. When something happens it can be quite extraordinary, but if they tell us about their experience it becomes just a story. Without the cameras and equipment to show us with our own eyes and ears, it's very hard to explain to someone or make them believe that phenomenon does occur and it needs to be explained.

Because of common drainage of batteries and equipment dying during hunts, it's entirely possible that by hauling all this electrical equipment into a place, we might actually be giving it a fighting chance of showing itself. I don't think it's an accident that haunted sites often relate issues with electrical and TV's going on and off.

Now, a lot of people still roll their eyes when you talk about ghost hunting with images of rigged seances and faked ghost photographs. The old-time ways really ruined credibility. Something like those old wive's tales about putting butter on burns, we know better now and we won't go back. I think there is a place for psychics in the world of ghost hunting but only in the aspect of helping us to perhaps find a place and a time that is ideal for phenomenon to occur. Then, hand it over to the folks who will try to weigh and measure and get actual proof with something more objective--electronic equipment.

I have a foot in both worlds because of my ability to read places and objects, but even I realize that's only a compass and not a backpack, swiss army knife, and sleeping bag. It'll take a marriage of scientists and test equipment specialists to help us make that final turn in the ghost hunting world from "before the world was flat" to "when the world was round." It may seem like a clinical way to go about it, but then we wouldn't expect the family doctor to pray and send us home, we'd want some medicine.

There's definitely a place in ghost hunting for Old World and New World techniques, but to depend on just one is to close your mind and to perhaps miss some important correlation that occurs when you're in the middle of feeling a cold chill and actually measuring it on a thermometer.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

POLTERGEISTS; TANTRUMS FROM THE OTHER SIDE?


I grew up in a house that was not only haunted by its horrific history (a Civil War field hospital), with repetitive residual haunting, occasional signs of intelligence, but it also had poltergeist activity. In fact, to me the poltergeist activity was the most intelligent activity. The residual was mundane, kind of like hearing the furnace kick on, you don't really pay it any mind.

But, something being thrown across a room, crashing down, and disrupting the laws of physics...that's pretty attention-getting
.

Whether a poltergeist (or "playful ghost") is an actual spirit having a tantrum or something manifested by a human in emotional turmoil (psychokinetic) or something in the realm of physics in which conditions are right for electromagnetic fields to be disrupted and cause things to defy gravity... has yet to be determined.

From my experiences in my childhood home, I've come to a temporary explanation that suits my logical mind, but makes my logical mind rebel at the same time. Mind you, my stand on ghost activity is that I refuse to fully believe that ghosts are actually souls of physically deceased humans. That being said, my conclusions on poltergeists (at this point in my research)is:

Poltergeists are the kinetic reaction to a force of energy launched from the "other side" (which could include a parallel universe, another dimension, or the afterlife), this launch being committed by a grouping's rather than an individual's power.

Phew! I said it. I know I'll get slack for this one, but just like the term "God" could mean a man in a robe and white beard to some and the cells of life to another, my vision of hauntings is quite open to my own interpretation depending on my own experiences and my logical mind's conclusions. At this point in time, I have not had a lot of exposure to poltergeist activity in the past few decades, but I experienced so much growing up that I can make some conclusions. The above paragraph is my conclusion.

How did I come by this? When I was a child I didn't think there was anything in the laws of physics that couldn't include something launching itself across a room without any seen culprit. I never asked the wind, "hey--who sent you?" So, I never asked the poltergeist activity, "who threw you?" Of course, as I grew up, my logical mind made me re-observe these situations in a new light and try to figure out just what the heck happened.

Many different varieties of things occurred growing up, often (but not always) tied to very strong emotional moments or perceived threats by the house by those occupying it. When a film crew came to film the house growing up and do a special on the ghosts, the wallpaper peeled off the walls, visitors had teacups that often separated from their handle while they were holding it in the air to sip. Wall hangings often swung. Ceiling plaster in whole rooms went boom! Cigarettes and brooms flew. Doors slammed. Paintings thrown... You get the picture. The house was freaky active.

Looking back, my conclusions are that psychokinesis by one of the occupants of the house would be ideal, but these activities occurred when different people were in the house. The house did not need any certain one person to be active. Upon occasion, it occurred when things were quiet and no one was worked up emotionally. The idea that a single spirit (assuming such a thing exists) were the culprit, it seems to me that something that has so much trouble forming itself to be seen or heard, would have to go through extraordinary power to move a physical object. A group; however, focusing its power could probably slam a door, lift something, throw something. I think that the incidence of poltergeist activity is so rare because it takes a "pack" of power to perform such feats.

Of course, next year I might have a new conclusion based on other observations, but given the strange outbursts, the power they exert to move something, the rarity of their occurrence, and the fact that no one person can be associated with it (at least in my family home), I have to think it takes a group of men to hoist a car off a trapped pedestrian and it takes a group to make poltergeist activity.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

HAUNTED LIGHTHOUSES


I’ve had a theory since I was a kid that lighthouses tend to be more haunted. How can I say that? Do you know any lighthouse that isn’t reported to be haunted? It was no wonder to me at all that TAPS on its first St. Augustine Lighthouse episode ran into some very amazing finds.

Here’s how I see the concept of these round buildings being haunted as legitimate: When I was growing up at Aspen Grove, we had nightly walks up the stairs and down the hall by the same unseen booted gentleman. The house was used as a Civil War field hospital. What do you suppose this and a lighthouse have in common?

Repetition.

A lighthouse keeper is in a position of great importance and his routine is critical. The same stairs, the same light, the same surveying of the water from the tower. Over and over again and again, days on end, months on end, years on end, decades on end.

Keeping this in mind, in the right environment and geology, a guard tower walkway, a parapet, or the helm of a ship should all provide ideal locations for repetitive hauntings. I’ve long wondered why hallways (which are human pathways and not necessarily critical for spirits to follow) have huge amounts of activity, especially in old homes that have seen a lot of residents going up and down that hall to their rooms every day, many times a day. The newer parts of my childhood home added on in the 20th century saw no activity whatsoever. Even if future generations used the rooms a good deal, they were not part of the pathway of the house to get to the main rooms such as the kitchen, living room, dining room, and upstairs. They were extra rooms, ones you don’t often go through to get anywhere else or perform any rituals of daily living such as cooking and sleeping.

My childhood home sat atop of a well with a creek that nearly encircled the whole property and a driveway that was mostly quartz rock which we found everywhere on the property. With this combination, we had an ideal site for hauntings according to those of us who believe certain geological conditions can be ideally conducive to hauntings. A lighthouse is a round building, which if you follow principles of Feng Shui should mean the energy remains in a circular pattern, caught in a loop. Sitting beside a wide ocean of saltwater in constant motion on a rocky shoreline. It sounds like an ideal soup for a haunted building.

These are just my theories, though. You have to come to your own conclusions about such things, but everything in my gut tells me there is something to be said for the combination for the right haunting combination:

Geology + repetition + emotion = residual

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Shadow People and Peripheral Vision



The phenomenon of shadow figures or shadow people seems to be increasing. I’m uncertain if this is because people are talking about it so others are admitting to it, or if it’s something new to our world.

I’m probably most aligned with the theory that our vision is changing as we live in a world with HD TV, computer screens, and other kinds of electronics that constantly update their screens at a high rate of speed. Things we didn’t see in our peripheral vision are now available to us. A spectrum of things that were there all along may now be seen. Amazingly, this does line up, as peripheral vision (up to 90 images per second) is able to handle faster light waves than the central vision (3-4 high quality telescopic images per second), which is slower. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visual_perception). If something is moving in a higher speed spectrum, your peripheral vision would be more likely the place to pick it up.

I’m most intrigued by the consistent reports that shadow people startle when they realize they have been seen and then dart off a.s.a.p. That tells me they really thought they were traveling around unseen and safe, as if it’s always been that way for them. They seem very surprised we can finally see them. Of course, if they were some sort of spiritual presence they couldn’t be hurt by us, so there wouldn’t be such a vulnerable reaction. I am extremely hesitant to say that this is something of a spiritual nature based on the fact that they appear to be equally fearful of us.

Of course, there’s no way to prove any of this yet, but that’s the fun of theories. You find what best fits the parts of the puzzle that most baffle you.

How/where do I run into a shadow person?

Boy, that’s a hard one. I’ve seen a tall slender one on my patio and in my living room, both times taking long legged strides very fast. By the time I got my central vision on him, he disappeared, but as I was moving from peripheral vision to central vision to view him, I capture what looked like a tall slender man who was black, opaque, and had limbs and a head but no clothing details. It was so very realistic that I called out for my son, thinking it was him, but he was away in his bedroom at the computer screen. I won’t tell you this is a spirit. I’m extremely doubtful of that because, although I know people who have seen them in popularly known haunted sites, I’ve also heard of a greater deal of people seeing them in their own brand-new suburban homes, their work places, their patios. I will, however, say that I’ve noticed folks seem to see them most at the end of the day (when they’ve been at computer/tv screens for the greater majority of the day).

The descriptions can run the gamut from tall and slender to short and vague, caped, with a hat, even animal-shaped. Almost all the descriptions include the terms “a sense of dread or impending doom” to describe accompanying feelings. People almost universally report first seeing them out of their peripheral vision.

As a medical trancriptionist by profession, when you say “peripheral vision” to me, I become quite intrigued by the visual cortex and its play in this whole scenario. There is something called the Gestalt Effect. It refers to the form-forming capability of our senses, particularly with respect to the visual recognition of figures and whole forms instead of just a collection of simple lines and curves. The word Gestalt in German literally means "shape" or "figure." (see Wikipedia “Gestalt psychology” and “visual perception” for more). Our peripheral vision would be the ideal part of our vision to detect something that could be showing itself in a higher frequency of light. This also explains why capturing them in your peripheral vision is easy, but turning your head and using your foveal (central) vision causes you to “lose” sight of them. If a person had the presence of mind when noticing one, to turn his head, but not look directly at it, he might see more detail longer than if he were to try to stare it down. Another potential experiment would be to run a strobe light which can take things like ceiling fan's speed down to a visible slow speed we can interpret movement in. (Don't do this if you have a seizure disorder or tend to get headaches from light). Strobe lights actually do have their use in ghost hunting kits (I have one myself). When someone has reported seeing shadow people, I'm more often than not going to pull that puppy out and run it, sit in the room and observe for as long as I can stand the blinking light. This could give you the capability to see Mr. Shadow Person head-on.

I’m a logic-based kind of person and for me to say that there might be a life form out there that we can’t see but is aware of us, that we might only glimpse upon occasion if our eyes have been at the screen all day, that startles if we stare it down and rushes away, is a huge step in my explanatory style. In the past, I would have been more likely to say that it’s a visual disturbance and it’s self-limiting to the person involved, but my son and his friend saw the exact same shadow person, with the same encounters with it, seeing it full-on. That intrigues me even more because young people have trained their eyes on these high-speed computers and televisions from a tender age while their visual perceptions are still forming. What has this done to their ability to see these shadow people compared to us “middle-agers” who grew up pre-computer era?

I leave you to continue the theories, but for now, I’d like to sit back and collect people’s descriptions. So, if you have an encounter with one of these, please let me know. I’d like to ask you a few questions and find the commonalities.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Theories on Ghosts


I've heard a lot of theories about what "ghosts" are. Even I haven't set it down in stone yet. I have theories, just like the next guy. It's time to revisit some of the popular ones:

Ghosts are souls of once alive people whose bodies have passed on and who do not know they are dead because of a tragic or untimely death. (I'm going out on a limb here, but I'm thinking if your soul has been torn from your body, you might notice that your hand can now go through a wall or become part of the wall, clue number one that you might not have a body.)

Ghosts are souls of once alive people whose bodies have passed on and who haunt the site of their death awaiting; revenge, a loved one's appearance, for someone to unravel the mystery of their death, or because they simply loved their house so much they refuse to leave it. (I'd think after the first week or so of trying to get the new homeowners to hear you or your message, you might go a bit daft. By the third or fourth decade, you might offer yourself up to hell or any place that'll take you.)

Ghosts are actually interdimensional beings able to move in and out of our world and theirs and can upon occasion be seen or heard. (They don't seem to serve a purpose coming here since they do little more than make boards creak and people shiver. I'd ask for my money back on that device that transports them--it's leading to their downfall as an interdimensional race and their sense of personal efficacy.)

Ghosts are a form of life as of yet unknown that evolved the ability to not be seen by human eyes. These life forms live alongside us sharing the same space, but have as little realization we are here as we do that they are there. (At what point in the evolutionary branch did we kick off the ability to be invisible? I'm just curious because technically we have that same ability if they can't see us either!)

Ghosts are actually alien life forms that enjoy observing us incognito. (Wickedly inventive and sinister. Especially when you're taking a bath at night and have a sense of being watched. They must be awfully shy and unimaginative if the best they can do in hiding themselves is show us glimpses of their form now and again, make moaning sounds, and occasionally make a ouija board spell out "no.")

Ghosts are residual events locked into a location by a strong emotion combined with the right geological/weather/radiation conditions to make them replay again and again and again. (If a ghost moans in the hole in the ground where his house once sat, will someone hear it? This gets rather existentialist. Anyone going to the site of a presidential assasination or sleeping in a hospital bed in an ICU should be overwhelmed by events replaying around him.)

So, what are the conditions and the ways we can weigh and measure the phenomena with some kind of consistency? You got me. We're still working on that one. Some folks might say that provoking is effective, others belief EMF meters show definite proof of a spirit trying to form. Still, others depend on psychics and ouija boards. The fact is, until we find whatever method these occurrences are using to show themselves, we won't be able to discern what it is, how to measure it, how to interact with it. We can only take signs and read things into them. If I ask a question and I get and EVP that sounds like an answer, am I having interaction? You got me.

Welcome to the world of theories and ghost hunting. Perhaps that's what so exciting about the field, anything is possible and as investigators, our challenge is to find out what works and what doesn't. I sense we're getting closer, but until we have an an "aha" moment, we're going to be stymied getting any further. Technology and science will be the catalysts that get us there. I can only hope more scientists and inventors out there enter the field and join us on the quest. I fear the only way we can entice them is to take out the "G" (ghost) word and insert "phenomenon."

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Ghost Hunting Dementia


It occurred me to while sitting inside of an abandoned site in the middle of the night waiting for something to happen, what the mind and body go through on a ghost hunt.

First of all, the body is prepared with adrenalin for the potential “hunt.” All you know about the site is that anything could happen, at any time. So, you’re poised. Hearing is extremely acute, breathing is brisk, body temperature is trying to remain constant, and muscles are tight and prepared to either jump and startle or race after something.

When you get past what the body is doing (hyped up with nothing for the brain to do yet), your brain becomes engaged.

It’s amazing the thoughts that run through your mind as the evening unfolds. About the first hour or so you’re quite contented to be doing your “task.” You drift from room to room, take measurements, check your equipment, photograph, and begin to ask questions hoping something shows up on the recordings.

Eventually, you’re begging and pleading some unknown force to answer you, show you a sign that it hears you. (a bit like the whining of a 2-year-old at the checkout stand). One moment you completely believe in the phenomenon, the next you’re questioning it, then eventually at some point in the evening you’re absolutely certain this is a total waste of time and effort and expense. Your mind is already rebelling against the idea of reviewing six hours of video and listening to countless minutes of your voice asking the same mundane questions over and over again.

Before you know it, your mind is already home in bed, feet warm, body clean, dreams nonexistent—the sleep of the dead.

By now, you know every creak in the boards, what that clicking sound is every 10 minutes exactly, and how ridiculous the unchecked thoughts in your head are. It’s not as if you’re meditating and able to keep thoughts from your head. No, you’ve gone from wondering if you’ll see anything or hear anything to being curious how the people who lived here could stand the sound of the closet door opening, to remember what your dorm room smelled like in college, to wondering why you changed your major...

You’ve been so keyed into your body’s sensations to know if something is about to occur that when it does occur and you weren’t ready, you feel let down.

Wasn’t I supposed to feel something first?

The same syndrome that has you thinking random thoughts and planning your next day when you go to bed is at the root of ghost hunting dementia. It’s that quiet time you never allow yourself without television, radio, conversation. Just you and your thoughts. Just you and your thoughts and your body sensations. Just you and your thoughts and hours on end. If you’re lucky, something knocks you from your complacency. It’s that single moment for every ghost hunter that keeps him/her coming back again and again.

As if we’re in the Alzheimer’s phase, we walk away from the hunt, review the evidence, make a summation about it, swearing we’ll never do another all-nighter again. Then, two weeks later, we’re back in some dark place as if we completely forgot how stiff, bored, cold we were the last time.

I, myself, am thankful for that amnesia.

Next time you see me on a hunt, don’t be surprised if two hours into it, I’m fidgeting, yawning, scribbling down notes (more than likely the grocery list), and looking as if I’ve given up all hope. Ironically, it's in those moments of comfort in your environment and the environment's comfort with your presence, that something finally occurs!

And it’s that very randomness that can be both exasperating and a blessing that keeps me coming back.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

CAN YOU CHANGE A HAUNTED PLACE'S MEMORIES?



It occurred to me that if residual hauntings occur in sites where something traumatic has occurred, isn't it possible that the site could receive a new emotional imprint that negates the prior one?

Could a happy functioning family make a dark house bright? Could the birth of a baby in a bathtub in a home create a new harmony? Can our general intentions (good or bad) taint our surroundings and leave a residue?

This came to my attention when I had an energy spot in my hallway that I can't describe...it's just a lot weird things happened there that were too coincidental. Curious, I took out some dowsing rods and went around the house to find they crossed every time I entered the hallway. I've long thought of hallways as strange passageways for energy, as are roads and stairwells. More on that in a future entry...

When I discovered that this weird acting hallway caused a crossing of the dowsing rods, I had a few other people try it. Same result (without them knowing where they crossed for me). I then thought for a time about whatever might have left a "disruption" in the happy energy of my house and thought..what the heck, experiment.

I proceeded to sit in the hallway 15 minutes each day for a week. I put my hands on the floor and I thought about the happiest times in my life and pictured my loved ones and how much I adore them (ironically this is good for the disposition too because I felt awesome all week long). I gave up after a week and figured I'd check the dowsing rods again. Who knows? Maybe something positive occurred.

The rods no longer crossed. It's been almost a year and not a strange thing has occured in that weird hallway, other than when I enter it I have a new sense of positive energy associated with being in the hall.

Should a person believe something disruptive is in his home, I know from a cognitive-therapy point of view, that giving that area a new meaning, a new memory is really helpful. I'd say, if you have a closet that makes scratching sounds and generally scares you, try taking the door off. Try cleaning and rearranging it. Then, try hanging something in there that's positive and happy, whether it's a dreamcatcher, a picture of a loved one, a locket of your child's hair. Try spending some time sitting in there, looking through photo albums, playing a board game with your kids to fill the place with laughter. More often than not, humans avoid places that make them uneasy. But, we can make those places have new meaning with a shrine to a missed loved one or a quiet haven where you read alone in the afternoon.

Bring sunlight and good feelings into your home -- in all its dark and dreary corners and you'll help to give the place new memories.

It is possible to change the house's memories, as the house I grew up in gets further from Civil War era with more and more happy families habitating it, it's become a much kinder quieter haunting.

Have a good time haunting your home while you're alive and remember...some day it's passed on to someone else and their mood in the house will be colored by the way you spent your time there...

NEWPOINT-COMFORT: THE GHOST AND MRS. DAY



When I was growing up, we had a summer home. It was a neat crisp-looking clapboard Victorian on a very sleepy inlet of the Chesapeake Bay in Newpoint-Comfort, Virginia. Visiting there was the thrill of a lifetime. My parents would take us five kids down there in the springtime to plant the veggie garden in the big field beside the house. We’d go back up to the DC area and “bide our time” until school let out and we could go back. When we would arrive, we’d open the house to fresh air and us kids would scurry to our dock on the inlet called “Doctor’s Creek” and drop crab traps filled with chicken necks, excitedly waiting for a fat share of blue crabs. Father would wake us at 4 in the morning when it was still dark but it was low tide to row our rowboat out to an oyster bed in the middle of the water and dive for oysters and clams. We’d row out to the abandoned lighthouse and climb up it and pretend to warn off pirate ships. In the quiet moments, us kids would gather at our neighbor’s home; Captain Hudgins and his wife, Ida. They would make cake and homemade cranked ice cream and we’d sit out on the porch and enjoy it eagerly while the Captain told adventurous stories. We adored that older couple and thought of them as grandparents, as our grandparents had passed on before many of us were even born. One time, the captain gave me a huge starfish and I still to this day have it hanging in my home in the Southwest. Every time I see it, I’m reminded of blue crab with Old Bay Seasoning mix, vanilla ice cream and dense chocolate cake, raw clams and oysters, seagulls, lighthouses, sandy roadways, the salty/mildew smell of the books in the library room of the house, the polished yellow pine stair rail we’d slide down.

We sold the home during a financial burden in the early 70s. I was devastated by it and my summers were never the same, always anticipating going to The Bay.

Soon after, my mother one day was taking a nap in her bedroom while us kids were at school and she woke up and saw someone sitting in the old “sea captain’s chair” (it was a very old chair supposedly carved by a sea captain in the Chesapeake area with two women’s heads on the arms. It had sat in our summer home and we took it with us as a fond memory). She immediately recognized Captain Hudgins. She said, something was wrong; however, because he was wearing what looked like a white robe and he was about ½ his usual height, his head not even reaching the top of the chair back. She said he was sitting there, smiling at her. She recognized him quite easily, even though he was strangely dressed and diminutive. She had a sense he was saying good-bye.

Later, she told us what she’d seen and we rushed upstairs to inspect the chair. Perhaps it was a fuzzy dream. Then, the call came from his wife, Ida. The captain had passed on earlier that day.

I always thought my mom had a strange “witch-like” wisdom. I figured it was born of being from the hills of West Virginia and one of six daughters raised during the depression era and bound closely to the earth, but with her amazing encounter with The Captain, I realized that she’d given me much more than a glimpse at the other side. She had given me hope that we can be reassured by loved ones on their passing.

Something very similar happened to me on the night my father passed on and I felt as if he had given me one last visit to be certain I was okay before continuing his journey. That glimpse of him was enough to give me hope that encounters between their world and ours are possible.

I can thank The Captain for much more than just his tender fatherly care and patience with five wild and spastic visiting kids. He made everything a romantic adventure and even in his death, he managed to impart a romanticism that follows me through my ghost hunting career.

He took the ultimate sea voyage.

Here’s to you, Captain Hudgins, may you tend the lighthouse and keep us from the rocky outcroppings.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

DEATH, DYING, AND GHOST HUNTING


To study those who might be in the spirit realm, it really helps to understand how people interpret the passing of their loved ones. This is often in the framework of religious doctrines, explanatory style regarding death/grief as it occurs within the family, and our own cognitive distortions born from years of unchecked thinking patterns.

Ghost hunters have lots of motives, the majority being folks who had something happened they couldn’t explain, but almost all of them agree that they hope to find proof that rings true for them that there is “another side.”

If you want to hunt ghosts to prove an afterlife to yourself, you’re not alone. Even the best-meaning religious leaders don’t do a very good job of helping folks to answer all the “how’s” and “why’s” of passing. It’s that search for an explanation that fits that can send folks poking around abandoned buildings and historic sites in hopes of an answer that rings true.

Because I’ve had a very large family and an enormous amount of losses (being the baby of the family on both sides), I’ve had to escort loved ones from this plane from the time I was quite young and into middle age. To many around me, I’ve become a poster child for the grief process and reframing things. That same ability to reframe events helps me to keep a healthy perspective on ghost hunting, as I have no ego driving me to believe one way or the other on the subject of spirits. It would be wonderful if the people I love and lost still “live on,” but I don’t expect them to come knocking at my door at 3 in the morning and present themselves. Obviously, if spirits could just let us know they’re there, we’d be hearing from them every day and quite frequently.

The truth is, ghost hunters are searching for proof of attempted interaction. That’s about the best we can get. No lengthy conversations, no questions answered, no peek-a-boo. If a soul could show itself easily, we’d be walking around at night glimpsing shadowy figures around every turn. But they’re rare. And, because they’re rare, we are likely just as rare to them. Nothing more than a ghost to their ghost. A flicker that you try to reach out and communicate with and they at the same time try to reach for us.

At some point, we’re all going to lose people close to us. After all, we’re only allowed to borrow them and must return them when their time has come, but we can hope to make a bridge between our existences. Perhaps over time, we can figure out just what pathway is used to produce energy to communicate and we can prepare something that will allow them to “amp” themselves up so we can converse. That is, supposing we do actually have an afterlife. It’s also entirely possible we have time/space/events locked into place and we’re witnessing parallel events.

To satisfy my own questions, which will likely not be answered adequately in my lifetime, I’ve thought often about hooking up with a ghost hunting team I trust when I get much older (I plan on a ripe long life) and having them be present as I pass to try to document anything I can try to project as I go. I know, it seems strange, but it would be my final gift to research in the field, and my organs the final gift to the living.

Once you reframe how you look at the dead and living and realize we are all in a state of change, it’s not “us” and “them,” then you can ghost hunt knowing you’re contributing to a base of knowledge and evidence that will help us to someday answer that age old question:

Are you out there?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

ARIZONA HAUNTINGS AND SPIRITUALITY




I’ve been living in Arizona the majority of my life. Funny, how I do not think of myself as an Arizonan. I suppose you have to be born into it. I do, however, find that the history here is vastly different than what I found growing up in the Mid-Atlantic state of Virginia: The land here seems to hold memories.

I wonder if part of this is due to the geological conditions, the lack of rain, the old HoHoKam water canals that carve into the desert that sent life-giving moisture, or the high level of Pagan spirituality that was expressed in the desert. If soil can be alkali from lack of rain, does this help the Earth remember events to replay them? to store them? to attract hauntings? So many questions run through my mind about the baffling conditions that create a haunted site.

When you think of England you often think of a lot of haunting of old castles and buildings, but you also think of the land as haunted. The same is true of places like the continent of Africa and the region of Scandinavia. I secretly wonder if perhaps Pagan practices by our ancestors helped create a mixture that holds power in the land. If Stonehenge was made for spiritual purposes on some important leyline, then perhaps that same Pagan knowledge that understood and was connected with the Earth points out the gateways to the other side.

These are all theories, but I would have to assume that any people who follow the Earth as their guideline to spirituality would be highly attuned to such places and events as what we deem the “paranormal.” I don't think it's coincidence that many Pagans choose to be ghost hunters and to use dowsing rods for tuning into spiritual "centers." Those ties to the earth and life cycles are a definite edge in the ghost hunting industry for finding the "sweet" spot that might be active.

Arizona has many sites of countless battles and much anguish by the indigenous people. People who were highly spiritual and in tune with the earth and seasons. If you find a good haunted site in Arizona it’s typical for folks to say “Indian burial grounds,” but they may be onto something. Any spiritually charged site is likely to evoke paranormal occurrences. The land lived on by the native citizens would have likely been steeped in part real world/part spiritual world. You can truly understand the importance of spirituality to the Native Americans when you realize they had to survive in a very brutal environment. Without that spirituality and ties to the land, they would not have been able to find food or water to survive the Arizona summers.

We may have an arid desert here, but it is soaked in Pagan spirituality.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Full Frontal Ghost


Everyone that ghost hunts has to admit, sounds are spooky, smells are baffling, chills are exciting, but what they're really waiting for is the most important sense to most folks--seeing. I grew up in a famously haunted manor home in all that time, I caught shadow glimpses of things, but never a full body apparition.

It took me giving up on ghosts for my young adult life and moving to Arizona and then in middle age deciding to go back to finding answers, that I ran into a full frontal ghost where I never expected to see one.

A group of ghost hunters and I got an abandoned jailhouse to ourselves one night. I wasn't expecting big things. The jailhouse was three stories but filled with about 40 folks making a lot of racket. My ghost hunting buddy and I took the top floor where the guards rested. It was a giant vacant room, 40 degrees outside, and filled with dust. We didn't expect miracles, as the place was a giant dust bowl. But, we set up a little "nest" in the corner with warm sleeping bags and our equipment and hunkered down for the night.

Occasionally other team members would wander through the attic room and then leave. We liked it that way. For a time, we had some semi-quiet for EVP work. Both of us got a sense of someone watching us in the room, a feeling we don't often get. We inspected every corner and took lots of pictures, but other than the typical dust orbs, nothing too exciting. The building was in the downtown area of a small charming town in Arizona. The faint lights glowing outside gave us adequate light to get around without the flashlight but not enought to see any detail.

A couple of folks came up at one point and began clicking off pictures. I was in the middle of talking to my ghost hunting partner when one of the flashes showed something that shouldn't have been in the room. Standing in the opposite side of the cavernous room was a man. He was average in height, perhaps 5'7" or 5'8", slender, wearing a dusty long sleeve shirt and jeans. He had his arms stiff against his body and his shoulders curled up with his head tucked down in the shoulders like a turtle. It was a very unnatural pose. His hair was straight and hadn't been cut in several months at least, a dirty blonde color. His eyes were deepset and vacant looking. He looked like a ragged homeless person and my first thought was -- oh my gosh! We didn't know you were here!

In that split second the flash went off and I saw him in full detail, I also had a strange sense about him. Although he appeared to be 3-dimensional, I felt as if I were viewing him in a 2-dimensional perspective. It's kind of like you can look at your kid in 3-D but then see him in a 2-D photo and it's still him, you just don't have a sense of depth. That's how I felt about this apparition. I also sensed he knew we were here and he was purposely allowing me this glimpse. When I jumped up and ran to the spot after the flash went off, there was no one there. The people taking the photo brought no one else with them. We gazed around the large room to find no one else there. He had not existed, and yet, I could see him so very clearly and in color.

When I got home, I sketched up his image with as much detail as I could. I can still see him in my mind's eye and the strange sensation he left me with, a sort of residue of melancholy and hopelessness.

I never expected on what seemed like a "lame" investigation to get my first full body apparition. You don't know when it's going to happen. You don't get a sense something is about to show itself. I always imagined a full body would be something like in the movies where you get a happy halo effect or perhaps they're transparent. I never imagined it would look like a holographic image being projected and not truly rooted into that spot, but being viewed there.

It had me wondering about a lot of things, but mostly why it seemed so out of place and then I realized that if it's something replaying in the right conditions, it could easily project anywhere that there's a set of eyes to see it. Perhaps even the conditions that make it possible for an environment to record an event can also cause a person to be able to see that event.

Still, I couldn't shake the strange and eerie feeling that he wanted to be seen by me at that exact moment. Maybe to give me hope. Maybe to point me in the direction I'm going and not give up ghost hunting. Or maybe just because he liked my gentle voice and perky nature.

I don't know when I'll run into one of these full-body app's again but I know that seeing one hungered me to see more. If what I got out of the experience was to treat every hunt as the possible "one," then I'm ahead of the game.

Because, even in the most boring sites, a little magic can appear with no forewarning.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Voting Like a Ghost Hunter

Approach the polling place as you would a haunted site. Look around, familiarize yourself with the in’s and out’s, it’s quirks and weaknesses.

Do not let yourself be distracted by the sounds. These places have a tendency to creak and moan, rattle and rumble. Persevere through your anxiety and remain.

Good ghost hunters do not run away!

Remember, your fellow hunters are counting on you to make decisions and act upon them. Show good leadership and a good example.

You might sense others are nearby. Do not think of them as ghosts. Think of them as people who had lives, families, and jobs. They do not want to scare you, they are simply going about their own business.

Clearly, the most frightening moment for any ghost hunting voter is when he is in his voting cubicle. Do not let the isolation crack you. You are made of stronger stuff. Learn to sit and be still for a moment. Note your body sweating, heart pounding, hairs standing on end, but let yourself ride it out. This will pass once you hand in your ballot. You will be proud of how brave you were.

Clearly, your skills as a ghost hunter will help you review evidence and make logic-based decisions when choosing your candidate. Don’t let religious teachings or old-fashioned spiritualists sway you with their tales of gloom and doom. Question everything. Sense yourself in a protective white light and carry on with your task knowing that you have considered every possible cause and reaction to make the ultimate voting decision. Stick by your conclusions based on evidence.

Remember, we are not just electing a president, we are exercising our rights to make logical decisions but still believe in magic!

Debunking by a Child

When I was a kid and we heard the booted footsteps up our stairs and down our hall every night. The stories told to us by past owners was that it was a soldier from the Civil War who was staying in the field hospital (our home) and heard fighting. He got up, ran outside, and was shot and killed. He went back every night for the boots his parents had given him (understandably a precious commodity in the Civil War times). Of course, as a kid I accepted that explanation, although at one point I did ask myself how he walked the floors with the boots he was supposed to be looking for, as clearly the sounds I heard were the clicking heel and ball of a booted foot. This made me begin to question other things too. Once questions leak into an inquisitive and bright kid's mind, they won't go away until the kid finds acceptable explanations.

I listened to these sounds every night all my childhood and finally got sick of wondering. The next day I walked the stairs and hallway to find the exact boards “he” stepped on every night. I now knew his foot stride in the hall that he was not a very tall man, perhaps 5’8” or so. Not probably really important, but it had me wondering even more. Was there something about those boards that made them creak? I checked other boards which also creaked but made a different tone. I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t just all the boards that could creak that were creaking, it was certain boards.

Mind you, this was in the early 70s (I was 10) when ghost hunting debunking didn’t exist to any degree. I had to come up with my own experiments. I noted if it changed in winter, rain, summer. No changes in the boards stepped upon or the sound of booted feet with weather or times of the year. The loudness of it remained the same. It was so very much the same, in fact, that I determined it was the same event recurring every time. As if one night this soldier was taking this walk and it got recorded into the house’s bones and it replayed that typical day regularly.

The only thing that varied about the footsteps was the timing. It didn’t seem to appear until everyone was abed. If someone was unaccounted for, I didn’t hear it when I went to sleep (but that isn’t to say it didn’t occur after I fell asleep--good debunkers note these things). So, one night I stayed up all night to listen. It came some time after my teenaged sister got in and went to bed. I think she was still in the bathroom at the time.

Skeptical, still, I waited until my sister was fully asleep and crept downstairs. As a kid, I learned where to step on what boards to not be heard if I snuck downstairs to steal some Christmas fudge or watch Johnny Carson. I thought perhaps the stairs were rebounding after someone walked up them and that explained the sounds. Why else did everyone have to be abed before it occurred? I walked up the stairs on the ones I knew he stepped on which was nearly every one of them, with the exception of about three to four boards (out of perhaps 13 steps). I went down the hall in the manner his steps took nightly and into my middle bedroom where the sounds stopped. I waited. I sat. I waited more. I listened intently. I shifted restlessly. No footsteps. I did not cause the boards to release themselves or somehow flex after being stepped upon.

Even recording the sounds and replaying them for friends didn’t impress them. I realize that as a ghost hunter that’s the nature of the beast. Little did I know that even 36 years ago I was already a budding ghost hunter. I had just the right amount of skepticism and desire to prove things beyond a reasonable doubt.

I still do. It keeps me going. I don’t want others to be able to dispute things away. I want to try not to get caught up in the excitement of something strange occurring and assuming it’s supernatural. It’s really no different than our ancestors hiding from an eclipse. There’s an explanation for everything. I believe there is for hauntings, as well, even if we don’t know yet what the science behind them is.

We can at least figure out what it isn’t.

Hotel Vendome


My favorite ghost hunting friend and I decided to take a weekend and drive up from Phoenix to Prescott to stop at every cemetery on the way there and the way back (8 total). We adore cemeteries and always take the chance to pick up the mood and take photos and fix up abandoned graves that are neglected.

This time, we decided we'd stay at a well-known haunted room at an adorable little hotel in Prescott called "Hotel Vendome." It was absolutely charming when we arrived with a deep comforting porch to watch the activity in downtown Prescott (small town personified in this old district). You can even order an iced tea and sit out there and rock and watch folks go by. When do we ever allow ourselves such luxuries? As a good Southern girl, I was all over that. But, once we finished our chat time and relaxing, we decided to head up to our haunted room.

Apparently, the building was once used as a hotel as it is now, but a woman with TB was abandoned there by her husband to ride out the rest of her illness with her devoted cat. They both passed away in the room that the innkeepers let her stay in. It's said her room is so haunted the hotel only rents out the "Abby" room if you request it and know that it's haunted. They even give you a huge album you can sort through of letters from folks who've stayed there and what occurred. Very spine tingling when you're up in the room.

The room itself is extremely creepy because devoted fans have left toys for the cat and cat statuettes and such for Abby in the room. The place feels like grandma's house on acid. If you didn't believe in ghosts, you might start to with dolls and cats staring at you.

It's said the cat can be heard scratching in the closet, so we took our our EMF detector, thermometer, and electronic voice recorder and decided to focus on that area first. We weren't disappointed. The EMF meter spiked up to 4 and 6 at times. It varied a great deal. We felt hair stand on end and a chilly sensation. It was like being watched. I went into the closet and stood there in the dark with it closed and felt something brush my hair aside on my shoulder, sending a deep chill through my right side. We decided to go to supper and had a great time at the local brewery restaurant where they were happy to tell us tales of their own ghosts. We went back to our room figuring the EMF readings would be there still and prove that perhaps some electrical ran through the room that set it off. We are both very skeptical by nature.


We were wrong.

The EMF was completely gone. We could get no readings no matter where we held it up to. The sensation of being watched was lessened. We spent some time doing EVP sessions and even tried automatic writing with so-so results, but we were willing to try anything. At one point, my ghost hunting partner got deep chills. I clocked her skin temp going from 97 down to 66 and then back up again within a few minutes' time.

When we went to bed, I put my recorder in the closet and said, "I'm closing the door now, time for bed." I set it down and put it on sound activated recording and closed the door. We got ready for sleep and I pulled my sheets out from the corner of the bed--I hate feeling like I'm being held down by the tight sheets. My friend laughed at my silly quirks and I went to bed, but not before taking a shot of the closet door as proof it was closed for the night. I set the camera beside me on the bedstand and my friend and I went to sleep.

During the night, I heard scratching and it finally woke me up because I was annoyed. I felt immediately that my sheets were tucked back in at the foot of the bed. My feet were pointed and pressed down. It made me a bit hysterical. I hate that feeling! I pulled them free again and then realized that I had released them before going to bed. I grabbed my digital camera, turned to the scratching sound and took a shot. It woke up my friend and I said, "I'm just taking a nighttime shot." We both went back to bed.

The next morning, I got up and went to the closet door and opened it up to get my recorder. I played it back but there were no recordings. I figured it was a totally lame night and we both decided only the dolls haunt the room.

It wasn't until I got back to Phoenix that I found on my photos a strange crooked shot taken sort of sideways. The closet door wide open at night. I could see my recorder through the crack in the door where the hinges are. I realized then that this was the picture I took during the night. The shot before it showed the door closed at bedtime. The following shot after it showed our trip home. The closet door had made scratching sounds, opened during the night, someone tucked my feet in, and the door closed again after I took the shot.

I don't know if this constitutes a haunting. Although I'm extremely impressed I got this footage (and noted too that the hotel door could not have been opened by the owners as there was a latch inside the door that we use and they could not access). We definitely plan to stay again and this time run the camcorder for the night. It's a pain in the butt changing tapes, but it's worth it if we can get this closet door opening.

As a side note, I don't think it's so unusual we see ghostly happenings in basements, attics, and closets, they are the least frequented places in a home. If you have activity in your home and there's a place in it your rarely go, you're likely to run into something if you go there. Give it a try sometime. I find it's amazingly true.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Green Hauntings and the Six Senses

Okay, maybe I'm over simplifying here, but as someone who's had a life-long ability to read objects and locations, I'm going to call it what I want. What many refer to as "residual" hauntings, I like to refer to as a "Green Haunting" (I'm all about reframing things so they're not so dark and threatening--the paranormal has too long been dictated by evil-vs-good, church-vs-devil).

In a green haunting, a location could be stuck in an ideal situation (whether it's geological, running water, construction of the building, or history of the land), in which it can recycle events over and over again, picked up by the six senses.

Sometimes it's just sounds like footsteps, doors closing, a cough. Other times, it can be a scent of roses, cigars, or sulfur. Other senses can also be involved like the sense of touch giving you a feeling of someone brushing against you, pulling your hair, or the hairs standing on end on your arms. If it's visual, it could be a shadow traveling in the same direction down the hallway, a light that flashes, a full-body apparition. We are creatures who gain our information from our senses and folks who've gone ghost hunting can tell you, that even the sixth sense can be a potent warning sign.

The sixth sense will activate in ways you often hear from people who have experienced hauntings or gone to haunted sites. The feeling of being watched, a sense of doom, hairs standing on end, an icy cold, a tingling feeling as if something traveled through your body and gave you deep shaking chills.

If you think of these repetitive "haunting" characteristics as something recycling through space and time over and over again like a loop, sometimes your sense of smell catching them, sometimes your sense of touch, you can appreciate the intriguing mechanism of hauntings.

I'm not convinced in the idea of intelligent hauntings, but I'm open to finding out if there's a way to prove it. A person can ask a question to someone in a room and have the TV commercial in the background"just happen" to answer it. You can also ask questions of "ghosts" and get answers that sound fitting, but that isn't real proof of interaction. It's a huge jump to go from what is obvious to anyone who's lived in a haunted site, the repetitive and random things that occur, and something intelligent trying to get our attention.

Ghost hunters are faced with the same issues homeowners are. We go to a site for perhaps 5-10 hours and if we're lucky we capture about 0.25% of what occurs in a given year. It's a crap shoot, but when we do get something, it's hard to correlate that what occurred was a reaction to what we asked or did. I can't tell you how many times I've asked a question to get a knock or sound of an object moving which I assume (because I'm trying to make communication) was done for my benefit. Should a once-live being really exist in another plane and be able to respond to our questioning, we'd have been screwed long ago because how many of us have talked to deceased relatives without one single sound, one single response? If anyone wanted to talk to you specifically from the other side more, who better than a relative who cares for you and misses you?

There's nothing to say that replayed events in a location aren't activated by, as of yet, some unknown mechanism. It could be reflective of the emotions of the people living in the home. I know that many times when my family had emotional issues when I was growing up, the house was more active. Could strong emotions imprint an event and then release it later on? If you yell at a ghost and taunt it, will you get more response? I believe that's very possible and we can witness that on many ghost hunting shows that are popular nowadays. The logic-minded person might say that a KII meter going off could be caused by the person using it having energy at high levels, being kinetic, causing it to go off, or that a person raging at a ghost might release a sound or event by an emotion that originally locked that event into that space. It's a line of experimentation I'd like to continue to follow.

For now, all hauntings to me are green hauntings. I'd like to find something other than recycled echoes of the past, but it might be reassuring to homeowners with issues to know that these things are random and not directed at you. Someone in the past might have screamed and cried in that room when they got bad news, someone might have banged on the walls in rage. It's not you. It's the place and space and time and the right conditions meeting to "recycle" a phenomenon.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Happy Twisted Halloween Memories at Aspen Grove

Most Halloweens at our scary mansion on the hill were very stark. I believe a few times we had mediums come to do seances. To me, they were just a fun time to dress up and hit the neighborhood until midnight--yes, we used to use pillowcases for our loot and in those days (60s/70s) you could go all night and no one thought it was odd.

The nights were very dark with no streetlights on our estate, and never had anyone once braved the extremely long driveway, over the bridge, and up the hillside to the huge columned front veranda with a swinging light overhead. Mom bought candy every year, but I think it was just for her secret stash. One year, the Toole family braved the driveway. I believe there were perhaps six or seven lumberjack-looking Irish sons who were strong enough (and plenty old enough) to come to the door. What a shock that was! I still think of those boys who lived on Glenmere and know they were quite brave indeed.

My first Halloween trick-or-treating, my older brother "allowed" me to tag along. I was perhaps 4 and he was 9. I think I wore some fluffy bit of princess nonsense. I hadn't yet developed my full-blooded thrill for the season yet. All I knew was I was guaranteed candy if I said a few words.

Our first stop was one of the two carriage houses on our property. Mom rented them out to college boys at George Mason University. I believe Craig Hobbs was living there at the time and having a full-out college Halloween party. In the kitchen entry there was a lady with a crystal ball giving fortunes. I was thrilled by the mystery of what she saw in that glass orb. My brother led me into the main living area and there were crowds of people in costumes that were rather benign, hobo's, gypsies, a dracula. Suddenly people roared and I looked up and saw a tall man in a suit, holding his head in his arm! He was headless! I remember screaming in a shrill tone. In retrospect, it was pretty funny because my big brave 9-year-old brother was backed into the wall crushing me between him and the wall. He was scared more than I was.

Admittedly, I had a defeat that night. I cried in my father's arms and refused to go with my brother. He took my bag and got it filled, claiming his sister was "too sick to go out." Instead, I opted for the dark mansion and the sounds and creepiness that went with it. It was a familiar scary to me. Perhaps that's why I ghost hunt now. Old dirty scary places are "home" to me. I'm comforted by the unusual and unexpected life of a building.

The next year, I managed a full-fledge round of trick-or-treating with my brother. Each year, I found more interesting costumes. Each year, I went further from home. Each year, I tried to hide in the bushes behind the famous "killer's" house and see if he came outside with his wife in a trash bag as we all suspected he'd offed her.

After that, I was hooked. Halloween was all about the atmosphere and at the end of a good long hunt for more and better candy, it was always exciting to launch over the fence and walk into the dark boxwood maze behind the mansion and feel my way in the dark to the house. One candle in a window. Lots of creaks and moans and voices in the night.

Every night was Halloween at Aspen Grove.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pro’s and Con’s of Ghost Hunting Shows

When you think of the ghost hunting offerings on TV, the big three come to mind;
“Ghost Hunters,” “Paranormal State,” and “Ghost Adventures.” Please, keep them coming!

My friends and I often squabble over which show is best and what they do right and wrong on each show. I've come to some conclusions about the teams and about the people who produce the shows.

“Ghost Hunters” Pro’s: These guys go in to prove the place is not haunted (bless you). They use technology. They entered the field long ago for personal reasons and not because it might some day make a TV show. It was the last thing on their mind. They wanted answers. They go over the evidence with the client in the end. They’re skeptical about any evidence that could be explained other ways.

“Ghost Hunters” Cons: Production! That’s the number one awful thing. It’s dry. It’s dull. I don’t care to see them Roto Rooter (which I doubt they do any longer other than to produce a commercial and no wonder plumbing is expensive when they send two guys to unplug a toilet!) The sound quality is awful and on DVD it’s abysmal. The music/sound effects are goofy and at inappropriate times like when we’re trying to hear the voices Grant and Jason just heard. The way they present evidence as a teaser to get you to sit through the commercial is aggravating. In the old days, we got to see the evidence during review and then with the client, giving us double time to make our own decisions after hearing/seeing it twice. (Don't worry guys, folks will sit through the commercial-they want to see the client's reaction). Now, for the team I have only a few con’s. My biggest one is that they don’t wear helmet cameras. If they see a full-body, I wanna see a full-body! I’m tired of the crew aiming cameras at the team to get their reactions when they could be getting evidence by looking at what Grant and Jason are looking at. For pity sake! They have all this money into the equipment and they don’t at least carry a camcorder. Jeez! I also am not fond of the way they meander around aimlessly and no one seems to have an expertise. It’s cool that they know how to do it all, but couldn’t they just set people up so maybe Tango is their EVP dude and Kris is their EMF chick. Jason and Grant have very clear-cut positions and I’d like to see people who seem to really know all about EVP and all about video…

In a nutshell, “Ghost Hunters” fire the production team and get your members to specialize. And wear helmet cam’s! Otherwise, you rule and everyone else drools!

“Paranormal State” Pro’s: Mood. The show has lots of mood. It’s sad and sulky and Ryan has just the right amount of pout and thoughtful staring. It’s dark in much of the show which is spooky too. I really like that they include the people living there. Sometimes, if strangers come tromping around (like TAPS) without the owners there, things may not happen. The house is used to the owners. They don’t know these bozos. The people living there have to live with it too. They can also say “Yeah, I’ve heard that before” when it happens. They might even instigate things. The music is good. I’ve even become used to the “director’s log” which used to make me burst into laughter. Now, it’s kind of moody and cool. I like that they have a psychic. You shouldn’t depend on them, but they’re like bloodhounds. They’ll take you to the right place and maybe give you info you wouldn’t have known to pursue before. Chip’s awesome!

“Paranormal State” Con’s: Anyone who knows my take on ghost hunting will say, I’m not keen on the "Catholic" thing. It’s a bit too religious-minded and “evil” oriented. I’d like to see these folks quit burying medals in people’s property and calling in priests and worrying about possession. Their approach is rather simplistic and I think sometimes that they’re counseling is what the folks really need. I’ve never seen any convincing hard evidence from them, but then I think they depend on feelings and that’s the murky old world of ghost hunting. The world filled with “evil” and “possession” and “angry dead people.” I’d like to see them get a bit more scientific and quit freaking home owners out with their hocus pocus solutions. I think they just need to grow up before they do this seriously. If anything, Ryan can get a job as a counselor. He seems to be able to listen and look thoughtful at the same time.

In a nutshell, “Paranormal State” is what folks think of with ghost hunting, the old world use of ouija boards or séances or priests and psychics. It’s moody, it’s creepy, and all in all it’s like an episode of “A Haunting,” really for entertainment and not for any progress in the field. I watch you for mood and on that you definitely entertain.

“Ghost Adventures” Pro’s: I’m a huge fan of instigating and generally pissing off anything that may be present. I think these guys are onto something. Strong emotions make things happen. They stir it up. They make evidence come forth. Hit for hit, when you prod and push, you get more results. I like that they use equipment and seem to have it covered well.

Con’s: Wow, don’t know where to begin. The guys are dicks, so it’s hard to take them seriously. They remind me of those guys in school that liked to just make fun of everyone and call them “gay.” Beyond their personalities, I don’t feel they have a sense of respect for history or the places they’re researching. (If we weren't watching, I get the distinct feeling they'd pull out a spray can and tag the place). They use EVPs that no one would ever consider using as evidence and stretch what they hear beyond recognition. They’re so new in the field that everything they get they think is awesome, even orbs. I don’t know if they can ever become real ghost hunters that are helpful in the field because I don’t think they entered it for the right motivations. It reminds me of Elle Woods in the movie "Legally Blonde," it's like these guys woke up one morning and said, "I think I'll be a ghost hunter." Like Paranormal State, I think they just need to mature a bit and find their way. They’re onto something with instigation, but I think they’re way too hyper and immature to be taken seriously.

In a nutshell, it’s nearly impossible to watch the show just because the guys are such bullies and sissies at the same time. They give every appearance of being in this because they want to make bucks and further their careers and not for the field, for the research, or for anything else but their own egos. I’d ask them to break up the team and include a sensitive female or someone else to the team, but I think the first one I’d want to cut is Zak (he orders the guys around like dogs) and he’s kind of like the gang leader. I watch this for entertainment purely and only because every week I keep hoping Zak’ll whack his head into a cross beam or something and knock himself senseless. Their childish screams and running around and taunting is hilarious. It’s like Three Stooges go ghost hunter. For that alone, it’s worth it. All in all, they’re totally bogus.

Producer wanted: Scene of the Crime

I’ve always wanted to go back to my childhood home and revisit the haunting there from the Civil War soldiers who were injured and died in its walls when it was a field hospital. The home was haunted very actively, but what intrigues me even more is who has joined the cast since that time.

My father died when I was 16. He swore he would meet us at “Aspen Grove.” Soon after he died, the people living in the house told us they saw my father in his gray suit and pink striped tie (his traveling suit that we buried him in). My father had been dead for several days when they saw him. My mother died nearly 20 years later and vowed she would be there. After all, she was the historian who made certain the history of the house was revealed and it was placed on the historical register. She loved that place like nothing else in the world, even us children. We kind of knew that about her. The estate was very enchanting and surreal. It lured everyone in.

We siblings talked about our parents wandering the halls of Aspen Grove and vowed we would join them. When my brother was dying a few years later, he took a nap and woke up and told me he had been flying around Aspen Grove and described in detail the awful changes since the condos were built around the mansion. He promised to be there. He died several days later.

My brothers death made me finally pursue something I started in childhood—ghost hunting. I felt him touching the other side and I wanted to see if the other side had any choice in interacting with us. My sister and I talked extensively about my ghost hunting exploits and she laughingly told me I’d see her at Aspen Grove. She knew how desperately I wanted to prove what happened growing up and what could now be going on at the estate. She died suddenly and I knew there was no doubt she was going to Aspen Grove.

A couple years later, I spoke with the professor from George Mason University who lived in a cottage at the end of our driveway and was the historian who assisted my mother in her research and a very dear family friend, and we talked about the haunting and my research and my siblings and parents. He agreed that he too would like to haunt Aspen Grove. He died a few months later.

It sounds tragic, but when you’re significantly younger than your family on both sides, you tend to know you’ll be watching a lot of people pass, sometimes way too young. I feel a strange comfort knowing they’re there to greet me. I wouldn’t want to be the first to go.

What intrigues me is the possibility that not only are the haunts of the house that might recognize me still there, but my family and friend might be there as well. If I were to go there and do a study, would they show themselves in amazing ways? After all, they know how I seek answers and want to communicate.

If I can’t find ghosts at Aspen Grove, I would hang up my tools of the trade and give up.

I vowed to myself I wouldn’t go without a good team to document and a film crew to observe. This is nearly a guaranteed haunting. I would not want to miss a moment of the evidence that would be gained.

So, if you know a producer who’s interested, I’m more than ready for the ultimate ghost hunt. I’ll keep you posted if this ever materializes

The Synesthetic Psychic

As far as the condition of synesthesia is concerned, the online dictionary states, “A sensation produced in one modality when a stimulus is applied to another modality, as when the hearing of a certain sound induces the visualization of a certain color.”

My form of synesthesia is in relation to time/days/months/years. I see it in a 3-dimensional model that is outside of my body. I didn’t know others thought of time and days and such like calendars until I was well into adulthood and read an article about people with a “disorder” for seeing time such as mine. I was shocked to learn others didn’t see time that way. For me, January juts out of my right cheek. If you say, “let’s go to North Carolina in January,” I’m seeing the calendar jutting from my right cheek outside of my body aiming slightly to the right and level with my cheek as that time period.

Yeah, I guess that is weird.

My ability to read objects began when I was very young and we would dig up artifacts at my manor home and I would read their history by holding them. In antique shops, I was often overwhelmed by things “yelling” for attention. I didn’t know what to touch first.

I never thought their was a connection until I was doing a reading of an object and realized that when I read something, I see it out my right side slightly below eye level and it’s in a stacked form as if I’m sifting through a card deck until I stop on a piece of information that applies. I then “lay out” the cards as I get them and read them, all of this projected outside of my body as I read it.

Is there a connection between synesthesia and psychometry (the ability to read objects)? Or, do I access my psychic information the same way I do time organizationally? Or, does the fact I read objects like I read time mean that I’m reading actual time?

I’d be curious to see what research comes from the study of synesthesia but I’d be a lot more intrigued to find out if other psychics read information in the manner that I do and if they also view time in such a manner?

If you know anyone who does or you do, please write back. It’s an ongoing research for me.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Feng Shui For Ghosts

I’ve had a theory for years about the way a home is laid out in relation to the degree with which its haunted. I was thrilled to come across a book that handles the concept of Feng Shui and ghost hunting called “Confessions of a Feng Shui for Ghost-Buster” by Anna Maria Prezio. The book really reiterated for me the common sense of a home’s layout and its activity.

It isn’t surprising to most why attics and basements seem more haunted. Just look at the way most of them are laid out. I don’t recall a single “Ghost Hunters” episode where they didn’t enter a home and explore to find musty messy catch-all basements and rickety box-filled attics. The more chatchkeys, the more hauntings. The more antiques, the more hauntings. Messy, dark, and cram-packed rooms are the worst offenders.

According to the book (above), darkness attracts spirits and cluttered dark rooms are just asking for action.

Here’s an example of how this works. I was called to a house in Casa Grande, Arizona where the owners were having trouble with lots of different sightings and sounds. The young daughter was afraid to sleep in her bedroom because she said there was something in the closet. The house was a shambles. The parents were housing two disabled people, along with very busy jobs and care of family members. The child’s closet was filled to the brim with “stuff.”

My suggestion? I don’t like parents using the “G” (ghost) word around children if they can help it, so I told the mother to explain to the daughter that more than likely it’s the things in her closet shifting that’s causing the sounds. She was to take everything out of there and leave it empty for a week. If the child stopped hearing things (which she will because there’s nothing in there), then you can tell her that was the issue, and tell her that when you put things back in there, it’ll start making noise again. This is a win-win situation. Should there be anything mischievous in the closet, it is now attributed in the child’s mind to her possessions shifting. If there was nothing supernatural occurring, the sound is now explainable.

Sometimes people with the most stress in their lives let things go. The first thing to “go” is their home. They’re too busy, too tired, too overwhelmed to clear it out and make sense of it, but their things can literally and figuratively haunt them if they don’t clear out the debris.

When it comes to found objects, that’s a different matter. Often times after inheriting objects from a family member, activity starts up. Sometimes the best thing to do is to give that piece a place of honor and memory where everyone can be near it and a part of the relative still associated with it might also feel part of the family. If you tuck it in a closet somewhere, it’s likely to “come back to haunt you.” Look at it like a new puppy. You have to have it nearby and let it see you and hear you and know you’re near. Recognize it. Pat it. Let him know you think of him every time you touch the object. In the case of buying antiques, you don’t know what you’re bringing home. I’m not of the mind that anything is “evil” so I’m not concerned for anyone’s piece of mind, but I know when you treat a piece with respect, it will feel important and not angry. So, if you pick up an antique, polish it up, make it nice, use it with respect, and be proud of it. You’ll be rewarded in the long run.

A lot of this is common sense and logic. Pathways of the house need to be clear so energy can run about. And it will. It will take a pathway over and over and over again, but will become disrupted when you place furnishings, boxes, and other things in the way. The main long-runs in your house should stay clear like stairways and hallways and curtains should be opened during the daytime to let in some sun. Remember, if you can’t walk the path without maneuvering, neither can they and they might just get stuck there and cause activity in that spot where it creates a kind of “loop.” (picture the pinball when it gets stuck bouncing between two paddles over and over again unable to shoot itself out of the yo-yo’ing).

If you’re on a call to a home and you’re investigating, also keep in mind the dead ends and pathways of the house, the darkness and the crowding. You’re very likely to be able to change things without any hocus pocus, just some simple guidelines for the owner to get their S#@! together

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...