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

Rocks and Water -- Spiritual Pathways?

I've been living in Arizona for a long time now. I still think of myself as a Virginian, but I've made-do with the history of the west. I've noticed something different about the hauntings here compared to the East. In the East, it seemed that buildings were haunted more often than not or perhaps they stole the spotlight, but much of the West feels as if its very land is haunted. It's hard not to stand in the middle of the Sonoran Desert and not feeling a sense of old wagon trains and Native Americans on horseback.

In studying hauntings in the Greater Phoenix area, the Mesa area seems to be particularly haunted. Why? I often look at train tracks because for some bizarre reason, when there's a good haunting, there's a nearby train track. I don't know if it's the metal rails or that it's a pathway frequently used. I noticed too in cemeteries and other sites, hallways and roadways are often haunted as if there's a natural propensity for energy to travel the easiest path... Well, looking at Mesa, if I superimpose a map of the ancient HoHoKam indians water canals that kept them alive in this Godawful place, I see a definite pattern between haunting sites and waterways. Could spiritual energy still trek down these waterways that were lifegiving and one of the most important features to ancient natives?

I grew up in a manor home whose original name was "Springfield." The well water was delicious and the well ran under the house and another stream, the "Pohick Creek" ran through the front yard. The driveway was mostly quartz rock. In fact, when our favorite dog died, we buried him in the boxwood maze out back with a giant 3' x 2' quartz rock. Quartz rock and granite, as well as running water are associated with hauntings often times. It's felt they work as a battery of sorts for spiritual energy. I do believe they have some dynamic tendencies that make them ideal for that sort of "haunting stew." Some homes are haunted following tragedy, others are not. Could this be the factor for laying down a history that replays?

In the British movie "The Stone Tape" there was a theory that I felt even as a child before I heard of the theory. It stated that stone could hold history and replay it. I knew that growing up in my home that the very walls and basement crawlspace held a kind of stasis that made me wonder if my own yelling and screaming as a child might be replayed for some future generation.

Going down a list of the most haunted places in America, I looked them up on Mapquest to find railroad tracks within 300 yards of nearly all of them. I didn't even try to look for waterways or geological features. It would be a big task, but one worth documenting if someone were ambitious and took an interest in geology.

I've always believed lighthouses are easily haunted. As a child, I used to climb in a lighthouse that was abandoned in the Chesapeake in Mobjack Bay near our summer home in Newpoint-Comfort. I remember knowing it held things like voices and feelings. I didn't have any physics knowledge as a child, so I assummed it was the circular building. To this day, I take note of circular shaped sites and their tendency to be haunted. It is rather uncanny. Does this have to do with pathways needing to be straight to travel in a straight line? Does it mean that things held in a round building would continue a round-ward path?

I'd love to hear anyone's take on these phenomena. I'd like to find correlations and way to test these things.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Poltergeist

Poltergeist phenomenon fascinates me. The closest I've come to understanding it is to look at the context in my life in which I've witnessed it. There were three girls in my family; my two sisters were in a love/hate relationship and 11 months apart, then six years later, I arrived. During the adolescence and teenhood and my own, the poltergeist activity in our home appeared. I've heard it said many times that "hormonal" girls and activity go hand in hand. My friends had no troubles in their houses, but then, they didn't live on a ton of quartz rock with a spring running under their home in a building that was used as a Civil War field hospital. So, perhaps it's a combination of conditions. A sort of paranormal stew.

I've seen things be flung by unseen forces which happened when I was younger and didn't seem strange to me. I thought it was the same thing as seeing a bird fly or a person jump. I didn't know at the time it wasn't normal.

I forgot a lot about the poltergeist activities such as things mysteriously missing after you set them down, doors slamming, boxes being unpacked after being packed...that is, until I became a 14-year-old.

Every ghost hunter has a moment when they truly want to run in panic. Mine occurred at the age of 14 when we were preparing to move from our manor home to the big bad awful west--Arizona. I wasn't happy about the move. In fact, I tried to make ghostly sounds to scare away perspective buyers with no luck.

Still, the house sold.

We'd boxed up our things to have them unpacked the next day. We had several plaster ceilings just simply dump onto the floor all at once. Disconcerting events, but not unheard of in that house. We had film crews there who watched the wallpaper peel off the walls as they walked by, so it wasn't off the charts. I had a high tolerance so I found it more or less amusing.

Then, one day when my father and brother were looking for a rental house in Arizona and the reality of the move became real, my mother, oldest sister, and myself were home alone. We sat in the breakfast room on one end of the house having lunch and discussing how we hoped they'd find a house with a pool since swimming pools in Northern Virginia were a rarity in private homes.

A huge crash send us running through the house to the far side music room where what we saw made absolutely no sense and to this day gives me shivers. In fact, I was so hysterical that I was begging and crying to sleep in a hotel. The house didn't seem to want to let us move and I was taking it's cue after this incident. In all my years there, I never took incidents to be directed at me, but this was so violent and so unexplainable that I no longer felt safe there.

We had set up in the music room a tv tray. Those old-fashioned ones with the folding legs that clip into the tray. On top of it we had a huge pickle jar filled with pennies and paper rolls. We'd been stacking the pennies into stacks of 10 to put them in the rolls. Across the room, about 12 feet away, an oval painting of my mother's uncle in WWI costume was fastened to the chimney. Well, the picture with its glass cover was now underneath the folding tray face down and unbroken. The tray had come out of its clips which cannot happen without lifting it up and out of them, the legs splaying out, it had fallen atop the picture. On top of the tray, the stacks of 10 pennies were perfectly aligned. Not even slightly shifted from place. We studied it, shaking our heads and looking around us.

I slept in one of the carriage houses that night. I was too scared of the house. After that incident, more happened and escalated and the other haunting features of footsteps and voices were louder and more urgent than usual.

Still, I could handle things that were explainable like history repeating itself in sounds and smells, but I could not get my mind around how this picture flew across the room, knocking a tray up and out of its clips, ending up underneath it face down, the pennies still perfectly neatly stacked. I didn't know of any statistic that could explain that scenario ever occurring under any circumstance.

It was a turning point for me. It stuck in my mind that the combination of upset over having to move and the repressed anger about it and the site on which we lived combined into something that was most unusual. To this day, I cannot wear a watch. I kill them usually within the first day of wearing it. As time goes on, I can't even keep them in my purse. I tend to set off alarms when I'm in times of distress when I walk in and out of stores. It's an odd kind set of circumstances, but I do believe that some people are more kinetic.

When I watch "Ghost Hunters" I can't help but notice that consistently Jason and Grant get more activity. They're like magnetics for stuff. I think it's part of how they're made up. I think it's part of how I'm made up. Some folks are just good switches for activity.

What is a poltergeist? I think the best explanation I can give is an emotion manifested into a physical event under the right conditions and with the right catalyst.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Shadow People

Shadow people are a phenomenon only talked about recently, although I'm not certain they haven't been around longer, they've only been recognized openly the past decade or so. People who witness them often describe seeing something out of the corner of their eye, turning their head and watching it disappear. Others describe a situation in which they witness more often than not a 3-4' tall dark human-shaped being that appears to be trying to be incognito. When it realizes you see it, it dashes away or disappears as if startled. They often also describe a sense of doom coming over them when they encounter one.


It's a long jump from shadowy phenomenon to evil, but you know there's going to be those with a spiritual explanation for phenomenon who are going to jump on that explanation. Why else is it black? Why else is it small and demon-like? Why else does it come with a sense of dread?


My son had an amazing experience with a shadowperson that I believe personifies the typical encounter, although this one lasted for a fair amount of time compared to usual encounters. It was a few years later when he finally confessed what happened to me and he only did that because I just explained to him why I ghost hunt because "if you had something unexplainable happen to you, you'd want answers too." His voice began to shape and he seemed visibly upset. From a highly logic-minded and gifted young adult, this was quite unusual. He proceeded to explain how he and a friend at the age of 17 snuck into a cemetery. They were walking through the grounds in the dark when they stopped about 25' away from a large altar at the outdoor crematory vaults. My son saw something very dark and dense looking next to the altar. His first thought was, a homeless person. His friend next to him said, "do you see that?" and my son nodded. They proceeded to approach the altar until they were perhaps 10-15 feet away. My son held up his digital camera, clicked on the red light that helps him to target what he wants to photograph and figured it might alert the person to leave. The red target sat atop of this dark definitely solid mass. It also frightened it and the dark mass unfolded to the same height as the altar (3' tall) and scurried behind it. My son's heart was pounding and his friend was horrified. My son rushed to the altar, beamed his flashlight on it and realized that the altar was attacked to the solid concrete wall. There was no behind to it. Feeling a heavy sense of dread and doom, they both rushed away to the side of the altar some 20 feet away and looked back. When they looked back, this 3' tall black thing peered out from behind the altar and looked at them. They ran off to the far end of the cemetery. They gave the altar wide berth and took off out the far side of the cemetery where his friend saw it move between headstones. My son shook his head as he explained it. He had absolutely no idea what it was but it was nothing he could explain. He had no belief in anything supernatural until this time and even when faced with what was happening, he tried moving around at first to see if he and his friend were casting shadows, which they couldn't since there was no back lighting. To this day, he still thinks about it and shivers.

What are shadowpeople? Well, they intrigue me because they show a sign of intelligence I've never seen in hauntings. They seem almost like what folks in Celtic cultures might have called elves or Scandanavians would call trolls. They go about their business but when they realize they've been seen, they rush off. They carry a sense of doom and dread which intrigues me. This says to me that the human being is sensing something of a living nature about this "creature." Where they show up, more often than not, is where people don't normally traffic. This makes me think they are sentient and can make the decision to go to places they aren't likely to be run into, then when they are run into--they show a startle response and flee.

The theories on shadow people including interdimensional beings that occasional blip in and out of our world, alien life forms, natural life forms we weren't aware of until we began using high frequency HD TV and computer screens that made our eyes better able to discern things we didn't have a spectrum to see before, evil spirits, and ghosts trying to manifest.

Since I have had very little experience with shadow people and both times I didn't feel a sense of dread, I can only use logic to discount some ideas. They don't seem to happen in particularly haunted places and aren't usually seen more than once in the same place, although some people claim their homes have them, they're not always seen in the same places in that home. It doesn't seem residual to me because it appears to be cognizant as well. If it's a spirit form, it's a pretty lousy one. We should have been seeing these back when folks were seeing misty apparitions and see-through ghosts and full-body apparitions, but they're a fairly new phenomenon.

I can't think of any reason we'd suddenly be getting shadow people unless they've always been there and we're just now able to see them. For that reason, my deduction so far early in my research is that, in fact, our eyes are changing to pick up things we've never seen before and because of that we're startling those beings that might have gone about their business unnoticed for so long that they took it for granted they could go anywhere and do anything. Now, they have to consider where the humans are and move accordingly. It's just a theory, but it at least holds more water than evil spirits which is folks tend to like to call anything they don't understand.

As I continue my research on the subject, I'd be excited to hear from anyone who's had this happen to them. I'm looking for common descriptions and situations that might help to explain it. I suppose the last possibility which is more rooted in the natural world is that we ourselves are projecting these things as a kind of splintering of our personality in times of stress, but I would need a lot of folks telling me they were under stress when they saw them and didn't see them when they were happy to even begin to delve into that explanation.

For now, I'll just say that our eyes are getting much better and soon we might see things in the paranormal world without the benefit of goggles and scopes. Intriguing--I can hardly wait!

Monday, October 20, 2008

How to Choose the Members of a Ghost Hunting Team

Here's the likely candidates, their strengths and weaknesses on a team.

THE SEARCHER: This is someone who's had an experience of the supernatural nature and wants answers. This person is likely to be skeptical, enthusiastic, driven, and obedient. They want to learn. They're ideal to train. They wish to find as many ways to test things as possible. You'll find almost 90% of your team will end up being searchers because more often than not, those hunting ghosts had an experience that launched them. You start with a "Searcher" and later you find out what category they belong in. These folks usually comprise the leaders of the team like Jason and Grant on TAPS. There's also one other type of searcher and they're usually folks who lost loved ones and want to verify an afterlife. They usually become discouraged after a time and move on to other ways to answer the bigger questions. You'll find them questioning other folks about their beliefs and experiences and desperately wanting their own "proof." These folks are likely to move on after a time, usually within a year which correlates with grief lessening.

THE TECHNO-WEENIE: Usually men. They want to buy and run equipment. They like the idea of bigger and better test equipment, finding ways to set up and analyze info more effectively. For them a ghost is something to empirically identify by scientific means. You want a few of these guys on your team as your tech experts. They'll be organized, efficient, relentlessly questioning their findings, and looking for new and better stuff to capture phenomenon. Steve in TAPS is ideal for this position. He's hungry for knowledge and patient with set up and break down and review. Also, he's quick to call an orb dust or insect and move on to better things. I admire that.

THE HISTORY BUFF: This person simply loves access to old and cool buildings and historic sites. They're caught up in the romance of ghosts. They're likely to be the best researcher you can have. Send them to the library and the City Hall and the city Registrar to find any records you need to verify the stories of history and deaths at that site. They're mature, patient, and always respectful of the grand old places you're hunting. Often times, these folks might be in historical preservation societies or can run with their "kind" and get you access to old places after hours.

THE GOTH: You see a lot of these young folks wandering into ghost hunting with an extremely romanticized idea of ghosts. More often than not, they get caught up in the dark dank spaces and enjoy just sitting alone in a room to absorb the energy. A goth person isn't likely to complain about where you send them, so they have that on their side, but over time they'll become rather bored, as whatever they imagined they would find never materializes. It's best to help a goth move along to a more effective team member just as you would graduate a "Searcher." If you can get the goth to evolve, you'll find often times they're intrigued by concepts such as "cleansing" techniques and they can become helpful in making clients feel some resolution with their situation.

THE THRILLSEEKER: This person wants to dive right into rickety stairwells and crawl into the forbidden spaces under buildings. They're in this for the darkness, the spiders, the dirt, and the glory of being tough. A thrillseeker is a fantastic person to check out a site ahead of time and give people a head's up on what might be needed. If the thrillseeker is mature, he/she will probably have a good hard hat with light, some other supplies that you might not have realized you needed. On one hunt, we had a client with a huge tunnel under their home but too small to crawl into, so I took off my belt, tied my camera to it and lowered it. A good thrillseeker should know how to rig things last minute.

THE SPIRITUALIST: Although I find they often get in the way more than they help, sometimes a person with a spiritual bend on ghost hunting is helpful on a team. I'd suggest a psychic, but I'd be certain this person has shown actual ability with a blind test by having them walk through a building and read it (one that is not known to be haunted) and see if she/he can read anything off it. If she/he thinks it's totally haunted and evil, be wary. The times you might need a spiritualist is when you have a situation in which the history of the building is not well known. I've been known to use my psychometry skills to narrow my focus on the "active" part of the house by instinct alone, but then I use instruments to see if there is activity while we're there and later do research to see if something did occur in that spot. I wouldn't count on their findings alone, but they can sometimes keep you from wandering around "dead" spots too long and put you onto the "hot" spots.

THE POSER: These folks want to do what's hip. Unfortunately, hunting ghosts is now hip. This person might want to wear a lot of shirts that say they're a ghost hunter and brag about it, but never actually make it to many events. This person simply wants to be unique and different, but is not necessarily a team player. You'll weed these folks out early when you see they're not really going to help out. If you want to get a Poser to move on to a new identity, guide this person to doing PR. They are usually very motivated to approach people and tell them they're a ghost hunting and ask if they can do a study of their building after hours. They might be social folks, but posers can make things happen.

It really helps when forming a team to be sure people have specialities and they focus on those alone. You want your EVP dude who runs the EVP sessions in the same manner, with the same criteria, and is a Nazi about sound quality and accounting for all background sounds. You want your camera guys. You want someone who's running around with the EMF meter doing measures as you take pictures, another doing temperature readings. You need to have people who know clearly what they do and become experts on their area. I appreciate that TAPS lets everyone investigate, but I think they'd do a lot better if they didn't ramble around. Let Dave run EVP sessions, let Steve handle cameras. Let Jason and Grant instigate and provoke, let Kris do their search and booking. I think it's good that they get exposure to other positions, but I wouldn't want my foot doctor checking out my ear infection. I think specialties are important because otherwise everyone knows a little about everything and not all about something.

Ghost Adventures--Taunting Rules!

I can't help as an investigator to watch what others are doing out there. I recently saw the new show "Ghost Adventures" on the Travel Channel based on a team that assembled to do a documentary. I won't make a big commentary on what I think of overnight ghost hunters, but I do have a few things I like about their approach.

Yeah, Zak is a bit of a dick. You kind of hope he gets knocked around when he's hunting because he's like that schoolyard bully that beefs up his muscles to make up for a lack somewhere else and is constantly insecure, but I have to give him kudos for his taunting techniques. These guys might have woke up one morning and decided to become ghost hunters, but they figured out something other teams are missing out on. Taunting.

I have to brave the world of ghost hunters with those who are of a spiritual bend with very old-fashioned ideas of hauntings. They're terrified of possession and provoking and being hurt by the unseen. When I'm not choking down a laugh, I want to break apart and spend some serious time working up emotion to make the phenomenon show itself.

I've found over the years a true correlation between emotion setting an event into a place and releasing it, as well. When I grew up in a house that had a great deal of poltergeist activity, emotional outbursts amongst family members seemed to feed the fuel. When I was in a cemetery one quiet night where nothing was happening in my photos, a couple sitting on a bench having a very loud argument seemed to stir things up and I had a great deal of activity in the shots I took while they argued. When I go to a grave where a family just left flowers, there's more activity.

Why is that? Does emotion release this phenomenon?

I think we'll agree that when Jason and Grant provoke on "Ghost Hunters" and Zak and the gang taunt on "Ghost Adventures" we see a lot more reaction. If anything, I think we're just too linear in our thinking that when an event occurs it's over and does not exist anymore. In some way, parts of that event or the entire event could reside in the same space for unknown periods of time and release itself.

When I was growing up and the footfalls fell up the stairs and down the hall with heavy booted sounds, it didn't happen at the exact same time every night, but it did happen once the last person was in bed. Was it our relaxation and alpha state that helped make conditions right for an event to recur?

I'm up for any thoughts on the matter, but for now I have absolutely no fear of taunting and I think whether you're in a sad mood, angry mood, or terrified mood, you might be feeding the fuel in a haunted site.

So, thanks made-overnight ghost hunting team for at least being willing to provoke an emotional reaction from the environment. Now, if we could just get the guys to quit running and screaming like girls!

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