(photo above: someone's knees--when I look at them, I see cherub faces--their curly short hair, their full cheeks, their eyes and nose... You often hear Grant from TAPS talking about the phenomenon of matrixing which is when the human eye looks for familiar shapes in objects, such as seeing shapes in clouds or faces in photographed window's reflections)
The third part of my sensory series is to explore how to go about debunking visual hauntings. The most commonly reported forms of these are full-body apparitions, dark shadows, unexplained lights, something blocking out the light, movement of objects, and mists.
Even growing up in one of the most haunted houses in America, I never saw a full-body apparition until I was middle-aged and living in Arizona. These things take just the right combination of elements to be seen. It’s a rare and special phenomenon. There are some people who are more able to discern a figure when it forms than others. A very small percentage of psychics are very visually-oriented. That is, to them, both a curse and a blessing.
One of our biggest obstacles as investigators is the limitation of vision at night, in dark places, and through the nightvision screen of a camcorder and the narrow spread of a flashlight’s beam. Not even considering pupils dilation and restriction when lights are turned off and on. When you are in an unfamiliar home, the usual lighting and objects in the room are all new to you. It’s really important to take the time to evaluate your surroundings by sitting in the room for a time and getting used to its cycles. When you know your surroundings, you can make better assumptions of what is out of place and what isn’t.
One room reportedly had a shadowperson. It’s one of my favorite subjects, so I was curious. It’s pretty rare that they show up in the same place, but I figured, why not? So, I waited to see what would unfold. The houses were set very close together with an alleyway between them and a neighbor with a motion detector light near the entrance. When the owner came home from his late shift as a doctor, he passed by the motion detector light, walking down the alley past the window, casting a very strong shadow into the room through the fabric shade, and went to his backdoor to enter his home. Not real glamorous, but these things have to be considered. It can often times be difficult to tell if something passed in front of the window inside the house blocking out the light, or if it moved outside the window blocking out the light. There's a big distinction between the two. If you're located in a business doing a study and there's access along a walkway out front, it's entirely possible that things blocking out the light are people walking past the windows outside. Just keep everything within the context of an investigation.
For another, a glass prism decorative ornament on a shelf cast sparkling lights when the TV was turned on. The small glow from the large-screen would make the prisms dance randomly. That one had the owner uncomfortable for some time before it was suggested that dancing lights sounded like prisms and, hey, do you happen to have anything glass or faceted nearby?
If someone sees a full-body apparition, it’s important to gather information as soon as they see it. Notes should be taken of details of clothing and coloring. Then, standing in the same spot in the room with the same lighting, make comparisons. I remember once swearing there was a man in my bedroom when I was a kid. That wasn’t too surprising, given that the booted footsteps stopped in front of my radiator every night, only this particular man was on the other wall that faced the floor to ceiling windows. One night, I remember pulling the covers up over my head when the man started moving. Then, he looked like he was dancing rather comically. It took a great deal of bravery on my part to get up and go over to him only to realize that as I got near, the light from the window shined on my face. It was a clear full moon night and the dancing man was the limbs of a honey locust tree. I felt a bit foolish, but had I not gotten up, he would have forever been a ghost in my mind. I don’t like to leave people with the impression they are haunted if they aren’t. It causes a great deal of unnecessary grief and counseling is really important to me and helping people form a healthy cognitive explanatory style.
There is that small percentage of sightings that can’t be explained by shapes in the room, reflections on shiny surfaces, or lights coming from outside. Those are the most intriguing of all phenomena. I will generally dismiss mists in photographs as well as anything that looks like a corded braid of a camera strap, a hair, or an orb (pollen, dust, moisture). But, when a witness has no other explainable reason for their vision, what they saw had some good witnessed detail, and there are no environmental contributing factors, I feel like shouting “Bingo!” It’s a rare combination and when it happens, it’s sort of like TAPS likes to say, “the Holy Grail of ghost hunting.”
Visual sightings are rare, but very exciting. If something can manifest enough to be seen, have the right conditions to be visual to our limited human eyesight, then it's pretty exciting stuff!