Wednesday, November 26, 2008


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


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?


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. ( 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


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'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...


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


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


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.