Saturday, May 16, 2009

Haunted Visuals

(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!


  1. Very interesting.....I have seen Shadow people outside my windows but never got a clear look. There have been times when I have realized that my hair passed by the corner of my eye and gave me the elusion of a shadow person, but then there are other times I just can't explain it. I know how seeing things like clouds or dirt on a window or mirror can give you the effect of a face or person, it has happened to me many times. I usually investigate it closely before coming to any conclusions. Heck, on my dog's door flap, the dirty part looks like Bart Simpson with glasses.

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  3. Very interesting...Things do change a bit during a full moon...Lighting is one of favorites...Light from a full moon is sooo intensely Wonderful...We had a cloud covering this last one..

    I enjoy reading about your personal experiences...

    SpOOky Dreams My Friend


  4. Thanks, ya'all. I like the Bart Simpson with glasses doorflap...intriguing. When I was a kid, finding shapes in clouds was one of my favorite lazy afternoon things to do on a spring day. In AZ, that would be called suntanning. Hee hee. Yeah, commosense could help a lot of folks in ghost hunting situations and in real life situations too. We often times look at only one sensory input and make decisions based upon it. I remember one time my sister was making this awful face and I thought she was angry with what I was saying, so I got all defensive. It turned out she had cracked a tooth and was in pain. Yikes!

    I agree about the full moon's light. The novel I'm finishing up right now is called "The Thicket" and the full moon is really important to this pagan community on a mountaintop. I have had a blast going out at night to describe it behind clouds, on a clear night, in all conditions. Someone should design a full moon lamp for inside the house, it'd be the perfect nighttime ambient lighting. It would cast cool shadows too!

  5. I'm guessing that you're not speaking of Pareidolia since we probably all see an angel picture if we stop to look for it in those knees.

    But, speaking of pareidolia since it's on the line of what you're doing here - I have that happen quite often.

    The most common one was at my moms house but here's the clincher - I only saw it sometimes in a specific area and then at other times I couldn't even find it.

    Let me explain...

    In my mom's bathroom she had real busy wallpaper similar to this.

    When you're just sitting around in the bathroom and have nothing to do the only thing you do naturally is to look at her wallpaper.

    On more occasions than not I would see fantastic images. Then again, sometimes on later dates I would go in there and not even be able to find the images that I had found previously - let alone any new ones.

    I know this may seem crazy to some but I always attributed it to having 'someone else' show me the pictures (from within) and then that 'someone else' wouldn't be there sometimes so couldn't do so.

    I see things in many things that I do - especially while blogging. That's why I'm a picture person.

    I know, I'm weird. :)

  6. Atrueoriginall;
    I totally get it! I grew up with floral pink and blue wallpaper with lattices on it. God, I hated that paper! No wonder I avoid florals at all costs nowadays. That being said, I saw all kinds of things in the paper depending on the way the light it, my mood, my level of boredom. I remember as a little kid getting up, going over and putting my chewing gum (that I kept stuck to the eyes on a statue my mom had in my room) and putting it over the shapes near my bed instead. One night, it was an owl about to attack, the next night it was two lovers intertwined. It sounds to me like you're a very visual person. You might be the ideal type to do tea leaf readings because it sounds like your inspirations aren't mood-related but more "outside" related. You could get some interesting information that way. I love to hear about people's talents because they can all be applied in the use of psychic abilities. Everyone has them, but not everyone realizes it like you did with Pareidolia. I wrote an article a few months back on that subject on November 20, 2008.

  7. I have ample psychic things going on in my life and have had for many, many years. I hate the word psychic though since it's constantly being dragged in the mud. So, I pretty much don't say anything about it.