“Something Wicked This Way Comes”

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Today’s blog is going to be a short one. I usually post my blog Monday morning but it is going up Monday evening instead because I had company over the weekend and I was drawing a blank on what to write.

Then it occurred to me–It’s almost October! October is my favorite month. Autumn colors break forth and the world is filled with my favorite colors of orange and red. Vegetation starts to turn yellow and die. Trees become spooky representations of themselves. People start thinking of ghosts, witches, and jack o’ lanterns. Black candles go on sale everywhere. Wind scatters dead leaves around the tombstones of cemeteries. The veil thins as the Witches New Year approaches. We start thinking of the dead. Some have the custom of preparing the favorite meal of a dead relative and leaving an empty chair for the deceased relative to share in the feast.

My favorite part of October, however, is scary, supernatural movies. I have the custom of watching The Exorcist (1973) every year. This year I’m going to read the book as well. I also want to re-watch The Conjuring (2013) and the first Paranormal Activity (2007). I’m looking forward to the new movies coming out: Annabelle and Ouija. I pretty much do a month-long marathon of all things supernatural. (I don’t like slasher movies. They’re just gross, not scary.) I scour cable, Netflix, and Amazon for anything ghostly or demonic. I literally gorge myself on it and by November I have slaked my hunger for horror for a few months. (It usually re-emerges around the end of winter. Last spring I read The Entity, Lovely Bones and Rosemary’s Baby–which reminds me, I wanted to re-watch The Entity [1982]. That would be a good one to add to my list!)

Rumor has it that Poltergeist is being remade. I didn’t like Spielberg’s version. It was too wholesome. I felt like I was watching E.T. I think it has good potential to be a really great supernatural movie if it is done right.

So, how about you? What are your favorite scary movies?

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Dreams

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At least once a month I dream about Jehovah’s Witnesses. Usually I am at a meeting or assembly wondering why I am attending when I don’t believe anymore. The fact that I am disfellowshipped is always present in my dreams. I am treated differently in each dream. Some JW’s talk to me, some don’t, some are terrified of me.

Roy is always expressing surprise that I should dream about them so much. Apparently, he never does.

Last night, I dreamed I was associating with a JW family who seemed bent on converting me. They didn’t know I was an exjw and I enjoyed being part of a community again. The husband and wife were very kind and hospitable…at first. As the dream went on it became more and more apparent that they wanted something from me. The kindness soon turned to madness. They made it very clear what was expected of me in return for their hospitality. I tried to tell them I was a Df’d ex-JW. They acted like they didn’t hear me. Then I tried to use reason and point out that nobody would want to join their organization because the members were obviously bat-shit crazy. This didn’t get through either. Finally, I shoved the pentagram I wear around my neck in their face and shouted, “I am a witch and an apostate!” They gasped in horror and shrank away from me like they were vampires and I was wielding a crucifix. I turned and bolted for the parking lot only to find my car wasn’t where I had parked it. I saw a mob of large, angry JW men coming after me. I could see violence and hatred in their eyes. I started to run. I couldn’t find my car. The mob was descending. I knew they meant to harm me.

I woke up.

A couple of weeks ago, I dreamed I was in my best friend’s house. We had been inseparable when I was 17-20 years old. I spent a lot of time in that house and was visiting it to see some work that was being done. In the dream I was Df’d, like always. There were crowds of JW’s around me. Some would turn their backs on me when I would approach. Children would break out in hysterical screams if I got too close. I happened to walk by a group of JW’s who were huddled together. From their gray, indistinguishable midst stepped someone I knew. She walked up to me and gave me a hug. She told me how much she had missed me, and how she always loved me. I thanked her for her kindness. I knew she faced the judgment of others just by approaching me and I was honored by her gesture.

I woke up wondering why hers was the only face I could put a name to. Then it occurred to me–was it possible she was dead? I read a book recently by Mary Ann Winkowski called When Ghosts Speak. Mary Ann is a medium who can talk with earthbound spirits. She says that many spirits stick around after they die and neglect to cross over. But the surest way to know if a spirit has crossed over is if they appear in our dreams, which is how they communicate with us from the other side.

I have never had a dream about this particular person I will call Sandy. We travelled to New York together in 1996. She threw me my bridal shower in 2002. I loved her and valued her, but hadn’t seen her in years. I knew her health hadn’t been good. But that’s all I knew.

I contacted a mutual friend on Facebook and found out Sandy had died a few days before.

I felt like Sandy had given me a wonderful gift! It warms my heart to receive validation and love from the other side. She didn’t need to give me that message. I’m not even family. But I wonder if part of the reason I received that message wasn’t because I was the only one open to it. Her entire family is still very much in the collective JW consciousness. I heard Sandy. I recognized the message for what it’s worth, and I honor her for going to the effort to deliver it.

The world really is a magical place!

Thursday’s News & Reviews: The Dead Files

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I love to watch anything on the paranormal. There have been quite a few shows I have started to watch only to realize they were too sensational and fake–or I felt like the producers were actually trying to insult my intelligence (i.e. My Ghost Story Caught on Camera).

The first time I watched The Dead Files I wasn’t a fan. I thought Amy acted a little too weird, like she was putting on a show for the camera. I gave it another try on the second season. By this time, I had read a few books by psychics and knew a lot of Amy’s behavior may have been her authentic reactions to what she was seeing. I became a fan and haven’t missed an episode since.

Amy Allan and her partner Steve DiSchiavi investigate haunted locations from two different perspectives: Amy communicates with the dead and gets impressions of the site by walking around and interacting with the spirits; Steve is a retired New York Homicide Detective and he investigates the claims of the living and explores the history of the location to corroborate or deny Amy’s findings. Usually, their evidence fits together perfectly, as is presented in the final moments of the show. One of the show’s highlights is when Amy gets an area sketch artist to draw who, or what, she sees and reveals these sketches, with shocking results, to the home-owners.

I was excited to realize that last week’s episode was filmed less than 30 miles from my home. In the episode entitled Assaulted she and Steve visit Hanover, PA. Many of the overhead pictures of Steve driving to and from his destinations are filmed right here in Gettysburg.

My initial impression of the episode was that the female householder wasn’t a very good actor. I really got the feeling she was grandstanding for the sake of the cameras. I’ve watched enough of these shows to realize that there are some people who use Amy and Steve as free advertising (like Villisca Ax Murder House, and the Lizzie Borden B&B). I’m not sure if this woman is hoping to turn her house into a paranormal tourist spot, but I did get the impression she was enjoying her 15 minutes of fame.

At the end of the episode, Amy does her usual prescription for ridding the home of the nasty haunting. This week it was a male witch. Apparently, Tom and DeAnna Simpson called in the male witch and reported that activity had subsided, but the news reports tell a different story. Hanover’s local newspaper, The Evening Sun, reports the male witch left after only six hours and refused to return. Since then, activity has actually increased and the Simpsons have had to close up parts of the house because of it. A local FOX news crew’s reaction to attacks they experienced while filming the home also prove to be very interesting with captured scratches, orbs, and a shadow hand.

I found the newscast very interesting as spirits rarely perform for cameras. Especially since these cameras were likely only there for a few minutes. To have that much happen in a short amount of time, during the day, makes me think this place may be very haunted. The Evening Sun reports a lot of looky-loos passing the house, and with the huge number of paranormal groups in and around Gettysburg, I’m sure DeAnna’s getting many phone calls offering investigations and cleansings–which have so far only managed to aggravate the situation.

One observation I would like to make about The Dead Files, in general, is their total lack of physical evidence in all the places they visit. Amy reports some pretty horrific encounters, and she always wanders the place at night with everyone gone. You would think her interaction with the spirits would bring them out and there would be captured orbs, shadows, or even poltergeist activity,but I have never seen anything like that captured on camera. Not even footsteps, which seems to be Ghost Adventures and Ghost Hunters bread and butter. Is it possible The Dead Files have never captured any visual evidence on their cameras? Or are they under some sort of contract that inhibits them from showing it? As a paranormal enthusiast, I would love for them to share some of that to corroborate what Amy is feeling!

I also find some of Amy’s prescriptions for house cleansers a bit random. Shaman, witches, Latin witches, Voodoo practitioners, Native American Witch Doctors. Many of Amy’s suggestions can’t be followed by the people because they can’t find the person Amy describes. Even in the age of the internet, apparently these people don’t advertise a lot. It seems Amy should provide more of a full service and provide contact information for some of these people. They seem to be able to dig up area sketch artists, so the producers of the show should set up some sort of network directory for skilled cleansers to join. I seem to remember earlier episodes where she would tell people how to cleanse their own houses. I found that extremely informative and thought it was a good idea to return the homeowner to a position of power. I think it’s important for people to realize they can be powerful in the face of supernatural encounters. Perhaps the producers get better ratings with fear tactics, however.

Also, I find Amy’s strong reaction against anyone else who does paranormal stuff, or dabbles in the occult, a bit off-putting. She gets angry if people have a Ouija board around or attempt séances. She turns up her nose to paranormal groups who only manage to stir things up. I know she is a pro, but she must understand that her gifts are rare. Many of us have a lot of unanswered questions regarding death and the afterlife and we search for answers in the only way we know how. I wonder how she can criticize witches who dabble with the occult in one breath, then prescribe their services in the next.

Overall, I’d say the show is extremely formulaic but it works. I enjoy it. I am entertained by Amy’s terrifying descriptions of strange entities that always want to harm the householder.  My favorite person in the show is Steve. He seems like he would be cool to hang out with. I’m sure he has some interesting stories. I hope someday to attend a paranormal event where they are sitting on a panel, then I can ask some of the questions above.

If you are a paranormal enthusiast, what do you think of this show?

 

 

 

Ghosts and Spirits: Is There A Difference?

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Ghost captured at Bachelor Grove Cemetery, Chicago, IL

 

Throughout history humankind has feared the unknown.  Long before the written word stories were told of unseen forces, both good and evil, that lurked in the darkness. Humans have long tried to understand the other side, to understand the nature of death, what we become and where we go when we pass over. Fear of dying has long haunted us and for some a belief in some sort of survival after a physical death helps alleviate those fears. But what do we become? A ghost? A spirit? Are they one and the same thing? Let’s see.

Ghosts seem to have more of a negative connotation in the paranormal world that is not always deserved. Remember, we tell ghost stories to scare each other, not spirit stories. A ghost’s reputation tends to “haunt” where a spirit tends to “help.” In reality the true definition of a ghost is rather sad and tragic. Typically a ghost is the surviving energy of a person who has died suddenly and/or traumatically and in most cases they are unaware of their own tragic passing. A few may realize they have died but are confused about where they are and what they are supposed to do.

To put it simply ghosts can linger because they feel they have unfinished business or they are letting emotions such as guilt, love or revenge push them away from crossing over. These emotions keep them tied to the spot where they died and in some cases reliving the tragedy over and over again. It seems ghosts cannot reason that they are dead and that the replaying of their demise over and over has become an obsession.  Not everyone who dies tragically or violently becomes a ghost. It depends a lot on the person and whether or not they accept their passing.

A spirit is someone who usually passes peacefully and accepts what is happening. They cross over fully and are aware and capable of a level of reasoning that the ghost is not. These are typically the so-called “intelligent hauntings” as they are fully capable of intelligent interaction with the physical world. Spirits tend to be associated with beings who are helpers and guides. Spirits are capable of going back and forth between the physical world and the spiritual plane and are not tied to one side or the other.

Ghosts who are aware they are dead can be frustrated and act out in ways that are intentionally meant to get our attention. That’s when you hear activity such as the slamming of door, footsteps, and some kinds of EVP’s. We must remember that these might be people who are just as frightened as we are. Possibly unaware of their own death, they may be only looking for answers.

When many people hear the word “ghost,” they get nervous. In reality they deserve pity for the situation they may find themselves in having to relive the same tragic event over and over like a looped tape recorder. In most cases they can’t do much else and therefore can do little to harm the living.

Now let me end this article by saying when I use the word “spirit” I mean it in reference to humans who have passed on fully to the other side. There are many who use the word to reference angels, demons, etc. and that is something for another article.

There are no absolute definitions when it comes to the paranormal. What we know we know through experience, observance and deduction. Many have had both positive and negative experiences with ghosts and spirits. Once, they were all people, and like people, you get all kinds…even on the other side. ~ Contributed by Roy Branson

 

Published in: on July 28, 2014 at 10:11 p07  Leave a Comment  
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EVP’s and Digital Recorders: What You Should Know

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Many consider the holy grail of paranormal investigation a full-bodied apparition captured on video or even in a nice clear photo. Now don’t get me wrong, that would be cool, I would love to get evidence like that myself one day. But for me a nice clear E.V.P. gets me excited every time. There is something about knowing that you are in actual communication with someone from the other side that is just more satisfying to me as a paranormal investigator.  Even if it’s just a residual voice from some long gone era that is echoing through time and space I can’t help but think that when it comes to the paranormal, a picture isn’t worth a thousand words.

What are E.V.P’s? E.V.P. stands for “electronic voice phenomena.” Basically it is unexplained sounds, noises and, more often than not, words that are thought to be a recording of a “ghost voice.”  Usually at the time the E.V.P. is recorded the person doing the recording does not hear the voice until later when they review it. The subject of E.V.P.’s is an article unto itself so I will save that discussion for a later time as this is more a nuts and bolts piece.

Really, E.V.P’s are the bread and butter of paranormal investigation. There’s a lot of equipment that can come in handy but none more than a digital recorder. And despite what you see on TV, you don’t need the fancy, multi-directional micro-phoned $300 recorders being toted around. Let me give you the low down on the basics of what you need and what you can expect to spend–it’s less painful than you think.

My Grand Dad used to tell me you get what you pay for, and that’s still true, but it doesn’t mean you have to buy the most expensive recorder there is to get one that will do a good job. Here are some things to consider when you go shopping for a recorder:

1. Choose a digital recorder over an analog recorder. Analog recorders often pick up the sounds of their own internal workings, which can easily be mistaken for EVPs. Some may disagree with this as they believe the internal noise aids in getting E.V.P.’s. I disagree. In my opinion there’s no substitution for a good clean recording.

2. Avoid voice-activated recorders, as they begin recording when sound is detected, they may clip off the first few seconds of sound, which may alter an E.V.P. or cut it off altogether. How frustrating would that be?

3.  The recorder should be equipped with a USB port to make uploading of sound files to your computer easy and painless. This will make listening to the E.V.P.’s easier, and will allow you to import or export your files as needed.

4. While you most likely won’t ever do 1200 hours of recording, having plenty of storage space can be handy, just in case. Many recorders these days have upwards o f 2 to 4 gigs of memory which is way more than even the most zealous investigator will ever use.

Olympus and Sony both make good recorders that can be had for less than $50.00. And if you’re   patient and like to play around with auctions you can get great deals on Ebay. Amazon is another great place to shop for a digital recorder.  And yes, even that Mecca of all things red neck, Wal-Mart, has great deals on the afore-mentioned brands. There are those who say you need stereo microphones,  high-sampling rates,  24 bit conversions, and on and on and on.  Not true.

Let’s remember we are dealing with theories here. This is the paranormal. Electronic Voice Phenomenon works on the principle of EMF (Electro Magnetic Field) so it is not the actual recording or sensitivity of the device that matters, but rather the ability for any magnetic influences present that are not related to the sound to imprint themselves on the device. In fact, it has nothing to do with sound, as nearly all E.V.P.’s can’t be heard audibly at the time of recording.  E.V.P.’s are not created in the same manner as a standard human voice recording.

I have seen good simple recorders get incredible E.V.P.’s too many times to be discounted as a solid tool. The digital recorder is by far the best bang for the buck when it comes to evidence collection. So don’t worry about laying down a lot of money for all the bells and whistles. Set a budget, read reviews, and happy hunting.

“If our personality survives, then it is strictly logical or scientific to assume that it retains memory, intellect, other faculties, and knowledge that we acquire on this Earth. Therefore … if we can evolve an instrument so delicate as to be affected by our personality as it survives in the next life, such an instrument, when made available, ought to record something”  Thomas Edison – to a reporter from American Magazine, 1920.

~Contributed by Roy Branson

Are We Creating a Paranormal Drought?

For any of you who still follow this website, you are probably wondering why our evidence has come to a complete halt even though we are now living in one of the most haunted places in America. I was a PI (Paranormal Investigation) junky until our bad experience at Baker City (described in the post The Unsettled Souls of the Geyser Grand). Soon after Baker City, the holidays came and winter set in. Then we had to focus on getting the house ready to put on the market and all the subsequent craziness that followed as we moved and found a place to settle.

We arrived at Gettysburg stressed and apathetic about ghost hunting. We went out to Sachs Bridge only to find busloads of people out there “investigating.” How can you investigate when there are a hundred people milling around?! We went on a couple hosted events and didn’t turn up anything. It became alarmingly clear that any evidence collected on a hosted event, in which 10 to 20 people are all trying to collect evidence, would need to be thrown out from excessive contamination. Even if I was by myself in the basement of a four-story house, which supposedly served as a Civil War Hospital, all EVP evidence was contaminated by the people stomping around overhead and talking loudly. So we stopped going on hosted investigations, which is okay anyway since they are very pricey!

Since we have been doing our own investigations, we have attempted to go to as many haunted places as we can. We always do our research and stay in the most active room of a B&B or Hotel. I am loath to admit, however, that we haven’t collected any evidence since our visit to Gettysburg in the summer of 2012.

I have a theory, and I would be interested in knowing if anyone in the paranormal community agrees with me. Is it possible that some places have been hunted too much? Gettysburg Battlefield, Eastern State Penitentiary, The Ax Murder House of Villisca, Iowa, every McMenamins in Oregon and Washington, the Lizzie Borden House, etc. etc. People pay big bucks to investigate some of these places. For example, on our way east last summer we were going to be passing about 30 miles north of the Villisca Ax Murder House. For $428 a group can be locked down in the house for a whole night. We thought it would be fun to give it a try, but when we went to the website to book a night we found out every night for the rest of the summer was already booked. (I recently watched the Ax Murder House portrayed on Dead Files. The owner said she would not, under any condition, stop opening the house to paranormal groups which only angered the spirits. I can’t say as I blame her. Not counting daytime tour groups, if she sells out every nighttime lockdown during the summer she will gross over $13000 per month!)

Very few people seem to get any really conclusive evidence in these places. Considering how often they are hunted, and how active they supposedly are, I would assume there would be a mountain of evidence. What if the resident spirits are tired of people trying to make contact with them? What if they find it insulting? It has become more and more apparent to me that ghost hunting the places that everyone goes to may be a waste of time and money.

I was recently exploring the world of Paranormal Podcasts and came across one called Stirring the Cauldron by Marla Brooks. In one of her episodes she contemplates the question, “Do haunted locations have a shelf-life?” During that episode, she tells of an experience she had in which she asked medium David Wills the reason the famed Winchester House was devoid of spirit activity. His answer is quite enlightening. He told her the spirits were still in the house, but they were bored with the endless parade of paranormal investigators. They aren’t impressed with us or our attempts to get in contact with them. Her guest Brian Patrick implied they may not want to perform for us like monkeys endlessly beating the drum to our endless inquiries: “Are you there?,” “What’s your name,” “Do you know you’re dead?” etc.

Now don’t get me wrong,if you sat in on one of my EVP sessions I would be asking similar questions in hopes of getting a response, because almost every EVP I have ever gotten have been in direct response to a question I had posed. But I have usually gotten EVP’s after I have made an effort to connect to the area I am in. I have endeavored to mentally reach out to whoever may be in the ether, and empathize with them in the hopes they feel moved to speak to me. I am not a psychic. I may be sensitive, but my self-doubt is stronger than most paranormal entities, so I just do the best I can.

I think part of the reason I haven’t gotten an EVP in a year and a half is because I don’t try very hard any more, and my mind has become too cluttered with other things (i.e. moving, finding a job, breaking my ankle, etc.). There is nothing remotely appealing about me that would attract the attention of a resident spirit because I have lost my enthusiasm and love for the paranormal hunt.

Like any relationship, if you fire off the same questions every day to the people around you and never get emotionally invested that relationship will suffer. The spirits on the other side need to know we actually care about them. They need to know they matter to us. So, why are we out there gathering evidence? To get answers to the cosmic questions regarding an afterlife? Or is it just an easy path to fame? We need to treat the spirits on the other side as courteously as we treat the person standing next to us. They were once human, and may become human again. They aren’t there for our entertainment.

In a hosted event in which 10 or more people are milling about with cameras flashing and spirit boxes blaring, it is almost impossible to sit quietly and absorb the energy of a room or reach out to the spirits. I would be interested in finding out just how much real evidence is obtained in group investigations. It seems such investigations are for paranormal tourists rather than people really interested in paranormal investigations. I am reminded of my infamous investigation in Baker City in 2012. A middle-aged couple, who seemed inebriated, decided to join the investigation of an area brothel. The man kept “feeling” spirit touch him and would whisper this to his wife (never whisper on an investigation!), while she clicked around in high-heeled boots. I actually felt bad for them because they probably thought it would be a lark, not realizing every other person on the team was going to be glaring at them every time they opened their mouths or took a step. They finally left with some complaints that they were tired of people yelling at them.

So, the logical explanation to this enormous blog (sorry about that) is to avoid group hunts and do our own thing. This is easy to do in open places like battlefields and cemeteries, but not so easy if someone wants to investigate a house, hotel, or asylum. Big bucks must be laid out and a group must be endured. I am constantly threatening to trespass on abandoned places (I would never break and enter–just enter), but my husband’s cooler head prevails and stories of incarceration inevitably discourage me from the adventure. It has resulted in us not doing very much paranormal investigation anymore. I’m just not interested in investigating a place that is frequented by huge crowds with digital recorders. I can see why evidence is sparse in such groups. If you were a spirit, would you be willing to perform for people demanding your response? While paranormal investigating is such big business, I don’t believe things are going to improve. For those of us interested in the answers and the evidence rather than the money and fame, we may have to find our own places–or wait till the craze dies down.

Orbs

Orb reflected in TV screen

Orb reflected in TV screen

Picture immediately following, without the orb.

Picture immediately following, without the orb.

There are few things that inspire more argument and eye-rolling in the paranormal community than Orbs. I remember the first time I heard the word “orb”. I was a naive twenty-something, heavily involved in my religion which taught there was no afterlife. I  was perusing the internet when I came across someone who claimed to have photographic proof of a spirit. I thought, “I have got to see this!” She was on a nighttime ghost tour (here in Gettysburg, believe it or not) and she had captured an orb sitting on a bench next to another person. I remember thinking it was some kind of a joke. I dismissed the photo and its author as evidence that insanity was still very much alive in the world, and stored the word “Orb” away for later use.

After the death of my ancestral faith, I started exploring alternative beliefs. I had always been taught to fear the spirit world as demonic interaction. Now I wanted my own answers. I began my obsession with the paranormal world by watching the Ghost Adventures episode on the Stanley Hotel in Colorado. I had just finished reading The Shining and was dying to visit the Stanley. I was so thrilled to realize it was actually haunted! I loved the way Zak and his crew did the investigation! They were very efficient and business-like in their approach. (I guess I expected to see the cast of Finding Bigfoot, or South Park’s representation of them.) At any rate, some of the earlier episodes of Ghost Adventures pointed out interesting orbs as evidence. I reached into my memory banks and pulled out my first skeptical exposure to orbs. I started to wonder if they knew something I didn’t.

Most paranormal groups start out by cutting their investigative teeth on cemeteries, and we weren’t any different. We weren’t stupid enough to think a picture full of orbs was anything other than dust or moisture, but when we would take a picture of a lone orb that was either very bright, large, or moving we would take notice and think we had gotten some evidence. In fact, when investigating my brother’s house I took a picture of an orb that can be seen reflected in the TV. I thought that was clear evidence that orbs have substance and are real.

I would become angry when people would mock me, or others like me, for thinking orbs were signs of spirit activity. We tried to find books on orbs and only found more inconclusive evidence. Until we picked up a book by Jeff Belanger called Communicating with the Dead. In the chapter on Spirit Photography, author and photographer Ken Milburn called the orbs “Lens Flare. “The lenses in most digital cameras have four to nine elements. That’s four to nine separate lenses that are glued together to correct for various types of aberrations. So each one of those surfaces is capable of taking up a reflection and recording it. It doesn’t necessarily have to be some bright light that you can see inside the frame, either. It could be something that is off to the side that just happens to hit the front of the lens and then reflects on the elements of the lens. Lens flare can even look like a ball in motion because of the multiple lenses.” (71)

Jeff goes on to relate his experiences with orbs and his new digital camera from Olympus. When he questioned Olympus on the cause of the orbs, they said that the flash was picking up the dust particles and moisture droplets found in the air. There is also the possibility that smaller cameras place the flash closer to the lens, which results in more lens flare. Flash travels at the speed of light (186,000 miles per second)–the average point-and-shoot camera has a shutter speed of 1/125 of a second. Imagine the light from the flash bouncing all over the place in the split second the shutter is open. In fact, the light will travel 1488 miles during that time. (Belanger, 71)

I felt that handily explained the reflection of the orb I saw in the TV during the investigation at my brother’s house. I was catching an orb of light expelled by the flash and bouncing around the room. (By the way, I strongly recommend Jeff’s book. It is very pragmatic and logical in its approach to the paranormal.)

We decided to run our own experiment. We went out just as it was getting dark and took multiple photos with and without flash. If orbs only showed up in the pictures using flash, we would know that the orbs are, in fact, related to the flash.

The experiment was not as conclusive as I expected, but we got enough orbs to demonstrate part of my point.

With Flash Without Flash

 

 

There are no orbs in either of the above photos. In such a wide open space as this I don’t think there would be the possibility of light bouncing around, but lens flare would still be possible off the interior lenses…but it didn’t happen here. There also does not appear to be as much dust and moisture during the winter as there is in summer. So these pictures are inconclusive. No doubt partially due to the fact that it is still not full dark out.

 

This picture was taken as we were driving down the driveway of a bed and breakfast. The driveway was gravel and we can see the flash formed orbs around the dust in the air.

This picture was taken as we were driving down the driveway of a rumored haunted bed and breakfast. The driveway was gravel and we can see the flash formed orbs around the dust in the air.

Here's a lone orb we picked up down in the slaughter pen near Devil's Den. I took this picture and there was nothing visible to the naked eye before I captured this. There was a creek rushing among the boulders in the distance, however. Which would indicate the orb was most likely moisture.

Here’s a lone orb we picked up down in the slaughter pen near Devil’s Den. I took this picture and there was nothing visible to the naked eye before I captured this. There was a creek rushing among the boulders in the distance, however. Which would indicate the orb was most likely moisture.

 

The above picture is of my Craft room. As you can see, it has books on Witchcraft, Ouija boards, Tarot decks, a voodoo doll, a crystal ball, and crystals. I took over 50 pictures, with flash, in this room and didn't get a single orb. Every picture looks exactly like the above. Then I took 50 pictures of the room without flash and every picture looks like the picture below.

The above picture is of my Craft room. As you can see, it has books on Witchcraft, a couple Ouija boards, Tarot decks, a voodoo doll, a crystal ball, and crystals. I took over 50 pictures, with flash, in this room and didn’t get a single orb. Every picture looks exactly like the above. Then I took 50 pictures of the room without flash and every picture looks like the picture below.

Craft Room

The only thing I believe I have proved with this short experiment is that dust and moisture cause orbs. I’m not so sure about lens flare, however. It seems if the flash alone could cause orbs I would have gotten at least one. We have taken more than 200 photos in the last few days and orbs have been almost nonexistent, except in the presence of dust and moisture.

Jeff Belanger concludes his chapter on Spirit Photography without a dogmatic stance against orbs. In fact, the picture on the cover of his book includes a couple of bright orbs found in a darkened cemetery. I think it would be silly of us to claim no orb is ever a sign of spirit presence. I have seen and captured orbs with faces in them. But now that we know dust and moisture cause orbs, and flash flare could cause orbs, we must cave to reasonable doubt and dismiss the vast majority of the orbs we see.

If anyone in the paranormal community would like to present evidence supporting or negating my experiment, please do

The Paranormal: Techno Geek Style

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Let’s face it, the paranormal is a great field to get your geek on. If you love gadgets, electronic wibbles and  flashy thingamajigs then being a paranormal investigator will thrill you to death…no pun intended. A couple of weeks ago I finished a book about all those wonderful things we like to take out into the dark of night in our never-ending endeavor to capture the crucial pieces of evidence that bring us closer to answering  all those perplexing questions about the other side.

The book is called “Strange Frequencies: A Practical Guide to Paranormal Technology” by Craig Telesha. First let me say: this is not a how-to book on ghost hunting. It is about all the equipment we use to ghost hunt and the history behind it. This is an excellent guide for the non-techie. It is chock full of information about photography, video, audio recording, EMF detectors, and the use of radios such as spirit boxes. The author compares the old and the new and talks in-depth about the advantages and disadvantages of each. There is even a chapter on how to build your own gadgets, including schematics, for use in the field.

He talks about photo and audio contamination from a technical viewpoint. Telesha discusses some of the other pieces of equipment we know and love such as EMF meters, thermometers, ion counters, Geiger counters, motion detectors, radar detectors, compasses, as well as giving you a basic understanding of how they all work.

The theme of this book isn’t paranormal investigating but the science behind it. Page after page is turned without one mention of ghosts. This is a great book to reference when researching new equipment or when looking to go old school. The book was published in 2008 and in technological years that’s eons ago. But the history and principles of the technology that we use in our investigations is as relevant today as it was when the book hit the press.

Knowledge is power. Knowing how the gadgets in our hands work will go a long way in helping us identify and debunk any “evidence” we get during our investigations. Telesha does a good job in demystifying the tech side of what we do. It’s well written and really caters to those whose knowledge of ghost tech is minimal.

I’ve read a lot of books on the paranormal and ghost hunting. Many touch on the equipment you need but few tell you why you need it or how it works. This book fills that gap. I have no doubt that this volume should be on every investigators reference shelf. Dive in! It’s a quick and easy read and will pay off in your investigations for years to come. ~Guest post by Roy Branson

Died in House

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Our house is in the old part of Gettysburg, but it was built-in 1979. Apparently the original structure burned down and they rebuilt a period appropriate house on the foundation of the original.

For anyone who knows much about the battle of Gettysburg, the battle ranged all over town. On July 1, 1863, the northern soldiers were chased through the streets of town as they retreated from the rebels. Some were killed on the streets, others took refuge inside the houses and escaped or were captured. There have been reports of haunting in most of the structures in town, including the houses built-in the last half of the 20th century, due to the activity of the ground on which they stand.

When we knew we were going to be moving into this house we decided to look up its address on diedinhouse.com. This is a handy website that will provide the history of houses for the small fee of $11. All I did was enter the address and the names of all the people who have ever owned the house, died in the house or died since moving from the house are displayed.

When I entered the address for this house it came up that a young man died here just last spring. Thanks to Facebook, I was able to track him down and the reason for his demise–suicide. With the already active soil around Gettysburg, I expected the possibility of some bad residual energy. Nothing really obvious has presented itself, however.

We did an investigation around Halloween and turned up nothing…but there have been some, possibly, interesting events since then.

After moving into the house we noticed one of the doors to an upstairs bedroom is lacking a doorknob and  the door frame is separated in a way that suggests the door was kicked open. So, we assume this is the room the suicide may have occurred in. On New Year’s Eve, we had gone to the Battlefield Bed and Breakfast to socialize then returned to put on warm clothes and head down to the square for the festivities. We opened the door to the room mentioned above and were confronted by a very unpleasant smell. When I first smelled it I thought of a locker room with its stinking socks and unwashed bodies, but the more I smelled it the more it changed to something like vomit or spoiled food. Roy thought he smelled vomit and poo combined. We checked the garbage for food, but only found paper. We looked around and didn’t find any evidence of the cats, and we keep the door closed to this room because we don’t want the cats making it smell. We popped open a window, turned on the fan, and closed the door again to keep the cats out. When we returned one hour later, there was no hint of the smell. The smell was so strong, initially, that I would expect it to have a lingering suggestion, but no. We tried to recreate the smell a couple of nights later by closing up the room for a few hours and were unable to duplicate the smell. Were we smelling a phantom smell? Perhaps of the suicide victim?

One night, I was abruptly wakened between the hours of 3 and 4 am. As I lay in bed, I heard what sounded like a plastic cup being set down on the kitchen counter. It sounded too controlled to be the result of an animal knocking something over, and both cats were on the bed. So I lay there listening for something more, and watching the cats to see if they sensed anything, but they went on sleeping. I fell asleep and had a dream that the house was haunted by a young boy the age of 10. He kept shadowing us in the dream and finally admitted to me that he was afraid to cross over because his parents were abusive to him and he was afraid they’d be waiting for him. The dream was very vivid and the story was not related to anything I might have heard somewhere else.

When we came home from a 7 day excursion to Oregon (when I broke my leg) we found the TV and living room lights on. We dismissed the TV since a cat stepping on the remote could cause that, but what about the lights? It is very fishy, since I am anal about making sure all lights are off–especially since we spent a lot of time figuring out which lights to leave on to give the impression the house was occupied. But since I cannot state with absolute clarity that we didn’t accidentally leave the lights on, I must dismiss it as possible paranormal activity.

Then there was the night just last week when we were both awakened by a loud noise downstairs, between the hours of 3 and 4 am. Once again, it didn’t sound like an animal. It sounded like someone kicked the door open. Roy went downstairs clutching his pocket knife, but there was nothing amiss.

Recently, our cats have been acting very strange. One of them has gotten really skittish, and I will catch him staring into empty corners or darkened rooms.

We have decided to do another investigation of the house, including the cellar. This time we will do it between 3 and 4 am since that seems to be the most active time. I have heard some people call that hour, “Dead Time.” It is also considered the time of darker entities since 3 am is the counterpart of 3 pm–when Jesus died (if you believe in that stuff). We will report any evidence we receive.

Published in: on July 28, 2014 at 10:11 p07  Leave a Comment  

“Sex & the Paranormal”

As a paranormal investigator, I find I spend more time reading about the subject than actually investigating. My absolute favorite bookstore is on Burnside in Portland, Oregon. Powell’s City of Books covers an entire city block and is three stories high. One of my favorite smells in the world was discovered when I entered Powell’s for the first time and experienced the utopian combination of books and espresso. Ambrosia for an introvert!

Roy and I hit Powell’s when we got back from Gettysburg and spent over a hundred dollars in making sure we had plenty of reading material for the winter. One of the books I picked up was “Sex and the Paranormal” by Paul Deane. I just finished reading it and must say it was very different from what I had expected.

I felt so scandalous buying the book I actually watched the expression on the face of the cashier to see if she batted an eye over such an edgy book purchased by a middle age couple. I was disappointed when the woman with the plethora of tattoos and piercings didn’t seem to care. *sigh* That means I am still the hopelessly naïve ex-Christian who believes I am far more scandalous than anyone else. Oh well…onward and upward.

The book begins with a recounting of legends in every corner of the world involving ghost rape, demon lovers, and succubi/incubi. The author quickly disproves the majority of these claims by pointing out that when somebody feels like they are being held down and paralyzed by some sex-starved entity, it is actually the natural paralyzing hormone the body produces to prevent us from acting out our dreams. Sometimes the paralysis lasts longer than it should. What about those people who swear they see an entity in their room? Again, the dream state prolongs past wakefulness and hallucinations are the result. There has never been any physical evidence of an actual sexual attack found upon anyone who claims to be the victim of one.

The book then goes on to speak of some of the history of phallic worship, sex, witchcraft, and satanic ritual abuse. Anybody who grew up during the 80’s will remember horror stories of satanic ritual abuse. Around my hometown, every cave for a hundred miles had satanic rituals in it. It is interesting to note, however, that there is less evidence for actual satanic ritual abuse than for ghost rape. Many cases were brought to the limelight based upon false memories created during hypnosis sessions. People are extremely susceptible under hypnosis, and many of the therapists would ask leading questions thereby implanting memories of things that didn’t occur. Entire communities became convinced of Satanists operating in their midst thanks to a book published in 1980 called, “Michelle Remembers.” According to the author, many cases of multiple personality disorders are diagnosed in much the same way.

Alien abduction has a similar history. Some people who awake with sleep paralysis, rather than believing they are being raped by a demon, choose to believe it is aliens (especially since the 1950’s). The few who have vivid memories of alien abduction and anal probes on board intricate space ships have been programmed by hypnotherapists that plant those ideas upon impressionable minds. There has never been any evidence of actual alien abduction, nor any witnesses. One statistic said more than a million Americans are abducted by aliens every year. If that is so, why has no one ever seen anyone getting beamed up?

As to phallic worship, I grew up in a religion that mocked other religions for their phallic worship. I learned the steeples on churches are in fact huge, pointy penises. The Old Testament is rife with references to sacred poles and pillars which were supposed to represent the male and female reproductive organs. Such worship was detestable to Jehovah’s true worshippers.

Therefore, the following paragraph brought me immense joy:

 “Yahweh, the god of the Hebrews, was himself a phallic deity, the rite of circumcision in itself indicating his real nature. In Exodus we read how Zipporah cast at the feet of the angry Yahweh the bloody foreskin of her son as a form of appeasement. Like Baal-Peor, Yahweh was referred to as ‘the opener’, thus: “And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb.” The frequency with which Yahweh was represented in the form of a bull, and commonly referred to as the ‘Bull of Israel’ is another indication of his phallic origin. Phallic symbolism is rife in the first books of the Old Testament; barely a chapter passes without coded references to people worshiping pillars or columns which, in the context of the descriptions given, clearly represent phallic objects….There are even signs of what is known as the ‘phallic oath’ whereby anybody making a promise or oath would place their hand upon their own penis or even that of a second party. This was a common practice that is still reflected in some superstitions and customs today, and in its time was the equivalent of raising your right hand or swearing on the Bible…the word thigh has been substituted for the word penis in some translations.” (59)

I have always wondered about the whole circumcision thing, especially that situation with Zipporah and her son. Now it all makes perfect sense. No wonder the religion of my youth was so patriarchal. It’s all about the Master member!

I strongly recommend “Sex and the Paranormal” by Paul Deane as a nice dose of objectivity in a world more obsessed with legend and sensationalism than evidence and clear thinking. And for you penis lovers out there–the section on penis snatching should have you crossing your legs like a debutante at a dive bar.