haunting

The Bad Witch’s Guide

October, 2018

 

The Bad Witch’s Guide to Ghost Hunting

(Photo by Callie Gibson on Unsplash)

 

It is the season apparently for all things spooky…ooooh!

I don’t ghost hunt as a rule. I ghost shoo! That said I do understand the desire for some titillation and so, on some intellectual level.

It is easier in general to ghost hunt in cities than the wilds and better in Europe than the US purely down to number dead people over thousands of years. There are of course many kinds of haunting and spirit activity but violence and large amounts of people seem to imprint or cause haunting more often. My psychic American bestie used to hangout in New Orleans all the time without much hassle (but that could have been the others spirits influence, nudge, nudge) and was shocked, delighted and amazed visiting Chester for the first time! Chester is an old city, founded by the Romans in 79AD. It has much of the old town still intact as well as the later medieval town and its beautiful buildings. It doesn’t hurt that the river runs near it. Water is a great psychic and spirit conduit. She saw full blown colour spirit figures walking around, was touched, even got some stuff on film!

Hunting ghosts is easier if they are also seeking you!

That said the trend to go to derelict hospitals and such seems distasteful and a bit dangerous to me.

There are two main kinds of haunting. The restless dead (a spirit who is confused, frightened or lost, particularly one that doesn’t know they are dead) and an echo of an event that either happened over and over or was so traumatic it left a mark, a memory on a place.

The echo is just that. It doesn’t interact. It doesn’t change it is just the echo of a place remembering. It can be a bloody battle, a crash or someone leaving out milk bottles. You get a better chance of seeing one of these someone that has had a lot of people to imprint, or the sight of battle or trauma.

The restless dead can and are anywhere. This is why hospitals and the like can be bad because if they don’t know they are dead they can follow you home and get the hump when you ignore then. These poor souls often had a rough enough time in life, they don’t deserve it in death too. I dislike a lot of the ghost hunting shows, especially if they get shouty and rude.

All in all dead people are just that, people. Some of them are lovely. However some of the worst hauntings I have dealt with have been addicts and little kids. You want to see some shit go down have a ghost toddler wobbly. They will throw things, slam things and even bite! Crossing someone over usually requires years of training (which I have) and some reasonable sight, and friends and guides on the Otherside to help people cross.

All in all I’d rather living people than dead around me rather than getting cold or uncomfortable somewhere but to each their own. While I am medium I am also a witch. This means I don’t let spirit in my body, home or circle without permission, in fact I am strict when it comes to spirit. Granted I am a bit of a sucker for kids, but they are pretty easy to cross over.

A spirit guide or guardian is nothing like a haunting. A haunting is a spirit this side of the Veil. They tend to look like regular people whom slowly seem to drain of colour over time becoming shadows. They are stuck, either willingly or unwittingly and can be varying levels of troublesome. When a spirit crosses everything lifts. It is really beautiful. It is as though someone opened a window and let fresh air and light in. Spirit when they have crossed over is different. They are bright, glowing almost with the light of the Otherside. They can appear as how they saw themselves or even how they wished they had looked. They come and go at my request or their own desires rather than being stuck somewhere.

In general my experience with dead people has not been spooky, dark places. It is usually well lit living rooms on a sunny Sunday afternoon, or someone’s kitchen.

My advice is don’t go somewhere derelict especially without permission, you may end up as one of the ghosts! The floors aren’t clear, the ceilings are crumbling and you are far from help if you need it. I am serious these places are abandoned for a reason. If you want to ghost hunt, do a proper tour. You can do them in many cities and even some castles at least in the UK. Take a protective symbol with you (be it pentagram or something else) as a precaution. Cast a circle if it gets ooky. Don’t use a spirit or Ouija board*. Cleanse with salt water and smudge (sage, rosemary and frankincense are great) afterwards. Don’t get drunk or high and ghost hunt. You might be more open but you are also more vulnerable too.

If you are thinking of getting spooky closer to home (is your Aunts house haunted?) and decide to do some spell or rite or other please do not invite anyone or anything. Don’t use a spirit board or Ouija board. If you can get a proper and respected medium to attend do it. You would be surprised how often I get calls this time of year from folks doing this by themselves who get freaked out, and get caught out by something unpleasant. Some get attacked, some get sick, and some even have pets die! Mostly it is purely psychological and I turn up, check nothing weird is about and shut the door they opened. Again if you fail to heed my advice and you need to fix this, you will need a decent medium and they have every right to charge you through the nose (call it an idiot tax).

 

*Creating a doorway you can’t close is not a smart idea ever.

 

Interview – Laura Perry: Re-enchanting the World

September, 2018

Laura Perry: Re-enchanting the World

I recently read The Bed by Laura Perry and was pretty much blown away. It was a genuine page turner and you can read my review here. Laura is the author of various books including Ariadne’s Thread, an exploration of Minoan spirituality and Ancient Spellcraft, exploring ancient magics from all over the world. As well as authoritative books on ancient and modern spirituality, Laura writes compelling fiction with a magical twist. She was kind enough to return to PaganPagesOrg for another interview about her latest literary exploits.

Mabh Savage: Thanks for talking to us again Laura! First of all, what gave you the idea for your latest novel, The Bed?

Laura Perry: All my stories start with a “What if…” kind of idea. Here’s the “What if…” for The Bed: I was poking around an antique/junk store one day and I overheard a conversation between two women who were looking at an antique bed. One of them really liked it and was trying to get the other one to buy it. But apparently it was from an estate (the owner had died) and the second woman was concerned that the owner might have died in the bed, an idea that gave her the creeps. So I thought, what if someone did buy a bed that the previous owner had died in? What might the magical repercussions be? Might the bed be haunted in some way, and what kinds of problems would that create for the new owner? By the time I got home from that shopping trip, I already had the main storyline fleshed out!

MS: Who would you say the book is aimed at?

LP: I like to think it appeals to a broad spectrum of people: Anyone with an interest in magic, the paranormal, and witch-y subjects, since that sort of thing is a big part of the book. But on another level, it’s simply a story of a woman figuring out who she is and what her life values really are, instead of what everyone has been telling her all her life, and I think that’s a basic premise that most people can connect with.

MS: The characters in the book are very believable. Are any based on real people; did you draw upon your own experiences at all?

LP: I’ve learned the hard way that I can’t put a real person in a book and expect them to behave themselves and stick to my plotline! LOL. But I am occasionally inspired by certain aspects of individual personalities. The ghost of the bed, for instance, was inspired by a professor I knew in college – I never took any of his classes but I did attend a few individual talks he gave. He was a very interesting man, but as far as I know, was never into the kind of ceremonial magic the book character gets into. And I’ve known people who had some of the annoying attributes of some of the characters in The Bed.

In a sense, the setting of a book is also a character. In this case, the Atlanta area where the main character lives is where I’ve spent most of my life, Emory University is where I did my undergraduate work, and Unicoi State Park is one of my favorite places to visit up in the mountains. So I set up the story in a place I’m intimately familiar with, at least in part because I love this area and wanted to share it with my readers.

MS: Have you ever felt a presence tied to a piece of furniture, or another household item?

LP: Not furniture, no, but I have encountered pieces of jewelry – usually in junk shops or at estate sales – that made me feel creepy, like someone was watching me while I was handling the necklace or earrings or bracelet. I took that to mean that the previous owner’s energy was still clinging to the item and they probably didn’t want anyone else wearing it. Needless to say, I always put those back and walk away from them.

MS: The books contains elements of ceremonial magic, angels, instinctive witchcraft; was it hard to tie all these elements together or was it a fun experience?

LP: It was mostly fun, though there were points in the process where it felt like an uphill climb. All the different aspects of magic and the supernatural tend to twine together in my life. I think this is probably the case for a lot of Pagans; we don’t fit neatly into any kind of pigeonholes, but follow whichever threads look interesting to us. At first I tried to restrict the magic in the book to just the ceremonial stuff, but then Liz showed me that she’s a natural magician (or witch) and I had to figure out how to work that in. Most authors will tell you that their characters run the show, and I think that’s true – they are who they are, and once we’ve created them, we have to follow their lead and not the other way around.

MS: Would you describe the book as ‘Witch Lit’?

LP: I think so. Witch Lit is writing that incorporates magic in one way or another. It’s not just “chick lit with sparkles” but a much broader and deeper genre. I like to think it’s a way of re-enchanting the world.

MS: Do you think magical fantasy is a growing genre at the moment? Why do you think this is, if so?

LP: It does seem to be growing in popularity, and I think there are two main reasons behind that increase. First, the mystical-and-magical side of life (magic, witchcraft, Paganism, the occult) is becoming more and more mainstream every day. So more people are discovering this aspect of thought and of writing and realizing how much they enjoy it. But there’s also the fact that the world is a pretty disturbing and scary place right now, and magical fantasy allows us to escape that for a little while. Not only do we get to dive into interesting stories with fascinating characters and settings; we also get to image ways of combating the dark forces in the world beyond just the simple methods we already have at hand. And that can be empowering, because if we can imagine overcoming our own imperfections as well as the nastiness that’s outside us, that gives us hope that we might be able to do it in real life.

MS: Which authors of fiction would you say have been your greatest inspiration?

LP: That’s a long list! I started out steeped in all the Victorian classics, with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein at the top of the list along with all the creepy sadness of the Brontë sisters. In terms of modern authors, I’ve always wanted to be able to write like my favorite three: Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, and Douglas Adams. That’s not terribly likely, but I still love their humor, their way with words, and their ability to touch on the magical parts of life with lightness but in a way that still makes the reader believe in them.

MS: Which do you prefer writing, fiction or non-fiction, and why?

LP: Honestly, I like them both. They’re different experiences, both in reading and in writing, but there are places where they overlap. For instance, they both require research as well as organization. In terms of what I’m reading, I tend to have one fiction and one non-fiction book going at the same time. And I’ve recently realized that I’m much the same with writing: I’ll typically have one of each in the works at any given time. Each genre challenges me as a writer in different ways, and I enjoy that.

MS: What’s the biggest challenge with writing a novel?

LP: For me, it’s keeping all the details straight so I don’t mess up the continuity of the story. I don’t want to end up with a situation like J.K. Rowling, where readers realized the Marauder’s Map somehow transferred ownership between the end of one Harry Potter book and the beginning of the next. I simply can’t keep a whole story in my head, so I rely on extensive notes and outlines, and sometimes even spreadsheets, to make sure I don’t screw up the details somewhere along the line and confuse my readers.

MS: And what do you enjoy most about the process?

LP: I love immersing myself in the story, getting to know the characters as if they were real people, and following them through the twists and turns of their lives. There’s a certain amount of “brain work” that goes into setting up a novel: researching the setting and any technical details, outlining the plot to make sure it makes sense, and so on. But once the preliminaries are done, I can just dive in and flow along with the story – and that’s my favorite part.

MS: Any more books on the horizon currently?

LP: In terms of fiction, I’m working on a historical novel set in ancient Crete, right at the end of Minoan civilization when there was all that turmoil and all the cities were eventually burned down. Though it’s a very different experience from writing a modern novel like The Bed, it’s still ultimately about human beings and how they deal with whatever life throws at them.

MS: As an author, how do you get yourself in ‘the zone’ to write? How do you prepare?

LP: I wrote my first two published books when my daughter was a toddler (yes, I’m slightly insane LOL). That experience taught me how to focus quickly and take advantage of short time spans whenever they’re available. I don’t usually have the luxury of spending whole hours at a time writing, since I have so many other responsibilities. But when I do get that time, I’ve learned that it’s OK to allow the rest of the world to just fall away and disappear. That way, I can focus on what I’m doing, on the words I’m writing, and nothing else. It’s almost like a meditation – that is, until the phone rings or someone knocks on my studio door!

MS: And how do you switch off and relax?

LP: Nature is my favorite medicine. I have to have my “nature time” every day, even if it’s just 15 minutes puttering around the vegetable garden or walking in our little patch of woods. After a few minutes outdoors, I can feel my shoulders relax down and my whole body reset itself to something more natural and less busy-busy-busy. When I get the chance, I head up to the north Georgia mountains for day trips to “get away from it all” – that’s some excellent sanity time, if you ask me.

MS: Any plans for the summer [ed note: interview took place a few weeks ago!]? What does the rest of 2018 hold for you?

LP: My daughter just graduated from high school so we’re spending the summer shifting gears for her to start college next month. (Eeek! Where does the time go?) We had a lovely beach vacation earlier in the summer to celebrate her graduation, so the rest of the summer will be at-home time and doing my best to keep up with all the projects I already have going. I’m in the middle of revising and updating The Wiccan Wellness Book, complete with new illustrations. The second edition is due out at the end of September. I’m chugging away on the Minoan historical novel and trying out some new challenges with the Witch Lit crew, like doing video readings of excerpts from some of my books. This October will also see the publication of the first anthology I’ve ever edited, Deathwalking: Helping Them Cross the Bridge. It’s about the shamanic practice of psychopomp (soul conductor) work, and is very much a from-the-heart project for me.

MS: Finally, if you could speak to any dead person, not necessarily tied to a bed (!), who would it be and why?

LP: Now you’ve got me thinking about what kinds of dead people might like to be tied to a bed! LOL, Besides wishing I could chat with my grandmother and ask her advice about the issues I encounter in life (she was an amazingly wise woman), I think I might like to talk with Mary Shelley. She was such an amazing person, writing far more novels and travelogues than most people are aware of, besides her famous Frankenstein. Her life was quite troubled but she had an amazing persistence and resilience, and the overriding idea that we can change society from the inside out by practicing kindness and compassion and teaching our children cooperation over competition. I’d love to hear her views about the world today as well as finding out more about her life more than a century ago.

The Bed and other Laura Perry books are available from Amazon and all good book stores. Find out more at Laura’s website.

The Bed

***

About the Author:

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways.

A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors

Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways

Across the Great Divide

February, 2014

 

 

Paranormal Communication

            To exist is to communicate. Bees in a hive; a pack of wolves on the hunt; two women in a coffee shop; – even the phones we text each other with-; effective communication is occurring everywhere around us every day and in various forms both organic and artificial.

            Humans are quite egocentric when it comes to the physical world and their professed mastery of it. If they cannot hear it, see it, touch it, or understand it then it doesn’t exist or is laughed off as the illogical ramblings of the foolish. A common- and clichéd- axiom is “if a tree falls and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” This naïve reasoning asserts that since no human was around to hear it, then it didn’t happen; that it is impossible to occur. The wildlife that scattered as the sound pierced the serenity might feel differently.

Humanity assumes that the only effective, real, communication between two sentient beings is in the verbal patterns of spoken language; but true communication occurs all around us every day without us even being remotely aware that it is happening or how. Just because we do not readily perceive or understand it does not dismiss this fact.

To effectively communicate with the world around us means that we have to let go of this arrogant mentality and realize that all things are different in the way they speak to each other and to the environment around them. This is the central canon when learning to understand and communicate with the world on a deeper level.

Why is it that emotionally-connected people can know exactly what each other are thinking or feeling without a single word being spoken? A look from a beloved dog or cat can elicit intense understanding in the same way. These are forms of paranormal communication.

When one knows how to listen, communication and understanding come easy.

            We saw last month that parapsychology researchers have made interesting discoveries about the possibilities of telepathic communication between two beings; and we’ve previously covered the topic of Electronic Voice Phenomenon with some intriguing examples that I personally captured. (It should be noted that Instrumental Transcommunication (ITC) is the more general, accepted, term in parapsychological research for any variation of device and corresponding phenomenon collected.)

            Many believe that communication with the dead is a scientific fact and experiment with a variety of techniques for spirit communication to provide evidence of the continuation of life after physical death. Many parapsychologists and ghost hunting groups agree. That is why it is such common practice to attempt communication with spirits using devices such as voice recorders and cameras.

            Mainstream science has generally ignored ITC, finding the results less than credible, and references a percentage of recordings that turn out to be hoaxes created by frauds or pranksters. Many also regard the examples put forward by proponents as simply misinterpretations of natural phenomena, explained via a variety of known psychological and physical phenomena- the tendency of the human brain to recognize patterns in random stimuli and radio interference are respective examples. I am not arguing the validity of the recorded samples that I or others have collected over the years as absolute proof of spiritual communication nor am I completely debunking them but if anyone has sound, logical explanations for their origin then, please, enlighten us; if not, then take it with a grain of salt and an intellectually open mind.

            Pareidolia and Apophenia are the most common basis for arguments against the legitimacy of ITC.

Auditory pareidolia is a situation created when the brain incorrectly interprets random patterns as being familiar patterns. In the case of ITC, it could result in an observer interpreting random noise on an audio recording as being the familiar sound of a human voice. The tendency for a “voice” heard in white noise recordings to be in a language understood well by those researching it, rather than in an unfamiliar language, has been cited as evidence of this; and a broad class of phenomena, referred to by author Joe Banks as “Rorschach Audio”, has been described as a global explanation for all manifestations of ITC.

            Apophenia is related to, but distinct from pareidolia, in that it is the spontaneous finding of connections or meaning in things that are random, unconnected, or meaningless, and has been put forward as a possible explanation.

            Suppose, for example, that an English-speaking group such as Ghost Hunters International were in Germany on an investigation. Would it not seem logical that any samples recorded and cited be in German rather than English? If a group’s team members are walking around an Italian castle asking questions in English how do they expect any possible spirit to understand the question, let alone respond correctly and in English? When they analyze the audio, are they listening for English and Italian words, or perhaps another language entirely?

            I have developed a theory that attempts to explain Rorschach Audio.

Everything about life I learned from watching Star Trek. (Humour me for a moment.) Ever wonder how the intrepid crew of the Enterprise can travel the galaxy and always find alien cultures speaking perfect English? Well, they have an ingenious little device called a universal translator that puts the spoken words through a sound algorithm that searches for patterns and then correlates them to the correct English vernacular. Neat trick, I think. However, there’s often a fine line between science fiction and reality.

In Jungian psychology, there is a bedrock principle that part of the unconscious mind is common and accessible to a group, a society, or even all of humanity, which is the product of all the ancestral experiences of a people throughout time and shared by all, termed the Collective Unconscious. Based on this model, if- as many world cultures similarly believe- we are all related, and taking into account the scientific theory that we revert to pure energy after the death of the physical body, then it stands to reason that as we pass from the material world into the realm of pure energy we have access to all of the knowledge of our fellow man. Therefore, if one were Russian in physical life, then such a being would have knowledge of the English language after death and would thus be able to communicate freely and fluently with an English-speaking researcher conducting an ITC session.

            It might not be too hard to imagine the possibility. It is a known fact that the human body creates, stores, and uses electrical energy. Our neurology is much like a computer’s in that it transmits data in much the same way as a circuit board. This explains how ITC is possible because if, after death, we revert back to pure energy then that energy is quite capable of manipulating and being captured by recording devices that operate on the same principles.

            The old-style method of using cassettes to communicate with spirits is a testable theory because those mediums rely on the creation of electromagnetic fields to imprint the data on the magnetic strips. This is also why spikes in EM fields are of major interest to researchers and ghost hunters because it hints that spirits must draw upon the energy in the environment in order to be discovered. The modern digital recorders are similarly valid because of the means by which they retain information.

            In a recent conversation online, it was jested that if ghosts did exist, it was doubtful that they would be using Facebook as a means to communicate. Based on the points raised today I would have to disagree. The internet is a digital world, using electrical currents and electromagnetics to transmit data from one side of the globe to another in an instant, and is just one more avenue that a being of energy could manipulate in order to communicate- a literal “ghost in the machine” as it makes its voice heard.

            It is said that we have two ears but one mouth because listening is twice as hard as speaking. This is a universal truth. If we simply learn to listen to the world around us in a different way, we just might hear things that we were previously unaware were there.

            Until next time, quiet yourselves and listen carefully to the sounds of the universe. The truth- and understanding- are out there if we are simply willing to listen with an open mind.

© 2014 R. Wolf Baldassarro/Deep Forest Productions

 

Paranormal Path

September, 2013

In The Shadows
 
     We’ve all had it happen, you see a dark shadow from the corner of your eye, but as soon as you turn to look at it straight on, it’s gone.  Almost as if it dove out of sight on purpose, but how could that be?  There is an even more alarming experience.  Something startles you awake in the middle of the night, you see a dark shadow standing at the foot of the bed, watching you.  This has to be a trick of the light or maybe you’re not fully awake and your eyes need to adjust right?  Not necessarily.
     There have been numerous reports of these shadow beings, also called shadow people or shadow men.  Even more numerous are the theories regarding their intentions for visiting us.  Sightings differ; some witness a thin wispy shadow, barely holding a form that seems to float away quickly, into the darkness.  Some even seem to go through walls or up into the ceiling.  These appear to be the most common sightings.  They seem to avoid contact at all costs and are not happy about being spotted.
     Another type that is commonly seen is much more confident.  They are human like in form, usually appear to be male as most of these beings, yet they do not seem to hide so quickly.  Some have reported coming face to face, or shall I say “faceless”, with them or seeing them standing very still in the corner of a room, barely noticeable at first.  Then you see it, this shadow is much darker than any other shadow in the room.  There have been sightings of a much more sinister type of shadow being, usually appearing in a fedora type hat or even a cloak at times.  Some have even said they’ve witnessed glowing red or green eyes, or no eyes at all just vacant black holes.
     So many different types of these beings but what are they?  Once again, theories abound.  The most common is these beings are from another dimension and come in and out to simply learn and observe.  Another very common suspicion is that these are a type of alien, visiting from another planet, but again just to watch, as if we were their own personal reality show.  Less talked about is the theory that these beings may be the result of someone else’s astral projection trip.  If someone does manage to have an out of body experience would their astral body appear as a dark faceless shadow?   The more sinister “hat man” or “cloaked” beings have been called demons, or even omens, warning someone that they are of ill health or about to pass on, especially since the cloaked form resembles a grim reaper .  Even the size of the shadow can differ usually from three feet to six feet and how often they appear can also range.  Some people will see them almost daily for a few years and then not at all.  Children may see them often but never as adults.
     When they choose not to ignore you, the actual encounters are rare but leave a lasting impression, people report feeling frightened and drained of energy, as if the being is absorbing your emotions into themselves.  If touched, these shadow entities can feel like pure electricity or even several degrees colder.  The rare malicious ones will try to intimidate the “victim” making them feel as if they are surrounded by darkness, suffocating, or even brief paralysis such as Old Hag Syndrome.  Bite wounds, and scratches have been reported in these attacks but so few of them have occurred or have been brought to the public’s attention.   One of my favorite explanations are these shadow people are a type of “men in black” who appear after a UFO or alien sighting to intimidate the witness to forget what they saw .
     Whatever they are, they have been a huge topic of conversation in the paranormal community.  Very few have actually been photographed and though they are human-like but not human or known to vocalize, EVPs cannot be taken.  Hopefully more solid information will be available one day, we can learn just as much from them as they can from us.

Across the Great Divide

August, 2013

 

 

“When Fantasy Meets Reality: The Conjuring”


Another old-school horror movie hit the theatres last month called The Conjuring, and it’s doing remarkably well as far as the horror genre goes; but unlike many flicks that are cookie-cutter yarns using the same tired formula, this one is- at least in part- based on a actual events involving real people and two iconic pioneers in paranormal research- Edward and Lorraine Warren.  

Half marketing ploy, half respectful homage, the producers of The Conjuring hype the “based on a true story” aspect, but the names Ed and Lorraine Warren have been well known long before this movie’s release to those who’ve made a career of the serious study of psychical research. They were ghost hunters before ghost hunting was cool, back when it was serious science. They were rock stars to budding scholars like myself.

This isn’t the first film to be based on their work, either. Unless you were born yesterday then you’ve at least heard of, if not seen, the 1975 classic, The Amityville Horror– which led to 10 films.

When Lorraine realized that she had psychic abilities and that she could go into homes where people were having problems such as those in The Conjuring, she saw an incredible chance to use it to help people, and help she did in the years since.

In 1952, the Warrens founded the New England Society for Psychic Research, the oldest ghost-hunting group in New England. With well over 10,000 investigations in their storied career, they have authored numerous books about the paranormal and case studies of various hauntings. Many of their books grace my office library.

During the 1970s and ‘80s, the Warrens were part of some of the most prolific case studies in psychical research and leading contributors to the advancement of Electronic Voice Phenomenon techniques.

Sadly, Ed stepped across the great divide seven years ago, but Lorraine is alive, well, and full of much of the same adventurous spark that made them legends in the paranormal field.

She says that Ed would agree that the haunting and possession depicted in The Conjuring was one of the most extreme cases they’d ever witnessed.

As far as the new film is concerned, it depicts- admittedly in typical sensationalistic Hollywood fashion, the story of the Perrons as they dealt with both benign and malicious spirits in their Rhode Island farmhouse with their five girls in 1971.

Warren says that the movie does a “pretty good job” at keeping the storyline close to what really happened.

“I can remember the places where it was very bad such as the dirt cellar [in the Perron home]. I can remember my husband going down the stairs and there was a professor from a university in New Haven, Connecticut who wanted to see what was happening in the home.

When I came a few minutes later, Ed signaled me to go upstairs. When I got to the top and I looked in this room and it was all dark and this grotesque face was in there and I made the sign of the cross in the air and said, ‘in the name of Jesus Christ I command you to leave and go back to where you came from.’ That was a bad case.”

The Perrons themselves star in some of the promotional materials of The Conjuring, which seems to add truth that the happenings were true. “Because I was the youngest and the most vulnerable, I was approached more than anyone, and I actually had a relationship with that (ghostly) boy,” April Perron says in one trailer.

Many of their cases have been debated over the years, especially the Amityville case- that many say was simply made up. 

The president of the New England Skeptical Society, Steven Novella, doubts the story and told USA Today that “there is absolutely no reason to believe there is any legitimacy” to the Warren’s reports on the Perron case.

Andrea Perron, in return, responded that The Conjuring “is a fair reflection of the chaos and danger we faced at the farm.”

“There are liberties taken and a few discrepancies, but overall, it is what it claims to be- based on a true story, believe it or not.”

Hey, I’ll be the first to stand up and say that a dose of honest skepticism is good. At the end of the day it’s important to keep two things in mind: The Conjuring is a movie; as such, its primary goal is to entertain and make money. Therefore, view it with a light heart. Although the events in the film are glamorized with studio special effects, they are based on actual events that are meant to inspire and encourage debate, research, and- above all else- foster an open mind about a universe that we are only beginning to understand.

 

Sources: TV3 New Zealand, The Christian Post, International Business Times

© 2013 R. Wolf Baldassarro/Deep Forest Productions

Across the Great Divide

June, 2012

 “Haunted House for Rent”

Haunted houses have been the stuff of local legend for generations; often these stories are exploited by Hollywood. Sometimes, though, there’s nothing fun about the experience, as the thought of sharing a home with an unexpected guest is no laughing matter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Josue Chinchilla and Michele Callan, of Toms River, New Jersey, filed a lawsuit against their home owner, declaring that the rental property is also the residence of at least one paranormal entity and that this was never disclosed to them before moving in.

They believe they had no choice but to flee the property, along with their two children, only one week after moving in. The couple is demanding the return of their $2,250 security deposit because they claim to be witness to such activity as moving doors, flickering lights, and recorded voices whispering, “let it burn.”

The family moved in on March 1, and immediately felt that they were not alone. By March 10 they’d had enough. That was the night that Chinchilla says that blankets started inexplicably sliding off his bed, and he felt an invisible grip on his arm; Callan added that she saw a “shapeless dark apparition” nearby.

The family checked into a hotel on March 13, where they have been staying ever since.

They at first laughed off the activity as a trick of the senses, then tried to ignore the recurring events, but according to a report by the Asbury Park Press, when the entity began to pulling sheets off the bed, and a dark apparition appeared in the bedroom, they knew they had to leave.

The home’s owner refutes the entire “haunted house” lawsuit is a ruse, and are making up the story because can’t afford the $1500 monthly rent; he defends that he has rented the home for the last ten years without any issues.

In a report by the Huffington Post, the Shore Paranormal Research Society, based in the same town, investigated and later classified the activity as “paranormal,” but that it did not indicate a haunting, according to the group’s website. They have released a video showing a bowling pin reportedly falling over of its own accord.

Marianne Brigando, an investigator from New Jersey Paranormal Investigators, says that the home is indeed haunted and states that the home is “the site of an active or intelligent haunting.” She based her conclusion on the results of the oft-maligned “flashlight test, which involves communicating with an otherworldly presence via a flashlight. When Brigando asked questions, she claims, an unseen force would turn the flashlight on and off- two flashes for “yes,” one for “no.”

To add to the controversy, the couple’s pastor, Terence Sullivan, reported that he is certain a “demonic possession” has visited the house, raising the possibility that Chinchilla and Callan may have brought the ghost with them.

Or it is possible that the house does have a history, which the owner is refusing to disclose to tenants.

Consumer interest laws have arisen in recent years demanding that landowners disclose the history of a property including any reported paranormal activity, or cases of murder and suicide. If the landlord knew about the haunting, he had a duty to disclose the information before the lease was signed.

We’ve often seen the flip side of this, with restaurants, hotels, and other businesses, reaping the press and rewards of having ‘big name’ groups like The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS, claim on air that a place is haunted and then sit back and watch their customer base boom.

It’s arguably a material fact, but if they brought the ghost with them, then it’s a haunting of another level, and the non-disclosure lawsuit would most certainly fail.

A hearing was scheduled for the end May, the results of which were not available by press time.

 

Sources: Reuters, USA Today, CBS News, Huffington Post, ABC News, Asbury Park Press

Image © 2012 ABC News

© 2012 R. Wolf Baldassarro/Deep Forest Productions

Paranormal Path

December, 2011

Clinton Road

Have you ever been driving late at night down a dark road and it seems there is no civilization for miles?  You think to yourself how this would be a great scenario for a horror movie, yet all the while hope you’re not part of the horror.  There is a road known as one of the scariest roads in America.  Clinton road in West Milford New Jersey has quite a reputation from as early as 1905.
Clinton road is a simple two lane road, surrounded by woodland with many ghost stories.  One of the most famous stories is near the bridge.  There is the tale of a young boy with some conflicting details; some tell of the boy drowning, others say that he was hit by a car going down the road.  If you drop a coin into the water it is believed the coin will be tossed back up to you.  Another legend states if you leave the coin in the center of the yellow line in the road the same will happen.  A more terrifying twist on the tale is if you lean to look over the bridge, the boy may push you in an attempt to get you off of the road and away from oncoming cars.
There have been numerous accounts of strange activity, murders, and robbery.  People have claimed to see bonfires in the woods surrounding the road, stories of Satanists performing rituals and even KKK gatherings.  Back in 1983 a body was discovered in the woods by a bicyclist.  This was one of many victims of Richard Kuklinski also known as the “Iceman”.  Kuklinski was given the nickname due to freezing the bodies of his victims’ to make it seem as if they died at a later time than they actually did.  When an autopsy was performed on the victim found near Clinton Road they discovered ice crystals near the blood vessels in his heart.
If ghost children, murderers, and cults aren’t enough there have been stories of strange creatures being spotted on this road.  In 1976 a Jungle Habitat attraction closed and it was believed a lot of the animals escaped and cross bred.  Bizarre monkey-like creatures, large rabbits and even “hell hounds” are reported to dart across the road.
What would stories of a scary road be without reports of a ghost car?  One tale tells of a phantom Camaro with a ghostly female driver who died when she crashed the car in 1988.  There is a theory that any mention of these stories at night will trigger a manifestation, possibly it just triggers the imagination, either way many take the dare to drive this road at night.  For several miles there is nothing but darkness and the sight of your own headlights.  Many do this in hopes of triggering another famous legend of Clinton Road.
Imagine coming up to the large curve known as “Dead Man’s Curve”.  There is now a railing put up along the side because many have driven off of this curve and died.  Yet this does not seem to help, why?  Well, did I mention the Ghost Truck?
Here you are taking this long dark drive when suddenly headlights appear in your rear view mirror.  There seems to be a driver behind you, they seem to be in a hurry.  The truck tailgates, backs off then rushes the back of your car again.  They are driving erratically, swerving, and yet they never go around you.  This truck seems to almost want to make you veer off this road.  You continue to speed up but the driver behind you will not back off and is getting really aggressive, you can even hear their engine revving.   Finally you reach the light to the main highway, you feel you have reached civilization again, suddenly you notice the headlights that were relentlessly following you have disappeared, vanished like there was never another car behind you at all.  Actually there more than likely wasn’t another car; you have just encountered the infamous Ghost Truck.  Seen as either a white or red truck, this has been one of the most common experiences of this spooky road.
Maybe it is the way our mind takes in the sight of a long, dark, seemingly endless road.  As humans we need to see light, a goal to move towards.  When that seems it isn’t within reach we tend to get a feeling of dread and discomfort.  Knowing all the legends can fuel the imagination but tell me, would you drive down Clinton Road?

Paranormal Path

February, 2011

Haunted Works of art

Have you ever seen a painting that just gave you an uneasy feeling, or perhaps felt the eyes of a portrait following you?  Is it possible that a simple work of art could be haunted?  is made to stir emotion.  Some images stay with us or remind us of evil or darkness.  Simple images can “haunt” a person’s mind, but can something within the painting itself be paranormal?  An artist will put much of them self into a painting and at times can capture the essence of another in a portrait, but can this act stir up more than just hidden emotions?  Here are some example of art pieces believed to have a supernatural touch to them.

Madame Delphine Lalaurie; A New Orleans Mardi Gras painter named  Ricardo Pustanio, was asked by a resident of the Lalaurie home to paint a portrait of the former socialite.  She became infamous during the 1830’s not only for her high stature in social circles but also because of her involvement with the torture of slaves.  The painting was done in 2003 using whatever images the painter could find. The resident hung the painting and was pleased by the response visitors would give, some even assuming the painting was an original part of the home that was believed to be haunted.  Séances were held as well for tourists and paranormal researchers and they would watch in astonishment as the painting would rock or fall from the wall.  Soon the resident claimed frightening things were happening due to this painting so he gave it to another tenant.  Soon the new owner of the painting returned it to the artist.  She claimed the eyes would follow her, the expression would change, and that she heard it sigh. The painting is now with a private collection and it is unknown if the new owners have experienced anything that was described by the first two.

The Crying Boy; In the early 1980’s the British tabloid The Sun released a story of several house fires occurring in a short period of time.  There was one strange thing these homes had in common, each contained a painting of a young boy shedding a tear and these paintings were always untouched by the flames.  Once the story was published there were several calls from people who owned the print stating that they too had suffered fires.  Several weeks later the paper offered everyone to send in their copies of The Crying Boy to be destroyed and end the “curse”.  One woman claimed to try and set fires to 2 copies of the painting but to her horror they would not burn.  The origin behind the painting is just as mysterious. Some theories are that the boy was an orphan whose parents died in a fire; another is of the painter taking in the young boy only to have his studio burn.  There have also been psychics who have studied the painting and reported the child is stuck inside the print.  There are several variations of this painting; the boy’s age and clothing slightly differ.  There have been reports as recent as early 2000 of fires occurring with this painting in the home, some are still dismissing the story as nothing more than an urban legend.

Pogo The Clown; John Gacy was executed in 1994 for several murders, yet his alter ego is still causing trauma.  Gacy once performed as Pogo the clown at children’s parties.  As an artist he would often paint images of Pogo. These paintings became very sought after.  Soon the people who possessed these works of art would only want to get rid of them, due to tragic events occurring.  These events would range from what seemed like a streak of bad luck, to more serious events such as car crashes and suicides.

So is it possible that such things actually exist?  Can the soul of another be caught in a painting? True art comes from within, and it may be very possible to have that connection between our planes of existence and beyond caught on canvas.  The next time a painting gives you the creeps, try researching the artist and the subject.  There are quite a few pieces of art out there that carry more of a supernatural quality than one may think.

Sources;

http://www.hauntedamericatours.com/museum/haunted.htm

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/73801/the_curse_of_the_crying_boy_paintings.html?cat=38

http://www.hauntedamericatours.com/cursed/CURSEDPAINTINGS.php

Across the Great Divide

August, 2010

divide1

Investigation Procedures (Part 1 of 5)

By R. Wolf Baldassarro

If you’ve been following my column for some time, by now you should have a pretty good grasp of the history of paranormal research and with the tools, tech, and spiritual workings associated with the field.  So now it’s time to go out and put all that into practice.  In this series we’ll discuss the steps for a successful and professional investigation.  There are five major components to an investigation- group design and organization, research procedures, the investigation, the analysis, and follow-up.

First of all don’t be overeager.  It’s okay to have fun and enjoy the experience but keep your thoughts and emotions in check, and the foolishness to a minimum.  You don’t want a teammate’s recorder to pick you up laughing or goofing off in another room and mistake it for something paranormal.  Not only is it disrespectful to the home or business owner, the spirits which may be haunting the location, your teammates, and the field of parapsychology in general but you are in someone’s home for a serious and scientific study not in a carnival funhouse for a good time.

Resolve your fears and preconceived notions of the paranormal and look at each investigation with a clean slate.  Every case will be unique because individuality is just as much a part of the other side as it is here in the physical world.  Don’t expect anything or compare every little event to previous investigations.  Let things occur and flow naturally because in a calm and natural atmosphere you’ll have the best chances for capturing quantifiable evidence.

Just as we would be cautious of the spirits’ intentions, we must also be cautious of who we invite along on the hunt.  Your teammates must be chosen with the expectation of honesty and integrity.  Choose wisely when interviewing members for your organization, as unfortunately there are many dishonest people that may cause more upset in a client’s home than the unwanted spirit.  Furthermore you don’t want your group’s reputation to hinge on the actions of a fool.  The Deep Forest Paranormal Society has a specific application that hopeful candidates must fill out if they want to join our team.  This can go a long way toward weeding out potential problems.  Every member of DFPS must have one of these and a signed agreement clause on file before they are allowed to participate in any official group activities.  You can download an example of the MS Word document at this link: DFPS Member Application

Beyond the paperwork and red tape, members should be extensively trained in safety, technology and protocol requirements.  Establish basic parameters and guidelines for central ghost hunting procedures.  Also of great importance is the establishment of a leadership structure or chain of command.  Create departments like technology, case management, transportation, research, analysis teams, spirituality, and so forth.  The knowledge individuals bring to the group may benefit specific departments or talents.  Someone with extensive training and knowledge in photography is best suited on the analysis team where they could help debunk anomalous photos, not doing background research.  In addition you don’t need the team to be on investigation and have everyone acting like they’re the boss.  With everyone playing top dog no one will follow and there will be no cooperation, no format, and no professionalism.

I’ve said many times that the main issue I have with many so-called “ghost hunting groups” is they’re run like an after-school hobby group with no organization, code of conduct, or guidelines.  To make sure everyone is on the same page- literally- it’s wise to have some kind of written document explaining command structure, job descriptions and responsibilities, and procedural notes.  Everyone in my group is given a 30-page manual that was drafted by my lead investigator that explains all that including attendance requirements and disciplinary steps.  Again this is a serious scientific field and a job.  Granted it’s all done on a volunteer basis but to not look at it as you would a paying job and to have no real control over the way you operate in someone’s home spits in the face of science and it’s no wonder the general scientific community doesn’t take us seriously.

Many groups say to start with cemeteries.  There are pros and cons to this, but mostly cons.  These groups do nothing more than go to cemeteries and abandoned buildings and think they’re ghost hunters just because they sneak into them in the dark of night on a regular basis and snap a few pictures and audio recordings.  The first obvious con is that most cemeteries are closed at dusk, making you an illegal trespasser if you’re stomping around after dark.  You are free to roam around cemeteries during normal operating times and do as you wish but you must still be respectful of those who lie in them as well as the rules of those who run the grounds.  It is NEVER okay to go into an abandoned building, whether day or night, without the landowner’s permission.  End of story.

In many cases contacting the city or church that owns the cemetery or building and presenting your honest and objective intentions goes a long way toward garnering permission.  You should also have a client contract that explains what each party’s legal and financial responsibilities are.  Often having a clause that releases the building’s owner of responsibility due to injury puts their mind at ease.  For an example of such a contract here is a download link to the very client contract that DFPS uses: DFPS Client Contract

Secondly, cemeteries by design are in urban areas close to well-traveled roads and residential homes.  This can seriously pollute any evidence due to a large amount of X factors.  Even abandoned cemeteries in secluded and neglected locations have environmental and noise pollution levels that are known and unknown at the time of investigation that could skew your results.

It may be a good idea to look at cemeteries as training grounds.  Go there during the day with new members to get them acquainted with your group’s procedures and techniques.  As we know, ghosts don’t just come out at night and you or they might actually catch something.  While investigating a new cemetery during the day I actually captured a legitimate EVP.

This is also a great time to build connections between members and see which people work best with each other.  Often the personalities of members will compliment another in the organization making for a solid duo for official investigations.  This is also a perfect time to familiarize everyone with all the various tools at your disposal- and try out that new full-spectrum camera you just purchased.  (Sorry, I was day dreaming again…) Every member should have a fully trained understanding of all the tools used during an investigation so that everyone can get their hands dirty and join in the hunt.

Every city and county around the world has local legends and folklore about famous residents, traumatic and dramatic events, and haunted buildings.  Start with some of the more well-known locations and approach the owners or management in as professional a manner as possible.  Dress and act like you would for a job interview with a high-end business firm.  You’ll want to put your best foot forward.  Not only will this help you come across as trustworthy but will gain you respect as well.  Positive reviews and word of mouth are the best advertisement you can get, and best of all it’s free.

You’ll want to have certain safety items such as a first aid kit, plenty of flashlights and batteries, water bottles, 2-way radios, and name badges before you start any investigations.  Keep these items at center command and readily accessible.  Make sure procedures are in place should anyone get injured while investigating and have local emergency numbers handy.  Also make sure you familiarize yourself with the address and specific location (major crossroads) of your area of interest so that in the unfortunate case that emergency personnel need to be called they can get to you as fast as possible.

Most items like water, first aid, and radios are common sense safety items but I’d also like to mention in detail the reasons for badges.

A seasoned paranormal research group will require all members to wear identification while investigating or representing the group in public- even when just doing research.  Not only does this present a more professional image but it helps clients, law enforcement, and others know who is and is not part of the group.  Remember that law enforcement has the right to request identification and trespassing on private property can lead to fines, imprisonment, or worse- I’ve known of ghost hunting groups getting shot at when trespassing in areas at night!

Set up your rules and procedures how you see fit for the specific needs and goals of your group’s activities.  Just keep in mind that the more structured and professional you are in your design, the more professional you will come off when investigating and word of mouth can make or break your success.

Join me next month as I probe farther into investigations with a look at the wonderful world of research and documentation.  Believe it or not good background research is critical to an accurate analysis.

Paranormal Path

June, 2010

Famously Haunted


Part III Disneyland Aneheim, CA.


Disneyland has always been known as the happiest place on earth, yet as with most historic places, there is a dark side. There are many stories of haunting in the Magic Kingdom. A dear friend of mine is a former cast member of Disneyland and here are some of the accounts from him and a few other employees.

When we first enter the park we are greeted by a regal statue of Walt Disney himself, welcoming us to his land, his creation, and the place that some say he still resides. There is a particular train, engine #2, said to have been Walt’s favorite. Mr. Disney loved trains and cast members who have worked on this engine report that before going through the tunnel that leads to the Toontown Station, the bell will ring by itself. Some feel and possibly hope it is Walt himself letting them know he is still a part of the park. Another story from the train tracks is of an old engineer seen wearing train conductor clothes walking the tracks from the overpass between the park entrance
and Main Street, only to disappear. There have been no reports of any conductors meeting their demise along these tracks, but since the parks opening in 1955 it is possible that one of the first conductors may have since passed on and may just be returning to the place they knew best.

Ironically Tomorrowland has the most reported deaths than any other section. One tragic story is of Thomas Cleveland, a 19 year old who tried to sneak in to a Grad night celebration back in 1966. He climbed the fence and ended up on the tracks of the Monorail. A guard saw the boy and a quickly approaching Monorail. He yelled to the boy who attempted to jump to a canopy below the track but didn’t make it in time. Now there are reports of a young boy seen walking the tracks until the Monorail approaches, then disappears.

Another interesting tale takes place in Fantsyland. There is a story of a woman named Dolly Young. Dolly Is seen near the break room of the Matterhorn. She lost her life on this ride when she was thrown from it after unfastening her seatbelt.

One of the most popular and my personal favorite section of Disneyland is New Orleans Square. This is where we find the Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion ride. There is an unconfirmed story of the ghost of a young boy who is seen on the security cameras riding the boat in Pirates of the Caribbean. There has been one confirmed death on this ride but no connection to the story of the young boy.

However one of the better known ghost stories is of the real haunting in the Haunted Mansion. The story tells of a mother who brought her young son’s ashes to the ride and asked to spread them there since it was his favorite. When her request was denied she found a way to do it anyway and the ashes blended well with the dusty appearance of the ride. There have been reports of a little boy seen crying near the exit ramp. There are different versions of this story, others state the young boy helps in the loading queue by closing the doom buggies. There are a few authentic pieces of haunted history in the mansion. During the scene with the phantom piano player and the dead bride, there is a chest that sits in this scene as well. The chest is from a home in Northern California and is believed to be haunted. When Walt Disney heard of it he knew it would be perfect for the attraction. Those who have visited the mansion may have also noticed the hearse that sits just outside, it was rumored to be the actual hearse of Brigham Young but these are just rumors as this hearse was constructed, from scratch, at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, Ca.

Disneyland has always been a place for magic and wonder, where anything seems possible. These stories of ghosts and haunting are difficult to find but they open up other possibilities. If these stories were made more public would it deter guests from visiting or would it bring in even more people with a whole new reason to visit the Magic Kingdom?


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