Sandra Champlain, author and host of We Don’t Die Radio, shares her journey from the fear of dying to a passion for sharing the news that we all survive death. Plus amazing stories of seances and physical mediumship!
The United Kingdom really knows how to rock the whole Spiritualism thing. In Part 1 of my Mediumship in the UK series, platform medium Marion Hover shares a bit about her background with Spiritualism, two very cool experiences involving her mediumship, and her work with development circles and the Ouija.
One of the books I’ve been reading this summer is My Son and the Afterlife: Conversations from the Other Side by Elisa Medhus, MD. If you’ve ever visited ChannelingErik.com, that’s Elisa. Much of the book comes from the site, which she started not only to work through her grieving, but to serve as a place to share the channeled messages that she received from her son Erik, who committed suicide in 2009. These channeled messages come mostly from Erik’s spirit communicator (medium), Jamie Butler.
I was introduced to ChannelingErik.com two or three years ago, and was immediately blown away and overwhelmed with the wealth of information and transcribed sessions between Elisa, Jamie, and Erik. In fact, one of my very first blog posts featured the site. For many, the site is controversial, and you’ll find several sites expressing skeptical opinions about it all. Elisa herself claims to have gone from skeptic to believer because of this whole journey. If you know me, you know I can’t NOT doubt a bit when I read things like this, but who wouldn’t want this to be authentic and real? I do my best to keep my ego and somewhat analytical mind in the corner while I read his messages, and I find them fascinating!
As I said, the blog itself is a bit overwhelming… and that’s perhaps why I haven’t been a regular reader in a long time. But I’ve really enjoyed the book so far. Having it all organized in book form has really been helpful to me. After giving some background and describing the tragic moments that changed the family’s life forever, Elisa goes right into what I can only assume is a kind of “best of” from Erik. At the moment I’m only halfway through the book, but so far Erik has given answers to most of the typical questions that people wonder about the Afterlife.
I don’t know why this fascinated me so much, but I immediately thought to blog on it when I read it. It’s so simple, really.
Elisa asked Erik how it was possible for him, or spirits in general I suppose, to create smells, good or bad, so that we on Earth notice or sense them. Erik has been known to be a jokester, and so he apparently will often create “rank sock smells”, for example.
He answered by saying “everything has an energy formula on Earth, so I just replicate that energy formula, and I put it in that space.” So stop to think about the energy formula that your perfume or cologne is made up of, or even something we see as solid, like your desk or coffee cup. He says that what we end up sensing or smelling doesn’t actually exist. It’s just the energy formula that we’re sensing.
And do you know what I instantly thought of? It made me think of binary code, or the 1s and 0s used in computer programming, and even the recording of CDs. When would I ever think about or even try to understand binary code? A recording in a .wav or mp3 file, or from a CD playing, can potentially put me in a kind of euphoric state, or make me cry, or transport me to another world. The music and the orchestra isn’t sitting here in my room or living in my headphones, but the code is. So when I stop to think about it now, I totally get it. I mean, I don’t think it’s a concept that we’ll ever completely understand until we get such knowledge and experience on the Other Side, but I’m beginning to process it.
Whether you choose to believe all of this or not, isn’t it truly fascinating when you think about it? Or… am I just a nerd? One of my earliest readers and blogging friends, Ashley, knows a lot about Erik and the CE site, and she created the Facebook group for fans and readers of ChannelingErik.com. I hope she chimes in! *HINT HINT*
This message is for Erik, if he’s reading. I know you’ve been known to visit and play tricks on many of the visitors and readers of ChannelingErik.com. I’ve made the request before, but I’m sure you’re busy. Consider this a formal invitation to bug the hell out of me for experimental purposes! Bring it. And I’ll keep everyone posted.
Since The Big Séance has gained quite a few readers in the last few months, I’ve gotten a few questions regarding the title of this blog and what weirdness we’re all about here. Is this really a séance? And if so, why the pictures of historic buildings? Why the cemeteries? Well I’ve wanted to compose some thoughts on this for quite a while, but the time was just never right, and I guess the inspiration just never came. It is true, the blog has changed and grown (as most of them do) over the last year and a half, so I suppose it’s time to update the old “About” page.
The online Merriam Webster dictionary defines séance as “a spiritualist meeting to receive spirit communications.” The word itself comes from an old French word that means “sitting” or “to sit”. Well the way I look at it, I’m sitting as I write this post, and I’m seated every other time as well. That’s how I came up with the name.
…I’m kidding. Oh come on. Laugh already.
In all seriousness, from day one my plan was to create a blog that covered paranormal and spiritual topics, with an emphasis on spirit communication. I’d highlight some of my team’s paranormal investigations, share some evidence, etc. A lot has changed since then.
I don’t think there is a more dramatic or fun form of spirit communication than a séance. Am I right? Picture any séance you’ve seen from an old movie or TV show. An old Victorian house, dark and ornate décor, candles all over, perhaps a Ouija board, a fabulously costumed medium, and of course no séance is complete without theremin music for an extra spooky effect.
In an early blog post on the topic of the séance, I thought back to my earliest introduction to the concept. Allow me to plagiarize myself.
I must confess, I think I was introduced to the concept of a séance in a segment of The Bloodhound Gang, which was like a miniature mystery series that was a part of the 1980s PBS children’s series, 3-2-1 Contact. Anybody remember? I even had a subscription to the 3-2-1 Contact magazines for a while and have probably seen every episode from all eight seasons. Don’t tempt me to sing the theme song (or even The Bloodhound Gang theme for that matter)… because I will. I can’t be exactly sure that’s where I saw my first séance, but that’s where my childhood memory is taking me back to.
I’ve never been able to prove that 3-2-1 Contact was responsible for sparking this fascination, but I suppose it doesn’t matter. If anyone knows what I might be thinking of, please let me know. It would be truly awesome to see it again, whatever it was.
After more than a year and a half and over 250 published blog posts later, I’ve learned a lot about blogging. I’ve learned a lot about “paranormal folk”. I’ve learned a great deal about myself, what I know, and what I don’t know for sure yet. But as of right now I’d like to think of “The Big Séance” as not just a broad form of spirit communication, but a way to honor or learn about anyone’s life or past… a kind of remembrance. In an EVP session, I don’t just want to capture a voice, but I think of it as a chance for a spirit to communicate. When I highlight a beautifully historic or abandoned location, I’m imagining the lives of the people who made memories in the space previously. By photographing the beauty of an old cemetery or the resting place of a soul’s body, we show that we’re not afraid or embarrassed of what we erroneously refer to as “death”. I like to think that by thinking of these souls and wondering about their lives, we’re honoring them. And I’ll almost always have a recorder with me, whether it’s a trip to the cemetery or an actual paranormal investigation. All souls are invited to communicate or pass on messages to the living. You’ve joined me in several experiments. You’ve even shared your own experiences. Therefore, you’re not only an audience member for MY séance, you’re all participating in it! It’s a BIG séance… and it’s getting bigger.
It’s now the eve of October 1st, a month-long (maybe even longer) holiday for many of us. So whether you just like to be goofy and dress up for trick-or-treaters, celebrate to honor your ancestors or the lives of the dead, or hope to take advantage of a thinning veil that separates us from “the other side”, stay tuned throughout the rest of the autumn season!
I’m going to go ahead and safely assume that the vast majority of readers or even one time visitors to this blog are somehow interested in or involved in paranormal or spiritual topics (unless they landed here on accident while trying to search for something cool like a Snuggie for their dog, although those people tend to be paranormal folk too… I think.) So it is this group that I would like to direct this post to. But I want to make it clear, skeptics and Snuggie people are welcome to read and respectfully comment as well.
There are several things that I have not been shy about discussing since I started Big Séance. One of them is that several years ago I began experiencing what I’ve called a “spiritual shift”. That’s the spiritual side of me. At about this same time I started to be fascinated with the paranormal, specifically ghosts and spirit communication. That’s the paranormal side of me. Sometimes I have a hard time bouncing back and forth between the two, fitting into discussions or conversations online, etc. But the one thing that makes me the awkward guest at both parties is the fact that I’m often the more skeptical (a naughty word in both parties) person there. Obviously that doesn’t mean I am out to prove the paranormal doesn’t exist. I’m convinced life doesn’t end at death. I know that sometimes spirits don’t move on and stay with us, and perhaps visit us on occasion. No one needs to tell me one way or the other. But I do think that there are many in the paranormal field whose behavior and reckless claims about things make us look a little… hmm… childish. Inexperienced. Dumb. There always seems to be that Class A EVP that CLEARLY says “Hey thanks for stopping by but I want you to GET OUT!” even though I hear a cough and 4 investigator footsteps. There’s the orb that has 50 possible natural explanations, yet someone decide’s it’s the ghost of Matilda because look, you can see two eyes a nose and a mouth. I try my best to not criticize the theories and beliefs of others, and feel like often I examine and take a hard look at my own. I don’t go out there trying to pick fights. I just think that as investigators or “ghost hunters” (ugh), we need to be as honest and responsible with what we’re saying and what we’re putting out there.
I know I’m not a scientist or parapsychologist, or an expert in either of these fields, but I have bravely referred to myself as a “researcher” who seriously studies and works with the paranormal… and even though there is a lot I still don’t understand, up to now I’ve felt good about that. Perhaps that’s silly. I follow and learn from smart people, many who truly are deserving of the “expert” or “researcher” title. I realize that people who know me in the real world probably get a kick out of this time-consuming and expensive hobby when they find out how I spend my time when I’m not at the day job. Perhaps some of them snicker when they see my posts, and maybe decide that it’s a shame that I’ve gone off the deep end. But honestly, most of the time I don’t even worry about what people think, because I get so excited about it! I plan my blog posts out in my head at work sometimes and can’t wait to come home to get them started. When an investigation is in the works or when someone asks for help, I put all of my effort into that. I get really excited to jump into my next non-fiction book. I want to learn… I want to discover… and I want to share.
Am I still talking????
Anyway… So I find this skeptic and her blog and I think… “Hey, I like to be skeptical. I want to be balanced and see what I can learn from this.” Sharon Hill, the skeptic, is also a geologist. According to her bio at The Huffington Post, where she is a contributor, she “is a researcher specializing in the interaction between science, the media and the public. She is an advocate for scientific skepticism and the editor of DoubtfulNews.com — a critical thinking weird news blog.” Sharon is also the author of another blog, Doubtful (idoubtit.wordpress.com) which I now bravely follow, that caught my attention and is the reason you’re hearing from me today.
It is your homework. This is her speaking at the Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism (NECSS), in which she discusses her examination of paranormal groups and paranormal people, our beliefs, practices, equipment, our black t-shirts, our self published books with no references or citations, and our “sciencey” words because we want to sound professional and serious. It will open your eyes and mind to what we as paranormal folk look and sound like to the skeptic. I’m not going to lie… I was scared to death and worried that she was going to pull up a screenshot of my paranormal group’s outdated website… or even this blog. I found myself agreeing with her at times. She hit paranormal TV pretty hard. But I’ll admit I was hurt (didn’t shed any tears) because in parts of her talk I saw and heard myself in a lot of what she was saying. I’ve watched a few videos and I’ve heard her in an interview, and I really do think she is making an effort to understand us. She seems to be respectful about her opinions, even though she’s clearly relaxed and in front of her own crowd in this video. But still… I’m a bit bothered by it all. She feels that most of us “value science” but we “don’t have a clue how it works.” At one point she talks about how we tend to want to help, and we’re serious, we just don’t know how to do it. We’re simple folk who are just “invested emotionally” in our beliefs.
The video from her latest Doubtful blog post.
If you’ve made it through this incredibly bi-polar and emotionally invested post, please share your thoughts. I know you want to! Share away before I wake up tomorrow and decide to delete the whole thing!
The Skeptical Perspective (Jim Harold’s Interview with Sharon Hill on The Paranormal Podcast)
No Scientists (Voices Podcast)
Coming Out of the Paranormal/Spiritual Closet (Big Séance)
My dad called me about this one. “Hey! Turn it on SyFy. There’s a new show and they’re talking about séances!” This seems to be a goofy show that tastes a little like Unsolved Mysteries to me. Maybe it’s the reenactments that give me that vibe, because it’s certainly not the goofiness. And that’s not horrible, I guess… because I love me some old school Unsolved Mysteries. To this day the old theme song can make me pull the covers over my head, but musically I just love it! But Weird or What? is hosted by William Shatner (which explains the goofiness).
The particular episode that I watched was episode #2 and titled “Life After Death”. In this episode, Mr. Shatner makes his entrance on a Segway…. ??? I was delighted to see that the séance material ended up being about the Scole Experiment, which I’ve discussed on this blog quite a bit (see related links below). Most of the information was watered down to fit a small segment, but it was nice to see some fresh discussion on the topic with people involved. Other segments include a man who has been told and is convinced that in a past life he was a general in the Civil War Battle of Antietam, and a man who comes back from the dead after 18 years. That last one, of course, is trying to take advantage of the huge zombie craze that the American culture is going through right now.
Some of the interviews in this episode include a scientist who discusses his theory about the soul and quantum physics (that’s when I started seeing chickens out of the corner of my eye and thought about going downstairs for a snack), a photography expert that analyzes some of the Scole evidence (even though it has already been done), and a Harvard psychologist and a scientist who both play the part of skeptics. The scientist sets up an almost insulting and fake séance for unsuspecting sitters. Of course, this is his way of saying it’s all an illusion.
So what did I think? It’s the only episode I’ve watched and my DVR is not set to record anymore episodes.
I used to not like the boys from Ghost Adventures at all. In fact (as if I knew it all), I would roll my eyes and tell you all about why I thought they were giant asses (though they have been in the past). I’ve talked to other GA fans who believe that they’re softening up a bit and getting more serious. That might be true, but I think I just didn’t really give them a chance before because of the first impression. I began really checking them out in preparation for my Fort Chaffee Prison investigation with JPRS. They had investigated that location a year or so before and I studied that episode. Some people turn their noses up and pretend that all paranormal television (Ghost Hunters, etc.) are nonsense and had nothing to do with why they do whatever it is they do in this field, but I’ve learned to appreciate them for what we can get out of them. I suppose there are pioneers out there who have been at it for years, but the vast majority of people in this field joined AFTER the great paranormal craze of the early 2000s. (Warning: Completely random comment. I think we need to start using the term “ott” or “ot” again when referring to the first ten years of the century. Thoughts?) I can’t pretend Ghost Hunters wasn’t one of the biggest inspirations for why I do what I do.
Anyway… (Look! There goes another chicken!) I’ve been watching more Ghost Adventures episodes recently. The episode of their most recent visit to the Goldfield Hotel was outstanding, but just the other night I watched the Glen Tavern Inn episode. What fascinated me about this one? Not only did they get some really great EVP, and they gave us plenty of shots of the beauty of the hotel, but they conducted a séance! I was pleased to see Zak and the boys be open to doing that. The fact that they (like Ghost Hunters) have been having celebrity guests lately has been getting on my nerves, but I guess they gotta do what they gotta do.
Has anyone else been watching?