Tag Archives: paranormal craze

Australia’s Anne and Renata on Ghost Tours, Seances, and Table Tipping – The Big Seance Podcast #122

An Interview with Australia's Renata Daniel and Anne Rzechowicz about Ghost Tours, Seances, and Table Tipping - The Big Seance Podcast: My Paranormal World #122

 

Patrick travels one day into the future to talk to Australia’s Anne Rzechowicz and Renata Daniel about ghost tours, seances, table tipping, gadgets, and some of the hottest paranormal spots in Australia, including the Maitland Gaol and Q Station, Manly!

 

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Departing Visions and After Death Communication with Carla Wills-Brandon – The Big Séance Podcast: My Paranormal World #31

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Psst… Are you looking for the SpeakPipe link?

 

Carla Wills-Brandon and Departing Visions/Deathbed Visions and After Death Communication on The Big Séance Podcast, Visit BigSeance.comCarla Wills-Brandon, author and researcher, discusses Deathbed or Departing Visions and other After Death Communication. We also talk about Death Phobia as well as an exciting discussion about psychomanteums! Check out Carla’s book, Heavenly Hugs: Comfort, Support, and Hope from the Afterlife, which is also found on the BigSeance.com Recommended Reading list.

 

Get to this episode in iTunes!
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In this episode:

  • Heavenly Hugs: Comfort, Support, and Hope from the Afterlife by Carla Wills-Brandon, Big Séance Podcast, Visit BigSeance.comPatrick tells the story of his Grandpa Keller’s After Death Communication (ADC) :39
  • Introduction of Carla Wills-Brandon and Deathbed Visions/Departing Visions 2:31
  • Carla’s Bio 3:45
  • What led Carla to researching Departing Visions and life after death topics? 7:32
  • William Barrett and Deathbed Visions 11:30
  • Karlis Osis and Erlendur Haraldsson’s study of Departing Visions 12:50
  • Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and the missing chapter 15:20
  • Beginning her research and collecting stories 17:08
  • Carla and Raymond Moody’s Psychomanteum 22:00
  • “We never die alone!” and Death Phobia 31:13
  • Has the current paranormal craze helped with death phobia? 35:03
  • Should we be using tools and recorders to document proof of Departing Visions? 38:59
  • Is Carla ever a skeptic? 42:00
  • More exciting talk about Dr. Moody’s Psychomanteums! (I’m totally jealous…) 46:08
  • Fine tuning with Meditation 47:39
  • What is Carla up to now? 49:46
  • How does one process experiences like departing visions, after death communication, and near death experiences? (Something I had NEVER thought of!) 52:28
  • Contact Info and other links! 55:27

 

 

For more on Carla Wills-Brandon:

carlawillsbrandon.com

Carla’s YouTube page

Carla on Facebook and her Deathbed Visions, Departing Visions & the Afterlife Community

@CarlaWBrandon on Twitter

Carla’s Blog at White Crow Books

 

DON’T FORGET

Don’t forget to enter the Big Séance Love Never Dies Book Giveaway! The deadline for entry is March 30, 2015, and the winner will be announced on the very next episode. 28:11

 

 

Carla’s Bio:

Carla Wills-Brandon is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Licensed Psychological Associate, has published 13 books, one of which was a “Publishers Weekly Best Seller.” She has lectured across the United States, United Kingdom and in Italy, and has appeared on numerous national radio and television programs, such as Geraldo Rivera, Sally Jesse Raphael, Howard Stern, Montel Williams, Marilu Henner, Man Cow, Faith Daniels, Art Bell’s Coast To Coast Radio Show, Coast to Coast with George Noory, Uri Geller’s Coast To Coast Radio Show, Politically Incorrect With Bill Maher and many other programs. Carla is also one of the few investigators focusing in on the Departing Vision as proof of life after death. Researching such encounters for over 30 years, the much sought after lecturer has collected and reviewed over 2,000 afterlife contact accounts.

Her book topics range from;

  • Recovery from grief, loss and death, 
  • Afterlife research and spirituality
  • Food disorders
  • Addiction
  • Holistic Health
  • Relationships
  • Dealing with teens, children of trauma, addiction
  • Healthy intimacy and sexuality
  • Sexual healing 
  • Trauma resolution and PTSD

Carla is married to Michael Brandon, PhD, a Licensed Clinical Psychologist. The couple lives on the Gulf Coast in a hundred year old house, with their two sons and an assortment of furry pets. The Brandon’s have been in private clinical practice for over 30 years.

 

The Big Seance Podcast can be found right here, on Apple PodcastsSpotifyTuneIn RadioStitcherGoogle Play Music, and iHeart Radio. Please subscribe, submit a rating, or share with a fellow paranerd! Do you have any comments or feedback? Please contact me at Patrick@BigSeance.com. Consider recording your voice feedback directly from your device on my SpeakPipe page! You can also call the show and leave feedback at (775) 583-5563 (or 7755-TELL-ME). I would love to include your voice feedback in a future show. The candles are already lit, so come on in and join the séance!


Mad Madame Lalaurie: Part 2 of My Interview with Author, Victoria Cosner Love

Buckner Mansion, used as the exterior of Miss Robichaux's Academy in American Horror Story: Coven. Photo courtesy of Victoria Cosner Love

Buckner Mansion, used as the exterior of Miss Robichaux’s Academy in American Horror Story: Coven. Photo courtesy of Victoria Cosner Love.

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Today I bring you Part Two of my fascinating interview with Victoria Cosner Love, author of Mad Madame Lalaurie: New Orleans’ Most Famous Murderess Revealed. Thank you again, Victoria, for the opportunity.

 

Part Two of My Interview with Author, Victoria Cosner Love

If you missed it, check out Part One

 

Patrick Keller: The book has an amazing chapter called “What If It’s All True?”, which I really liked and thought was awesome! It seems like it would have been really fun to let go of all the careful fact-finding and let all the rumors and stories come out to play. Was it?   

Victoria Cosner Love: Yes. My co-writer, Lorelei Shannon, is a horror writer. She does primarily Southern Gothic… The first chapter is the ghost tour, and how the ghost tours are given every single night in New Orleans. And I called Lorelei and said, I need you to Goth this up. I need you to add these things, and I gave her the information and let her go to town. And so she came back and said, you know, here’s where my fiction is; it’s the “What If It’s All True?” And we had the best time with it, because you know, as horrifying as the history is, on the Gothic fiction level, this story can’t be beat. You can’t write fiction this good. And Lorelei did a really good job of meshing everything in, and including our beloved devil baby.

PK: That’s very cool.

VCL: Yeah. She is.

PK: Another chapter of the book that I appreciated was “Myths v. Facts”. It helped to clear some things up for me. Was there anything that led you to deciding to include it?

VCL: When we came to the conclusion that perhaps Delphine wasn’t the perpetrator, we decided that this was the time to go back and put her into a little bit more of a historical context, and pull the ghost tours. Because almost everybody who is introduced to her is either introduced to her through a ghost tour or a book like you were, with the chapters. And so we have this real person, we have this mythology, and you have to look at them. At the Holocaust Museum, at the National Museum of Health and Medicine, which is a body part museum, you always had to pull out the myth and the legend, because people would always come in, like to the Holocaust museum and say, Where’s Anne Frank? And it’s like, Yeah, you know there were more women and more people involved in the Holocaust then just Anne Frank, but that’s what they know. People glom onto one piece of history when they go to anywhere, [or a] a civil war site. And so they glommed on to the medical experiments with Delphine Lalaurie. And so we had to go in and break down, because if she did it, how was she doing it? How was she peeling somebody? In her corset? You know with her… did she have a peeling costume that was more of a man’s costume? [I was laughing very hard at this point. “Peeling costume.” Ha!] …these taffeta gowns that she wore, that we know that she wore, would she get blood on them? I mean think about it. Put it into thinking about what a woman would be doing. So like the wax museum has her standing there with the whip, and has her, how did they put it, well-fed personal driver doing the damage. So, you know, then we looked at Bastien, which is his name, we think, and talked about that type of thing, and what that relationship might have been. And, you know there’s a lot of guessing at this point. So yeah, we had a good time!   

PK: It sounds like it. You’ve gone into this a bit, but can you talk a little bit about Missouri’s connection to Madame Lalaurie?

VCL: That’s the Missouri Historical Society, there on Skinker Road, it has the collection. It’s called the Saint Vrain Delassus collection, and like I said, if you want to see handwritten documents… and I hate to tell the general public about it, because you know, that’s when sometimes things start going missing—not that any of your readers would do that—but it’s there, and it’s spectacular!

PK: I was disappointed to learn the mansion doesn’t look like it did when Madame Lalaurie lived there. I wonder how many people know about the changes since the events. Did you know before you began your research?

VCL: No. They kept referring to [the fact] that the mansion had burned to the ground. But for some reason all these ghost tours and stuff kept referring to it like it was this Federal style building from 1850, and it didn’t make sense to me. And when I was going through the blueprints and found the original blueprint, it did burn to the ground. And even Harriet Martineau, which was the first reference to Madame Lalaurie as a serial killer, or a horrifying woman in slave history, she said that the building was still smoldering. Now she wasn’t there until 1848, so that’s [sixteen] years later and that building is still smoldering. It didn’t get rebuilt until 1850, so there was actually nothing there for that… sixteen years until it was rebuilt. And when they say that you can reenact the girl falling off the roof every night, well the roof was one story shorter. And so no one has ever said anything about her… I’m not as much paranormal as I am Goth, but it seems to me if you’re reenacting something, that you would be on the second floor where you did it from. And so everybody would always be looking at the roof… and there was one bricked in window that was a bathroom, you know architecturally 1850, it was a bathroom and everybody would be like, That must be the window that she fell out of. But nobody was falling out of windows. There’s nothing in the story about anyone, except one person supposedly jumped out of a window during the fire, and that was proven wrong by the newspaper and police reports. So the embellishment, I don’t think people wanted to acknowledge that it was right. And as a matter of fact, I made people angry when I came out with this. I don’t know if I mention it in the book or not, but there was this Voodoo woman who cursed me because I had just discovered that it wasn’t the same building and I was all, you know, geeky and, Oh, guess what I found!, you know I’m all from out of town and everything. And she became very angry with me and she cursed me. And when I found out that she was from New Jersey herself, I wasn’t too concerned with the curse anymore, but they were angry. A lot of people still say that I’m wrong, but it was very clear I was looking at the blueprints, because the architect was a very famous architect, and the collection was at the Historic New Orleans Collection, and it was like, Wow. So everybody’s looking at the wrong building. You know, but here we all are. I sat there for hours waiting to see that reenactment. I didn’t get nothing.

PK: Well plus, in those days, I mean, you know a fire truck wouldn’t have just rolled up and put out the fire. It would have burned down.

VCL: Yeah they were doing buckets. And then on top of that, they were angry at her, so they weren’t going to fight the fire. You know, they were throwing stuff into the bonfire. It was, you know, It’s a portrait of her, which is why we don’t know what she looks like. So…

PK: I didn’t think about that. (Moving onto the next question.) Well on several occasions, I’ve shared my opinion and mixed feelings about what I see as side effects from what I call “the great paranormal craze”. And you speak quite a bit in the book about the myths and embellished stories that have been passed on by tour guides and ghost tours to New Orleans visitors for over a century now. The Lalaurie Mansion is certainly one of the more dramatic examples, but I think it’s fair to say that this happens all over. Do you have an opinion about the craze and hype and how it affects our historical “haunted” locations, and maybe even history itself?

VCL: This is one of those… ying and yang answers. Because as a historian, yes it bothers me, that people don’t really look into the history, but not everybody likes history. As a tourism professional, this stuff is hot! I go to them everywhere I go. I go on ghost tours. And that mix of fun and history and paranormal research really, really appeals to me, and so when we wrote this book, we were basically writing to my demographic, you know because that’s who is taking a lot of these tours, except for the drunk kids. And you can always straighten out history. You know history is what it is. And you can always interpret and you can always bring it back. And that’s why I have a job, because history changes, and history changes because of stuff like this. One of the things I found most fascinating was that the extremely gruesome, graphic medical experiments weren’t added until 1947. And so they were saying that it came out in the New Orleans Bee in 1834. It didn’t. They were still very factual about these seven people who were [found in] horrifying [conditions]… but they weren’t being peeled, and they weren’t in a crab, and they weren’t, you know, broken. And they weren’t—oh they were a little broken—but so that’s a fifty year morph from what was being said to when [Jeanne] DeLavigne—and they just re-put her book out, by the way, if you haven’t got it. It’s Ghost Stories of Old New Orleans. She is fantastic, but she wrote it in 1947 and she wrote it as a ghost story. There was no… She says straight up, these are all ghost stories. I didn’t do any research. And everybody’s like quoting her, you know, as fact and as part of the story of history, rather than the story of ghost history. So, I don’t know. Folklore is everywhere.

PK: Well now I have a question from a BigSéamce.com reader. Joe asks, “In American Horror Story, by the end they tried to make Madame Lalaurie look like a sympathetic character.” …which I would agree with.

VCL: I think so too, yeah.

PK: (Joe’s question continued) “Do you think she ever had a chance at being rehabilitated?”

VCL: The character… or the historical figure?

PK: (Blank stare from her interviewer) Ah man… um… let’s…

VCL: I’ll do both. [Whew!] The historical figure… I think she was a narcissist. I think she was a sociopath. I do not think that she was torturing people. I think that she either knew that they… I think that she was the type that would come in and say, Fix him. He’s being uppity. And then Dr. Lalaurie would go and do whatever Dr. Lalauries do up there, and I truthfully think that the husband was the perpetrator. I don’t believe in coincidences. I have two Peter Falk Columbo quotes—I love Columbo—that helps with my historical insights and research. One is, “there are no coincidences”, and the other one is, “people don’t often forget to do what it is that they always do.” So when you have someone that is an anomaly, you have to look at the anomaly and see where they fit into those two things, and is it a coincidence that he was into back straightening, that he was a dentist, that he wanted to do pioneering medical… and these people were being held for no reason. Also, why is Madame Lalaurie manumitting slaves? And then torturing slaves. That’s one of those that doesn’t fit. And why did a woman that would manumit a slave, why did she get beaten by her husband on the courtyard steps… on the exact day that she manumitted a slave? Is that a coincidence? No, I think that [Louis] Lalaurie was the perp… I don’t think she knew what was going on all the way. I think that… whether through mental illness or not, I don’t think she had a good handle [of] how bad it was.

VCL: On the TV show I was disappointed that they started making her sympathetic. Although I did want a t-shirt that had her severed head that said “What the head said”. [We both laugh.] And then Angela Bassett says “What the head said”. I wanted that really bad, and I still might make that t-shirt, but I also wanted the one that said “What is this, knotty pine?” You know, with Jessica Lange at the very end and the hell… I loved it. But I would have liked for them to have maintained Delphine’s horror, you know and not made her… I mean the cheeseburger stuff was very funny. Their idea of hell for her was ingenious, but… yeah, either you start with her peeling eyeballs or… you should end with her peeling, you know what I mean? There was no reason to take her into the sympathetic thing, and just let Queenie do whatever.

PK: Is there anything that you want to add or talk about? Any future projects?

VCL: You know, there are so many stories. I’m looking for future projects. If any of your readers have anything that has that historical bent to it. There’s a cave up in Hannibal [Hannibal, Missouri] where a guy supposedly was keeping his daughter’s corpse, and then he moves down here and opens up a hospital down here [St. Louis, Missouri]. It was a confederate hospital. He was doing medical experiments, and I’m looking at him, but I’d rather look at women. The axe man, who was in American Horror Story, the only book that is written on him is a graphic novel. And it’s a well-researched graphic novel, but the mafia connection with that might be a little… I’m not sure I want to go there, even in 1921. So I’m looking at the axe man, but I don’t know whether we’re going to go there. But the publisher has asked for one on the Storyville Madams. Storyville was the area of legalized prostitution in New Orleans at the turn of the century, and there were some incredible women that were… making a lot of money down there, and so we’re looking at doing that. As far as like the true crime stuff, I’m looking for something like the axe man, that everyone thinks that they know the story, but it hasn’t been told, so… I’m looking. The guy with the cave is looking good.

PK: I think I remember reading about that one.

VCL: Yeah. And it’s the same thing as with Madame Lalaurie. It comes up here and there, like in a little article, because he was eventually arrested because he was a confederate. But he was trying to regenerate flesh, and keep decomposition from happening. Which is really funny, because I don’t think he had a daughter. I ran his ancestry.com and I don’t think he had a daughter. It doesn’t look like he ever had one. He had three sons. So… was it a daughter-in-law? Was it a cousin? So right there was already a stumbling block in the legend.

 

Need More on Madame Lalaurie? 

Visit mad-madame-lalaurie.com and the Mad Madame Lalaurie Facebook Page!

 

The author at the entrance to the Lalaurie Mansion.

The author at the entrance to the Lalaurie Mansion.

Victoria Cosner Lovehas spent the better part of thirty years poking around graveyards and digging for lost pieces of history. She is especially fond of delving into missing pieces of women’s history. She coauthored a book,Women Under the Third Reich (Greenwood Publishing), and now has turned her attention to the infamous Madame Lalaurie and her incredible family. A longtime member of the Association for Gravestone Studies, she has worked in public history facilities for more than twenty years and has her master’s degree in American studies, specializing in cultural landscapes of garden cemeteries. Source: Amazon.com

 

 

 

 

 


Belvoir Winery/Odd Fellows Home: Amy, Adam, Britt, and Chip!

Today I bring you the next installment of my Belvoir Winery/Odd Fellows Home series. See the end of this post for links to previous posts in the series.


 

T.A.P.S. Para-Celebs: Amy Bruni, Adam Berry, and Britt Griffith! 

Probably the biggest highlight of this weekend event was getting to hang out with and meet Amy, Adam, and Britt from SyFy’s Ghost Hunters. I can’t even pretend to not be a super fan of this show from the very first season. Ghost Hunters inspired me to start reading and researching the paranormal, which then led me to forming Missouri Spirit Seekers in 2010. Other paranormal investigators will often say that Ghost Hunters had nothing to do with them being in the field, and that may be true for a small handful of teams or investigators, but if they got rolling after October of 2004 (and most of them did), then um… they’re just lying. In my opinion, this show is one of the biggest reasons for what I’ve always called “The Great Paranormal Craze”, which has now lasted a decade.  So whether or not you watch the show, if you’re a fan of the paranormal (and I’m assuming you are since you’re reading this nerdly blog), you’ve been affected by what this show started. On a side note, does paranormal reality TV have its flaws? Absolutely! However, I’m giving credit where it’s due. Oh, and am I a bit bummed that Jay and Grant weren’t there? Sure. But these three “new guys” have added so much to the show in recent years. (For more of my thoughts on the show, check out I Still Watch Ghost Hunters… So What?)

 

 

Amy is such a sweet and beautiful person. She clearly has never taken a bad photo in her life. She was so very patient and willing to chat or pose for photos at any moment. Of the three attending T.A.P.S. members, she has been on the show the longest. I could listen to her speak of her experiences all day long, and she’s definitely not afraid to be honest or share her opinion on the paranormal. Now she gets a lot of questions and oohs and ahhs about her beautiful baby daughter, Charlotte. If you follow her on Facebook or Twitter (@amybruni), it’s clear that her daughter has completely changed her life, and she shares photos often.

 

 

Adam was just as you would expect him to be. He’s a ham and a goofball, and I’m down with that. Fans at these events always ask him to sing, and he does… beautifully. Adam was seated behind me at dinner. I asked for a selfie with him, however, it was clear that I wasn’t really up on how to properly take a selfie on my iPhone, so he said “Oh I’m a pro at this” and he took my phone and snapped the picture. By the way, if it weren’t for Adam and Amy being in these selfies, they would never see the light of day. Adam can be found on Facebook and Twitter (@AdamJBerry) as well. 

 

Britt Griffith used my spirit box!!!

I didn’t bug Britt for a selfie, but in a future post, you’ll hear about how he used my spirit box during the overnight investigation! In that moment I may or may not have reacted as if I had just met Elvis. I’ll also share some of my thoughts from his paranormal technology session, that was actually very good. More on all of this later…

 

And, of course, who doesn’t love Chip Coffey?!

Truthfully, a big reason I went to Belvoir Winery for this event was because I had heard that Chip Coffey was going to be attending. I had met him last year at one of his Coffey Talk events, and it was such a cool experience. Chip is so down to earth and funny… and he tells it like it is… and his colorful vocabulary is so similar to mine! For more on that meeting, and my photo with Chip, visit 10 important reasons to go see Chip Coffey at a Coffey Talk near you! As I was waiting out in the hall for his big session, Adam Blai’s demonology session was going on inside the ball room. Chip walked in and gave me a hug, used a term of endearment that I don’t remember, and asked how I was doing. I told him that I was looking forward to hearing him talk today. He joined Amy and Adam and others at a nearby table while we waited, and I immediately tweeted the following tweet:

Seconds after tweeting this, Chip pulled out his phone, saw it, and without hesitation, turned to me and said “So are you!” (Again… Elvis moment.) Moments later, the demonology session was wrapping up, and Chip jokingly said (to us in the hall), “And speaking of demons, next up is Chip Coffey!” I laughed. Ohhhh Chip. 

 

 

This is a shot I took of Chip from what I called “The Creeper Line”. When I asked Adam Berry if that was an accurate description of this line, he laughed and agreed that it kind of was. 

 

To Be Continued…

In my next couple of posts, look forward to hearing about the overnight investigation of the Belvoir Winery grounds, including some awesome flashlight communication, and something so bizarre and mysterious regarding my video footage! Also, more on Britt’s paranormal technology session, and perhaps some audio clips. 

 

Previous posts from the Belvoir Winery/Odd Fellows Home series:

New Friends! (Big Séance)
The Photos (Big Séance)
I’m Baaaaaaaaaack! (Big Séance)
TAPS and Chip Coffey at Belvoir Winery in March! (Big Séance)

 

 

 


In My Opinion: Because a Long Island medium said so!

 

Photo Attribution: John Stephen Dwyer, CC-BY-SA-3.0.

Photo Attribution: John Stephen Dwyer, CC-BY-SA-3.0.

Just a few days ago, I shared a post from one of my favorite blogs on Twitter. If you follow my tweets, you’ll know I share things frequently as I read articles that resonate with me. It will not be a surprise to know that the topic of the post I shared had to do with making yourself available for souls who want to communicate. Not long after my tweet, I received a series of incredibly negative responses that reprimanded me for the share, and assumed I was ignorant of any paranormal or psychic research. Because it continued to go downhill without a chance for me to fairly stand up for myself or explain, I ended up using the block feature for the very first time. Because of the block, I do not have access to those tweets, otherwise I would have quoted the whole conversation in this post. 

The Twitter user that I blocked seemed to be a psychic or medium of some kind… or at least wanted to be one really badly, and to my knowledge, I’ve never been in contact with her before that moment. Have you noticed there are about eleventy-thousand (on average) psychics on Twitter now? Don’t get me wrong. I love psychics. I love reading about and learning from psychics. But there are a ton of wannabe psychics that clearly have not earned the title, just deciding this week that they’re psychic after watching a few episodes of Long Island Medium (which she actually referenced in her argument). And I’m not dogging wannabe psychics. I’m not even insulting Theresa Caputo. I think she’s got a great show and seems to be the real deal. I’d love to be psychic and continue to read and learn about channeling and intuition. But in this paranormal craze, just like the zillions of ghost hunter teams that pop up every day, perhaps it is just a little too easy to start a Twitter profile and call yourself a psychic medium. 

Psychic lady tagged another supposed psychic to a few of her responses to me and requested help in educating me and setting me straight. Among several other things, I was told that I was irresponsibly sharing information that was dangerous, not recommended, etc. You know, the same old textbook responses. Ghosts are bad. Spirit communication is dangerous. You’ll pull something out you can’t put back in. You have no idea how to deal with a spirit. Only demons come through a Ouija board. Only a psychic can help. Have you heard of smudging? You need to do some research or read a book (one of my “favorite” comments.)

Most of this was before I even had a chance to respond. I felt like I was in the scene from Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion (my favorite movie) where Romy tries to enlighten Heather Moony… who is a smoker.

Romy: Heather, um, has anyone ever told you that smoking can kill you?

Heather: No. No one. Thank you.

Clearly, know-it-all psychic lady has not followed my blog and doesn’t know much about me… and she doesn’t know that we share some of the same opinions… though she probably just isn’t interested. I’m exaggerating and paraphrasing, of course, but psychic lady continued on. If you “dabble” and play games with spirit for fun, it’ll getcha! Well Theresa Caputo says _______. You see, the thing that absolutely sends me over the edge is when someone tells me their opinion of something spiritual or metaphysical as if it is fact. Even if you think it is fact, don’t correct me. I could point to many different books by different psychics and gurus that give multiple and sometimes incredibly different answers to the same mystical question (which is something ELSE that drives me batty!) 

In just a few responses, I tried to explain that I was well aware of the usual concerns and dangers and was not an idiot, though I appreciated her concern (I lied.) I told her that I read many books, including many by psychic mediums. I shared my belief that just because some spirits may be trouble or negative, doesn’t mean that we should avoid all spirit contact. Her responses continued, including a promise to never follow me or take my advice.  This random person, whose profile summary simply reads “a psychic medium”, was missing some of the “love and light” that is so very common these days among people who share her title. She needed a little bit of that… and I may or may not have shared that concern with her. For her, it was more like “hate and dark”.     

What I didn’t get a chance to share with psychic lady is this: If only YOU are hearing or seeing it, if your guide passed along a message meant for you, or if a parapsychologist or scientist can’t prove it, then you are free to tell me your belief or your opinion based on your amazing experience, but do not talk down to me as if you know all of life’s secrets and have nothing better to do than tweet about it with the TV remote in your hand. Gosh I hope I’ve never come across that way in my own writing and blogging. You’d tell me, right? 

 

So this has clearly been me venting, but it is also a general concern that I’ve had recently. Too many people are saying “this is how it is”. Too many “experts” are going out of their way to correct others, saying things like “No. You’re wrong. That’s not how it works on the other side. It goes like this.” Really?  

 

Okay vent officially over. Thoughts on this? Talk about an almost Halloween DOWNER! 🙂 I’ll check in with everyone on November 1st to see if everyone is recuperating from sugar highs (or in our case, drying out from the 80% chance of rain we’re expecting for trick or treaters.) 

 

You might also like:

Defining "The Big Séance" (Big Séance)

Defining “The Big Séance” (Big Séance)

My Personal Experience with Mediums by David Almeida (Big Séance)

My Personal Experience with Mediums by David Almeida (Big Séance)

Why do we assume? (Big Séance)

Why do we assume? (Big Séance)

 


Danvers State Insane Asylum and Session 9

Yesterday I watched Session 9 (from my list of movies I plan on checking out this fall), a movie filmed on location at the Danvers State Hospital/Insane Asylum in Danvers, Massachusetts. I’m not sure where I was when this film was released in 2001, but I was a different kind of nerd then, and this film just wasn’t on my radar, I guess. I enjoyed it, though I have to tell you it put me in a funk for a few hours. It belongs in the psychological horror genre, but less emphasis should be placed on the horror and more on the PSYCHOLOGICAL! The plot of the film, according to the movie’s IMDb page: “Tensions rise within an asbestos cleaning crew as they work in an abandoned mental hospital with a horrific past that seems to be coming back.” But the cool thing is that the parts of the story that pertain to the hospital itself are loosely based on real history and events.

For most of the movie, like a true paranerd, I couldn’t stop obsessing about the building, wondering what they added, what they didn’t, etc. I also couldn’t get my mind off of the fact that the place doesn’t exist anymore (more on that later.) If you’re brave, continue reading the somewhat bi-polar thoughts that came out of my fingers after the movie and after researching Danvers State Hospital all day.

 

Danvers State Hospital/Insane Asylum 

800px-Danvers_State_Hospital,_Danvers,_Massachusetts,_Kirkbride_Complex,_circa_1893

Construction on the site began in 1874 and opened to patients in 1878. Like most asylums and hospitals of this type and age, it has a complicated, sad, unbelievable, and depending on the decade, even a criminal history. Most of the infamous and inhumane treatments and methods were practiced here at one time or another, including shock therapy and lobotomies.

By the 1960s, a combination of controversy and budget cuts caused Danvers to begin shutting down sections of the hospital. For the most part, by 1985 the whole campus was closed and abandoned.

In the DVD’s special features, Brad Anderson (writer/director) and Stephen Gevedon (writer) explain that they had Danvers in mind before they even started writing the script. They also mentioned that they racked their brains trying to figure out exactly how they were going to tell the story in this building, meaning why in the world would anyone be in an abandoned asylum? This is a great example of life just before, or at least in the infancy of what I’ve always referred to as the great paranormal craze. How quickly we paranerds forget what life was like before Jay and Grant and the T.A.P.S. team. It is difficult for me to comprehend this, but Ghosthunters didn’t premier on SyFy until 2004. Clearly, if this script were being written today, asbestos would still be an issue, but they would have used a paranormal investigation team, armed with plenty of night vision and oxygen masks, to tell the story.

**RANT WARNING**
Now I know, I know… I’ve mentioned this before, but every paranormal investigator in the world likes to claim that Ghosthunters on SyFy had no influence on what they do in the field. I’m here to tell you that 99% of them are lying. It is accurate to say that paranormal investigation was not invented by Jay and Grant. It is accurate to say that a few of you may have been in the field before 2004 (like 2 of you, perhaps). However, it is also correct to say that approximately eleventy-thousand new paranormal teams and paranormal television shows have popped up since Jay and Grant popped on the scene. Whether or not the craze is truly a great thing is a topic for debate. I’ve got to be honest, though. I owe them a lot for really changing my life and my interests, and I’m giving them props where props are due. **RANT OVER**

Now cut to December of 2005, four years after Session 9 was released. Despite a brave fight by local groups and community members trying to preserve the enormous acreage of the Danvers hospital campus and its unique history, demolition began. In its place is now an Avalon apartment community. Can you believe it?!

I can’t help but think that perhaps if they would have been able to hold off for just another year or two, enough interest would have grown to somehow save this strange, embarrassing, yet fascinating and physically beautiful landmark. Now days all it takes is a visit from SyFy or the Travel Channel to put a place back on the map, turning it into a paranormal tourist spot. Many similar locations have been saved, at least for now, by funds that are raised by leading tours or by paranormal groups paying to investigate. See Waverly Hills Sanatorium as an example. I have mixed feelings on all of this, however, and I know it hits some ethical nerves of some of my readers. In my opinion, the great paranormal craze has its side effects, one of them being tons of paranormal groups trampling through historical buildings, tearing things up, and riling up spirits. These groups will leave their trash, their “trigger objects”, and their energy behind. (I have to include myself in “these groups”, by the way. I told you this was somewhat bi-polar.) And then 30 years later, will we be investigating an old asylum or a historic former paranormal training facility? What about the investigators who will have died during that time period? Those paranerds LOVE these places and the memories they made there. Are they now hanging out there for eternity too? Ha! I know I’m being silly, but it all just gets weird for me. But… at least this way a historic location has a fighting chance, right?

Hollowed out facade of the central part of the main Danvers building.

Hollowed out facade of the central part of the main Danvers building.

So let’s get back to the demo and that mean old Avalon company and the apartment community, which I believe was completed in 2007. Interestingly, of the massive hospital campus, which consisted of an enormous main building (shaped like a bat) and several outer buildings (click HERE for an aerial photo), the facade of a small central portion of the main building was saved (see photo to the right). Though this portion was hollowed out, leaving only the front face of the building, I have to say, what they attached to it looks pretty cool to me. There are several other buildings and typical apartment units now on site, but apparently some of them are in the ominous “new” asylum building. Check the Avalon site HERE for cool interior photos. (On a related note, check out the former Michigan Insane Asylum, which is now residential condos, office, and retail space.)  Part of me thinks it is completely annoying and greedy for a company to come in and do this and then fake us out with a phony tiny portion of a Danvers building. But that’s silly, right? Why should a place stay abandoned, damp, and dark, with endless walls of peeling 1960s hospital green paint? Another part of me thinks it’s a really cool way to preserve at least a portion of Danvers, in a way that only a big company with big money can do. Another part of me thinks ARE THESE RESIDENTS CRAZY?! WHO WOULD MOVE IN THERE?!

………………………..and then the last remaining part of me wants to move in there. 

The new Avalon community building attached to the facade.

The new Avalon community building attached to the facade.

 

Clearly I don’t know what I’m talking about, but I’d REALLY love to hear from residents of this new Avalon community. What are the chances of this post finding someone who lives in the new faux Danvers building? Contact me!

 

My resources for this rambling post:

Session 9 DVD Special Features & Commentary

http://www.danversstateinsaneasylum.com/home.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danvers_State_Hospital

http://www.avaloncommunities.com/massachusetts/danvers-apartments/avalon-danvers/pictures/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0261983/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Session_9

 

You might also like: 

Rosemary's Baby (1968 (Big Séance)

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The Milton Schoolhouse, Alton, IL (Big Séance)

The Milton Schoolhouse, Alton, IL (Big Séance)

Papa Jack's Pizza: Final Investigation Report (Big Séance)

Papa Jack’s Pizza: Final Investigation Report (Big Séance)

There's Just Something Romantic About a Staircase  (Big Séance)

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I Still Watch Ghost Hunters… So what?

For several years now there has been a bit of tension and controversy regarding paranormal investigation and the hit SyFy reality show, Ghost Hunters. The production team and crew follow The Atlantic Paranormal Society (T.A.P.S.), founded by Jason Hawes in 1990, on their paranormal journeys. The series kicked off its first season in 2004, but I probably didn’t start watching consistently until the second or third season. I’ve since caught up on all of the episodes I’ve missed, and I’m still a fan that watches religiously. In 2008 SyFy even produced a spin-off series, Ghost Hunters International. Many similar shows on various networks have come and gone, but both of these shows are still going strong. At this point it would be pretty hard to believe that anyone reading this blog wouldn’t at least know something about T.A.P.S. or Ghost Hunters.

So where does the controversy come in?

I’m convinced that most of the negativity toward T.A.P.S. among many in the paranormal is due to a kind of jealousy. Paranormal investigation and “ghost hunting” (a term I actually despise) existed years before the hit show, but it has helped to create what I’ve been calling “The Great Paranormal Craze” of the 2000s. This craze seems to be slowing down just a bit (or at least shifting more to things like bigfoot and aliens), but is still very much with us. At one time, a paranormal investigation team may have been hard to find, but now there are thousands of organized paranormal investigation or “ghost hunting” (probably a name more appropriate for most of them) groups out there. Many, or most of these groups were inspired to do what they do because of what they were now seeing on TV. For better or worse, these newbie groups that I’ll call the “Ghost Hunters Generation”, have been demanding a place to sit at the paranormal table, taking away much of the spotlight and attention from all of the veterans.

I have to be honest here. I’m a member of the Ghost Hunters generation of paranormal investigation. The show inspired me and my family to form our own group, Missouri Spirit Seekers (MOSS). While it would have been nice to be able to say that I got my start before the craze, it would simply be a lie. I know that many great investigators out there are ashamed to own up to it, or afraid to admit to how it all influenced them, but chances are they’ll be home on Wednesday nights watching the latest episode. Is there really that much wrong with it? 

In a way, I really can understand some of the jealousy from veteran groups. After all, what paranormal investigator doing all of this hard work for FREE wouldn’t be jealous of the people who get to be in the spotlight, quit their day job, and make a living doing it?? Although maybe “concern” would also be an appropriate word to use here. We all have to start somewhere, but clearly there are groups out there that have earned a reputation for being nothing more than thrill seekers and rednecks that jump in a truck with a few meters they bought online, possibly bundled together in a flashy package named a “Ghost Hunting Kit”… groups that don’t take the time to read current research, read books by the pioneers of the field and current knowledgeable authors… groups that go out and have their fun, trash the site, and then you never hear from them again. Yeah… Ghost Hunters has definitely had its side effects.  Don’t misunderstand me. There’s room for everyone. I was one of those newbies. We just need to do a better job of educating and training each other, and making sure we work on our image and how we present ourselves. Maybe we shouldn’t show up in overalls and hop out of the window of our Dukes of Hazard car. 

But possibly the biggest piece of the controversy involve the claims floating around the internet that T.A.P.S. has faked evidence and overly staged experiences. In a very popular post from earlier this year, one blogger and investigator claims that they’ve even left a script lying around after leaving a location… and it’s all for the cameras (the SyFy kind). You don’t have to search long to find videos and blogs from people going out of their way to expose T.A.P.S. as frauds. Do I believe it all? Absolutely not. Like I said… jealousy. But… no one should ever expect to find evidence of the paranormal at every single investigation, but when you have a TV show and ratings, I can certainly understand where there would be the pressure and the temptation to keep things exciting. I often wonder though… who runs the show in these investigations? The production crew? Or are they just along for the ride and Jason runs the whole show? 

Why I continue to watch… 

After getting started in the field it didn’t take long for me to realize that the experience of it all isn’t exactly as you see on TV. Sure, at first many of us modeled our groups after what we saw. We have “founders”, “tech. managers”, “specialists”, “command central”, etc. We hear “disembodied voices”, investigate “fear cages”, “debunk” what we can, and classify some experiences as “residual”, for example. Some of us even have “reveals”. And boy do we all have our official sounding acronyms. Ghost Hunters may have been our first textbook on the subject, but we’ve grown a lot since then with real experiences and research. Well, at least I have.

The first couple of seasons were definitely a little more authentic, and in my opinion, more fun to watch. You’d see more of the behind the scenes activity, more of the investigating, not just the dramatic evidence and their reactions (“What the frig?!”). I don’t have proof that T.A.P.S. has or hasn’t faked or staged evidence for the cameras, but I want to believe it’s not true. I want to believe that when the crew or the cameras are absent, they take their work seriously. I want to believe that their analysis is more than just a couple of hours of sitting at a table with some headphones. I want to believe that they still help the desperate family in need on occasion. I get excited to come home from a long day and watch the personalities that I’ve become so familiar with. And yeah, I LOVE the good evidence and the great EVP! But when I watch now I’m not immediately sold on everything I see. I’ve picked up a few techniques and have learned to avoid some of the embarrassing ones. I take notes. 

Bottom line is… why do I watch Ghost Hunters? BECAUSE I LIKE IT… and it’s better than another cop show… 

This week’s all new episode for Season 8

For a lot of serious fans, this episode stood out as the first investigation without the longtime co-founder of the group, Grant Wilson. Before I watched I was curious to see if they would shake the usual pairs up and if any of their typical roles would change. Spoiler alert!! In general, it was a very exciting episode! They investigated the Old City Jail in Charleston, South Carolina. The jail is supposedly haunted by the spirit of the facility’s first female serial killer. Never before has an episode contained so much alleged physical contact from a spirit. A behind the scenes SyFy crew member continued to be scratched all over her body. Do I 100% believe it all? I’m not sure… but I couldn’t help thinking that it was a bit irresponsible to continue with the crew member as they seemed to encourage it to keep happening. Jason was even the victim of some scratches. Amy Bruni (who is pregnant) eventually decided to sit the rest of the investigation out due to feeling uncomfortable with the activity. And of course, the claims at this location were choking, scratching, rope burns, and bite marks, mostly reported by women. T.A.P.S. saw shadows, heard door slams, footsteps, and a disembodied voice. They captured a not very impressive EVP, but the big event and topic for the evening was all of the endless dramatic scratching. For a while I thought I was watching Ghost Adventures. I kept waiting for the demonologist to show up. 🙂

Here are some of the new and different things I noticed with this week’s episode. 

  • New graphics with lots of split screens (reminded me of Carrie).
  • New music and audio effects with a slightly different style.
  • Twitter handles displayed on screen during the interview sections.
  • A more relaxed “analysis” portion. They ditched the table and much of the equipment in favor of some more comfortable furniture. 
  • It appears Dave Tango may have moved into the tech. manager position. Jason and Steve Galves started the evening out paired together, hinting at Steve possibly taking the “Grant” role. 
  • Britt Griffith and Dave Tango were paired together. Is Britt now going to appear regularly? 
  • Amy Bruni and Adam Berry (who is apparently STILL “in training”) seem to be paired up again. 
  • A new shadow detector gadget.

 

DVR is already set for next week!

 

Peace!

 


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