Tag Archives: paranormal investigators

Help for the Haunted and Vera Van Slyke: My Interview with Tim Prasil – The Big Séance Podcast: My Paranormal World #22

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Help for the Haunted: A Decade of Vera Van Slyke Ghostly Mysteries (1899-1909) by Tim Prasil, The Big Séance Podcast

 

Tim Prasil, writer and author, shares how he inherited the stories of Vera Van Slyke, one of America’s earliest paranormal investigators, from an ancestor who chronicled them. Find these stories in his soon-to-be-published book, Help for the Haunted: A Decade of Vera Van Slyke Ghostly Mysteries (1899-1909) by Emby Press. Who is Finbar Kelly? Tim explains. We also spend a bit of time talking about our common love of cemetery photography.

 

Get this episode on iTunes!
Direct Download Link

 

Tim Prasil, Help for the Haunted, The Big Seance PodcastFor More on Tim Prasil, or for up-to-date release information about the book:

Like Tim’s Facebook page.

Follow @TimPrasil on Twitter. 

Visit TimPrasil.wordpress.com or GhostlyMysteries.wordpress.com.

 

Thanks, Tim!

 

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!


The Brilliant Britt Griffith! More from Belvoir Winery/Odd Fellows Home…

See the end of this post for links to previous posts in the series.

Two of the biggest highlights from my T.A.P.S. weekend at Belvoir Winery involve the brilliant Britt Griffith. Now a permanent member of the cast of SyFy’s Ghost Hunters, Britt brings a much-needed fresh voice to the team… oh and gadgets. Lots and lots of gadgets. But he knows how to use them, researches them, knows their background, and in some cases has a hand in their design!

 

Britt’s Paranormal Technology Session

I was able to sit in on his paranormal technology session on the second day. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but I found that I learned quite a few things. The best was having some of my own personal opinions and experiences reinforced or validated by someone who clearly has knowledge and a lot of experience. As if I was sitting in an undergrad lecture, I took lots of notes (which is why I don’t have a better photo), but out of respect for Britt and these events, I won’t cover his whole session here. Instead, I’ll point out a few things that really hit me in the head.

 

  • Did you know that both Britt and buddy KJ McCormick had done experiments with EMF and audio while under water?
     
  • Britt has apparently changed his mind about using IR (infrared) illumination during investigations. This really made me think and was kind of an “Aha moment”. In order to see shadows, you need contrast. Too much IR will prevent shadows. He went into some suggested ways to illuminate a room to prevent this problem. If I remember correctly, he also touched on the fact that we don’t really know what effect, if any, IR has on spirits (or humans, for that matter) when we blast them with it in large doses. Is it harmful? Is it polite? It very much reminded me of the first place I heard this topic being brought up. Check out Karl Pfeiffer’s How to Photograph a Ghost for more.
     
  • I learned that my current DVR would be of better use in the dumpster out back. I’m in need of a new one and now I know what to look for.
     
  • Britt is not a fan of the cheaper digital recorders (like the Sonys that I often use), because of the compression and the false anomalies they cause. He suggests only using them for stationary audio, but then also using a more quality recorder at the same time, to compare events to hear what actually happened. This is when I felt like a genius! I’ve always done this in EVP sessions. Along with one of my Sonys, I use a nicer Tascam recorder with a pretty good external microphone that would pick up a ghost in my neighbor’s house if it were quiet enough. When I think I have the Devil saying “Hey Keller! You suck!”, I compare that same moment in the Tascam and often learn that it was simply me scratching my nose, or my four-legged and furry son Meril rolling his eyes at me and sighing at the thought of another EVP session. It is why I’ve even considered video taping my sessions as well… to get a visual along with the sound. He suggested a few recorders. One of them is on my wish list.
     
  • Among many other things, he discussed logging barometric pressure (which I’ve often done, but can’t seem to find the perfect equipment for an investigation), E pods and REM pods, IR thermometer guns (Duh! Don’t use them to detect cold spots!), carbon monoxide detectors, debunking, Ovilus, reviewing evidence, and a popular favorite… orbs. I’ll only tell you that I very much concurred with his position.

 

Again, Britt used my spirit box! AAAAAAHHHH!

It was already a pretty cool spirit box, considering I got this particular one secondhand from Stephen Hill. But then during the overnight investigation, Britt suggested we get it out for a demonstration in a room that had already proven to be a hot spot for spirit box communication. Because this was such an Elvis moment, I awkwardly fumbled around in the dark trying to set it up and get it working to hand it off to Britt. When it didn’t turn on, I remembered Stephen Hill has always told me to take the batteries out while not in use. I’ve never really been good at remembering to do this…. but it turns out the previous time I used it, I followed those orders. I somehow found batteries fairly quickly, turned it on, and handed it off. Several of the people in our group had never seen or heard of a spirit box. We did get some communication, but you’ll never see it since my video footage of that moment has mysteriously vanished into thin air. See this previous post for more on that story. Actually, I have digital audio of that moment, but I’m still in the process of going through all of that.

 

Did you know?

Britt keeps himself busy by doing so much more than just paranormal investigation! Did you know he has been in several movies?

Check out his acting reel!

 

And the trailer for the 2012 film, The Black Dahlia Haunting.

 

Thanks, Britt! 

 

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

Ghosts can do that? The Evidence… Sort of…
Amy, Adam, Britt, and Chip!

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

 

 

 

 

 


Pub Ghosts Captured on CCTV Cameras

CCTV, or closed-circuit television cameras, have become cheaper and more accessible in the last several years, allowing many homeowners and businesses to use them for security. For the same reason, paranormal investigators often use them as well. They’re the same cameras that are in the hallways of my school. They’re found in the woods now too, though hunters like to call them “game cams”. (Aliens and Bigfoot have been caught several times on these game cams… if you didn’t already know.) You can even get them at Walmart. The video is recorded continuously onto a DVR and is usually easily searched if you know the approximate date or time you’re interested in.

One of our CCTV "DVR" screen shots from an investigation of a residence back in 2011.

One of our CCTV “DVR” screen shots from the MOSS investigation of a residence back in 2011.

The combination of CCTV and the popularity of the paranormal has provided a great opportunity for business owners to play ghost hunter, as they capture and publicly disclose their “ghosts”, often taking advantage of the publicity and hype that comes with it. 

When you see these captures on video, you don’t often get much background information on the location. No one is there to answer your curious questions. What was behind the camera? Was anyone there at the time? (There are many other questions I could think of.) Now days you have to wonder if the video was doctored, embellished, faked, etc. Was it a publicity stunt for an upcoming “found footage” movie? Even so, they can be fascinating and appear very real… and if you’re like me, deep down you really WANT them to be authentic evidence of the paranormal. 

 

The Ghost of Ye Olde Man and Scythe

The most recent example was brought to my attention by Ghostsnghouls.com. Watch it and then find my commentary below. 

Supposedly there are no windows behind the camera, making the flickering and lighting changes seem very mysterious. And the flicker just before the blackout seems a bit too perfect for me. I wish I had several pictures of this room in the daylight so that I could get a feel for the whole place. And does it all seem just a little Hollywooded up to you? It’s only missing an edgy score by Hans Zimmer, am I right? It’s definitely fascinating video though. I bet this pub has named a nicely priced drink after this “ghost” as well.

 

My favorite CCTV “ghost”…

…is also from a pub (why always a pub??) and was captured several years ago in Britain. I really really REALLY REALLY wanted this one to be real. Like a lot of these videos, this is almost guaranteed to be evidence of a lack of cleaning up high in corners of the rooms where these cameras are mounted. I could find several cobwebs in a few corners of this room right now if I wanted to. Watch closely and you can identify this ghost as a fly or some other kind of insect. Often, a simple cobweb will cause excitement and claims of paranormal activity. 

Don’t you just love it? You had the story worked up in your mind, didn’t you? The centuries old pub has an old employee that loved the place so much that they help clean up overnight. Either that or it’s a residual haunting and it’s just a normal night at work, serving beer and cleaning tables. Right? Please oh please oh please. Having a brain ruins all the fun, doesn’t it?

 

You never know…

I’ve never claimed to be an expert in video when it comes to evidence, but I still say that video is the least likely place to capture true evidence of the paranormal. It’s funny that so many people put so much focus and emphasis on that very rare and heavily contested video evidence. Of course, as the reporter in the video stated (while taking the easy way out and not mentioning possible logical explanations… ahem… like flies), “Hey. You never know.”

 

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Belvoir Winery/Odd Fellows Home: Ghosts can do that? The Evidence... sort of... (Big Séance)

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My Rapper: Missing you, old friend… (Big Séance)


Belvoir Winery/Odd Fellows Home: New Friends!

 

As I was preparing to leave for the Belvoir Winery T.A.P.S. event last weekend, I was a bit anxious, mainly because I was going alone and without any members of my team or family. I’m not hugely social in public situations, particularly if I don’t know anyone. What kind of people would be there? Experienced paranormal investigators? Wannabe investigators? Syfy fans? Giant nerds? How much equipment do I bring for the overnight investigation? Will I be embarrassed by pulling out some of this equipment?  Well this paranormal event had the usual “characters” (You know what I’m talking about, right?), but for the most part what I found were people who were there just to have fun… and, of course, many of them were excited to meet the para-celebs, just as I was. I arrived on that first day pretty early. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I got there, and I wanted to be able to take plenty of photos. The first person that I began a conversation with was a friendly woman named Laurie. We talked quite a bit while she waited for her friends to arrive. It turns out we had a bit in common. Then later I met Andi. She had come to the previous T.A.P.S. event last fall and so I asked her quite a few questions. She and I both had a camera around our necks and later found each other roaming the grounds for great shots. 

 

The Laurie Group!

As I was touring the grounds, I met another friendly face who made me feel right at home. Her name was Jaime, and she later introduced me to her whole crew, including Ian, Jeanette, Sharon, Karen, and Kim (and other names that I’m unfortunately forgetting). She invited me to sit with their gang later in the day for dinner. I did just that. Out of a few hundred people at this event, Sharon pulled some magic and was able to get our table called for dinner first! It was catered by Hy-Vee and was wonderful (and the twice baked potatoes were to die for). While gabbing with these new friends in the buffet line, I broke the salad tongs with my amazing strength. It was in this buffet line that I learned we had a cool little connection. Most of these folks were either from or lived in Laurie, Missouri, a tiny town around the Lake of the Ozarks–the same town where my parents recently purchased a lake lot. I even blogged about the mysterious Cup Tree in Laurie just last year. How cool is that?! We had a lot of laughs and I enjoyed their company! It was like fate brought us together–paranerds for an evening.

The next evening they divided us up into groups for the investigation. Fortunately, Sharon and Kim were in my group. I’ll save those experiences for another post.

 

More to Come

By the way, if any of you recall me freaking out recently on the Big Séance Facebook page, all is not lost. My aging Sony NightShot camcorders managed to make it through the Belvoir investigation, including moments with Amy Bruni, Adam Berry, and Britt Griffith (Britt even used my spirit box!!!). However, I was bummed and angry when both of these camcorders died in the same evening, leaving all of those wonderful moments stuck on the tapes. Fortunately, a friend of mine converts tapes to DVD (tape2dvd.org, facebook.com/stpeterstape2dvd) and so I look forward to being able to show you some cool footage soon! Also, I plan on sharing some of my thoughts and notes from Britt’s paranormal technology lecture.

 

Other recent Belvoir Winery/Odd Fellows Home posts:  

The Photos (Big Séance)

The Photos (Big Séance)

I’m Baaaaaaaaaack! (Big Séance)

I’m Baaaaaaaaaack! (Big Séance)

 


15 Reasons to Befriend a Paranormal Nerd Today!

Today is February 5, 2014. It is also my 2nd Blogiversary! In honor of this day, I give you 15 candid reasons to befriend a paranormal nerd! Hopefully, some of you will be encouraged to find a new friend TODAY! Or maybe you’re sitting at home with a spirit box or set of dowsing rods in your hands. Yeah I’m talking to you! No plans this weekend? You’ll want to share this immediately!

 

15 Reasons to Befriend a Paranormal Nerd Today!

 

1.    As we tend to very open-minded, we don’t think you’re crazy when you tell us about your experiences, but depending on what subgroup of the paranormal we belong to, don’t be offended when we set out on a mission to “debunk” it. 

2.    Think you have a ghost or spirit trying to contact you? We’re likely to have a plethora of meters and gadgets to help make that connection, and we can’t wait to show you how it all works! And if our gadgets don’t spark a conversation, we’ve always got plenty of friends who claim to be “sensitive”.


3.    According to my friend Tim, we “know whether it’s time to buy a new lamp or if Aunt Matilda’s threat to haunt you was legit.” Ohhh Tim… does this come from experience? 

4.    We can help to explain our favorite acronym lingo, such as EVP, ITC, EMF, IR, UV, OBE, ADC, DBE, ESP, PK, K2, and mG.

5.     On a serious note, according to Rachel, “They are intuitive and empathic. They don’t see the world in black and white, they see many more colors! Plus, there is a sense of peace about them. Maybe it’s because they have some insight on the afterlife.” I absolutely love Rachel’s way with words. 

6.    Are you at a party or with a group of people who tend to be on the boring side? That awkward silence doesn’t bother us. We’re used to carrying on conversations with ghosts that typically don’t answer back, therefore we don’t easily get bored. Though we’ll likely keep the conversation going, don’t be offended if we accidentally blurt something like “If you can hear me, knock three times” or “How did you die?”


7.    Are small animals disappearing from your neighborhood? Have no fear. We’re on it… and we know exactly what a Bigfoot call sounds like!

8.    We’ll be the first to tell you that your no-good horrible very bad day was not your fault, because Mercury is in retrograde!

9.    We’ll prove or disprove the orb photo taken at your nephew’s birthday party in no time flat! (Ahem… the ones who know what they’re talking about will tell you that even though it appears to have a face inside, or devil horns, or a personality, or like to be called “Beverly”, there are eleventy-thousand likely explanations for it, and then let you decide for yourself.)

10.  We paranormal people who are also investigators are often willing to invite others to the next big investigation! And we can’t wait to share our favorite stories or our “Class A” EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena).


 
11.   Not feeling well? Going through a bad experience? We can break out the crystals and send you rooms full of “love and light”!

12.   We know how to begin the research to learn the history of your home, or genealogy research to learn about your ancestors!

13.   Ever suspect your family pet of learning how to access the refrigerator while you’re sleeping? We’ve got night vision cameras. Just ask us. 


14.   Need sage for house blessing or clearing? We know just where to get it. 

15.   Need to borrow a black shirt, polo, or hoodie? Take your pick. Oh sorry… here’s some tape to cover up that logo.

 

Through social media, I went to some of my friends and faithful readers for help on this one. I’d like to thank Rachel, Tim, Stacey, Cassie, Cathy, and Dar for their additional thoughts and contributions to this post!

 

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10 important reasons to go see Chip Coffey at a "Coffey Talk" near you! (Big Séance)

10 important reasons to go see Chip Coffey at a “Coffey Talk” near you! (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

 

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My Personal Experience with Mediums by David Almeida

Please enjoy another article that is very well written by David Almeida. Please check out his bio at the end of the post. Once again, Mr. Almeida has kindly given me permission to share this with you. Thanks, David!

_________________________________________

 

A person can easily say that mediumship is foolishness (I guess that sort of gives away my position on the matter).  It is my policy to report on my personal experiences in the “It’s what you actually saw, not what you think you saw” manner.  (Please note this remark is directed towards events that occur in the physical environment such as shadow people or hauntings).  I’m not certain if I have always stuck to this policy in my past writings.  With the supernatural, as with any topic whether it be politics, economics, or entertainment, people’s opinions naturally enter the discussion.  This article clearly demonstrates that fact.

 

When an unbeliever is personally touched by the spirit world, their attitude often changes. It’s like the people that we see on the Long Island Medium television show who receive spirit messages through Theresa Caputo.  We see the client exclaim in similar words “Wow.  How could she know that about me?” 

 

Being a spiritualist I can relate to this kind of wonderment.  It startles the person receiving a reading when a medium says something of a personal nature that could not possibly be known to him or her.  The first time I had a half hour session with the pastor of my former Spiritualist church, she made a statement that amazed me.  The pastor said, “You are into concepts.”  She barely knew me at the time.  This was during the time that I was writing The First Truth: A Book of Metaphysical Theories

 

While anyone can say that my pastor’s concept remark was coincidence, I find it interesting that she could have said just about anything concerning my character.  I believe it was during this session that I inquired with her about my suspicions regarding the Arthur Waite.  This question came from her mention of the name Arthur in a previous session and my realization of his connection to me.  She positively confirmed his identity, by asking me if this Arthur person swayed back and forth between good and bad.  This piece of information was among the few facts that I knew about him at the time.  Many people may find this sufficient evidence for what might be considered a grandiose claim, but it is consistent with several other experiences I have had with Mr. Waite.  I have discussed these experiences in other articles.

 

I am extremely careful in writing down my thoughts.  When I reduce my thoughts to writing, I intend to stand by it.  If I later find myself wrong about a particular statement I have written, or I discover a conflict with one of my theories, I am obliged to acknowledge my error.  In such a situation, all I can say is those famous last words “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”  While I am prepared to leave my ideas open to debate, I am duty-bound to defend my ideas.  Otherwise, there would be no point in sharing my articles with curious readers on the Internet.  Any theory can be refuted, no matter how well supported and officially endorsed they are.

 

I have seen the search results on Google that claim Theresa Caputo is a fake.  I did not venture onto any of these websites.  I have never met Mrs. Caputo, so I cannot personally attest to her mediumship ability.  However, I’m not sure that the show would air if the producers thought her spirit messages were bogus.  That revelation would reflect terribly on everyone involved in producing the show.  I know people will do anything for money, but even so, it’s seems to me that no one would risk their reputation on a faker. Putting your career on the line for a hoax is risky.  I would never knowingly associate myself with anything I recognized as a sham. 

 

I want to state for the record that a certain amount of skepticism is healthy and necessary in evaluating supernatural phenomena.  It goes without saying that one should not take everything he or she hears as the irrefutable truth.  In that regard, I consider myself to be a true skeptic, despite my feelings towards spirit communication and metaphysics.  My observations and conclusions are reliable when it comes to documenting what actually occurred in a particular situation. 

 

I have to admit that the practice objectivity is challenging when dealing with the supernatural.  Objectivity tends to be of little use in assessing spiritual or mystical experiences.  These are the kind of experiences that are labeled hallucinations and dreams by the skeptics.  If my statements in this article seem contradictory, then you are beginning to understand the deceptive and limited nature of objectivity.

 

I am not saying it’s impossible for Mrs. Caputo to be faking her talent.  Having seen her show a number of times, I feel it is reasonable to believe her mediumship ability is genuine. Many people would agree with my opinion.  Again a large number of people giving approval to a supernatural event, or to any situation, does not necessarily mean it is true.  However, the people I am referring to have first-hand knowledge of Mrs. Caputo’s mediumship ability.  If one chooses to disregard their personal testimony, then I do not know what to say.

 

Quite often the professed skeptics are nothing more than perpetuators of conspiracy theories.  I am thinking of the misinformed groups who continue to link the legendary Illuminati to various world domination conspiracies.  I fell for this nonsense in my early twenties.  I have out grown them since that time.  I like to be flexible in considering other people’s beliefs, but having followed many conspiracy theories in my younger days, I am of the opinion that the majority of these overblown rumors are unfounded.  There may be some truth to a few of these theories, but it’s hard to determine which parts are factual.

 

I could come up with many plausible reasons for why Mrs. Caputo and many other mediums are frauds.  By continuing in this manner, I would be doing a disservice to my readers.  Humans are meant to reach out to the hidden universe in search of new ideas and information.  I do not understand why some individuals feel the need to resist spiritual growth.  If we protect the status quo, we are only hurting ourselves.  The Truth will never be uncovered by thoughtlessly convincing people to maintain the notion of a closed universe.

 

Spiritualist mediums go through training.  After this, they spend what I believe is a year or two as student mediums.  They ply their skills once a month by giving readings to church attendees.  At some point, the student’s mediumship skills are tested for accuracy by an independent certifying board.  I have met some remarkable student mediums. 

 

Am I of the opinion that all mediums are equal in their ability to communicate spirit messages?  Of course not.  Many mediums maintain an outstanding track record, while others have moderate success in their readings.  The disparity in accuracy between mediums can be wide.  It’s important to remember that the medium is reliant on unknown entities for their information.  There is no known system for getting consistent results.  Even the best mediums can have an off day through no fault of their own.  I should also acknowledge the fact that there are excellent mediums who are not certified by any Spiritualist church. 

 

Interestingly, I have noticed that few mediums in the Spiritualist tradition make future predictions.  It confirms my suspicion that common spirits are no more capable of predicting the future than living beings.  I liken future predictions to the principle of cause and effect.  This universal law is responsible for the infinite possibilities that exist as our future realities.  Some of these “alternate realities” become future probabilities.  Both spirits and mediums are able to perceive the probable future.  This does not mean that a particular probability will unfold in the present.

 

Based my personal experience with mediums, I am convinced that spirit communication is a reality. A close-minded person will never acknowledge the truth.  No matter what a medium says to the skeptic, he or she is more than likely to deny the accuracy of the message given.  I do not feel the statement of an absolute skeptic is a reliable measure of a medium’s competence.  The assessment of reasonable and balanced person is much more useful in gaging a medium’s ability.

 

As a side discussion, I would like to make a brief comment on the paranormal investigator.  These special investigators are helpful in substantiating or disproving a supernatural claim.  By their nature, paranormal investigators are inclined to believe in the supernatural.  Otherwise, they would not be interested in pursuing the unexplained. As I already stated, I feel that this open-mindedness is an excellent quality for an investigator to possess.  Paranormal investigators minimize their natural curiosity with reasonableness and sensibility.  They look for “proof” or “evidence” of supernatural manifestations by using modern technology. 

 

I once requested the assistance of a paranormal investigation group to document the existence of supernatural activity in my former residence.  This was more than ten years ago and took place before I became acutely aware of nonphysical reality.  The investigators did not obtain the evidence I was seeking, but I was impressed with their professionalism.

 

 

Bio

David Almeida is a Spiritualist and researcher of Rosicrucian philosophy and esoteric knowledge. David is a past article contributor to the Sedona Journal of Emergence. He is also a Board Certified Hypnotist and Reiki healer. David is the author of The First Truth: A Book of Metaphysical Theories and Illusion of the Body: Introducing the Body Alive Principle. Both books can be purchased at Amazon.com. Visit http://www.findyourdivinelight.com

 

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Why do we assume?

As a teacher, occasionally I will have those days where nothing seems to go right. Some days I set out to inspire and end up coming home feeling like I spent the day pulling entire classes to the park in a wagon… all of them packed in like sardines, excited for the fun to come, but too apathetic to pitch in to help get the group there. (I apparently use this metaphor frequently because my last group of eighth grade students left me at the end of the year with a little red wagon, autographed by every one of them. Those days make it all worth it.) There have been a few times where on those wagon-pulling days I’ve decided to relieve my frustration while breaking the tension of the class at the same time… with a sudden drawn out scream. If you want the full effect, imagine Pee Wee Herman when someone said the secret word. Yes. I’m classy. But it usually works. We all laugh and move on in a much lighter (hopefully) atmosphere. 

The wagon story has nothing to do with this post, but remember that scream and get ready to picture it. 

 

I recently got caught up on what seemed like an endless amount of paranormal shows on the DVR. Episode after episode, I continued to see and hear investigators determine a location was haunted by the ghost of a “little girl”, because they captured an EVP with a higher pitched voice. Of course, it couldn’t be the voice of a little boy, even though little boys and girls voices often share the same higher pitch until puberty. With your eyes closed you might not always know. I hope that little boy wasn’t insulted. I guess they’ve also never heard my voice. I’m mistaken for a “ma’am” in the drive thru frequently and spend my days singing soprano and alto with middle schoolers. And what makes investigators believe that the timbre of the voice they’re picking up is what that spirit’s voice sounded like in life, anyway? What if vibrations come through an octave higher (or lower) as it pushes through the veil? Clearly, spirit voices lose a significant amount of clarity, consonants, and sometimes syllables when attempting communication, so what makes us so sure the pitch determines gender or age? Why do we assume?

In another episode they visit a building that holds centuries worth of memories and emotional stories, but because a rather famous person visited there twice, of course that must be the ghost that resides there. “Elvis! Is that you? Will you autograph my EMF meter?” Wouldn’t they be embarrassed to know that the voice they captured was actually of a fan who died just that week and simply followed them into the building, hoping to have their big moment. After all, no one can see them anymore and they’re pretty frustrated with being ignored. They just KNOW that Zak will hear them.

Okay my last gripe. I’m almost afraid to bring this one up again. “Look! There went a shadow! Go grab Father Dowling. We’re doing an exorcism.” Because a spirit or entity presents itself today as a shadow (on a night where you no doubt begged for some sort of manifestation or communication), it doesn’t make it an evil or demonic entity. Even if it’s quick to get away from you. Even if it’s an unusually short shadow. What makes you think you know? There’s probably a good chance that the shadow was not even paranormal at all, so leave the crucifix in the car. Anyway, it’s just Uncle Charlie, and a shadow is all he could muster today, thank you.  

 

AHHHHHHHHH! These things make me scream and jump up and down on the couch with my hands on my head. Were they edited to look this way? Surely they wouldn’t assume… would they?

Why do we assume? AHHHHHHH!

Ah well. At least I feel better now.

 

Related Posts: 

 

How to Evaluate the Authenticity of an Observer’s Supernatural Encounter (Big Séance)

 

 

 

I Still Watch Ghost Hunters… So What? (Big Séance)

 

 


How to Evaluate the Authenticity of an Observer’s Supernatural Encounter

Tonight I wanted to share an article written by David Almeida, a fascinating person who I’ve had the great opportunity to chat with online recently. You can catch his bio at the end of the post. After some discussion, he directed me to this article. He has kindly given me permission to share it with you. It just happens to fit in with discussion I’ve had with a few of you in the comments to some recent posts. Thanks, David!

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I wrote this article to address the use of objectivity in evaluating a witness’s account of a supernatural event.  In a sense, almost all of our judgments are based on our experiences.  They may also be grounded (in part) in what other people have told us about the world.  For example, there are endless degradations of color and sound.  If a person says “The apple is red.”  What shade of red is it?  For this reason, I believe that an objective statement can be construed as opinion.

 

This article is only addressing certain kinds of paranormal experiences such as hauntings and physical paranormal manifestations.  It’s difficult to assess out of body experiences and other psychic or mental occurrences using this method.

 

Before asking the reporter (observer or witness) a slew of questions, I let the person tell his or her story with minimal interruption.  Constantly breaking into the reporter’s story can lead the person losing his or her thoughts, which can result in the unintentional omission of important details.  A witness will typically give the investigator all of the answers he or she requires during the interview process.  In fact, I’ve found that most witnesses give more information than they need to. 

 

If the investigator chooses to use this interview method, it’s essential to ask the reporter to start at the beginning of the story and guide him or her through it.  You have to keep the reporter focused.  A person will often become excited and jump all over the place while relating his or her story.  This leads to confusion and pertinent details may be inadvertently skipped over.

 

It’s advisable that the investigator ask the reporter to use descriptive (objective) words to relate the experience.  You don’t want the reporter making subjective statements like “The shadow person was big, bad and scary.  That description doesn’t help anyone, although the investigator may want to get the observer’s impressions at the end of the interview. 

 

A person may describe a flower as beautiful.  Everybody has their own conception of a beautiful flower.  It would be better for the person say “I saw a flower.”  It is helpful if the person can identify the type of flower.  “It was a rose.”  If that is not possible, the person should describe the qualities of the flower.

 

Whether the investigator is interviewing a witness to a crime or conducting a paranormal investigation, the interviewer will find information that appears false or contradictory.  These discrepancies need to be clarified before the interview is completed.  An investigator might ask questions such as the ones that follow if the reporter has not provided this information in his or her statement:

 

How long did the incident last?  “I saw it for about two seconds.

 

How far away were you?  “I was ten feet away?”

 

What did it look like?  “The thing was approximately six feet tall.  It had a round head and a broad boxy build.  It looked like a dark shadow.  It made no sound, and it moved quickly” Etcetera. 

 

“Where did you see it?”  “I was in bed sleeping, and I saw it in the doorway”

 

“When did you see it?”  “It was last Tuesday, June 25, 2013 at midnight.”

 

Some other questions you might ask would be:

 

Are you taking any medications or illegal substances?

 

Do you have a medical condition?

 

Have you been sick recently?

 

What is your opinion of the supernatural?  The answer to this question is significant to the investigation.  The reporter may say “I feel that the Exorcist was the best movie ever made!”

 

Have you ever had a paranormal experience?  Here again, the answer is important.  “I am visited by the shadow people at least twice a week.”  “When the moon is full we have a party.”  I’m just kidding.

 

I have learned through personal experience that when two or more witnesses to a crime describe a suspect, each witness will provide a different description.  That’s why we have lawyers and jury trials in this country.  Does anyone remember the movie, My Cousin Vinny?  It’s essential to get to the bottom of things and determine what happened.  It does little good to tell someone that you saw a ghost without elaborating on the event in a rational manner.  

 

On the other hand, it’s difficult to describe something that a person has never seen.  I saw something in an out of body experience once that I cannot describe at all.  It’s hard enough to describe an out of body experience.  It’s easy for a skeptic to say that I was just dreaming.  When we listen to these stories we have to keep an open mind.  I can tell a person that I observed my body from outside of myself while it lay sleeping.  Once again that’s easy to refute.  If five million people have had a similar experience, does that mean it is true?  Maybe not.  Most people also dream.  Hundreds of thousands of people thought that the Earth was flat at one time (I realize this is a widely used example).  Are there really shadow people, or is this phenomenon a mass hallucination?  Maybe people want to believe in it, so they conveniently see it. 

 

In my own mind, I can confidently state that the shadow people exist.  I had no prior knowledge of shadow people when I observed it.  Not to mention that two people saw it at the same time.  Does that fact change things?  I don’t know.  It may make the event more credible.  If I could have caught the thing in a net for scientists to examine, that would have made the encounter much more conclusive.  Unfortunately, such events rarely have such an outcome.

 

Explaining a metaphysical theory is different from a scientific theory in that researchers are using known scientific principles.  It’s difficult to positively answer a metaphysical and philosophical question such as: “What is consciousness?” We only know that consciousness exists by the fact we that we are animated beings, who have an awareness of our existence.  Then again, I’m not a proponent of the big bang theory (I don’t mean the TV show).   I feel that this theory has no more basis in fact than some of my own theories.  I say this with the understanding that scientists claim that they have reasonable evidence to support their theory.  I am more inclined to accept the unfashionable steady state theory of the universe, which states that the universe is continuously expanding. 

 

I claim that Arthur Edward Waite contributed to my theories.  Is that reasonable statement?  It depends on who you ask.  The six or seven mediums who evidently communicated with him might lend their support to my claim.  If a person does not believe in mediumship, then what I say about A.E. Waite would be of little value to him or her.  A metaphysical theory is one of those things that a person accepts because it strikes a chord in his or her inner being.  Such theories typically have insufficient (if any) evidence to lean on.  This does not mean that the theories are devoid of truth.  It’s just that humans have not discovered the necessary tools to conduct a proper examination of these advanced theories.  Metaphysical theories generally involve arcane mystical principles, unknown energies, and references to strange dimensional locales that we cannot verify using modern scientific protocol.  That day will come.

 

 

Bio

David Almeida is a Spiritualist and researcher of Rosicrucian philosophy and esoteric knowledge. David is a past article contributor to the Sedona Journal of Emergence. He is also a Board Certified Hypnotist and Reiki healer. David is the author of The First Truth: A Book of Metaphysical Theories and Illusion of the Body: Introducing the Body Alive Principle. Both books can be purchased at Amazon.com. Visit http://www.findyourdivinelight.com

 

 


Ghost Adventures & Weird or What?

Weird or What? 

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).

William Shatner hosting Weird or What?

William Shatner hosting Weird or What?

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. 

 

Ghost Adventures: Glen Tavern Inn

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. 

The Goldfield Hotel

The Goldfield Hotel

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?

Glen Tavern Inn

Glen Tavern Inn

Related Posts:

I Still Watch Ghost Hunters… So What?

Video Highlights from our 9/15/12 Séance

Exciting News! Beyond the Scole Experiment!

The Scole Experiment… My Review… 

The Scole Group’s “A Basic Guide”

More Random Bits and Thoughts on Scole

Some Random Bits and Thoughts on Scole

 

 


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