One could well expect a writer of the dark, weird and mysterious poetry and stories I write that I am interested in all things spooky, shadowy, and those things that go bump in the night. I might as well confess that I am a fan of all the ghost hunting shows that are now so popular, and that interest may be so because I too have had so many real life ghostly experiences. Now I don’t know why some folks never have an extraordinary experience, while so many of us have a plethora of odd experiences. I remember a scene in Spielberg’s ‘Third Kind’ film when all the witnesses to the alien aerial display were demanding an explanation from the authorities, an actor, cast to look the loony, said that he had also seen Bigfoot. I’m sure it was written to evoke a laugh because any such statement would have had any sane person doubt that person’s veracity. Why is it that one must be exclusive of the other? I am not loony and those folks I know who have had such experiences are not loony. In fact I would make the case that people who have had such experiences and continue to function are of a sounder mind than those who don’t, I know that is quite a sweeping assertion, but hear me out. These are people who necessarily must radically change their worldview, their sense of reality to continue living. Those that can’t fit those experiences in that world view suffer serious psychological damage, the same kind of damage that is created in war zones, and in disasters both natural and manmade. The fact that these experiencers can assimilate such events and continue to function is remarkable.
Is it possible that such a person might just be hyper aware, because of what they experienced? There is much strangeness out there and one should be skeptical, not closed minded – open minded, but not gullible. I tend to look at the huge number of reporting’s of ghosts, UFOs, and heretofore unidentified critters as more credible than the opinion of some PHD sitting at his or her desk dismissing such sightings/experiences as nonsense, hysteria, hallucination, misidentification, or mental inferiority . Believers perhaps hold opinions and speculation as truth, Skeptics perhaps dismiss as a mindset, with no concern for the truth other than as their Degree would perceive it to be. People do see strange aircraft; even scientific non-believers say there is still 5% of such sighting that go unexplained. Folks do see fanciful creatures that turned out to be real, the mountain Gorilla, jungle Elephants and the Okapi are examples. Just recently looking for the mythical chupacabra has yielded the discovery of a hairless canine with huge biological differences from dogs, wolves and coyotes – the suggestion is that it is a reproducing hybrid., Perhaps lake monsters and bigfoot are not hallucinations but only creatures that have not been positively identified. Somewhere in it all is the answer.
I’ll keep this examination to one aspect of the mysterious. Are there ghosts, and demons and shadow people? I don’t know what these very real experiences are.
I would like to look a bit deeper into one aspect of this ultra reality – ghosts, demons, shadow people and ghost hunting.
I have lived in three paranormally active houses growing up as a boy. The word “Paranormal’, in the meaning I wish to convey, is an experience that is strikingly different than any you would normally experience in your life.
The first house was a duplex made form a large three story house in Providence R.I. 1959. This house was where I believed I developed a dark turn of mind and a fascination for all things weird and unusual. My brother and I had to sleep on the third floor. The stairway was narrow and steep, perhaps three feet wide, at the top was a landing lit by a single hanging bare bulb. There were two doors, one to a locked attic and one to what was to be our bedroom. The room had an eight inch wide plank floor painted green and a simple bathroom with a footed tub, the bath door was cut to match the rafter line. We shared a bunk bed, I on top, my brother on the bottom. We had two small dressers and a toy chest. A single small fan-shaped window allowed a view down to the street and served to create the atmosphere of a horror movie when the full moon cast its silvery beams into the dark room. Everything about the room was from a tale by Edgar Allen Poe, an author I was then reading – the skeptics now saying, “Of course your saw things, your mind was polluted and affected by Poe’s writing and the gothic surroundings”. Perhaps it was all just a young man’s overactive imagination – that was my parents view and accused me for filling my little brother’s head with dark nonsense. Such is the way it is with ‘sane and balanced’ people. My brother and I were still terrified of the room, in spite of all the attempts at having us admit we were scaring ourselves, and would often, when we felt a creepy vibe (a word we didn’t know back then.) we would slip down after everyone went to sleep and fall asleep in the downstairs living room, an act that earned us several weeks of groundings.
In the room my brother and I would hear loud angry arguments between a man and a woman, the argument was the same night after night, to the point that we would sit on the floor and mouth the very adult dialogue by memory. When we told my Father, he took us next door to show us that there were no connecting walls on the third level. The woman who lived in the other duplex was a religious older widow and her daughter; there was not a constant male presence in that house. The voices eventually faded. Blankets were often forcibly pulled from both my brother and me as we lay abed and we were often touched; earlobes tugged, hair pulled, and had our names whispered in our ears by an invisible presence. There were always shadowy movements and many nights a deep sense of dread permeated the room to such an extent that we took the punishment regardless of the severity and continued to sneak down the creepy stairway to sleep downstairs. The solution from the ‘sane’ was that my brother and I had to go to mass every day – the activity did not cease in spite of our new forced piety.
The second was a new family tract home in Warwick R.I in 1960. (The home of SYFY’s hit show Ghost Hunters) My father was doing some remodeling in the kitchen of the newly purchased home. After the first night of demolition, I was laying in bed at about 3:00 am, staring into the hall because I had heard a noise. I then saw a young woman in an old fashioned nightgown walk silently down the hall. She wasn’t solid but transparent. I jumped out of bed and ran out of the bedroom and into the hall – she had disappeared. The same event happened for three continuous nights. The third night when I had run into the hall I looked back to see my father standing in the dark, leaning wide-eyed against the kitchen counter. He had seen her too. When the remodeling was done so then was our lady specter’s nighttime walk. With a bit of research we discovered that the house was built over the foundation of an older farm house. Such events are now called residual hauntings; these episodes are allegedly a recording on the environment of an earlier emotional event, activated by activity, temperature and/or humidity variations. Allegedly limestone filled ground, block, or foundations are the best for holding such recordings
The third house was extreme and the most disturbing. My family had moved to L.A. on Mount Highland just a bit away from the city of Glendale in 1966. I was holding down a job and going to college and moved into a small apartment in the back of the house. The main house was a mansion built in the early 1900s, leased to my father for a ridiculous and suspiciously low rent. The verdant street was lined with older houses and even now has an odd quality; the houses were built along the walls of a small canyon. All the front yards were 10 to 12 feet above the street. The vertical sides were rocked or bricked and most had garages carved into the hillside. Originally the street was apparently a run off or creek bed, paved over to act as a regress. The mostly terraced yards behind the houses rose at about a 60% incline up to an unpaved utility road. Inside the house was resplendent with dark stained oak, hand carved details, a stairway with a stained glass window at the first landing, built-in sideboards and book shelves, butler’s pantry, captain’s room, and cut glass windows in the dining room. Two of the huge bedrooms had double ten-paned doors opening to a veranda that overlooked the street. A perfect setting for the hearing of two young girls giggling and whispering in the night, doors opening and closing, locking and unlocking on their own, objects as small as vases to as large as desks visibly moving on their own, often several feet or more, cold spots that moved around, and the terrorizing of my dog Lady, an otherwise fearless Boxer. The most startling phenomena was that when there was many people in the house table lamps would easily light the room and the place seemed cheery. When you were alone in the house the light cast from lamps, or ceiling lights, seemed to only cast light a few feet. I did an experiment using a white piece of paper – I was able to see the terminus line separating light from dark. When this phenomena would take place my dog would cry, shiver in fear, and snuggle up to me, and child-like whispers and giggling could be heard upstairs. The laws of physics would attest that such a thing isn’t impossible. I have never heard or read of any person who has experienced such a phenomena.
All of these experiences happened before modern equipment was available. Now ghost hunters use camcorders to have a digital eye all over the property, and digital recording devices to record EVPs, voices that are not heard by the unaided ear. EMF meters allow the user to find energy fields that are a function of physical wiring or fields that seem to move about on their own, allegedly indicating spirit presence. Inferred cameras that create video images using heat rather than light, full-spectrum cameras allow still photographs to be taken in both the ultra-violet and infrared spectrum, often used in timed conjunction with standard cameras as a base line image. Ghost boxes are radios that rapidly scan AM frequencies; allegedly spirits can use the white noise to speak through the device. Another device has a word bank and a speech mimicking program, allegedly ghosts can pick words from the bank and the device will say the word or words. Other variations of an EMF meter have an audible tone that is activated, allegedly when an invisible entity comes close.
If we are to believe that all the TV shows that have us watch real investigations in real locations where all of these devices at one time or another have ‘proven’ the existence of invisible entities then it is an astounding, and life changing thing. So why isn’t it? Are the producers of such shows ethical? Some of these shows claim they are skeptical , another comes from absolutely knowing there are ghosts and demons, another from the south uses modern devices and a stick with a bell and feathers, and yet another believe that often spirits of the dead connect to objects and that is the reason for hauntings. All these shows are very entertaining and I remain a fan. Nor do I in any way suggest that the hundreds of paranormal investigative services that are out there are not offering a good service to people who are terrified and need some answers.
Here is the thing – do I believe the things they catch on these shows are real? – Absolutely. Not because I am gullible but because as I have already written, I have experienced such activity first hand , and in fact I have experienced even more strangeness than what has been heretofore revealed on these shows. Perhaps I am waiting and watching to see a way of legitimizing these shows for me. I do have a problem with the whole idea of Ghost hunting. Here are some questions that address my concern.
- Why is it that with all the millions of people who have lived before us and have died easily or horribly, died complete or died holding on to a secret, are there so few ghosts to hunt?
- Living people come in all variety of being, from sweet as honey to as nasty and cruel as Hitler and every variation of good and evil in between, why then do we assume that ghosts have to be a certain way? How do we really know a demon from the ghost of an asshole?
- How do you know that what you are recording is a ghost, the spirit of a once living person?
Having said that – many cultures do have ceremonies that allow for living practitioners to speak aloud directions for the deceased person’s spirit to help find a way to some form of heaven. Angels come in white and black, deamons were spirit guides in ancient times, little folk were both mischievous and helpful. As a Christian I believe there is an afterlife as do most all the religions on earth, past and present. We cannot, or at least do not yet know the nature of that next reality or what and who inhabit that realm. I just have a hard time believing that I’ll have to hang around here in an invisible state for a length of time – not that it couldn’t be exactly what is happening. The use of scientific equipment that catches strange phenomena is a fact, the huge leap to the assumption of what those devices are actually recording is an issue. I would make the comparison of an ancient seeing lightning and believing that Thor was at work in the heavens and someone looking at the bouncing needle of and EMF meter and believing there is a ghost nearby – is the same. We don’t know!
For all that here is a question I have been asking myself since I was a boy. Why do we assume these proofs we witness on TV, or gather for ourselves using scientific equipment are from ghosts?
One of the popular TV shows investigated an Inn. If you have seen the show you’ll know the episode. The claims were that a bride had burned to death in a wing of the Inn before her wedding, her wispy apparition was seen by many guests. A young child was riding his tricycle in the hallway and fell down the stairs and died, the sound of the trike on hard floors was often heard by guests. A cook in the restaurant went mad and killed several patrons with an butcher knife, pots rattle and a threatening voice is heard. The team went to work and caught on video the bridal apparition, recording devices caught the sound of the little boy and trike, pots and pans swung and rattled and were caught on tape; a great night of investigation. The problem was on doing research – none of those events ever happened, there was never a fire, the restaurant was just recently built and there was no record of the child dying – all three tales were local myths. What is the explanation?
Perhaps there have been invisible creatures in the world since the beginning – maybe they hang out now days in abandoned building and the attics of inhabited houses. They hear the stories and want to please, or are pissed off at the intrusion. I don’t know the answer and I’m not sure we ever will.
The Apostle Paul was asked by early Christians (I paraphrase) “Do we have dominion over spirits and demons?” is answer was not as cryptic as we think. “Yes you do – but why would you want to?”
Purchase and read my e-book The Elms Chronicles a paranormal/fantasy/thriller. You will sleep with the lights on – I promise!
The Sozzel the Jongleur is a series of books of dark poetry and eerie and disturbing (but great fun) short stories.
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