Ghosts in the News: Oct 2017 [1]

‘Tis the season… for news about ghosts and haunted places.

It’s an interesting way to look at haunted places.

Oh, I doubt many (perhaps most) assumptions about New Orleans’ LaLaurie Mansion. I’m not sure it’s especially haunted. (Several residents said it’s not.) Also, some of the legends don’t fit the owners’ real history.

But, the original LaLaurie Mansion was certainly the site of traumatic events and a horrible (and fatal) fire. So, some ghosts may linger.

In the Seattle Times article, like the following quote from Colin Dickey, author of Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places. (I’m reading that book, right now. It’s not what I’d expected. Lots of history. Lots of folklore. All of it connected to famous — and infamous — haunts.

Here’s the quote I like:

“Ghost stories in many ways are a way for us to approach our own history,” Dickey said, “and our own history is complicated.”

I’m going to think about that. At first glance, I’ll admit that most serious ghost investigators are not simple, take-life-as-it-comes people. Most are unusually bright, well-read, and interested in a wide range of topics.

The related podcast is thought-provoking. Though I disagree with Dickey on some points, he has some fresh views worth considering: https://apnews.com/afs:Content:1446410075/Episode-23:-What-haunted-houses-tell-us-about-ourselves

What interested me are the 28% who said they have lived in a haunted home. (I’m in that group. I’ve lived in two that might be haunted, plus a third that was absolutely bizarre.)

I may try a survey like that, myself, to see how many people pursue ghost hunting because they’re already familiar with life in a haunted house.

  • Next, this may not be the world’s only haunted canal boat ride — and I’m not sure if it’s genuinely spooky — but if I were around Richmond, Virginia, I’d happily spend $2 for the experience: Haunted canal boat rides in Richmond.
  • After that, reading the latest ghost-related articles, I realized I’ve never questioned the word “boo!” Maybe I should have.

Fortunately, Mental Floss may have an answer. In their article, Why Do Ghosts Say ‘Boo’?, they report:

“…the word had a slightly different shade of meaning a few hundred years ago: Boo (or, in the olden days, bo or bu) was not used to frighten others but to assert your presence.”

And later, in that same article, explain a more recent use of the word:

“And by 1738, Gilbert Crokatt was writing in Presbyterian Eloquence Display’d that, ‘Boo is a Word that’s used in the North of Scotland to frighten crying children.’ “

  • And then there’s the video filmed earlier this month (Oct 2017) inside a Cork City (Ireland) school. It’s been viewed over 7 million times.

I laughed out loud at one point. No, this isn’t what a real haunting looks like, though it’s entertaining.

But, a Today.com article offers an explanation for the school’s haunted reputation:

“‘The school is built on a site known as Green Gallows,’ Wolfe said. ‘In the 19th century, criminals were hanged here. We only found that out on Monday. The pub nearby is actually called the Gallows.'”

A leading Irish education site calls it Gallows Green, but — no matter what the name — it’s adequate reason for ghosts at the school.

They’re just unlikely to manifest in such preposterous ways.

Those are the ghost-related articles that interested me today. I’m sure there will be more as Halloween approaches.

If you find any fascinating news articles, I hope you’ll leave the URLs in comments.

Houmas House Ghosts (and The Bachelor TV Show)

A recent episode of the American TV series, The Bachelor, was filmed at Houmas House in Louisiana.

Ghost orbs at Houmas House (Louisiana)
Orbs hover at historic (and haunted) Houmas House, LA (This is my own photo, during my stay at the site.)

Many people have written to me, asking if that house is really “one of Louisiana’s most haunted houses.”

The answer is: yes, Houmas House is very haunted. More than most Louisiana “haunted” houses, and perhaps more than most houses in America.

In fact, I once recorded a lengthy podcast about Houmas House. I may restore it in the future, once I’ve updated it.

Until I do, this article should answer most questions.

Houmas House’s ghosts don’t bear much resemblance to the way they were presented in The Bachelor.

In fact, I strongly object to how Houmas House — and its spirits — were portrayed in that show.

My husband and I had the honor of spending a night inside Houmas House, thanks to the hospitality of its owner, Kevin Kelly.

He knew that I would thoroughly investigate the house, unsupervised. He also knew that I’d write a blunt and honest review of what I did (and didn’t) find there.

He put no limits on what I could explore, day or night. He was a superb host, and — after a tour to show us what was where, and explain some of the house’s history — he let us wander around the house & its grounds.

I was impressed.

Houmas House is haunted for many reasons

I believe the house is truly haunted, and the energy comes from multiple sources.

First, there’s the history of the house. That includes its connection to the creation of what’s often called the Confederate flag, from the War between the States.

The house has also been the scene of several tragedies, including the loss of a family cemetery that was washed away in the early 20th century.

Then, there’s the energy that’s been brought to the house by the public. I believe that public perception can energize otherwise dormant spiritual energy. (It’s sort of like the Law of Attraction. If you believe a place is creepy and haunted, maybe your beliefs & energy contribute to it.)

The movie “Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte” left Houmas House with a lasting connection to ghosts, madness, and gruesome events.

Yes, that movie was filmed at Houmas House. If you saw The Bachelor episode, you may recognize the style of the staircase in the following movie trailer.

Next, I believe Houmas House contains a larger-than-average collection of haunted objects.

From quirky artwork to antique “vampire hunter” kits, to some of Anne Rice’s furniture, objects at Houmas House provide an energy mix you won’t find in many other haunts, anywhere in the world.

The other structures — small cabins, etc., that may (or may not) still be on the property — also provide reasons why the site is haunted. They have their own stories to tell. And, their energy lingers.

And finally, the location of Houmas House — near a large body of water, and where it’s placed on the road, in energy (or feng shui) terms — makes it a prime location for paranormal reports.

Some of the house’s eeriness can be attributed to infrasound from the nearby water. However, even if I discount the “creepy feeling” that seems to drift through Houmas House from time to time, infrasound can’t explain everything odd I experienced at the site.

During my visit to Houmas House, I saw several ghosts, mostly during the day.

The tall man at the front gate

In broad daylight on a sunny day, I saw a ghostly figure at the front gates. Another guest saw him, as well. We were up on the “widow’s walk” viewing deck at the top of the house.

The figure looked like a distinctive, slim, very tall man, pacing back and forth as if waiting for someone.

When I mentioned him to Kevin Kelly, he showed me an old photo. The dark-skinned man in the picture was an exact match for the slightly translucent person I’d seen at the front gates.

I had no doubt that it was the same person.

And, since I think I was the first person to report seeing that ghost, there’s no way Kevin was prepared to provide supporting evidence. (In fact, he had to go looking for the photo. When I confirmed what I’d seen, I think Kevin was more surprised than I was.)

The little girl on the stairs

Visitors and construction workers (making repairs and renovations) have reported a little girl on the house’s distinctive spiral staircase.

Kevin showed me one photo that I didn’t think was credible. But, I’ve heard and read other reports of the figure, and those were believable.

During my visit, I sensed something on the stairs, but I can’t claim that I saw a convincing apparition.

The ghost in the Bette Davis room

I believe that I saw a reflection of a reflection of a little girl in the room where actress Bette Davis had slept during the filming of Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte.

The reflection appeared on the glass front of a clock in that room.

I turned to see who was behind me. That’s when I saw the reflection of a little girl across the room. She was very small, no more than about five years old… maybe slightly older, if she was particularly petite.

She was there… and then she was gone. All I can tell you is that I had the idea that one of her arms was injured or even deformed. It’s as if she was concealing it.

As I recall, I saw her in a mirror in that room. But, I’ll need to find my notes (and my old photos from that visit) to confirm that.

Kevin didn’t seem to think that Bette Davis experienced anything unusual when she slept in that room.

However, any ghost with an ounce of sense would stay far away from Ms. Davis. She was known for being strong-willed and sharp-tongued. She would not willingly share her room with a ghost.

Those are the ghosts I clearly recall from my visit to Houmas House. (My husband and I slept soundly in a guest room on the top floor of the house. If that floor was haunted, the ghosts didn’t disturb me that night.)

The Bachelor TV show… and poor production decisions

The Houmas House episode of The Bachelor was embarrassing to watch.

From the start, I was skeptical when the ghostly little girl was given a name, “May.”

Perhaps someone has successfully documented the ghost’s identity, but the Houmas House website doesn’t suggest that.

Then, the doll that they showed in the glass case did not seem to fit the correct time period. (Also, the staging with “Boo” outside, saying that someone had disturbed the doll… it seemed added as an after-thought. It didn’t make much sense.)

When Houmas House’s lights suddenly went out, and then when the chandelier seemed to crash (almost) to the floor, I was ready to stop watching the show.

Those kinds of things don’t happen in most truly haunted houses. Most of the time, they’re staged for silly movies and TV shows.

My biggest complaint was related to the Ouija board scene.

Yes, the letters had been painted white. That doesn’t make the board any less dangerous.

There is no way I’d allow anyone to use a Ouija board at a haunted site, unless everyone involved knew exactly what the risks might be.

(I’m not saying that Ouija boards are inherently evil. My personal issue with Ouija boards is that too many people use them for “fun,” not realizing that some divination tools open doors. Once a door is opened, an unprotected person can be at risk.)

Ouija board issues

In the following YouTube video (actually, an audio with video added later), John Zaffis talks about his experiences with Zozo and Ouija boards.

(I’ve known John Zaffis for about 20 years, and I respect him. He’s very different from how he was portrayed on the Haunted Collector TV show. If I’d ever considered accepting a role on a ghost-related TV show… well, after seeing how they edited John, there’s no way I’d put my reputation in the hands of TV producers.)

Also, in this video, that silliness about Aleister Crowley using the Sun symbol as something evil, and other text & images added to the video…? Ignore them. I’m including this video only for John’s description of the Zozo phenomenon.

And, since I mentioned the weird, strange, and possibly haunted objects at Houmas House, here’s a video of John Zaffis sharing his views on that topic.

I don’t agree with him on all points, but I definitely defer to his greater experience in the field of dangerous haunted objects, and demon-like entities.

Houmas House is worth visiting

Despite my skepticism and irritation with how Houmas House was portrayed on The Bachelor, the site is definitely worth visiting.

That’s not just because you might encounter a ghost in broad daylight.

It’s also because the house is magnificent, it has a fascinating history, and it represents an era (and architecture) you rarely see so well-preserved, anywhere in the South.

[When I find my old notes & photos related to Houmas House’s ghosts, I’ll add them at this website. For now, this summary should explain why I believe the house is haunted… and why you shouldn’t judge it by what was shown on The Bachelor.]

Old South Pittsburgh Hospital (TN) – EVP?

Tennessee’s Old South Pittsburgh Hospital is haunted. I’ve investigated the site informally… enough to know that it requires a strong stomach to explore at length.  However, this first video — by Cryptic Shadows Paranormal Research, from Ohio — is a little too tidy and too informal for credibility.

My initial problem is the crystal-clear EVP.  The fact is, we hardly ever hear EVP like that, especially involving the exact same voice and absolutely no static or interruptions.  Unless this was processed to an extreme level before adding to the sound track, almost all of this EVP sounds like it was a prank, or it was added afterwards… and by one man.

The exceptions might be real EVP worth studying.

The following videos have more credibility. They’re among a series of videos — covering a 28-hour investigation (three nights) — at that same hospital.  The team members are part of Living Dead Paranormal, also from Ohio.

Update: All related videos were removed from YouTube, and I can’t find any of them on the Fourman Brothers’ (Living Dead Paranormal) website. That’s disappointing, but seems to happen often in this field. (If you find someone with a copy of that full episode, watch the investigation. It’s worth your time.)

Old South Pittsburgh Hospital looks like a normal medical facility, except that it was empty when I investigated the site.  It’s not creepy-old, it’s simply creepy.  Except that it lacks the usual visual cues, it could have inspired the Geoffrey Rush remake of The House on Haunted Hill.

  • The site’s energy is weird.  It’s not your normal haunted site.  It has a grisly aspect, lurking in the shadows.  I have no idea what it is, but I was uneasy when I was there.
  • My research suggests that bodies are buried on the site, in unmarked graves.
  • I’d expect almost any kind of phenomena there.  It’s not a site to explore with children, especially after dark.

I haven’t been inside the building (it was closed and looked abandoned, when I was there) nor have I taken part in any of their events.  However, if you’d like to investigate a site that’s more than a little strange — even among haunted places — Old South Pittsburgh Hospital is probably a site to visit.

All I can say is: Something is not right at that hospital, and it’s not your typical haunted site.  It feels like a gathering of shadow people… and I’m not convinced they’re actually “ghosts” in the classical sense.

I don’t think my reference to The House on Haunted Hill is misplaced.

Originality of the first video (by Cryptic Shadows) – Not much.  They were having fun.  I don’t think they intended it as a serious “ghost video.”

1-half-star

Credibility of the first video (by Cryptic Shadows) – The clear EVP raises questions about how it was recorded and filtered.  If that’s raw footage, someone (not necessarily the people in the video) was probably playing a prank.

2-stars

However, I think the other videos — by Living Dead Paranormal — have enough credibility to place Old South Pittsburgh Hospital on your list of places to investigate.

And, as I said, I’ve been there when the hospital was mostly deserted.  No one was there to hype the ghosts or try to convince me it was haunted.  My feeling was: The hospital is haunted, including the grounds around it.  I haven’t been to any events there, so I can’t say whether they’re worth your time, but the site itself is good and creepy.

Of course, check accessibility to the site. I’ve heard that it’s now posted against trespassers, and under management by a group determined to keep vandals out.

[FL] Orb Moves Along Corridor Floor

About “Real Ghost Security Cam Footage – Florida Condo” (above): This video could be real, not faked. How seriously you take it may depend on whether or not you believe orbs represent ghosts.

The video was filmed in a Florida condo. Other than that, we have no information.

One person commented that it’s a spider walking across the camera lens.  That’s possible, but it’d be a very odd coincidence because the orb seems to bump against the left wall, near the conclusion of the reprocessed portion of the video.

Likewise, the explanations that it’s a dog or a rat are possible, but the image is so blurry and apparently translucent, I’m not convinced it’s the explanation.  I can’t rule it out, because the orb does seem to run into — and bounce off – the left wall.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen an orb do anything like that, in a video.

A fleck of dust is a possibility, as is the idea that the whole thing is a fake by someone skilled with video effects.

The person who posted this at YouTube gets points for not using cheesy music or stupid sound effects.  On the other hand… well, it’s yet another orb video.  It’s not a typical orb video, and that can tilt opinion in its favor or against it.

When I’m looking at orb videos, I look for things that don’t make sense.  For example, I want to see dust that defies gravity in a setting where it’s clear that no breezes were likely.  I’m not seeing anything impressive in this video.

Is it an orb?  Maybe.  Does that mean it’s a ghost?  Not necessarily.

The presentation leans in the direction of credibility (as opposed to something deliberately faked).  However, I’d need far more evidence to believe that site has repeated paranormal activity.

Originality

2-stars

Credibility

2-half-stars

 

Photographing Ghost Orbs

The following is an edited excerpt from the first edition of Ghost Photography 101, by Fiona Broome.

Orbs are probably the most popular evidence of ghosts and hauntings.

Orbs are the easiest for beginners to capture in photos. They can be confused with dust, bugs, pollen, reflections and moisture… but not as often as you might think.

This photo at the lower right shows a typical orb at Pine Hill Cemetery (also called “Blood cemetery”) in Hollis, New Hampshire.  The picture was taken near some of the oldest graves in the cemetery. This orb is unusual because it was photographed without a flash.

Daytime orb - Pine Hill 'Blood' Cemetery - Hollis, NH
Arrow points at daytime orb – no flash, no reflection, no lens flare.

About 90% of orbs are photographed using the camera’s flash.  This suggests that orbs have some physical content that reflects the light of the flash.

However, if orbs have a physical form, more people should see them in real life.

In fact, most people don’t see orbs, except in their photos.

Orbs usually white or pale blue, but they can appear in a variety of colors, both pastels and vivid shades.  Some are very faint.  Others are bright and almost opaque.

Now and then, orbs seem to include faces, but most are simply translucent circular (or spherical) shapes.

Sometimes the face closely resembles the person whose ghost is supposed to haunt the site.  That’s eerily reminiscent of the fake ghost photos of the late 19th century… and baffling.

Some “face” orbs are reported in locations more associated with faeries than with ghosts.

For now, orbs are a mystery and deserve more study.  We don’t have many answers, yet.

Orbs often appear close to people. I’ve seen hundreds of orb photos in which the orb is near a baby or a bride.  It’s difficult to dismiss them as mere coincidence.  Many people are comforted by an orb that represents a loved one who’s crossed over, and is visiting our world to celebrate a happy event with his or her family.

Ghost orb over historic home in Katy, TX
Orb over historic home in Katy, Texas.

Other orbs seem to manifest near haunted objects or specific locations.

The photo on the left shows a solitary orb over a house in Katy, Texas.  It’s one of just a few homes that survived the famous Galveston Flood of 1900.  The night was cool and dry with no insects and no breezes.

Many people think that the Galveston Flood affected the island of Galveston and that’s all.

If you research that famous flood, you’ll see that the flood extended into Houston and surrounding areas.  (It was comparable to Hurricane Harvey in 2007.)

As a result, there are many rich stories and tragedies from that disaster, and some may indicate haunted locations.

In the photo at the lower right, orbs hover near haunted Houmas House in Louisiana.  It’s an extraordinary location for ghost photos.  Houmas House may look familiar because it’s been featured in movies and TV shows.  It was also the home of the man who designed the famous “Stars and Bars” flag of the Civil War.  Ghosts of Confederate soldiers have been reported near the house.

I’ve seen two full apparitions at Houmas House.  One was in the bedroom where Bette Davis slept while filming “Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte” at the house.

The other was at the front gate, where I saw an unusually tall black man pacing.   At first, I saw him from the “widow’s walk” on top of Houmas House.  The apparition looked only slightly translucent.  It was a sunny morning, and I saw him very clearly.

Ghost orbs at Houmas House (Louisiana)
Orbs hover at historic (and haunted) Houmas House, LA

I wanted a closer look, so I dashed downstairs and out the front door.  The figure was clearly visible until I was about 30 feet from him.  He faded quickly.  It probably took less than half a second.

After the apparition vanished from sight, I asked Kevin Kelly — the owner of Houmas House — about the ghost.  I described the figure in detail.  Mr. Kelly knew exactly which man I was describing.

Mr. Kelly showed me a photograph of the former slave, taken during the man’s lifetime.  I recognized the man in the photo right away.  His apparition looks almost exactly the same today.

I wish I’d been able to capture his ghostly image in a photo.  However, these kinds of encounters indicate locations — such as Louisiana’s Houmas House — where ghost photos are likely.

This is important: Credible ghost photos rarely occur unless other ghostly phenomena are reported, too.