Sean Paradis – Interview

Sean Paradis has been a great friend and researcher partner for many years. I respect him tremendously. He has an innate gift for identifying the most haunted locations, and the most active areas at each one.Sean Paradis

In fact, working with Sean was a tremendous help when I was writing Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries.

Here’s my recent interview with Sean.

Q) What areas of the paranormal do you investigate?

A) I focus primarily on investigating ghosts

Q) How long have you worked in this field?

A) It’s been an interest since the age of 13. I’ve worked on a professional level since the age of 18.

Q) Do you specialize in one kind of research, or one field of expertise?

A) In the last year, I have started to shift my research more towards finding new, low-tech ways of investigating.

In this economy, people cannot afford to spend $350 on one piece of equipment. Common household items are less expensive, and in many instances produce better results than the $350 piece of equipment.

Q) Are you psychic? How do you feel about working with other psychics?

A) I would classify myself as a sensitive. I am able to pick up the details of a spirit when they were alive.

Sometimes it is only a few bits and pieces, other times it is their whole life story. It all depends on how much a spirit is willing to share.

I believe working with other psychics is a fabulous opportunity. It allows you to build upon each other’s information, and possibly learn more about a spirit.

I think any psychic who chooses to work alone is cutting themselves short.

Q) Do you consider yourself more of a skeptic or a believer?

A) I am a skepliever; a word I use that means both. At least, I try to be. If I hear a story or report of something, I try to approach it with an open mind. I know that not everything, no matter how probable it may seem, is true.

Once I personally investigate the claim or try to recreate it then, and only then, will I form my own opinion based on the evidence and the experience.

If an investigator is 100 percent a skeptic, or 100 percent a believer, they will end up tainting evidence without even realizing it. They will either assume every piece of evidence is proof the paranormal exists or dismiss evidence, when there are factors clearly pointing to the opposite conclusion.

This is why being a skepliever is so important.

Q) Do you work alone or with a team?

A) I work 90% alone, and 10% giving my time to HELP other teams.

I never actually join any teams, and I make that clear when offering my time.

The reason why I stress this so much is that some, but not all teams are… well… for lack of a better word, greedy about team members and investigation results. I believe that research should be shared freely amongst the community.

Therefore, I work alone, or with good friends in the field. That way what I do with my own personal research is up to me.

Q) What’s your long-term goal as a paranormal researcher?

A) To ultimately get rid of the cliché stereotype that to be a professional researcher, you need to buy the latest and greatest pieces of electronics. The equipment carried does not make a person a good researcher; how they use their tools and interpret data does. I would love to see more researchers using low tech methods of investigating.

Q) How do you find out about locations for your research?

A) About half of the locations that I investigate I hear about through a friend, and the other half I visit after having a gut feeling telling me a location is haunted when near it.

If I have the time I may visit a location that has stories about it on the internet. I generally do not though, since you never know what you will find upon arrival.

Q) How much time do you spend at a location during a typical investigation?

A) On average about 4 hours. That gives enough time to explore the area, and have a thorough investigation.

Compared to other investigations that teams perform, 4 hours is a short amount of time. But it is because many of the locations I investigate are within a reasonable driving distance. I am able to visit these locations numerous times a year.

If a team needs to make a couple-hour drive to a location, they will most likely spend more time there, since they may not be there as often.

It varies for every investigator, but I have found 4 to be the magic time length.

Q) How often do you return to a typical investigation site, and how close together are the visits?

A) As I said earlier, many of the locations I visit are nearby. Because of this, I tend to visit the locations at least 4 to 5 times a year, and as close together as I can.

This allows me to become familiar with a location, and if anything changes, I can start investigating to figure out why as soon as possible.

Becoming familiar with a location is one of the best assets an investigator can have.

The first few visits to a location are the learning visits; what tools will help you best, which noises are normal, where the energy spikes are and why they are there.

Knowing a location well allows investigators to filter out the normal, and focus on the paranormal.

Q) What’s your very best advice for beginners?

A) I would recommend avoiding buying expensive equipment. I rarely use them anymore. I have diverted more towards low tech ghost hunting, and have been having better results.

I may be sounding like a broken record when it comes to going low-tech, but I find it to be important.

One thing that many investigators forget is that spirits have no idea what most of the electrical equipment we are using is.

Imagine if you traveled 300 years into the future, and were surrounded by new technology and a new society. I know I would be hesitant to approach anyone.

Most spirits are familiar with low tech tools, thus they will be more likely to approach you. That is the reason I believe low tech tools produce better results.

Q) Tell us about your scariest investigation, or your funniest.

A) Honestly, no investigation has been scary.

In general, spirits are not something I find to be scary. We have more to fear from the living; but that is another topic altogether.

The funniest investigation I have been on actually did not start out as an investigation. It happened at the Webster Tay House in Franklin NH, at the presentation that you, Lesley Marden and I went to.

After the presentation when we decided to check out the house, I could not stop laughing. That place felt like a funhouse the entire time.

To be frank, it is one of the weirdest houses I have ever been inside of.

Thanks, Sean!

To learn more about Sean Paradis and his research, visit his website, SeanParadis.com.

Lesley Marden – Interview with the Author

For several years, Lesley Marden — the author of Medium, Rarehas been among my closest friends and research associates.
Lesley Marden's book, Medium RareIn December 2011, I decided to start interviewing interesting people involved in paranormal research of all kinds.  Lesley was my first subject.  The following is a transcript of our conversation.
Let’s start with the basics. What areas of the paranormal do you investigate?
Lesley Marden: I have worked with various paranormal groups as a psychic investigator on home hauntings and in historic locations.
When did you develop an interest in paranormal research?
Lesley Marden: I have been aware of paranormal and spiritual activity for as long as I can remember. My earliest recollections are from when I was 3 years old.
Throughout my life I have had encounters with spirit and experienced strange and unusual happenings.  After being blamed of making up stories and lies, I decided to keep my encounters to myself and tried to stifle them all together.
It wasn’t until I was in my 20s that I decided that it was okay to be me, and sensing the spirit world is part of who I am. That is when I started to allow myself to be open once again to what came naturally.
As a psychic, do you prefer to know nothing about the site ahead of time, or do you want to know all the details?
Lesley Marden: When going into an investigation it is imperative for me to know nothing at all.
I do not want to compromise the information that I receive psychically by having prior knowledge that could prejudice my mind.
When I am hearing, sensing or seeing things in my head on location, I sometimes get obscure information that I would dismiss if I had prior knowledge and it didn’t fit “the story” of the property.
It is within those little details,that seem to make no sense when they present themselves, that end up being the big connection that complete the puzzle.
Obviously, you believe in ghosts. What about other entities? I’m thinking about UFOs, cryptozoology, faeries, and parallel worlds?
Lesley Marden: I believe that every one of these is possible.
Have I ever seen aliens or Bigfoot? No, but if you close your mind to the possibility that these beings exist, you are missing the potential opportunity to experience them.
I would love to be “that person” who discovers the portal to a parallel universe, but if I am not using my mind openly and fully in a positive way to seek out and understand new ideas or prospects, I never will.
I am always keeping my eyes and ears open. I don’t want to miss out on anything!
Do you work alone or with a team? Why?
Lesley Marden: I will go out on field trips to interesting haunted locations with a few trusted colleagues for fun, or by myself to collect information. I’ll also choose a small group of friends if new equipment piques my interest and I want to test its legitimacy.
For formal investigations I work with a team.
I am currently a member of The New England Ghost Project. I really enjoy working with the NEGP. Everyone on the team is knowledgeable, experienced and a pleasure to work with.
What tools do you use for your research, and what’s your favorite?
Lesley Marden: EMF Meters, Dowsing Rods, Digital Voice Recorder, Digital Camera, Pendulum, and my intuition.
I love photography, and I have captured some very interesting photographs while on investigations, so I would have to say my camera is my favorite piece of equipment.
Do you think paranormal TV shows and paranormal books are helpful?
Lesley Marden: I think the most important thing that people can learn from paranormal books and from paranormal TV shows is that although some people may have more experience, no one is an expert.
We are all trying to understand the hows and whys of the spirit world. I have had experiences throughout my life and I am still learning.
We all are still searching for the answers that have been asked for centuries. If anyone tells you they are an expert, please be wary.
Another important thing to learn is that when people are nasty in life, they don’t change magically and become nice when they die.
Some spirits are mean and malicious and CAN hurt you. ALWAYS protect yourself before conducting any sort of investigation or opening yourself up to encountering spirits.
Good advice. Before we end this interview, describe your recent book.
Lesley Marden: My book, Medium, Rare; A firsthand account of growing up experiencing the paranormal, is about my journey growing up with a heightened awareness of the spiritual world around me.
It starts when I am 3 years old and chronicles though my life into my 40’s. It is a story of self acceptance and hopefully it will help those out there who have experiences know that they are not crazy and they are not alone.
It is available at Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com, and at my website, LesleyMarden.com.
Thank you, Lesley!

Interview – Jamie of Chicagoland Ghosts

Background: I’ve known Jamie for many years and respect his enthusiasm for ghost hunting, as well as his integrity as a researcher with a solid background in science. When we decided to add an interview section to this website, he was a logical choice for my first (2006)  interview.

His popular Chicagoland Ghosts website is in transition. Originally, it was hosted at GeoCities, http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Shadowlands/2007/

How long have you been ghost hunting, and how do you describe what you do?

I’ve been involved with ghost hunting for about eight years now, and my specialty is the midwest, especially around Illinois. Mostly, I say that I’m a ghost hunter or paranormal researcher.

What’s your background for ghost hunting, and did you study to research this field, or did you fall into it naturally?

I have an AAS degree in E.E. (electrical/electronic engineering technology), but I just sort of fell into ghost hunting, or rather it found me.

What techniques and tools do you use the most? And, do you have tips for other researchers?

Mostly, I use cameras, and I measure EMF (electromagnetic fields). For photos, I mostly use digital cameras now. I have enough film photos but I did use 400 speed color film before I switched to digital. And, I get the best results with a flash.

Lately, I use digital despite the fact that it has no negative; if people aren’t going to believe it they aren’t going to believe it, regardless. Why should anyone waste countless rolls of film? Like most ghost hunters, I don’t have a lot of money to throw around, and digital works fine.

Wayne Dyer jokes that, in the old days if you asked a scientist if he believed in Deity, he’d say, “Of course not, I’m a scientist!” but today if you ask that same question, you’ll hear, “Of course, I’m a scientist!”

Similarly, many of us who begin as skeptics in this field, become believers. But, the question is… what are ghosts? What’s your opinion?

I have seen black things that walk at night. I have seen full apparitions, transparent and glowing. I’ve heard and felt many more things that science can’t explain yet.

I think they are probably spirits. Some seem to be lost, but others are able to travel at will between the planes of existence.

They are here for as many reasons as we are here: Some because they choose to be, others because they are lost or confused, and others are just visiting.

How do you select places to ghost hunt… what cues tell you that it’s a good place, or just an urban legend?

First, I check the history of a place. Then, sometimes it’s just a feeling, but many times my guesses are right. When I get to a good site, I usually get a feeling of heaviness, like the air is really thick. Cemeteries seem to be the best for my research right now. I’d really like a chance to investigate the catacombs under Paris.

Some locations get better the more you visit them, and others seem to deteriorate. It varies.

Have you ever felt a personal connection with a ghost?

Yes, when one called my name and nobody was around. I’ve posted a few of my favorite ghost stories at my Chicagoland Ghosts website.

Most of us remember at least one ghost hunt that was genuinely frightening. Have you ever been scared on a ghost hunt?

Yes, at a person’s home, in the basement. I was going to spend the night but I kept feeling like something was crawling all over me. I had to get out of there. It had me freaked out.

What do you like best about ghost hunting? Least?

The best is that it is a lot of fun. You get to see and experience things nobody else does.

Least favorite? Having to deal with rude skeptics and unbelievers. They can have a dampening effect. Sometimes, if you actually experience something, the skeptic automatically tries to rule out your experience without even considering the facts. People should use common courtesy, but some skeptics don’t.

How do you deal with skeptics?

I ignore them. They won’t last long, and they probably won’t come back.

Do you get better results at certain times of day or night? Is there more activity around certain times of year, such as Halloween?

It depends on the ghost. Generally, I can get results whether it is day or night.

Also, some show up at certain times of the year. Other hauntings seem to be random.

Describe your typical — or best — ghost hunts.

I like a small number of people. More than half a dozen is too many. I’m likely to stay anywhere from half an hour to an hour for an informal visit. Mostly I stay however long it takes to cover the area thourougly. I can keep researching for three or four hours on a more formal investigation. If I go back to a site–and I do revisit them, usually–I’ll usually stay just as long as I did the first time.

What would you tell someone who is interested in ghost hunting but doesn’t know where to start?

First, check the web sites and check my links. Read as much as you can, and dont expect anything to jump out at you. In fact, don’t expect to see anything at all. Stay away from “demonologists” or people that charge for investigations.

What else would you tell a beginner? What about websites, books, and other resources when you’re getting started in ghost hunting?

For reading, I like theShadowlands.net‘s Ghost Hunting 101, Troy Taylor’s The Ghost Hunter’s Guidebook, and whatever you can find on the web. The more sources the better. To find haunted places, check out the history of the area. See if there are any sources on the web for haunted locations. Check the historical society and newspaper archives, too.

Beginners can start with just a camera and a basic no-frills EMF meter, and maybe a tape recorder for EVP.

Can anyone/everyone be a successful ghost hunter?

No, most can but a lot of people lack the patience and open mindedness to actually succeed… It takes a certain individual. Some people get into ghost hunting for the wrong reasons. This includes anyone who is insincere, or thinks they can make a lot of money from it. Or, if you expect to see things jumping out at you, then you probably should just stay home and watch it on TV.

What precautions should people take before ghost hunting at a new location?

If you visit a site in the daytime, it could help you see more clearly what the area is like and eliminate a few obvious things. Don’t trespass; always get permission. Don’t smoke at a location. Pick up your trash. Use comon sense. Above all, don’t panic and run and hurt yourself, if you hear a noise.

Never go ghost hunting alone; let people know where you are.

You mentioned demonologists, but what about demons? Many of us have encountered things that aren’t ghosts, but we aren’t sure what they are. What’s your opinion?

I believe there are negative entities that feed on our fears and emotions but I do not believe in demons. There are certainly types of spirits that were never human; I call them elementals. They can be brought about by disturbing the land, or messing with forces that you shouldn’t mess with.

Negative entities are a hot subject in ghost hunting. How do you feel about people using Ouija boards while ghost hunting?

As with loaded guns, don’t mess with them unless you know what you are doing. Ouija boards are a tool and if you don’t respect a tool, you can get hurt. It’s not the tool’s fault, it’s your fault for not understanding what you are doing. Mostly, don’t use a Ouija board unless you intend to actually communicate with something, and don’t freak out and get all scared if it actually works.

Do you personally use ESP for ghost hunting? How do you feel about a psychic using his or her abilities on a ghost hunt?

I do use my intuition, but I don’t consider myself a psychic. They can be valuable but take it with a grain of salt. You don’t know how accurate a psychic is until you have some way to verify what they say.

Every community is different, but many of us get great support from the police when we’re ghost hunting. Is that true for you, too?

Yes, the police can be a great help if you cooperate with them and don’t disrespect the law. They might even be ghost hunters themselves.

Do you work with the press at Halloween?

No, I prefer to quietly do my own thing and not be bothered.

Do you accept clients? If so, do you charge for your time and expenses?

Occasionally I accept clients, but not lately. My work is always free but I will accept gas money. Generally, the site has to be nearby.

How can people get in touch with you, and stay current on ghost hunting in your area?

Visit my Yahoo!Group, Chicagoland Ghost Club.