Ghostly News and a CT Ley Line – 10 Oct 2016

October is here, and so are articles that show a profound misunderstanding of what ghost hunters do.

I’m rather irked reading the insults in “Study links poor understanding of the physical world to religious and paranormal beliefs.”

Tarring all religions and paranormal beliefs with the same brush, the article –  based on a study by Marjaana Lindeman and Annika Svedholm-Häkkinen of the University of Helsinki – claims:

“The results showed that religious and paranormal (supernatural) beliefs correlated with all variables that were included: low systemizing, poor intuitive physics skills, poor mechanical ability, poor mental rotation, low school grades in mathematics and physics, poor common knowledge about physical and biological phenomena…”

That list continues, but I think you get the point.

And, I know quite a few highly educated priests and professors who’d disagree with that correlation.

Oh, I’m not disputing the study results, just the sampling they used or the methods, or both.

It’s typical of the bias we deal with as researchers.

But, for every annoying article like that one, I find several news stories that intrigue me.

I started with an article about a haunted site in Pennsylvania. Then, I found a news article about a Connecticut ghost investigation. After that, I started connecting the dots – literally. In the explanation that follows, you’ll see how I use news stories and maps to find even more interesting places to investigate.

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theatre curtainFirst, there’s the Casino Theater in Vandergrift, PA (USA). It’s opening for an investigation. The site’s history sounds like it’s worth a visit.

I’m always interested in haunted theaters. An unusually high percentage of theaters have ghost stories, and very obliging ghosts.

I mention them in my article, What Makes a Great Haunted Research Site.

  • Theater ghosts often respond well to direction (just as actors do).
  • Backstage, almost every theatre has at least one haunted dressing room… with a juicy story.
  • And, almost every theater has a ghost that supposedly sits or stands in the dark, near the back of the theater. In some cases, a cigarette may be involved, as well as visible wisps of smoke, or a smoky aroma.

If you’re in the Vandergrift area, learn more at this article: Casino Theater paranormal investigation attracts believers, skeptics.

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Then there’s the Dr. Ashbel Woodward House Museum in Franklin, Connecticut. It used to be the home of a medical practice. Today, it’s a historical site.

A news story describes a recent investigation at the site. I’m not sure it’s very haunted, but it has the features I look for in a historical site that’s likely to have ghosts of some kind.

If you’re near Connecticut, the article – no longer online – was in the Norwich Bulletin. You may find a copy of it locally: Ghost hunters look for paranormal activity at Franklin museum.

About 15 minutes away, a “My Ghost Story” episode was filmed at 3 Boswell Avenue in nearby Norwich (CT). Apparently, some ghosts still linger. (The segment was “The Grim Rapper” from “I Am Full of Madness” that aired 14 May 2011.)  In the Norwich Bulletin, in an article titled TV show will explore ‘haunted’ home that drove man from Norwich.

If you want to see that actual Norwich site, remember it’s a private residence. Be discreet and respectful of their privacy.

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Exploring ley lines

The proximity of those two haunted locations makes it easy to draw a line between the two sites. In fact, any time I see two paranormal sites – especially haunted sites – near each other, I draw a line that connects them.

Then, I extend that line in both directions, and see where it leads me.

After reading about those two Connecticut haunts, I was eager to get to work. I’ve never been to Norwich, so I wasn’t sure what I’d find, but my “gut feeling” told me I’d find some great haunted places, nearby.

First, using Google Maps, I constructed a line from 3 Boswell Avenue to the Dr. Ashbell Woodward House Museum.

Then, I checked a few local landmarks that were on or near that line.

Immediately, I was drawn to Norwich’s Colonial Cemetery. That cemetery is closed, but the information online looks fascinating.

With three interesting haunts along one line, I knew I’d find more. So, I kept researching odd places close to the line.

Almost instantly, I found Norwich State Psychiatric Hospital, aka, Norwich State Hospital for the Insane. Several ghost hunters reported it as a terrifying place to investigate… when they could visit it.

As of 2016, this dangerous site – with demolished buildings and collapsed tunnels – is strictly off-limits and unsafe.





In addition, Norwich State Hospital looks like it’s over a mile away from the line.

Many researchers limit their ley lines widths to 12 feet. Others talk about lines as wide as 15 miles.

A few researchers insist that extreme weather, emerging fault lines, and other natural issues suggest that ley lines may be expanding, too.

Personally, I vary the width of the line with the location. That’s part common sense and part “gut feeling.”

In New Orleans’ French Quarter, the lines can be just a few feet wide. In other areas, I’ll expand them a few miles at the very most. My goal is to keep my lines as narrow and focused as possible.

So, I’m iffy about including Norwich State Hospital. If I had more time, I’d look for more ghost reports on or near the line. I’d judge the line width based on how many sites are nearby.

I might try some line variations, using the hospital as a starting point. That site’s ghost stories are certainly lurid.

But, at the moment, I’m not sure. And, I’m working on my next book. So, I’ll leave this ley line for others to explore and refine.

Nevertheless, this shows you how I use news stories and maps – plus some online research – to find and evaluate other sites that could be haunted.

Psychics – Why Do We See What We See?

calendarWhy do psychics see what they see? That’s (mostly) a rhetorical question.

For a long time, I’ve wondered why we “see” things about ghosts when the ghosts seem to reject our help. Most seem to want us to roll back the clock, and we can’t do that. It’s frustrating. It’s why — in recent years — my focus has been on more tangible evidence related to hauntings: documented history, readings on measurement devices, and so on.

This week, the other side of that issue was on my mind. (No pun intended.)

I wondered why so many of us see the future, as well.  It seems equally pointless.

Almost exactly five years ago, I visited Gavin Cromwell at home. He was living in the United States at the time. On that day, he stumbled out from his bedroom, clearly under lingering effects of the medication he’d taken for an illness. So, I’m not sure he’ll remember the conversation we had.

On that day five years ago, he was distraught. He talked about a ferry that was going to capsize. He thought it was in Asia, and he was sure hundreds of young people were on board and would be lost. He described them traveling from the mainland to a small island, not vice versa. He talked about the ship turning onto its side for no apparent reason, and doing so, quickly. Gavin also mentioned the crew telling the young people to stay where they were because moving around could be unsafe. (At the time, I thought he’d borrowed that from a dramatization about the Titanic.)

Gavin kept asking why he was seeing something like that when he couldn’t do anything to prevent it. He asked me if I knew a way to prevent it, but I wasn’t picking up on that event at all. I had no answers.

Now, as the recent (April 2014) South Korean ferry disaster unfolds, every detail echoes exactly what Gavin said five years ago.  Not just what I listed, above, but far more details, as well.

The problem is: That information wasn’t specific enough to be helpful. Gavin “saw” more than most psychics (including me) might have sensed, but not enough to say, “In five years, on such-and-such a date, a South Korean ferry carrying hundreds of students, en route Jeju, will be involved in a disaster.”

The vision upset Gavin… a lot. He was extremely emotional about it, and almost frantic to prevent the tragedy.

But, even with as many details as he “saw,” there was nothing anyone could do. He didn’t have a specific date or location.

If he recalls that prediction — and I’m not sure that he would, since he was taking medication and was barely awake when he conveyed that vision — I’m sure it would upset him to see that it really happened.

What I’m pondering today is why psychics see what they do. It’s rare that we can help spirits. It’s unnecessarily traumatizing to see a tragedy that can’t be prevented.

What’s the point of that kind of “gift”?

Rhetorical question, sort of. I’m not sure anyone can answer this.

But, as I watch details emerge in the South Korean ferry story, I can’t help recalling the accuracy of Gavin’s prediction and wondering why psychics “see” things like that.

Evaluating Ghost Hunting Documentaries

Hand print plus angry jack o' lantern faceEach year, after Halloween, a few people express disgust for ghost-related TV shows and documentaries.

Usually, it’s because the following series of events happened:

  1. First, the complainer went to a few “haunted” sites at Halloween, sometimes after a Halloween party.
  2. Then, he or she spent 10 – 20 minutes at each location.
  3. Nothing happened, or nothing the person noticed.
  4. He or she decided that all ghost hunting TV shows are fake, and all paranormal researchers are delusional or lying.
  5. He or she joined a skeptics group, and his or her new friends further convince the person that ghosts aren’t real.

There’s not much I can say about that.  I’ve been ghost hunting for decades and know that ghosts don’t perform on command.  In addition, many sites that are haunted… they may or may not seem haunted when I visit them.

  • If I’d left the Myrtles Plantation (LA) after a few hours – or at any time before around 10 PM – I’d have thought the site had no ghosts.
  • At the other extreme, I expected nothing at Bradford College (MA), and the site quickly proved to be haunted and have poltergeist activity.

I can’t prove that ghosts exist.  I can’t prove that a location is haunted.  I don’t need to.  Others’ opinions are interesting, but once I’ve found an answer to a question – one that seems conclusive to me – I don’t rely on what others say or think.  I listen to them, but my personal experiences and conclusions will trump others’, at least until I’ve had time to test opposing theories myself.

Similarly, I didn’t create this website to convince anyone that ghosts are real.  Not at all.  I share my stories because people think they’re interesting, and my experiences may shed light on their ghostly encounters, too.  Mostly, I share how-to information about ghost hunting so that others can expand our collective understanding about ghosts, ghost hunting, haunted sites, and the paranormal field in general.

For most people, “proof” of ghosts (or any other paranormal phenomena) exists only in the context of the experiences of the individual.  The references are internal.  When the conversation is about spiritual matters – including ghosts and Deity – or about extraordinary phenomena (UFOs, crypto, etc.), others’ evidence may be compelling.  Despite that, at the end of the day, your experiences are what matter… not mine, and not anyone else’s.

Meanwhile, I can explain a few ways to evaluate ghost hunting TV shows.

1. Check the production company’s reputation.  Have they produced other credible documentary-type shows in any genre, or do they also produce silly, “just for fun” shows?  Have they been associated with discredited TV shows (like Extreme Paranormal, which was a product of Painless Productions)?

  • Check IMDb for the name of the production company.  Then, check IMDb’s link to the production company, for a list of other shows, documentaries, and movies they’ve participated in or distributed.  One bad paranormal-type show might reflect poor choices and later lessons learned.  Two or three frivolous shows – not just ghost-related shows – suggest that the producers are more interested in money than credibility. (Well, hey, it’s called “show business” for a reason.)
  • If the production company is large, check the names of the individuals involved as producers.  They’re usually listed at IMDb, at Wikipedia, and in the individual episodes’ on-screen credits.
  • Remember that production companies can change, even mid-season.  Sometimes the pilot or first six shows are by one producer, and then the network changes producers.
  • If you’re not sure why the production company matters, read star Jason Gowin’s interview about Extreme Paranormal: Extremely Honest: A Conversation with Jason Gowin.

2. Check the history and reputations of the people on the show.  Was he or she hired as an expert or as an entertainer? That can indicate a lot.

  • Has the star been working in the field for years?  If there’s no evidence online, or websites might have been created to look like there’s a lengthy history, check Amazon.com or other book-related sites.  See if the person was published.
  • Double-check the resume of the each star.  I describe that process in my article, Scams and Con Artists.  Never trust vague, evasive claims.
  • Just because someone worked on one discredited show, doesn’t make him or her a fraud.  Plenty of former stars would like to be as forthright as Jason Gowin was… but they can’t.
  • Has the star been associated with a series of bad shows?  Is the star belligerently defensive of his or her work? If so, that’s a warning about his or her future shows.

However, as Jason Gowin’s interview explained, even the stars don’t have much control over the edited episode you see on  TV.

3. Check the sites (and their owners) before and after the episode airs.  A guest on TV show appeared to be terrified by the activity at her home.  (To me, it looked like she was acting, but some of these shows use re-enactments.)

After the show aired, the producers found out that the “terrified” owner had written a book.  She was waiting for the show to air to use that as a “hook” to attract publicity and book sales.  The producers were embarrassed, but the damage was already done.

  • Use a search engine using the person’s name, business, or address (in quotation marks) and words like ghost, haunted, or frightened.  See if the person was looking for help (or looking for an audience) at paranormal forums.
  • If it’s a business, look for bad reviews.  For example, if a restaurant’s food was awful and the service was worse, maybe they’re using a TV show to reinvent the restaurant as a haunted site more than a reliable place to eat.
  • On the other hand, if no one seems to own or rent the location (home or business) for very long, that’s a good sign that the paranormal activity is real.  (One example: The club at the corner of Derby and Central Streets, in Salem, Massachusetts.  I described that site in my article about great research sites for ghost hunters.)

4. Meet the stars.  Go to events where you’ll have a chance to meet, or at least listen to, the stars.  Face-to-face, you may learn a lot that research can’t reveal.  If you want to be very cautious or even skeptical, consider something like F.A.C.E. training before you talk with the stars.

  • It’s not news that I didn’t like Jason Hawes when I saw him on TV.  In person, he turned out to be one of the funniest, most interesting guys I’ve ever met.  So, my real-life opinion of Jason was 180 degrees different from my reaction to him on TV.
  • By contrast, another TV star seemed very sincere on TV, but in person… well, I’ve learned to take what he says with a grain of salt.  I like him, but his humor is so dry, I can’t tell when he’s joking, on-screen or off.
  • Another paranormal “expert” seemed really caring on TV.  In real life, he was rude.  I’d have taken it personally, but he blurted the same kinds of snide comments to other professionals.
  • On TV, Dustin Pari seemed nice. In real life, I’ve met few people as caring and sincere.  In my opinion, TV shows have never represented him as well as they could.
  • But… I could list another dozen or more ghost-related TV stars who are, in real life, exactly as they seem on TV.

My advice: Always meet the stars before reaching a conclusion about any TV show.

In most cases, you’re evaluating two aspects of each show.

  • First, if the show has credibility as a documentary, or if it’s just entertainment.  That varies with the production company and the network.
  • Second, whether the stars of the show are credible as individual researchers.  Check the real background of each “star.” (Their past involvement with paranormal research should be evident, online.) Some people are cast in TV shows because they look like what the producers want… the guy who looks great in a tight shirt, the cute girl who shrieks when startled, the gritty “just the facts, ma’am” skeptic, and so on.

Except for the rare instances where someone like Jason Gowin speaks out, no one outside the shows & production team knows what really occurred at the site.  Sometimes, even the stars are fooled by hoaxes.  Most stars I know don’t watch their own TV shows. That’s especially true when they have no input during post-production editing.

In general, they’d rather not know if they’re portrayed as idiots… not until it’s time to renew their contracts, anyway.

These four evaluation points may not prove whether a paranormal show is real or fake. Most are somewhere in-between, anyway.

That’s why many producers are calling the shows “unscripted” instead of “reality” shows.

Only watch shows that entertain you. If they turn out to be real as well, that’s a bonus.

Advice for Sensitives

book-with-penToday, I received a very interesting email from a woman who thinks that she may be sensitive.  Her questions and comments were sensible and showed considerable insight.

Ordinarily, and especially at this time of year — getting ready for “ghost season” (Halloween) — I’m unable to answer emails. However, this email seemed important enough to answer and to post information about.

The woman had discovered that many ghost-related website copy from each other. Several make ridiculous claims. She was looking for an honest response to her questions, and she hadn’t found them… yet.

She asked about understanding, gauging and developing skills as a sensitive.

Here’s an edited version of what I said to her:

You’re not rambling.  You sound like a sensible person with a healthy level of skepticism.

You’re right. You’ll find many copycat websites online.  They’re fun for some people. I’m okay with that.  If all people want are a few “good scares” or they want to pretend they’re ghost experts, it’s fine, as long as they don’t take themselves too seriously.

Serious researchers can spot those websites within seconds. After a few chuckles, we click to the next possible resource.

In my opinion, and from what I’ve read in your lengthy email, you’re not deluding yourself.

Don’t let age be an issue.  If anything, age brings lots of “older but wiser” knowledge.

The best way to gauge how sensitive you are, and to develop your sensitivity is to:

1. Observe what you sense, carefully.
2. Observe your reaction to it, with some sense of distance from it all.  Be as objective as you can, as you evaluate everything about your experiences.
3. Keep a diary or journal, recording your impressions.  Re-read it every few months, to see how much you’ve learned and achieved.

Classes are available in many communities. Few seem to teach anything helpful.  I advise people to be very, very careful about the people they trust, and especially those who may be misguided, themselves.

In addition to my advice, above, check your baseline physical and emotional state every day before you get out of bed, and at least once or twice during the day.  That will help you identify what’s coming in from the outside, as opposed to external, spiritual activity.

Before you go to sleep at night, write in your diary or journal.  It may be helpful to close each entry with an affirmation about what you plan to accomplish the next day, especially in terms of better understanding your sensitivity.

As you’re learning about being sensitive, keep your boundaries firmly in place.  Opening yourself to perceptions can leave you vulnerable.  Use spiritual protection (if you believe in that) and reinforce your defenses if something uncomfortable seems to be intruding.

Never brush it off as “all in your mind” or “being too nervous.”  Err on the side of caution.

Don’t expect to become an expert at this — or even have a vague idea of how it works for you — overnight.  You’ll probably need months of work before you’re comfortable saying, “I’m beginning to understand this.”  Expect years before you’re able to confidently share with others your insights about sensitivity.

I’m very interested in what others would say to someone who thinks he or she might be sensitive, a psychic, or a medium.  Please share your comments and questions, below.

Can a Ghost Read Your Mind?

 

Here’s a recording of this article, read by Fiona:

Can Ghosts Read Your Mind?

Do ghosts listen to your thoughts? Do other entities read your mind, too? Fiona Broome discusses the possibilities in this short, six-minute podcast.

Can a ghost read your mind? Maybe...Can a ghost read your mind?  That’s what Maddy from Santa Monica asked me, today.

That’s not a simple question to answer.  It depends on the context.

First, we’re not sure what ghostly phenomena are.  Are they all spirits of the dead… really?  I’m not convinced of that.  The more I work in this field (over 30 years), the more certain I am that some (not all) of what we’re encountering aren’t “dead people.”

That includes such a wide range of possibilities, it all depends on what’s real for you:  Pranks by humans (people who are alive), angels, demons, aliens, faeries, the person’s imagination, or… well, I’m sure there are another dozen or more explanations that could work equally well, depending on your beliefs.

My personal view: I believe that at least 50% of what I encounter in the field is actually someone alive and well and living in his or her own time stream.

In some cases, that time stream is our past.  And, I think that moments of intense emotion convey across the barrier between our worlds.

I also believe that some ghostly phenomena are caused by other paranormal entities… things outside our current definition of “normal,” but they may turn out to be not-so-weird, after all.

However, I don’t expect most people to agree with me.

For many ghost hunters, 100% of what they encounter will be spirits of the dead.

But, let’s consider the possibility that ghostly phenomena aren’t always caused by people who’ve died. And yes, some of them may be dangerous.

Demons and malicious entities

It’s well documented that demonic entities may have the ability to read the victim’s mind.

They may also read the minds of almost everyone who attempts to remove, banish, or exorcise the demon.

I wouldn’t rule out deliberate, mind control techniques by other malicious entities.  Though reports of that kind of problem are extremely rare, each ghost hunter should be aware of this.

This is important: If  – even before the investigation – you feel like something malicious is trying to connect with you, stay at home. Also, alert others who are going ahead with the investigation.

By contrast, many people who communicate with angels (and other benevolent entities) will assure you that angels are given many spiritual gifts. They may know your own thoughts and wishes better than you do.   Of course, that’s more empathic than mind-reading.

Some other entities, including faeries and aliens… well, it’s anyone’s guess if they can use their ability to use telepathy as a one-way or two-way communication stream.

For many ghosts, “It’s all about me”

So, let’s get back to the subject of ghosts.  The next thing to consider is the question: Why do people haunt?

If we assume that they’re stuck here for some reason, those reasons become important to them… and to us.

  • Maybe the person refuses to believe he or she has died.
  • Perhaps the person recognizes the death, but has unrealistic expectations about what’s supposed to happen next.
  • The ghost may have unfinished business or a story to tell, before letting go of this existence.

In almost every possible scenario like that, the ghost’s attention is on him- or herself.  From the ghost’s perspective, why would the ghost want to read your mind… even if that were possible?

So, if a spirit that’s haunting for the usual reasons, mind reading is unlikely.

Guardian spirits and rapport

The second most likely situation is where a family member, friend, or other benevolent and caring spirit is visiting from the other side.  That’s a lot like an angel.

He or she is interested in you.  That’s the opposite of a ghost with a personal agenda.

It seems reasonable that a guardian spirit would have empathic gifts, at the very least.

So, the spirit may care deeply about you, and want to know how you’re doing.

Perhaps he, she, or they are looking for ways to help you.  In that case, I think mind reading is a possibility.

So, the answer is mixed.

Remember, this is all speculation.  If you start with the idea that ghosts are real and most spirits you encounter will be from “the other side,” you can use logic to decide whether or not a ghost might want to read your mind.

Is it a ghost with a very personal agenda – something he or she needs help with, urgently? In that case, the ghost is less likely to care what you’re thinking.  He or she is focused on getting help.

Mind reading is unlikely in that situation.

So, to answer Maddy’s question: Yes, a ghost probably can read your mind, but most won’t. They’re focused on their own interests.

On the other hand, if it’s a spirit visiting from the other side, checking to be sure you’re okay, an empathic connection (aka, mind reading) is not only possible but likely.

Psychics and Mediums – What’s the Difference?

Moon and Eta Aquarids
Image courtesy of Gabriella Fabbri, www.i-pix.it

In ghost hunting, many people use the words “psychic” and “medium” to mean the same thing.

The words are alike in popular use. However, they mean two very different things.

Psychics

The word “psychic” comes from the Greek word meaning of the soul, or of life. (Paul uses it in the Bible, I Cor ii,14.)

“Psychic” can relate to the spirit or the mind, depending upon the context.

When someone is a psychic, he or she can perceive — and sometimes influence — things that are outside traditional physical laws and perceptions. For example, some psychics can bend spoons or make objects move without personal physical contact.

Moving objects at a distance can be called telekinesis or psychokinesis (PK). Tests for this usually include attempts to influence the roll of dice.

That can be amusing, but this proven ability has far wider implications.

For example, it may explain some poltergeist phenomena. There’s a pattern to many poltergeist incidents. They almost always happen in proximity to someone who is experiencing roller coaster emotions. Most often, this is a female adolescent, but there are exceptions.

Could someone unconsciously and remotely cause poltergeist activity? I believe that’s happening in some — but not all — cases.

During a ghost investigation, a psychic may be able to:

  • Tell you what others (including ghosts) are thinking.
  • Describe areas of residual energy.
  • Detect high EMF levels without a meter, and so on.

Psychic abilities can be tested and measured in many ways. Early in the movie, Ghostbusters, Bill Murray’s character holds up cards, one by one. Each card has a specific symbol on it. The test subject — who cannot see the face of the card — guesses the image on the card.

Some psychics’ correct guesses exceeds the odds of random chance.

A wider range of psychic abilities is shown in the Cyndi Lauper movie,Vibes. Her character communicates with a spirit guide. The guide transmits messages to her, sometimes from people on the other side. Other messages pertaining to locations, the character’s personal safety… and which horse will win the race.

Mediums

The word “medium” indicates something thats in the middle. In terms of size, a medium is between a small and a large.

In ghost research, a medium is able to communicate between our world and the other side.

One early 21st century medium is John Edward of TV shows such as “Crossing Over” and “Cross Country.” He’s shared messages between people who’ve crossed over, and those who remain in this world.

Does he also receive communications from ghosts? Is there a difference? I don’t know. Some mediums have strong connections to one category of spirits but don’t communicate with other entities.

Technically speaking, most mediums are also psychics. They perceive things outside our usual physical laws.

However, not all psychics are mediums.

Some psychics can bend spoons or identify the owner of a key simply by touching it. The same psychic may not perceive anything ghostly at haunted locations.

Gifts, abilities and skills

Different people perceive psychic abilities in different ways.

Some people believe that these are spiritual gifts, as mentioned in the Bible and other Scriptural references.

Others are convinced that these are inherent abilities that some people have. Or, perhaps everyone has them but some don’t realize it yet.

Most agree that psychic sensitivity can improve with practice, so it can be described as a skill.

For some people, psychic gifts are part of their spirituality and/or religious beliefs.

In other words, these terms — psychic and medium — can mean different things to different people.  They may disagree based on their individual backgrounds and beliefs.

In ghost hunting groups, remain flexible about words like “medium” and “psychic.” It’s fine to explain the difference to someone who’s genuinely confused.

However, treat the subject lightly.  Instead, focus on our common interests.