Offering a solution: After the investigation

So you’ve completed your investigation and it’s time to pack up. You go home, review your evidence, and you end up with countless EVP, and whatever else. You determine that in fact the place you’ve investigated is most likely haunted. Well, now what?

Chances are after we return to give our reveal of information we’ve collected, and it turns up that we do believe a location is indeed haunted, the home or business owner is going to have more questions than ever. What solutions would you leave that client?

I guess this is about the time I should tell you, this blog is solely the opinion of Angels of Light Paranormal Society, and does not necessarily mean that what we think is the end all be all of paranormal solutions. But after our years of experience, we’ve come to the conclusion that this is what works best for our team, and for our clients.

The first step in my opinion, is trying to find out what we’re dealing with. Now even though the paranormal field mostly based on theory, this part is easily debatable. Is whatever the client dealing with malevolent in nature? Is it causing damage emotionally or physically? Or is it possible the the client is perceiving it this way, and is simply misunderstanding whatever is there (if anything at all).

Interview processing is extremely important. This is your chance to get to know your client. Lots of questions can give you some insight to your client and how their train of thought is. Simply asking them what their favorite shows are can tell you a lot. If they have every paranormal show DVR’d in existence, they COULD be reading a little too deep into those bumps in the night.

*It is NOT our job to impede on a person’s personal life. We DO NOT have the right to ask questions that makes anyone uncomfortable. We need to be sure to let people know they only have to answer the questions that they are comfortable answering. We always simply let people know, “You have the right to answer only what you are comfortable revealing. But the questions we are asking are part of finding a solution for you, should we find something” Explain each question, and RESPECT PEOPLES PRIVACY. NEVER RELEASE PERSONAL INFORMATION WITHOUT THE CONSENT OF THE CLIENT. USE COMMON SENSE!

I cannot stress how important this step is. Before we even begin to start jumping into paranormal reasoning, we need to figure out first of all if there is anything even paranormal in nature causing the havoc within the location. Whether its low lying branches on a roof top, a highway of headlights in the distance, a pest control problem or even high amount of EMF in the home- we need to exhaust EVERY chance of this being a nature occurrence that is being misconstrued as supernatural. It’s easy for the mind to play tricks when we really don’t understand the cause of certain things. Our team does consider themselves a debunking team. We would rather explain to someone they need an exterminator over needing an exorcism any day of the week. Keeping from adding to people’s fears is probably the most important job of a paranormal investigator. WE WANT TO BE PART OF THE SOLUTION, NOT PART OF THE PROBLEM. This subject could be a whole ‘nother subject but will save this for another time.

OK so now you’ve exhausted every natural solution there is, and have determined that something strange is indeed going on in the home. We should do our best to look at the bigger picture. Has anything presented itself as malevolent? What experiences are the clients having? Are they just curious about the activity, or are they living in fear? What information can you provide the client that is useful? Should you release everything to them that you find? What has the potential to be misconstrued?

As a team, Angels of Light believes the goal is to empower the client to take their life back and learn to live in harmony within their home or business. Private space such as this should be an individuals fortress and safe haven.  An unhealthy environment can cause issues in all aspect of a persons life, and they can easily be over ruled by unhappiness if they no longer feel safe in these places. This can cause a slough of issues including health issues, relationship issues, financial issues, and pretty much the entire gamut of personal problems. What solution can we offer, that makes it possible to gain these things back?

An important question we ask in our interview process, is the persons religious preference or faith system. This is an important factor 9 times out of 10 in finding a solution that suits the individual. This is why we feel its important as a team to understand different religions and faith systems. You will find out quickly if you are doing something that goes against ones religious standards. This, in my opinion, is detrimental in building a trust with your client. If you begin smudging (saging) in a persons home who’s never seen such a thing, they may associate you with witchcraft which is not necessarily well understood by many people. Occultist type cleansing may be interpreted as something dark and even evil. You want to be sure to communicate well with your client and explain your processes before beginning any ceremonial type activity.

Some faiths may require simple prayer, while others may require asking for a member of clergy to enter the home. We do ask that the client be involved in the process of taking their home back. After reviewing we do try to explain that most of the time a mutual agreement can be made between the living and the dead, by simply laying down some ground rules.

For example; In my own house, I do have a man who wanders around and sometimes spooks me. Until I was used to this, the things he did, did have me worried that he may have been unfriendly. But after witnessing him a few times, especially at bed time, I realized he was merely observing or passing through, he just happened to be noisy. After cursing him out a few times for spooking me (which I profusely apologized, that’s rude to do), I laid down ground rules for him. I let him know that during daylight hours he was free to roam. Neutral spaces are neutral spaces. If I happened to pass him, then that was fine, it was his home too. But when people are trying to go to sleep, I asked for the same courtesy that I would ask of anyone in my room while I trying to go to sleep: to leave me alone, that it was my private time. I did give him run of the areas of my home that were unoccupied during those hours, my workout room, the office, the kitchen, living room, hallways. After all these are free range areas I allow any member of my home to wander, why would I deny him freedom of movement? My kids rooms were absolutely off limits no matter what time of day. These are ground rules that seem to work well for us, and he has yet to violate them since being set in place.

What would  you expect of a roomate? Expect that of your spectre friend.

Now I understand that this is something that might not work for every situation. There are people who are absolutely terrified of the paranormal and want nothing to do with a ghost in their home, especially people who have children. This is where I believe faith steps in. Giving the person strength to stand up to whatever frightens them, is extremely empowering. This is not only in this situation, but in all aspects of life. Building self esteem from becoming a victim to their situation is very important. During this time I will actually have the personal vocalize (sometimes it takes a few cause some people have never spoke with the dead), how the spirit makes them feel, and what they want to ask of the spirit. Whether its to leave them alone, to stay away from their children, or simply to hang out in the garage after dark, is fair game.

As I said earlier, we try to figure out what the client believes in. In my experience, if you don’t believe in it- its not going to work. While some people are religious, I have found that most people are spiritual and open to whatever offers some solice. At this time our team will conduct a smudging with the client, (with their permission) to help neutralize the environment spiritually. We teach the client how to do this so that they can continue after we leave. Depending on the situation, we usually leave a care package with whatever we use in the cleansing. (Sage, salt, holy water, etc.) This is where self empowerment comes into play. Teaching the client to take back control of their house, but to do so in a respectful manner.

The key for us, is treating the spirit as if they are human, because they are.

After this part ensues, we reiterate to the client that our services will continue to be available until they feel that they are able to live in harmony in their home with whatever is present. Should something arise that they no longer feel that they are able to maintain this neutral living with whatever maybe present, we will return and either investigate or move on to a harsher step. Where we draw the line is with malevolence or physical harm. This is very rare for this to happen, but has on occasion. Sometimes more cantankerous personalities require much harsher ground rules or much more aggressive means of cleansing. Regardless we do try to remain respectful, but firm.

We do try to avoid moving spirits over, because this is very personal. That alone is an entirely different blog.

We find that baby steps are usually the best best. The most non-invasive steps first, and then slowly moving on to other bigger solutions if necessary. Running in like an authority can sometimes cause more resistance. Give what is present the chance to resolve the issue.

If we are unable to come to a working solution, we feel there is no need to kick a dead horse, so to speak. This is the time we will call on a team that we trust within the region for a a second opinion. We cannot stress ENOUGH to make sure you know this team well. You do not want the hard work you have done to come undone. You want to make sure this team will work fluidly with your own standards of investigation, and work with integrity. The client is whats most important here. We will then relay the information and case file of procedures over to that team if they want it, and other times they will want to go in blindly so they are not swayed with previous findings. This is extremely rare that we need to call on an outside team, but it has happened. Sometimes swallowing your pride and recognizing that your solution has not worked is the best bet. Sometimes the client simply hearing the same information from a second team is all they need to feel as if they have an understanding of what is occurring. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!

******NEVER- I REPEAT NEVER SUGGEST OR JUMP TO THE CONCLUSION THAT WHATEVER IS IN THE HOME IS DEMONIC. This is something I believe, that should be left to someone who specializes in this, such as clergy. I firmly believe that anyone who has not dealt with demons previously should leave this to the church. We are here to help, not cause more harm or confusion. Because we have worked with spirits, or read books, does not make us an authority on this subject. If a true demon is at play, take heed and consult someone who is actually able to help the family. If you suspect demonic activity, you and your teams safety should trump. SAFETY FIRST! It is not our job to play a super hero. Our job is to find the client the appropriate help.

A Painful Lesson Learned in Paranormal Photography, on the USS Hornet

It’s every single paranormal investigators dream to capture, every homeowners unwanted visitor, and every child’s nightmare. The FBA. The full bodied apparition.

Overlooking the area in question.

Some people go their whole lives working to document this exact phenomena with absolutely nothing to show for it but thousands upon thousands of awkward camera angles, shot somewhere in the dark, in the dankest of places. We buy thousands of dollars worth of equipment, with absolutely no positive result- no matter the fancy name or price tag. We spend thousands of hours wasted in locations that are claimed to have the “highest activity” of any in a given place, only to go home exhausted and empty handed.

That is, until you’re taking a photo leisurely, just to show family and friends, by blindly flashing your camera into the dark. You’re not serious about the photo, just clicking in the dark, waiting to set up for an investigation. No intentions of capturing anything paranormal, and BOOM! It happens.

This shot also shows the area in question, moments beforethe photo in question was taken. Nothing dark hanging on any bunks.

You go back and look at your photos and you notice something that absolutely blows your mind. You know for a fact you were the only one present for the shot. You know nothing like clothing, was hanging in the location of the shot to cause confusion. But yet, all you’re left with is one single photo, that you have absolutely NO supporting evidence to prove what you feel in your heart you may have caught. Something which you cannot explain. Where to go from there? How do you present it? Do you forget it and toss is aside? Do you talk about it? Send it to professionals? Go to your peers? What do you do to share this with people without looking like an absolute buffoon? These are questions, and a situation that came about for a member of our team, Jim Riggi.

On Feb 22nd we investigate the USS Hornet during Grey Ghost Paracon 2014. During this time we were in the Infirmary/Sick Bay area of the ship.

When Jim sent me this photo, I admit. I stared at it, turned my head a little and tried to make sense of what was happening in the photo. Of course, the first thing I asked was who was in the room with him. Jim explains the situation as, “Everyone had moved on to the surgery wing of the Infirmary and I turned back once everyone was in the surgery room to take a photo of Sick Bay so I could show Shannon (Shannon is his wife) what it looks like” Jim assures me that he scans the room and no one else is present at the time except for 1 person who is sitting to his left on a bunk. I can vouch for the people in attendance on our team, which are in the Surgery room. Everyone is accounted for.

Jim is my teammate, I trust him. I know he is honest. Trust and honesty are something that keeps teams like ours afloat (no pun intended), but I also know the general public doesn’t know Jim from Adam. To ask the general public to TRUST us based on our “word”, just isn’t good enough.

Burden of Proof

As a team, we understand that when we make a claim about something that is allegedly paranormal, the burden of proof falls in our hands. This is one of those cases where we are not able to do this. It’s a PAINFUL lesson of swallowing our pride, and pointing out what when wrong with this scenario.

A couple things happened here:

We are in the underbelly of the ship, no one has seriously started investigating the Infirmary section of the ship just yet, but we have all moved into the Surgery wing. While this photo in question is being taken, we are taking personal photos of the ship with cellphones, which is exactly what Jim was doing. There is absolutely 0 cell phone reception in this area of the ship, as most areas are down there. There has been no notable EMF spikes from cellphone reception, because there is none. Jim IS taking a photo with his cell phone for this photo. At a $150 per ticket there’s no doubt we are photographing everything.

We have examined the EXIF data to ensure nothing has been modified in this photo. We can provide that data to anyone in question of the integrity of digital photo data. (available upon request)

Image Exif Data Value
File Name 20140223_012454.jpg
Date 02/23/2014 01:24 AM
Filesize 1.83M
Width 3264 pixels
Height 2448 pixels
Horizontal Resolution 72dpi
Vertical Resolution 72dpi
Mime Type image/jpeg
Exif Version 0220
Camera Data Value
Make SAMSUNG
Model SGH-T999
Exposure Time 1/15 sec.
Aperture Value 2.76 EV
F-stop f/2.6
ISO 320
Focal Length 3.7.0 mm
Exposure Program aperture priority
Metering Mode center weighted average
Flash Status flash fired
Light Source unknown
Shutter Speed Value 998/256

Because of the nature of the photo, taking a picture just to show someone the room and not expecting to find anything, Jim only fires 2 shots rather than our protocol of 3 per area. This was not being taken for evidence purposes.

Here is where we really lose ground on determining whats happening in our photo here.

  • Cellphone photography- This is generally not used for evidence simply because of the ability of faking things can happen so easily. In the day in age of ghost apps, we know how easily photos can be maipulated. Having been a Paracon we were admittedly relaxed in our photo taking, in between EVP sessions and such. While in investigation mode, we were however very strict in tagging as we would in any investigation. Photography on the other hand is just too “iffy” and its not something we generally rely on heavily while investigating, at least not with cellphones nor flash photography.
  • Scene control- On standard investigations, we are in control of our “scene”. We know where everyone is and it is thoroughly documented. Paracons are difficult for this. We are touring with people who don’t normally investigate, or don’t follow our protocol. In this case all we have is a personal experience and 1 persons detailed account of events. While the rest of our team can vouch that what Jim is saying is true, due to the nature of the situation and moving in between areas of the ship, and lack of DVR footage, we have no way to prove this to the general public. This poses a huge problem. If we can’t prove our claim, we have nothing.
  • Angles- We have no other angle in this moment of time. The following photos that come after are not at quite the same angle unfortunately. This one detail, even if we had every other detail in line (whether it be a professional photography camera, infrared, or cellphone, and even our DVR system), we have nothing to compare this photograph to in that exact moment. Protocol while on scene is 3 photos per space that are identical for comparison. This makes this a closed case. We cannot use this photo as evidence.
  • NEVER GO ALONE- In this case our member had moved on without us. Grant it this is one of those situations that he was not in danger, it was only a few doors down. But this left him alone to experience this on his own without any eye witness. At least with groups of two, there are extra eyes and ears to observe. A personal experience is easier to validate with two experiencers, rather than just 1.
  • Supporting Evidence- No emf spikes. No Evp. The only thing we can vouch for, is this area of the ship for us sensitives is very heavy. How do you put a hunch or feeling into tangible form? We can’t in this case.

 The Unidentified Sick Bay Buddy

So basically what we have here is a very interesting photo that we cannot explain, and a very cool personal experience. It feels wrong to stow the photo away or to simply delete it from memory. To the person who captured this, this is a lesson learned that I guarantee will eat him up forever. This is something that we all dream to catch, but very few ever get the chance to experience, let alone capture. The “what ifs” in this situation will no doubt cause us to step up our game of being on task no matter the time, place or situation. At a Paracon it is easy to get caught up in the hype of the place you are investigating, the people you are with, and the situation at hand.

I’m proud to say that given the situation of the event, our team did an excellent job of keeping up with our surroundings. This is a hiccup that no doubt made us all facepalm alittle. It seems in the exact moment of us being off guard, the inevitable happened. I’ve had many seasoned investigators tell me this is exactly when my moment will happen; right when I’m not looking for it.

But the question remains, is this what happened? Is this paranormal? Is this by chance a full bodied apparition, or something else more explainable? This is something that will trouble us forever, but its also something that taught this team a grave lesson:

  • BE ON TASK AT ALL TIMES.
  • FOLLOW PROTOCOL DESPITE: WHO, WHEN,  HOW AND WHERE. THINGS WILL HAPPEN NO MATTER WHO YOU ARE WITH, WHETHER YOU ARE READY OR NOT, AND IT WILL HAPPEN BETWEEN TRAVELING TO LOCATIONS OF INVESTIGATION.
  • USE EQUIPMENT THAT YOU CAN VOUCH AT ALL TIMES, WHETHER IN BETWEEN LOCATIONS OR NOT.
  • TAKE MINIMUM OF 3 SHOTS. THE SLIGHTEST MOVEMENT CAN EFFECT THE DYNAMIC OF A PHOTO DRAMATICALLY.
  • KEEP VIDEO ROLLING TO PROVE YOUR SURROUNDINGS AND PEOPLE IN ATTENDANCE.
  • MANUALLY VERBALIZE WHERE ALL MEMBERS OF YOU GROUP ARE. *NO ONE GOES ALONE*

Some people are going to look at this photo and immediately dismiss it and that is OK, that’s the point of peer review. We would, and ARE doing the same. The WORST thing you will ever have to do as a team, or as an individual, is dismiss your own teams work. This very well could have been the Holy Grail of our investigating careers, but instead has turned into a hard earned valuable lesson. Hopefully our experience will also help you and your team as well.

And here it is for you to scrutinzed or awe over….our own personal, Holy Fail of paranormal photography: The Unidentified Sick Bay Buddy.

WE DO NOT CLAIM THIS PHOTO TO BE PARANORMAL IN NATURE, IT IS SIMPLY UNEXPLAINED AND INTENDED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES.

Without prompting what do you see on the right hand side of this frame? The left hand side shows an obstruction of the camera lens, a finger. This is not what it is in question.
The second angle, slightly off. Once again the brightness on the left is an obstruction of the lens.This is NOT paranormal.

*Authors note: Jim is also learning not to put his finger in front of the flash! 🙂

Intuition, Precognition and Spiritual Intrusion: Confessions of a Paranormal Investigator

Even as I write this I am hesitant on publicly speaking about my experience in Tonopah, Nevada. As it is, my team is no stranger in taking our faults and using them for learning experiences- for each other, and others alike. My approach on this issue, I feel I have to be careful to make sure people who read this understand, that I do not bring this issue up to highlight my own abilities or gifts, but to put myself out there openly so others don’t have to experience what I did.

Be prepared for a long winded, shit fest of emotion.

A lifelong interest in the paranormal, feeling sensitive my entire life, and running a successful team for a couple years now- I’ve never experienced what I did just over a week ago. What I went through was, from my perspective, embarrassing, humbling and disappointing.

Although I have publicly come forward and admitted that I am an empath, talking about other things I’ve experienced throughout my life hasn’t come easily. While the paranormal investigator part of my life I feel has been accepted by my friends and family, talking about the fact that I seem to predict things, I sense things on people, I breakdown and I am sometimes paralyzed with the emotions of others- That part doesn’t come as easily. Who wants to be looked as crazy or as a liar by the people you love? Most people don’t understand such things.

I know how psychology may look at empaths. As just emotionally unstable or oversensitive people. So be it, but I live it.

I’ve spent a lifetime suppressing these feelings, visions or whatever you want to call them, by merely telling myself that they don’t exist. Over a year ago that became too much to bare for me. I felt myself an emotional mess by events that were happening around me. It’s easy to downplay what I’ve experienced by telling me I am too emotional, or even tell me I have a mental disorder, simply because people don’t believe or understand my current state. Explaining things with seemingly logical explanations always seems to trump over what anyone experiences, especially when it seems to have no rationale. What a shitty predicament to be in. Only since I have concentrated on what I have and accepted it, have I began to really open up.

I admire anyone who embraces their gifts and is able to set aside the ridicule that comes along with it. It’s not something I’ve been able to master, hence the embarrassment and disappointing emotion I explained earlier.

Honestly, it’s been easier to say nothing.

What I write here, one cannot simply write out, out of fiction. What I write here comes from the heart and from a loss of what else to do with it. As I type it seems to dump onto my keyboard. I’m still contemplating “publishing” or not, I hope I have the courage to hit that button once this is all said and done.

A Dream

So about a month before my trip to Nevada I had a dream that woke me in a cold sweat. It was extremely lucid. In my state, I grabbed my laptop which sat on the floor next to my bed and I began to type what I dreamt. I posted it on my teams private page. I let them know that I had no clue if it held any validity but that it shook me. But incase it did, I want to be able to validate it.

I’ve had these dreams before and they always seem to come in a lucid nature, sometimes even with a mix of Sleep Paralysis.

I explain that I had a dream we were on a case with long hallways and that I walking through corridors with my team, when I felt myself lured down a hall. My equipment fails and I am in the pitch black only to realize that I had strayed away from my team. I called out and no one answered back. I felt a whisk of air and energy rush past me and it nearly spun me around. I attempted to back track finding myself in the “T” way of a corridor. I felt confused about my directions but continued to walk and adjust my eyes to this dark environment. I called out again, and got no reply. I am terrified at this point. Once again this sensation roars past me and I squeeze my eyes shut. I attempt to gain footing through my fear and I continue down the hallway. I feel isolated. As I begin to see what seems to be light at the end of a hallway, I start to run towards it. The same energy that toyed with me before comes from the lit end of the hallway and hits me like a freight train. I am knocked to the ground, flat on my back, and my body feels like its no longer mine…it’s buzzing just the same as when a limb falls asleep ….and I am no longer in control.

With that, I fight myself to wake up. I find myself in a mild Sleep Paralysis, which is something I’m no stranger to. I wake and I am in bed flat on my back, just as I was in my dream.

When I woke, I felt rattled and my first thought was to talk to the people I trust most in this situation, my team. In all my years, when it comes to this sort of thing, I feel a safe haven in them. I feel they are some of the only people who won’t judge me or think I am crazy. After all, they’re the only ones who’ve seen me use my gifts. I feel no need to prove myself with them, it just comes naturally. They know I do not fabricate truths.

Truth, in this case, is truly stranger than fiction.

After this dream came 3 big trips. 1). The USS Hornet 2). Murphy Hotel 3). The Belvada Apartments

I felt with absolution the first two were not the problem, in my gut the latter of the 3 gave me anxiety. Despite these feelings I followed my normal habit of disregarding and dismissing it. I did not listen to myself, and I allowed myself to follow through anyways, even though I knew better.

Nevada

Our two prior cases went off without a hitch. Both truly successful, pleasant cases. Even with one, barely anything occurred. In between we had a residential that we were able to amount to a child’s overactive imagination and the obsession of Ghost Adventures. Things were going great. Being logical has always been the ALPS way. Find a plausible, natural reason before jumping to the paranormal.

Our Friday drive to Tonopah was long, but fun. We arrived and we were all in awe over the rustic integrity of the city. It absolutely looked as though as if we stepped back a century ago and were in the heart of the silver rush. What an amazing town. The entire area buzzes with energy, that is alive and yet dead, beautiful and yet eerie. I’ve personally never experienced such a mix of conflicting emotion in one place.

On this trip we met Barrie Berry of Vegas Valley Paranormal, he was the general contact for this investigation. We were invited to assist.

Our team includes myself, Scott, Jennifer, Faye, Jim and our newest member, Dustin.

Our first night goes good. After a 6 hr drive, we have very little sunlight to check much out. We agree that in the morning we would get an early start and check things out, then head to the Belvada for safety checks.

(I want to add at this point, something very personal happens to me Saturday morning. I read in the paper that a tragedy has happened in our area. I read this and become frantic. No names have been released but I insist that this concerns someone I, or my daughter knows. I am reduced to tears I feel so deeply that this tragedy is something that hits close to home, even though I do not know who this news story is regarding. I felt it was either a friend’s child, or my daughter’s friend. My teammates Jennifer and Faye are witnesses to this. I am sickened with worry. I will not publish the news event because it turns out that I do know of the victims, through their parents. It’s not my place to talk about it)

When we arrive at the Belvada Saturday morning. We are all a little quiet, more so than usual. Barrie himself seems anxious, which I am feeling on him big time. We go inside and the entire time, my concern is with Barrie who is giving me high feelings of anxiety. I am videotaping through this first floor safety check, and you will hear me asking him repeatedly if he is alright. I can’t explain why, but I am feeling as if there is something “not right”.

At this time we all agree we should go eat before proceeding to the upper 4 floors. We head off to breakfast and before proceeding with the upper floors, we decide to check out the highly recommended Tonopah Cemetery.

As big of history buffs as we are, this was obviously a no-brainer. 99% of pre 1900’s wooden grave markers? We are there.

Tonopah Cemetery

We arrive to Tonopah Cemetery, and all I can think is “Wow!”. While stepping inside, it feels just like stepping into an old western. It’s like a different world entirely. The entire team is there, excluding Jim. Even Barrie joins us. We all break apart and go our separate ways. When I go into a cemetery, I have the habit of scanning each row, observing each grave marker. God knows I’ve been to more cemeteries than probably the average person, considering what I do for hobbies. I didn’t think twice about going into this one. Cemeteries have never given me much of a problem.

As I enter, I feel myself just staring into the cemetery and scanning with my eyes, rather than using my legs to navigate. I notice an empty plot and gate to towards the back. I am immediately realizing my mood has changed and I’m no longer excited by what I’m seeing. I feel solemn and quite frankly, depressed. I begin to walk to what is a little hill in the middle of the cemetery, in a way I can only say is as if I am being pull that way. I have a severe tension in my collarbones. A deep tissue pressure. I feel as if I have two hook in my collarbones and I am being towed through the cemetery aimlessly. I walk through the grave sites till I’m on top of that hill. I feel so overwhelming melancholy that I cannot move. I have no explanation for my inability to move, I’m just there. I stand with my feet planted, because I feel that if I continue to walk, I will become dizzy and possibly fall.

Sounds so unpoetic and uneventful, compared to how intense it felt. I’m struggling to even explain.

At this point I am approached my Barrie and Scott. I don’t know if they notice me just standing there, but they are now beside me. Barrie’s asks me what’s wrong, I say that I’m okay. He tells me I dont have to lie to him that he sees my expression. I explain that I don’t know. He says it’s OK to tell him. I begin to feel extremely emotional, and he tells me it’s time to take a walk.

We walk outside the cemetery gates and I try to put into words about the way I feel and I can’t, I am now void of sensation or emotion. I just feel as if I’ve been depleted, and removed of all feelings. Disconnect is the best way to describe this.

Oddly at this moment, our new member Dustin, who was not anywhere near us, comes out of the cemetery tearful and shook. Dustin has no history of being “sensitive”. I’m alarmed that he is tearful. I don’t understand why.

Thank God for Barrie to be there and recognize that something isn’t right. At this point, I feel overwhelmed and I realize that something seriously negative has happened to myself and possibly Dustin.

I feel as if a piece of me has been “taken”. Whether this was the beginning of a spiritual intrusion or possession, I do not know. But I know what transpired after, took me on a serious emotional roller coaster like I have never been on. Barrie and I agree that it would be an appropriate time to leave.

Tonopah Mining Park

The team decides they want to check out the Tonopah Mining Park that overlooks Tonopah, and get away from the graveyard. In all honesty, we are trying to have FUN. This was the extracurricular portion of our trip. No one should be feeling bad.

Still feeling void of emotion, I feel as if I am still on autopilot. We arrive in the park and there is a picnic table in the parking lot. I go up there and sit. I am overlooking the peak while the team is moving about to check it out. I cannot find myself appreciating this spectacular view that overlooks the valley. I find myself finally able to feel. Whether its because I’ve been removed from that environment, the fresh air or what, I do not know. I begin to tear up and all I can manage to feel is a huge sense of shame and disappointment in myself. I have a hard time understanding how someone like myself who is always careful about what I do spiritually, managed to become so vulnerable. I always try to be the strong one, the protector of the team, and here I am, reduced to a whimpering crying mess. I began to feel even more shameful that I felt for feeling sorry for myself. Jennifer approaches me and I feel like I wanted to hide my face from her. I honestly do not want anyone seeing me in such a weak state. I also recognize that it’s important for someone to witness what is happening. As rawly as I can, I express what’s happening to me, although I am at a loss for words. A huge lump was in my throat and I found it impossible to express myself. In that moment I felt so low as if something inside me was dying. I felt an overwhelming amount of negativity. I felt grief. I express to her that something is so deeply wrong, that I felt ill. A welling up of emotion inside me was nearly choking my own thoughts out. Although I was now able to feel, I was still on autopilot. Was this emotion mine? Or where was it coming from?

Even writing this it’s so conflicting. I can barely make sense of it.

I believe I told her I felt like a child who thought they were tough, until they just had their ass handed to them by a bigger kid on the playground. I felt humiliated and small. I felt extremely violated.

Words in a blog cannot begin to project how absolutely real and alarming this was for me.

I did get a call at this point identifying the people in the news story mentioned earlier. It confirms that in fact it is a neighbor’s child and a friend’s child involved. How sobering.

Belvada

It is now time to arrive back to the Belvada for phase 2 of safety checks. I feel completely wiped and deteriorated. I find myself weak and nearly unable to climb the stairs. I am having continuous equipment failure on the upper floors. I finally tell Scott I feel “fucked off” and disoriented. One thing I can tell you about Scott is that he is extremely logical. He obviously sees my distress. He asks if I’d like leave, and head back to my hotel to get out of this environment. I tell him yes that I need to decompress. I head back to the hotel and I lay down. I fall asleep nearly right away. While I am sleeping, Jennifer mixes me up a cleansing bath mix to shower with. I do get up and shower and spend sometime meditating in the shower. I feel as if the rest and shower do help me to get back to focus.

I am now able to talk about what happened. Even myself cannot make complete sense of it. But I do know that what I was feeling was not healthy or okay.

How on earth would I EVER explain this sensation to anyone who’s never been in this position? Hell, I’VE never been in this position.

About an hour before our investigation, Barrie comes to our hotel to talk to Scott and I. He expresses a high amount of concern for me and whether or not we should continue. I explain to him that I feel better, and that I feel whatever happened came from the cemetery, not the Belvada. I do not want to disappoint the team and I’m hoping that whatever this is, is only targeting me because I’m empathic. In hindsight, I feel I might have been wrong about that.

Although drained. I do setup a certain amount of spiritual wall and all the white light that I can muster around myself. I feel as if I can continue to this nights investigation. But it does not come without a bit of apprehension.

To make a really long story, short, I just want to say that I was not the only person negatively affected on this trip. Aside from myself and my teammate mentioned earlier, two more people were affected. One became a tearful panicked, inconsolable mess, which is completely out of character. Another became ill after feeling what could have been a spiritual intrusion, which caused intense vomiting and chest pains.

(Just to note: All of this seems deep seated in the upper floors of the building. The First floor and even basement seem less intense)

Again words on a screen do not capture the emotion of an event.

I feel its up to them to share their experiences. I will never be able to capture the essence of their situation that would do them justice.

Conclusion

As paranormal investigators, no matter our age, status or experience, we put ourselves in an extremely compromising situation by doing what we do. I myself have always walked in with a warrior mentality that I am protected, and that I am untouchable. How horribly egotistical, and what an irresponsible way to think. The fact is, what we deal with is neither stupid nor incapable of putting us in our places. I always conduct myself with compassion and respect for the dead. But, on a playing field of spirits as diverse as the living, not everything we come in contact with is going to greet us with that same respect and compassion. It’s when you think that you’re on a happy outing or field trip, and your guard is down; that’s when it’s likely to happen. Right when you’ve let your pride get in the way of taking care of business, that’s when it’s suddenly going to confront you.

It’s so easy to get jaded. It becomes mundane walking in and out of these places, that are KNOWN for spirit activity (how fucking SILLY!). It’s not to say we’re not precautious, but sometimes we do so without any attempt of EXTRA precaution. Becoming blasé is absolutely dangerous, and I should have known better.

God, I should have known better.

I should have listened to all the warning signs. I should have listened to my body, to my intuition. I’ve battled so hard with my own abilities to discredit what I am, that I just did not trust myself. I let my more skeptical side over take what I feel and know in my heart.

I’ve learned in the hardest way to trust that little voice in the back of my head to back out. I’ve never been a quitter, and after a 6 hour drive, my teams excitement for the location, and my own pride; I made the decision to go through with our investigation anyways. I regret that decision.

I am here to admit that I am human, and what I did not only compromised my own safety, but the safety of people I care about. It’s a hard pill to swallow when I see 3 other people aside from myself affected by this.

Not one of us who took the brunt of this, feels as if we’ve completely bounced back from this trip. Others of us walked away with absolutely no adverse reactions.

Personally, I am on a hiatus from investigating until I feel that I am spiritually in a better place. It’s been a week and I am barely coming around. I’ve felt myself become slightly isolated since this has happen. I’ve been somewhat reclusive. No doubt that I am extremely humbled by my situation. I’ve sought the help of extremely spiritual people I trust and its been unanimous that I am extremely lucky. Whatever confronted me was methodical, and poisonous. It could have been so much worse. Although, I still don’t know the possible long term repercussions from my experience.

When I talk about my situation to others in the community, they ask, “Would I ever return to Tonopah?”

For the first time since I’ve started paranormal investigating, the only thing I can certainly say, is that I am completely uncertain.

Probably not.

My advice; Be cautious, be vigilant and NEVER let your guard down. It does not matter how seasoned you think you are, there’s always something bigger than us out there. There is NO case worth you or your teams safety. If it feels wrong- let it go.

Finding Truth Through Terror: Sleep Paralysis

GLOWING-ALIENS-2

A Preface

At 8 years old, I had my first experience of true terror, when I awoke to a man at the end of my bed. This man was definitely not my brother. He was a luminescent figure. No distinguishing features, just a glowing silhouette of light. I was frozen with fear, I couldn’t move. I couldn’t breathe. I could only sit, paralyzed with my eyes wide open from the confines of my bed. He never advanced, only stood and observed. This opened a whole new world for me. From poorly done Hollywood horror effects, to a tangible figure. My level of fear catapulted into full on paranoia. This man appeared to me on several occasions. Sometimes not for months, other times for nights on end. It seemed the more he visited, the closer he would get, until finally felt him upon me; suffocating and choking. I tried to talk to my parents, but of course, no one believed me.

They must have thought I was crazy…

That was 30 years ago, in 1984. We did not have the Internet. Pretty much unless you had access to scientific journals or others who knew about certain conditions, people were left to themselves to figure out what was happening to them. As an 8 year old child this catapulted me into curiosity, and utter terror.

I also discovered later into my 20s, by accident, a condition called sleep paralysis. I was watching Montel Williams one day and these people began to talk about figures at the end of their beds, sometimes advancing on them, terrifying them. The paralysis that set in, and how they discovered they only had sleep paralysis. For once the illuminating man at the end of my bed made sense, or did he?

https://klucid.com/portfolio/sleep-paralysis-comic
Image Source:  https://klucid.com/portfolio/sleep-paralysis-comic


While my experience didn’t quite describe something horrific like any of the creatures I’m about to mention, as I got older my experiences did seem to change. My non-descript figure became something much more sinister.

One particular night I recall laying in bed with my children’s father. My arms around his body, and facing his back, I was awoken to a humming. I opened my eyes and across the room, a masquerade mask I had hanging on the wall suddenly came nearly nose to nose with me. Terrified I laid there eyes wide staring directly into the eyes into the single most terrifying thing I have still to this date, have ever seen in my life. It was a man with a beard and gnarly twisted expression grinning at me. His eyes were so stunningly blue they were nearly white. His pupils were pinpoint, and he appeared predatory and ready to cause harm much like the way a wolf looks at his prey before going in for the kill. He was so intense I felt as if I would have a heart attack.

I tried to shake my boyfriend and scream, but nothing happened. My muscles failed me. The more terrified I became, the less I was able to do. I squeezed my eyes shut, but I could feel him there. I have never in my life been more terrified than I was in that moment. I honestly feared for my life.

1024px-John_Henry_Fuseli_-_The_Nightmare

The Old Hag, Succubus, Incubus and other Folklore

Throughout history, creatures have appeared in stories and in mythology. This phenomenon comes from the superstitious belief that a witch, or in this case an old hag, sits on the chest of their victims paralyzing them. The old hag even makes an appearance in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. 

  • Incubus (nominal form constructed from the Latin verb, incubo, incubare, or “to lie upon”) is a demon in male form who, according to a number of mythological and legendary traditions, lies upon sleepers, especially women, in order to have sexual intercourse with them. Its female counterpart is the succubus. An incubus may pursue sexual relations with a woman in order to father a child, as in the legend of Merlin. Religious tradition holds that repeated intercourse with an incubus or succubus may result in the deterioration of health, or even death.
  • Succubus is a female demon or supernatural entity in folklore (traced back to medieval legend) that appears in dreams and takes the form of a human woman in order to seduce men, usually through sexual activity. The male counterpart is the incubus. Religious traditions hold that repeated sexual activity with a succubus may result in the deterioration of health or even death. In modern fictional representations, a succubus may or may not appear in dreams and is often depicted as a highly attractive seductress or enchantress; whereas, in the past, succubi were generally depicted as frightening and demonic.
  • The “Old Hag” was a nightmare spirit in British and also Anglophone North American folklore. Folk belief in Newfoundland, South Carolina and Georgia describe the negative figure of the hag who leaves her physical body at night, and sits on the chest of her victim. The victim usually wakes with a feeling of terror, has difficulty breathing because of a perceived heavy invisible weight on his or her chest, and is unable to move i.e., experiences sleep paralysis. This nightmare experience is described as being “hag-ridden” in the Gullah lore.

If we look back historically throughout nearly any culture, there seems to be a type of entity or “demon” that violates people while they sleep. 

 In Scandinavian folklore, sleep paralysis is caused by a Mare, a supernatural creature related to incubi and succubi.
In Fiji, the experience is interpreted as kana tevoro, being “eaten” by a demon. 
African communities as “the Devil on your back.”
In Turkey sleep paralysis is called Karabasan, and is similar to other stories of demonic visitation during sleep. 
In Thailand it is believed that sleep paralysis and discomfort is caused by a ghost of the Thai folklore known as Phi Am. 
In Eastern Chinese folklore, it is thought that a mouse can steal human breath at night.
Finding Truth Through Terror: Sleep Paralysis
Image Source : https://fc09.deviantart.net
Image Source : https://fc09.deviantart.net
Sleep paralysis is a condition described as results from disrupted REM sleep, which is normally characterized by complete muscle atonia to prevent the sleeper from acting out his or her dreams.
Symptoms of sleep paralysis may include:
*Complete Muscle Atonia

Muscle weakness and an inability to move.

 *Sensed presence

People typically feel as if a presence in the room with them.

*Chest Pressure

It feel as though something is pressing down on them. This is something that is  sometimes perceived as being sexual in nature. 

*Difficulty Breathing

Attributed to claims of being choked.

*Auditory Hallucinations

People claim to hear strange sounds during episodes including voices, buzzing, and beeping.

*Visual Hallucinations

Dreams are still being enacted during this stage. With the ability to move, the experiencer may see strange presences.

*Terror or Feelings of Dread

Typically accompanies SP. This is a very frightening experience, and people ofter associate the experience with something evil or malevolent.

 *OBE, Out of Body Experience

During SP the experiencer may experience an out of body experience or lucid dreaming.

*Feeling Exhausted

Many experiencers report feeling drained or exhausted the day after an episode.

 Now having heard the symptoms of SP, its easy to see why the experiencer may attribute their experience to a paranormal occurrence. Even as someone who’s had these experiences quite literally her entire life, it’s hard to get used to something that renders its victim completely helpless.
The fact of the matter is, is that SP is completely normal and not all that rare. Many people will experience one episode of SP throughout their lifetime. There are two stages of SP- ISP and RISP.
ISP episodes are infrequent, and usually occur only once in an individuals lifetime. This is the most typical case.
The other, which is what I have, is RISP. With this condition episodes can last for hours, and have a much higher occurrence of perceived out of body experiences.

ISP is usually attributed to Incubus, Succubus and The Old Hag because the victim doesn’t typically understand whats happening to them and because of sheer numbers, are less likely to be candidates for having paranormal experiences (assuming that paranormal occurrences are rare). Much like myself, with RISP the individual can suffer back-to-back episodes of sleep paralysis in the same night, which is unlikely in individuals who suffer from ISP.

 According to MedMD, who recognizes SP as a physical disorder not a psychological one, that, “Sleep researchers conclude that, in most cases, sleep paralysis is simply a sign that your body is not moving smoothly through the stages of sleep. Rarely is sleep paralysis linked to deep underlying psychiatric problems.”

“Sleep paralysis is a feeling of being conscious but unable to move. It occurs when a person passes between stages of wakefulness and sleep. During these transitions, you may be unable to move or speak for a few seconds up to a few minutes. Some people may also feel pressure or a sense of choking. Sleep paralysis may accompany other sleep disorders such as narcolepsy. Narcolepsy is an overpowering need to sleep caused by a problem with the brain’s ability to regulate sleep.”

SP is believed to be an disruption in the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) stage of sleep.
SP is believed to be an disruption in the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) stage of sleep.

 Personal Tips on How to Prevent or Remain Calm During SP

I have found that remaining calm during an episode is what has helped me most. Instead of fighting to wake up completely, I am now able to remind myself that this is in fact a dream. It’s not to say I don’t get nervous but I do. I usually simply work on moving my hand or toes. Gradually I am able to move an arm or leg completely.

Preventing SP can be tricky, especially for people who work strange hours or have irregular sleeping schedules. My SP peaked when I was working NOC shifts at my local hospital. On my days off I found it hard to sleep all day as I did on work days, so I would sleep at night so I could see my family. Come work time, I would be back on my schedule. This caused my SP, lucid dreaming and OBE’s to be out of control. This eventually took a toll on my overall health and caused me to feel drug down all the time.

Try, if possible to get good sleep. Eat well, exercise.

Another trigger for me is supine sleeping. Sleeping on my back nearly always triggers an episode.

Conclusion

While its easy to see why people view SP as a paranormal experience, it is something that is recognized by the health industry just like sleep walking or narcolepsy. As a paranormal investigator we hear about cases of people describing symptoms and experiences that sound identical to SP. While we are sympathetic to peoples experiences, especially myself who’s experienced them from childhood, we can’t help to believe that most of these episodes can be explained easily through medical explanations rather than paranormal. We understand that this maybe hard for someone who is completely terrified by their experiences to understand, because they are so preoccupied by fear. But we hope through knowledge and education on the subject, we can help set some minds at ease, that there are somethings they can do to regain control over their situation. I can speak from experience that knowledge is exactly what’s helped me heal decades of lack of control. My turn to help you all.

If you have having similar experiences to those listed in this article, we are always open to talk to individuals about their stories.

Balancing The Believer and The Skeptic

One of the hardest thing I’ve had to balance being a paranormal enthusiast is being both a believer and a skeptic. I grew up believing in the paranormal from a very young age. I often had things happen to me that now as an adult I am able to rationalize, while others I am still perplexed.

When I was small I had many things happen that scared me. For one, night was terrifying for me. I often had nightmares, some of which would later come true. Now many who know me now, think “…well this is weird because last we checked Anna, you were a skeptic“, and this is completely true. Somethings for me are not so cut and dry. When I was small I had an extremely lucid dream that my oldest brothers best friend was killed in a car accident. I woke up in a cold sweat screaming for my mother. Inconsolable, she came to my room in to assure me it was just a dream. Some weeks later my family is awoken in the middle of the night to my brother coming home hysterical and screaming that his best friend Edward was killed in an accident. This began a lifetime of strange dreams that would somehow come true later. Sometimes they would come true immediately, sometimes later. Paranormal? I don’t know, but it’s simply something I have not found any reconciliation for even now in my skeptical state.

Now on the flip side of things, I have had horrifying experiences I have been able to make sense of. Another situation that made night-time pure hell for me, was a life long series of sleep disruption that started at the age of 8. The first time I can remember an episode I was lying in my bed sleeping when suddenly I was awoken up to a buzzing sensation. Unsure of what was happening, I opened my eyes wide and scanned my room. I was unable to move, but I was fully aware of what was happening. My room at night was always dimly lit by a solar light that came on across the driveway on my dads wood shop. I was able to see my room and nothing looked strange despite this sensation I was feeling. It wasn’t until my eyes reach the bottom of my bed did anything appear wrong. Here stood this illuminated non-descript figure watching me. In absolute terror I attempt to cry out for my mother, but I am only able to manage a gasp. Nothing comes out. As I stare horrified at this figure, he leans in arms extended and suddenly I am unable to breathe. It’s as if he is “willing” my throat closed without even touching me.

I can’t imagine I slept well for the rest of that night, but by morning I find myself in and out, to depleted of energy to move. I still feel the traces of buzzing from the stranger’s visit. I immediately talk to my mother who tells me it was only a dream, but I couldn’t let it go. I continued to try to talk about it. It wasn’t a dream, I SAW HIM! I felt him. I remember at one point some words being thrown about concerning therapy. I stopped talking about my experiences, no one was going to believe me anyways.

These episodes occurred throughout my lifetime after that first visit. At 38, and 30 years later, I still experience them. Sometimes I would have multiple episodes in a night, sometimes I’d go months without any problems. I lived never knowing when it was going to happen.

It wasn’t until I was in my mid 20’s did I get my first indication of what might be happening to me. I was watching Montel Williams and the episode was about night terrors. I listened these people talk about what they went through and some nearly mirrored what I had experienced throughout my life. They began to talk about Sleep Paralysis and FINALLY, the man at the end of my bed made sense.

No doubt that my experiences were real to me. No one could convince me otherwise. But, after researching further, I have no doubts at all that my experiences deserved rational explanation. While I don’t know what triggered these episodes so young in me, or so frequently, I at least knew I was not going crazy.

While it didn’t cause me to seek out paranormal research immediately, it did spark a thought in me. How many people were going through horrifying experiences like myself, but had no way to rationalize their experiences? Today we have information readily available. We can search any symptom or phenomena and get information at the click of a button. For me, it wasn’t until 1999 that I was actually able to look up information on the Internet and research. Until then, all my time had been spent looking things up in my school library or by the chance I may have ran across a scientific journal. Growing up a small town girl with limited resources, this wasn’t very frequently.

2004 was a great year for me. Ghost Hunters aired its very first episode, and I was hooked! I thought this was the coolest thing I had ever seen in my life. I couldn’t believe that people were actually pursuing what I had been researching nearly my entire life: the quest for the unknown. But always, in the back of my mind was that terrified girl who was having a rational yet horrifying experience. She was always reminding me that maybe all things really did deserve rational explanation. That same girl was often reminded that her precognitive dreams still haunted her.

There were so many things I experienced throughout my life that I have not been able to find a logical cause for. There’s been just as many, if not more that I have been able to rationalize. For me, finding that balance has always been the thing that keeps me curious. If I adamantly listened to my rational side, I would have left this behind me long ago. If I had only listened to the scared part of myself, I would probably not be here either. I’d probably be too scared to delve into such things. These two balances have managed to help me remain unbiased to most situations. I’m always trying to remain skeptical of any occurrence, but also being open to the possibilities to something more.

Skepticism is an often misunderstood quality in paranormal researchers. Many believe the word “skeptic” has a negative undertone, and that’s the furthest thing from the truth. Skepticism on the contrary is the ability or willingness to see things from both sides, and refusing to draw a conclusion until all available information is given. When information is not available, we seek it. We test theories over and over until we are able to come up with the best probable conclusion.

In a group I operate, “Paranormal Dustbusters & Truth Seekers” I open my group with my view on devout believing vs. skepticism. I created this group after trying for years to fit in or participate on message boards that hosted a slough of different types of possible “paranormal evidence”. Time and time again I was berated for having a skeptical mindset on most material that came across my screen. I decided it was time to have a group that promoted critical thinking.

“I’ve always found it odd that blind believers feel that skeptics are close minded or set in their ways. Most skeptics believe in some sort of problem solving up to using the scientific method. Scientific method is essentially being flexible and open minded to all possibilities:

 Form a hypothesis

Test
Retest
Form new hypothesis, according to new data
Start over

 On the contrary with blind faith, the belief always stays the same, it seems, despite new information. This is proven to me time and time again in the way we have to explain the same things over and over again, to the point of making photos and charts because the explanations become tiresome to type out. We can very carefully, and in the most simplistic fashion, lay down facts and most blind believers will remain unwavered. To me this is the most quintessential example of close mindedness. I never understood this logic….”

Many people are immediately put off by skepticism, I believe, only because they don’t understand it. Remaining unbiased in my opinion is the only way this community will move forward. This is the only way we will find answers to the ultimate truth. Skepticism does not mean you can’t believe, it only means one should put emotion aside and look at each study carefully on an individual basis. Adopting skepticism is not dishonoring your faith, nor your beliefs. If you seek honest truth, question your experience and pick them apart. The most honorable thing we can do, is solidify our beliefs through honesty. If at the end of it, you find that you cannot find a rational explanation, it’s then we will have truly found something worth noting.