Does Death Location Equal Haunting Location?

There have been moments where investigators both new and seasoned have heard someone say or have said a statement along the lines of, “this place must be haunted because someone died here,” or that “it is haunted, which means the person died here. Truly, it can be a reasonable conclusion, yet it also confines the spirit world into a perfectly fitted formula for explaining who and partially why someone is haunting a location. In the paranormal world, words such as “fitting,” “easy,” and “reasonable” are rarely accurate descriptions.

A general exception to this rule are places that include battlefields. These are tricky because they are so tied to moments that have scarred time and history that any choices made by spirits to stay or go elsewhere are certainly riddled with difficulties. As a favorite place of many paranormal investigators, Gettysburg does have a number of spirits who act as those the war has not yet ended. Investigators have caught EVPs warning them away from certain, brutally bloody parts of the battlefield, for example, the Wheatfield; or ones yelling at visitors to “get out of the way”. When asked why they stay, some claim answers of work left to be done; hinting at a choice to move on, yet over one hundred and fifty years later, they still have not.

There are spirits who do leave the battlefields to haunt other, seemingly unusual places. It may seem an oddity that these spirits still do not always return home, instead haunting the place that was the source of their death prior to a battle. For instance, at Codorus Iron Furnace in York County, Pennsylvania there have been sightings and contact made with a Revolutionary War soldier. He reportedly haunts the furnace because that is where some of the cannonballs were manufactured for the Continental Army during the war. Evidently, he was the unfortunate target of an artillery shot.

On a more understandable level of spirit contact and location are those who chose to remain with family. Whether it is in their own house or a relatives, family ghosts have made themselves feel at home. From personal experience and through private investigations, contact has been made with family members who died in their own home or nursing homes and then found their way to family. Some would call this a type of guardian angel complex; however not everyone subscribes to the idea of angels, or people being able to cross over and come back. Some people may just leave their bodies and go directly to where they want to be.
There have been occasions where the family member is waiting for another person to die. During an investigation inside a chapel, an EVP was acquired from a gentleman waiting for his wife to pass on. Certainly, there are stories of funeral parlors being haunted, even if it does seem like a set up for a horror story. Only on very rare occasions has it been mentioned of someone passing away in a funeral home. The hauntings could be tied to former employees, or in the case of funeral homes that were previously private homes before the renovation into a business, there could be lingering activity not connected to the funeral home. If one takes away the other factors, there still remains stories of hauntings in funeral homes caused by people who did not die there.

Some spirits may split between two or more locations in what may well be both residual and intelligent hauntings. Henry VIII’s second wife, Anne Boleyn, is said to haunt both her childhood home and the place where she died. Of course, by all accounts Anne is only one of several spirits that haunt the Tower of London; a place that holds a distinction as a royal palace where monarchs wait to be crowned and the Crown Jewels are protectively displayed. It is also a location that has a “Traitor’s Gate,” coming in from the Thames. Once through that gate, death is often the only means of escape.
When Anne Boleyn was beheaded, one of six who died due to the king’s quest for a new wife. He married Jane Seymour ten days after Anne’s death. Members of the Yeoman Guard, her Majesty’s soldiers who watch over the Tower of London, have reported seeing a headless woman in period clothing roaming the Tower Green on the date of Anne’s beheading, May 19th 1536. She also makes her way through the Chapel Royal, near the Lieutenant’s lodgings, and in the Queen’s House.

As for where she lived, visitors to Hever Castle have reportedly seen a young Anne Boleyn running around the grounds. Hever was likely the last true peace Anne had away from court life. Likely the sightings of young Anne are more residual since no one claims to have communicated with her at the castle. Other, less substantiated sightings of Anne have also occurred at Windsor Castle, Hampton Court, and Rochford Hall, a manor house owned by her family. With all of these last three, the tales generally take on a romanticized, wild view of Anne; typically she is clutching she head in her arms and screaming or running down the corridors. Such ideas do not exactly fit the deceased queen who remained witty to the end, and calm as she approached the block. It is hard to imagine death taking away any vestige of noble charm to her persona.

From family homes, to work places, funeral parlors, cemeteries, and castles, there are any number of places that the dead can remain in their afterlife. There are many places for the dead to choose from, with many different reasons and factors in those decisions. Any place, whether someone died there or not, can be haunted or have a spirit inhabiting it. It is important for anyone in or interested in the paranormal field to keep an open mind about what spirits and ghosts can and cannot do. Or where they go. Besides death, nothing is definite; and even in death, there are still possibilities.

Naming the Lost: A Look at the Forgotten Shipwrecks and Lost Souls of Cape May, New Jersey – Part II

Looking across the long stretch of the sandy beach at Wildwood, New Jersey, I can see the shadowy form of a schooner, sails full coasting across the Atlantic Ocean on the windy night. Likely a trick of the mind brought on by the swirl of related thoughts in my brain. Yet, the shadow poses a reminder of the numerous secrecies of the sea. Beyond the sphere of the shoreline where one finds: lighthouses, harbors, and areas where bodies and spirits washed ashore; because beyond the beaches lies a question, for all the spirits who could reach the shore, how many did not?

There are accounts of activity on the water, phantom ships being the most common and fantastical stories from the tourist on the shore to ship captains to members of the Coast Guard. Scientific theories ha e been offered to explain this activity: Saint Elmo’s fire and the reflection of the moon on the water, for instance, but they tend to fall short.  The next series of accounts comes from people on boats in the water hearing the sound of voices pouring in from the ocean. This particular phenomenon occurs in the stillness of the night over or near areas with a lot of shipwreck. In the water, the depths offer something more terrifying. In the area of Cape May, New Jersey, a popular vacation site leftover from the Victorian era, people have experienced or felt sensation drowning. Either the splashes or cries from help from an unseen force nearby or they feel as though they are the ones gasping for life and air. In all of these cases, that is not what is actually occurring, it is only a feeling.

Sensing and personal accounts are one thing, investigating the possibility of spirits in the water is quite another and vastly more difficult. How would one go about such? With all the proper safety guides and procedures in hand one could take a boat in the water and see what voices they can hear. A standard or cheap digital recorder may not be the best tools to use on such an investigation. The more controversial spirit boxes and Oculus would tend to offer better results.

Thanks to evolutions in technology, those who are capable of swimming or diving in the water can bring along specialized or water proof cameras to snap a few pictures under the water. Underwater photography is a specialized skill, where one needs to consider the differences in sunlight reflections and sandy and sediment underwater that would make photographs look cloudy.  Murky photographs and videos are not going to equate paranormal activity.

For the more open-minded, water divination can offer results; though it is certainly less than scientific. Divination is a technique that has been around since ancient times in various forms; the reading of tea leaves, palms, the moon, sand, and the list goes on. The technique of scrying can be done using water, mirrors, or crystal balls. It typically depends on personal preference. How one would use water scrying in relation to contacting the dead is to take a bowl of water, ask questions, and see what forms in the water. In this specific case, a bowl of ocean water would be used; and then pictures are taken of the results. For the water experiment I tried, I used ocean water from Cape May.

Cape May Water Scrying Experiment Picture 1
Cape May Water Scrying Experiment Picture 1
Cape May Water Scrying Experiment Picture 2
Cape May Water Scrying Experiment Picture 2
Cape May Water Scrying Experiment Picture 3
Cape May Water Scrying Experiment Picture 3

Images of faces and ships have been seen while using water to communicate with the deceased. Though one can see faces in nearly anything, it is a common psychological occurrence known as pareidolia. It occurs because a human’s mind sees patterns in objects. All I really noticed with the pictures I took is a change in the cloudiness of the water between the photos. There is a valid skeptical stance on water scrying; nonetheless, those who practice it swear by the results.  Another tip if one is going to try this technique is to have a voice recorder nearby to record additional results; hence giving some credence to any images that come up.

It is a difficult stretch to take paranormal investigation from the shores into the water. There are dangers to working on the water; boating and diving have their risks. Just like on land, all personal and team safety should be considered, and common sense is a required tool. Investigating on land is imperfect, and it faces skeptical criticism even using the most advanced scientific techniques. But the mysteries of the afterlife stretch far beyond this realm and dry land. Every spirit should have the right and chance to tell their story and to have assistance moving on to the other side. The greatest difficulty lies in reaching and hearing them, on land or at sea.

Communicating With Ghost Children

DSC00504Truth be told, the thought of ghost children or the spirits of dead children is unsettling. We often see children as the epitome of innocence and love, and death is wrongly perceived as anything related to love, warmth, and care. But, as sad as it is, children do die far too early. What can be seen as sadder is that they are reported to be haunting various locations. When a haunted location announces that they are haunted by children, ghost hunters will flock to the location with toys as trigger objects. They may sing a few songs, or ask a few questions, talking in a baby voice, etc. But there are other effective ways of establishing communication with ghost children.

From my experience as a teacher and as a paranormal investigator, I’ve learned the following things about communicating with deceased children and pre-teens.

  1. Research child development: A child who is five years old will act very differently from a child who is nine. The first decade of a child’s life is crucial in their social and academic development. What I typically find in investigations involving children is that ghost hunters will streamline and treat the children all the same regardless of age. What results is talking to a ghost child as if they are several years younger than what they were when they died. Now, I don’t know if deceased children still grow and mature in the afterlife, but talking to a child like they’re younger is insulting to them, and they won’t want to talk with you. So, essentially, know your audience.
  2. Keep in mind of attention spans and trigger objects: This is both for the investigator and the ghost children. If you’re a teacher or have children of your own, you’re probably aware that a kid will only play with a toy for so long before they get bored and find something else more exciting. Or, if they’re not interested in talking to you anymore, they will simply walk away. You have to figure out what will keep the young one engage. So this means you might need to bring multiple toys, books, music, and different things to talk about.
  3. Let them show off: If you’re reading a book or singing a song, don’t finish the last word or two and let the kids fill in the blanks. Not only will you possibly have some interesting EVP’s, but you’re also creating an effective rapport with the child and gaining their trust. Kids love to show off their knowledge and abilities, especially to adults. Create an environment that allows them to do so, and your data collection will be very interesting!
  4. Practice: If you’re a teacher or have kids of your own, then you have an idea on how to talk to children. If you don’t encounter kids on a regular basis, consider babysitting or volunteering for an organization. I’ve learned that kids can smell hesitation and fear from a mile away and can take advantage of it. If you’re struggling with connecting with a child (and no, baby talk doesn’t count), practice by interacting with kids in your free time.
  5. Know Children Through History: Kids from the early 1900’s obviously lived different lives than children in the 21st century. The childhoods from the past had more responsibility where they might have even worked to help support their families when they were only 6 years old. This is much different from today’s child where they have preschool and modern technology to entertain them. For example, if you’re dealing with a ghost child from the Industrial Revolution, then they child most likely had a job. Knowing tidbits such as these will help you in your questions.
  6. All They Need is Love: From my experience of interacting with children, both living and dead, young and old, they crave love and attention in some from. If they are deceased, there is a good chance that they miss having physical contact such as hugs and lap sitting. This is why, especially at places like the Orphanage in Gettysburg, people will feel kids climbing into their laps and touching their hands. If you find yourself having this kind of experience, embrace it. You’re helping that child get the emotional attention that they need that will hopefully bring their souls at peace. Obviously set your boundaries if you don’t want that child going home with you.

With these tips in mind, you should be able to create a productive and rewarding communication session with the child. Communicating with young ghosts is much different than interacting with adults. Effectively communication is key in gathering information, and you might make a positive impact on not only your team and the location, but also for the child that you’re talking to. These deceased kiddos are more than a spooky story, they were once real people and souls that need some sort of resolution. Remember that, and you’ll make positive waves in the field.

Paranormal Safety and Code of Ethics

Standards, ethics and safety are all consistent topics that are almost always being tested by the paranormal community. Nearly on a daily basis, we hear news stories of ghost hunters being hurt while unlawfully trespassing. We hear of historical locations being damaged. We hear of ghost hunters with immoral practices, shady pasts, and with questionable motives.

With every story, I can’t help to think that safety and ethics are steadily falling by the way-side as ghost hunters clamber to become popular. Suddenly it’s no longer about whether or not we’re proving ghosts exists, but instead the attitude is, “prove to me it ISN’T a ghost”.

This sadly seems to be the way of the paranormal community as of recently.

It’s been proven time and time again, what gets you popular in the paranormal community, is bringing in the “ghost stories”. This has nothing to do with truth, but rather to satisfy people’s desire to be freaked out. The same reasons they’re following most paranormal pages, are the same reasons people watch horror movies.

no-trespassing

Safety:

According to fellow Paranormal Enlightenment Magazine author, Chad Stambaugh who wrote “An Investigators Guide to Paranormal Safety”, a survey he conducted last year with over 5,000 respondent turned up the following results; “2014: there were 4,738 reported injuries. This is ranging from a splinter all the way up to hospitalization for lung issues or a broken bone. We also had 24 deaths that were related to/or classified as paranormal investigating/ghost hunting.” These numbers are staggering. It’s unfortunate when many of people being hurt, could have been prevented these injuries by refusing to investigate locations that are obviously unsafe for public safety.

Websites like www.paranormalsafety.com have sprouted up trying to teach investigators the dangers of paranormal investigation. These can range from anything from carbon monoxide poisoning, to electrocution, to falling through a ceiling while in an attic.

Disregarding no trespassing signs and refusing to heed warnings, are attributing factors to many of these injuries. Carrying a first aid kit, wearing appropriate safety gear, abiding by the law, and most of all using common sense; are all things that may help prevent many of these deaths and injuries that happen yearly.

Being in the wrong place as the wrong time could come at a great price. There is no never an excuse for getting failing to gain permission. Refusing to explore uncharted areas that may result in injuries to you or your members, could help.

Be smart. The safety of you and your team members are number one. This is far more important that looking brave for your YouTube channel. Your “bravery” could cost you your life, not to mention, trespassing can get you and your team arrested.

Ethics:

With the popularity of paranormal TV people are constantly trying to keep in competition with a ever-growing community of paranormal enthusiasts. Ghost hunters are always looking for a way to stay ahead of the curve by constantly pushing the boundaries of what is both morally and socially acceptable by most standards. It’s no secret that many paranormal investigators create YouTube channels mirroring what they see on TV. We have learned historically, that controversial topics put ghost hunters at the forefront of the popular mainstream of paranormal investigating.

Those that are consistently putting out edgy or controversial material are the ones who typically bear the most followers. Those that also put out what the average person views as “evidence of the paranormal” on a very regular basis quickly become fan favorites. And yes, these people have fan bases.

In the race to be the latest and greatest, people forget that a lot of we do, effects other people. Namely this includes private home and business owners seeking help, and the families of the deceased. Running to our devices to speak to celebs was one thing, but now we are even seeing teams attempting to jump on a fresh scene of a murder. At the end of the day we are responsible for our own actions, and how we effect others lives.

Do we want to be known for being edgy and morally impotent, or do we want to have our legacy be that of truth and integrity.

While we are attempting to seek the dead, we need to remember that the living need advocated for as well. This is a concept I learned in nursing. While we are tending to the dead, there is generally a family who needs tending to as well. When a death is fresh, and a funeral has not even occurred yet, an investigation is not appropriate.

How do I feel this can be fixed? I don’t know that it can. In a large community that has no solid set of law, standard nor rules. Who says that’s right or wrong? Who do we have to answer to?

I would guess the same courtesies we use in everyday life and interactions should apply to this facet of our lives as well. Starting with “treat other as you would want to be treated” would be a good start. Who we should answer to should simply start with holding people accountable for their actions as a “community”. Refuse to stand behind those impose immoral practices.

If you google “paranormal code of ethics” you will see many have tried to establish a set of moral code of conduct practices for everyone to follow.

Like any one in the public eye, as we are, I feel that this comes with the responsibility of being a good role mode with firm moral integrity. We should take pride in setting good moral standard for others out there.

As I always say, sometimes the RIGHT thing, isn’t the popular thing.

The Power of Influence

file000542882977If there is anything that is predictable about humans, it is the fact that we are easily influenced. Add the environment of hanging out in a dark space and the problem seems to multiply. As an investigator, I’ve been conducting experiments in the public ghost hunts that I host. Essentially, I would have one of the attendees “plant” a seed where they would make up an experience they were having during the EVP session. If I asked the person to say that they were being touched, I noticed that the rest of the people in the ghost hunt were getting touched. On the next night, if I asked a person to say they were hearing noises from a corner, the rest of the group would have the same experience. All it would take is one person to vocalize what experience they were having, and they were then shared by the rest of the group. Once the group realized that part of the ghost hunt was tainted, some of them were angry, while others realized how easily influenced they were in the ghost hunt.

The way to combat being influenced is having a healthy dose of self-awareness. When you’re on a ghost hunt, whether it is at a public location or a residential case, you have to remain objective. There will always be times where you will get scared or nervous, but being able to stop and assess yourself as to why you’re feeling this way is key. Is it because the area is dark? Did someone else have an experience that is making you nervous? Are you hearing noises? Where are the noises coming from? And so on.

In social interaction, we tend to share offenses. If a friend is venting about how a mutual friend of yours made them feel bad, you tend to side with the person you’re with. Then, a second friend comes to you venting about a concern about the same mutual friend. You begin to wonder whether you should continue with your relationship with said mutual friend. The same goes for the paranormal, but via ghost stories and shared experiences. We share each other’s fears and experiences at a location. For myself, I like to know the history and experiences that have happened in the past so that I can be objective during the ghost hunt. If someone hears a boom at 2:00am every night, I want to be able to assess it when 2:00am rolls around so that I can objectively analyze the encounter and be able to debunk it if necessary.

The more information I have, the more productive my investigation is. I want to know the information so that I can sort through anything that could influence me before I’m on-site. If I know ahead of time what to expect, the power that influence has over me diminishes, and I can make my own decisions and analysis of the paranormal encounters. The more self-awareness you have of yourself and your fellow investigators, the better you can guide and lead everyone to having a more productive investigation.