When we are told we are being taken to a haunted location, long before we reach our destination, our mind will have already created its own ghosts and demons. In fact, the mind is the common denominator where any respectable paranormal investigator is concerned; and whether you are a sceptic or believer, you can never be certain exactly what awaits you in the shadowy corners of an old manor house, medieval castle, or decaying monastery. It seems to me that today the majority of non-professional paranormal investigators are easily pleased, and the slightest bump in the night, creaking door, or wind whistling through the bare floorboards nearly always becomes something other than a natural occurrence. The anecdotal accounts of someone else's ghostly experiences are unreliable, as it is human nature to embellish things, and in the tradition of Chinese Whispers, by the time the tale has been passed round several people, it becomes something else altogether, and is orally transformed into a tale that incites even more mystery and intrigue. But why is it do you think that we are so fascinated with ghosts and the supernatural? There is something quite exciting about being frightened when we are in the company of other people at a haunted location, but there are few of us who would spend the night alone in a place that has been the scene of the most heinous crime, and where disembodied cries are known to relentlessly echo through the night.
The question must be posed: are all ghostly apparitions the manifestations of disembodied souls, or are they something else altogether? I have been mediumistically inclined since I was a child, and seeing so-called "dead" people has always been commonplace to me. In my capacity as a medium I have found myself in a haunted graveyard deep within the Louisiana swamps, in a Victorian House where the perpetrator of many horrific murders once lived, and even forced to face the most aggressive poltergeist in a modest little house on the suburbs of Liverpool, UK. So I think it's safe to say that I have explored paranormal phenomena from many different and diverse perspectives. However, over the years I have earned the paradoxical title of "Sceptical Medium" simply because, where paranormal phenomena is concerned, I believe that seeing is really believing—and even then I need time before reaching my final conclusions. For me, the paranormal has always been a vocation rather than a casual interest or hobby; over the years I have learned one thing, and that is that the response of our eyes is very limited, and sometimes what we think we have seen is not what actually occurred. Let us take a look at the so-called "corner-of-the-eye" phenomenon. This is when we see something out of our peripheral vision, only to find that when we turn our head to look directly at it, there is absolutely nothing there. Or, was there after all? It's a known fact that a high percentage of disembodied manifestations do for some reason occur out of the corner of the eye, particularly where people of a nervous disposition are concerned. Such people usually have great mediumistic potential that could, in time, be further developed and cultivated. Until then, for now at least, he or she must be content with these spontaneous corner-of-the-eye paranormal occurrences.
But how reliable is our sight, or should we place more trust in our other senses when investigating a haunted location? Let us take a look at what has become known in paranormal parlance as the "Stone-Tape" phenomenon. Just as an audio and video tape is coated with an electromagnetic substance, enabling them to capture pictures and sounds for our enjoyment, so too is the surrounding environment permeated by an electromagnetic energy, thus recording every strong emotionally charged occurrence. This phenomenon is more prevalent in old damp sandstone structures, the walls of which become a sort of database of its historic facts, complete with audio and photographic record. This would explain why exactly the traditional "white lady" appears right in front of you, looking through you as though you were not there. These sorts of manifestations are no more than photographic images in the psychic atmosphere, and can appear to you almost as though you were flicking through old photographs on a video. The same can be said about things that go bump in the night, disembodied cries, and that sudden cold breeze that caresses your hair through the darkness. These phenomena may also be produced by the Stone Tape phenomenon, but to me are just as fascinating as coming face to face with the ghostly manifestation of a long dead monk who smiles at you and says hello before disappearing into the shadows.
Many years ago now, in the depths of despair, I sought solace in a Catholic church not far from where I then lived. An elderly priest sat beside me to ask what troubled me and to offer me words of comfort. On the conclusion of a lengthy conversation, the priest pulled himself tiredly to his feet, placed his warm, comforting hand on my shoulder, before making the sign of the cross on my forehead with his other hand.
"Your problems ended with the steps up to the church, my son." His soft Irish voice seemed to echo through the church, and then he turned to make his way down the aisle towards the door. It wasn't until some weeks later I decided to visit the priest at the house next door to the church, just to thank him for his kindness and tell him he was right. After being shown a photograph by a much younger priest, I was surprised to learn that the kind elderly priest in whom I had confided had in fact died many years ago. Furthermore, I was told that I was not the first person my ghostly confidant had helped, and I most probably would not be the last. So, I do know from personal experience that the spirit of a dead individual can appear as solid and tangible as any living person.
Analyzing Paranormal Occurrences
With little or no time at all to make an on-the-spot detailed analysis of a paranormal occurrence, as a paranormal investigator you really do have to be prepared for all eventualities, with as much photographic and audio evidence as you can possibly get, to be analysed the following day. No two paranormal occurrences are ever the same, and although the anecdotal accounts of the experiences of other people are nearly always quite unreliable, they are still nonetheless helpful in the whole process of drawing comparisons. As long as you are not in any way influenced by what other paranormal investigators say they have experienced, you should listen to as many accounts as you possibly can.
There is little doubt in my mind that although an extremely exciting subject, the paranormal is also an emotional minefield, and contains innumerable pitfalls and traps for those who rush blindly into it. Preparation for so-called Ghost Hunting is an essential prerequisite, and whether you choose to use the available sophisticated ghost hunting equipment or not, the subject must be treated with the utmost respect at all times, and never, ever ridiculed, misused, or abused. The dead will not be mocked; treating your overnight sojourn in a haunted house as no more than a night out with friends is something that I would most certainly discourage.
A genuine disembodied manifestation is usually spontaneous and occurs when we are least expecting it. There are many misconceptions about spirits and communication with them. Not even the best of mediums has the power to command a spirit to communicate; they will come if they want to, or if there is a necessity for "them" to allow communication to occur. We have to understand that the so-called "Spirit World" is not a place. It is to all intents and purposes a transcendental condition, and orbits within and around the atomic structure of the physical world. Very often Spirit people are walking through and around us, unaware of our presence, just as we are mostly unaware of theirs. A medium is simply someone who is neurologically equipped to monitor spirit activity, and can either see, hear, or just sense a spirit presence.
Mediums Are Not Normal
Whichever way we look at it, mediums are far from normal and, contrary to popular belief, are not seeing and hearing spirits every day of their lives with little or no respite. In 1903, after reading a paper by Theosophist C.W Leadbeatter on the brains of mediumistically inclined individuals, Ivan Tutinsky, a leading neuroscientist at Moscow University, became fascinated with those who possessed unusual mental abilities, with a particular interest in the unusual abilities of children. Although Tutinsky took pains to avoid the word "Psychic," he compromised his professional integrity by devoting seven years of his life to making a study of the subject. Although Tutinsky was ridiculed by his peers, attitudes towards him completely changed when his findings were eventually published by the university. Tutinsky concluded that the pineal gland, a cone-shaped gland deep within the brain, was responsible for such unusual mental skills. The notable professor further concluded that a child's pineal gland was much larger than in the brain of an adult, and marginally more developed in the female than in the male. Tutinsky stated that the pineal gland was surrounded by minute crystalline deposits, making it into a neurological radar device that was able to monitor invisible forces. In more recent years autopsies were carried out in America on people who possessed mediumistic tendencies. Here again it was found that the pineal gland was more developed than the glands found in the brains of those with no mediumistic tendencies. Also, the brains of those with mediumistic skills showed remarkable neurological changes, consistent in all cases with unusual "psychic" skills. It's a scientific fact then, no matter how you look at it, mediums are far from normal.
Although not absolutely essential, it is always wise to have an experienced medium present when investigating a haunted location. A qualified medium is able to supervise the whole investigative procedure, without (dare I say) having to rely on EMF Meters or any other of the many other available ghost hunting gadgets to tell them that there is a ghostly presence close by.
In saying this, a ghostly presence is not always seen, and some disembodied entities do have the power to mischievously infiltrate a paranormal group with one single intention, and that is to frighten and disrupt the whole procedure. Respect the dead, and they will most certainly respect and help you with your endeavours. Unless, that is, you happen to encounter the vagabonds of the astral world. These are disembodied forces who lived out their lives at a fairly low level, with no regard for anything or anyone. Once they pass over they have a greater freedom and delight in causing mayhem for anyone who is spiritually inclined, particularly those who embark upon a ghost hunter venture.
You can read such tales in my book, Ghostly Tales.