Saturday, November 14, 2015

Holiday Visitors

As the owner of my own paranormal team, I get countless calls from perspective clients about paranormal activity that seems to increase after the birth of a baby or people who experience activity during the holidays.

If you watch the TV shows then you might think that all paranormal activity is bad and in some cases it is. But in all my years of investigating, I've found that deceased family members still like to attend major family events.

Just because someone has passed away doesn't necessarily mean that they can not come back and visit from time to time. It's like anything else. In life, family members go crazy over a new baby or seeing sons, daughters and grandkids marry. Most families enjoy spending the holidays together as well.

According to psychics and mediums, dieing is just a moving on of sorts. Although we do not continue on in physical form as our bodies no longer act as a conduit for our souls, we do have the ability to move about in spirit form. That ability includes visiting those we miss.

During the holidays when families get together, it is not a far fetched thought to think that family members who are deceased also join in on the celebrations.

I have had many psychics on my team tell me that I literally have a full house during Thanksgiving and Christmas and that includes both the living and dead.

While setting a plate out at the dinner table for a deceased relative may seem over the top, there are cultures where people do leave food offerings for their long dead relatives. It's not only on Dia de La Muertos either.

In past times in China, family members of the deceased took care of their dead loved ones via altars in their homes or in a certain location within a town. Recently deceased relatives received offerings of food and other items. During holiday times, the relatives were also included in the holiday meal times.

In ancient Rome during the Festival of Parentalia, family members visited the cemetery and drank wine and ate cake. This was shared with the deceased.

So as you can see, the thought that deceased relatives come around during holiday times has been a fixture in some cultures for many years. So it really isn't a stretch to think that in this modern day and age, our deceased relatives do return for special occasions. And we shouldn't be afraid of the times that they do return.

After all, if the psychics are right, then, our relatives are simply enjoying their time with us just as they always have and we can take comfort in knowing that they are there for us.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Science vs. Metaphysical

While I understand that science plays a huge role in what we do as paranormal investigators, we must always remember that we must also focus on the human factor, or better put, the Average Joe factor.

When we go out on a case, we are not only dealing with phenomena which could very well be explained but we are also dealing with someone's emotions or their mental state.

Now, I am not against those science-based investigative groups. My own team has its share of science investigators but we also have our share of believers and utilize psychics as well.

See? I can actually hear the collective groans of the science types as I write this but my team and I have been conducting investigations for more than 10 years and I can write from experience.

Granted there are those groups who go out with the intention that every case is haunted but we do not. Those types of groups may do more harm than good. You have to have that balance between science and the metaphysical.

My group does that balancing act very well.

We look at every case objectively from start to finish. Everything, including the paperwork that we use is done meticulously.

The all important preliminary investigation takes from two to three hours. Why? Because we try to get as much information about the case as possible and that includes going from room to room in the location and taking meticulous notes on room condition, temperature, furniture location, window location, outlet and EMF location to name a few. Then we go outside and look at conditions around the property. How close is the neighbor? Are there any electrical poles nearby? Are there any trees near windows or near the roof? Where are the outside lights? The list seems endless but it all helps when investigation night comes along.

The main step in all of this is to have that one on one interview with the client-we ask about 100 questions. Yup. You read that right. One hundred questions. We ask about the family, we ask about the events which are going on in the home, we ask about what they witnessed and delve into religious beliefs. We also look at demeanor during the questioning.

With the advent of all the ghost hunting shows on TV, we have found that a lot of people want you to come out because it's cool. Our preliminary investigation weeds out those types of people. We also have three staff members who have training in social work and psychiatry so we can offer additional help.

During the investigation, investigators are armed with pertinent information taken from the preliminary. The information includes all high EMF readings in the home, room details, case details for debunking purposes and any information needed that will assist the team with the scientific portion of the investigation.

In addition, I will email out a picture of the location to a psychic for a remote reading. Team members never hear the results of that reading.

The field psychic who is assigned to the investigation goes in cold with no prior knowledge of the location or its history. Their role is to obtain a reading of the location and, if they do encounter anything, they will aid the investigators. That aid consists of suggesting where to place monitoring cameras, asking investigators to take photos in certain areas at certain times, and asking those investigators with EMF meters to measure certain areas at certain times. They also aid in our EVP sessions. We know if we are dealing with a male or female and what era they are from.

Now don't start thinking that the psychics run the show-they do not. They are simply used as a guide for the investigation team. There are many times that the psychic team will find nothing in the location.

For those scientific hard cores who are cringing right now, relax...breathe in...breathe out....

When used properly, a psychic can be a great aid on an investigation. Most of the psychics on our team also look at things scientifically and will do debunking on their own.

Again I have nothing against the teams that are completely science based but I also strongly believe that some in the field go out without an open mind and this can hurt clients. Sometimes all a client needs is reassuring that what he or she experienced is “Uncle Bob”

There are many clients out there that will not believe what science says about their cases. Do you just chock that up to them being nuts? No. As investigators, no matter what we believe or how we do our job, it is our responsibility to serve the clients as best as we can.

That service can include suggesting counseling, electrical or other repairs and even a cleansing of the location could help. In addition, we may suggest that a bedroom or room for that matter be rearranged because of EMF levels and locations. In one case, we suggested that a client move out of an apartment because EMF levels were so high that she was living in a “Fear Cage”. As things turned out, she did move and never had another issue.

No matter what we do as investigators, it is our responsibility to help those in need.

So to close this off, what do I think is better a science-based group or a metaphysical-based group? Both have their place in the field but we need to be careful of what damage can be done. We walk a fine line and we are responsible for somebody's well being. This is not a game.

No matter what you do in the field, always make the client the foremost priority. You need to take a lot of factors into consideration and then investigate accordingly.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Too Many Bad Eggs

I ran into something recently that makes me angry beyond reason.

My team has worked so hard to establish itself over the past 10 years that it angers me that other teams just seem to be in it for the fame or whatever you want to call it.

Recently we were asked to access a case in rural Northern California that another team had investigated a couple of years ago. The client involved claimed to be experiencing an extreme amount of paranormal activity in and around her home since moving in in 2001.

During our four-hour interview/prelim the client stated that the other group came out to her residence and, in her opinion, had a party as they came in a large number and took off in various directions. They also filmed the investigation and were using the info for an upcoming book. When all was said and done, she was told that due to the fact they did not obtain any Electronic Voice Phenomena or photo evidence, that she more than likely did not have any activity going on in the home or property.

During the interview with her, several things became evident. One is that she has psychic abilities. Two, is that somewhere along the line, being inexperienced, she opened a door that she could not close.

All psychics will tell you that once that happens anything can come through whether it's good or bad. In this case, the client had been inundated with ghostly visitors for years. One visitor really alarmed her as she thought it was a demon.

As we did our walk-through of the home and garage area and took EMF readings and pictures, the sensitive who was with me stopped short in the garage. Her hands began to shake as she described a three foot tall creature resembling a bat that was just staring at us. She said it was very ominous and she was very uncomfortable.

That weekend, we returned for an investigation. I had both skeptics and psychics on hand. One investigator became physically ill and threw up. Another became physically ill as well. I witnessed a motion detector which I set up on a table near my DVR go on and off as if something kept walking past. In addition, we all witnessed a short dark shadow moving through the house. It would move under furniture as if hiding. Another investigator set a clipboard on a counter in the bathroom and as she sat, the clipboard flew off the counter by itself.
California Haunts Shaman Sharon Roe performs a cleansing on the client (Identity Protected)

In the master bedroom, female investigators felt as if they were being touched by unseen hands.

We obtained five EVPs, two of which are Class A.

We remained at the home until well pat 2 a.m. As our team Shaman Sharon conducted a cleansing of the home and also a cleansing on the client. We also cleansed the garage and outdoor area.

The point of this blog is that I am very irritated with the other team. Why did they not do a proper prelim? Had they done that, they would have been better informed going into the investigation. The kicker part is that they are a well established team that does a lot of investigations and honestly this is not the first time that we have had to clean up after their mess.

It burns me that this client has literally been suffering and the attitude of “Because we didn't get any hard evidence, therefore it doesn't exist,” was used, she continued to suffer.

I thought that we as paranormal investigators got into this field to help people, not blow them off and do a half-assed job.

If your going to investigate, for God's sakes do a proper job. Do your research, do your prelim. Don't go in cold and expect to have all the answers.

This person was suffering and had been suffering for years. They needed help and all you did was tell them there was no proof of activity and make them feel stupid.

Paranormal groups whether science based or psychic based or a combination of both like my team, need to wise up and listen to what their clients are saying. That is what the prelim is a all about. Sure you may run into people who want you there just because or people who truly need psychiatric help but everyone deserves to be heard and everyone deserves to be helped in some way.

Don't do what the above team did and conduct a half-assed investigation! The client was literally screaming for help and the team did not listen.

Remember one thing. You are dealing with people's lives and mental states. It's not a game. Each and every client deserves respect and their story deserves to be heard.

we have a responsibility that does not include TV or books. Our responsibility is to the client.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Media and Ghost Hunting

With all the Halloween hype over it's time for paranormal groups to get back to helping those in need.

While the public relations garnered from media attention can benefit investigation groups, mine included, it must be remembered that ghosts do not just come out during the month of October.

Families all over the world try to find ways to cope with bumps, visitations, disembodied voices, doors slamming and other activity each and every day and night for that matter. For them, Halloween is everyday.

I am not complaining because to tell you the truth, the more PR my team gets, the more our message is able to reach people. We're here to help. And for someone who is at home terrified, just having what they are experiencing verified can be a comfort.

I guess my main beef is that outside of the TV shows, the main stream media really needs to step up and cover groups during the year not just at Halloween or during the month of October.

The one thing that the TV shows have done is create more awareness so news producers and editors should not be afraid to publish or air the occasional ghost investigation that is truly helping someone in need. And believe me, there are a lot of people in need.

Those are the everyday cases that the media overlooks or the public is unaware of that paranormal groups deal with consistently.

Although there are those people who truly want to publicize their “ghosts” that still leaves the majority of the population who just want a quiet investigation where the paranormal team comes out, sets up its equipment and attempts to collect evidence. Those clients simply want help and it is our job as a paranormal team to provide as much help as is possible.

Being a journalist and editor for nearly 15 years has taught me that the media will go with the hot story. That is normal, after all, we want to sell newspapers or get high ratings. Even community newspapers tend to cover “what's hot” whether it's about a local farmer who stops using commercial pesticides or the dance at the high school.

All I'm saying is that mainstream media needs to change its view on paranormal groups and what they do. It's not just a “Halloween” thing. It's an all year issue that affects many people around the world.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Safety First-When is an Investigation too hazardous?.

When is it better to err on the side of caution when you are responsible for the well-being of others?

Over the 8 years that I have run California Haunts, I have never had to face any decision about the safety of my team during an investigation.

Now, I am not talking about old buildings that have no floors in places or stairways with no handrails. I am talking about coming face to face with something that could very well affect those who come in contact with it.
Recently, we were called out to a residence where the client claimed that her two-year-old daughter might be possessed. On the phone with me the client described personality changes and physical feats that most people can not do.

Keeping an open mind, I listened to her and I could hear the fear in her voice so I set up the preliminary investigation.

As ghost hunters, we teach ourselves to have open minds and to look for every possible cause as a way to come up with real-world explanations for activity and that is what I did.

A lot of what the client told me was going on was typical of what has been seen on a lot of the TV shows but it is my belief that every client deserves a full preliminary and investigation. Our job is to help and we go out of our way to do that.

I did not attend this particular prelim as I had to work that day. I did however, pick team members who I knew would look at the facts involved and do the job asked of them.

That afternoon I received a phone call from one of the investigators and she described how her husband, who I know to be very logical and rational was shook up. She described how the little girl would be sweet as can be and then in an instant her voice would change and get very deep and tell the husband to get away from her very articulately. She also described how the EMF meters were off the charts when near the little girl or any of her belongings.

As I listened to her, I could her hear her husband in the background recount his experience in a shaky voice. He said he had felt drained and had to sit on the couch..he then fell asleep. His wife described looking into a dark corner of the home and feeling uneasy...she saw the outline of something with claws and then the little girl appeared from the shadows.

Another investigator described talking with the parents of the girl and of how terrified they were. The mother had described seeing a gargoyle-type shadow in the home. The investigator also reported that the little girl did a spider walk as she went into another room.

There is more but I do not want give away everything that happened.

After hearing the investigators, I made the decision to pull back and seek other help for the client. Some of you may say that I am doing a disservice to the client because of this. I don't feel that way. I pride myself on the fact that my team members come from varying backgrounds. Some are social workers, others are psychiatrists and others have skills as well so we are equipped to handle just about any case.

But at what point do you look at the overall safety of your team? What if this does in fact turn into a legitimate demon possession case? We as a team are not trained to handle that. What if we make things worse? What if by being there it lashes out and hurts someone?

I know of two accounts of a paranormal group that ran into demonic activity. During the first case, the group leader called out the demon and tried to banish it from the home. It seemed to work however, for many months afterward, several members of the team that had participated in the investigation became ill. One was bitten by a venomous spider, another nearly lost her eyesight and others ended up sick. The psychic on the team said she felt something had followed her home. A few years later that same team ran into another case and one team member actually was lifted up of the ground and slammed into a wall.

At what point do you draw the line and admit you are in over your head?

The family in our team's case is scared and I am committed to get them the best help possible. I am in the process of putting together all the connected preliminary paperwork and an EVP that was caught so that I can present the information to local clergy. They are far more equipped to handle this case than we are. Some, like the Catholic Church, have psychiatrists on staff for evaluations.

As a paranormal team, we are willing to help our clients in any way we can but that does not mean that I will allow any of my team members to be hurt during an investigation. I am proud of this team and the service it provides. We have worked very hard to build a good reputation and we will continue to work at keeping that reputation. 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Ghost Wars

What ever happened to the ghost hunters creed of doing it to "HELP PEOPLE"?

In the 10 years that I have been involved in ghost hunting I have seen a lot of changes-technology, techniques, and most importantly the attitude of those who say they are serving their clients needs.

I have owned a printing and advertising business, a freelancing business, dog breeding business and I have also managed up to 15 employees in my careers as a journalist/editor and working as a manager in a couple of big bulk mail centers. During that time, I saw a lot of changes in how businesses run.

What I don't understand is how something like ghost hunting suddenly became an extreme sport in that it seems that everyone is grappling to be the top dog no matter what. And while they are doing it, they have no problem stepping on the toes of those groups that worked hard to build up their reputation.

Perhaps it is that dream of being on national TV that drives some groups and individuals to disregard and otherwise act in ways that are-without going into detail, the things that I have seen and heard that are going on are appalling.

Why is that people don't want to work for what they achieve? My group fell victim some time ago to another group that thought they could take our clients away from us. I found out because the client informed me of this and I knew that one of the particular group members had attended a meeting.

I have heard similar stories from other older groups. And the other stuff-the badmouthing..why?

Another thing that is interesting, is that a few years ago, paranormal groups were popping up everywhere. If you check some link pages from current groups, you will see this, but I bet you that half of those links now go nowhere. Why? Because ghost hunting, real ghost hunting isn't what appears on TV. It is hard work that takes days of your time. And in a lot of instances it can be really boring. Once the reality sets in for some groups, the group disbands.

All I can say is..GROW UP! We all had to work hard to build up our groups. The only people you hurt is the clients. If you go out and do a half-assed job then you hurt the clients.

Again, are we not here to help people? This isn't a race to be on TV or to see how many investigations you can do in a month. It's a service that is intended to educate and help people who may be experiencing a paranormal event.

So let's all try and remember what we do this for. I just hope that those few who are out there causing the issues don't ruin it for everyone else because that would be sad for the clients and those ghost hunters who are doing an honest job.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Lessons Learned

First off ghost hunting does have its risks.

I could trip or stub a toe while wandering around some allegedly haunted location in the dark carrying an EMF meter in one hand and a flashlight in another or I could choke on a strawberry poptart as I sit at the monitoring station. But something that sticks in the back of most ghost hunters minds is the chance that an unwelcome guest may decide to make the trip home with him or her.

My Pop Tart cravings are well known

Let's remember that I am journalist by trade and I am trained to look at things objectively. I also pride myself on knowing when things at my home are as they should be and when they are not...

For me, doing this for as long as I have, it is part of the territory although you never really seem to get used to it. And don't get me wrong, it is not something that I encourage...sometimes it just happens.

When I first started doing this with another group, I was simply filming in a well-documented haunted location. At one point, one of the sensitives on their team turned towards me and with a deep voice, told me that photographs were not allowed. Funny, I thought. I have a video camera.

Filming on location

I went home and began the editing process on the video and the computer had nothing but problems. Data would get lost, the machine would refuse to recognize the video camera, it was one problem after another. I attributed it to the computer having issues. This went on for at least two weeks. What got my attention was when I stood up to go and get a drink of water. I had a few small video tapes stacked on the computer desk. As I made the turn out of my office, the tapes suddenly toppled from the desktop like they were pushed. And I watched as the dog sat staring at the area for some time afterwards. Perhaps I should have listened when the angry voice ordered me to stop taking photographs.

Sometime later, as part of a newspaper article, I went along to a prelim at a restaurant in the Gold Country. When I got home that night I watched a couple hours of TV. When I turned the TV off, I heard male voices faintly having a conversation in my house. I ignored them and went about my business. That night as I dressed for bed, I felt a finger run down my back. That did it. I opened my front door and ordered whoever it was out. Needless to say I did not have another problem.

After those instances I started wearing protection in the form of a bag of protective rocks in my pocket and a Native American medicine bag. And for many years, I did not bring home any unwanted visitors.

My medicine bag

The last year and a half seemed more active than others for me. A friend who happens to be psychic and I went out to lunch on day and she mentioned a ghost who hung around the back of the dining area. She said he was attracted to me. Nice. That night when I got home, I was working in my office and I watched as a hair brush lifted off of the desk right in front of me and then hit the floor. Again I opened my front door and banished whatever it was.

About a year ago, following an investigation in the Gold Country a male ghost that I had encountered at a hotel decided to pay a visit. I knew because things started moving around the house and I saw a basketball lift off the floor and fly into a wall. The clincher came when I was sleeping and I could feel a weight on top of me. I reached up half asleep and felt an arm and I pushed back. Again the front door flew open. See ya!

The point of this blog is not to scare those interested in ghosts and ghost hunting. The point is to make those who want to do this understand that occasionally unwelcome visitors may make an appearance. As ghost hunters whether you are a scientific type or a believer, always make sure you wear some type protection or make sure that before you leave a location to tell those ghosts that may be there that they need to stay there and are not welcome in your house or vehicle.

I just did a residential investigation where the ghost, according to a team psychic, liked harassing the homeowner and wouldn't leave. I openly challenged it and much to the chagrin of the psychic, in my infinite wisdom, told it to follow me. This was an effort to get it away from the client. It worked, but, for the past week and a half, guess what? And although now things are tapering down, it has been interesting.

The moral of all this is learn your lessons well. I have. And every psychic on the staff of California Haunts is enjoying telling me, “I told you so.”

Most of the time if a ghost hunter is followed home, it only lasts a week or so but it can unnerving.

So again make sure you protect yourselves and learn from the experiences of others as to what not to do during an investigation.