Archive for June, 2010

If you investigate Cam enough times (and I can’t be more specific in terms of what and where this is), you learn some valuable lessons. It is now a university, so this makes sense; but what you learn is nothing you could pick up from a professor or a textbook. All those wandering the old wards looking for spirits are learning through direct experience. At some point, though, we need to move on and take those lessons to heart. The following is an admittedly incomplete list of what I have discovered. The challenge is to take this knowledge and figure out the best way to apply it to your life (the following is NOT intended to refer to anyone but me, as a way of forcing myself to be honest regarding my motivations and motives as a ghost hunter. Please write to me if you want to add to this or comment on it):

#1–The so-called “paranormal” is REAL.

When I started this journey, I wasn’t convined that it was REALLY happening. I could see how people could easily delude themselves, play off each other’s impressions, and create an emotional tone conducive to making things up. Do we invent phenomena or act a tad too dramatic at times? Of course we do; it’s human nature to want to please the group or show off our sensitivity, or simply create a little drama if the activity is slow or non-existent. We also stretch the limits of credibility sometimes with our interpretations of audio, photos, video or ITC devices. We look for patterns that may not be there; we collectively freak each other out. BUT: we all know that this is only part of the story. There is a certain percentage of experiences and data that point to the inexplicable, and some data that absolutely points to some kind of an afterlife. We KNOW when that happens. I won’t provide examples here, since all examples can be debated–but that doesn’t change the fact that every paranormal investigator has had that experience, or that series of experiences, that are so definitive, so beyond our current understanding of the spirit or soul, that nothing can bring you back to that original state of disbelief.

We would not continue the search if it weren’t for those blinding moments of shocking response to our queries and questions. We would not collectively “know” that we need to leave a building if nothing were actually happening. If all of this were illusion, we wouldn’t feel the intense drain–emotionally and spiritually–that results from the activity in certain places. When something sucks up your batteries, dims the lights, changes the temperature, creates noise and activity in a place where neither should happen and leaves you with a headache and a cold, YOU KNOW.

#2–We don’t know what or who we are contacting, even if that entity reveals his/her identity.

Let’s be honest here. None of us can claim that we know for sure that the child’s voice in the Surgical Suite or the Adolescent Ward is REALLY the spirit of a child. It sounds like that; it might ‘feel’ like that, but can we truly affirm the identity of the energy responsible for the laugh down a dark hallway? If you’re my husband, you would say that tricky demons can be whoever you want them to be; they can make you feel sorry for them, creating a bond that isn’t real, and can lead you straight to illness or depression. Others would say you are hearing nothing more than old memories replaying themselves through the walls. My opinion? Be very, very careful before deciding that what you hear is harmless. Do I feel sorry for the children I hear? No, because I am not at all convinced that what we hear has anything to do with children. I often do not respond or interact with something that seems to have come alive in the area where we are investigating. I am usually quiet. I don’t want to become “friends” with something that could create chaos in my life.

#3: You MUST regularly engage in some form of prayer, meditation, yoga, or other spiritual practice.

I used to think that prayer circles or protection rituals were silly, New Age-y embarrassments. Now, I am convinced that if you do NOT ground and center yourself through God or your equivalent, you are placing yourself at tremendous risk. There is such a thing as losing your soul or endangering your eternal life; I’ve watched paranormal investigators get sick, become depressed, lose their energy and drive, and become obsessed with certain places to the point where it seems terribly unhealthy. Those who take the time and energy to call upon the angels to guide them and keep them safe, continue to lead productive, positive and love-filled lives.

#4–Understand WHY you are engaging in these investigations, and what you hope to ultimately learn from them.

If you endlessly investigate locations asking the same questions and using the same methods for years on end, then you might be stuck. What are you learning? How are you progressing? Are you waiting for the Burning Bush, the Holy Grail, the Full-Bodied, Speaking Ghost who will prove–once and for all, and forever–that there is life after death? Or, are you an adrenaline junkie (I was recently accused of this by someone whose opinion I respect), using the Afterlife as your personal heroin? I am thinking only of myself here–I am not referencing any other investigator(s)–but if you see yourself doing this, then isn’t it time for some intense, personal reflection?

Waiting for the Sign is akin to asking God every day to “prove” that he exists. If you have no faith in the evidence you already have, then you will never be satisfied. Even if the ghost appeared and poked you, you would find a way to discount it. Investigators: YOU ALREADY HAVE ENOUGH PROOF. The question is: what are you going to do with it? How are you going to change the direction of your life? How are you going to improve the conditions of the living? What difference will you make in the world RIGHT NOW?

Life is forever–but clearly, the quality of that life varies enormously. Will you be the angry guy in Unit 44, endlessly trapped in his version of Hell, or will you continue to evolve as a spirit of love?

It’s your choice.

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Contrary to the title of this picture, I will not discuss what the Bible says about the Devil. I will, however, tell you what my subconscious mind says about him, or her, as the case may be. It was 3:00 AM, and I was not fully asleep when a vision took over my mind. It was not a dream; it had none of the bizarre, disjointed features of a dream. It was a lucid presentation of an event–just how to classify such an event is beyond my skills to describe. Suffice to say that I saw an old, old woman–revealed to be 96 years old, the age of my death as foretold by a gypsy–who approached me, smiling. I was happy to see her at first, until I realized that there was something terribly wrong with this old lady. She grinned at me, up close, and I saw a mouthful of rotten teeth as the stench of her breath hit my face. “I am the Devil,” she hissed, and then lifted her arm and attacked me with a pitchfork, stabbing me again and again in my side.

I knew she had come to take me away, and I was terrified. The vision faded, and I forced myself to fully return to my normal, conscious state. My first thought was: I can’t go out ghost hunting anymore. Pursuing phantoms in the dead of night is messing with my head. My second thought was: I am possessed, or about to be, and I’m scared that I might end up committed at a place quite similar to the one I investigate on a regular basis. Thank God such asylums are not longer legal . . . my third thought: GET THEE TO A YOGA CLASS at the crack of dawn. So away I went, early in the morning, to a yoga class that included a meditation that seemed designed for me and my particular needs (i.e., escaping the Devil). We were instructed to sit across from an image of the Divine and he/she directed a beam of light to explode the dark kernels of fear and bad karma that we had accumulated. Those dark seeds turned to ashes and were blown away by the divine wind of love and unconditional acceptance. All the corners had been illuminated, and I need not fear. I was crying like a child by the end of that meditation, and most importantly, I no longer felt as if the Devil were trying to take my soul.

Ghost hunters are a hardy bunch. We stare death in the face and record what is left over. We listen to hours of audio that might include something we don’t want to hear, and don’t wish to invade our lives. We don’t know what responds to us late at night in the old mental hospital, but we’re OK with that. Most of the time. The last time I was at Cam, Louis captured an EVP that could be life changing–yet again. At the time we heard nothing but the insane, incessant banging of the pipes with their attendant odd after-effects that sometimes seem to carry the voices into the atmosphere. I don’t remember exactly what Louis said, something like “do you remember me?” and the response that we heard, huddled around his digital audio recorder in a courtyard, was: “Is that all you want?” No, it was not vague or distorted; yes, we ALL heard it, and Ty (my husband) verified on video that none of us was talking at the time. It was so clear that we could all identify the words quite easily, without headphones or any audio enhancement programs. The voice was . . . tired, and slightly metallic, and perhaps a little sarcastic. He, whoever this was responding to us, wherever he might be–did not believe that all we wanted was an answer to our usual, repetitive questions. Of course we ask the same things over and over, because we are not engaged in a real conversation–we don’t hear the response until hours, days, or weeks later. The voice appeared to know something that even we do not–no, that is not all we want, we want so much more than to know whether or not you recognize us, or know us, or even what you think about our activities in these hideous hallways . . . we want to know more . . . we want to know if you are really the soul of a dead man, and if so, where the hell are you that you can talk to us, why in the name of all that’s holy are you still at Camarillo, what kind of afterlife is that, and the scariest question of all–is there no Heaven? Because if there’s a Heaven, then why are YOU, whatever you are, STILL HERE, inhabiting one of the worst places on Earth?

If a little girl’s spirit can find itself trapped in a place like this, then what is going to happen to me? What if I happen to die somewhere that I really don’t wish to, such as a hospital or a crappy hospice center somewhere in South Dakota? What about reincarnation? I thought we had a choice. Some of my sappier, New Age tomes on the afterlife talk about the fields of flowers and the Being of Diving Love who reunites us with all the people we loved and who loved us, and it’s one, big party until we have to decide whether or not to move on to Higher Spiritual Realms or choose another life to live on Earth. It’s all good, right?

No, it’s not all good. Sometimes, it’s sad, tragic, upsetting, scary and a touch evil. We don’t know shit about the afterlife, really. Of course, if you are devoutly religious, then you DO know, and I admire your faith and divine knowledge–I mean that sincerely–but if you are unlucky enough to not feel that kind of faith to the marrow of your bones, you go out searching for your own answers.

Sometimes you get laughter and humor.

Sometimes you get confusion and sadness.

Sometimes you get the Devil, and he tries to take your soul.

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