Wednesday, September 30, 2015

What Kind of Ghost is That? Part 1.

Not all ghosts are the same!  In fact, there are several different types of haunting activity that are recognized by the paranormal community.  As an investigator, it's important to be able to identify these various types of activity.

I'll be writing several posts detailing the various types of hauntings.   First up, the Residual Haunting!

Residual Haunting:  A residual haunting is a playback of a specific time or event. One theory on how residual hauntings come about postulates that when a particular location experiences an event or a series of events, the emotional energy generated can imprint itself on the atmosphere of that location.

In some cases, it's thought that the very building materials used, particularly at older locations, aid in the imprinting process. This is called the Stone Tape theory. Video and audio tapes capture sounds and images on a film of special material that has been oxidized or rusted.  Certain building materials, such as slate used in older castles and stone structures and iron nails used in many older buildings, have properties similar to that of the tapes.  When a traumatic event or a time of heightened emotions occurs , these materials are thought to be able to "record" the event.

The apparitions seen are not actual spirits, but recordings of whatever events took place at the location. Most often residual hauntings are associated with traumatic, highly emotional events such as war, or murder, but in some cases can be associated with simple repetition of an event. Apparitions will not interact with witnesses, and can seem oblivious to the fact that anyone is there at all.  They will perform the same actions every time they are seen. A Figure moving through a wall where once a door stood, or climbing a long removed staircase are classic examples of such encounters.  EVP recordings have also been made of residual haunting activity. In some cases, activity will only be seen at particular times, such as the anniversary of whatever event caused the haunting in the first place.

Residual hauntings can be brought about by either positive or negative events, though there seem to be more examples of negative ones.  Likely due to the fact that negative emotions are much stronger than positive ones.

An excellent example of residual haunting is the ghost of Anne Boleyn.  Anne was the second wife of King Henry VIII.  Henry desperately needed a male heir to secure the family line, but Anne bore him only a daughter.  In a remarkable twist of fate and irony, that daughter went on to become Queen Elizabeth I. But still, Anne bore him no son.

 On May 19, 1536, Anne was beheaded on patently false charges of witchcraft, incest and adultery.  Numerous sightings of Anne's ghost have been reported at several locations throughout England, including the Tower of London.  Typical of a residual haunting, the apparition never interacts with witnesses, and she does the same things each time she is seen, depending on the given location.  In a unique twist, sightings of Anne's apparition have been reported at several different locations, at different times of the year.

There is a very informative article about Anne's ghost at On the Tudor Trail.

Other examples of residual hauntings include The Brown Lady of Raynham Hall, and the battlefield at Gettysburg.

While witnessing residual haunting activity can be startling, they are by nature, completely harmless. If given the opportunity to visit or investigate the site of a residual haunting, do so and enjoy the show!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Brightest Blessings and Farewell: Debbie and Mark Constantino

By now most of the paranormal community knows that on September 22nd, we lost Debbie and Mark Constantino.

The Constantino's were a valuable and respected resource for their work with Electronic Voice Phenomena.  It is with a sense of sad irony that I note that I am posting this just days after covering EVP for the first time on this blog, with Who is Sara Estep?.

Most recently, the couple were best known for their appearances on the Ghost Adventures television show. Their deaths represent a great loss to the Paranormal Community and they shall be sorely missed.

I would like to offer my sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Debbie and Mark.  

The Paranormal Pundit.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Who is: Sarah Estep?

Sara Wilson Estep began experimenting with EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena) in 1976 after reading The Handbook of Psi Discoveries by Sheila Ostrander and Lynn Shroeder.  She is known as one of the world's leading experts in the field.  

Sara's experiments with EVP began on her husband's old reel to reel tape recorder.  Over the course of her career she collected thousands of recordings and eventually popularized the classification system originated by Konstantin Raudive. This system is still in use today, as a tool for amateur and professional EVP investigators to specify the quality of their recordings.

Sara went on to found the American Association of Electronic Voice Phenomena in 1982.  Until 2000, when she retired, Sara published newsletters, wrote two books, and helped thousands of researchers learn more about EVP and best practices for recording and analyzing their findings.  

The AA-EVP is still active today as the Association Trans Communication.  You can find their website here.  The site is a treasure trove of information.  You can listen to recordings Sara and many others have made there.  I listened to quite a few of the recordings while researching this post and, I'm amazed at the audio quality of many of them.  Given that Sara never used electronic equipment, but tape only recorders in her research, the quality and clarity of many of the samples rivals or surpasses much of what you'll hear today, recorded on electronic equipment.

One of my favorite pages on the site, and the one I personally consider most informative, is titled EVP Online Listening Trials.  It contains theoretical explanations of how spirits are able to create EVP and even talks about Agnosia, which is the loss of ability to interpret sensory stimuli, and pareidolia, which I covered briefly in a previous post entitled Am I really seeing that?

Anyone interested in EVP phenomena would do well to include the site, and the work of Sara Estep in their research.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Local New England Legends #2; Spider Gates Cemetery

The Quaker Cemetery is a privately owned cemetery in Leicester, Massachusetts. It lies on land donated to the local Quakers that is positioned between the Worcester Regional Airport and Worcester Reservoir.

The actual name of the place is Friends Cemetery, but because of the unique gates at the entrance, locals know it as Spider Gates   The gates are actually an art deco style but you can see the spider motif happening there and it goes nicely with the stories of hauntings and weird happenings.

Stories and rumors abound about this place, and there's even been a song written about it, which you can listen to here.

So, what do the stories say?

The gates are said to be the eighth gate to hell.

There is a large oak tree where a teenaged boy allegedly hanged himself.  Rumors say that the rope with the noose in it are still there, hanging from a branch of the tree.  I've been there.  It's not.  However, there is another story that says the rope and noose will show up in pictures taken of the tree.

There are stories of an altar in the middle of the cemetery that was used for Satanic rituals.  Again, NOT.  There is a raised area in the approximate center of the cemetery, but there are no signs of an altar ever having been there.

It is said that a white substance sometimes oozes from the ground.

There are runes carved into some of the stones.   There's no detail as to whether this means that there are runes carved into the headstones, but one site I found stated that the runes can be found by turning over loose stones from the stone wall.

It is said that at night you can hear moaning and roaring sounds coming from the surrounding woods. The cemetery, however, is closed at night.

There is a small culvert located just outside the cemetery.  It is said that the body of a young girl who was murdered and dismembered was stuffed into the small space.

There is no documentation for ANY of this.  Most of the stories you'll read if you Google, contain nothing but hearsay and exaggeration. I looked at dozens of websites while researching this story.  There are a lot of personal experiences but very little solid documentation to be found about those experiences.  Most of the photos that show anything odd about this site are either obvious fakes or camera flare and whatnot.

My personal opinion is that this particular "haunt", simply isn't.  It is a beautiful graveyard, lovingly tended and cared for by the Worcester - Pleasant Street Meeting of Friends (Quakers) and to the best of my knowledge is still in use.  

If you love old cemeteries, then a respectful daytime visit is definitely worth the effort of finding the place.  Ghost hunters, however, probably don't want to bother.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Local New England Legends #1; The Red Headed Hitchhiker of Rt 44

The Red Headed Hitchhiker of Rt 44 is one of the creepiest ghost stories I've ever heard about my little corner of the world.  

Location:  The Seekonk/Rehoboth line on Rt 44, Rehoboth, Massachusetts

This is actually a pretty well known story in this area, even though there have been no reported sightings in years, and the sightings you can find info about are REALLY sketchy on details. 

 The legend states that folks driving down RT 44 near the town line between Rehoboth and Seekonk, have seen an older, red headed man, wearing a flannel shirt, walking down the road.  He sometimes simply walks into the woods or stands in the middle of the road.  Some reports state that he appears suddenly in the middle of the road, and disappears as the car passes right through him!  Mad giggling is then heard coming from inside the car.  

There are one or two stories that have the hitchhiker interacting with his victims.  One man reported that he picked the hitchhiker up by the side of the road and offered him a ride.  The red headed man got into the back seat and when the driver asked him where he was going, the hitchhiker simply pointed down the road.  As the driver continued on his way, the hitchhiker began to giggle softly.  The driver asked the man what was funny, but the hitchhiker only laughed more loudly. Finally the driver told the hitchhiker to knock off the laughing if he wanted a ride.  As the driver looked into the rear view mirror to further confront the man, he the hitchhiker simply disappeared, leaving nothing but lingering laughter ringing through the car.  

I've been hearing this story for years and it still gives me the creeps.  You can read about the ghost of Rt. 44 in Haunted Massachusetts by Thomas D'Agostino and in Weird New England by Joseph Citro.  

NOTE:  I have not personally investigated this story.  If you do, please feel free to comment here!  I'd love to hear about your experiences.