Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Loveland Lizard (Frog)

On May 25, 1955, at approximately 3:30am, an Ohio man was driving along the Miami River near Loveland, Ohio, when he spotted a strange site by the road.  The man claimed to have seen what appeared to be three bipedal creatures with lizard or frog-like faces crouching by the road.  One of the creatures was seen to be carrying what resembled a wand that gave off sparks.  The creatures, having been spotted, jumped into the nearby Miami River.  The man did file a report with local police, but no evidence of the strange trio was ever found...

...until nearly 20 years later.  On March 3, 1972, a police officer driving along Riverside Road around 1 am spotted what he thought was a dog lying on the icy road.  The "dog" then reared up into a standing position, where the officer could see that it had the face of a frog.  It stood 3-4 feet tall, and weighed approximately 50-75lbs.  It then jumped over the guardrail and down into the Miami River.  No official report was filed, but another officer did join the first at the scene and confirmed scratch marks on the side of the guardrail.

Nearly two weeks later, another officer had a run-in with the creature.  Coming along the river road into Loveland, he saw what looked like a dead animal in the road.  He stopped to move the carcass out of the way of traffic, when the beast stood at a crouch.  The officer shot several rounds at the beast, which apparently unharmed, climbed over the guardrail toward the river and out of sight.  Again, no official report was filed.

It wasn't until the X-Project Magazine was doing a story on the Loveland Frog that new details that had been previously omitted came to light.  An officer by the name of Mark Mathews was contacted, and verified to be the officer of the second 1972 sighting.  Mathews claimed that the story was blown out of proportions.  He DID see a lizard-type creature that early spring night, but it was only around 2-3 feet, and was NOT bipedal.  The lizard, which Mathews believed to be an escaped or abandoned pet, possibly of the monitor family, was indeed shot at.  Mathews believes the animal was injured in the shooting, and died shortly after it made its escape.

The idea of an escaped or abandoned monitor lizard certainly can explain the March 1972 sightings, but what of the 3 creatures spotted in 1955?  Some people believe that the Loveland Frog (or Lizard) is actually still roaming around the Miami River area.  There's an old Shawnee tale of a creature known to the area as the Shawnahooc, or River Demon, that terrorized the little Miami River area.  When the Shawnee shot their arrows at the creature, it reared upright, and dove into the river.

X-Project Article

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Haunted House Gives Up Ghost

I found this article, transcribed below, in a Nitro antique shop, framed.  I love old houses, especially haunted houses, and was delighted to read that this particular house once stood approximately where my place of employment now stands!  This article is by Charlie Connor, with photo by Jack Tiernan.  It appeared in an November 1968 issue of the Charleston Daily Mail newspaper.

Charleston's old "haunted house" is coming down and no one is happier than Andrew S. Thomas Jr., prominent city businessman.

"Certainly, it was haunted," Thomas declared.  "I've known that all my life.  When I was a boy, us kids used to see lights bobbing around from window to window, and ghosts flitting here and there.  The house was haunted.  Quote me."

The "haunted house," so known by a generation of Charlestonians whose boy-and-girlhood goes back to early years in this century, is the former Baines home at 311 Broad St., an elegant structure that rose in the 1890s and has stood in recent years as the lone residential survivor in a growing business district.

Across Washington street from it is the modern, nine-story Heart O' Town Motel.

Thomas, vice president of the Thomas-Field & Co. and the Kanawha Block Co., grew up in the neighborhood.  His family home was on the Lee Street site of the present Top Value TV stamp store.

Thomas said the ornate, brick home was built by Dr. Baines, one of the early medical men in the valley, and owned by his only daughter, Miss Alice Baines, following his death.

"As I recall, Miss Alice had an elderly aunt who lived in the house by herself as a recluse.  I was a kid in those days and our backyard adjoined the Baines property.

"This aunt of Miss Alice's, a Miss Whittaker as I remember her name, was rather peculiar.   The grocery boy would deliver groceries and leave them on the back porch, then pick up his money the next day where she'd leave it out for him.

"No one ever really saw her.  I do know that we always had a baseball game going in my back yard and every time we knocked one into her yard, she'd dash out, grab the ball and run back into the house.

"A doze baseballs cost 75 cents in those days at Thomas-Field, so we boys would go out, cut grass, do errands and other jobs to raise money to buy the balls which Miss Whittaker would collect.  She had a nine-foot high fence around the property, so we never got a good look at her.

"The only time I was ever inside that old home was at her funeral.  It was a scary place to me then and all the kids regarded it as a haunted house.  I just don't know where the ghosts are going now that they're tearing it down."

The property was left in perpetual trust for the benefit of the First Presbyterian Church, but one condition was that it would remain standing so long as Dr. Donna Grace Russell, a retired osteopathic physician, chose to live there.

For almost 40 years, the old home had been rented by Dr. Russell and Dr. Olive Ailes.  They had a joint medical practice there.  Dr. Russell continued to live in the old home in retirement following Dr. Ailes' death several years ago.

A few weeks ago, Dr. Russell, 86, sold her furniture and other belongings and moved to Sidney, Ohio to live with a niece.  The Kanawha Valley Bank, which administers the trust, reported that the land, after the house is razed, will be used for parking.

Eventually, a much higher use is contemplated for the property since it will lie near the I-64 Brooks-Broad Street interchange.  Income from the property goes to the church.

Before she left, Dr. Russell was aked if she had ever seen any ghosts.

"Dear me, no.  I've lived here 40 years and I haven't heard a thing.  This is just a nice old home and is about the last one left downtown."

The passing of the ornate old home is a sad thing, just as the departure of ghosts causes a tug on the heartstrings of Charlestonians who remember it as the old "haunted house."

Where will the ghosts go?  Because Thomas is happy they're leaving, maybe they'll take up residence at his Loudon Heights home.

Boo, Mr. Thomas!

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Gray Man of Pawley's Island

With Hurricane Irene heading towards the North Carolina coast, I started thinking about the famous Gray Man of Pawley's Island, South Carolina.  Please let me know if you hear of any recent sightings of this legendary apparition!

The Gray Man of Pawley's Island is one of South Carolina's most famous...and oldest ghostly legends.  Although there are many variations to the story, the most popular involves a tale of lost love. During the early part of the 19th century, the daughter of a wealthy plantation owner fell in love with a young gentleman.  By some accounts, this man, who was well beneath the girl's economic station in life, had left the island in order to claim his fortune elsewhere.  His fiancee waited patiently for his arrival, knowing that they were to be married upon his return.

The young man, having claimed his fortune, was ready to now claim his bride.  He and his manservant raced from Georgetown to Pawley's Island on horseback.  For whatever reason, the young man veered off the road to take a short-cut through the swampy marshland.  Slipping into an unseen patch of quicksand, the young man, along with his horse, soon perished as the manservant tried in vain to rescue him.  It was the manservant who had to deliver the sad news to the man's fiancee.

The young girl grieved for a period of time, refusing to leave her bedroom.  In fear of her health, her father finally convinced her to get out of the house for awhile.  She took to the beach, walking along a path that she and her lover had spent many happy hours together.  As she was walking, the wind started to pick up, whipping around her.  She noticed a man in the distance, coming towards her.  She recognized the man, fully clad in gray, as her lost love.  The man approached, and warned the girl that there was danger coming...and that she needed to leave the island.

The girl raced home to tell her parents of the incident, and the family left that night for the mainland.  That next day, a hurricane swept through the area, leaving a trail of death and destruction.  The family was safe and sound at their inland home, and returned to find their island home still intact as well.

Documented sightings of the Gray Man have occurred since 1822, and allegedly happen before every major hurricane hits the area.  Witnesses to the ghostly apparition all describe a man clad all in gray, and wearing a hat low over his eyes.  He warns them to leave the island, and thus far, they do.  Not only do the witnesses find themselves safely inland to ride out the storm, but their island properties are also spared.

In 1893, the Gray Man appeared before the Lachicotte family before the "Sea Islands Hurricane," and again in October of 1954 when he appeared to newlyweds Bill Collins and his bride.  He was also spotted before Hurricane Hugo struck the coast in September of 1989.  Will Hurricane Irene become the latest chance for the Gray Man to make his presence known?

Photo from Haunted Lowcountry, which also has more details on the story!


Friday, August 19, 2011

Superior Mirages

Another installment of the ABCs of the Paranormal!  I have been fascinated with the subject of superior mirages ever since I heard them discussed as a possible explanation for phantom armies of Gettysburg. Although there are many other explanations for the phenomena listed below, superior mirages do offer one natural explanation that should be ruled out completely before being substituted by a paranormal one...unless of course, you're like me and just love a good story!

A superior mirage is a type of mirage in which the image of an object appears ABOVE the location of the actual object.  This is due to a downward refraction of light that occurs when light rays refract or bend towards the colder, denser air located closer to the earth. Since the brain assumes that the light rays have taken a straight path from the object, the object appears to be floating in the air.  Most often, phantom images seem to float over the horizon, appearing as ghostly images in the sky. In other instances, objects that are below the horizon and out of our regular line of sight begin to loom onto the horizon.



This is a pretty cool phenomenon...but you may be wondering what it has to do with the paranormal?  It actually has a LOT to do with the paranormal when attempting to explain a variety of folklore and other supernatural tales of ghost armies, ghost riders in the sky, floating houses, and of course everyone's favorite haunted ship, the Flying Dutchman.

There are tales of modern day visitors to such battlefields as Gettysburg who report seeing phantom armies marching, or even in battle.  Although not all such types of apparitions can be explained so easily, one explanation to examine is whether or not an actual reenactment is being held nearby, causing the mirage of a phantom army to appear much closer to the viewer.  Sailors and others aboard sea-faring vessels need to especially watch out for these types of mirages, as the colder water leads to a type of superior mirage known as the Fata Morgana.  Distance boats and even shorelines can appear as approaching on the horizon, or floating upside down in the sky.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Book Review for Haunted Hospitality: The Ghostly History of the Lowe Hotel

Title: Haunted Hospitality- the Ghostly History of the Lowe Hotel (2007)
Author: Robin Pyatt Bellamy
Purchase Information

This is one of many books that I've picked up over the years at various Mothman Festivals, but unfortunately, did not have the opportunity to meet the author.

This book is packed full of history, beginning with the early colonization of the Pt. Pleasant area, and then going into depth about the history of the Lowe Hotel.  The Lowe Hotel, originally known as the Spencer Hotel, has a long and fascinating history in Pt. Pleasant.  Bellamy provides lots of genealogical information for the families who are connected with the building, but more importantly, LOTS of pictures.

Following the sections on the history and the haunts of the Lowe Hotel, Bellamy speaks briefly on several other Pt. Pleasant area hauntings, many of which are not commonly known, and then goes into a short section on the fallacies of  modern ghost hunting and ghost hunting equipment.  While this information is useful, it does seem to follow a general trend in these types of books--that most "ghost hunters" really don't know what they are doing, lol.  As a long-time investigator, I often find myself taking personal offense at some of the generalizations in this field, and being classified along the same lines as others in the paranormal community.

Overall, the book is enjoyable, but the formatting could use a little work in order for the whole book to flow between sections.  However, anyone who wishes to investigate the Lowe Hotel, in a professional capacity or simply out of curiosity, NEEDS to own this book.  There's lots of great research for fact checking, and photographs of key players in some of the haunts--perfect for helping to identify any possible photographic or visual full-body manifestations!  This book is a welcome addition to my library of paranormal literature and I sincerely recommend picking up a copy.

The author, Robin Bellamy, will once again be a speaker at the 2012 Mothman Festival, so take advantage of the opportunity!

Deloris the Slave Girl

The following story is another attempt at preserving the folklore and haunted history of our great state of WV.  It comes from Appalachian Ghost Stories and Other Tales, by James Gay Jones (1975).

BURNT HOUSE WV - A traveler on the highways and byways of Appalachia will occasionally come upon a hamlet whose name may stimulate his imagination much beyond what he actually sees.
Few will there be, however, who would permit themselves to speculate to the extent of the bizarre events which occurred at Burnt House (a village located east of Smithville on State Rt. 47, the Stanton-Parkersburg Turnpike).
 
When the Parkersburg to Stanton Turnpike (Rt. 47) was being built through Western Virginia, many people were attracted to it as a passageway to the west and, for some, as a location of new business establishments.
Among these was Jack Harris of New York, who while on the way West with his son, William, and three slaves, decided to build a tavern at the present site of Burnt House.
 
The tavern was a two-story log structure with a glass-windowed lookout, a practical addition often found on frontier structures. In time, the Harris Tavern became a regular stagecoach stop for passenger and mail service as well as headquarters for pack peddlers.
 
When Deloris, a beautiful Negro slave at the tavern, appeared in new dresses and adornments commonly sold by peddlers, local gossips took notice and began to speculate over the source of her good fortune. It was commonly known that Deloris and William Harris were quite fond of each other.
 
Soon it was noticed that some peddlers who arrived here laden with heavy packs of goods disappeared overnight. A more damaging rumor was related by a Harris Tavern stable boy who told of seeing William Harris, with one swipe of a razor-sharp corn-cutting knife, cut off the head of a pack peddler.

The body of the peddler was then dragged by William, with the help of a slave, across the turnpike and up a ravine now known as Dead Man's Hollow. Meanwhile, Deloris disposed of the head and cleaned up the gory mess.
 
These rumors spread far along the course of the turnpike and westward travelers were warned not to stop over night at the Harris Tavern. The business of the stagecoach company was so affected that it secured the services of the Pinkerton Detective Agency to investigate.
 
Immediately Jack and William Harris sold the tavern, along with Deloris and another slave, to the widow Susan Groves and went west under aliases of Jeff and Tex Howard.
 
One Sunday morning when Parson Woodford was going into the third hour of his "fire and brimstone" sermon, some members of the congregation became restless when the oder of something burning came to them.
 
An inquisitive young man opened the church door and promptly announced that the tavern was afire. As the people approached the burning building, they saw a person swaying and dancing in the glass-enclosed lookout.
 
It was Deloris, the slave girl, in her finest raiment, dancing and singing while the building burned.

The fire was out of control, making it impossible to rescue her. While the people watched, the lookout, with Deloris inside, fell through the second story ceiling and disappeared from view. Deloris had been extremely unhappy in her new situation and this act of self-immolation was her chosen way of escape.

After the tavern burned, stagecoaches continued to stop at the hitching post in front of the "burnt house" to deliver mail. Thus it was that the village of Burnt House got its name.
 
As local legend has it, Deloris, in spirit, returned to the community a number of times after her tragic demise. Usually on damp, foggy nights she came, at first a wavering flame, then taking the form of a young girl, she would dance over the ruins of the old tavern and finally drift over Dead Man's Hollow with a plaintive moan.

On a certain day in 1882, about thirty years after the tavern burned, this phenomenon of Deloris' reappearance occurred for the last time. It is of interest to note here that on the same day, fate caught up with William Harris, alias Tex Howard, when he was hanged in Texas for robbery and murder.
 
In the community of Burnt House a terrifying electrical storm swept across the valley. Daylight turned to darkness. Torrential rain and gusty winds bent huge trees to the ground while thunder shook the earth and balls of fire rolled down the turnpike.
 
In the midst of the tempest Deloris came and, after dancing for a brief time over the old tavern site, she drifted off toward Dead Man's Hollow where her last agonizing wail mingled with the storm. Today the traveler will find that the tranquil environment of the community of Burnt House belies its historic and legendary past.

Theresa's Note:  Today, a home still stands on the former site of the Harris Tavern, in the town of Burnt House (incorporated 1875)..  Built around 1880, the current private residence began as the Fling Hotel, operated by Burnt House's first postmaster, John Fling.  It later passed through the Ferrell and Reynolds' families, and as of 2006, was owned by John and Carol Rymarz.  During renovation of the home's front porch, it was discovered that the area under the porch was littered with burnt timbers and other debris, supporting the belief that the home is located directly atop the previously burned Harris Tavern.

Photo above is the current home that sits atop the Harris Tavern site.  Property of The Hur Herald

Sliding Hill (Point Pleasant Area)

The following information is from Robin Bellamy's book, Haunted Hospitality (2007):

Sliding Hill Creek is a small stream that juts off from the Ohio River at a point between Hartford City and New Haven.  Sliding Hill Road, for the most part, runs adjacent to the creek.  The area gets its name from the red clay that makes up the hillside, making navigation, especially in days before modern machinery and vehicles, VERY difficult.

Legend states, however, that during the colonial period, a paymaster was robbed and killed on the road across from Sliding Hill. The killers, hearing soldiers approaching, buried the gold coins the paymaster had on him, hid the body, and then fled into the woods.  The soldiers, upon finding the body, pursued the killers, who were then caught and killed themselves.  The money was never located, but for over 200 years, locals have claimed to see the apparition of a man walking down the road, only to completely disappear.  Is this the spirit of the murdered paymaster...or one of his killers still searching for his looted bag of gold?

The WV State Archives' website does mention that they have a newspaper clipping from the (Pomeroy, OH) Tribune-Telegraph (n.d.) entitled "The Haunt of Sliding Hill."  I did try to verify the legend by simple online research only, and came up short.  I would assume that any colonial era soldiers would have been from the Fort Randolph site, located in present-day Point Pleasant, but found no mention of a murdered paymaster.

If anyone has any additional information on this story, please pass it along!

Dobby the House Elf: Pop Culture Meets Folklore!

 This "blog" was written in April of 2009.  I have since then finished the entire series...and am sad to see this era come to an end.  But yeah, I said there would be some personal musings located in the Theresa's Articles section...and this definitely qualifies.  The below piece is what happens on very little sleep!  Please enjoy!

Hehe, I'm not dreadfully familiar with the Harry Potter series...I've only watched one of the movies, and finally sat down this past fall to start reading the series.

My lack of interest in this pop culture classic is probably why I never made the connection...Dobby the House Elf is a GREAT example of the traditional English folklore of the Brownie! If you're familiar with the books and the movies, you'd probably have a better understanding of what I'm talking about, but there are two attributes to Dobby and the other house elves that mimic those traits of Brownies. I'm not sure if JK Rowling ever came out and said she based the concept of the house elves on Brownies, or any other mythological beings and household elementals that permeate through the British Isles, but the resemblances are uncanny, lol.

According to Spirits, Fairies, Leprechauns and Goblins, by Carol Rose, a brownie is defined as:

A household spirit of northern English and Scottish folklore; in southern England goes by the name of Robin Goodfellow. The Brownie is described as being like a very small, brown, shaggy human, sometimes naked and sometimes wearing ragged brown clothes. Families were proud of their Brownies as they brought good fortune; to lose one was disasterous. Outside of the family, a Brownie was viewed with caution, as they were prone to mischief when annoyed.

In general, the Brownie was the most industrious of the household spirits, ploughing, reaping, grinding grain, cleaning the house and barns, churning butter-in fact, most of the tedious jobs he would gladly do. In return, the Brownie was entitled to a bowl of the best cream and new baked cake or bread, to be put within his reach. To offer the Brownie any form of payment other than this, especially to take pity and to give him new clothes, was an insult, and he would vanish immediately.

The physical description is relatively the same...the house elves in HP were small, humanoid for the most part, and brown. They were the household servants, per se, and to banish them from their service, the owner must give them the gift of clothes. They normally wore nothing more than mere rags.

In another source I read, it stated that Brownies were fiercely loyal to their families...in fact, the actual wording was "perversely loyal" hehe. That too, describes the house elves in Harry Potter, especially Dobby, who would cause himself great bodily injury for even having negative thoughts about his assigned family, lol.

Apports and Asports

The terms apport and asport are two paranormal terms that are used frequently today...but got their start (and earliest connontations) during the Spiritualist Movement.

It wasn't uncommon for a spirit medium during a seance to ask an entity to "produce" or materialize an object out of thin air as a sign of the entity's presence.  Common manifestations included, but were not limited to, jewelry, perfume, flowers, coins, and other small objects.  Since the dying down (no pun intended) of the Spiritualist movement, and the fact that many of these apports, or spirit gifts, were deemed fraudulent, the term apport has come to be more commonly applied to other aspects of paranormal phenomena.

For example, the movie Poltergeist shows a scene in which the witnessing of a group of apparitions leads to the manifestation of jewelry--jewelry that turns out to belong to the deceased buried in the former cemetery.  In this sense, the term apport can be used similarly to the definition of the Spiritualist Movement--"gifts," or objects that manifest out of thin air as a sign of an entity's presence.  Although very few people have had large amounts of jewelry deposited to them out of thin air, most people HAVE had an experience that can be chalked up to being an apport.  Have you ever found coins show up in weird places, nearly everywhere you look for a period of time?  If so, you're certainly not alone!  These "pennies from Heaven" are often attributed to a loved one or other person who has passed on trying to get our attention.  The dates may be significant on the coins...or it may simply serve as a way to get us to stop and notice.  Pennies used to be the preferred apport of choice in this area, but it seems like in the past 10 years or so, pennies are quickly being replaced with dimes!  While it is true that both coins are small and light and can get caught and stuck in weird places, only to drop off later, it's always fun to think about the possibilities!

A more negative slant to apport thing is associated with poltergeist activity, and generally involves cases of homes being pelted with small rocks and pebbles.  The rock showers tend to end as quickly and mysteriously as they began...

Then there's a slightly different phenomenon that falls under the title of apport...this involves an object that goes missing, but then turns up again, either in the SAME place it was lost from, or in a different location.  These types of apports generally tend to be small, personal objects and KEYS seem to be the favorite object that goes missing!  There's a great article entitled the Disappearing Object Phenomenon (DOPler Effect) that goes more in depth into this strange phenomenon.

So that's the long definition of apport...what about asport?  Asports are generally thought of as the OPPOSITE of apport, and include items that go missing, but NEVER show back up!  Where these objects go and why they are taken is a mystery.  The best example of this would be the proverbial sock in the dryer!

Have you had your own experiences with either apports or asports?  If so, I'd love to hear them!  Send them to the comment box, or email me at theresarhps@yahoo.com  Happy Haunting!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

ABCs of the Paranormal

The idea of undertaking a comprehensive paranormal encyclopedia or even lexicon is a little too much for me to handle right now!  There's no way I could complete a thorough enough body of work to really hit on all aspects of the paranormal field, especially ghost investigation, and give it the attention it deserves.

So instead, I thought it would be fun to do a little ABCs of the Paranormal!  I'll go through and write a short piece for each letter of the alphabet, all the way through!  Expect a few new entries a week until the entire alphabet is covered...and then depending on my mood, maybe I'll start over and run through it again.

Expect to find a mixture of articles on both concepts that every paranormal investigator should be familiar with...and then a few totally off-the-wall crazy stuff that simply serves to satisfy my own curiosity.  Happy reading, and if you have any suggestions, please email me at theresarhps@yahoo.com !



A  Asports/Apports
Black Eyed Kids 
Cryptomnesia 
D  Death Coach
E  Elemental Spirits/Hauntings
F   Floriography, The Language of Flowers
G  Gravity Hills
Hypnagogia 
I   Ideomotor Effect
Jamais vu
K Kirlian Photography
Lemuria Festival of the Dead
M Mandela Effect,  Morphic Resonance
N  Nobel Syndrome
O Osculum Infame 
P  Psychometry
Q Quislings  (Zombies)
R  Radiant Boys
S  Superior Mirages
Tulpas
U  Ubume
Vardoger 
W Will o' the Wisp
X  Xenoglossy
Y YĆ«rei
Zener Cards


Saturday, August 6, 2011

It's Gen. Jenkins...With an AXE!


The photo above was taken during a 2007 HPIR training investigation at the grounds of the Gen. Jenkins Plantation in Cabell County.  You may need to lighten it a tad on your computer, but the image shows what appears to be shadowy figure holding something in its left hand.

Unfortunately, this is one of those photos that IS too good to be true.  Although we had previously captured interesting data from both inside the home and on the property, this photo is just not an example of such.  What appears to be a shadowy figure with a light protruding from its head is actually the result of a VERY slow shutter speed. 

As investigator Danny was photographing the home, another investigator (wearing a headlamp) walked into the shot in front of him, then quickly back out.  The low lighting and slow shutter speed combined to turn our investigator, Steve, into the ghostly image of Gen. Jenkins...with an AXE!  At least, that was what one such guest to our 2007 Zombie Walk info booth was convinced of!  Of course, we cannot rule out that this conviction was the result of the red wine that was served generously at the cafe where we were sitting!

This photo shows the importance of a little detective work, and most importantly, understanding how to read EXIF data from your photos!  Melissa wrote an excellent article on EXIF data which can be found at the HPIR website, but basically, EXIF is a summary of camera settings.  By analyzing this data, we could clearly see the exposure time was WAY too long for such a low light level shot, and thus, our Gen. Jenkins with an axe was "debunked."

Friday, August 5, 2011

Murphy's Law for Witches

It's time for another installment of Friday Night Funnies!  I'm not feeling great today, but luckily I just happened to run across today's submission on the TAPS 18 board and thought it would be perfect!  I dedicate this to all my pagan/Wiccan/etc. friends out there!  Happy Reading...


Murphy's Law For Witches
(unknown author/source)

No spell is as easy as it looks.

If you perceive that there are four possible ways in which a spell can go wrong, and circumvent these, then a fifth way will promptly develop.

Every spell performed to solve a problem will breed new problems.

Mother Nature is sometimes a bitch.

Anything that can go wrong will go wrong; and anything that cannot possibly go wrong will also go wrong.

No matter what the result of a spell, there will always be someone eager to:
(a) misinterpret it.
(b) fake it.
(c) believe that it happened as a result of his own work.

Once a Ritual is fouled up, anything done to improve it only makes it worse.

Everyone has a favorite ritual or spell that will not work.

As soon as you mention something ...
if it's good, it goes away;
if it's bad it happens.

If a spell requires 'x amount' of materials, then immediately before beginning, you will discover that you only possess 'x amount-1' materials.

In any formula, it will be discovered that the required amounts have been forgotten.

No books are lost by lending except those you particularly want to keep.

If you miss an issue of a newsletter, it will be the issue that concludes
the article or ritual that you are most anxious to read.

When your familiar has fallen asleep on your lap and looks utterly content and adorable, you will suddenly have to go to the bathroom.

If you drop your Athame during a rite, you will discover that you are no longer able to move your right foot.

The universe is not only stranger than we imagine, it's stranger than we can imagine.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite criticism.

For every vision of the Goddess, there is an equal and opposite vision
that negates your own vision.

If you are early to a meeting, it will be Canceled ... if you are on time, it will be late. If you are late, it will have started early.

The more complicated and grandiose the ritual, the greater the chance that it will fail.

The more carefully you plan a ritual, the more you will resist admitting that it failed.

When a lazy witch gets into trouble due to his ignoring the facts, he will imagine that his failures are caused by another's curse.

The best and most effective rituals occur when you are home with the flu.

You always hear about the need for a ritual or spell after that need ends.

When all else fails, consult your Book of Shadows.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Paranormal Investigator vs. Ghost Hunter

The terms paranormal investigator and ghost hunter are often used quite interchangeably...but there are some slightly different connotations associated with each.  Everyone has their own personal quirks about which word choice THEY prefer...including me : )

I like to call myself a Paranormal Investigator.  To me, a paranormal investigator is someone who literally investigates claims into the paranormal.  Although the term paranormal is fairly broad and we generally tend to focus on hauntings, to me, this label is the most accurate.

As a paranormal investigator, my team and I get called in to find out what is going on in someone's home, or business.  We also seek out cases that have known reports of paranormal activity and ask permission to investigate.  During the course of our work in these places, we literally investigate.  We do background research on the property and when applicable, the clients.  We  document claims, thoroughly try to recreate the claims of activity, assess the situation from a variety of angles, and try to capture evidence.  No evidence collected or a debunking of claims doesn't mean our investigation is over, however.  We continue to work with the client in trying to figure out what is going on, how it can be resolved, and what additional resources and education we can supply to the client.

The investigation process also includes research, but not just historical research.  We're constantly staying abreast of new theories and hypotheses, and applying them to our own work.  We document results, try new things, and work at developing new equipment and procedures.

Ghost hunting, on the other hand, is a label with really different connotations for me.  The term ghost hunter implies that instead of investigating known claims, ghost hunters go out to places with probable activity, such as cemeteries, spooky abandoned sites, and historical locations, and HUNT for ghosts...look for evidence of ghosts, if you will.  If there is no evidence for ghosts, or if there is surmountable evidence against ghosts, then the work is done, and another location becomes the focus.  I choose not to use this term to describe my work, because I don't feel as if what I'm doing is simply looking for ghosts...although that is a very big part of it.  A successful investigation for me personally doesn't necessarily yield evidence of paranormal activity...it ends with a client or location satisfied with the results, at ease in their own residence/establishment, and armed with the knowledge of how to deal with similar claims, whether they turn out to be paranormal or not.

Ghost Hunters are great pioneers in this field.  Often they'll discover exciting new locations that yield interesting results.  By working together with other teams, these locations are able to be investigated with fresh eyes, and fresh points of view. 

There are no right or wrong terms in this field, and no term is better than another..  People enter the paranormal field for a variety of reasons and with a variety of goals, coming from a variety of points of view..  More often than not, those who call themselves ghost hunters actually take on the same work as those who call themselves paranormal investigators...while similarly there are those who call themselves investigators who actually fit more into my personal description of a ghost hunter.  And then, there's the whole show Ghost Hunters that has affected people's decision as to what to "label" themselves and their groups...but we won't get into that!

I'd love to know what others think about this subject!  Do you consider yourself a paranormal investigator or a ghost hunter...or something different altogether? Do you have a team that incorporates one of these titles?  Please share your thoughts!

(Above photo of Wes, HPIR investigator on location at a Kentucky Fire Station.  Property of Melissa Stanley)

Singapore Theory

Singapore Theory...this investigation technique goes by many names.  You may have heard it called Theory of Familiarization, Relative Time to Object Theory, or simply, Paranormal Stimuli.  Personally, until several years ago, when Barry of Ghost Hunters fame made this word a household name, I was quite familiar with the concept...just not the name!

In fact, in all my research, no one I've found can say with any confidence where the name comes from.  However, its a moot point, as what is important is the actual process itself!  Singapore Theory is an investigation technique that many investigators have probably implemented to some degree, whether or not they consciously knew it was a labeled theory.  For those who aren't familiar with this theory, however, Singapore Theory is simply a process by which a time period or situation is recreated in hopes that it will stimulate a paranormal manifestation.  For example, if there are reports of a ghost from the 1920s, investigators may recreate a familiar and comfortable environment for that entity.

Singapore Theory can be fairly simple...or it can become quite complex.  Playing period music, wearing period dress, and the use of trigger objects from a certain time period (or even interest) can all be considered an implementation of Singapore Theory.  More complex implementation may involve the total recreation of a site, using period correct furnishings, music, etc.  Or...as we've seen on the show Ghost Lab, a complete recreation of the traumatic event that is believed to have CAUSED the haunting, such as a murder.

When hearing the term Singapore Theory, what comes to mind for me personally is Civil War ghosts.  As a reenactor and as a tour guide for Haunted and Historic Guyandotte Tours, my team has gotten a chance to investigate a fair number of Civil War era sites, and talk to multiple reenactors and owners of Civil War era homes who have had their OWN experiences.  We often hear the same type of stories over and over again...in our own area of Guyandotte, which once served as a Union recruitment camp, many of the owners of historic buildings claim that paranormal activity in their homes increases exponentially on the anniversary of the raid on Guyandotte (which is commemorated with Guyandotte Civil War Days, early in November).

Other reenactors have run-ins while camping in full period attire with entities of soldiers and other Civil War era personages.  Sometimes these entities seem oblivious to what is going on around them, while many other times these entities will interact with the reenactor.  We've had reports of soldiers being given orders by ethereal generals, to finding a "sleeping" specter waiting in their tent for them.  These sightings are so frequent that many reenactment handbooks even offer information on them! 

Many investigators believe that the type of activity that is stirred up by Singapore Theory is of a residual nature, which makes sense.  In order for a residual haunting to manifest, conditions must be just right...just what those conditions are, is something that is still being studied and debated among researchers.  By recreating an environment that mimics that of which was present when the "haunting" originated COULD be enough to set those conditions in motion and make it ideal for a manifestation.

However, as I've alluded to in the Civil War stories...I personally believe that Singapore Theory is just as relevant, if not MORE so, in the case of intelligent hauntings.  An intelligent haunting, capable of free will and being consciously aware, could possibly decide to manifest in conditions where it feels the most comfortable.  To someone that may feel frightened as the world they knew changes around them, and unfamiliar people intrude on "their" territory, having evoked a feeling of familiarity is ideal.  Unfortunately, through our own research, we haven't been able to say with certainty that any evidence captured or experiences were a direct result of our Singapore Theory efforts.

Of course, most of this is all conjecture.  We'll continue our experimentation and documentation, and would LOVE to hear from anyone out there who has had success implementing this technique!  Please submit your own experiences and thoughts with Singapore Theory, and happy haunting!

Photo above property of Melissa Stanley