UPDATE - 10/30/10 - 8:30 PM EST: Irene was at the client's residence tonight attempting to gather more information and to possibly clear some of the spirits that have taken residence. She told me that the house felt somewhat better and 'lighter' and that the clients were feeling better as well. But, there is more work to be done...especially with the dominant entity. SRI always provides counsel and followup with clients after the spiritual services have been performed.
At this time, I'm going to describe some of the details of the remote view conducted last Tuesday. As you may remember, I administered the session while Irene monitored by way of Skype. I was given random location coordinates that were set to the target that were unknown to me. I proceeded to go through the phases used to gather information on the targets. I was able to identify several destinations and subjects that included a young girl, a tin or steelworker who may have been the girl's father and a church vicar. The locations included a mill, a tavern, an older towered church and the client's house. The scenarios where played out...but I am unsure of the time line and actual events, though I sensed three separate deaths that involved two of the individuals I perceived. I am planning to conduct another remote view session very soon because of new facts that have been learned.
The client was approached by a neighbor who has knowledge of six known deaths in the vicinity of the house. These deaths include that of a young girl....and that 'something bad' had happened in the house but the specifics were not given. We are continuing to research the history and facts pertaining to the location and the past residents....Lon
Message from Irene Block: After the clearing last night the two families slept well, the dogs were quiet all night and also slept. The daughter that had been the victim of some of the most terrifying happenings in the house came home in the early hours of the morning and noticed the difference in the atmosphere of the house as soon as she came through the front door, her words to me were that it felt normal.
This morning after talking with the family on the phone they are ecstatic at how the house feels and everyone involved said they were feeling physically better and much happier.
This clearing was done with the help of divine prayer and the archangel Michael, I performed a Christian clearing this time as I felt this was the type that in this particular case was needed, the ceremony I used is one of the strongest and I have always had good results with it. The clearing was filmed and I am still deciding if to post it or not, I haven't seen it and I am hoping I didn't look to fat in it or to dishevelled. LOL
Now I have explained to the clients that we are still not out of the woods, there is always the chance that I have missed something and at this point it is like a probationary period where we wait for a couple of weeks if there is anything left behind it will show itself during this period. I like to do what I call an aftercare program where I will monitor the family and the house for the next few weeks helping them to keep themselves and the house positive. Encourage them to lead a normal life, take walks with the dogs, etc. Most importantly keep all talk of this haunting away from the house and if they must talk about it to keep the conversation to a minimum.
Another RV session will take place next week as we had some very good results from the last one and hopefully this one will help to slot the last piece of the jigsaw together.
I forgot to mention before this clearing took place last night another investigation was done with locked off cameras and voice recorders the footage has yet to be gone over by Lon but if anything is found it will go up on the Astral Perceptions board.
Now the waiting begins...Irene
Spirit Rescue International
|Photo Copyright 2009 by Doreen Hill|
Barb King is the founder of the PA. Dept of Paranormal Investigations or PDPI, a non-profit investigative team based in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania vicinity. She describes Doreen Hill as "a strong investigator with good skills," then adds, "I trust her totally."
One evening in March, 2009, Doreen Hill and a handful of researchers from the Pittsburgh Paranormal Society accepted an invitation to investigate a rental property in East McKeesport, Pennsylvania.
The mother and her two sons living there felt threatened. The family witnessed shadow phenomenon in the stairway leading to the second floor. Vile odors wafted through the residence. They began sleeping on the living room floor before finally retreating to a relative's house since they did not have anywhere else to go.
When investigators arrived, there was a "TERRIBLE" smell in the home. They asked the tenant to check her refrigerator to see if maybe something had gone bad... nothing.
Two investigators immediately decided to check things outside.
Doreen escorted the mother upstairs to escape the stench, shoot video, and maybe run an EVP. Being somewhat "sensitive," she was drawn to a bedroom currently being used for storage. The mother returned downstairs to be with her children and to check on what everyone else was doing.
Doreen shot some video without incident.
Routinely checking what her Sony Handycam Hybrid DCR-SR45 had captured, her eyes more than likely popped out of her head reminiscent of some 1940's animated cartoon.
"I never saw that apparition in my view finder," Doreen explained. "After an hour or so, I wanted to check my video and that is when I saw her! I could not believe it and ran downstairs to show the tenant and the founder of the paranormal group what I caught. When I got downstairs, I found everyone in the basement because one of the investigators got pushed against a wall and they were making sure that she was okay."
The apparition can be clearly seen at 0:06 seconds as the camera pans slowly left and is really blurred at 0:16 seconds as the camera pans very quickly to the right.
We have three choices here:
1.) Deliberate hoax? Doreen Hill's integrity and her lack of technical savvy negate any hint of hoax.
2.) Mistake? To counter skeptical arguments that she merely recorded her own reflection or someone else in the house, Doreen says, "As far as the colors I was wearing....I know for a fact that I was wearing a black shirt with white lettering and jeans. The shirt I was wearing was the shirt I wore when I was with Pittsburgh Paranormal Society." This is no reflection or accidental capture of any living person present in that dwelling. The family is African American. No one in attendance dressed in the manner of this apparition. This is no orb or pareidolia.
3.) Real deal? Shawn Kelly, the Founder of the Pittsburgh Paranormal Society, states for the record, "The video is for real and it is a true apparition. It is the best piece of evidence out there to this day."
"Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth." -- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Click for video
insidenova - The sound of footsteps on the stairs when no one else is around and swirling candle flames are among the unusual occurrences Gloria Rouse has experienced at Rockledge Mansion in Occoquan.
For the first time — and for one day only — Rockledge will be included Sunday in the town’s ghost tours so others have the opportunity to experience the unexplainable.
While Rouse has not seen the Confederate soldier believed to haunt the 250-year-old building that looms over Mill Street, she believes he — or something — is there and means no harm.
“I never feel scared when I’m alone in here,” Rouse said. “I get a warm feeling.”
Rouse, along with her husband, Tyler, own Georgetown Caterers. They have catered events in the portion of Rockledge that includes a ballroom for years. That, and the rest of the mansion, had been the residence of Ron and Joy Houghton. But when Joy Houghton died last summer, her husband moved. Now the Rouses lease the historic building.
During a recent visit to Rockledge, Rouse lit some candles in a candelabra in the winter kitchen. “There is no forced air heat in here,” she said. “Sometimes the flames will swirl.”
While they didn’t do more than flicker during that visit, they have at other times.
Paranormal investigators recently spent quite a bit of time at Rockledge. While the results of their investigation, which involved scientific equipment designed to pick up sounds and thermal images and changes in magnetic fields, have not been finalized, they weren’t disappointed.
“We sat and watched the candle flames rotate for about two minutes,” Rouse said.
“We are still reviewing our data [about 20 hours of video and 20 hours of audio],” said Tara Ryan, who along with his husband, Max, founded the paranormal group PEPPR in Alexandria in 2005.
“So far, we have heard several disembodied voices answering questions and a lot of disembodied footsteps coming from the upper level of the house,” she said.
The footsteps are something Rouse knows well.
While the Houghtons were still living at Rockledge, they invited Rouse to spend the night if she had an event there that ran late.
She remembers one night when she was asleep in a second-floor bedroom. “I heard footsteps on the stairs, and it woke me up,” she said.
The next morning she ran into the Houghtons outside and told them she heard them come home the night before.
But they were just then returning to Rockledge. The footsteps were not theirs.
Rouse said she also has heard the steps during the day, but they do not frighten her.
“How can you be afraid of a noise?” she asked.
“If I had to guess who was going up and down the stairs, I would guess it was a man,” Rouse said.
And that “man” may well be the ghost of the Confederate soldier.
Rouse also recalled a story of a woman who was walking along the driveway in front of Rockledge and saw what she believed to be a Confederate soldier. Later, an examination of the front steps revealed what looked like wet hobnail boot prints, from the type of footwear a soldier would have worn at that time.
“When I’m here by myself sometimes I will hear someone knocking at the door, but when I go to answer it, there is no one there,” Rouse said. “Now I just look out the window.”
On Sunday, those attending the Occoquan Merchants Association’s ghost walks will have a chance to do more than look into the windows of Rockledge. It will be included on the tours given at 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m.
“I believe it’s time for a new beginning for Rockledge,” Rouse said. “Let it be what it really is — an institution — and people should be able to see it.”
“Rockledge is one of Occoquan’s oldest buildings, and one that is inextricably linked to the town’s founding,” said Occoquan Mayor Earnie Porta. “It’s not often open to the public, so we’re all especially grateful for this rare opportunity.”
Kristyn Gleason, president of the Occoquan Merchants Association, said the group has had “constant bookings” for the Halloween tours.
“For people to have an opportunity to go inside the house for the first time is huge,” she said. “People want to learn more about the history of Occoquan.”
salon - In butchered Italian, Nick Groff tells the ghosts of Poveglia, a creepy island off the coast of Venice, Italy, to "use his energy." A faint rap is heard. Zak Bagans, his fellow ghost hunter, hunches over and grabs his stomach. It looks as though he may vomit.
"Wha, wha, wha ... what's the matter?!" Groff asks.
"I just feel ... weird," Bagans mutters.
A hiss-like sound -- the noise heard just moments before -- is played back. It was all the proof the two ghost hunters needed.
"I said, 'use my energy,'" Groff says, his tone now professorial, "and then all of a sudden your energy was drawn from your body at the exact moment. And then -- at the same time -- I heard that weeeird voice."
Bagans struggles to lift his head. "It's using my energy," he whimpers.
Bagans and Groff are hosts of "Ghost Adventures," one of the most popular programs on the Travel Channel -- and one of about a dozen similar reality TV ghost-hunting shows on television today. Over the past decade the ghost-hunting genre as a whole, led by series like "Paranormal State," "Ghost Hunters" and "Psychic Kids: Paranormal Children," has become a virtual fixture on cable television. The shows follow a basic formula: Everyday Joes -- sometimes aided by a psychic, sometimes not -- travel to supposedly haunted locations, wait for the sun to go down, and spend the night freaking each other out. It may seem hilariously contrived, but it's some of the most popular stuff on TV today.
Since they hit the air, these shows have raised the profile of paranormal investigation, turning series investigators into minor celebrities, and spurring a growing interest in hauntings around the country. But they've also made some unexpected enemies: real-life paranormal researchers.
Granted, it's never been easy for those who choose to seriously study ghostly or psychic phenomena. Mainstream science views them with deep suspicion -- a contempt fueled by what many see as a gaping lack of evidence. No definitive proof of otherworldly phenomena has ever been found. Yet parapsychologists -- a handful with Ph.D.s and fortunate enough to have found a home at an academic institution, the vast majority self-taught but equally dedicated -- continue to search for evidence that paranormal phenomena really do exist.
They've been at it for some time now, in fact. In the late 1800s men like Harvard psychologist and philosopher William James risked their reputations by studying oddities such as "crisis apparitions," prescient events where final farewells or messages from a friend or loved one are claimed to be received in dream form before it is known they are dead. In the early-to-mid-1900s, Joseph Banks Rhine helped to pioneer the study of ESP by founding a (now-defunct) parapsychology lab at Duke University. Today, laboratory-controlled random number generator tests -- experiments where a subject sits in front of a number generator and tries to "will" one number over another -- seem to suggest that the mind has an unknown ability to affect reality.
Parapsychology, its adherents say, is a little like alchemy before chemistry came along. Don't squash it. Interviews with multiple parapsychologists, however, suggest that reality TV ghost-hunting shows are doing just that by exacerbating the woes that have historically plagued their field.
Many parapsychologists derive a healthy part of their income, and research funds, from speaking engagements, but now those are beginning to dry up. Loyd Auerbach, a field investigator with a quarter-century of experience who has appeared on "Larry King Live," "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and "Late Night With David Letterman," is one of a number of parapsychologists who have felt the squeeze from the reality TV ghost-hunting shows. In 2006 he took part in and was paid for 14 events in the Halloween season alone. The next full year, that number dropped to five. The year after that, to two. And then, in 2009, to one. This is the new reality for Auerbach, a man once dominant in his field. So far in 2010 only one paying gig has come his way. "I was making a good part of my living lecturing and doing events. Now the TV stars are getting all the lectures," he said. "It's been difficult to pay my mortgage."
Dr. Barry Taff, an investigator who has consulted for the CIA and took part in a now defunct parapsychology lab at UCLA, has likewise seen a drop in the number of cases referred to him. "Since these shows littered the landscape, calls coming in for investigations have almost disappeared," he said. "We used to get 20 to 30 a year. And then it just dropped dead. Last year, literally, we did not go on one single case. Not one. It's depressing!"
But the effect of the shows may reach farther than the preexisting parapsychological industry. Dr. Andrew Nichols, a leading expert in poltergeists who researched the phenomenon for the U.S. Army and who co-received the only grant ever awarded to study alleged hauntings, believes that they also push questionable science on the TV-watching public. Nichols pointed out a laundry list of what he calls bad science in the series: Investigations always take place at night (Why would ghosts come out only then? How can you be a good observer in the dark?); investigators use unproven, "scientific seeming" instruments like magnetometers, which have ultimately failed to produce replicable results; they suggest that every odd sound, every "cold spot" and every "orb" (which have been explained away as side effects of digital cameras) are signs of ghosts. More generally, as Nichols put it, "they just run around like little girls."
Not surprisingly, the shows have also been accused of fakery. Perhaps the biggest pratfall in paranormal TV history belongs to the perpetually possessed psychic medium Derek Acorah, of the British show "Most Haunted," who was disgraced after a cast member tricked him into communing with fictionalized ghosts. Critics took aim at the genre's most popular series, "Ghost Hunters," after a 2008 Halloween special in which a ghost purportedly tugged an investigator's collar; many believed a trick string was employed. The incident prompted Buffalo resident Ron Tebo to found Scifake.com, a website that polices paranormal TV. "You had 5 or 6 million people glued to the TV and SyFy decides that they're going to pull a number on all of us," he said.
Furthermore, says Benjamin Radford, managing editor of the Skeptical Inquirer and a researcher who performs his own science-based investigations into supposed hauntings, the shows give people a template for inventing hauntings in their own house. Radford, who thinks most parapsychologists do shoddy research, has been able to find rational explanations for each haunting he's investigated. "I deal with people who are convinced their houses are haunted," he said. "They're ordinary people who for whatever reason believe that their home is haunted. And when I talk to them and when I do investigations, one of the things I ask is, 'Why are you interpreting what you're experiencing as a ghost?' Invariably the answer is, 'I watch "Ghost Hunters."'"
Parapsychology has always been hampered by a lack of funding and a shortage of academic departments dealing with parapsychological phenomenon. In the past there have been stabs at such programs in the United States, but they've had much more success in Europe, where there are at least a few, like the Koestler Parapsychology Unit at the University of Edinburgh. In the '80s, for example, a short-lived parapsychology master's program existed at John F. Kennedy University in Orinda, Calif.
Without a strong body of degreed parapsychologists to speak for the field, parapsychologists worry that the shows further promote an image of the researchers as bumbling amateurs rather than rigorous professionals. "We get painted with the same brush," said John Palmer, a Ph.D. who runs the Rhine Institute, formerly affiliated with Duke University and one of the only parapsychological institutes in the country. It is the bumbling amateur image of the field that skeptics and mainstream scientists dig into. For some, the stigma is so strong as to dissuade any study in the field whatsoever.
Indeed, parapsychologists name the professional stigma associated with their field as one of the reasons it hasn't taken off (there are likely other reasons, of course). Without the support of academia, they say, young, serious-minded researchers interested in parapsychology struggle to receive grants, attain academic positions and achieve tenure. Harris Friedman, a professor at the University of Florida's psychology department, experienced the opprobrium associated with psychic study firsthand. He fell victim to what he calls the "reverse file drawer problem." "Many skeptics of parapsychology use the excuse that there's a 'file drawer problem' where all the negative findings get buried and only the findings that support parapsychology actually make it toward publication," he said.
As a doctorate student teaching in Fort Myers, Fla., Friedman conducted a study on psychic capacity in grade-school children -- a study that he says yielded compelling results: Children who claimed they liked each other had a better-than-odds chance of guessing cards than children who said they did not like each other. But he was grounded when he showed his findings to his dissertation professor. "He said 'Look, if you publish this forget having any sort of an academic career.' So I buried the data." Even so, Friedman, who has since gone on to have a fruitful academic career in alternative psychology, can see some benefits to the otherwise noisome ghost-hunting shows.
"They're tapping into a feeling of awe, a feeling people have that the world is not just mechanical," he said. "They open people up to deeper possibilities, and in this regard they have a good and bad relationship to parapsychology."
Awe is indeed what makes these shows tick, what keeps eyes glued to the screen: Ghosts are humankind's most popular and storied supernatural belief. We want to be scared, we want to suspend our skepticism; some among us even use the shows to make the leap into belief, and in this sense the shows possess an almost religious quality. The same ideas drive the field of parapsychology. For a number of reasons, the scientific hunt for the world beyond has remained a backwater discipline, and for a field of study strange enough as it is, parapsychology today finds itself in a strange position, stuck in between a set of uniquely American extremes: belief cheapened to the point of farce and a rigid, almost inhuman refusal to see anything beyond the material world. It's an odd thing. Or is it?
northern-iowan - I have a confession: I am a recovering believer in the supernatural. In the past, I've been prone to believing in and actively looking for ghosts and spirits. I used to peruse books on Bigfoot and the Bermuda triangle without really questioning whether their existence was even slightly plausible. I would stay up late watching shows about UFOs and wishing I was on a boat searching for the Loch Ness monster. And as someone who has now shed those beliefs, one of my greatest annoyances is that I cannot seem to convince everyone else to do the same.
I understand the appeal though. As a former paranormal addict, I was all set to embark on an exciting career as a paranormal investigator – a scientist really, just trying to convince a jaded world that ghost hunting is a legitimate science and a respectable profession. Thankfully my love of real science, and my hard turn towards a systematic rejection of any beliefs that were not supported by evidence, shook me of these nonsensical ideas. For those of you who still might cling to supernatural, paranormal or extra-worldly beliefs – consider this an intervention.
Specifically, I want to look at belief in ghosts. Cable television is heavily saturated these days with reality shows tracking the exploits of various bands of paranormal investigators. You've probably heard of the Syfy show "Ghost Hunters" by now. It focuses on a team of "paranormal researchers" who go to a location where people have reported paranormal activity, and covers in detail that team's use of expensive technology in attempting to catch that paranormal activity on camera or in audio. They provide the thrill of reality, but retain that fantastical promise of witnessing something otherworldly, assuming you squint hard enough at grainy video footage.
Here is the problem with what they are doing: it's not science. There's not a single shred of evidence to suggest that ghosts exist, or that they can be identified by cold spots. Why are ghosts cold? Why do they never seem to show up in visible light, but infrared cameras always find them? Why can you never hear them speaking, but finding them in garbled audio (what they call electronic voice phenomenon or EVP) is absurdly common? The answer is that it's easier to find whatever you're looking for in distorted or unclear video and sound. This is a profession that thrives on false positives.
The important thing is that there is literally no reason to believe that ghosts can be identified by cold spots, or magnetism, or any of those things. It's a total fabrication that is not based on any scientific evidence. Of course, many "ghost hunters" would tell you that when they find cold spots they are gathering "evidence" to prove that ghosts exist, but that's one of the most pernicious and corrupting things about the paranormal: it sets the threshold for "evidence" so low that it becomes nearly meaningless. If I call a ham sandwich evidence of fairies, am I using evidence in the scientific sense? Absolutely not. That "evidence" is not backed up by observable facts, and has no explanatory power when it comes to the phenomenon in question.
Paranormal investigators also tout their skepticism when beginning an investigation, but that too is a sham. They will try to disprove some claims, maybe finding a draft to explain a banging window, and that's a good thing, but their skepticism is quickly revealed to be superficial. One vase falling from a shelf, and suddenly you have "hard evidence" of a ghost. That's quite the logical leap, and a clear abandonment of the intense skepticism and scrutiny that characterize real science.
There is a lot more that could be said, but hopefully you can see some of the reasons that these beliefs are so ridiculous once you take a step back and examine them with a critical eye. The important thing to take from this is that beliefs should be based in evidence. They should mesh with our understanding of the world, as opposed to contradicting everything that science has already taught us. Beliefs should also be exposed to significant criticism before we accept them. Taking things at face value leads to the acceptance of absurd claims, which is clearly demonstrated by the popularity of "paranormal investigators." Put simply, there is more beauty and elegance in truth than in any superstition, and taking a stand against irrational beliefs is the first step in showing others that beauty.
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