#7 – GHOST HUNTER
The Adventure – Becoming a Paranormal Investigator
Strolling through the darkened graveyard, I wondered if any of the skeletal remains would rise up through the perfectly manicured lawn and grab me by the ankles, pulling me down into the earth, willing me to join them in the moist, worm-laden resting place they called home.
Considered to be one of the most haunted graveyards in Vancouver, I found myself lolly-gagging about, with camera in hand, hoping to capture a glimpse of a dearly departed.
Any dearly departed would do.
It was my turn now. After all, turnabout is fair play. I was on the hunt and I would not be denied.
So where were they – besides 6 feet under?
When I was a little girl, things would go bump in the night.
My parents would wake up to the sound of me screaming as if I was being murdered in my bed. They had no idea what haunted me at night. Then again, neither did I.
I remember nothing of this.
The story they tell me is that my terror-filled nights vanished a few years later with the introduction of a new bed. The old bed, incidentally, was found in my grandparents home. It had been discarded, left behind by the previous occupants…one of which had died in the house, in that very bed.
They say the screaming started and ended with that bed in my life.
Another town, another home…
The woman died a few years earlier in the house I called home.
This little factoid escaped my attention until after we moved out. Strange things happened and I wasn’t the only one who made this observation. It was a little difficult to avoid noticing the ball circling around on its own on the kitchen floor. It was just one of many things that occurred in our home. And, after a period of time, it became normal…sort of like having another family member around.
But, there was one thing that disturbed me – the bathroom incident.
In the wee hours of the night, I sat alone on the toilet minding my own business when, without even a knock, the bathroom door unlocked itself and, in one fluid motion, moved all the way to the wall while everyone else was sleeping.
Can’t a person have any privacy?
Things that go bump in the night…
I woke up to hands grabbing my ankles, crawling up my shins, working their way up my legs.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t my boyfriend doing the grabbing.
He was extremely busy at that moment…snoring beside me. I lashed out at the hands, kicking fast and furious, until they went away. Seconds later, my closet door slammed wide open, violently crashing into the wall, startling my boyfriend wide awake.
There are those who don’t handle rejection very well.
It was the spoon that flew off the counter landing in the middle the kitchen floor that disturbed my friend the most. And when I walked back into the dining room, his eyes were bulging out, wide as saucers, as he stared down at the chili-covered spoon that somehow managed to fly 3 feet off the countertop to the centre of the kitchen floor. I think he was beginning to have second thoughts about coming over for a bowl of chili.
At that point in time, this sort of unusual activity didn’t really faze me much.
Another place, another face…
I woke up to discover a stranger’s face staring back at me, mere inches away.
I screamed as loud as I could, pushing the intruder off me. Jumping up onto my feet on the bed, I looked down at the ground for the man who was somewhere under my blankets on the floor. Adrenaline pulsing through my body, my reaction was to pounce and attack the person who dared to break into my home.
When in a flight or fight scenario, I’ve discovered I’m the fighting type.
Poised for the kill, I looked around only to discover he was no longer there, disappearing somewhat abruptly into thin air.
And it happened again, 6 months later, but this time with a different disappearing person. At least this time the fighter in me got a swing in as my fist went right through her.
It was probably because I was living in a crack house.
Former crack house, that is. It was a heritage home that had been gutted and restored back to it’s former glory. Almost a century old, those walls could talk. And they sometimes did.
Right to my face.
These personal stories are just a random handful of anomalous events in my life that make me sound absolutely demented, making you wonder what kind of drugs I take.
I guess the question to ask is this: Were these events nothing more than a figment of an overactive imagination or have I been hallucinating all my life? Or was it entirely possible that these incidents were altogether something else?
Maybe, maybe not.
Who can really say what the answer is without some sort of hard facts? I wanted to think that I wasn’t entirely crazy, so I made the decision to seek out the answers to my questions.
It only stood to reason that the best place to find answers would be to talk directly to those in the field of paranormal research – and who better than the Vancouver Paranormal?
I was THRILLED to discover they offered a course in Ghost Hunting. Not only that, but I was offered an opportunity to join the group and actually go out on full-fledged ghost hunts!
What I discovered right away is that ghost hunters walk along a double-edged sword.
On one hand, they set out to prove the existence of paranormal activity…but on the flip side, they do everything in their capacity to prove that whatever is going on in someone’s home stems from anything other than paranormal activity.
They are both believer and skeptic…all wrapped up in one.
Needless to say, I learned all sorts of interesting factoids…things like I’m not the only one who’s experienced unusual encounters. That, and it happens more often than you think. Not that anyone ever talks about it or admits to it…without sounding just a little bit crazy.
Another thing I learned about ghost hunting is that one MUST be patient in order to capture electric voice phenomena (EVP) or get anything on camera or video. After all, the real ghost hunting is hardly anything like the television shows in United States like ‘Ghost Hunters‘ or ‘Paranormal State‘…or even the British program ‘Most Haunted’…television shows where everything happens and is solved within 60 minutes or less.
If it was only that simple.
Nope. It is filled with LONG hours and sporadic visits with absolutely no guarantees that anything will happen at all.
The legends that surround Maxine’s Beauty and Boarding School for Girls are infamous.
Secret hidden tunnels, rum-runners and prostitution. Tales of gangsters and fugitives from the law seeking refuge and getting caught.
Rumours of Errol Flynn dying in the arms of a 14 year old girl. Not to mention the murder of Madame Maxine McGilvary on the premises of her own establishment.
Sightings of ghostly apparitions became quite common with the staff. In fact, not only had the ghostly apparition of Maxine been seen, but also the figure of a man holding a knife. If only those walls could have talked…especially before the City of Vancouver destroyed the beautiful heritage site so they could build yet another lame apartment building.
Even though most of the ghostly appearances were seen in the lower levels of the building, Vancouver Paranormal examined every square inch of the 100 year old building. Breaking off into teams, we spread out and began to photograph some of the different areas, hoping to document something on film that would not be seen with the naked eye.
Monitors were set up, people situated at different stations. At one point in time in the evening, Jon Kelly (Your Inner Voice) set up a camera and recorder for the EVP (electronic voice phenomena) session in a darkened area of the basement, hoping to record any voices that the normal human ear cannot pick up. And as luck would have it, a voice was picked up.
What are we really afraid of?
One thing that surprises me is the vehemence with which people react at the mere mention of ghosts.
I have one friend in particular who accidentally hangs up the phone if I ever dare mention the ‘G’ word. And stranger yet, she’s not the only one who gets freaked out about this sort of stuff.
It makes me begin to wonder if this fear response has been ingrained into our psyches.
Or is it simply just a question of mortality?
I am curious if these fears are more common with people who feel they haven’t started living yet…
Science limits us…
At least right now.
I’m all about the science, but there comes a point in time where I realize that science is not some sort of omniscient God that has the final say on any one given thing.
In fact, I do believe science limits us.
Science can only take us as far as it has gone…and I think we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg. After all, new discoveries are being made every single day because of curious scientists who look for the answers to questions that evade them.
But then, I wonder how many scientists choose not to explore things with a paranormal twist because of the possibility that if they pursue this line of study, there is a good probability they will face ridicule by their peers?
This is seen time and time again throughout history. Geniuses ridiculed and then later vindicated. What geniuses am I talking about? Tesla and Pasteur to name a few. It just goes to prove that things which seem like pseudoscience today can easily be considered science tomorrow. In fact, it is astonishing to discover how many things exist in our day to day lives that we consider commonplace but were once ridiculed when first discovered. It is the close-minded, the naysayers, who ridicule that which they do not want to understand.
Even though most evidence for supernatural phenomenon is anecdotal (as testing cannot be conducted under controlled conditions), there has been some scientific research done to date.
So why are certain people more prone to these experiences..and other are not? I don’t believe for a second that I’m ‘off-my-rocker’…and my friends who have had their own experiences are some of the most brilliant minds this world has seen. So what is going on here? Does it come down to the person…or the place where we currently reside? In my search for finding answers, I discovered a few interesting things.
- I’m not the only so-called ‘demented’ person out there – A LOT of other people have had similar experiences to mine
- Things do go bump in the night…and sometimes in the daytime, too.
- Most unusual occurrences can easily be explained away with science or logic or deductive reasoning.
The things we cannot rationally explain, we try to ignore or assume our imaginations are getting the better of us. But if this paranormal phenomenon is real, and I believe it is, then it poses some fundamental questions about the world we live in.
Interesting Non-Scientific Factoids:
- the oldest psychical research society in the world is Britain’s Ghost Club which was founded in 1862 – making it 150 years old! One famous person who belonged to the group – Charles Dickens.
- ghosts tend to haunt the same location – or person (creep-factor!!).
- ghosts do not necessarily appear as ‘apparitions’…they can be invisible – but felt by a drop in temperature, a smell, or even noises.
- ghosts, for the most part, tend to have a ‘reason’ to appear.
- not all ghosts come in human form – some come in animal form – others as an inanimate object (ie planes, trains, and boats).
- one of the most famous ghostly ships was the Flying Dutchman.
Some of the main reasons why things actually go bump in the night:
- the house is settling
- the wind
- drafts from poor insulation
- faulty wiring/plumbing/ventilation
So why you should try ghost hunting?
- you get to try out the cool equipment
- you get to check out some really neat old buildings
- you might actually run into something weird that will actually make you question your reality
© Monthly Adventure, Patricia Taylor, July 2008
Photo credits: Nina D., Orbs in the Cemetery
Photo credits: Stuart Thomson, Maxine’s 1936
Video credits: Jon Kelly, Your Inner Voice