Flavor of the month: Spirit Communication and the Charlie Charlie Challenge!

Last month it was sucking on shot-glasses. This month’s episode of ‘What’s sending kids to therapy’ seems to be the #CharlieCharlieChallenge.

The newest craze this month is to scare yourself senseless using two pencils and a piece of paper with the aid of a friendly Mexican Demon called Charlie.

Okay. Stop.

A Mexican Demon called Charlie? Why not Jose`? Or Eduardo? Charlie seems so… not scary…

Oh wait… on second thoughts…

Yep. That's scream-worthy material.

Yep. That’s scream-worthy material.

Yep. There it is.

The story goes that you write your question to Charlie on a piece of paper, drawing a cross in the middle, writing “Yes” and “No” in the diagonal boxes and placing two pencils over the cross that you’ve made.

Spirit Communication-ception... Charlie Charlie on a OUIJA BOARD!

Spirit Communication-ception… Charlie Charlie on a OUIJA BOARD!

You then ask “Charlie, Charlie, are you there?” and the wonderfully co-operative Hispanic Demon will move the pencils to point at the answers.

Sound familiar?

Wheel of Paper-Fortune!

Wheel of Paper-Fortune!

I remember drawing a Ouija board during a sleepover when I was 9 and asking the spirits whether my primary school crush and I would get married.

Just look at me now!

Paracon 2014 - mass Ouija session! Darrin Langbien Photography ©

Paracon 2014 – mass Ouija session!
Darrin Langbien Photography ©

Not to mention I used to be rather fantastic at making those origami Fortune-Teller thingos. I was pretty sure that I’d memorised the number patterns to get the result that I wanted each and every time.

But those were child’s play. We’ve got manipulated objects and floating pencils that seem to agree with teenage girls when they ask whether or not One Direction is the best band on the world.

I must admit that it would make sense for 1D to be in league with a Demon, judging by the unholy noise that reaches my ears whenever “What Makes You Beautiful” comes on the radio.

DEMON CHILD! DEMON CHILD!

DEMON CHILD! DEMON CHILD!

But this seems to have riled up a lot of religious groups. Catholic Online have published a letter allegedly written by a priest from Philadelphia that states;

“There is a dangerous game going around on social media which openly encourages impressionable young people to summon demons… I want to remind you all there is no such thing as ‘innocently’ playing with demons. Please be sure to NOT participate and encourage others to avoid participation as well. The problem with opening yourself up to demonic activity is that it opens a window of possibilities which is not easily closed.”

This is from a faith that used to perform Exorcisms on newborn babies because of their close contact with a woman’s birth canal…

So what makes the Charlie Charlie Challenge different from your run-of-the-mill Ouija Board? The fact that you’re supposedly drawing on an actual Demon by name rather than an ‘unknown spirit’?

#BloodyMary

Oh, of course; like everything else credible on the internet… it’s on Twitter!

In all seriousness though, I was interested at how this seems to be the ‘Bloody Mary’ or ‘Candyman’ of Gen-Z. What used to be locking yourself in a dark bathroom and whispering ‘Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary’ in a mirror has now become a blurry video taken on a mobile phone with “Charlie, Charlie, are you there?” followed usually by several screams when the pencils succumb to gravity and roll onto the floor.

How most Twitter #CharlieCharlieChallenge videos go…

So let’s get the facts.

5 Facts about the Charlie Charlie Challenge from an actual Paranormal Investigator:

1. There is no Mexican Demon called Charlie.

The most predominant religion in Mexico is Roman Catholicism, closely followed by Protestantism. These Christian Demons have classy names like Abaddon, Beelzebub, Malphas and Mammon. If you’re looking for a demon native to Mexico try summoning a Tzitzimitl or asking the Goddess Itzpapalotl to toss some of her ‘devil’ minons your way.

They won’t know much about One Direction though; these feminine deities tend to prefer to cause solar eclipses and generally promote fertility. So if you feel like having a baby or three… go with it!

2. Gravity can be a crafty bastard.

Think about it; you’re balancing a light object on another light object via a tiny, tiny contact point. The smallest breeze, movement on floorboards/uneven floor or stray breath could spell the difference between a disappointing waiting game and a false positive.

If you actually want to give this a go properly use an even surface, angled pencils (with some kind of straight edge) and cover the paper and pencils with some kind of glass dome or windbreak.

Have someone to observe and record, out of the circle and removed from the exercise almost entirely.

Ask control questions to begin with; what will be a ‘Yes’? What will be a ‘No’? (We can’t assume that all spirits know how to read English, right?) And when you have the chance, repeat your questions for clarification.

3. It’s all fun and games… until someone gets hurt.

As with any kind of attempted spirit communication; don’t be an asshat. Lining up a big prank to scare the bejesus out of someone can lead to some broken friendships… or serious injuries. Remember that everyone responds differently to fear.

And for the more Paranormally-inclined; be responsible. Summoning a spirit by any means  – paper, board, EVP session or scrying in a mirror – means that you’re open to everything. Specify boundaries before charging in guns blazing and question everything!

4. Get real.

What kind of Demon would actually lie in wait to answer questions about Algebra and One Direction?

Do they draw straws and the Demon who draws the short one today gets ‘Charlie’ duty?

The same goes for spirits; how many times can you stand being asked ‘If you’re there can you make a noise?’. Don’t waste time on trivial things like ‘What’s my middle name?’ and ‘Who will Johnny kiss this summer?’. Get names – first and last names – dates, towns… something tangible that can be researched either online or in archives.

I’ve had a session where we got the first and last name of a spirit that was correlated with an entry that I found in the Australian War Memorial archives. Not only did I scry his first name, our Ouija session found his last name and actual historical research backed that up! Nothing compares to the feeling that you actually connected with someone who was once a living human being – no matter how tragic their story may be.

Mind = Blown.

+

5. Be prepared for… nothing.

Don’t be disappointed if nothing happens. Spirits aren’t circus animals; they don’t float around thinking “Jesus H. Christ I’m bored! I wish someone would ask me to spike a K2 meter!”

And going further than that – reoccuring evidence of spirits is still yet to be proven – be prepared to accept the fact that you may or may not be talking to thin air.

Lastly;

As always, with any sort of spirit communication; if you do get something that may be an answer, thank them! You have no idea how much energy that effort may have required on their part. They’re doing you a favor!

Don’t forget to close off your conversation, even if you don’t get any evidence or movement. I like to finish up with something like “Thankyou for anyone who attempted to communicate with us; we now remove all permissions and ask that you remain here in peace. Have a lovely day!”

(Okay maybe not the ‘have a lovely day bit’… it depends on how overtired I’m feeling…)

If you feel things starting to get creepy or uncomfortable: stop. Don’t just get up and run away though, close the session (see above) immediately and go Google some kittens with your friends. Check that everyone is feeling okay about what they just experienced and if anyone is feeling creeped out then talk it out.

Kittens: the ultimate Paranormal Anti-drug.

Kittens: the ultimate Paranormal Anti-drug.

If you want any tips for spirit communication or feel like an arguement about how Ouija Boards are the portal to the Hell then feel free to contact me and check out my Facebook page for updates 🙂

Peace out!

XxTGWxX

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Shortie; Talking Boards; the hangup over “hells hotline”

This is just a small post because I want to show off 🙂

I would like to take this opportunity to tell you all about my newest acquisition; a traditional-style Ouija™ Board signed by the God of talking boards himself, Robert Murch.

Oh and the Emmy-nominated writer of 30 Odd Minutes and Ghost Adventures – Jeff Belanger – but, whatever 😉

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Isn’t she beautiful? The planchette also glows in the dark – useful! – but what I love is the design of the board, which hasn’t changed a great deal for the last 100 years. It has a beautiful old-world Occult feel about it that I love.

I have used talking boards before, though all of my (serious) experiences with them so far have been with the Psychic Circle Board by Amy Zerner. Now I’m not including the times that we made a spirit board whilst sleeping over at my friend’s place when I was 8. That was just… ridiculous, and – I will admit, knowing what I know – rather stupid.

I first saw the Psychic Circle Board in a Psychic Skills workshop with Andrea Kaldy from Validate. I suppose in the beginning I perhaps felt a little comforted, or less afraid, because the board didn’t look anything like a Ouija™ Board (I had no idea that Ouija was actually a brand, not the type of board) so therefore the chances of waking up the morning after the board session tied to a bed, talking in tongues and projectile vomiting would be slim.

I know now that regardless of the look and name of a board, they both do the same thing; they communicate with the other side. A duck is a duck even if it comes in different colours.

However, it did kind of give the entire experience a positive spin. Which is probably why I don’t see the talking board as something ‘evil’ and ‘dangerous’ and likely to start spawning hellportals.

Sure the tool itself, if used the wrong way, can cause harm. But so can anything; matches, knives, hammers, drills etc… you get the idea. I personally would not feel safe using a board by myself, or without declaring boundaries to whatever may – or may not – be listening.

Those are my only rules… and they are mostly because I known of my own inexperience. I’ve used boards between ten to fifteen times; which when I think about it seems like a lot, but in reality is only a very small amount of practice.

I won’t start playing with my new Ouija™ Board at home with my housemates (even if I could get them to try), and I sure as hell won’t be trying it alone, because I don’t know.

What don’t I know? Everything.

I don’t know for certain if talking boards really speak to the deceased – although I have seen some interesting evidence that implies that they do – or if they can be hijacked by negative spirits or invite in beings that people refer to as demons.

I don’t know that they will… but I also don’t know that they won’t.

Better to practice playing with fire whilst in the presence of a firefighter than my drunken friends or by myself.

This doesn’t mean that I will condemn others who seem to be doing something that I think is irresponsible with a talking board. Hey, it’s their life, their spirit and their limbs. We’re all adults here and we should be able to put on our big-boy pants and do what we feel comfortable doing in a cautious and respectful manner.

Doing time in Maitland Gaol for Australia’s Biggest Paranormal Convention!

The beautiful Hunter Valley; home to some of Australia’s , historic townships, picture perfect scenery… and this year, home to Paracon 2014.

Paracon is quite possibly the most exciting weekend in the Paranormal calendar. Australia’s only Paranormal convention is being held this year in the historic – and apparently thoroughly haunted – Maitland Gaol.

Over the weekend of the 10th and 11th of May the gaol will play host to an exciting array of local and international speakers lined up by director Alex Cayas from the Ghosts of Oz.

“Paracon Australia is by far one of the most interesting projects I’ve been handed.” Alex told me earlier this week. He believes that the infamous gaol is the perfect location for Paracon to visit.

“[Paracon] grew from the same space as projects like Ghosts of Oz; It must be informative, it must be a little awe provoking, and most importantly it must be fun. The energy is very similar. “

Which quite possibly explains why the talks are being held in such ironic areas of the gaol.

Each of the talks during the weekend will be held in either the B-Wing, the Auditorium or the Chapel of the gaol itself. The Chapel and the B-Wing – ironically – being two of the gaol’s paranormal hotspots.

“[Paracon] … is a meeting place for all us paranormal people. When it was gifted to me I knew I had a responsibility to keep that energy alive and to make it of value not as the best paranormal event but instead the best in what is in an already amazing line up of paranormal and spiritual events that happen across Australia.”

The lineup of guest speakers this year ranges from our own homegrown experts speaking on UFOs, Mediumship, Yowies and Timetravel to our Ghost-Hunting New Zealand neighbors and internationally renowned researchers and investigators Dr. Ciaran O’Keefe, Ben Hansen and Jeff Belanger.

On getting Dr. O’Keefe to speak at Paracon, Alex says that he has been a pleasure to work with. Always of the belief that “it’s always no unless you ask”, Alex was thrilled when the Parapsychologist agreed to come and speak at Paracon this year.

“I strongly feel that the Aussie Paranormal scene is blooming right now. I feel my job as Paracon Australia Director is to showcase this and inspire more of it. Watch out Australia there are some awesomely spooky things to come!”

At the moment, earlybird prices for entry to Paracon have been extended until the 9th of March. A two-day pass – including entry to the gaol and admission to all talks – is only $100. Tickets won’t last long, so be sure to grab tickets before they go!

Tickets to Paracon can be purchased from http://www.paraconaustralia.com.

 

Xx tgw

 

Scratching and ghosties and mirrors… oh my!

Unbeknownst to most; I primarily dabble in writing fiction.

Lately though, I’ve been working on a horror script for about two weeks, which is a new experience in that not only is it horror (as opposed to supernatural/paranormal) but it’s a SCRIPT.

As a result I’ve been having nightmares for all but one night this last week. Not ‘oooh, scary dream’ nightmares, but ‘wake-up-in-a-cold-sweat’ nightmares.

Monday night, I can remember vaguely; we had moved into a beautiful old house that reminded me of those old plantation mansions that you find in America down south.

The entire place made my nerves sing. It felt wrong inside there. Those of you who ghost-hunt or have been investigating before would recognize the feeling; like your body becomes hyper-aware. The typical ‘fight or flight’ reaction.

Things started happening in the house. There were the usual things that I’d seen occasionally on investigations; doors opening and closing, footsteps, lights turning on and off… I could deal with that. What turned the dream into a nightmare was the scratching in the walls.

It wasn’t rats. It was people.

There were people crying in the walls, scratching to get out, and I was the only one who could hear them. At one point I think I tried to smash through the walls with a chair to no avail, but somehow – in true ‘dream’ fashion – I started prying boards free with my bare hands and it worked.

Which hurt, by the way.

When I’d pulled enough boards free I was horrified to see that there was nothing there; the walls were empty… and I was standing back in the middle of the house listening to screams and plea’s for help that made my head hurt.

Suddenly – following most dream ‘logic’ – I realized that I was in the walls.

I suppose that this would be the best time to tell you that I’m rather claustrophobic. Not horribly so, but if I’m in a spot that I can’t turn around in, I start to freak out.

What made it worse was that either side of me was the rotting carcasses of others who had been trapped in the walls and gone mad also. Their skin moldy, rotting and bleeding… their flesh-stripped hands still beating furtively at the wooden boards of the walls.

And that was only Monday!

Tuesday I think was a delayed reaction to watching The Vicious Brother’s: Grave Encounters for the first time on Monday night.

This is an amazing movie, by the way. Hilarious to begin with, from a Paranormal Investigator point of view, but it becomes scary as shit!

Paranormal Activity has got nothing on this film!

Why I didn’t have this nightmare on Monday night, I have no idea (I don’t try to understand how my brain works sometimes) but it was more terrifying than the previous night’s nightmare.

I was in a haunted location that I’d investigated before; an old hospital that we’d got some pretty far-out stuff from and will forever stick in my mind because it was the first place I’d ever investigated. I can’t say where it is, because of privacy issues, but it was one hell of a place to pop my paranormal cherry!

Anyway, I was walking through the wing where I did my solo vigil (yes, my first time in a haunted location and I spent it alone for 20 minutes!) except this time something was different. I was asking questions, and I remember asking whatever was there to show itself.

Fairly standard question for investigators, I might add. 90% of the time, we don’t really expect the spirit to oblige us… however this time it did.

Well… they did.

The entire hallway flickered and was suddenly lined with people in hospital gowns, all of them facing the walls and away from me. They flickered like the reception on a t.v. set – which I’ve always envisioned an apparition would look like (not that I’ve ever seen one yet) – and were so damn pale!

Think lots and lots of these…

What made it worse was that the only way out of this hallway was to walk past them all.

Now this hallway was perhaps 1.5-2m wide. With a person standing either side of it, I was left with very little space – and there was no way in hell that I was risking touching one of them – but I still managed to walk from one end of the hallway to the other. It was a very slow, nerve-wracking trip, but I did it.

However whatever triumph I felt was short-lived because as soon as I reached what I assumed was the exit I looked back and – as if in a Mexican wave – the ghost-patient’s heads snapped up and they looked at me with empty black eyes and no mouths!

Before the ghost-patients closest to me could look up I ran backwards through the exit doors, only to realize that I was now facing another corridor of endless ghost-patients.

See, that’s where the Grave Encounters influence came in.

Then it was just terrified running, bursting from one corridor into another. I think I looked back at one point because I remember seeing the patients crawling after me on their elbows on the roof, walls and floor.

So yeah… that was Tuesday.

Wednesday involved seeing people’s flesh melt off their faces. I don’t want to go into detail with that one. Thursday I can’t remember much other than being trapped in a dark room with something else in there making noises.

Friday was equally as terrifying as Monday and Tuesday.

On Tuesday night I was asking my brother for freaky scene ideas and he said “Looking in a mirror and not seeing your reflection.”

Yeah, creepy, right?

Well my brain decided to take it one step further on Friday; I was in a room with god knows how many mirrors. I could see myself, but I could also see this hooded, faceless (literally… faceless = no face) thing in the mirrors behind me.

I’d turn to look and there was never anyone there, but every time I looked back at the mirrors the figure was getting closer and closer.

Borrowed from http://amarabullen.blogspot.com.au/2012/12/horror-movie-research-shrooms-2007.html Watch the youtube vid… it’s well done 🙂

I looked down at one point and I saw blood and bits of limbs and organs on the concrete floor, so I figured that the Thing was probably going to rip me apart and eat me. Nerve-wracking as it is, the scary part was coming to terms with the fact that I was going to die.

There’s nothing more disturbing than accepting the fact that you’re going to die a horrible, painful death… and being perfectly okay with it.

I started smashing mirrors, one by one until there was only one left. I could see the Thing in my periphery now, and it reached out with one hand.

A hand that was five long, bloodstained and rusty, curved bits of metal.

I smashed the last mirror i.e. the last way that it could actually reach anyone (because I’d rationalized that it existed only as a reflection) just as it grabbed my shoulder. I figured that if I died I could at least stop it from getting to anyone else.

What I didn’t figure was that when the Thing grabbed me and pulled me into the mirror, I’d suddenly become the Thing and start devouring my own body before my eyes.

Which I realize now doesn’t work, because the Thing had no face – ergo no mouth – but we all know how rational ‘dream-logic’ is.

In case anyone is wondering, I taste like runny lukewarm tomato soup with chunks of stringy old beef, a dash of bin-water and particularly chubby bits – like the thighs – tasted like pork fat.

As I felt my own body travel down my throat, I had a horrible realization – between mouthfuls – that this was why the Thing stalked and tried to kill people. Until I found another person to eat, I would be the Thing… and I’d just destroyed my only way to get to people; I was trapped in a room with broken mirrors for the rest of eternity.

Thank god I woke in the daytime that morning. If I had woken at night I’d probably have started screaming and not been able to stop until the sun came up.

Needless to say, I’ve decided to use this week’s rather colourful nightmares by taking bits and pieces to use in my script. The aim is to utilize my small collection of indie-film friends and actually film it over the course of a year or so.

Loosely, the plot involves six paranormal investigators investigating an old hospital. I have two possible locations in mind, both of which have actually reported paranormal activity. The goal is to have a mix of staged and real activity recorded because… well, just because.

So now that I’ve successfully given you nightmares for tonight; what’s the scariest dream/nightmare that you’ve ever had? Do you remember them? It would be nice to know that I’m not alone with having a subconscious that likes to screw with my head!

The Luna Park Ghost train – two poems

I stumbled across these in my travels. So tragic and haunting…

The Luna Park Ghost Train
For the Seven Dead in the Luna Park Fire,
Sydney, June 9, 1979
– Galway Kinnell
Today they stand still,
the great fright machines-the doughbeater
which lifted, turned, plunged, yells
of terror in each fist, the fluted pan
which threatened to throw into space
anyone who could shut up, the octoped
which turned victims upside down and jiggled,
rotated, pummelled until enough noise
fell out; and the bright cars do not move,
which wandered overhead, teetered, plunged,
then crawled back and went on wandering;
and the Ghost Train waits, which jerked
screaming hugged and also screaming hugger
by the light of bones through the dark cellars.
Accustomed to all the cries pitched every night
across the water lights, each so like each other
it seemed one permanently terrified girl
must be screaming them all, we who live around Lavender Bay
last night sat up startled, from laughter, or lovemaking,
or the sound of Beethoven exalting both these,
as the screams suddenly pierced our worlds by right of terror.
Today the Ghost Train, charred, and laden with ashes
of seven souls and the bafflement of families,
does not have any special glory to go to.
It must merely wander into the natural world
where all are born, where all suffer, where many scream,
where the lost are not healed but gathered and used again.

Australian Premiere of Paranormal Investigators: Phasmophobia

On Friday the 25th of January I was granted the opportunity to attend the Australian Premiere and advanced screening of episodes 1 and 2 of Paranormal Investigators: Phasmophobia.

Held at the Creative Spirit Centre in Minchinbury NSW, the screening was to a full house and was complete with showbags, lucky door prizes, raffles and a silent auction with all proceeds going directly back into production for the series.

Donning my Limited Edition PI:P t-shirt (with a few minor alterations due to me overestimating the size of my torso), I did my trademark sunset dash from work to the premiere and arrived just in time to take my seat and start fan-girling it up!

It was a fantastic opportunity for me to finally meet the guys (and girl) behind Ghost Shack and Apparition Technologies. Ghost Shack and Apparition Technologies are the wonderful companies that provide a lot of local investigative teams with their equipment, with App Tech manufacturing their own products on Aussie soil and Ghost Shack distributing the newest paranormal gizmos from the states.

It was a lovely talk about boots, business and ghosts.
(If you have the opportunity, click the links to check out their pages!)

Of the show itself, the production value was flawless. I have a few meager experiences with Indie Films, but this locally produced offering really took the cake. From the soundtrack to the almost documentary-style format, it really was a unique piece of work unlike anything I’ve seen before.
There is less emphasis on investigators producing documentation, with the team from Moonlark Media choosing to focus instead on the psychology of fear and the ways that it affects people in who find themselves in paranormal situations.

This is a refreshing twist on the usual format of Paranormal Reality TV and as such was much more engaging that striving to hear what may possibly be an EVP or the outline of a Shadow Person.

The challengers themselves were very well picked and diverse in their personalities: Rosie – the best lungs of the three, who has no qualms with telling any present spirits exactly what to do (with a few bleeps) and the creator of the catch phrase; “No! You’re just a bathroom!”
Effie – the enthusiastic nerves of steel who was the only challenger during these episodes to conduct her challenge with only the light from her Mini DV, in a location that I would never even enter alone during the daytime.
Sarah – the level-headed thinker who I think showed perhaps the most diversity of reactions amongst the three. Calm and collected during sun-up, logical and aware of her limits when the sun went down.

Aside from my initial outrage when realizing that they had been given torches for their challenges (!!!!!), I found that with the diversity of the challengers it is easy to relate to exactly what they would have been feeling and experiencing – as most of the time it was exactly how I would (and did) react.
Yelling at ghosts to stop making scary noises not included. That just took gusto. Props to Rosie!

Jokes aside, the episode was revealed to be a very insightful lesson into what Paranormal Investigation truly involves when concerning mindset as well as emotional and mental reactions to what may or may not be paranormal activity.

I feel that this hasn’t particularly been something that has been addressed much in the public view. There is very much this ‘us and them’ divide between investigators and the audience. They are seen as superhuman people with insane amounts of bravery who are highly trained ghost hunting machines who laugh in the face of spirits, elementals and demons.

Ala-Zak Bagans.

Just look at that hunk of spunk.

I’m sorry, I just had to use the excuse to post a shirtless Zak.

I’m sorry… where was I? 😛

In a scientific field such as the paranormal, it makes sense that things such as psychology and physical reaction be more closely scrutinized. I believe it is close to – if not more – important as the scrutiny of documented evidence in an investigation. After all, the greatest investigation tool is said to be the investigator themselves. A better understanding of the human reactions that shape the ways in which we see, hear and experience things in a state of adrenalin will birth a better understanding of the things that we are seeing, hearing and experiencing.

It is unfortunate that something like this has not gained much more publicity. As the Director and Co-Producer Attila Kaldy said on the night, unfortunately there is no bankable reason for Australian studios to pick up a production such as this for tens of thousands of dollars when they can pay a fraction of that cost and satiate the mad Bagans fan-girls (and guys) by airing another season of Ghost Adventures.

What locally produced shows like this must rely on is a solid fanbase fed by word of mouth and the wonderful invention known as the internet. The production of Joss Whedon’s Dr. Horrible caused an avalanche of success and although a large part of that can be attributed to the ‘Whedonverse’ fanbase, the fact still remains that this was a low-budget production that ended up returning production costs TENFOLD.

Yes. Tenfold. From 200k to 2 million (including dvd sales, iTunes purchases etc after the free 5-day premiere online).

Aaah… the sweet smell of hope!

Personally, all I believe that the guys from Moonlark need do is post the trailer online for episodes 3 and 4. The last 30 seconds had me hanging off the edge of my seat.

The good news is that it will be airing on TVS in Sydney during the middle of the year (so lots of winter nights spent curled up on the couch with a doona and a bottle of wine) as well as a few other local stations in Australia. (Check out the Paranormal Investigators: Phasmophobia page on Facebook for more details)

The bad news is that the middle of the year is almost four months away!

The great news is that there’s talk of more advanced screenings! Yay! So make sure you follow them on Facebook to make sure you don’t miss out.
Get ya Ghost on!

 

TGW

Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Fire! (Challenging the Dark – Part II)

Finally! Part two of my Challenging the Dark duet I have lovingly dubbed: Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Fire!

When we left off we had just wrapped the filming of Paranormal Investigators: The Challenge at the undisclosed location. I was lucky enough to be invited back for a second night of investigating: unplanned, unscripted and unreal!

After the events of Friday night I did the sunset race from my workplace in Chatswood to the location. Riding high on 45 minutes sleep, sugar, two cans of Mother and a plastic bag full of organic fruit I was ready to charge back into the dark, guns figuratively ablazing. When I arrived the teams had just finished dinner and were getting ready for the night.

We revisited some of the buildings from the night before – including my first challenge building – though this time I had a chance to feel what it was like to be a part of a team investigation.

Seeing seasoned investigators at work was a huge privilege, I think I learnt more that night than I had ever gathered watching 6 seasons of Ghost Hunters.

Nothing compares to the real thing; being out there in on the location and experiencing first-hand what usually only translates on television as a ‘Did you hear that?’ and ‘I think I saw something’. Ironically enough, I don’t think I heard anyone say ‘Did you hear that?’… the noises and phenomena that we did hear were plainly heard by all.

During the night I believe I experienced contact with a spirit for the second time, though this time it was on a much more personal level; I felt something that it wanted me to feel. What was even more interesting was that what I experienced validated an earlier experience that another team member had had earlier that afternoon… and I was oblivious to this until it actually happened.

I will admit, I did slip up once when I forgot to curb my tongue and may have offended whatever spirit may have been present. Which in itself was another lesson; respect!… and never forget exactly what you may be dealing with is a human being that has its own thoughts and feelings. This particular spirit had quite a personality… and was not afraid of letting itself be heard!

Like the first night of investigating, I take these experiences with a grain of salt. I’m not going ‘OHMAIGAWD ITZ A GHOST!’ rather relaying what I believed I experienced. There were so many little things that struck me as seeming beyond coincidental, perfectly timed noises… even a bang in response to a question in which I asked the spirit to do so. Yes… me… speaking to the other side! It’s certainly an exciting prospect!

By far the highlight of the entire weekend (looking back on it now) was the last building of the night, where team members came into contact with something that most probably never had been human. I’m inclined to agree, though my own experiences were based on feelings rather than visual experience… though I did see a team member’s head twisting… when it most certainly was not.

We were separated into pairs for safety. My buddy was Beth from WSPR, who not only grounded me throughout the whole experience but helped me look out for my own sanity.

To describe what was happening during that investigation is hard. As a researcher I place a large amount of value on physical evidence and have been trained to discard a lot of the internal ‘evidence’ so to speak. There was no denying though, that there was something in that building… and it had a frightening sense of humor.

When things turn from small noises and bullet-casings being tossed to visual hallucinations and physical sensations… to put it simply: shit gets real.

One of the team called it a night after being profoundly affected by the presence in the building. Fortunately, Andrea – our medium – had suddenly been taken with the urge to go down to the building barely five minutes earlier, and was on hand to help ground him and get rid of any bad vibes that may attempt to stick around.

I’m going to recount what I felt in this building, what I appeared to experience, and let you make the decision for yourself. I’m not out to be proven right or wrong… this is just my story 🙂

To simply stand or sit in that building was like having a sandbag placed on your head. Like you’ve just eaten a very filling meal, you feel heavy and relaxed… but then… not. Your body is relaxed, but your heart is galloping around your chest.

I remembered at the time what an old Taekwondo instructor had told me about adrenalin; it’s our ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ chemical, back from the days when were weren’t at the top of the food chain. Your body shuts down and your senses open wider, so wide that you can hear the person three feet away from you breathing in the dark.

At the danger of disclosing a little too much from the shooting, we did a little work on our inner senses – yes, the dreaded ‘P’-word: Psychic senses – on Friday evening. Before the investigation started on Saturday night I went through the same exercises and, well, I’m not sure if they worked… but this presence felt… other.

I can’t explain it. It’s like trying to explain to a horse what its like to fly. If you close your eyes in a dark room you can feel the others around you, they have that unmistakable ‘human-ness’. In Essentialist terms: this thing lacked… anything that I was familiar with so I can’t place it within my own paradigm.

It felt alien.

I felt like we were not the most powerful things in the building… and let me tell you: for a moment, it’s terrifying.

Not knowing what something is or what it is capable of really reminds you that the big, bad world out there actually is quite big and bad. There are things that are beyond our understanding.

Hell, even I can’t understand what went on in that building! To quote Sherlock Holmes: “My mind rebels at stagnation”… but this simply drew all the hamsters to a screeching halt on their little squeaky wheels.

There were a few very strong personal experiences from other investigators, including visual sightings and even physical contact with this thing. An investigator was seen splitting in two! Only for a few seconds though, before the hallucination snapped away.

As for my own experience, I finally got to see a door open by itself. Yay!

As we were leaving the building I was following Craig (from WSPR) along the hallway out of the building. After he passed a doorway on the right, which was cracked open maybe two or three inches, it opened with enough force to bounce back off the hinges and begin to close again. I stopped dead in my tracks and the first thought I had was that he had bumped the door on the way out.

Valid, yes. However at the barely-open angle that it was at, he would have essentially run into it. It would not have swung open by itself. I asked him if he bumped the door and he said no. It was even still coming to a stop as I asked him, and as I’m inclined to believe people when they answer my questions, I chalked it up mentally as unexplained.

I had my full spectrum camera in my hands… alas… the battery had run dead shortly after we entered the building, and I had already changed to my backup from the first building that we investigated that night. The irony of the situation was not lost on me… which made me wonder; is this why a majority of experiences like this go undocumented? Is it simply a case of a being not wishing to be documented?

It was a nice little bang to end the weekend on.. and I finally scratched one of the personal experiences off my Paranormal Bucket List; see a door open by itself!

After the investigation quite a few people were still a bit wired, so we returned to the Nurses Quarters – our rooms for the night – and had a nice long chat over a few cold beers.

Contrary to what I had originally thought, I slept like a baby that night… and that morning… all the way through to 1pm! I was the last to leave, but it gave me a chance to drop into my folks house and spill my guts about my amazing weekend over a well-deserved Maccas lunch 🙂

I suppose in conclusion, the moral to this story is to always take the chance to challenge yourself. I did more than push the boundaries of my own comfort zone, I freaking leapt off the cliff of comfort and dove headfirst into my own fears… and in return, I’ve emerged a much stronger person.

Funnily enough, watching Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures has now become slightly scarier to me. Mainly because I can relate a little bit more than I used to. They still have bucketloads more gusto than I will for a long time… but it’s something to aim for.

I was warned. PI is addictive. I’m already thinking about the next dark and scary place that I can charge headfirst into with my trusty Full Spectrum camera… armed also with my shiny new digital recorder (coming in a few weeks! :D) and my Full Spectrum floodlight!

For those of you who missed my last post: Australian Paranormal Phenomenon Investigators (APPI) is running two public investigation nights in Liverpool in Sydney’s Southwest. Deets can be found here, and places are limited so make sure you pick up a ticket!

Hopefully I’ll see some of you guys there! Until then, keep talking to the darkness… cause one day it just might talk back 🙂

TGW