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 😉

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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.

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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!

Real Living Vampires – A New World

This is a piece on a good friend of mine regarding his experiences engaging with the Living Vampire Community. Living Vampires exist for the most part in two groups – the Sanguinarian (who ingest human blood) and the Psychic. It’s an interesting piece, which can be relateable to engaging any new sort of community (the Paranormal included!). What do people think? Those of you with an interest in the darker side of the human psyche may be pleasantly surprised 🙂 http://realvampirenews.com/a-new-world/

Australian Paranormal Phenomenon Investigators (APPI) Paranormal Investigation Nights!

Grab a hold of the chance to take up a place on the team for a real investigation in South-Western Sydney!
There’s going to be a special 3-hour investigation of Liverpool TAFE on the 23rd of Feburary, as well as a sleepover event on the 27th!
Of course The Ghost Writer would never pass up the chance to get spooked senseless again! Come join in the fun!
Ticket information is available on their page. Don’t miss out!

Click to buy tickets!

 

Spirited Photography – I think I snapped a Ghost!

I know I still owe people Part II of my “Challenging the Dark” duet, but I thought I might just quickly take the time to address what I see as a burning issue in the Paranormal Community.
Ghost Photography; can I take pictures of ghosts?
In the days of the world wide web it pretty easy to Google “Ghost Pictures” and be submitted to an fantastic onslaught of pictures ranging from apparitions, ectoplasm and orbs to angels, faces, demons and “white mist”. With each of these pictures comes a myriad of arguments for and against the apparent ‘validity’ of the photo/picture-type thing.
So I took the time to write down a little list that I go through when I am faced with a picture that claims to have captured some form of paranormal activity… including my own!

1 – What is this photo of?

Sounds like a fairly simple question. Not really. What is the claim of this photo? Is it of an apparition/orbs/white mist? Try and nail down exactly what you’re looking for so you know what characteristics it has. If there is a caption, try not to take it to heart straight away… sometimes an unbiased look on a picture can debunk any sort of paranormal explanation. Like this:

Wooooooooo! Nice Jacket…

First look… claimed to be an ‘unearthly mist’. What would you describe this as? Smoke? What sort of thing makes smoke like this? A cigarette? Behold! Cigarette smoke:

Being an ex-smoker and an amateur photographer I know what cigarette smoke photographs like. Up close it would be out of focus, as found in the first photo because the camera was focussed on the girl and the smoke passed between the girl and the camera. Hence; ‘ghost mist’ debunked.

2 – What is its context?

Where, when and why was it taken? Was it taken in a graveyard at midnight after you heard a noise behind you? Or is it a family happy-snap that you took of the kids playing in the living room five years ago? This is all important. Knowing the circumstances of a photo can help you debunk or find support of a claim in the picture.

Orbs? (*Shudder* The amount of garbage orbs claims out there make my toes curl… I took this one btw :P)

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I took it around 9pm as we were walking to the Redbank Tunnel in Picton, NSW, Australia. I was in a group of about 10 people and it was an unsealed road through private property to the tunnel.First alarm bell should ring at ‘unsealed road’. Unsealed means dirt, dirt means dust. Night means flash and dust+flash = dust refractions. Not to mention the fact that I was in a group of people supports the dust theory, as that means that there was at least 20 feet marching along that dark road!

Taking a picture after – say – hearing a disembodied voice, then finding an anomaly in the picture then has a little bit more pulling power. Because not only do you have a personal experience and then the anomaly, if you were to actually capture the EVP you then have a powerful combination of evidence that something was going on!

3 – Does it support itself?

Are there frames before and after the said anomaly? This I feel is the most important thing and – alas – the rarest thing to find on the internet when looking at paranormal photos. Most people will find a anomaly and post just the odd picture and claim it as a ‘ghost/spirit’ etc without showing the before and after shots.
Was the anomaly there the frame before? Did it stay to the frame after? This is why I personally always take shots in threes. Most of the time if I see something I can check back and forward and see ‘how long’ it was there for.

DSCF0082DSCF0080  DSCF0081

So if you full-view these three you may catch what looks like a grey ‘figure’ on the right-hand side of the frames 2 and three. When I first saw these I had a ‘Oh holy shit!‘ moment… then I checked the frame before them. Notice how this grey ‘figure’ started on the bottom of the frame? Closer inspection made me realise that it is the same shot three times, only the last two I shot the picture with a portrait orientation. The first would be what was really going on, and it dawned on me that what I was seeing was the beginning of the tunnel and a very conveniently-placed rock.

Unfortunately sometimes you can get annoying situations like this:
DSCF0097Redbank tunnel light

Two photos, taken in the same minute… anomaly in the last shot (this was a few years ago before I developed my ‘rule of three’).
This was at the entrance to the Redbank Tunnel… an very special place to me, as it was where I saw my very first orb. I stood where I had seen them all those years ago, turned my back as if I was walking away, took two selfies and walked off to rejoin the group.
As interesting as this small light may be I have no ‘after’ shot. Shame really.
The Redbank Tunnel is 180 meters (592ft) long. Whatever this was, it was too small to be ambient light from the end of the tunnel (as it would be shaped like an upside-down horseshoe) and completely the wrong colour (white or a cool tint would suggest starlight or moonlight). Too dim for a train (The country trains are freaking BLINDING!) and seemingly off the ground of the end of the tunnel as it sits too high in the frame.
There were no people in the tunnel, as it is condemned, we didn’t hear them, and the tunnel is regularly swept for trespassers before the tours by a security guard.
Interesting? Yes. Paranormal? Maybe. Unfortunately it hides in that gray area a little… if I were assessing it as ‘solid proof’ I’d turf it due to the difference in camera angle and lack of a third shot. It’s more… shaky possibility.

4 – When in doubt, throw it out!

I’m a huge advocate for treating paranormal investigation as a (somewhat instinctual) science. Meaning that every theory and finding should be backed up by hard evidence. No guesswork, no maybes. Unfortunately, when you’re dealing with something as unpredictable as spirits or things that you cannot replicate with constant results, that’s when things get hazy.

Instead the importance of documentation and supporting evidence must step up and take the slack. Here’s an example:

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This pic is courtesy of Ghosts TV – an Australian duo that operate out of the North Shore – i.e. North Sydney. It was posted on their Facebook page on 13/1/2013 with the caption: “Alright Ghost TV friends. This one is really odd… What do you think this is?”

I will not debate the validity of this team (as much as I’d like to) as they have a habit of upping brow-raising photos (doing more harm than good sometimes) but I will explain the process that I took when analysing this photo.

* No context; no place, no time, no date and no explanation as to why this photo was taken… or who even took it. (Minus)
* No claim is made as to what we are seeing. We are left to decide for ourselves. (Plus)

*Let’s look at what we know:
Its a square, meaning it quite possibly was taken on an iPhone and saved/cropped via instagram. Supporting  evidence to this theory? Low resolution, pixellation and bad ISO.
At the back of the table the skirting board is blocked out of view and the back of the chair is also out of view. However we can see through aspects of the apparition… what we can’t see through is a constant thickness resembling a soft-edge brush from Photoshop. There are also colour irregularities on the back of the chair; Two splotches unattached to anything that don’t fit with the colours surrounding them.
Interestingly enough, we can see the leg of the table clearly… which lies in front of the blocked out skirting board. If this were to imply movement then why is nothing else around the skirting board blocked with same density and colour of the bottom of the apparition?
This entity casts no light on the walls, yet somehow cast ENOUGH light be be captured by a standard camera. Standard digital camera sensors (the ‘eye’ that captures the image) are manufactured to see exactly what the human eye can see. They have a special chemical coating on a piece of glass in front of the sensor that blocks out IR and UV light, meaning that it really does only see what we can see. (Unless you are like me and like gutting your camera and pulling out said IR/UV blocker for snapping full-spectrum pics :P)
There is also no reflection of this entity in the shiny surface of the vase OR the vinyl floor, you can see the table legs clearly).

*Professional deductions:
The movement of the ‘hands’ of the apparition resemble a photographic technique known as Light Painting where the shutter is held open longer than normal photo, whilst the photographer moves a bright light around the frame to illuminate certain shapes or parts of the body/buildings etc. This can also apply to the face, if the person where to blow out a candle in the frame.
The purple splotches on the floor also resemble the colour mode of the paintbrush in Photoshop. They have no light or substance of their own, no definition and no texture, only the colour of the picture is tinted purple.

Conclusion?
A weak piece of evidence. It is presented in a way that does not support what it implies itself to be (an apparition), there are too many inconsistencies within the photo that do not support the placement of the apparition against the background of the photo and the camera itself is an illogical tool of choice – seemingly capturing something that it should not scientifically be able to capture.

That said. There have been times when a spirit has made itself known on a standard camera without being visible to the naked eye. However there is just not enough support to allow for this possibility.

Not necessarily fake, but unlikely. Thus… thrown out!

I’d like to know what you think? Do you think that they have captured something here? If so, what? Comment me!

Happy hunting!

TGW