Sunday, 24 January 2016

When The Bell Rings for Spirit and Other Ghostly Encounters

Some call it a paranormal fix, others call it a ghost tour,  or just what you do on a Saturday night. I spent my Saturday in Picton, considered to be the most haunted town in Australia. The town has a longer history of running tours than I care to remember. The late Liz Vincent had started running hers in the late 90s, bringing tourism and the spot light to this sleepy little town in the Southern Highlands of NSW Australia.

I like a bit of education with my tour and with dinner at the IV George Inn also included, I found myself making a booking for the workshop and investigation event put on by SIGHT - Sydney Investigation Ghost Tours. Who can resists an original sandstone pub, one of Australia's oldest and still operating inns, built in 1839?

The workshop was an overview of the most popular topics in the paranormal, peppered with a gamut of compelling personal accounts from the team. With a combined experience of several decades, it's fair to say they have encountered things many won't during their stint in the paranormal.

It wasn't surprising at all when an impatient spirit made sure he was noticed in the middle of a talk as he made his presence known to my companion, Sharon. Boy, was he persistent? Being experienced enough with those from The Other Side who just won't take no for an answer, Sharon was a good sport and took some time out to hear out this guy. An unsavoury personality, the man was not your Casper the friendly ghost type but we dealt with him with no fuss, as we do, and with no disruption to the rest of the guests at the event. It wasn't long before he moved on to SIGHT medium Dannie for a bit of a twirl. We noted all information down as a habit, just in case it will come handy later on in the night.

After a plentiful dinner and some great conversation we have made out way over to the Wollondilly Shire Hall where the rest of the night was to unfold. We heard about the history of the place as well as personal accounts of people who have had spirit encounters at the Hall followed by respect and welcome of the traditional custodians of the land by the tour operators.

Freetime ensued, my favourite, where we could freely roam the Hall, well almost, as the one place I really wanted to go to, behind the stage curtain, was off limits. Nevermind that, Sharon and I proceeded to bring out our Konxari cards, a much loved tool in our circle, to initiate communication with The Other Side. We threw in a KII meter for good measure to see if we can catch some EMF fluctuation while having our Konxari session. We found a place that was relatively quiet for EMF and made sure our phones were not interfering with it either and laid the cards out. For the sake of privacy I will not disclose the information we were working with in greater detail but here is the first sheet we did.

The KII did not indicate any fluctuation at all until we hit on a particular piece of information that indicated that there was a new player in the game, namely another person in spirit we needed to connect with. We moved our gear over to the part of the stage that was accessible and laid out a new sheet of the Konxari, again using the KII to indicate any fluctuation in EMF. Below is the photo of the sheet for the second session.

The device didn't indicate anything and we were about to call the session quits when I made my own spirit connection. My left side was being affected and I went into a semi-trance state to connect better with the energy that was communicating with me now. Sharon grabbed the notebook habitually and started writing information I was bringing through. She even thought of moving the KII to my left shoulder and interestingly enough it gave a positive reading. Sharon also checked around me for EMF, including the right shoulder which gave a zero reading in EMF. While that is not conclusive of anything, the phenomenon is no doubt interesting as it correlated with me connecting with spirit on my left hand side.

The communication only lasted for a few minutes but both Sharon and I knew that there was more work to be done so, as usual we invited the female spirit back to our circle to work with us. This is what we do.

As a side note to this, while I'm writing this blog something incredible just happened. The bell we use for our circle to ring in the spirits before each session has just rang three times in the temple. Just like we/I do it before inviting spirits to work with us. As the temple is a closed space (a separate structure from our house) and one we don't use for anything else other than circle work, there is no conventional explanation for it. Of course we went out to investigate immediately and found nothing but the pendulum in the bell vibrating irregularly. I think the message was clear. 

Friday, 22 January 2016

My Top Tips for Séances

Séances are back in fashion or maybe they have never been out. Social media now makes it so easy to connect with people and communities with similar interests. Whether you are part of an online community or an offline one in the field of paranormal or spiritualism, you may have noticed that séances are starting to come out of the shadows of Penny Dreadful and are being enjoyed once again more widely. This once favourite Victorian past-time activity is enjoying a revival.

If you're not particularly keen on joining a paid event with bunch of people you have never met before  but rather take part in a séance with your friends on a Saturday night, here are some guidelines that will assist you in making the night enjoyable.

Who should I invite?

In my experience the ideal number of people to get around a table for a séance is between four and seven. There really isn't a rule as to minimum or maximum numbers. If you have any friends who have some psychic development under their belt then ask them to come along. It's a great opportunity for them to practice their new skills. If not, then there are plenty of mediums around who will come to your house for a reasonable fee to conduct a séance. Google is your friend in this case but do make sure that you pick someone reputable and experienced in leading séances.

What sort of setting will I need for a séance?

Séances are best conducted in comfortable spaces where all participants can sit around a table (our circle has a round table) and move around as needed. A space that is well ventilated that can be made dark and away from noise is ideal. Pick a time when there will be no other disturbances in the house and there is nowhere to rush off to afterwards. If you're doing this séance in your home, the best time is when all people present in the house during a séance actually participate in it. If that's not possible, ask them to keep noise and movement to a minimum.  Otherwise you and your séance buddies might mistaken their pottering about the house for genuine spirit phenomena.

What other things do I need?

There is no special equipment needed for séances unless you want to get into physical mediumship. If you're just starting out, it's unlikely that you will encounter phenomena that will need special equipment. It's good to have some paper and writing instruments on the table during the séance. We have found in our circle that often information will come through the medium that is worth writing down. The spirit coming through the medium on occasion requested pen and paper to write something down or even draw. Some candles will set the mood with incense though they are not necessary. A low light desk lamp is sufficient. If you're going for candles, use the ones in jars as the chance of spilling is the lowest. If you're using a lamp, try a red bulb, it is easier on the eyes when the room is dark. Some would recommend to put a bowl of water in the middle as a focal point, though I believe that is more tradition than actual necessity. Things like creaky chairs and tables should be avoided for obvious reasons and it's good practice to check for droughts beforehand. When your candle flame moves or you feel a cold breeze across your face, you want to make sure that you are able to discount all natural and obvious explanations.

What if something scary happens?

For séances, the atmosphere builds up over time through repeated sessions in the same place and , ideally, with the same people. It's unlikely that the energies will be very strong if you're only just starting out. If you're more comfortable with someone more seasoned leading the séance then engage a medium.They should have ample experience in dealing with the unexpected. However in the absence of such person, it's good practice to have a plan for any untoward events. Those plans may include things like providing grounding for anyone in need, have access to water to offer to anyone affected, assertively ending the session or saying a prayer if that is deemed to be required. There is one thing you shouldn't do however and that is to upset and disrupt the circle and abruptly leave the room in panic. If you think that you or any of the proposed participants may behave that way, it's best not to attend such an event.

The purpose of the event is to encounter spirit phenomena and that may come in many forms, such as sensation of being touched, voice heard, movements experienced or even channelling. So, don't run away when things start happening. The phenomena are unpredictable and you never know when you shall encounter  them and in what power. You also have to be prepared for not experiencing anything at all.

It's also good practice to document séances either by someone who can act as a scribe, or recording them on voice recorders or even a video camera if that's possible. This is good for several reasons. You may catch a possible EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) on your audio track or if you opted for video, you might record something unusual on the footage that correlates with the audio track or someone's experience during the session. Notes are handy when you have a spirit return to the circle to communicate as you will find that doing repeated and regular session, you will have your regulars and familiars making appearances from The Other Side.

The process of a séance session is a topic for another article as there are many schools of thought and different traditions dictate different rituals.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Top Tips For Making The Most Of Your Next Ghost Tour

There isn't a town nowadays that doesn't offer a ghost tour or two or at least a historic walk. Even I have been known to pop in a tour with my friends once in a while. If you're a serial ghost tourist, you probably wonder what new those tours can offer once you have been to so many of them.

Apart from the spooky stories and the obvious history component there are things you can do to spice things up a little, not only for yourself but for your companions too, especially if you're lucky enough to be attending with your mates instead of a partner who just tagged along to keep the peace and would rather spend the night watching cat videos on their phone than participate.

Here are some tips to make the most of your time on the tour.

1              Listen to the history. I mean, really listen to it. Those stories not only contain anecdotes of ghost sightings and gruesome events but also little morsels of important history of the country you live in. The historic buildings that you normally would just walk by without a second glance are places where pivotal events may have taken place. Many tours pay a particular attention to the historical component of their event and you will hear about local legends, intrigue and mystery.

2              Take a moment to imagine yourself being a part of history. What it must have been like to live in the particular era the building or site is from? Having a great imagination is a very important stepping stone to your psychic senses as it disengages us from our logical mind and allows us to perceive information that is not immediately visible and makes sense.

3              Participate in the activities, don't be a bystander. Tours offer activities such as staying in a cell on your own at gaols for lone vigils, partake in dress up re-enactments, have access to basic equipment such as cameras, voice recorders, EMF meters and the like. Don't be shy!

4              If you're not into dress ups or equipment, you can cut your teeth on some psychic development. Even if you don't encounter any active spirits on the night, residual energy and psychic imprints are easy enough to pick up by just about anyone. Whether old or fairly new, they are a good opportunity to get some hands on experience. Most tours would be familiar with psychic phenomena and will be able to guide you in your experience. Pay special attention to your emotions and your thoughts as they will be your psychic indicators. Voice what you feel whether you think it's relevant to the location or not as you will find that often the history of a site is more complex than it appears.

5              Last but not least, don't pay attention to those who treat those tours as a distraction. Rowdy and inconsiderate guests can ruin it for the rest of the tour group. Most operators will deal with them swiftly and decisively. If you feel uncomfortable by any other guest/s just let the tour operator know. Chances are that other feel the same way. People who don't take ghost tours as seriously as you do still buy tickets and think that their attitude and behaviour is somehow warranted and OK. You just go and do your psychic "thang", regardless.

Sydney as well as other capital cities in Australia have an abundance of great tours available to cater for all ghosty tastes so next time you're here, make sure that you book yourself and your friends tickets to at least one of them. Enjoy!

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Kicking Off 2016 in Gaol

When you're in the paranormal field for as long as I have been, there is not much left that whets your paranormal appetite as much as a location you haven't investigated before. Gaols, psychiatric hospitals and other places of obvious trauma, staple locations for paranormal investigators, are in short supply nowadays so last night I grabbed the opportunity to get stuck into some work at Parramatta Gaol with my long time para gal pal, Beth Luscombe from Access Paranormal.
I started the night with taking some location shots with my Fujifilm XF1 but had to give up shortly as the originally fully charged battery expired only seven shots into my session. An inconvenience to say the least as I wanted to travel light on the night an didn't bring a spare batter or a charger even. Rookie mistake, one that I'm sure my partner in crime, Beth will not let me live down anytime soon.
We started off at the shower block, a sandstone building with the floor sunken into the ground about three feet deep. A small and largely featureless space with a tiled floor and walls with some of the shower roses still in place. This area had an interesting environment for audio with the natural echo the high ceiling and general interior sparseness created. The only features of this space were two benches and a laundry trolley. We decided it was as good an opportunity for an EVP session as any other.
While Beth reports that there were no EVPS captured, there were some interesting personal experiences during the session. I had several sensations of being touched, something I had given the spirits I was sensing permission for. One in particular, whom I sensed, paid special interest to my hair, playing with it before moving to the silver chain around my neck before I felt a hand around my neck tightening somewhat but never to the point of hurting me. It felt like a power play playing out that formed a  part of this man's personality while he was alive. He didn't speak or gave me any more information about himself at the time so we invited him to accompany us to the other structures on the ground of the gaol we were planning on visiting on the night.

We decided to try our luck in a building next that is largely ignored by people for some reason. We headed to the first floor with our torches and after exploring the level we settled on a cell where I heard a deep groaning sound from on our walk by.

The EVP has again revealed nothing conclusive but while in the cell I saw some mist forming evenly in the cell almost opposite the one we were in, across the concourse. 

to watch the this file, visit my Facebook page

The footage and audio recording we took didn't yield anything paranormal at the time. It was as this time that the batter on my near brand new phone where I was recording the video with was getting close to depletion, even though I started the night with an almost full charge.
We headed over to another cell block where a séance just finished. Shortly after entering the building a large metallic clanking sound was heard that was repeated a short time later. The direction of the sound was obvious and we agreed that it was coming from above us. I took the opportunity to scan through the first and second floors to establish whether anyone else was there to make those sounds and tried to find the source of the audible phenomena. It wasn't until I reached the middle of the second floor concourse that I found a possible source, a metal sheet placed across the wire mash connecting the two side of the concourse. As soon as I walked on it, it made a familiar sound, a groan under my weight. I was the only one on that floor and on my way up I hadn't come across anyone there, aside from a man who was a part of the tour and who witnessed the sound with me from the ground floor to begin with. The sound has repeated a few times later on during the night with no one in the vicinity other than the investigators on the ground floor with me.
All in all it was a great night and a perfect way to paranormally start the year.

Regular tours are run at Parramatta Gaol by APPI - Australian Paranormal Phenomenon Investigators