Part 3: Cemeteries, Investigation Groups, Animals
Imagine you died. Yeah, kind of hard to do if you don’t know what that’s like. Which is what, 99.9% of us that haven’t had a near-death experience? But let’s say you are surrounded by a surreal, celestial void and you hear a voice. It asks you if you want to go to the Other Side or stay on Earth. You know that if you stay on Earth, you will be invisible to most living people around. You also know that if you stay you may or may not be able to interact with the physical world. So what do you tell the voice? That you want to hang around a cemetery for a few centuries?
No, probably not. If the theories about choice after death are true, human souls can choose to stay around after the body dies. This may not be permanent, as according to psychics, the Other Side is always an option so you can go up to see God and your family or whomever. But for those of us who want to stay should be able to go wherever we want, right?
I’m not saying cemeteries are never haunted. Lots of reports of unusual activity at places such as Bachelor’s Grove near Chicago would show to disagree. Weird stuff can happen at cemeteries. But that goes for many places. I don’t know what limits there are for a ghost to travel the globe. But many paranormal investigators suggest that although ghosts tend to hang around areas that they loved in life, they don’t have to stay there. Are cemeteries the most haunted places on Earth? My opinion: no, I don’t believe they are the most haunted. I believe the most haunted places on Earth are places where significant tragic or exciting events have taken place. One of the most haunted places I’ve heard of is Bachelor’s Grove, which happens to be a cemetery. But the Lincoln Theatre in Decatur is also haunted, as mentioned in my investigation blog post.
I personally have never encountered anything like this before, but if I did it would freak me out! However, it’s not necessarily true that dark figures are bad. Ghosts and other entities have been known to be able to appear in multiple forms- full-body apparitions, body parts, luminous orbs, shadows, or disembodied voices. So if something takes the form of a dark figure that ‘s visible to the average, non-psychic human eye, it probably is exerting a lot of effort for you for a reason. I’m not an expert on this topic, but what I can say is that if you see one, try to see if it’s trying to communicate with you. Ask it questions if you’re not too scared out of your mind, which I would be if this ever happened to me!
If you want to get in contact with a living person who has experienced this type of paranormal activity, check out the Prairieland Paranormal Consortium page on Facebook. If you “Like” it, you can join in on our discussions online and read from people who share their experiences with the unknown.
No, no, no, NO. And here’s why:
1) Equipment – A good investigation requires a good amount of equipment. Your gadgets and gizmos are what you’re using to pick up on any possible changes in electromagnetic frequency, as well as voices and visual apparitions, of course. The more people you have, the easier it is to lug all that stuff around. Not only can they be your pack mules, but multiple people can also be in more than one room at once, and therefore they can focus cameras and audio devices on anything that they sense in a room while you’re away. If you’re trying to pick up anything on more than one video camera it’s especially important for you to have people with you so they can visually record what they’re doing while you record what you’re doing.
2) Credibility – As someone who is openly interested in the paranormal, I know that sometimes when someone shares a paranormal experience, he or she can sound a bit crazy. This stuff is crazy, that’s why it’s so fascinating, right? But who would you rather believe, one guy who went on a solo investigation and heard noises and saw things by himself, or a team of people who all experienced similar events? You might have seen a grey lady floating down a set of stairs and vanish into a wall, but if you were the only one who saw it and wasn’t able to pick it up on video, who’s gonna believe you? My point is, investigating with a few other people can boost the credibility of your experiences for others.
3) Safety – If you run into technical difficulty, or for some reason your flashlight goes out and you’re all alone in a completely dark house with no way of knowing which way is where, the buddy system can save your life! “Be Prepared” is the Boy Scout motto, but it’s not just scouts who need to follow it. Even if you do a lights-on investigation, you want to make sure you have a buddy or two with you when you investigate in case anything goes wrong and you need help. It’s best to not have too many people, however. Use common sense when considering the size of the investigation site. Sometimes two people is all you need.
I love that book cover with the blue cat!
Ask yourself this: are humans animals? The answer is yes- we’re primates. But can other species be ghosts? This is a subject which I have a bit of experience about. After my orange tabby cat Hunter disappeared in October 2010, my parents and I never saw him again. We assume that he died since he was getting old, but he was a healthy cat with no obvious physical issues. But for the next few months after he disappeared, I would occasionally feel my bed move a little as if something small jumped onto the bed. I’d wake up, look around and see nothing. Often I shrugged it off and went back to sleep. But it happened so often that eventually I told dad what was going on, and he suggested that it may be Hunter.
Did I experience the affection of a ghost cat? Maybe. It wouldn’t be a big surprise to me if cats and dogs can be ghosts as well. Given the love that their human families provided in life, they have a reason to stick around. Maybe they sometimes don’t even know they’re dead! As you can see in the graphic, books have even been written about ghost pets. That doesn’t confirm their existence, but hey what confirms the existence of human ghosts? Subjective experience is hard to provide evidence for, and many things can’t be explained with science- at least not yet. But I believe animals can be ghosts. What do you think?
I recorded and edited this video to demonstrate the basic information behind David Lowery’s Kinect presentation. Lowery connected an Xbox 360 Kinect to his PC to use for paranormal investigating. Pretty cool! The theory behind it is that since the Kinect picks up human body shapes with infrared sensors, if there are skeletal images of shapes without a body present, it may be assumed it is picking up a ghost or spirit.
Just to clear up one part of the video, Lowery means GameStop, not GhostStop (as far as I know GhostStop isn’t a store). We joke about that in the interview at the end.
You can learn more about David Lowery and his adventures at www.paranormalhighway.com.
These are some Google image photos of the places at which I have investigated. (Sorry I don’t have my own pictures, I went on these before I had a camera).
The first place I ever investigated was the Elijah Iles House in Springfield, IL. I was about 17 at the time. I went there with my dad, his cousin Laura Richter, his friend and fellow paranormal investigator Tim Harte, and a few other curious locals.
I didn’t know what to expect for my very first paranormal outing, but this event turned out to be more relaxing than anything. At one moment I saw a weird, snakelike light on a wall in an upstairs bedroom, but Laura was able to debunk the situation as a reflection from a mirror. Dad and Laura placed electronic voice recorders all over the house, and Tim brought his MESA machine, which picks up various magnetic fluctuations. Throughout the night team members would speak close to the mics, encouraging anyone who might be in the home to talk into them so we can hear their story. This part of an investigation is recorded for future study- we leave the recorders and listen to the EVPs later in our own free time. The part I remember most about the experience was sitting on the floor in a child’s bedroom upstairs in a circle with Laura and some people that I didn’t know. The lights were off and she set down a recorder in the middle so people would take turns asking questions and hope something might show up in EVPs later. It was so quiet- nothing happened for the half hour or so we sat there. But it was fun for me still; it was a form of meditation.
Something weird did happen to me at the Lincoln Theatre in Decatur, however. On my second investigation, we turned the lights off in the huge auditorium and sat in the theatre seats. It was a different place, but the process was similar: we set voice recorders around the theatre and explored the place in the darkness. My team, which consisted of my dad and Dan Wahl (another of dad’s paranormal buddies), started in the balcony.
Sitting in a dark, century-old theatre is creepier than sitting in a refurbished home in the dark, so I likely had adrenaline coursing through my veins as I waited for something to show itself. When I was done with sitting, I got out of my seat and asked dad to borrow his flashlight so I can explore the balcony. The batteries in the flashlight were fresh- put in just before we went in to the theatre.
I was walking up the stairs to the projection room, when the light went out suddenly. I was left in the corner in total darkness other than the lights of the people investigating on the floors below. Dan and dad walked over to me and dad took the batteries out of the flashlight. They were hot! And dead. He said he had never encountered anything like that happening before, and believed that it might have been something taking the energy out to manifest itself. I was skeptical that it was anything paranormal when it happened, but now I leave it open in my mind. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t.
The Lincoln Theatre used to be a hotel back in the early 20th century, but unfortunately it had burned down, killing those who were trapped inside. Men, women, and children of various ages had died, which explains why many believe the Lincoln Theatre to be haunted.
My most recent investigation took place in the old Loomis House on the square in Carlinville, IL. The last two pictures of the slideshow are the exterior and an old, abandoned room on one of the upper two floors. I’ll discuss the Loomis investigation in a future post. It was the most interesting of my first three, and my favorite so far.
Part 2: Why are ghosts here? Are they good or bad?
This is probably one of the top questions that people have in mind when thinking about ghosts and/or spirits (or other paranormal entities for that matter). Sometimes the answer is shrouded in mystery, or faded into obscurity, never to be found. Psychics such as Sylvia Browne (who made many appearances on the Montel Williams show when she was alive) would suggest that earthbound ghosts may stick around for various reasons, depending on the individual. Examples include:
1) The person is too scared to leave. Many religious people are raised believing that God will judge them for their actions in life, and when they die, their sins may send them to burn in a fiery hell for eternity. Psychics suggest that this fear of punishment drives some to stay here after they pass. The theory is that in reality people maintain their free will even after life. Given the choice of an extended life on Earth versus an unknown other side, fear takes over and the person chooses to hang around. However, that light is supposedly always an option, so if someone chooses to stay, it doesn’t have to be forever.
2) The person doesn’t want to run into an enemy on the Other Side. For the souls of those who believe themselves worthy of a pleasant other side, a reason for sticking on Earth may be that a bad neighbor, ex-spouse, or other adversary may also be there, and that would ruin his or her own peaceful eternity.
3) The person has an obligation on Earth, and needs something fulfilled or completed before rest. You may have seen some horror movies with this type of theme. A monster or demonic entity plagues the lives of those who live in or visit a creepy haunted home, taking revenge for some misdeed that occurred years or even centuries ago. Well, the same idea may be true for the ghosts of humans as well. Someone might stick around if he or she simply cannot rest until some kind of mission is completed, or a long-lasting conflict finally is resolved.
4) The person doesn’t know he or she is dead. I don’t know what happens to you when you die- this is whole blog is based on theory and suggestion. But wouldn’t someone know if he or she is dead? I guess some ghosts breathe and feel restricted to the same laws of physics as the living. To be dead and not know it… that would be tragic. Who knows. By the way, if you haven’t seen The Sixth Sense, I highly recommend it. Definitely beats The Last Airbender in the category of M. Night Shyamalan movies.
Although these are the commonly discussed possible reasons for the dead to stick around, there may be more than meets the eye in this world of the unknown. Perhaps some stay for reasons incomprehensible by the living. Who knows if paranormal researchers have even scratched the surface when it comes to understanding what ghosts really are or why they’re here.
If you define ghosts as the earthbound soul or energy of a living person, then the answer lies in the humanity of that energy. Would you believe there are good people and bad people? I feel like this subject starts getting into semantics, where “good” and “bad” are defined differently by different people. The simple answer I can suggest is that if there are good people and bad people, it’s the same with the dead. It has been reported that some ghosts have physically and psychologically harmed the living, so that could be taken as bad. “Good” may be used to describe the ones who are either neutral and completely unnoticed or seem to be trying to help the living with something.
I personally have never experienced anything undeniably paranormal, although I have investigated three times with my dad and other members of the Prairieland Paranormal Consortium. My first investigation was held at the Elijah Iles home in Springfield, IL, the second in the Lincoln Square Theatre in Decatur, IL, and my most recent was in Carlinville, IL at the old Loomis House. I’ll discuss these investigations in more detail in a future post, as well as the history behind why my dad became interested in the paranormal in the first place.
The Prairieland Paranormal Consortium will hold its next discussion meeting at Lincoln Land Community College, Menard Hall room 2207 in Springfield, IL on Saturday, March 22.
Robbin Terry, who lives in the Auburn Haunted Theater, holds many paranormal-related events and works with Laura Richter in many fundraising events to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Hospital. He is a frequent attendee of the Consortium. “The Prairieland Consortium proves that there can be Unity in the Paranormal Field. Each month for the past four years various people from different teams have merged together to talk about all aspects of the paranormal. Since the discussions are open to all avenues of the paranormal nobody is left out. Those not attending these free monthly meetings do not realize what they are losing out on.”
For anyone interested in catching up with the Consortium on Facebook, here’s a hyperlink to the page, or you can use this URL: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Prairieland-Paranormal-Consortium/163929006977848
Carl Jones leads the discussions at the front of the room, but these meetings are about everyone’s personal experiences, knowledge, stories, opinions, or what have you. We typically cover the subjects of ghosts and investigations, but other topics include history of haunted locations, modern famous paranormal cases, UFOs, bigfoot sightings (especially in Illinois), and psychic phenomena.
“On March 22, we’ll discuss Audacity and the process of collecting EVPs. David Lowery‘s going to discuss the uses of the Xbox Kinect in paranormal investigations as well. It’s really cool, the sensors use infrared technology to pick up movement in a room, even what we can’t sense,” he said. Carl also mentioned that there is a free program released by Microsoft that allows the Kinect to function with a PC instead of an Xbox, allowing David to use Kinect as a tool.
Hello and welcome to my paranormal blog! For my first informational post, I am starting a series of ghost fun facts and theories. The images in the following “Ghosts 101” posts are taken from my dad’s PowerPoint presentation, which he used at a paranormal discussion meeting in early February this year. I then expand on them with commentary and I’ve added a few links along the way so you can check out some cool information on other sites. Here we go:
You may have seen paranormal investigators (or whatever you would call them) do their work on shows such as the Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures or Ghost Hunters on Syfy. But is what they do on TV like what investigators do when there’s not a camera pointed at them? Well, sort of.
Just like other entertainers on television, these people are paid to entertain. And what better way to keep an audience interested with moments of “what the f&#$ was that??!” before every commercial break? If the investigations we see on TV were more like the ones outside of the entertainment business, you probably wouldn’t see as much activity or hear as many voices during an EVP session (Electronic Voice Phenomenon). However, the process of an investigation is about the same: take your equipment and a small crew to an allegedly haunted location, set up your gadgets in interesting rooms of the place (camera or no camera), investigate, and afterward set everything back up and listen to your EVP’s. So yes, these guys are going around, probably making some of their experiences up for the camera, but what they do is arguably an exaggerated version of what we paranormal investigators do outside of the entertainment business.
What’s so special about nighttime? Does your soul dissipate when it’s light outside like a vampire beneath your skin? No, paranormal experiences may occur at any time of day, though some may suggest there are particular times that are on average more active than others. On television, almost every famous ghost crew turns off the lights for their nocturnal prowl. This is in part because they like to show off their fancy equipment- infrared cameras in particular. Those babies are NOT cheap!
Another reason that they turn the lights off is for the entertainment value of suspense. It might be somewhat boring to watch an investigation when you can see everything around the crew. Humans have a natural fear of the dark, and that is easily capitalized in the show business. This is also demonstrated with the crew on Finding Bigfoot, though they tend to do a lot of daytime stuff as well.
How often do you see on TV that people are freaking out about orbs? Personally, I think orbs are among the worst signs of evidence in paranormal investigations. There are SO many things that can cause small objects to appear as orbs on a camera: rain, dust, pollen, bugs, miscellaneous particles in the air, or even just a badly focused camera. If you see an orb, it’s most likely one of those things. BE SKEPTICAL, especially when it comes to orb evidence. Debunking in an investigation is important. Now, if you see an orb that’s illuminating in the night, there might be something to it. Maybe. Or it could just be a firefly or something.
I’m on Twitter @JJones_para, or you can check out my dad’s Praireland Paranormal Consortium on Facebook. The Consortium is a Springfield, IL-based community of people simply interested in the paranormal. We cover topics such as ghosts, UFOs, and bigfoot. Online, you can see the latest updates in the community and also find out when and where the meetings take place!
Hello my name is Jonathan Jones, and this is the start of my new blog. Here, skeptics as well as long-time paranormal activists and community members can share their experiences and opinions, as well as links and updates on all things considered “paranormal.”
My dad, Carl Jones Jr., currently leads a discussion group up in Springfield, IL known as the Prairieland Paranormal Consortium, in which members of the surrounding central Illinois community (and anyone else interested in the paranormal) show up to discuss their thoughts and experiences in person. Topics at the consortium often include: ghosts, poltergeists, bigfoot (plural), and UFOs and related phenomena.
His cousin, Laura Richter, who considers herself a realist, now leads her own paranormal community known as Ghost Magnet. She and many others put in much time and effort to share their paranormal expertise. Not only that, but many of the events that Laura and other members of the paranormal community of central Illinois hold also raise funding for St. Jude Children’s Hospital.
What I’m here to do is open up this community, expand it, and raise awareness of this fascinating subject to all who want to know more! 🙂