Blog

Paranormal Explanations

Paranormal Explanations: Why it’s Good to Tune in to Your Skeptic Mind

A lot of us in the Paranormal world, or interest in it, are more than enthusiastic about catching spirit evidence. We know what it’s like to have weird experiences with no other explanation, and to have the hairs on our backs stand up when nothing is there. With that being said, as a paranormal investigator myself and a skeptic, I can say that there is merit to the power of suggestion.

I support the possible existence of spirits, but I also am careful to realize that there isn’t much hard evidence on the guaranteed explanation that when some people pass away they join a spirit world and are called ghosts. In this point of my investigating career, I am apt to calling these strange experiences “paranormal” which means, out of the ordinary. However, I am not ready to say these experiences are caused by people who have passed on. Others have gotten to that point and guarantee it. And yet there are also others who are hard deniers.

As someone who investigates the paranormal, there is a need to be hopeful, but also to be critically aware when the main goal is to capture hard evidence. This is why it is always good to stay in tune with your skeptic mind.

So how do you do this? The first mistake most people make when reminding themselves of the realities is they completely cut themselves off from anything paranormal. They brush off anything that could be a strange possibility. This is not what being a skeptic is. There has to be a balance. Be aware of your surroundings and notice those small moments when you get the hair standing up on your back, but don’t be too quick to judge. The point is to document it and analyze it later. Usually when we are in the moment of an investigation, with the awareness that a place could be haunted, we are bound to think more in the way that any small movement is due to a haunting. So, document, then analyze later.

When it comes to analyzing, keep in mind what your surroundings were. Were you outside? Were you near a busy road? Could you see car lights driving by. Could it be an animal? Anything you can think of. Go through all of the different scenarios that could cause any strange movements or noises.

Technology is also a tricky thing. Technology can help a great deal in many investigative situations, however, it can also be deceiving. Camera flashes, shakiness when capturing a photo, clothes brushing up a microphone. These are very important things to consider when going over evidence.

There are plenty more things to consider, but the main point is to recognize your realities while also having the acceptance that something can be paranormal. There is a yin and yang to the paranormal investigative world, and we as ghost seekers, plan to follow that balance as best we can.

Why I Became a Ghost Seeker

Why I Became a Ghost Seeker: Josh Aust

The truth is, I believe we don’t always choose what we’re going to be …sometimes it chooses us.

I was only 5 years old when my experiences began. Floating stuffed animals and shadow figures haunted me. All the while, other unexplainable “things” would just happen in my presence.

One of the most profound moments at this young age is when I awoke one morning, shivering from a bitter cold feeling. I slowly opened my eyes to see the bright sun shining through the window over my bed. I remember wondering “Why am I so cold, it looks warm outside?” As I turned from looking out the window to try and find my missing blanket, I found myself speechless and unable to scream. My missing blanket was floating in front of me!! Unable to scream and frozen in horror, I just stared for several moments… Then when I could dig up the courage, I jumped out of my bed and flew down the stairs as fast as I could.

Finally, able to speak, I started screaming and searching for my mom. “Mom!” I yelled, “There is a ghost floating in my room!” As I tripped through the living room door, I found her asleep on our old antique sofa. When she finally answered me, she said “Josh! I have to keep my eyes closed, when I open them all I see is dead people’s heads on the walls.”

As a five-year-old little boy, this is not something I asked for, in fact, … I ran like hell. Experiences such as this, and many others, have paved my way as a paranormal researcher. There have been countless times, that I’ve sensed the presence of something or someone, felt a change in the way a room feels or even knowing things, that I should not. Oh, here’s a good one, how about being able to find things that others have lost or misplaced, people that I don’t even necessarily know. Through my life I’ve been told to disregard these situations, because, it’s all in my head or its all fake or it’s the work of the devil and even stop it, you sound crazy….

Five years ago, I believe it happened again, in a small town In Upstate New York called Hamilton. My wife and I were enjoying each other’s company over a warm cup of cappuccino while waiting for the live music to begin. It was a small quaint coffee shop where the seating was very tight. And though I was paying close attention to what my wife was saying, I couldn’t help partially overhearing the couple behind us state that they needed someone that was technically savvy to help with their group. With my curiosity peaked I turned around an introduced my wife and myself, and asked just what type of technology they needed help with. After a short conversation and exchanging of numbers I was invited to their book signing, for their first book, Haunted Mohawk Valley.

My task was to review evidence from the most recent investigations.  This was unfamiliar territory even for a guy with a history of computers, audio video and home automation. The ultimate goal was to help organize and create a searchable data base for all of the evidence, EVP’S, Pictures, videos etc…  So, in the beginning, even though I was on the investigations, I was supposed to be observing instead of interacting. But, what we quickly realized, is that I was very sensitive to what was going on in these investigations. I could feel things and see things that we could back up with our scientific instruments. So, I soon found myself, as a team member of one of the greatest paranormal research groups in the United States, The Ghost Seekers Of Central New York.

It has been my experience in life, that in most cases, you choose what you would like to be-able to achieve or become, but every once in a while, it chooses you….

 

Keep Seeking

Josh Aust

Paranormal Explanations

Paranormal Explanations: What it’s Like to be a Paranormal Investigator

Paranormal television shows have increased the interest in the unknown much more so and are now more accepted than ever before. However, along with this popular rise, many individuals are now showing interest in being a paranormal investigator themselves. With that being said, there have been plenty of misconceptions as to what its like to be a paranormal investigator.

We here at the Ghost Seekers of Central NY have created this blog specifically for those interested in the art of paranormal investigation. We write about paranormal tech, paranormal explanations, and go over the history of certain allegedly haunted areas. This is all to give the new in paranormal investigating a better idea of the craft. Today we would love to explain to you what it is really like to make a ghost club and get involved in a paranormal investigation.

The first thing for any paranormal investigator to think about is their “why.” Why do you want to seek the paranormal? For the Ghost Seekers of CNY, we participate in paranormal investigation as research in the unknown to discover what life means after death. For others, it may be different. You may want to participate in paranormal investigation strictly for the purpose of curiosity, and that’s okay.

The next thing to think about is if you want to associate your group with religion. For theparanormal-investigation.jpg Ghost Seekers of CNY, we participate in prayer before and after our investigation as a means of protection. Not all groups who participate in paranormal investigation will have this desire. As far as we know, every member of our investigative group is either in one sect of Christianity or believes in one higher power.

The next thing to think about is who you want in your group. For the Ghost Seekers of CNY, we have mediums, skeptics, tech-guys, a historian, writers, and a communications specialist. We like to keep our group well-rounded because we believe that differing opinions are helpful in our quest to finding out the truth. Anyone interested in starting a paranormal investigative club should be mindful of this.

paranormal-investigationThe next thing to think about is what tools are you wanting to use. Every investigator is different in what paranormal tech they think is the most trustworthy or reliable. It’ll be great to consolidate with your group on what tools you want to frequently use on an investigation. We here at the Ghost Seekers of CNY typically use digital recorders, EMF detectors, flashlights, night vision cameras, and spirit boxes.

Last but not least, what you see on television is not real life. I remember watching FBI television shows and thinking that being an FBI agent was one of the coolest things ever. It wasn’t until I took a forensics class that I realized it was incredibly dull and time-consuming. On paranormal television shows, they only show the good parts, the moments they catch a piece of evidence or get spooked. In reality, paranormal investigation is research and is time-consuming. It involves research, interviews, camera set up, and hours and hours of watching and listening to the footage. There will be sometimes when you don’t catch anything at all on an investigation. And let’s not forget mistakes! There will always be mistakes. You might get a faulty piece of equipment or one of your findings will get debunked, but this is all in the quest of science research.

If you are interested in the paranormal, we encourage you to keep it up and we welcome you to the research of paranormal investigation!

Paranormal Technology

Paranormal Tech: Paranormal Apps

We are living in the 21st century Paranormal Groupies, and if there is one multiverse tool that we use for almost all things, that is our smartphones. Today I am going to be exploring Paranormal Apps for your phone and if they actually work or not.

I took a strong interest in this after discovering Huff Paranormal. I started watching his videos after doing research for the Spirit Box on a previous blog (read here). Steve Huff invented his own Wonder Box which works like a Spirit Box but eliminates all that static that one is usually used to. He also has out his device called The Portal which works in a similar sense. As I kept watching his videos I realized he was using one of his own apps called SCD-1. How does it work? Again, similar to a Spirit Box. It shifts through Internet radio stations to create that white noise and energy for spirits to come through.

ghost-apps.png

After seeing all of this working with his videos, I became more intrigued with ghost hunting apps and if they are worth it. There is one thing to get out of the way first. Some of these ghost hunting apps or most of them for that matter are absolute bull. How do I know? I downloaded a few of them free and went to a location (my home) where I knew there were absolutely no hauntings. Even though my home has no hauntings a lot of the apps just started saying words that had no context right off the bat or started to detect “spirits” around where there were none. You can’t necessarily trust everything on the market. However, there are a few that can be worth the use and here is why.

How do you know if the app is legit?

1. You may have to spare some cash.

That’s right. Things cost money for a reason. Odds are, if it’s legit, it’s going to cost you. It’ll be up to you if that is worth it not.

2. Works in similar ways to old fashioned paranormal tech.

I find that the best apps are usually the ones that work similarly to technology I’ve used before smartphones. Examples would be things like EVP recorders, thermal cameras, or spirit boxes. These are tangible pieces of technology that could easily be placed in a phone app. If it works better than the tangible object, that’s debatable. However, they are the most reliable.

3. Evidence.

The reason we search for answers in the paranormal world in the first place, evidence! We love that stuff, that’s our whole purpose! Look for the evidence with these apps. Search for videos of people using them, debunk it yourself, and research. Soon enough you will find that some of them may actually be worth it.

 

Why I Became a Ghost Seeker

Why I Became a Ghost Seeker: Dennis Webster

why-i-became-a-ghost-seekerAs a child, I had been attracted to the malignant, the odd and the unique. While others would run from the praying mantis skulking on the rosebush, I’d feed it a fly. Pick a horror movie and I watched it, sitting on the floor Indian-style with my eyes glued to the flickering television screen. This propensity to go in the dark, the gothic, the unknown is what drew me to the world of the ghost. Perhaps it was myself dying as a teenager that fixated me on the other side. Being in this solid world, I’m curious as to where I went and what I did when I was not-of-this earthly plane.

Being a writer, and a published author, gave me the chance of a lifetime when I came across the Ghost Seekers of Central New York presenting their haunted evidence to a packed historical society in Utica. After the onslaught of dark seeker groupies dispersed, I introduced myself and pitched a book. A written chronicle of the adventures and evidence obtained in seeking contact from the other side.

I was thrilled to go along, and after a few investigations, I was asked to join the group as why-i-became-a-ghost-seekera paranormal investigator. Doing investigations in asylums, ancient churches, Victorian mansions and spooky theaters, is better than I ever imagined it would be. Hunting the spirits becomes addicting and teasing from the shadow people makes you want to meet them even more.

You can say that my obsession has become an addiction and a compulsion.  So why do I chase ghosts? Perhaps it’s to finally see my own dead spirit that left me years ago so we might be reunited. Or it might just be the opportunity to verify that we do indeed go on living after our earthly husks have rotted back into the dust of the crust.   

 

Find Dennis’ books today by following the link here!

Paranormal Explanations

Paranormal Explanations: Are Ouija Boards Okay to Use?

Ouija Boards, a debate amongst many paranormal investigators. Some claim that it is not safe or okay to use while others say that it is completely fine. To start off this conversation, let’s explore the history of Ouija Boards.

The Ouija Boards were first used in the late 1840’s along with the ideas of Spiritualism and were mostly used by acclaimed mediums. Mediums at this time would use certainseancebw.jpg methods of communicating with spirits such as table turning or knocking on the floor in response to letters called in the alphabet. Both of these methods were complicated and took a long time to follow through with. The other method they used was planchettes, which were heart-shaped devices with two wheels at one end and a pencil at the other. The spirits would then guide this device and write their message. However, they found it much more useful to point to already written letters, thus paving the way of the Ouija Board. (MentalFloss)

The New York Daily Tribune in 1886 reported on “the new talking board” used in Ohio. This would be the first development of the classic Ouija Board we know today. It was so easy to develop on one’s own time. The idea became very popular, and so in 1890 Elija Bond, Charles Kennard, and William H.A. Maupin turned the “talking board” into a toy. Since then the Ouija Board has been a staple of scary movies in Hollywood, and creepy stories to tell at slumber parties or gatherings around a campfire. (MentalFloss)

ouija-board

Many people now wonder if an Ouija Board is even safe to use. Does it open a portal that shouldn’t be messed with? Does it attract malevolent spirits? While we can’t have a definitive answer for most of these questions, we can very well attempt to give some theories.

David Oester from the Internation Ghost Hunters Society is against using the Ouija Board. He, like many other ghost seekers, believe it is an unprofessional use of technology for investigations. He is also in the belief that it can be dangerous to use a device such as this without knowing how to properly operate it. By calling out for spirits to come into a space, if one does not know how to close a portal, those spirits who did not belong there in the first place could stay. That being said, it may be okay to use if the person operating it knows how to close the opened portal.

As a Ghost Seeker, I personally believe this. Using an Ouija Board on an investigation has too many odds against it, and in an already haunted space without knowing what is haunting the area yet, it can be dangerous. However, if someone wants to use the Ouija Board in a place where they know they are safe and they know how to open and close the portal or means of conversation, I think it is okay to use. However, some people may not even do this.

With this being said, there is evidence that it may not even be spirits communicating planchettewith us through the Ouija Board. It’s called the Ideomotor Effect which claims that people can move or move something without their conscious mind realizing it. The University of British Columbia ran a study on the ideomotor effect and the Ouija board in 2012. The test had a subject sit at a Ouija board with another person and answer yes or no questions. The subject was blindfolded when using the board and the partner removed their hands from the planchette. The blindfolded subject moved the planchette alone, answering questions, but felt that they were exerting no force on it at all. The subjects answered more questions correctly than when they answered the same questions verbally — they did better when they believed they weren’t in full control of the planchette. This an example of implicit — unconscious — cognition, and experiments with the Ouija board. (Nerdist)

The debate of the Ouija Board still continues but it will be up to you, Paranormal Groupies, to decide on where to take that information.

Paranormal Explanations

Paranormal Explanation: What is a Residual Haunting?

If you are an active Paranormal Groupie, you have probably heard of the term, “residual haunting”, but what does it mean?

According to one theory or the traditional approach, a residual haunting is suggesting that a spirit duplicates an action continuously like a broken record because fragmented energy is imprinted in the surrounding area. This is a great thought but scientifically, it doesn’t make much sense. Instead, The International Ghost Hunting Society (IGHS) had a different, more scientifically plausible way of explaining this type of a haunting.

First, we have to understand a Space-Time Event Anomaly. To understand this, imagine a timeline running from left to right, the past is on the left and the future is on the right. Residual-Haunting.jpgWith this, we can represent each event in our lives as a single space-time event. Now, if this space-time event has a significant emotional impact such as traumatic death, space-time becomes frozen for a moment and the event will replay itself until it un-freezes. Why freeze? Well, the IGHS says that when a person dies, the intelligence, the emotions, the attitudes developed during mortal life stays with the spirit after the death of the physical body. So, the strong emotional feelings are a form of energy embedded within the spirit and the spirit will reenact this until that negative energy is gone.

Some others may suggest that it is not a spirit at all who is trapped in this cycle, but simply the energy that was formed in the event itself, almost like a time marker. There are many other plausible reasonings but it is still in the works of theory. However, odds are, if there is clear evidence that there is some paranormal energy but no intelligent response, or, if you get a response by a spirit saying they don’t know they are dead, you may be experiencing a residual haunting. As Paranormal Groupies it’s our job to figure out why these phenomena happen and how to better assess the situation. What we suggest is that if you find you are in the possible presence of a residual haunting is to let the spirit know that it is okay to move on and to offer prayers of any kind. These hauntings are not malicious and need more love and attention than anything.

Paranormal Technology

Paranormal Tech: Spirit Box

The Spirit Box. That noisy radio transmitter that some of us ghost seekers use in an attempt to pick up spirit voices. We thought this would be a great piece of technology to talk about because there are some misconceived ideas about how it works.

The idea of using white noise to allow spirits to speak began with Dr. Konstantins from 1940 to 1974 and his experiments where the original EVP was discovered. It is believed that spirits need energy in order to reach through what is believed to be the spirit realm. With the EVP it was believed spirits used the internal sound of the recorder to put their sound on a digital tape/recorder. It is true that a spirit can create a disembodied voice without this noise, but with it, it is a lot clearer and easier to hear or create.

Now, here is why the Spirit Box also comes along with some misconceived ideas. Most people, when using it, do not know how to use it. When using the Spirit Box, most people spiritbox02will, in a way, treat it like a live EVP recorder. However, expecting a direct answer to come through the Spirit Box after asking a question is far fetched. The Spirit Box is picking up and sifting through different radio signals, so small bits of words will be picked up that cannot be proven to be from the spirit realm.

That being said the Spirit Box is alright to use for investigations and we even use it, but it requires a lot of practice for us to decipher what is spirit and what is not. Even then, we have to keep in mind that there is always be a possibility that we picked up a radio station instead of a spirit. They come in all different shapes and sizes. Some work better than others, so make sure you do your research on your Spirit Box before purchasing.

Please also check out this amazing video by HuffParanormal here. He goes over a lot more on the Spirit Box and how he uses it to simply generate energy and picks up the disembodied voice with his EVP recorder while the Spirit Box is running. He also links to one of his friend’s websites where he has a lot more information Spirit Box’s and their usage here.

 

Information Gathered From SimplyGhost

To read about more paranormal tech, please check out our blog on the Kinect.

 

Why I Became a Ghost Seeker

Why I Became a Ghost Seeker: Elizabeth

When I tell people that I’m interested in the paranormal they always give me a strange look, and why wouldn’t they? For starters, I look like the complete opposite of someonthe-addams-familye interested in the paranormal. I’m a burst of sunshine and rainbows. I have bright red hair, I love colors, and I’m an early bird rather than a night owl. Even though I love the sun, beaches, and flowers, I have an interest for the strange and out of the ordinary too. I call that part of me my alter-ego. When I was a child I was drawn to shows like The Adams Family or The Munsters. My favorite holiday was and always will be Halloween. One of the first horror movies I watched was The Exorcist and I was immediately drawn to the true story behind it. My family thought I was an oddball but they were also intrigued by my strange interests and wanted to see where they might be leading me to.

At the age of thirteen, I turned on the Travel Channel and saw a show that was on called Ghost Hunters. I was hooked. I was fascinated by the history of each location they went to, I wanted to ghosthunterslearn more about the scientific features of each bit of technology they used, I was pulled in by the travel aspect and getting to see the world, and I was mystified by the idea of a ghost and that you could actually try to capture evidence of one. I saw Ghost Busters before but that was a movie, I didn’t think you could actually go out and try to catch evidence of a spirit with this odd technology they were using. I started reading up on haunted locations and started to visit them myself. I had some odd experiences, sure, but nothing astounding telling me that a ghost existed. I was critical, to say the least, but something kept attracting me to the paranormal mysteries.

I started to read more on hauntings and the different types of them. As I did so my childhood memory began recollecting and I realized that I may have had a couple paranormal experiences without knowing they were possible spirits. Does something ever move in your room without a breeze? Do you ever see a shadow pass by too quick to see its full form? Do you ever hear a whisper but see nothing? I did, but I never knew that those questions are why people study the paranormal. I wanted more.

Needless to say, my nerdy brain took me to more exploration of history, hauntings, science, and more! The study of the paranormal is so much more than trying to find evidence of a spirit. From studying the paranormal we can explore new aspects of science, learn more about our history, learn about our psychology, discover answers to religion… and so on. To me, studying the paranormal is studying life, and that is why I became a Ghost Seeker.

Haunted Tours

Haunted Tours: Mission Santa Barbra

The rumors have spread about the ghosts of the California Missions and I had the opportunity to go to the “Queen of the Missions” located at 2201 Laguna Street, Santa Barbara, CA. If you didn’t go to elementary school in California, you may not know what the California Missions are. Just as us New Yorkers will usually learn about The Oregon Trail, Californians will learn about the 21 Missions.

The 21 California Missions sparked around the turn of the 16th century when Europe was emerging into the Reinassaince and there was renewed energy and spirit to discovering what lay beyond the Ocean shore. Europe and Asia had started a trade route but it was gruelingcaliforniamissionsantabarbara02 travel, and Spain wanted to expand their country. With these facts, the King of Europe, realizing there was a large population in Europe decided to expand and colonize Spain while moving their citizens to other parts of the New World. A man named Juan Cabrillo was the one to explore what we know today as California and began to rename different harbors. Since then a few other explorers took after Cabrillo when he passed on from the grueling 6 months of travel and injuries he sustained along the way. Along with conquering a whole area, these colonizers wanted to make the indigenous people of the land into Spanish Citizens. Spain was a Catholic country and so the King decided to start what is known as the 21 Missions, each one marked by a church built by the indigenous people to protect from wild animals, provide warmth, and living and working courters. The missions ended in 1810 with the revolt of Spain in conquest to be their own independent people.

The Mission of Santa Barbra was founded December 4th, 1786 by Fray Fermin Lasuen as the californiamissionsantabarbara0310th mission in California. The magnificent building was built by the hands of the indigenous people. The peace which was originally establish was swept away by the bloody revolt that attacked this mission and two others. The remains of 4,000 indigenous people are buried underneath this church and the graveyard may show much more. Signs of hauntings are said to populate this area which is still used today as a modern Catholic church.

One can choose from three different tours of this building. I chose the self-guided tour which is open 7 days a week from 9:00 A.M. to 4:15 P.M. ($9.00 for adults, $7.00 for seniors and military personnel, $4.00 for youth, and free for children). Another option is to go with a guided group tour which is first come first serve ($13.00 for adults, $11.00 for seniors and military personnel, $8.00 for youth, and free for children). Last but not least there is the option of a private tour which has to be reserved 2 weeks in advance and has the same prices as the guided group tour.

There have been many ghostly experiences from workers and civilians which can all be read about in Richard Senate’s Ghosts of the California Missions and El Camino Real. As for myself I can guarantee, as beautiful as the grounds are there is a strong history and a sad feeling as you walk through the silent courtyard all the way to the graveyard. The missions are worth some exploring if you find yourself in California.

To read about our previous Haunted Tour, please check out The Winchester Mystery House.