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Haunted Tales

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About this blog

Haunted Tales is a blog that discusses all things paranormal from ghost to legends. It’s main aim is to bring a weekly dose of paranormal stories to readers.  It’s not here to force opinion or belief on anybody, its just a fun way to learn more about the paranormal. It is written because, like a lot of people I love the mystery behind the paranormal, I love ghost stories, I love horror films and I love exploring the unknown in a creative way.

While looking at the fun and light hearted side of the paranormal, Haunted Tales will also look at the serious side of it. Giving readers insight into the paranormal from a scientific point of view. Stories will include interviews with paranormal investigators and subject specialists.

Entries in this blog

Caitlyn Hart

Subconscious Mind

Having established that the mind can play a role in how we interpret paranormal events or experiences, we are going to consider this theory further. I’m not saying that the tricks our mind can play on us are explanations for all paranormal experiences, because it’s not. We are going to be speaking to a parapsychologist and focus on the work done by the Koestler Parapsychology Unit.

f9

I linked a survey at the end of the article Paranormal: Power of the Mind, to get people opinion on what they thought of the idea that the mind could play tricks on us, when it comes to paranormal experiences.

One survey respondent, said: “I think the mind, especially an over active or emotional mind does have the ability to make you think you may have experienced something. However, in believing in the paranormal it is important to remember there does not need to be an answer for everything and sometimes there are no answers.”

Caro2016 Dr. Caroline Watt founding member of KPU, The University of Edinburgh[/caption]

Dr. Caroline Watt, founding member of Koestler Parapsychology Unit (KPU), based in the Psychology Department at The University of Edinburgh, said: “I got interested in parapsychology because, as a psychology graduate, I was aware that paranormal beliefs and experiences are quite common, and I wanted to find out what lay behind these experiences.“I decided to study parapsychology because I thought it would be interesting - and I was right!”

Reports of paranormal experiences have long been reported, including, near-death experiences, dream precognition and hauntings. Research conducted by KPU examines the causes and impacts of these experiences. KPU focused on four aspects these causes and impacts: Precognitive dreaming, the function of paranormal beliefs and the discursive approach.

Precognitive dream experiences are dreams that appear to predict the future. Dr Watt investigated the psychological factors that may explain precognitive dream experiences. One study found that some precognitive dreams are due to people finding connections between their dreams and subsequent events.

Dr. Watt, said: “My research has found that people who believe in the paranormal are more likely to see correspondences or connections between dream reports and news reports that have been randomly paired. This suggests a normal mechanism that might lead to an increased frequency of seemingly precognitive dream experiences.”

The second aspect of KPU research was, the function of paranormal beliefs, the research suggests, that for some people, paranormal belief may provide a sense of control in chaotic or stressful situation. The KPU conducted two studies, the first showed a link between a lack of a sense of control during childhood and the development of paranormal beliefs in adulthood, which was conducted by Dr Watt and Dr Richard Wiseman in 2007. The second showed that more than half of those reporting paranormal experiences had experienced a negative life event, before the experience happened.

obe A photo used by the KPU to demonstrate the function of paranormal beliefs.

Dr. Watt, said: “A person who has had a traumatic or chaotic childhood might develop paranormal beliefs in order to give them a sense of control over their environment. For instance, thinking that you can read other people's minds may give you comfort and a feeling of control.”

The findings from the two studies, into the function of paranormal beliefs, are in-line with a wider body of research, conducted by Watt and Wiseman in 2004, which examined how paranormal beliefs can provide an illusory sense of control.

Dr. Watt, said: “Let's take superstitious beliefs as an example. People who live in dangerous environments, such as near an active volcano, have more superstitious beliefs than those who live in less dangerous environments. Those who live near the volcano may have various rituals that they practice in order to try to placate the 'god of the volcano'. This is a paranormal belief. It makes the people feel more in control of the situation, however their behavior does not actually affect the volcano.”

Understanding paranormal belief is difficult, but an alternative approach is to examine them as discursive phenomena.

Dr. Watt, said: “This looks at the language used by people when they talk about their paranormal beliefs and experiences. For example, when a person says, "I'm a skeptic, but you'll never believe what happened to me", the discursive approach looks at the work that is done by the phrase 'I'm a skeptic". That phrase is said in order to make the person appear to be a critical thinker. It is used to strengthen the paranormal claim that follows.”

One reader of the article Paranormal: Power of the Mind, said: “After reading this I feel that what O’Keeffe was saying is spot on. I believe that the combination of night / dark, being tired, your mind plays tricks on you with the combination of being cold helpless strange noises accentuates the ghostly experience.”

In response to the previous comment, one reader, said: “That absolutely explains some things, but it positively does not explain them all. I can attest to the reality, and 100% positive knowledge for myself that there is something just on the other side of what we can see. It has the ability to see us, and interact with us, but for the most part, remains unseen. When a person has their own unquestionable experience, their world view changes forever.”

In regard to ghosts or spirits, Dr. Caroline Watt, said: “I think it is most likely the case that normal factors, such as pareidolia, can explain most ghostly experiences.”

FantasmaBodaAn example of Pareidolia or Matrixing.

Pareidolia, otherwise known as matrixing, is the psychological phenomenon in which the mind responds to a stimulus, usually an image or a sound, by perceiving a familiar pattern where none exists.

Another respondent, of the survey, said: “My mind knows what it is doing and tells the body what to do.”

Between Paranormal: Power of the Mind and this article we have covered many psychological explanations for paranormal experiences, although these are just a few of many psychological explanations. As some of the survey respondents pointed out, psychological explanations only explain some, not all, of the many paranormal experiences that have been reported. I have never personally experienced anything paranormal, however, I have spoken to many people and you can see in every fiber of their being that they have experienced something and that experiences have impacted them. The research Dr. Caroline Watt has conducted made it clear that our mind can subconsciously, be making connections or seeking control, and its these types of mind tricks that are out with our control as we might not even realize what we’re doing. The article Paranormal: Power of the Mind concentrated more on the psychological explanations we can take into consideration. For example, when we’re investigating the paranormal, watching paranormal TV programmes or reading about the paranormal, we can consider suggestibility and priming. Especially, with hindsight we can consider these explanations along with other physical explanations, but we would find it hard to consider the evidence Dr. Watt found from her research, as these psychological explanations are happening subconsciously. Although, I am a believer in the paranormal I think it is important to be aware of all the explanations out there to enable you to have a full picture.

Caitlyn Hart

Women in the Paranormal

The paranormal field has more women now than there has ever been. To understand the paranormal field from a women’s point of view and understand what difficulties are unique to women in the field we speak to Jayne Harris.

Jayne Harris, paranormal investigator and researcher, said: “I grew up actually with my parents talking about their experiences. I just grew up in an environment that really accepted spirituality and the paranormal as just being a given. When I was 17 and my cousin who was 16 at the time, and we were like sisters, died in a car accident. That sparked my interest and desire to want to learn more and find out whether there is an afterlife.”

Jayne-Harris-679x382Jayne Harris is co-founder of HD Paranormal Research. 

When women first entered the paranormal field there may have been misconceptions that women are only good for researching and mediumship as their too emotional to handle anything important. While researching and mediumship are important, it’s worth noting that women are capable of much more.

Harris said: “It’s not too bad these days. It used to be that we didn’t really know what it was all about, or we weren’t cut out for it. Of course, your carrying heavy kit around, so it takes a lot of endurance. I think when I was young and wanting to be part of paranormal groups it was looked upon that I didn’t really understand what I was getting myself into, I wouldn’t be able to stick it out. I think these days there’s not much of a misconception because there are a lot of successful women in the paranormal field. It’s certainly still male dominated.”

Women’s contribution to the paranormal has increased dramatically. More women are taking on a much bigger role than they ever did.

Harris said: “Women’s contribution to the paranormal has increased. I mean we’ve got women who own their own paranormal companies, ghost hunting, events companies, female magazine editors you know the list goes on. We’ve got female TV stars, we’ve got Katrina Weidman on Paranormal Lockdown and Amy Allan. I think the contribution is there and I think it’s growing. I’ve noticed a steep rise in me being contacted for things whereas before it was very much more the male. The people who are more well known in the field and who used to be asked to speak at conventions and give lecturers tended to be male.”

Women in the paranormal face different hurdles like not being taken seriously, not being given opportunities and much more. However, Jayne’s interest and focus of her research being haunted objects has been one of her biggest hurdles.

Harris said: “I mean my specialisms and something I’ve been really interested in is around objects and this phenomena that people believe they have a haunted object, so I’ve studied that and the psychological aspects of it. That’s a big hurdle because 18 years ago when I first started researching it, it was seen as a bit of a joke and there’s absolutely no way people could have paranormal experiences with objects. It’s taken a little bit more seriously now and the public are more interested in it because of films like Annabelle and Chucky. That’s also a bad thing because that’s what people associate it with and it’s not about that. I suppose one of my main interests has also been one of my biggest hurdles.

“When it comes to a glass ceiling, I don’t think there’s one of such, not any more so than in any industry. For anything it all depends on your own drive your own motivation and how thick skinned you are because especially in this industry in the paranormal field it can be very brutal. People can be harsh it’s cut throat, lots of backstabbing goes on. I don’t think women are any worse off than men when it comes to wanting to achieve in the paranormal.”

Equality is something all women try to achieve in their careers and women in the paranormal are no different. Although not all women in the field believe equality has been achieved as more women could be hosting TV shows from a scientific point of view because at the moment women are portrayed as squeamish and emotional rather than level headed and professional.

Harris said: “I suppose nowadays when it comes to conventions and things there is a real desire to have a balance whereas before you may have had eight or ten male speakers nowadays it’s much more about what your speaking about than who you are. With my interest in objects and because I’m a woman I suppose I tick two boxes there so it’s different to have me as a guest speaker so that helps sometimes.

“There will always be to a degree that idea of an old boys’ club especially when it comes to societies paranormal societies because they were founded in the Victorian era and of course it was all men but it’s not the case today, but I think among certain small pockets of the communities you may still get that attitude. Generally speaking things are pretty much on an even level now.”

Encouraging younger women into a field dominated by men may seem difficult but if they have a drive and enthusiasm for the paranormal then nothing should stop them from achieving what they want to. More female role models will help drastically to encourage more young women into the paranormal field. Even though there are loads of women in the paranormal field the way they are portrayed in the public eye is not helpful in encouraging younger women into the filed.

th8U2671H4Jayne used to be Peggy the Doll's caretaker.H

Harris said: “I just think we need to get away from the very shallow entertainment that’s been put out there at the moment because there’s a big desire at the moment for a deeper understanding. Rather than putting together a lame, low budget and boring scream fest on TV which most people will just turn over, it needs to be something that shows the history side of things. If women are interested in the paranormal it can be good to just actually start speaking about it amongst your friends and amongst other women.”

For women to be fully accepted in the paranormal field the way they are portrayed in the public eye needs to change. More women need to head investigative teams on TV. The stronger, professional and scientific side of women needs to be shown on TV, yes women can be sensitive, but they can also be strong. Speaking to Jayne has allowed a glimpse into the paranormal field from a woman’s point of view and a chance to understand the difficulties unique to women.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i__vebzd-q8?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

Caitlyn Hart

Ghost Tracker

Want to learn how to be a ghost hunter? This is a how-to guide on ghost hunting with expert tips from real life ghost hunter Billy Binnie.

Ghost Hunting has become part of our culture, and loads of people want to try it. Most want to experience ghost hunting for themselves not from their couch watching Most Haunted. However, most don’t know how to conduct a proper investigation or were to start, so this article will give a guide on ghost hunting.

Teams

Ghost hunting can be dangerous especially going into old rundown buildings. Investigating in teams or even taking a partner will help with safety but it also helps with equipment, as you will need someone to help you operate the equipment.

Billy Binnie Billy Binnie, Lead Investigator of GPI.

Billy Binnie, lead investigator of Glasgow Paranormal Investigations(GPI), said: “You need to know your group, we prefer private investigations with just who we know there. I know everyone in my group will say 'that was me' if anything happens. You need to know their 100 percent focused on finding evidence and not messing around because again it destroys the whole investigation. It's important to know everybody and to be 100 percent comfortable with everybody in the group.”

Location

Before you start breaking out your paranormal equipment, you need to find a location to investigate. Ghosts can be anywhere, but a simple internet search will find you a haunted location in your area.

Approach

There are many ways to approach an investigation and each investigator approaches one differently.

Binnie said: “I'd say open minded, try and debunk before you say that it is paranormal. You have to look to see what could have caused the noise. After the investigation's finished you're looking through your handheld camera, you're looking through your CCTV, trying to tie everything up before you say to someone this could be paranormal, you need to make sure that it's full proof and there is no way someone can say it's not paranormal.”

Glasgow Paranormal Investigations(GPI) GPI was founded in 2008 by Billy, his wife Kim, James and Lisa.

Most investigators before they investigate a location want to find out everything they can about it and want to know all about people's experiences at the location. Many investigators do a full history of a location and speak to people who have had experiences.

Binnie said: “If you do that then you can go in and you can set your night up in a certain way. If you know something has happened in a room or there's voices heard in a room then you can go in and you can point all your questions toward that. I prefer to go in with a fresh mind, clear mind, open mind and get a response to a question we ask in general and then try and manipulate your questions towards the answers your getting.

Before you do an internet search, be mindful that our psychology is very deep. By reading into the history can prime you to experience something when you go to the location. Priming yourself means that if you read that there is a ghost of an elderly lady at the location your investigating, you are priming yourself to encounter this apparition. Yes, doing a history can be helpful and beneficial to the investigation if you can use names but in the end it can hinder you more than it helps.

For example, just being in a supposed haunted location, at night added in priming and suggestibility from outside sources, this could create an environment for you to experience something paranormal and it could even hinder an investigators ability to debunk supposed paranormal activity.

Equipment

When it comes to investigating there is a host of paranormal equipment out there that will aid you in your investigation. The basic arsenal of ghost hunter includes:

• Digital Camera
• Digital Recorder
• Video Camera
• Flash Light
• Extra Batteries
• Thermometer
• EMF Detector

A more experienced ghost hunter may have more advanced equipment like the those seen on Ghost Adventures. Some include:

• Paranormal Puck 2

Is a leap forward in monitoring EMF, temperature, humidity, light levels, barometric pressure, movement, ionization / static levels.

Paranormal Puck 2

• Xcam SLS (Kinect)

It is a 3D motion tracking camera with custom software specifically designed to seek out and read human forms.

 

Xcam SLS camera

• Ovilus

Captures energy or electromagnetic waves and converts them to phonemes or words.

 

Ovilus 5

 

• SB7 Spirit Box

It is an adjustable frequency sweep device designed with "white noise" distributed between frequency steps. It aims to capture spirit voices in real time.

SB7-Spirit-Box

• PX Device

It is a blend between the Ovilus and the Puck. It has a built-in dictionary that allows spirits to communicate by changing the environment.

PX7

However, you should keep in mind that the results you get from the equipment isn’t proof of the paranormal on its own. Before you conclude something is paranormal you must make sure nothing else is the cause. A paranormal investigation is like solving a puzzle. After the investigation you could research the history of the location and you could look for other people that have had experiences at the location to speak to. By doing this after your investigation you preserve the evidence you may have collected and eliminate all psychological factors like priming and suggestion. Combining the evidence collected at location, the history and the experiences of others will allow you to build a picture.

Tips:

• Be Respectful
• Be Professional
• Don’t Show Fear
• Take along a notebook to record significant occurrences. Begin by logging the starting time and weather conditions etc. Also make note of surrounding lights as to not confuse them with anomalies later in the pictures. Record all meter abnormalities, strange sounds, sightings and feeling or emotions. Each group should take their own notes and compare afterwards.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-pt9FlmDQts?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

Caitlyn Hart

Haunted Countdown

Hauntings are usually associated with houses, but spirits or demons can attach themselves to anything including objects. This is a countdown of the world’s most renowned haunted objects.

1. The Dibbuk Box

dibbuk box free to use
The book written by Jason Haxton about The Dibbuk Box.

A Dibbuk is an unsettled soul which attaches itself to a human host, controlling aspects of that person. According to Jewish belief, the soul was unable to fulfil is life’s purpose and will only leave the host’s body once it has accomplished its goal. These boxes were built to contain evil forces. The box we’re speaking about was brought to the United States by a Holocaust survivor, whose ancestors ignored her stern warnings never to open it and to bury it with her when she passed on.

In 2001, an antique buyer bought the dibbuk box from the estate sale of the women who passed. Upon taking the box home, he immediately experienced strange things. The dealer gave the wine box to his mother as a gift, and the woman immediately suffered a major stroke.

Jason Haxton, former owner of the box and curator of a medical museum, in Missouri, said: “I came to acquire the Dibbuk box from a college student, who was having problems, so they brought it to my medical museum. All who own it report strange occurrences and bad events in their life.

“I experienced bleeding eyes, constant choking, shadowy figures, horrible dreams of hags, insect infestations, and more. I kept the box under the house crawl space buried in the ground to draw off the energy.”

The Dibbuk Box now resides in Zak Bagans Haunted Museum, in Las Vegas.

2. The Conjure Chest

The Conjure Chest
The infamous Conjure Chest.

Kentuckian slave owner Jacob Cooley, commissioned one of his slaves, between 1830 and 1840, to make a chest for the birth of his son.

Cooley was displeased with the construction of the chest, so he beat the slave to death. In revenge for this act Cooley’s other slaves put a curse on the chest so that the family would be forever cursed.

The story goes that Cooley, despite his displeasure for the chest he displayed it in his home anyway. On the arrival of his son, the child’s clothes were put in the chest and soon after Cooley’s son died.

Following the death of Cooley’s son, a further 17 Cooley family members died because of the chest.

Beverly Kinsley, a descendant of Cooley’s told the story of the chest to Zak Bagans on Deadly Possessions. The story goes Kingsley’s grandmother asked Sally, who worked for the family, if she knew how to take off a conjure and Sally did. After performing a ritual, Sally said to Kingsley’s grandmother that one of them would die.

In October 1946, The Conjure Chest claimed its last victim, Sally suddenly died.

The chest was finally donated to the Kentucky Historical Society in Frankfurt, Kentucky.

3. Annabelle The Doll

Annabelle
Annabelle the Doll pictured with Ed and Lorraine Warren in their Occult Museum.

In 1970, a woman bought a Raggedy-Ann style doll for her daughter. Her daughter put it in her apartment, but soon odd things happening involving the doll. It would move by itself. They found small scraps of parchment paper, which they didn't even own, with childish handwriting scrawled on them. They even found the doll standing.

They contacted a psychic medium, who told them that the doll was possessed by the spirit of a young girl who had died in the apartment building. "Annabelle" said that she liked the college girls, and wanted to stay with them, so they told her that she could. Unfortunately, granting the spirit this permission lead to increased paranormal activity in their apartment, including having a male friend get attacked by the doll.

At their wit's end, the girls contacted renowned psychic investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. The married duo soon found that the doll is not possessed by the spirit of a child at all; rather, it is possessed by a demon who had lied about its identity. The girls gave "Annabelle" to the Warrens, who encased it in a glass display cabinet in their Occult Museum in Connecticut.

4. The Hands Resist Him Painting

Haunted Ebay Painting
The Hands Resist Him Painting.

An anonymous eBay seller put “The Hands Resist Him” up for sale on the auction site in 2000.

According to the couple who owned the painting previously, the figures in the painting moved around at night or disappearing from the canvas entirely. The boy in the painting supposedly entered the room where it hung and everyone who viewed the painting reported feeling sick and weak. Adults sometimes felt like unseen hands were grabbing them.

Darren Kyle O’Neil wrote a book titled ‘The Hands Resist Him: Be Careful What You Bid For’ which can be bought on Amazon.

O’Neil’s book details the story of “The Hands Resist Him” painting and the connection between Daniel Leyden, who bought the painting on eBay and who claims it is cursed and Detective Hector Gomez, who investigated a 28-year-old open police case of a serial killer known as the ‘The Life Swapper’.

5. Robert The Doll

Robert The Doll
Robert the Doll in the Key West Art and Historical Museum, surrounded by letters written to him from visitors.

Robert Eugene Otto was given the doll in 1996 by a servant, who practiced black magic. Rooms would be messed up, vases smashed, and Robert would be blamed, even though he seemed extremely afraid and insisted that the doll done it.

The doll finally wound up at the Key West Art Gallery and Historical Museum in Florida, where it remains on display to this day.

Visitors to the museum supposedly must ask Robert the dolls permission to take a photograph of him. If they don’t, the theory is that the doll curses you.

The museum displays letters from the supposedly "cursed" individuals who have written to the doll, apologizing for not asking to take his picture, and asking to be released from his spell.

Robert the Doll and the Dibbuk Box appear on Deadly Possessions.

6. The Cursed Chair

chair
The Cursed Chair also known as The Busby Stoop Chair hanging in the Thirsk Museum.

Thomas Busby, convicted murderer, last request was to have his final meal in his favourite pub. After finishing his meal, he wished sudden death for anyone that sits on his chair.

Remaining in the pub for centuries and after many people dying soon after they sat in the chair, the owner donated it to the Thirsk Museum in 1972.

It is displayed hanging five feet in the air, so no one will ever sit in it again.

7. Haunted Wedding Dress

Wedding Dress
The Haunted Wedding Dress displayed in the Blair County Historical Society and Baker Mansion.

The story goes that Anna Baker from Pennsylvania fell in love with a low-class iron worker. Ellis Baker, Anna’s father refused to let her marry him, banishing the young man in 1849.

Before he was sent away, Anna bought a wedding dress. Another wealthy woman, Elizabeth Dysart wore the dress for her wedding.

According to Jeannine L. Treese, Executive Director of the Blair County Historical Society and Baker Mansion, the wedding dress was worn by Elizabeth Bell in 1830, who was the daughter of Edward Bell another iron master in Blair County.

Visitors and staff claim to see the dress move on its own, especially during full moons.

8. The Myrtles Plantation Mirror

Myrtles Plantation Mirror
The Myrtles Plantation Mirror.

Myrtles Plantation is supposedly a haunted bed and breakfast. The mirror was added to the home in 1980.

Guests of the plantation have reported seeing figures in the mirror, as well as small child-like handprints on the glass. The theory is that the mirror contains the spirits of Sara Woodruff and her children.

The Woodruffs were poisoned to death, and even though customs say that mirrors should be covered after death to prevent spirits from getting trapped. This mirror was not covered, so the theory is that the Woodruff souls live on through the mirror.

9. The Anguished Man Painting

gruselige-gemaelde-03
The Anguished Man Painting.

Sean Robinson inherited the painting from his grandmother, who kept the painting in her attic for 25 years. Robinson was always told that the painting was evil and that the artist that created it used his own blood mixed with paint and killed himself not long after he completed the painting. Robinson’s grandmother claimed to hear voices and crying and the figure of a man walking around her house.

After taking ownership of the painting, Robinson and his family started experiencing the same phenomenon. Robinson claims his son fell down stairs, his wife felt as though someone was stroking her hair and they too heard crying and seen the shadow man.

Robinson set a camera up overnight to monitor the painting to try and capture the alleged activity. Robinson uploaded his video to YouTube, the video shows doors slamming, smoke rising and the painting falling off a wall for no reason.

Robinson decided to put the painting in his basement.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rizaeBZ88JQ?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

10. Peggy the Doll Peggy

Peggy the Doll
Peggy the Doll. 

Peggy the Doll now resides in Las Vegas, at Zak Bagans Haunted Museum. Before Zak took ownership, Peggy was under the care of Jayne Harris a paranormal investigator. Harris was sent Peggy by a previous owner, known as JW, to protect her identity. JW claimed the doll was the reason behind her not sleeping for five days in a row, nightmares and responsible for a ghostly figure of a women appearing at her bedside.

In an article for Haunted Magazine Harris said: “In November 2014, two months after bringing Peggy home, I fell ill. It wasn’t a sudden thing, it had been a very slow enduring process that had seen me go from my usual motivated self, to a woman who could barely get out of bed in the morning. I ached, felt tired, was suffering nightmares and was physically weaker by the day. Psychologically too I began to suffer. I became well again, it took two or three days, but whatever had been hanging over me seemed to have lifted.”

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=369YYq_i4eQ?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

 

Caitlyn Hart

Testimony of an Exorcist

Exorcism is a closely guarded subject and our images only include the ones Hollywood have given us. Learn the truth about Exorcism from a professional exorcist Father Gary Thomas.

Exorcism is known by most as a religious practice of evicting demons or other spiritual entities from a person or area. James R. Lewis described exorcism as "something along the lines of placing the possessing spirit under oath - invoking a higher authority to compel the spirit - rather than an actual casting out". What we know of exorcism is the gory, drama filled films that Hollywood has given us. However, to understand exorcism and possession we are going to speak with an exorcist.

Father Gary Thomas Father Gary Thomas. Exorcist and Pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish.

Father Gary Thomas, diocesan exorcist and pastor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish, San Jose California, said: "I became an exorcist either by accident or Providence and I have to believe that it was Providence. Our bishop decided to appoint an exorcist in response to the dictum from the late St. John Paul II in 2004 in which he mandated that every bishop in the world select a priest and train that priest to be an exorcist. I simply volunteered and said that I would serve in this ministry.”

Visions of demonic activity and possession most likely come from Hollywood’s version of entertainment with flares of drama and horror. Films like The Exorcist are not a clear representations of demonic activity and possession.

exorcist6 The renowned scene from The Exorcist.

Father Thomas believes: "There are 4 basic degrees of demonic activity. Harassment - the demon has not gained a foothold into person but causes much havoc externally. Oppression - the demon causes a depression within the psychological framework of the person which in turn can cause the person to detach, to react against holy things, to exhibit inordinate physical strength, to speak in languages previously unknown and bodily contortions. Obsession - the demon or demons cause a psychotic interference with the mind of the person which produces hallucinations as well as the signs described in the oppression condition. Possession - the complete takeover by a demon or demons of a human body but not the soul. The host person is still struggling to regain control but basically has a difficult time functioning on a day-to-day basis."

For an exorcism to take place someone or something must be possessed, but in ancient civilizations such as those in Egypt, Greece, China and Babylon believed people that showed signs of psychopathology were possessed by evil spirts. This train of thought continued into the 18th century when witchcraft and possession were used as explanations for psychopathology. Today mental illness is more accepted rather than being a taboo.

th04EO05GNThe Middle Ages saw barbaric treatments used by the clergy to exorcise evil spirits. They used a variety of techniques such as scourging.

Father Thomas said: "On my team of discerners, I have a physician, clinical psychologist, and psychiatrist: all practicing Catholics and all who believe in the existence of Satan. I also have a prayer team consisting of 3 married couples and a single man(bilingual) who are present at every session of deliverance or formal exorcism. I should state here that a deliverance session is really a minor exorcism. The formal rite is not used, but instead unofficial but efficacious prayers addressed to GOD Instead of directly addressing Satan. That is the major difference between deliverance and formal exorcisms.”

In the Catholic church the process of exorcism involves the rite, which is a collection of prayers, statements and appeals. The rite was revised in 1999 by the Vatican but the original rite dates to 1614. To perform the rite the exorcist dresses in surplice and purple stole. The prayers split into the "imploring formula", in which the priest asks God to free the subject from the devil and the "imurative formula", in which the priest demands in the name of God that the devil leave the subject's body.

Allowed to use Father Gary Thomas at an even for 'The Rite' starring Anthony Hopkins. The film is based on a book titled 'The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist' by Matt Bagilo. Hopkins character is based on Father Thomas.

In the Catholic community a distinction can be made between a formal exorcism and a deliverance. Exorcism is the casting out of an evil spirit from a person or place, and calls upon the power of other earthly sources. However, a deliverance is the process of being released or set free from an oppressive evil spirit, and calls upon the power of God.

Father Thomas said: "The sessions all take place in the church in front of the exposed Blessed Sacrament (Body of Christ); Place the exposed Blessed Sacrament on the altar because it threatens the demons; Gather the team and the subject of the prayers in a circle and bless all of them with exorcised holy water mixed with exorcised salt; Pray preparation/protection and declaration prayers with all present to insulate everyone from demonic attack and declare the power of Christ over Satan; Anoint the subject with both the Sacrament of the Sick and the Oil of the Catechumen; Once this is all performed, then you begin with the deliverance prayers or rite of exorcism.

"When the manifestations have stopped being displayed by a person you keep up the prayers until in your judgment you believe that the demon has left. Sometimes, the demon will just hide in the hope that he has led you to believe that it is gone. However, over time and experience, I along with the team usually know when the demon has left. We also consult with the subject themselves and ask for their input. They can be very helpful as well. As far as a home is concerned, I rarely see any manifestations. Once I have performed the solemn rite of exorcism of a place, I tell the owners or occupiers of the house. To let me know if they have any further problems or signs of disturbance."

Getting to the root of exorcism and possession is always going to be hard, without having insight into the faith and the practice understanding it will be a struggle. Speaking with Father Thomas allows us to peek inside the otherwise secret practice that is exorcism.

Caitlyn Hart

Paranormal: Power of the Mind

You might think you control what you're thinking about when in a haunted location, but you don't. Our mind in certain situations can runaway from us and leave us without control. 

Borley The East Face of Borley Rectory in 1892.

In 1928 Borley Rectory in Essex became home to Reverend Guy Eric Smith and wife Mabel, but the welcome was anything but warm. The strange activities started with footsteps in the night until one day Mabel was in the library and found a human skull in the bookcase. Mabel interred the skull in the graveyard; this act saw the activity graduate to mysterious lights, taps, window shutters slamming, keys vanishing, bells ringing and whispers in empty rooms. With the activity at a high the skull was put back in the library, but the activity never stopped. A servant of the Smith’s saw a nun in the woods and another saw an old fashioned coach with two headless horsemen driving; Reverend Smith described their time at the house as the "darkest years of their life."

Dr. Ciaran O'Keeffe, parapsychologist and head of academic department in Bucks New University in Buckinghamshire, said: "If people have a very strong belief in the paranormal and something weird happens they're more likely to attribute that to the paranormal than non-paranormal if they've a high belief in it. For some people I think it's about knowledge, it's about knowing the alternative explanations."

According to a YouGov survey, 34 percent of British people believe in ghosts which is one in three people, while 9 percent say they communicated with the dead. How many of these supposed paranormal experiences can be explained through physical factors and when should we start to look further to our own psychology?

There are many physical explanations that can explain paranormal activity such as:

• Infrasound
• Drafts
• Camera issues
• Ion levels.

Mary Smith, anomalistic psychologist, whose name has been changed for privacy reasons, said: “Other experiences we associate with seeing ghosts are sudden drop in temperature, strange noises, funny smells you know if you’re walking around an old building the wood's going rotten and there's a draft, yeah you get sudden drops in temperature, but these are all things we associate with seeing ghosts.”

When physical factors can't explain supposed activity that's when we need to look to possible psychological factors.

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O'Keeffe said: "Priming and suggestion play huge factors you know if I tell somebody a place is haunted they are more likely to interpret a draft as being a ghost, simply because of the suggestion of telling them that it's a haunted location.

“External suggestion from things like darkness and how a building looks can be quite suggestible. I think the very fact most ghost investigations are conducted at night is also another huge factor in the reason why people have these ghostly experiences. The fact that at night-time it's dark, it taps into anxieties and fears, and all of those things can affect our perception of stuff that is perfectly natural.

“We know with decades of research in psychology that our perception and that's our visual perception, our audio perception, can be affected by different factors and I would say the top five include tiredness. And if you think about an investigator being in a situation where they're investigating from dusk until dawn it means in a particular point during the night and it's normally around two-three o'clock in the morning normally around that particular time they're at their most tired and their perception is severely affected.

However, Jeff Belanger, paranormal investigator from Boston and researcher on the American paranormal TV show Ghost Adventures, said: "At night with your senses a little bit deprived you are going to be sharper and yes you might be a little bit afraid but fear also heightens your senses and that's again a normal process. When you’re afraid your body is getting ready for fight or flight your sight is better your hearing is better, your sense of smell is better everything is better and sharper if you’re a little bit afraid."

O'Keeffe believes this is a "Misunderstanding of your bodily reaction to such circumstances. Actually what would be happening in those sorts of situations is that your adrenaline would be kicking in and actually that would severely affect your perception objective perception at what's happening really you'll be kicking into the fight or flight response."

Blue Skull 

Spoiler

 

When it comes to investigating the paranormal investigators say their bodies are their best tool when investigating. The question is can we trust our bodies?

O'Keeffe believes not as "the bodies untrustworthy because we are not able to interpret exactly what's happening to our bodies. Our bodies are very sensitive to changes in the environment but actually our interpretation of how our body reacts is not very good."

Paranormal TV shows use different equipment to measure;

• Temperature
• Ion levels
• Electromagnetic fields
• Humidity
• Barometric pressure
• Movement

The results from the equipment are interpreted by investigators as proof of a ghost.

O'Keeffe said: "A lot of these ghost shows when they're using environmental monitoring equipment and interpreting it as a presence of a ghost it solely comes down to their misunderstanding about what the equipment should be used for.

“It's very important for investigators to debunk paranormal activity I think that's the key and I would approach any investigation with a whole list of natural explanations and I would have to eliminate each one before I go for a supernatural explanation.”

Before we rush to a possible paranormal explanation we should consider not only physical explanations but psychological ones as well. It's easy for people to think they are rational and analytical thinkers but it takes a wiser and more knowledgeable person to admit that they can be influenced by outside sources. Acknowledging that anything is possible even the unexplained is what a truly skeptical and analytical thinker is. I watch shows like Ghost Adventures and think 'wow' maybe there is life after death and ok they are made for entertainment but that doesn't take away from the fact that these people are documenting proof of the paranormal and taking us on that journey with them which is amazing. So, ask yourself what do you belief?

Paranormal Power of the Mind Full Version

Paranormal Mind: Survey