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Investigation Team

This blog is where investigators will post information regarding Maine Ghost Hunters investigations.  These investigations may be formal, or informal, and may include Meetup investigations as well.

Boston Burial Grounds

Location: Historic Boston Burial Grounds
City:  Boston, Massachusetts

This trip was a leisurely walk through a couple of Boston’s oldest known burial grounds.  We followed the Freedom trail through town and hit some of our historic buildings and hotspots, and then made 2 purposeful stops at these two in-town burial grounds.  Even though we’ve been there before, it seems like each time we visit there’s something different that catches our attention.  This time through it was the lively tour guide who had plenty to say about our founding fathers; Samuel Adams and John Hancock.  His exuberant characterization of Paul Revere was priceless.  If you’re ever wondering if it’s worth the money to take a guided walking tour my opinion is, “it’s absolutely worth it”.


Although we took a few pictures in each of the two graveyards we had a notion they wouldn’t produce any type of paranormal “evidence”.  This wasn’t an investigation, to any degree, but I figured I’d post the trip anyway, just for the fun of it.  The beauty among these old cared for grounds can leave an impression on a person.  It seems like a morbid sort of pastime but the fact remains, there’s a lot to be learned from taking a walk through the burying grounds of those people who passed on before we were born.  You can get a true sense of family and community from reading the headstones, and by observing the types of artwork that grace each of the markers.

One of my favorite stories of America’s history is somewhat exhibited here in the photo of Sam Adams’ headstone and the adjoining marker for the victims of the Boston Massacre.   The pro-revolution propaganda, the evil redcoats and the victim revolutionaries, and the poor 12-year-old boy shot in cold blood. I rather hear the story of the antagonized, intimidated and incredibly outnumbered redcoats backed against the wall of a building by an angry mob bent on making something out of nothing… the rogue shots fired by the English Soldiers in their anxious and nervous attempts to defend themselves before a community of angrily approaching rebels… and the very few “innocent victims” that fell during the onslaught that followed.  My favorite part of the story, however, was when John Adams defended the redcoat soldiers – not because he was loyal to the crown, no way! – but because he believed in justice and right versus wrong.  Winning American freedom from the hand of the English crown was worth more than a faked-up story of a ruthless massacre that didn’t happened the way the angry mob portrayed.  If Adams was to fight for the cause of the American Revolution he was going to do it with honor and dignity, and in doing so he brought honor and dignity to America.  He defended the victimized redcoat soldiers… and won.  John Adams was a great man, but above all, a true “American”.  Here’s a picture of a Samuel Adams memorial, with the Boston Massacre Memorial behind and to the left.

Spider Gates - Leicester, Massachusetts

Location:  Spider Gates Cemetery
City:  Leicester, Massachusetts

This was one of those investigations that reminds me of how awesome it is to be a member of Maine Ghost Hunters. On this particular investigation day, I have to tell ya, “I’m lovin’ life”.  We left Maine somewhere around 8:00 in the morning and made a leisurely commute to the great state of Massachusetts where the much-rumored-about “8th gate to hell” resides. Tucked in the back woods of a somewhat remote area, surrounded by brush, trees, and fields of farmland lay the prize; Spider Gates Cemetery.

Spider Gates Cemetery is one of those graveyards who’s reputation precedes it.  It’s sad, really, when I think about it, because at the root of all the stories lay the relative of someone who’s ears these rumors may meet.  It’s my perception that people forget that they’re talking about someone’s mother, father, brother, uncle, cousin, or otherwise, when they tell these stories of evil that take place within cemeteries such as Spider Gates.  I’ll tell ya, when made the trip to the Friend’s Meetinghouse Cemetery in Leicester, Massachusetts I was wholly preparing myself for a downright menacing experience.  I had heard of ooze emerging from the ground, apparitions of small children, a “hanging tree” which sometimes reveals the reason it bares the name, satanic rituals and cults, and the manifestations those satanic rituals produce.

What I found when we finally arrived at the entrance to Spider Gates Cemetery was a beautiful, serene atmosphere who’s grounds are impeccably neat, clean, and obviously cared for by people who are wholly vested in honoring those interred persons at rest here.  I can’t tell you how wonderful the area looked and felt.  It was simply breathtaking.  It makes me want to give a scowling look of disapproval to people who pass such awful rumors about this location.   The grounds are absolutely stunning.  The stone wall that encompasses the outer perimeter of the cemetery has been neatly hand made by stacking rock upon rock, stone upon stone, and each one appears to be laid in place and held there by gravity and the weight of those stones above.  There is no cement holding this wall together.  It is meticulously maintained and rarely did we observe a stone out of place.

The headstones aren’t nearly as ornate as those stones in Puritan based cemeteries I’ve written about in the past, but they do depict a burial period that transcends the past couple of centuries.  The rumor that this burial ground is no longer used is a flat out lie.  We observed that a person was buried here as recently as this past year, 2008.  The headstones themselves may be simple, lacking much more than simple epitaphs, names, and dates of birth and death, but their simplicity exudes a certain level of beauty that is entirely communal. It’s as though the message you receive in this place is that these people lived as a community and they rest in peace, for eternity, as a community.  We have been to a few cemeteries in the past, and none have felt as warm and inviting as Spider Gates.

We were able to take a walk around the grounds and check out the different rumored sites of interest.  For instance, the “altar” location in the center of the cemetery.  It is said that Satanic Rituals may be performed here on a regular basis by visiting Satanists, which is why the area appears to be cordoned off in some purposeful way.  That “purposeful way” , according to rumor, is supposedly designed by the Satanists. The more historically accurate version of this “altar” area is that it’s almost certainly the footprint of the original Friends Meeting House foundation.  I was overtaken with the sheer beauty of the trees that grace the center of this beautiful cemetery and was somewhat affronted by the notion that anyone could consider this place to be any level of “evil”.

We ventured toward one of the back walls of the cemetery where we noticed some upright-standing granite blocks averaging a height of roughly 3 to 4 feet tall.  TonyL thought this area could have been considered the “altar” area, or an “altar” area as well, but we were at a loss for an ultimate conclusion as for what this was more likely used for.  We took notes of “the hanging tree”, and the “note” we took was that the limb used for the hanging is quite a distance off the ground.  The breadth of the tree would make it very unlikely that anyone who hung themselves from it “shimmied” their way to the limb.  Basically speaking, you’d have to really, really, want to hang yourself from this particular tree in order to get the job done, because the effort you’d have to go through to actually do it, is quite an involved process.  I’m not saying a young boy didn’t hang himself from this tree, I’m just saying he had to be exceptionally tall, incredibly talented at climbing the, virtually, un-climbable – or both.  We didn’t see any apparitions of ghostly children while visiting Spider Gates, but we did hear sounds that sounded like eerie children for a brief second.  Turned out to be high pitched birding vocals.  I’ll admit, it took me by surprise for a brief second, but once the sounds were identified as birds, and were repeated often throughout the rest of our time on the Quaker grounds, all was fine.

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The apparitions we had read about that appear in this area were basically a little girl, a little boy, and a slightly pre-teen or early teen boy.  There’s an awful story, that dates a few decades back, of a 6 year old boy from a nearby boy’s home that was beaten to death by one of the older teen-boy’s from the home.  His body was dragged through the woods and stuffed into a culvert.  The story is heartbreaking and the location of the culvert, which we found, intensified the grisly nature of the crime, start to finish.   The culvert was so small in its initial opening that it’s hard to imagine the condition the boy’s body was in if he was, indeed, stuffed into this culvert as we saw it.   As TJ explained, the culvert’s initial opening is small, but it “opens up” when you look farther inside.  It’s a dark hole under a less-than-busy dirt road.  I’m doubting many people, if any at all, traveled this route on a regular basis.

We took notice of the beautiful Kettle Brook, at a few different points, as well as the gloomy and buggy swamp areas that lay beyond the burial ground.  It’s important to note that there are 2 swampy areas, only 1 of which claims the paranormal activity.  Spider Gates Cemetery, itself, is not the location much of the paranormal activity in this area is reported.  It’s at the bottom of the hill near the swampy area that is a brief walk past the Spider Gates Cemetery.

Now, as for the term “the 8th gate to hell” or Spider Gates Cemetery contains “8 gates to hell”, both are preposterous accusations.  The cemetery itself has only 1 official entrance and that entrance is enclosed by 3 gates, each of which contain a wrought iron decoration in the center which resemble what many have compared to “the sun’s rays” or “a spider web”.    It is a fact that at least one of the gates is a reproduction since the original was stolen, and it is also a fact that that 1 gate does not “equal” 8.  I have read many variations of the “8 gates”, my favorite tall-tale version being the one where “the close you get to the 8th, and last gate…” the more apt you are to pass out.  And that people have not only passed out when approaching the 8th gate, but there are people who have suffered heart attacks upon reaching the 8th gate, and there has also been the occasional death-upon-reaching-the-8th-gate.  The short of it is, it’s all pretty insulting to the community of Quakers this place exists to serve, and to those community members buried within.  I was a little warmed by the notion that the official position of the Quakers, concerning these rumors about their cemetery, is that they find it all very humorous.

All-in-All the trip to Spider Gates was definitely a wonderful experience.  On the way out of the cemetery, as we were wrapping things up and approaching our car, 6 more people in 3 different and unrelated cars, were making their way to parking their various vehicles so they could get a good look, and personally experience Spider Gates for themselves.  We were even fortunate enough to meet people who had heard of us from our internet site.  What a treat that was!  If you’re out there and you’re reading this, thanks for complimenting our site!  We were tickled pink, to say the least!  Join our forum, let’s chat!

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Eastern Cemetery - Portland, Maine

Location:  Eastern Cemetery

City:         Portland, Maine

 

www.maineghosthunters.net

Here's a little something involving our last unofficial investigation-visit to the Eastern Cemetery.  It's sometimes good to go to a place we want to investigate, just to check things out first so we can really get our plan of action laid out when presenting it to the team as a group.   TonyL and I (KatM) went to the Eastern Cemetery on an overcast day in mid-August to scope out the area and see what we're up against when we do our actual investigation in the near future.  We want the planning of this investigation date to take the general public, the weather, and the overall environment into consideration.   The location isn't exactly secluded.  As a matter of fact, if I had to categorize it, I'd place it as being in one of the worst investigation locations possible.  The area is very public, very visible from all outer edges.  By daytime standards it appears as though there are many streetlights surrounding every side of the cemetery.  I'm not sure how we'll be able to debunk based on the environmental factors associated with the area so, if nothing else, this will be a super learning experience.  I'm really looking forward to it and I think the the guys are totally down with it, too.

The cemetery itself was opened in 1666 and it set on Portland's East Side.  There is also a cemetery on the West Side of Portland, which I'll get to in a little while.  I put together a great little video spiff with TonyL offering a brief documentary on the cemetery which I hope to post on our youtube channel pretty soon.  Just by walking through the East Side cemetery you can soak in a certain appreciation for the history of the people and the places they came from and lived in.  Most lived in Portland, which is, of course, why they're buried at the "ESC" but there are many who have been involved in critical moments of America's history.  There are Revolutionary War veterans buried here, soldiers involved in the War of 1812 (America's Second Revolutionary War, a pivotal point in the careers of James Madison and Andrew Jackson, and probably the most critically important battles ever fought to secure the independence of the United State of America.) and many seamen and their widowed wives.  The children of the East Side Cemetery may well bear the most intimately discouraging stories of "life and times" in Portland during this chapter in "Maine's" history.

One of the more interesting aspects of the old Eastern Cemetery would be the folks who lived into their 70's and 80's, who are buried here. The headstones of mothers, fathers, brothers, religious leaders, lawyers, and sea captains. People of these times seemed to take pride, not only in their community, but also in the roles they played occupationally speaking. A woman who passed on from this life was not just known as "Jane", she was remembered and revered for what she offered as a wife, mother, and sister; and how her presence in the community affected those around her presently, as well as those future generations not yet born.  By reading some of these headstones a person can really get the sense that people appreciated people back then. Tombstones aren't nearly as poetic these days as they were back then, and a short walk through a place like the Eastern Cemetery can be a great reminder that we're all of the same place; in life and in death.

 

Before we entered the grounds of the Eastern Cemetery we took a brief outdoor walking tour of the perimeter of the Historic North School. I'm still collecting historical information about this location, particularly regarding its role in the community during times of Portland's prospering seaport days, the "great fire of 1866", and the height of immigration influx and transition.  All are key factors in the constant changing of Portland's identity, and can be seen in some small form, or other, in the writings on the various tombstones as well as the size, location, and original intentions for the building of certain public establishments, such as the North School.

 

The North School has a reputation of being haunted, intimate knowledge to those residents of the North School Apartments that now grace its interior.   Although I've been told the North School was involved in the Great Portland Fire of 1866, I cannot substantiate the claim due to the building's establishment date of 1867.  The Great Fire swept through the city of Portland at a destructive rate but, by official counts, had a very insignificant death toll of less than 10 Mainers.  Most of the city saw some type of fire-related destr
uction, and the entire city was involved in the reconstruction that followed.  

The architecture of the old North School vaguely resembles the beautiful Kirkbride Architecture that came to grace many of the larger (and later considered "haunted") medical institutions such as sanatoriums, mental institutes, and tuberculosis hospitals.  The clock tower that graces the upper portion of the front of the North School is a particularly stunning apex in Portland's historical setting.  The fact of whether or not the clock tower is actually still functional, escapes me.  The building itself is such a prominent presence near the Eastern Cemetery that a person can almost not consider one without the other.

Now, back to the Eastern Cemetery. Since our visit to the cemetery, at this time, was geared more toward gathering information about the location, and less about data and evidence collection, we found we had more time to peruse on a deeper level. We enjoyed spending more time reading headstones and learning about people and their relation to others buried nearby. We had time to explore the various headstone shapes, sizes, and grades of stone, which were all very fascinating. The sheer size of some of the stones was incredible. TonyL stands over 6 feet tall and some of these headstones reached the height of his chest! The black slate beauty of these stone slabs, and the care put into the design of the art engraved and the scripts etched within each exhibited a clear adoration of the dead by those they left behind.Portland was a special, and dare I say "intimate" community back in those good 'ole days.

Check out some of these headstone art pieces. Most of the headstones seem to be graced with art that denotes their religious beliefs are of a more Puritan nature, but that's a clearly superficial speculation on my part.  It would make sense that the initial residents of the region would have been of a more rigid and traditional religious sect such as Puritans and Puritanism, as the Puritans were a pretty dominant force in the more clearly established regions of Massachusetts, such as Boston. In fact, if I'm not mistaken the Puritans were not only very well established within the more metropolitan areas of Massachusetts, they were also of the "ruling class", dare I speak that aloud. America is a democracy, indeed, but in the late 1600's the colonies were still under the rule of the King of England. Being righteous, pius, loyal to God and King meant reaping benefits the working class rarely experienced. Needless to say, if Puritanism was the dominant religion of the day, it was a long time in the coming before the social, religious, and political elite would let go of that power and control; regardless of how far they were from Boston. And, historically speaking, Maine wasn't released from Massachusetts for, at least, another 150+ years.  So, long story-short, a lot of the beautiful graveyard art seen on some of these slate headstones are indicative of Puritan-istic religious principles and beliefs.

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Lucerne Inn – Holden, Maine

Has anyone had any personal experiences with the Lucerne Inn in Holden, Maine?  There's a fascinating story of Infidelity, Murder and Suicide here, and of course, long term haunting.  One of the things that makes this place so special is the historically famous guest list, including Lincoln's vice president, and one time former Maine Governor, Hannibal Hamlin, as well as Civil War General, Ulysses S. Grant.

The rumor of "why" the Lucerne Inn is haunted goes back to a caretaker named "Nathan".  It would appear as though Nathan walked in on his wife and a guest of the Inn – catching them in a "compromising" position.   He took the news pretty badly and one thing led to another, leaving his wife and the guest murdered, and their blood on Sam's hands.  The story continues that after Nathan committed the heinous murders of his 2 victims in room 8 of the Lucerne Inn, he took himself into room 5 and committed suicide.

The haunting of the Lucerne Inn has been figured, for the most part, to be "intelligent".  The building is quite old, having been built in 1812 and opened for business in 1814.  It's location is what made it a Maine landmark back in those days because it was one of the only places long-haul travelers could stop for room, food, and spirits (no pun intended) between Bangor and cities "down east" like Machias and Ellsworth.

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Reincarnated Children

Today's topic is Children who claim to have been reincarnated.  If there's one thing that bothers me, on a personal level, it's the thought of children being trapped "in spirit" within this physical plane.  If there's one thing that truly intrigues me, it's those stories of children who claim to have been reincarnated, and that they remember their past lives.  The mere thought of it sends chills down my back while simultaneously sparking an entirely new level of interest and curiosity.  I remember spending a short period of time in the bookstore not too long ago, and becoming so entranced by this random book I happened to pull off the shelf that I actually read through, almost the entire thing, before we left the store.  It was fascinating and I highly recommend it.  It's called Children's Past Lives and it's written by past life therapist Carol Bowman, a specialist in her field.  The book is filled with anecdotes of children who remember, in detail, their lives before they were born into their present one.

Sometimes I wonder if everyone has this natural curiosity, as I do, about kids who claim to have memories of a past life.  It wasn't too long ago that the thought of reincarnation was considered blasphemy, and still today, by Roman Catholic standards it's considered some degree of sacrilege.  The whole concept of "life after death" challenges the modern standard of "science" as the ruling faction of thought and thinking.  It's hard to believe that we are taught, and we continue to teach, that the Dark Ages were so far away.  That the intellectual problems of the past are not the intellectual problems of our present.  Society, as a whole, embraced the Renaissance with open arms and condemned the age of darkness as oppressive and a hindrance to intellectual progression yet, metaphorically speaking, by "tomorrow's" standards we very well may be existing in the same manner of "darkness"  in today's day and age.  Maybe these children are remembering past lives in ways we can't explain, not just because they have the ability to do so, but because they are proving to us that we are, as human physical beings, are evolving into spiritual creatures with a grasp of life as it exists in a different dimension… a different time… a different space.  The whole concept of science, as we know it right now, is being challenged by 4 year olds all over the world.

World society watched thousands, possibly tens of thousands, and maybe hundreds of thousands of people through

time, die because they fought for science to outweigh the importance of religious faith.  And today, we watch as a strikingly similar template is being followed by thousands of people worldwide, maybe more.  Children, the most innocent of all people simply because they are ignorant and innocent at the same time.  They have no agenda, they have no knowledge or ability to gain such knowledge of spirits they may have contacted, or have had encounters with; or of the historical accuracies of the events, timelines, occurrences, or physical objects they claim to have had experiences with in their "past life", and yet they spill parts of "their" past-life stories with color and flare as though they just had these experiences yesterday.  They long for parents and siblings they've never met in this life, and in certain cases, it's been proven that those relatives are still alive.  I remember reading one particular care where a boy actually brought a present-day relative to the home of his past-life, and when he explained himself to the residents at this home – who he was in a past life, and what happened to himself, and how he remembered many of the people who were there to hear what he had to say – he was freakishly "right on".  This child wasn't even 7 years old yet.

The pattern of today's "shift" away from hard-core science, and rigid ritualistic religions is as much a sign of the times as The Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition were to the centuries before us.  We like to consider ourselves a tad less barbaric than we were back then, and this may be true, but by "tomorrow's" standards, who knows what the truth may really turn out to be?  Perhaps 1,000 years from now we'll consider that torturing the soul and a person's faith is far more painful than inflicting physical discomfort, or causing physical death.  We may be in the midst of watching a slow, but steady, transition into a more spiritual existence taking place.  Maybe it's because we're reaching into ourselves, or maybe it's
because we're understanding and grasping the reality that the spiritual realm has been reaching out to us for longer than we were willing to allow ourselves, and each other, to accept, or believe.  And these kids… these reincarnated kids, who throw us into a Buddhist sort of existence, for just a moment if we let them, make us realize that it's not a cliche to say "anything is possible".  Anything is possible, and some things step beyond "possible" and make us feel we need to have the confidence that they're actually "probable".  

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The Skeptic Eye

If there's one thing I've learned through my years of studying the topic of "the paranormal", it's this; you have your believers, and you have your non-believers.  Your typical non-believer, or "skeptic", carries with him/her the uncanny ability to rationalize, normalize, or otherwise "realize" events which may not have an initial, or obvious, explanation.  The typical "believer" is more likely to "reason" that "anything is possible" and if they can't find an explanation for what's happening, then it could quite possibly be "paranormal" in origin.  There are extreme varieties of both categories and your fanatics come in all flavors.  We see people who will never be convinced of anything paranormal, and we see people who believe a grand majority of "the unexplained" can be reasoned as "paranormal" with little more than a 2nd look into an occurrence which lacks an immediate logical basis.  I've had personal experiences with both types of personalities, as I'm sure is the case with many of you.  As paranormal researchers we find ourselves in a position to represent our chosen field(s) of study.  Are we doing this to convert the skeptic?  Are we doing this to hush the believer?  Are we doing this for ourselves and our own curiosities?  Do we find ourselves in a position of being held to a higher standard than thrill seekers and overnight ghost hunting groups?  It's a challenge to our sense of why we do what we do, to ask this question of ourselves, honestly.   "Why?"

Here's a picture that was taken of 2 Maine Ghost Hunters during an investigation in early 2008.  At first glance, it's a fascinating sight to see.  A "light rod" either originating, or ending, into the mid-section of current Maine Ghost Hunter TonyL.  Amazing, isn't it?   The home we were investigating at the time was a hotbed of activity.  We'd heard many stories of strange and unexplainable incidents from the residents, and during our investigation each of us had personal paranormal experiences that, while not harmful, were difficult to pass off as bad wiring, or drafty windows.  Surely, those reasons alone were enough to give this fantastic picture a more solid base for us to view as our best piece of evidence yet!  I believe, in a moment of excitement, we might actually have been able to use the word "jackpot" when considering what we'd come across with this magnificent light-rod specimen.  Hoo-Rah!  Am I right?  

Let's take a second look at this picture, shall we?  I found the photo, personally, stunning.  It was shocking to me on a

few levels, the most impressive being that the home itself felt very thick with some sort of energy; "be it" true electrical energy due to poor, or old, wiring, or due to some other paranormal source.  I'll be honest and say that it wasn't exactly an "inviting" environment to investigate.  The people were great, but I perceived the environment to be dismal and oppressive, and I'd been to this home (ironically, having nothing to do with this particular ghost investigation, and having not known this home was haunted when I had previously visited) on a few different occasions.  For me, the word "foreboding" could best describe the outside appearance of this home.  Given that unshakeable "feeling" of how this house presented itself to me, I was less than thrilled to see this "light rod" entering, or exiting, investigator TonyL.  Another, more concrete, reason I was less-than-thrilled was the fact that I had been physically touched (lightly grabbed) by an unseen force during my time inside the home.  The incident was chalked up as "par for the course", and isn't something I'm necessarily afraid of, per se.  But a force strong enough to physically wrap it's "hand" around a person's arm or leg, and squeeze, is a force not to be taken lightly.  The "light rod", under these circumstances, while still fascinating, could also be understood as a type of threat, given its direction appears to be either entering, or exiting, the investigator.   I've seen light rods in pictures from other investigators on the internet and a grand majority of them appear orange, and as squiggle marks smearing across the photo, not entering, exiting, or otherwise appearing to be targeting the people in the pictures.

So what did I do with this picture?  Well, at first, I admired it for all it's paranormal awe and wonder.  That lasted a few days, until I came across an EVP that raised my eyebrows (let's just say it sounded… less than pleasant).  After editing, reviewing, and reviewing the EVP some more, I developed an understanding that the voice(s) I was hearing – no matter how I tried to rationalize it – weren't sounding "friendly".  So I took the picture and I started asking around for advice and expert opinions.  To my chagrin, what I was looking for was quite difficult to find.  I'll follow that up with a statement that "opinions", on the internet, are not at all hard to find.   Lots of people think they're experts, and yet, the only as-close-to-experts I actually had the pleasure of dealing with were the first people to admit to me that they weren't, "experts", at all.  The information these people gave me about their knowledge of cameras, shutter speeds, lighting conditions, EXIF, stability issues, etc… was downright amazing.  The skeptics, on the other hand, presented themselves so brashly and rudely that I could hardly believe what I was experiencing.  Thank goodn
ess I received private e-mails from people who had also been targeted by these same skeptics, letting me know the heavy dose of skepticism I was seeing was not the general consensus of the forum(s) itself.  The problem with the skepticism we were witnessing, and trying to discuss through, was that the skeptics were extremists.  It seemed I couldn't explain myself thoroughly enough for their understanding.   I wasn't looking to prove the photograph authentically paranormal, I was looking for information on how to decipher what was written within the photograph itself.  No matter how I presented that question, I was bombarded with accusations of (1) creating a hoax (2) doctoring the photograph with Adobe Photoshop (3) removing the EXIF information manually so the authenticity could not be proven, and the list continued on from there.  I even had 1 person send the photo to a "friend" who specializes in scrutinizing doctored photographs, who told me he could "prove" I was presenting a hoax because of pixelation issues within the photograph itself.  He went on to explain that the lighting patterns and the pixelation do not occur, naturally, as I had presented in this photograph.  My reply was that I didn't doctor the picture, so that left only 2 options.  The first was that photograph is, indeed, of a paranormal light source.  The 2nd was that his "friend" didn't know what he was talking about.  And I voluntarily opened myself up to accepting one of those 2 choices from this not-so-nice skeptic.

One of the other, most impressive, responses I received was from a paranormal researcher who had experience with different camera types and lighting conditions.   He reviewed all of my EXIF data, thoroughly and with an open mind.  He asked me pertinent questions, such as; time of day, lighting conditions, weather conditions, moisture levels, time of year, etc… He made astute observations of the shutter speeds and stability issues related to the camera itself, which allowed me to come to the conclusion that this was most likely nothing more than an extended light streak from an LED light source.  Incidentally, all investigators on-scene were certain there was no light source present during the investigation, however, we were wrapping it up and heading home when this picture was taken.  It is very possible, and quite probable, that investigator TonyL had turned on his cell phone, which caused the resulting light streak.  

The point of this blog is multi-fold.  First, it's aimed at addressing the concept of having an "open mind".  When investigators are in a particular environment "investigating", it can be very easy to perceive, even the slightest of odd incidents, to be paranormal.  An open mind is something that helps the client as much as the investigative team because in the end, hopefully, both parties are seeking the same end – knowledge through truth.  The 2nd point is aimed at the belief structure of the individual, be they an investigator or not, and how that belief system is presented to someone with opposite or opposing viewpoints.  An exchange of knowledge is how we become enlightened on subjects of shared interest. Reciprocal respect is not something we should take lightly, and will hopefully be that one thing we have in common when we can't agree on anything else.

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Why We "Hunt"

Waverly Hills Sanatorium.  I have to tell ya, I can't wait until we make a trip there; there, and to the Eastern State Penitentiary.  I ran across this Waverly Hills website, not too long ago, where Tom Halstead of the Missouri Paranormal Research group posted quite a few incredibly disturbing spirit photos.  Full bodied apparitions in a few cases, and I'll post those here for you to catch a quick glimpse of.

The topic of "haunted places" these days seems to be more of something people talk about when they're looking for a "rush" or a "scare" than they are of places of wonder and curiosity of the human condition.   There was a time in this country, and all around the world, when people considered a haunted environment to be a friendly one.  Where spirits of past relatives came back to such places as old family homes – homes that stayed in a family for generations – to "check on" still-living relatives.  Rarely were there cases of demon possessions or evil hauntings reported, but, with the rise of modern media came the rise of modern "hauntings".  Perhaps they were always there, the demon possessions and evil spirits, and were poorly reported, or perhaps they're simply more prevalent now because, either, media sources have allowed us to become knowledgable of them, or because there are more "beings" presently in spirit form than there ever were before… who knows what the real reasons could be?

When I look at a place like Waverly Hills, or the Eastern State Penitentiary, or a more local environment such as the

Pinelands facility in Maine, I think of the people who were condemned to live their last days on earth in such deplorable conditions that their spiritual well-being never fully recovered.  People who lived a misunderstood life and who died, often times, forgotten.  I remember investigating the cemetery out at Pineland (in Maine) and feeling such a sense of grief and depression for those unnamed, forgotten souls who's only mark made in this world was the one left behind with their anonymous "number" carved on their gravestones.  They lived anonymously, died alone, and seem to exist in a  perpetual state of solitary state of irresolution.   I think that's the human connection thrill seekers lack when they walk into the space of a haunted environment looking for that perfect picture or that perfect EVP.   The thrill of the hunt supercedes the displacement of energies, which we cause as physical beings, when we put ourselves into the space of a restless soul.  We forget how to be human because we forget, lose touch, or have lost touch, with why it is we do what we do – "ghost hunt".  Is it to make a connection with the spirit world?  Or is it just to prove that spirits exist.  Because one of those options shows respect before personal satisfaction, where the other is just self-centered.

Waverly Hills represents a dying ground of immense proportion.  There's no other way to describe it.  No matter how protective the medical staff was, no matter how desperate the situation became, no matter how badly they wanted to succeed, it just wasn't meant to be at the time.  People who weren't ready to die, died miserable, long, drawn out deaths which probably resulted from a slow suffocation they could feel invading their airway(s) for … who knows how long.  Good people, strong people, kids, adults, teens, rich, poor, innocent and guilty… they all died in the same place and in a similar way.   So many, in such large numbers, that no matter what their contribution to society was, they were still a number among numbers.  Good people who'd lived Godly lives, who put family above self, watched as their livelyhood – their mothers, fathers, sons and daughters – died before their eyes, before they, themselves, passed from this world scared, alone, and probably a little ticked-off at the unfairness of the whole experience.

Yet when we think of Waverly Hills Sanatorium today we're more likely to think of TAPS and the gang "going back to Waverly", or of reality shows like "World's Scariest Places" and the rush we get when we see people walking around the place in the dead of night.   Who do we ever see walking into a spirit's "space", a space they've either chosen to walk for … eternity… or a place they've been condemned to for reasons we cannot explain, and cannot remedy for them?  Who?  As Ghost Hunters we're not looking for inanimate objects with no consciousness, we're looking for
proof of spiritual life, life-after-death, and in order to do this we must accept the possibility that if, and when, we run into something spiritual in nature, it's roots are deep within the consciousness of the human experience.  In other worse, "that's a person without a body".  The spirit isn't a thing, it's energy, it's emotion, it's all of those intangible things that make us human.   Why this is so easy for some of us Ghost Hunters to forget, is beyond me, personally.

And the Eastern State Penitentiary?  Sheesh, I didn't even want to start in on this place, but I'm here now so I might as

well do it up.  The Eastern State Penn was designed in good faith with a solid plan for psychological rehabilitation.  The model was extremely progressive.  Basically, the plan was to build a very large institution with extra thick (2+ feet) concrete walls in a strong effort to recreate the conditions of a super-quiet monastery.  This way, the criminals interred there could spend their rehabilitative time focusing on their future successes as responsible and respectful members of society.  The entire facility, from its building design to its daily breakdown of structured, rigid routines of exercise times and meal times, was focused on that 1 goal of maintaining a meditative silence which would last 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Prisoners were not allowed to communicate with each other, or the guards and any attempt at doing so was cause for strict and immediate disciplinary action.   The consequences would start with removing the prisoner's only source of light, "the window to God" which was located in the concrete ceiling.  This "window" was the only window in the prisoner's rooms, and the only thing keeping them out of complete and total darkness.  If removing this light did not work, then the physical torture began.  The torture was "by the books", not something the guards or warden made up on the spot, so it was methodical by design and follow through, which meant that all prisoners were subject to similar disciplinary standards, but that didn't make it any less tragic or traumatic.  

People, by nature, are social creatures.  To deny social creatures the inability to socialize is to deny them the right to be human.  It is also a means of torture the likes of  "no other" because verbal self expression of personal unhappiness falls on deaf ears.  There's nothing more tragic for people, or a person, than the feeling of "loneliness"; of being alone in a struggle in life or -  as we experience in our paranormal investigations – in death.  A person who truly doesn't care about the human experience of others, or of themselves, isn't just a criminal, they are a sociopath.  The criminals at the Eastern State Penitentiary may have done "bad" things, they may have done evil things in life, but if there was one thing many of them did not lack, it was a "will" to have that all important human connection.  If they didn't care about it, many of them wouldn't still be there today.  Whether they're searching for personal resolution, acceptance, or forgiveness… whether they're just looking to be recognized, or looking for a way to take care of unfinished business, the one thing most of them have in common is that they're looking for that "connection".  They're still looking for that "human connection", that "social connection".   You know a place has to be representative of abhorrent conditions when Charles Dickens, the author of some of the most bleak and depressing novels to hit bookshelves world-wide, tours it and subsequently chastises it as a place so deplorable he never wants to hear its name again.  That's the Eastern State Penitentiary; it's a good place gone bad.  Gone very, very bad.

I guess this posting is really about keeping that in mind.  That we ghost hunt, not primarily for ourselves and not primarily for the evidence or the data or the "look what I found!" factor.  We do it because we long to make that "connection".  We want the rewards that come with the struggle to find that connection, yes;  but what we really want is validation that when we reach out, we're reaching out "to" someone.  That the someone we're reaching out to is more than a concept, they're real, and they're wanting to reach back and communicate with us, in return.  If we didn't do it for those reasons we'd be better off chasing Bigfoot or hunting down UFO's because those "things" have been deemed as "physical", in nature. No, we hunt outwardly because we're constantly hunting "inwardly", and it's a good thing for ghost hunters to keep in mind.  Hunt a spirit as you would appreciate being hunted.

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What, exactly, *is* "paranormal"?

In all honesty, I think this might apply.  I find myself staring at it with a combination of confusion and childlike delight.  Naturally, I had to share.  Comments welcome, of course.

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Storms & the Paranormal

I came across these pictures on the internet and they got me to thinking about storms and their relation to increased paranormal activity.  I have to admit that I had a pretty long, and somewhat informative opinion, on the topic but I lost the post in the middle of uploading pictures, so I kind of lost my drive, but I'll do my best to recreate it as best I can.

This series of pictures was taken in the desert in Iraq.  It's an official sandstorm of magnanimous proportion, the likes of which haven't been seen since the first "The Mummy" movie was released back in the late 1990's.  All I can think of when I look at this is the enormous amount of energy there must be inside of this storm.  All the wind kicking up the sand, and all the sand particles smashing into each other… I'm thinking it might not be a bad guess to think there'd be strong possibility of seeing an occasional lightening bolt in the midst of the whole thing.  I'm also thinking about the static electricity charge, and wondering if, when the storm directly passes over (or through) people's residences, people's hair stand on end from the static charge alone.  It's an amazing thing to witness, and these pictures are incredibly awe inspiring, to some degree.

Now, given the nature of this post it would stand to reason that I'd bring up the topic of "storms" we see here in the

States, and their relation to paranormal activity during our investigations.  The theory is that spirits need energy to manifest themselves in the physical realm, the realm or dimension we live in.  And if storms carry more energy with them, as they do, then it would stand to reason that perhaps this energy source, being overwhelmingly and readily available to them, would be an easy "fix".   That said, there's also another question that hasn't been posed nearly as much as the possibility of spirits borrowing energy from the physical realm.  The question relates to us, as inquisitive and curious creatures.   Could it be that during times of storms, when energy levels are high all around us, it is we who are actually reaching into that "other" dimension?  Is it "them reaching out to us"?  Or is it "us perceiving them"?  Yes, it could be both if only the first case were true, but if you ask any psychic worth their salt they're going to tell you "everyone has this psychic ability, some are more in touch with it than others" and "there are spirits all around, it's just a matter of opening yourself up to their presence".   The truth of the science puts things into perspective, just as the truth of the psychic. 

So here you have a storm of intense magnitude, and I'm sure there's a lot of dust being kicked up in these domiciles long before the sand from the sandstorm ever reaches the actual residences, which also gets me to thinking.   With the electrical charge involved in an average thunderstorm, would it stand to reason that "orb" activity during a storm could actually be the result of "dust" being kicked up from static electricity?  Honestly, you might not even have to be walking around in a room, or have had any movement in a room during a storm to notice orbs floating around in there.  Why?  Is it because the storm allowed the spirits to present themselves?  Or is it because the increased electrical charge, the static charge, within the storm has actually charged the dust particles straight up into the air and they're suspended there for a period of time?   Either is possible, and I'm not taking a stand on which was is "more" true than the other.

My official opinion on orbs is that I have no official opinion.  I've caught pictures of orbs and have observed them while

scratching my head, wondering about the characteristice that could possibly make them "paranormal" in nature.  And then, as of just recently when I was walking in a tunnel known to be haunted by a soldier, I caught a photo of an orb after announcing I wasn't moving from my location until I took some pictures in lieu of this soldier's possible presence.  The orb was incredibly vivid, very bright, and just as "incredibly" well timed.  It's orb photos like that, that can really move a person to wonder the depth and degree paranormal happenings can impact our sense of reality, or "normality".  

Some might say "it is what it is, a speck of … something".  Others might say "you've tapped into another dimension", and there's others who might say "the other dimension has chosen to tap into ours".  Perspective, I guess, "is what it is".  People believe what they want to believe, and it's my opinion that this isn't "wrong".  It may be misguided, at times, but wrong?  Nah, just… a different direction. 

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Maine Ghost Hunters… full steam ahead

 www.maineghosthunters.org

                    Well, things are really starting to shape up around here for Maine Ghost Hunters.  We're finally getting a little eye candy added to the website. Tony put together a neat little logo, and I made a super-duper-nifty Maine Ghost Hunters banner.   The pages are really starting to come together quite seamlessly, and while we're still discovering new and exciting places our pages don't quite match up on internet browsers across the board, I think we're handling the edits pretty darned smoothly.  It's not too many sites that a person can go to and actually, realistically say, "this site works on all major browsers, not just Internet Explorer, but FireFox, Safari, and Opera as well".  It's great to have a coding guru working overtime on our site, or should I say "on our side" (*chuckle*).  There are some fantastic paranormal sites out there that really make for great website presences, and they help set the standard for what a positive web experience should be.   I feel very fortunate to have the ability to say we have a talented guy like TonyL. coding his heart out to make this thing work as wonderfully as it has since it's birth less than 2 weeks ago.

Other than the obvious, the face of the site and the content that's being added daily, (!Go Tony!  As I type this out, TonyL has just completed creating a brand new RSS news feed program especially for yours truly.  Thanks Tony!) our Maine Ghost Hunters experience, as a group, has been nothing short of … amazing.  I had no idea people would take to us as well as they have, or as openly as they have, considering how young our group is.  We went to the Psychic Fair at Fort Knox this past weekend and met some incredibly interesting people.  We networked with quite a few local, and not-so-local, paranormal investigators and came away from the experience feeling emotionally charged, and with a "the sky's the limit" mentality.

 

The Fort Knox Psychic Fair, itself, was fantastic.  We arrived just in time to hear the Bangor Ghost Hunter's Association give a talk on the different aspects of ghost hunting and the tools, tricks of the trade, and skepticism involved in having a fair and balanced perspective to serve the best interests of the clients as well as the field of parapsychology at-large.  We met a few eager beavers from that group and learned about some interesting facets of their organization.  It was great to put into perspective "where we are" as a young group with incredible potential, and "where we could be" in just a few years down the road.

The Fort itself is such an amazing throwback to the past.  I remember being in one of the tunnel areas, a few years back, and smelling a heavy dose of cigarette smoke.  I commented, quite audibly, through the pitch-dark to my family that there's a no-smoking rule in public places, which includes, especially-so, underground tunnels.  There's no ventilation down there and the smokey smell was so obviously thick in the area that it was hard to avoid.  As we continued down the hall it became apparent that there was no one but us in the immediate, or extended, vicinity.  The smell seemed to be specifically in that small area I was standing in and my husband, who was standing a good 10+ feet away from me, claimed he couldn't smell a thing.  It never occurred to me, at the time, that we may have been in the midst of a paranormal situation.    Cigarette smoke is one of those signature smells associated with paranormal, or "haunting", situations.  I had no idea, until 

recently, that Fort Knox was considered to be haunted, but alas, apparently it is.  We learned of the depth of some of the different haunted areas of the Fort from a psychic who was offering readings in one of the officer's quarters.  She said she was involved in an investigation of the Fort with another psychic who was also offering readings that day, and that they met a few interesting spirits along the way.  She told us of one particular man, an officer, who walks a particular hallway and made contact with her.  Of course, we felt compelled to ask where this guy hung out so we could take a gander down there and have a look-see for ourselves, and sure enough, after snapping only a few pictures we each discovered an interestingly intense orb on both of our digital camera view screens.  The orb photos weren't taken at the same time, and the orbs aren't in the same exact areas, but they are stunningly similar when viewed on the digital camera view screen. I haven't seen DavidH's orb in full view yet, but I have taken the time to insert mine in this blog entry to give everyone a chance to form their own conclusions and opinions.

After emerging from the tunnels and the innards of the Fort we headed back up to the main building to catch the next oralpresentation.  This talk was on the subject of Cryptozoology and was given by Maine's very own Cryptozoology expert, Loren Coleman.  For anyone who isn't familiar with Loren, he's been involved with the study of "hidden animals" for over 25 years.  He's written 30 books and has guest authored for stateside, and international magazines,  and consulted for TV shows such as "In Search Of", "Unsolved Mysteries", "Ancient Mysteries", "In Search Of History", "History's Mysteries", "MonsterQuest", to name just a few.  Loren settled here in Maine roughly 15 years ago and owns/operates the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.  The museum is in dire circumstances right now, and is on the verge of being lost forever due to circumstances surrounding a tax audit and the IRS.  Loren has sent out a plea for help, from the East coast to the West coast, and on the internet as well.

On our way to wrapping up our adventures at The Fort Knox Psychic Fair we were approached by a Channel-2 WLBZ 

news journalist for our "take" on the fair and our reasons for making ourselves a part of the whole experience.  We were more than happy to oblige!  The camera seemed to be everywhere we went and when the news piece ran on-air we can be seen in quite a few frames.  TonyL. was given a wonderful opportunity to represent our group in a 1-on-1 impromptu interview with WLBZ Backpack Journalist Scott Sassone.  They must have talked for a good 10 minutes, or so, which gave TonyL. a good chance to convey Maine Ghost Hunters' mission and methods.  DavidH. and I spent that time taking pictures of TonyL. during the interview, which we could later use to plaster all over our website in, as I've said before, a "shameless brag" of our first "on-air TV spot".  !Go Maine Ghost Hunters!  WOO-HOO!   We thank TonyL. for sending the message, loud and clear, that Maine Ghost Hunters concerns itself with the scientific and spiritual aspects of "ghost hunting" to the best benefit of our clients, as well as peer-groups involved with paranormal research. 

Since this interview, we've experienced a pretty steady run of positive results including an invitation to be a guest on a national paranormal radio show which will air at the end of the week.  We've also been presented with a few potential future investigations and have secured, as of this morning, 2 new investigations soon to be announced on the Maine Ghost Hunters website.  We've been inundated with busy-ness and new ideas to make our website a better online experience for visitors and hope to see an increase in site memberships as time rolls on.  We're doing what we can to get the message out that Maine Ghost Hunters means business.  Our focus is tight, our direction is "straight ahead".  We have structure, organization and a plan of action that's taking us places and we couldn't be happier about it.

Come visit us as www.maineghosthunters.org  

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