Ghost hunting 101 - are they watching us?
Ghost hunting 101 - are they watching us?
by Roger Marsh
Sacred Dialogue series
Twenty-first century ghost hunting has reached a mainstream popularity we have not seen before - at least not in my lifetime. With most of the network television shows, I seem to be more interested in the site's architecture than in anything ghostly they capture on film - but I think tracking and recording ghosts is more complicated than quick sound bytes.
I am not knocking the shows - the quality is generally very good, the hosts interesting, and they lead us into places with a full dose of history and architecture - which certainly holds my attention. What they cannot capture on film or video, though, are the personal feelings and odd coincidences that may occur during their investigation - something that has intrigued me on my own ghost hunting adventures.
In my 2008 book - Sacred Dialogue - I have one chapter devoted entirely to haunted houses. In one Chicago story, I am sitting home alone late one night and I distinctly hear the sound of someone climbing my hardwood staircase to the second floor - very strong sounds that move in the same manner as someone walking up the stairs. I move to the stairway and, of course, no one is there.
I go back to what I was doing - and there it is again. Now the phamtom stair walker is coming back down the stairs. Again, no one is there. Now I stake myself out at the bottom of the stairs as I want to catch this ghost in the act - even if I cannot see the entity - I want to see the staircase at the same time I hear the footsteps. And then it happened again - right in front of my eyes.
My cat moved up the stairs again - and much to my surprise - made the sound that I was hearing.
So i am constantly taking the time to access everything I experience to make sure it's anomalous and isn't something we mold to make fit what we hope to find. And next we have that evil ''coincidence'' that rears its ugly head once in a while. The trouble, for me, with coincidence - is that if you have enough of them, rapidly, in a row - then I say it isn't coincidence - it's anomalous. But, that's just my opinion.
Are they watching us?
In my very first haunted house investigation, as a freshman journalism student, I did my homework. I attended a lecture given by a Jesuit priest who claimed to have performed an exorcism in a nearby home to rid a teenager of an evil spirit. Within his mountain of investigation evidence leading up to the exorcism, he told us that it appeared as though some kind of ''force'' was operating from the house. This ''force,'' he said, seemed to know who was coming to investigate it - and it would take control of and wreck your automobile. In fact, he said, two automobiles used on two different investigations had trouble at the site, and were completely destroyed within seven days of the investigation.
Coincidence? Well, I thought, we only have two cases and I guess one would assume that both cars being completely destroyed within seven days would be a coincidence. If the numbers were, say, 175, I might hold this as a fact. But two, I'm not there yet. But it did buy into my theory that if we are looking for ''them,'' wouldn't you think some of them are watching us?
Armed with the basic information about the house, its occupants, the hauntings, and a mysterious exorcism, my second homework trek took me to the woman who led the second investigation - after the priest. Her car had crashed during the investigation and was later destroyed within seven days. The story going around campus was that ''something'' had taken control of her car that night and caused the accident - a similar story told by the priest.
It was late on a Saturday night, there was a full moon, and I was determined to arrive at the alleged haunted house at midnight. I guess I did that for effect - arriving at midnight - but it just seemed like the right thing to do in a ghost hunting expedition. But I did not have anything close to clear directions. My quest took me to the campus rathskeller where I knew the woman was out with friends. I approached her in the bar and asked for a few minutes to discuss my trip to this house. She immediatley asked me to step outside to discuss the situation.
Outside Hickey Memorial Dining Hall we stood by a statue of the Virgin Mary - important later in the story where you will see four sniveling teenagers sorting out what to do with an apparently haunted brick.
During this conversation outside, the woman cried and pleaded with us not to go - pointing out all of the hazzards previous investigations had encountered. But once she saw that we were not going to give up, she drew us a fair map to the location.
With that map, we were out of there. The ''we'' in this equation were four guys. Myself. close friend Bob, - both freshman; Dennis, who was a high school senior visiting the school; and a freshman who lived in town whose name I do not recall. Bob's 1968 Plymouth Valient with a three speed on the column was our vehicle of choice - and I was elected driver.
We made it down New York Route 17 away from St. Bonaventure University near Olean to our exit and found the mountain road that would lead us to the house. Two major anomalous events would take place before we ever laid eyes on the house. We would see and experience the ''ghost car'' that Father Alphonse Trabold had talked about in his lecture - and ''something'' would take control of our car and cause an accident on a dark and secluded mountain road that we would never forget.