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My First Seance..

 
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gattinoOffline
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PostPosted: 23-01-2014 15:31    Post subject: My First Seance.. Reply with quote

How were you murdered?
N...O...S...
Girl who was clearly pushing the planchette: "Noose!"
Me: No. That spells nose. He was murdered with a nose."


On Sunday last (19th January) I attended my first paranormal vigil. A ticketed event investigation into a purportedly haunted building. I had never used a ouija nor attended a seance before (did they even still happen? I'd only ever see them in dramas set in Victorian parlours) So why not. A Google search found a veritable industry in night time investigations by different groups, open to paying members of the public, just here in Liverpool alone. Who knew! So with a friend, Neil, I went along to The Bridewell, an old police jailhouse converted into a bar/restaurant, for a 3 hour vigil organised by Night Vision Investigations. The following is a detailed account of what happened.

My own outlook on these subjects as ever needs some clarification so you know my starting point prejudices. I believe from experience in the reality of psi..in the sense that the mind is more than brain, accesses the future and interacts with others, all in useless and uncontrolled ways. And via reading and occasional coincidence laden experiences I'm persuaded, without feeling that I know, that survival is real and not all mediums are frauds. On the other hand the whole world and language of mediums, stage psychics, orbs, spirit guides and vibrations reverts me to my natural born cynical and contrary instincts. I have to stop myself mocking the sincere and often fail. The aforementioned Neil on the other hand is one of those sincere believers in the whole arcane world of Spirit contact. He seemed the natural person to show an interest in joining me.

The Bridewell turned out to be no bigger than an average house. It consists of a bar and main "reception"/drinking area as soon as you walk through the door, followed by a short corridor with 5 or 6 former police cells, each containing a longish table bordered by cushioned benches. There was also an upstairs area which had formerly been the policemen's common room. When we entered the building, a little confused as to whether people gathered were our party or end of night customers, I was surprised to hear my name called. Rob, the barman turned out to be an acquaintance of mine, a friend of a friend. He and his two female colleagues were staying behind to witness the whole thing as they were fascinated having to "live" with the things which were purportedly going on. I have absolutely no doubt of Rob's sincerity in informing me that they frequently witnessed the (heavy iron) cell doors spontaneously closing (including on one of the poor girls when in there alone), lights going on and off, bottles spontaneously smashing, one of them had heard their name called out with no one else there, and the absent owner, someone called Paul had apparently witnessed an apparition of a young girl. Suddenly it seemed like there might actually be a chance of witnessing something extraordinary.

This perception was doubled when we were gathered upstairs by the 3 women who ran the group to explain what was going to happen, the history of the building, and the equipment being used. Because the one giving the introduction informed us this was unique in their experience...normally they scout places out...this was the first time someone (Paul the owner) had come to them, saying "you HAVE to investigate!". After the introduction and while we quickly all rushed to use the loo before we started, Neil claimed to me that while sitting there next to me he found he couldn't breathe, felt he was being "taken over" by the "spirit". And that he'd had a sense of his hair being touched. I can only report I neither saw nor heard any strange reactions from him at the time so can only repeat his words and leave you to judge its value for yourself.

We gathered in front of the bar downstairs. There must have been 25 of us, the great majority women. It was also fairly clear a large number were regulars at this kind of thing. We formed a circle, the lights were turned out and some of the electronic gadgets were placed on the floor in full view as we held hands and June, the woman in charge, started asking for the presence to make itself known. This went on for a good quarter of an hour and was mainly notable for an awful lot of "what was that noise!" exclamations followed by mundane explanations from June. The loudest bang was the ice machine behind the bar. The mysterious light across one wall was a car passing by outside. Someone farted loudly. Infuriatingly the unexplained noises, apparently from the side of the room directly opposite and therefore furthest away from me, were lost on me completely. People kept identifying where "it" came from while I stood there completely perplexed by what "it" they were talking about..each time I'd heard nothing.

Some minor odd things did happen though....a coldness, specifically of the legs was reported widely and experienced by myself. Peculiar in my case that it was always and distinctly my left leg only. This happened or was noticed repeatedly through the night. One woman claimed she felt her hand (being held by her neighour) had been touched. More concretely the proximity sensor on the floor intermittently sprang to life. This is a small electric box with a red centarl light and two green lights, one on each side, which only come on in response to something coming close to the side in question..ie some kind of short distance beam is broken if a solid object comes within x number of inches of the box. Nothing was there but the light was coming on....

Next we went to the cells. There were too many of us to fit in one so we split into random groups. Most of the ghostly reputation apparently centred on the cell the other group were in, which was annoying, but we later swapped round. In each we did the whole joining hands around the table and asking for contact thing of the movies and tv shows. After several days I may get the order and sequence of what happened in each cell mixed up so will break the strict chronology and merely recount them as individual events of the night.

Initially not a lot. The two cells were on the same side and open on to the empty corridor between cells where various equipment was set up including cameras and sensors. The seance in our cell did'nt seem to provoke much reaction, though when - by invitation - I started to take over the calling out "if there's a presence make yourself known" kind of thing, one woman in the corner burst out laughing every time. My voice - which isn't inherently funny - seemed to just crack her up. I assume it was the theatrical sincerity I was adopting in the delivery. Perhaps diplomatically June mentioned she'd heard that when people ca'nt control the giggles it suggests the spirit is a child.. a throw away remark which seemed to inform and shape people's later questions and interpretations, its interesting to note. At one point I unconsciously let out a relatively loud sigh,,, several seconds later the chap opposite me, who appeared to be in charge of some kind of hearing device, announced he'd just heard breathing. I chose not to say anything....

Then things really did start to happen.....
In no particular order: a strange and continuous flickering light outside our cell window, identified by the staff as the fire escape, and on investigation turned out to be a flickering light bulb.
The phone rang once and stopped, after 1am.
People closer to the cell door than I referring to shadows or movements and noises from the empty space directly opposite...none of which I could see or hear.
Then the proximity sensor in the hall went off and went crazy, there was a continuous alarm from one of the gadgets, dowsing rods being held by a volunteer reacted simultaneously to the k2 (?) device coming to life for the first time. (this is an electricians gadgets which responds to the presence of energy eg an electrical current passing over it) both - in the case of the cell I was in - in seeming response to someone asking if it was a policeman (or convict, I can#'t remember which). Calls were coming from the other cell about things kicking off there and there appeared to be a sequence...the impression was that the something was moving between the cells and confined to the corridor the area of the doors themselves. Stuff would happen in cell A then a few seconds later in Cell B, seemingly.

Already I'm aware that last paragraph sounds far more dramatic and Hollywood than it was to actually witness. The small location and large group precluded any sense of being spooked, for me at least. However the 3 staff members were with us and one of the girls was getting stressed and in need of comforting, remarking that she has to be in this place on her own.

Leaving aside the gadgetry the two most strikingly solid indicators something was genuinely going on here were that a) the folk in the cell next door shouted out that the door had opened. I wasn't witness to it obviously so asked for an account afterwards by email and was told when the sensor in the hall was going off they had heard noises "on" the door. Vicky, the NVI lady in charge of that half of the group recounts it was as if it was being shaken, and then one of the women there glanced over and point out the door, which had been closed was opened by about 1 foot. Apparently the dowsing rods also pointed to said door when "asked" where the spirit was. b) a sound I DID hear. Everyone apparently did. Seemingly from the empty corridor and by every opinion vocal in nature I heard a distinct exhalation of breath, like a Hhhhhhhh. Intriguingly from a psychological point of view the people round the table with me were claiming it was all manner of different sounds...a growl..a chuckle..an evil chuckle..did the police have dogs?...even June, nearest the door and the source heard it as a huh-huh-huh rather than the single exhalation I'm reporting to you. Then I have to step back and acknowledge the question "why is my testimony any more valid or accurate than anyone else's?" and of course I have no answer. (Equally intriguing during hte break I asked Rob the barman for his reaction to the sound and he was unimpressed, old building, water through pipes... Whether he heard something different, more clearly, not at all, or would rather not believe it is a matter for speculation.)


*****

After a brief break we returned to do a ouija session in the cell. I was one of those with my finger on the pointer and had no doubt at all that the girl opposite me was directing its movements, whether deliberately or not, as her lower knuckle was bent in with pressure and her arm was moving from the shoulder. The tale told when she had her finger on the dial was both dramatic and comical. It was a child naturally, an 8 year oldRobert Quinn hanged in the cell by a policeman, after being in jail himself for the murder of his 23 year old brother, on account of the latter committing rape (possibly of their mother) Some of the women were sighing with the great sadness and tragedy of this awful tale. I was biting my lip. The noose/nose account began this tale, but she (our alleged planchette pusher) also had a confused sense of history, giving the date of our events as 1..6...2... Confused by how the ghost could possibly have been incarcerated hundreds of years before the place existed a solution presented itself to the others to stop it needing to complete the date..1862! they called out. Phew. When the participants were swapped around the planchette interestingly still moved but spelled out nothing but gibberish, letters which bore no connection to each other.


And here endeth the tale. Was there a ghost? I honestly don't know. I didn't see one, nor sense one, and only once could participate in claiming to hear one. The cold I can explain away, the dowsing rods dismiss and flickering lights and single telephone rings are all unexceptional events in any home...but the sensors, the energy readings, the moving door, the testimony of the staff?

Something was going on.
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jimv1Offline
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PostPosted: 25-01-2014 01:38    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was reading this over lunch today. Thanks for this.

An intriguing report and nicely balanced towards the sceptic but also fair-minded to other events that happened. Proper Fortean reporting I'd say.
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gattinoOffline
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PostPosted: 25-01-2014 08:36    Post subject: Reply with quote

On reflection it hasn't escaped my notice that whatever was happening - and whether or not its origins were paranormal - the common theme was electrical.

A sceptic would claim something was up with the wiring or some kind of localised electro-magnetic (whatever that means) pulse; a believer that the spirits use or have control over electricity. The former would employ this to vague notions they've read of such things affecting the brain and causing hallucinations to explain away the sound and the reported earlier apparition, the latter would need no such explanation. So I'm not using it as a solution in anyway but just noting the pattern....the only external events (as opposed to personal impressions others can't share) were 2 or 3 electronic gadgets responding to the presence of something, a flickering light, a ringing phone, and even its notable the doors which are prone to closing/opening spontaneously are iron (or at least metal).

Alone at night any of these things would inevitably be a lot scarier and "obviously" an invisible intelligence. In a large group they seemed to me to be, well, electrical things going off for whatever reason. So I'd be curious to know two things..

One: does anything other than a solid object set off a proximity sensor? (And if the answer to that is no, then its a conundrum in itself, because is a "ghost" a solid object?)
Two: Are tests ever carried out in distinctly UNhaunted locations to see if these things go off spontaneously at night regardless, or are they just assumed not to?
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IamSundogOffline
The FTMB member previously known as Sundog
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PostPosted: 27-01-2014 19:53    Post subject: Reply with quote

Intriguing - thanks for sharing this. And as Jimv says, properly skeptical but open minded. Your two questions about the sensors are right on the mark. It would be great if such controls and baseline data could be established. Maybe paranormal research could then graduate from a collection of subjective impressions and belief systems and proceed on the basis of solid empirical data. Maybe careful collection of high caliber data, carefully documented, might someday elevate such research into the realm of scientific respectability. And who knows....maybe someday.....

...mmm...Naaah!
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linesmachineOffline
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PostPosted: 28-01-2014 13:35    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good post gattino.

Couple of strange questions for you. Did you enjoy the event? Was it worth the money? Did you ever get the feeling that it was fixed or led in any way?

My mate and I are about to start experimenting with certain divination methods. Ouija boards will be our first project, there's a short piece on our website here http://www.paranormalcamping.com/2/post/2013/12/forthcoming-review-ouija-boards.html

Thus I was interested in particular to read the bit about the person obviously pushing the planchette. From my experience this is very common. As you yourself say, it is impossible to know how conscious they are of what they are doing. In a public event one wouldn't want to challenge another participant; people have paid to be there and wouldnt welcome someone spreading negativity or hostility!

I will report back after our Ouija event!
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gattinoOffline
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PostPosted: 28-01-2014 14:24    Post subject: Reply with quote

Did I enjoy it? Yes I did..it was a novel experience. I have no plans to repeat it,but rather just wanted to cross it off the list so speak "I did that once". Worth the money? It was £20 per ticket, which was reasonable I think.. I actually chose to attend that one as it wa the soonest and cheapest such event I found. Perhaps because it was only 3 hours long, as opposed to the over night events which seem to typically cost over £40 from a cursory glance.

The other reason I chose it is that it did indeed sound sincere. A more spectacular sounding event at an abandoned hospital mentioned transfiguration etc in the online blurb and was very unclear who was behind it so I half suspected it might be a partly "scare the punters" with actors experience. This one I believed to be sincere.

In the event that was confirmed, in my perception, by the girls running it and their quickness to provide rational explanations for sounds and lights people were all too ready to believe were odd. A final deciding factor was a google search found another individual had written an account of going on one of their nights..I'll find the link in a moment...and his account of the lights respondin yes and no to questions sounded highly improbable to me, and too good to be true, so I did half wonder if there was going to be some remote control shennanigans going on. But in the event there was no hint of that, as it was nowhere near as consistent or directly responsive in our case as the other chap's description gave the impression in his case.


I did, by the way, write to the team next day to make my observations about the other attendee pushing the planchette, by way of telling them not to take the tale of Robert Quinn too seriously. June replied as follows:

" I was aware that the lady next to me could have been affecting the board but as you said its difficult to say, also it was nearing the end of the event a bit awkward to accuse and a negative to finish on. That's why I like to rotate participants it give a more even result as an experiment, pity we ran out of time. I have had personal experience of the board and I found it to be genuine, but as always people can mess around and we are used to that, usually it's obvious so they are only cheating themselves."

For the sake of completion I'll also quote verbatim the reply from Vicky to my query about the moving door:
"I was in the cell when it happened. The door to our cell had been closed and during the proximity meter going off we heard noises on the door, it sounded like someone was shaking it. When one of the girls looked to her side she noticed that it had opened by about a foot. Also the dowsing rods kept pointing towards the door when we asked if it could point to where the spirit was. "

Finally, here as I say is a previous account from an attendee at one of their events which I found on a student blog:
http://www.bigstudentdeal.co.uk/night-vision-investigations-calderstones-mansion-ghost-hunt/
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linesmachineOffline
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PostPosted: 28-01-2014 15:17    Post subject: Reply with quote

gattino: Thanks for taking the time to respond. For years I was tempted to sign up to such an event. In the end my mate and I started Paranormal Camping instead and did it ourselves. We both have a similar scepticism which I think is favourable to a genuine analysis of what happens.
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