We'll See You On The Other Side…

Archive for February, 2013

Seeing Dead People

It is a natural cycle. When a pendulum swings too far in a particular direction, its inclination is to swing back the other way, arcing from one extreme to the other. It’s time in the center of its arc is minimal. But it is that center that the pendulum slowly seeks, venturing less into the extreme with each swing. It seeks balance.

The “emotional” side of investigating is the one aspect I talk about the least. There are many times in the field when your feeling or your gut instinct is all you have to go on. If you are lucky, you record evidence to back up the dizziness, the feeling of being watched, or the weird melancholy that isn’t your own but, if no corroborating evidence is captured, then it is ~just~ a personal experience, something that you are trained to minimize. In an attempt to battle the skeptics, general protocol for “evidence” is, understandably, stringent. But is it too stringent? Are we ignoring our instincts in favor of meters and the various array of hand-held tools which we have adapted to our purpose?

Since we started investigating, I have found that my instincts, empathy, physical reactions to possible paranormal phenomena have increased. Fellow investigator Jamie has been my touchstone for this because she has dealt with psychic sensitivity all her life. (I’ll let her tell you her story in her own time.) For me, my sensitivity was always in the form of empathy. I could tell when someone was having a bad day just by seeing a text message that said nothing more than, “Hey.” Often times I would pre-empt someone’s thoughts by speaking them first. Though my experiences were often uncanny, I explained it all away by simply saying “Great minds think alike,” or something along those lines. And maybe my propensity for detailed and accurate first impressions was just a heightened ability for reading the hundreds of minute facial movements that form the most subtle of expressions or a fast take on body language. Perhaps I was just attuned to the details.

Lately, I have been questioning whether these are explanations or excuses. In the past few years I have randomly connected with strangers’ loved-ones begging me to give their daughters or granddaughters messages. (Yeah. It’s seems mother/daughter connections are my “forte”) Often times these instances begin with uncontrollable tears. I hate crying in public. People look at you like you are crazy. On investigations, I “hear” evp’s. Now, I’m not sure if they are evp’s once I have heard them, but I call them that because I am also not sure if I am ~actually~ hearing them or if it is all in my head. Thankfully, in these situations, more often than not, what I hear is captured on audio. It always makes me feel better when that happens. At one time I thought having things like this occur more often would help me feel LESS crazy. Logically, I believed that if the experiences increased, they would become more dependable or I would get used to them or SOMETHING. But no….on the contrary! They happen more often and I feel MORE crazy.

In an effort to combat the “more crazy,” Jamie, Brian, and I use some of our time away from official investigation to casually explore reportedly haunted locations. We use day trips not only to take a break from the usual routine, but to test our feelings about locations we are unfamiliar with. For the most part, these locations are bustling tourists destinations. One recent Saturday found us at just such a location when we visited  local Mission San Juan Capistrano in Southern California.

It was an awesome outing! The weather was perfect. Big blue skies were interrupted by the occasional fluffy white cloud and there was a chill in the air. The area around the mission which is filled with boutiques and restaurants was busy but not over-crowded which gave the street a very upbeat energy. We began our exploration in the Los Rios Historic District. Known as the oldest residential street in California, many of these historic dwellings have been turned into retail establishments which means they are accessible to the public. I love places where you can shop and saturate yourself with history at the same time!

From Los Rios, we made our way back to the main street, Camino Capistrano where we decided food would be the next order of business. As I was waiting at the corner for the light to change, I noticed a house down at the far end of the street opposite the mission. I’m not sure what drew my attention, but I felt a pull towards it. Upon looking at the second floor, I saw a man standing in the window. And it felt like he saw me. When I say “saw a man” I mean that I saw him in my mind’s eye. Usually when this happens, the images are fleeting and I attribute them to my great imagination. But I couldn’t do that this time. This time, I was captivated.

Egan House

Here is a shot of the house as we got closer. I actually noticed the man from a block away.

That's the window he was standing in. It offers a view of the entire street all the way down to the mission.

That’s the window he was standing in. It offers a view of the entire street all the way down to the mission.

The man was tall, slender, grey hair, a beard, dark suit, white starched collar, dark tie, and he was standing with his arms behind his back surveying the street. Something in my head said “He’s a judge but he’s not a judge.” Of course, I had no idea what that meant. In fact, I dismissed it because it didn’t make any sense at all. The only other thing I picked up was that he despised the cars on the street. The image was so striking that I gasped. Then I smacked Jamie in the arm and pointed to the house eager to see if she knew anything about the building or if she had picked up on the same thing I had. Jamie said she thought the building was the old courthouse, but she didn’t know much about it. (I always ask her to join me in my crazy because that way I know that one of two things is happening: Either there really is a dead guy telepathically communicating with me from a block away, OR I have finally lost the last of my marbles. Of course, if she is able to validate what I am sensing, there is always the possibility that she is crazy too! But I am alright with that because, as the saying goes, misery loves company.)

Our quest for food took us down the street towards the house with the man in the window and he stared at me the entire time. We finally stopped when our noses detected the smell of yummy coming from the historic adobe right across the street. The rule of thumb for finding  a good restaurant in an unfamiliar place is to follow your nose. If you are lucky enough to say the words “I want to eat that smell,” that is where you go! And we did! El Adobe de Capistrano was once home to Miguel Yorba. It was used as the Justice Court, the jail, hospital, post office, store, and stage depot. Now it is the home of yummy smells and weddings. Talk about repurposing.

Jamie and Brian made me sit through an entire meal before checking out my ghost. Luckily, worthy food and a beautiful building made the wait much less painful. We were seated promptly, the service was excellent, and the food was great. We left their hospitality both fat and happy.

I waisted no time heading over to the building across the street. It was closed. (Figures.) But there was a plaque on the front with information about it.

Judge Egan Plaque

There he was, in all his historical glory: Judge Richard Egan. That was the man who was staring at me and watching the street. It was his house. I couldn’t believe it. They were nice enough to include a picture. Immediate gratification never felt so good! But what about that whole “He’s a judge but not a judge thing?” Well, my jaw dropped when I read:

“Egan was elected as Justice of the Peace in 1870 and while he was not an official judge, legend survives that the local populace named him “juez de plano” or judge of the plains.”

SHUT UP!

Well, that pretty much left me silent. Or…it should’ve. It actually left me repeating useless things like “SHUT UP! No way! I TOLD you! I can’t believe I told you.” Incidentally, that made me sound much more crazy than I felt.

After receiving confirmation about Judge Egan, we decided to head to the mission. Now, I was pretty pleased with my experience with the Judge, but then it happened AGAIN! Towards the end of our tour the three of us wandered off in different directions. I walked into a room and it felt odd. To be honest, I don’t have the right words to describe the feeling. It just felt like there was someone else there, or that something was going to happen that was out of the ordinary. The energy was just…different. Sure enough, not thirty seconds later, an old padre appeared before me as if in mid-step, and hobbled off into the next room, unaware that I was there.

Again, the image was startlingly clear. I wasn’t actually seeing it. Like the judge, this old gentleman appeared in my mind’s eye. After he disappeared, Jamie found me. She told me that section of the mission always made her feel weird. I told her that I had just seen a man appear. When her description of him matched mine, I felt a bit better. “He’s old and bent and doesn’t like the stairs,” she said. But the real relief came when we both entered the next room, the same one the old padre walked into. Just as Jamie realized that was the room where she always picked him up, I saw this:

Father Engelhardt

Yup! That’s the man I saw. It was really unbelievable. I showed the picture to Jamie who always seems to take these things in stride. (It’s actually pretty annoying. I’m freaking out and she offers a shrug and a “Yeah, that looks like him.” WORK WITH ME PEOPLE!)

I am often reluctant to admit that the evidence we capture when we are at our utmost methodical is still not scientific. Though I am always studying and looking for more resources that will help me scientifically understand the phenomena I am experiencing, a captured disembodied voice or manifested apparition does not explain the means by which these things occur. And if you are going to approach these things “scientifically,” you must strive to understand the “how” just as much as the “what.” Perhaps as an investigator I get wrapped up more in my quest to prove it to the skeptic and in doing so, I leave my personal quest, the thing that inspired me to take this journey in the first place, behind. Perhaps that is the spectrum along which ~my~ pendulum swings and the reason why days like that Saturday in San Juan Capistrano are so important.


Investigation: The Warner Grand

In January we ventured to lovely scenic San Pedro, Ca. at the invitation of fellow investigator Gerald Reynolds for an investigation of the historic Warner Grand Theater.

WG auditorium

Designed by architect B. Marcus Priteca (who also designed Hollywood’s Pantages Theatre), this lavish movie palace was dubbed “The Castle of Your Dreams” by Jack Warner, the driving force behind the Warner Brother’s Studios. Some say that Mr. Warner was so proud of this theatre that his ghost is still haunting it’s aisles. We didn’t run into Mr. Warner while we were there but, we did run into a few other possible visitors that were not shy about making their presence known.

The moment I (Heather) walked into the auditorium, I could hear a woman mumbling. It felt like she was in her early twenties, and though she seemed rather desperate to connect with me, I could never understand what she was saying. Throughout the night I continued to hear her and, thankfully I was not the only one. It was not long before Jamie was hearing the same thing I was hearing and there were several other investigators who were able to confirm that they too were picking up on an unintelligible female voice.

This first EVP was the one that ~literally~ got my attention. Jamie and I were walking down the corridor between the dressing rooms and I heard the same female I had been hearing since we arrived. The male you hear in the background is Jerry. He and a couple of other investigators were doing an EVP/Shack-hack session in the small room beneath the stage. I suppose, technically, this is a disembodied voice, though I struggle with the difference between the two because there are many times when I hear voices others don’t. Does that make them EVP’s for other investigators and disembodied voices just for me? AM I SPECIAL LIKE THAT? Don’t answer.

Honestly, the mutter was so soft that, as an EVP, it is entirely unimpressive. But three things make this catch significant. First, I heard the voice at the time. Second, it matched what I had been hearing throughout the night. Third, another investigator in the same room as Jerry also heard it and he was a good twenty feet away. I called out to the guys and asked them  if they had heard a female and they confirmed it. They thought it was one of us because it coincided with us walking by but we hadn’t been talking. How can something so soft be heard by two people so far apart?

After hearing her in that area, we decided to stick around  to see if she cared to talk some more. Once settled, Jamie and I were both overcome by the familiar feeling of dizziness that often accompanies spikes in paranormal activity. The guys told us that they had gotten the name “Katherine” through the spirit box. While we don’t know if that has any connection with our female mumbler, it’s as good a name as any for her, at least until she tells us her name. During our time under the stage, Jamie’s connection to “Katherine” grew. She felt a sense of fear and panic from her. Interestingly, we did receive a few EVPs that seem to coincide with these feelings.

Once again, that is Jerry in the background. Jamie was sitting next to me and I was the one holding the recorder. You can hear her say “We’re here to help you.” And, as Jerry continues to talk, another female comes in and asks “Can you help me?” I find it interesting that the girl speaks right as Jamie finishes speaking. That’s more than coincidental if you ask me.

This next one happens quickly and it occurs along with Jerry.

I find it interesting that she asks,”Can you hear me?” We couldn’t hear her. But we could feel her. I remember saying at one point: “I feel like I’m going to melt out of my chair,” because the energy in the room was so… strong? Heavy? Honestly, I don’t have a good adjective to describe what it feels like when that happens but, I can tell you connecting with spirits practically turns me into a puddle.

Here is another one that speaks of the connection that “Katherine” felt with Jamie.

She must have been paying attention because in that clip, she said Jamie’s name. Now if we could just get her not to talk to us while Jerry is talking!

While “Katherine” stayed with us throughout the theatre, other beings seemed less concerned with us. The one thing that held true was that, no matter where we went, there was someone we couldn’t see interacting with us. For instance, we began our investigation in the projection booth. That’s always the first place I like to go in a theatre because every time I hear of haunted theatres, there is always some story of a former projectionist still performing his duties. And, according to my research, the Warner Grand is no different.

“The ghost is thought to be the spirit of an old projectionist who loved his job so much that he has never really left.”

~Suite 101~

After huffing and puffing our way up to the booth (I really thought my cardio endurance was better than that), our friend, Joe, gave us a quick tour. He pointed out oddities like the butter knives sticking out of the concrete (Sorry, we didn’t get a picture of that), and a discarded theatre seat that began rocking on its own the last time he investigated the place. Just as we got the equipment set up and settled into our places, Brian had to leave us to feed the parking meter. (Isn’t that always the way of things?) That meant that Jamie and I had to contend with some extra equipment. So, in the shuffle, I ended up putting one of our video cameras down on a counter.

Here's a shot of the camera on the counter and the ugly orange chair before we set the MEL up.

Here’s a shot of the camera on the counter and the ugly orange chair before we set the MEL up.

I didn’t feel like anything was going on up there. I bore easily! So soon after the camera was set, my curiosity got the better of me (as it is often want to do) and I wandered through another door which led back to the balcony seats. In the meantime, Joe and Jamie made their way to the other part of the projection room leaving the camera focused on a MEL meter which was placed in an ugly old orange seat. While the camera was left to its own devices, it moved. The movements were tiny, but they struck us as particularly odd because no one was near the camera at the time. There were no loud booms or tremors. No one was in the room to bump the table. And this was the same room where Joe had captured the chair rocking on its own the last time he was there. At the same time, the MEL meter started to signal a change in temperature and, if you listen closely, there is a male whisper in the midst of the small movements. This is not an investigator and it occurs very close to the camera’s microphone. Is it paranormal? I dunno. But it was certainly interesting. To view the video, Check out our YouTube channel!

Along with that video, we captured some odd EVP’s on our audio. You will hear Joe to whom I respond, then a whisper comes in.

It’s creepy when someone you don’t know whispers “We want you,” especially when they are “dead.”

The next one is reeeally strange. I wasn’t even sure it was an EVP when I first marked it. Listen for the “ribbit.” That’s right, I said listen for the “ribbit!” It sounds like a frog croaking. But if you listen closely, it says something. You kind of have to work backwards from the croaking sound in order to hear the rest of the EVP.

I want you frightened? I want to thank you? I want to ribbit? I’m not exactly sure! But I had to include it for weird’s sake.

Nearly everywhere we went we captured some sort of voice. In the generator room we captured words which seemed to come out of the droning breaker boxes:

The basement aka: The Land of Eternal White Noise.

The basement aka: The Land of Eternal White Noise.

(“Bring them in.”)

(“It’s a signal”)

(“That’s bullshit.”)

These captures are faster than normal speech (a phenomena thought to occur do to the higher frequency on which these sound vibrations are sometimes received) which made them hard for me to hear at first. If you blink, swallow, or yawn, you could miss them!

We captured audio in the auditorium:

The first voice you hear is Brian, but then a low and distant male voice comes in and takes forever to say “Thank you for being here.”

Overall, it was a great introductory investigation to the Warner Grand. The building is beautiful and its history is quite interactive. And to the occupant of this, “The Castle of [our] dreams,” who said “Thank you for being here,” we here at EVP would just like to say “Thank you for having us!”

Written by: Heather from East Valley Paranormal of Southern California.