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.
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.
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.”
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:
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.