Zero. Nill. Nothing. Nada. Bupkis. This is how much we really know about the paranormal. This can be confusing, because when you look at all the books, television shows, podcasts, and movies you'd think we've learned all there is to know, but the opposite is true. All that has been written, spoken of and shown is not fact, it's opinion. All of it.
I could easily create a persona whom presents himself as an expert in the field with all the answers to your paranormal questions, and I would get away with it. Probably make a lot of money as that person, but creating such a persona would cripple the field I've dedicated a good part of my life to. Unfortunately there are too many who will fully embrace this attention-grabbing persona and let it forever define who they are and the life they live.
I will forever admit to you, no matter how much I learn; I know absolutely nothing about what I've experienced. Like many of you, I've seen things, heard things and even felt things, but the researcher in me demands I ask, "But did I really?" I can give you my opinions of what it might have been based on past experiences, research, and discussions with others, but I will never give a definite answer. Questions about the paranormal must be answered with other questions. Unexplainable events must be discussed and debated without conclusion or verdict.
There are three questions I like to ask whenever I experience something out of the ordinary: Did it really happen? Did I want it to happen? Or, did someone make it happen?
It's too easy, and in my opinion sloppy, lazy and destructive to rush to a "the ghost did it" conclusion whenever a voice is heard, shadow is seen, a light flickers, or a random word is spit out of a battery-powered box. As researchers we must never accept an assumption or guess. Never follow a single idea, theory, process or train of thought. There are countless paths we must explore as we make our way up this mountain we climb. Some paths intersect. Others dead end. And following the wrong "experienced" guide might send us over a cliff's edge and onto the sharp rocks..
The challenge presented is: How can we detect who is real and who is putting on a face? It's a question we shouldn't have to ask, but sadly must, and like the paranormal it's one with out an answer. We have to trust our guts and not be distracted by the performance. We all have a built-in bullshit meter, let switch them on to the highest level. Bury the needle into the red. Turn that F’er up to eleven and never forget that the real number we face is zero.
Let’s take a look back: I had my first face-to-face with a shadow figure 43 years ago. I noticed I could sense “strangeness” around me over 30 years ago. In the years between then and now I’ve been pushed, slapped, scratched, burned, chilled, tripped, made ill, and have witnessed, seen and heard almost everything imaginable by unseen forces.
And I keep coming back for more because “ALMOST everything.” But those few things I’ve yet to experience are the things, when I mention them to other people, make me the weird one. Now, those of you thinking naughty stuff, get your minds out of the ectoplasm-filled gutter. Here’s my meaning:
I’m no longer afraid of anything that can happen during an investigation because it has already happened and I know how to deal with each encounter. I don’t over-react, scream “Oh my God, Dude!” or retreat from whatever it is being paranormal.* But I miss that fear. I miss the fight-or-flight adrenaline rush rippling through my body.
Yeah-Yeah, when I see a shadow figure I’m rendered still by fascination, when I hear a voice from nowhere I’m overcome with excitement, and when a bolt of energy rushes through my body after some unseen force passes through me I almost laugh out loud with joy. But I want more!
You may have heard I’m currently creating a horror film, and during production I have been watching a lot of horror. The movies have reminded me of how pure and primal the emotion of fear is. It’s a hardwired emotion like love or joy, and equally as powerful.
In my search for answers to paranormal questions I also crave the fear. I want to be scared. I want to have an encounter that makes me question everything about life and death.
What do I mean? Well, think about horror movies about haunted houses. You know the scene where the person walks into the bathroom, opens the mirrored door on the medicine cabinet, and then closes it to see someone standing right behind them. I WANT THAT. I want to be lifted off the ground. I want to have a chair hurled at me from across the hall. I want to be pulled into a room and have the door slam behind me. And I’m the weird one.
I get these wants aren’t normal, but look at what we do. I’ve given my need for these extreme experience a lot of thought over the years, because IT IS strange to want these things to happen, but I believe it is because of the love and joy I get from the paranormal. I need a fear just as strong that will prove to ME that it’s not all in my head — that my love and want is not just making it happen.
I believe we all do this. We all make things happen. Our brains want us to be happy and they will give us that joy if we are in the right place, both emotionally and physically.
Maybe I’m not the weird one. Or at least not the lone weird one. But I think we all need to want more, work harder for more and do what’s right in the field for more. We need to question our own practices and experiences. We need to reevaluate methods and experimentation. We need to ditch old theories and debunked tired practices and thoughts.
And with that said… I think that there makes me a bit more normal.
* A thing I don’t get, but see a lot: “Investigators” shouting, retreating or going nuts after hearing or seeing something strange. YOU’RE ASKING THEM TO DO SOMETHING! They did it, and now you’re freaking out and racing out the door. If I were a ghost I would be like, what the F man? If you don’t want what you say I’ll just leave you be and keep quiet. No one wants to hang around a spaz. Don’t be a spaz.
A decade ago I took part in a paranormal experiment, the likes that had never been seen before, spending over 90 days at a single location where we would investigate claims of haunted activity. We did this for two seasons of GHOST MINE That’s nearly 200 days investigating, exploring, discovering, uncovering, and becoming a part of an active location.
If you’ve lived in a house with activity you know there is a special connection you gain with the spirits over time. It’s a connection like no other. An understanding. A respect. It’s a relationship; but just as it is with love, rarely is there ever “Haunt at First Sight.” I argue a connection to a place or the spirits within can not be obtained in just a night or two (the typical length of time for a paranormal investigation). You need to put in the time and energy, just like in a romantic relationship, where you open yourself up to new experiences and work to earn the trust of the one(s) you are trying to reach.
Ever since GHOST MINE’s end I have been hoping to see more teams braving the Extended Stay Investigation Experiment, but that’s not so easy to do when there are bills that need to be paid and responsibilities that need adulting. It’s even tough for a television show to pull it off, but finally someone has taken on the challenge with the new global hit Netflix original series, 28 DAYS HAUNTED. Three teams, each investigating one of three haunted location for 28 days straight. The title of course comes from the theory from the Warrens, but most investigators can’t fathom the impact on a person’s emotional and physical being during that amount of time alongside powerful and sometimes negative energies.
I commend the team members for their commitment to the task and their professionalism during the investigations. We, the audience are shown just a sliver of what they endured, and I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I wish we could have seen more of the daily interactions and activity, which I’m sure happened on a regular basis. But having done this type of show myself, I understand that only so much can be shown in six episodes. During discussions at conventions I describe GHOST MINE as a highlight reel. There were countless EVPs, shadows on camera, anomalies on film and unexplainable lights and sounds the audience never got to see. I’m sure the same can be said about the activity witnessed by the teams on 28 DAYS HAUNTED. The good news is the show was a global hit, which usually means another season. If so, I hope Netflix gives us more! Twelve or maybe eighteen episodes. Give us enough time to watch the relationships between investigator and spirits grow, and be there when trust becomes an unbreakable connection, which leads to amazing communication and maybe even a face-to-face for us all to see.
My biggest take away from my extended stay at a single location was the bond I created with spirits in the mine and at locations all over town. They are connections I still feel in my heart, and relationships I hope to reconnect with one day in the future. I’m sure the teams who took part in the 28 DAYS HAUNTED experiment made similar connections and they get the opportunity to do more in the coming years,
You can watch all six episodes of 28 DAYS HAUNTED on NETFLIX. The show is produced by MAK Pictures and features Jereme Leonard, Shane Pittman, Amy Parks, Brandy Miller, Sean Austin, Nick Simons, Aaron Thompson, Ray Causey; and is hosted by Aaron Sagers.
What if it's all real?
What if when we die we come back as ghosts? Now I'm not saying, what if ghosts are real. We've all experienced unexplainable activity linked to the spirits of those who have past. What I'm asking is, have you ever put away the equipment, silenced the concepts put in place by religion (Heaven, Hell, reincarnation, purgatory), ignored those past paranormal experiences and just focused on the biggest question in our field — the question driving everything we do? That question being: What does it truly mean if our energy continues to exist after death?
Don't answer. Think. Let the question sit for a while. It's a massive concept, which is quite possibly too complex for our brains to comprehend. An idea so incredibly monumental, spitting out a cliche answer to the question would only stall our progress towards the actual answer.
To me, if it's true we continue on after this life on Earth... Holy s#*t! That would mean this life is simply the beginning of an eternity-long adventure. Us living and breathing right now would only be a phase in our existence. The first lap after the starting gun.
Our conception (please don't make me have to explain where babies come from) could be the Big Bang! Which would mean we are each a universe. We, each of us, is a living universe, and within each of us exist millions of galaxies, and in those galaxies billions of life forms going about their daily life. Is it that far fetched? Your body is the home to countless microscopic organisms, and possibly an un-fathomable number of living things smaller we can't detect. To those beings, we are their universe. We are the endless void of space in which they dwell. When those living creatures die, their energy is absorbed by us — their universe. They continue on as long as we live.
Scale that concept up to our level: Human-size. What if we are those undetectable life forms in a much larger, living universe? When we die our energy would join that of the universe, and quite possibly have the strength to remain. Like I said, Holy S#*t!
If we do continue on after our brief stay of Life as we know it on this tiny planet, in a universe we assume has no borders, the definition of Death would need to be revised. It is not the end. It is just the beginning. It's a lofty idea, but I hope it's true. I experienced too many encounters with forces I can't understand to believe it all ends after our last breath.
We are so much more than we know, so there has to be more in this universe we don't know.
It's an outrageous idea, but What if?
What if we are casting off ghosts of ourselves in our emotional wake?
In our lives there are times when an intensely emotional event is so powerful it stays with us our entire life. These could be moments of pure joy, intense sadness, or complete rage. They could be some good we've experienced or horrible we were a part of. They are moments, when recalled, come back to us in full clarity, down to echoes of sound in our ears and the sensations on our skin. These moments might be referred to as, "Ghosts from our past," or "Demons of the past." These emotionally fueled moments are more than memories or reoccurring nightmares, they are a part of us in every way.
So the question I ask is: What if that part of you (that highly charged energy) actually separated from your physical body and remained in the place the emotion was born? That cast off energy could then in theory become a "ghost." If proven true, it would be safe to say that in our lifetime we've created and continue to create many ghosts of our self — ghosts (energy of the living), which now exist in locations of our past. Could we be detecting these "Cast Offs" while investigating? Do our multi-ghosts remain after we pass, or does the energy fade away and die with the body? The questions are endless, but if this "What if" is true, the answers could steer our investigations in a completely new direction.
What do you think? Have you left ghosts of yourself in the places you've been? Are those ghosts haunting others right now? Could it be possible to investigate and detect these ghosts from your past or even expel the demons haunting us?
Patrick H.T. Doyle
Being out in the middle of nowhere for an extended amount of time gives me time to think. My mind wanders, jumping from thoughts about current theories in the paranormal to new ideas in the hopes of discovering the truth about what we're encountering. These are some of those ideas.