Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Charles Dickens and the "Spirit" of Christmas

Let us be moral. Let us contemplate existence. It is customary for me to begin each of my books with a meaningful quote. It was this quote, by Charles Dickens, that I chose to use for Ghosts of Long Island II: More Stories of the Paranormal Not only did it capture the essence of my book, but it was written by a person I hold in high regard, and one who also happened to believe in ghosts.

As a writer, how could I not respect a man who was one of the most popular and successful authors in British history. Born in Portsmouth, England in February of 1812, Charles Dickens wrote over fifteen novels, some of his most memorable being, Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, A Tale of Two Cities, and of course, one of the most famous of all, A Christmas Carol, which he wrote in 1843. Dickens was known for his memorable characters and rich storytelling. In A Christmas Carol we are introduced to Ebenezer Scrooge and three infamous ghosts: the Ghost of Old Marley, the Ghost of Christmas Past, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come. Ghost stories at Christmas? Who would have thought? However A Christmas Carol became one of Dickens most well-known stories, one which has been turned into plays and movies continuously since its debut. This creative work has become part of our holiday traditions today.

What many people don't know, is that Charles Dickens had a fascination with ghosts, thus he chose to use them as subjects in many of his lesser known works, both in his novels and short stories. The Signal-Man, Pickwick Papers, The Haunted Man and The Haunted House are several examples where Dickens used ghosts as subjects. He was absolutely fascinated with them, and he simply loved a well-told ghost tale.

In 1862, The Ghost Club was officially founded in London, and Charles Dickens was one of its earliest members. Its roots go back to Trinity College in 1855, when discussions of ghosts and psychic phenomena were prevalent. Today, The Ghost Club remains to be one of the oldest paranormal organizations in the world associated with psychical research. It's primary focus is on "debating, exploring and investigating" ghosts and hauntings, and its membership spans the world. In the 1870's, following the death of Dickens, The Ghost Club dissolved, but was relaunched in 1882.

Although Charles Dickens was interested in ghosts and visiting some of England's ghostly hot spots, he surprisingly wanted nothing to do with spiritualism which was at the height during the later part of Dickens career. Some believed that Dickens was quite the skeptic and did not truly believe in the paranormal and communicating with the deceased. Most of the evidence I have come across leads me to believe that he did in fact, truly believe in ghosts.

Dickens final novel was The Mystery of Edwin Drood,which was left unfinished because Charles died before he could complete the ending. His poor character Drood had disappeared under mysterious circumstances. No ending to the book could be found. Not long after Charles' death, a medium reported that Mr. Dickens had come to him and dictated the rest of the unfinished novel. Of course it could not be proven, but it created quite a stir, to say the least.

The spirit of Charles Dickens and his wonderful works live on, as does the spirit of Christmas as told to us by Ebenezer Scrooge. So during this holiday season I leave you this quote...

"Ghost of the Future," he exclaimed, "I fear you more than any spectre I have seen. But as I know your purpose is to do me good, and as I hope to live to be another man from what I was, I am prepared to bear you company, and do it with a thankful heart. Will you not speak to me?"- A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens

Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year....

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Spirit Guides

Many people are confused when it comes to understanding spirit guides. What exactly are they and why do we need them? First off I'd like to explain that spirit guides are not angels or deceased family members, nor are they ghosts. According to psychic medium Sylvia Brown, who has written several books on the subject matter, spirit guides are "advanced entities who exist on a very high vibrational level". They work with both God and the person they have been chosen to follow on the earth plane. It is said that a soul often picks their guide before being born. That guide remains with us throughout our earthly life. They are with us during birth, and they are with us when we die. They help us to cross over and make the transition to the other side easier.

Spirit guides differ from angels. The spirit guides give advice and guidance throughout our lifetime, usually by sending messages and information to the subconscious mind. We all have angels as well, but the goal of the angel is to protect and heal, and bring us divine messages from God. Angels are celestial beings where spirit guides are entities who have at some point lived life on the earth plane. It is because of this that they are able to understand and relate to human problems.

Our loved ones who have passed are also with us and guiding us, but they are not the same as spirit guides who are exceptionally wise. Angels, spirit guides, and loved ones are all there for us during our earthly journey. With all this help one would think we'd have an easier time in life! It is important to remember, however, that we were given free will to live our lives. No beings from the other side can make changes for us, they can only guide, suggest and support. It is up to us to believe that they are a part of our lives and that we can call upon them. We need to be open to allow the flow of communication. Just because we may not hear or see a spirit guide, it doesn't mean they are not there. They are always with us, and that should bring us some comfort.

What we may believe to be our own thoughts can actually be our spirit guides communicating with us. For instance, everyone has experienced that nagging voice inside your head saying, "You really should call so-and-so". It's on your mind so much that you finally call and you find out that person really needed you or they were in trouble. Sixth sense? Perhaps, but it could be your spirit guide giving you a gentle nudge to tell you to make the call...somebody needs you.

It is said that we plan our own life's course before we are born. What we do in this life depends on the level we're at spiritually and the lessons we need to learn. The spirit guide works with us on planning this course and helps us to follow through. They watch over us like a trusted friend.

Sometimes spirit guides can appear to us in a dream and give us messages. Children, at a young age, may experience their spirit guides. Children are more open to communication when a guide makes itself know. This can sometimes be a child's "imaginary" friend which isn't really imaginary at all. Also, it doesn't matter what religion you are. Everyone has a spirit guide helping them along life's journey.

For those of you who are interested in learning more about spirit guides, I highly recommend you read Sylvia Browne's book "Contacting Your Spirit Guide". It's a fascinating study on how to go about recognizing and communicating with your spirit guide. She tells not only her own fascinating encounters, but she reveals amazing stories her readers have shared with her.

So if you're having a rough day, take comfort in knowing that you are not alone. Besides God, we have our very own fleet of "helpers" in the forms of angels, our loved ones and our spirit guide.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ghost Hunting Tools of the Trade

It's my busy time of year, and I've been spending the last two weeks of October lecturing on Ghosts of Long Island II: More Stories of the Paranormal. I give lectures year round, but due to the nature of my books, things tend to get a bit busy around Halloween. During my lectures I often get asked what kinds of tools or ghost hunting equipment do paranormal investigator Joe Giaquinto and I use during our investigations.

There are many tools-of-the-trade, but Joe and I choose to use only a few. We mainly rely on our own intuition, but there are a few items which come in handy while we're working. Our two main pieces of equipment are our digital cameras and our digital recorders. Digital cameras are great for getting orb photos, and we've even captured an apparition or two. Digital recorders are used for getting EVP's, Electronic Voice Phenomenon. When Joe first told me about EVP's I thought he was crazy. Spirits can leave a message on a recorder? It seemed hard to believe. I wasn't convinced until I received a Class "A" EVP during my first interview with a couple in Greenlawn, NY. Right there in the middle of our conversation, was the voice of a little girl in spirit who said "hold me" in a loud whisper. I almost fell off my chair when I heard it! Although Joe is clearly the expert when it comes to EVP's, I'm proud to say I've capture several more over the years.

For Ghost II I started using an Electromagnetic Field Indicator, more commonly known as a ghost meter. The meter is designed to pick up energy, or electronic fields, at various frequencies. If you are away from an electrical source in a particular area, and all of a sudden your meter starts beeping and going wild, chances are there is a ghostly disturbance taking place. Spirits use energy to manifest themselves. The EMF detector can help capture this. Once the area of the energy source has been determined, you can then use your camera and photograph with the hope of capturing a ghostly image or orb. Use your digital recorder too, and ask the spirit who he is and if he's willing to say something. Ghost meters simply lead us in the right direction. They are fairly inexpensive and can be found and purchased online.

Joe Giaquinto on occasion will use divining rods, also known as dowsing rods. It works similar to the ghost meter in that it locates energy sources and paranormal activity. The history of the diving rods goes way back. Its use during paranormal investigations is relatively new. These L-shaped metal rods were used for centuries as a way of finding underground water. In fact, it is still used to find water today. Other uses for the rods have included locating treasures or minerals. They have even been used for determining the sex of an unborn child. When used by a paranormal investigator, the short end of the rods are held loosely, while the longer ends point out, away from the body. As one walks around, the rods will point in a particular direction. The investigator will follow until the rods cross, which means the source of the energy has been found. To confirm it is actually a ghost being tracked, the paranormal investigator will often use the EMF detector in conjunction with the diving rods. If the EMF detector also shows an energy source, chances are you are dealing with paranormal activity.

The Ouija board is a tool I do not recommend for the inexperienced ghost hunter. What appears to be simple play, can often have a very negative impact. A Ouija board is a powerful tool that can create a vortex for all kinds of spirits to enter. Many of these spirits can be strong or menacing entities. The Ouija board is not something I feel comfortable using for these reasons. There are so many better ways to communicate with spirits which bring about positive results.

In short, Joe and I travel light when it comes to equipment. Many of the paranormal groups you see on television use a vast array of tools and technology. These may include such items as night vision equipment, thermometers and infrared thermal scanners. More equipment doesn't always mean more results however, and Joe and I stick to the fact that your own intuition is often your best tool.

In closing, anytime one is searching for ghosts it is important to remain upbeat and positive. Most of all show the spirits respect. After all, they are people just like us who have simply moved on to the next realm. We have found the more respect you have, the more the spirits will work with you, and the more you will discover. So happy ghost hunting, and have a wonderful Halloween!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Are There Really Such Things as Tree Spirits?

My research for Ghosts of Long Island, has taken me on several fascinating adventures. Many I time I've traipsed through haunted woods with paranormal investigator Joe Giaquinto. The woods at Sweet Hollow and Satan's Trails are two that come to mind. What makes the woods haunted? Is it the events which took place there? Is it the spirits who are left behind? Or is it possible that trees themselves can be haunted?

I have learned from Joe that sometimes spirits can morph an image onto an object, especially a natural object such as a tree. He has often captured what appears to be a face on the trunk of a tree. Now, I know what you're thinking. When Joe first told me I thought the same thing. Isn't it the same as finding an image in the clouds; our way of creating a picture which is recognizable to us? I remember standing in the woods of Sweet Hollow when he first told me about tree spirits. With my arms folded I gave him a look as if to say, I'm not buying this one. He insisted it was true. Spirits can form images on trees as another means of communicating with us.

I put that theory on the back burner for a while. It wasn't until this past July when I ran into friend and fellow "ghost" author Monica Randall. For those of you who don't know her, she is a very talented writer and photographer who has investigated Long Island's Gold Coast mansions as well as the mansions in the Hudson Valley in upstate New York. She began telling me about a cabin she had been to over the summer and about a haunted tree that was located on the property. I laughed to myself thinking, here we go again.

I still didn't give much credence to the idea until two weeks ago, when a terrible, fifteen minute storm swept through. In its fury, my beloved forty-foot Maple tree came crashing down. I was devastated at the loss of my tree. Thankfully, the way it fell did not cause any damage, nor was anyone hurt. It took eight men and three hours to remove it the next morning. It broke my heart to watch the men cutting up my tree and hauling it away. I have to admit, I am a tree person. I love trees and I love all the animals that inhabit them. For me, it really was a loss.

Before the men came to clear it out, I took photos. It wasn't until later when I looked at them that I discovered several orbs in the damaged limbs, and perhaps the image of a miniature person in the trunk of the tree! I thought I must be going crazy! Could there be any truth to what Joe and Monica told me?

I then decided to poke around in some books I have, and I did an Internet search as well. It turns out there are all kinds of information out there on "tree spirits". It is believed that spirits and ghosts use trees as a dwelling place when visiting the earth. This theory goes way back to the Old Testament where there are references to "sacred groves". The early Celts, Romans and Egyptians all believed in tree spirits. The Egyptians believed that it was deities who occupied their trees. In India, shrines have actually been built under trees to gain the favor of a revered spirit. Many have believed that if you cut down a tree with a spirit dwelling in it, you will lose your life. The Celts believe that all trees have spirits. Some of the more common "spirit" trees would be ash, apple, cedar, oak, cherry and pine to name a few. Each of these trees are said to host a particular type of spirit. Are these just superstitions? Perhaps, but I continued my search for answers.

There is said to be a famous haunted tree in Gilberton, Alabama in the United States. A woman named Linnie Jenkins claimed to hear strange noises and crying coming from her pecan tree which was located on her front lawn. It attracted media attention, and by 1981 thousands of people from all over the country came to see the mystical tree. It was discovered that the house had been built on the site of an old Indian graveyard, and many believed the cries heard were from those Indians who had died.

Have you ever heard of Huna? Huna is a philosophy of ancient Hawaiian magical shamanism and healing. In Huna, it is believed that everything is "alive, responsive and aware" therefore everything has a spirit. Huna teaches that spirits are connected even if they are of different life forms. For instance, human spirits connect more closely with other human spirits. But, human spirits connect with animal spirits as well, especially dogs and horses. Huna states that human spirits also have a very spiritual link to the tree. This may be the reason why so many people are distraught, myself included, when a tree is destroyed. For reasons unknown to us, we form a connection to it.

Wisdom can be gained from trees, especially old trees. Supposedly, tree spirits act as guardians and protectors. How often has a person taken comfort in leaning against a tree trunk or lying on the ground beneath its branches? This brings to mind the children's story The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. Even the book Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, refers to tree spirits.

Could there really be something to all of this? I have only touched on the subject. There is still so much more to explore. For those interested, I have posted some images of my tree on my Facebook fan page. You can get to it by searching my name, or by going to my website, and clicking on the Facebook icon. While you're there click "Like" and become a fan.

So if you're considering cutting down a healthy tree, maybe you should think twice. One never knows what spirits may be dwelling within.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Spirit Communication

It is a very common question for people to ask me what it's like to investigate ghosts. How do I communicate with the spirits? What happens? Is it scary? I have been asked these questions countless times. It's unfortunate that what we view on TV or in the movies when it comes to spirit communication is really quite exaggerated. I tell people that I don't walk into a room and pots and pans are flying around and blood is dripping from the walls. It simply is not like that. If it was, I would surely stay away. Instead, spirit communication is subtle and for the most part, a very positive and uplifting experience. So many people communicate with those from the other side everyday and don't even know it. Things happen all the time and most people don't think twice about it. They don't open themselves up to the reality of what is happening, and that spirit communication is in fact possible.

Of course the most direct way to communicate or to receive information from lost loved ones is through a medium. It is important to go to someone who is respected in the field and who is legitimate and experienced. However, there are other ways to experience communication on your own, and it really is quite satisfying. There are everyday occurrences that most people don't think twice about. Well, it's about time that you open yourself up and become more aware of what's around you and you might be pleasantly surprised.

Spirits use scents, music, noise, objects and energy as a a means of communicating with us. Here are some examples. You're waiting at a bus stop or a train station when you have the overwhelming scent of your grandmother's sweet jasmine perfume. You look around. There are no flower beds or pots around you. You're surrounded by a handful of men, not women, so it's unlikely that one of the men is wearing your grandmother's sweet perfume. You think it odd that you are smelling this but you shrug it off. How sad it must be for your grandmother who is in spirit. She happens to be alongside you at that moment, and she's trying to make her presence known. However they are able to do so, spirits put forth a recognizable scent so we would know without a doubt that they're around. And what do we do? We disregard it.

The smell of cigarettes, a pipe or a cigar is another "scent" which is often associated with spirit communication. You're driving along a highway alone with your windows rolled up and your air conditioner on when all of a sudden your car stinks of cigarettes. Your dad was a heavy smoker and he died of lung cancer. He decides to take a ride with you in your car. He knows you can't see him, so he'll give you a scent that is recognizable. To him, it seems blatantly obvious. To us, we still somehow believe it is coming from somewhere outside. Well, it's not.

There are all sorts of stories connecting spirit communication with "smells". At one of my lectures a woman came up to me and told me about a strange phenomenon that continually took place in her house. Even when she was not cooking, the house would have the most amazing aroma of garlic and onions and sauce cooking on the stove. Everyone in her family would smell it, and for the life of them they could not figure out where it was coming from. One day a woman showed up at their door stating that she grew up in the house. She had come from a very Italian family and her mother loved to cook and make sauce. Her mother also happened to die a peaceful death in the house. All of a sudden, everything clicked for the present homeowner. She realized that this woman's mother was making her presence known in the house through the smell of sauce cooking.

Music is another powerful means of communication, one in which I have experienced many a time. You're driving along in your car and you're thinking of your mother who died several months before. You're really missing her when all of a sudden her favorite song, or a special song you had between you, comes on. Is it coincidence? Nine times out of ten it is not. It is your mother saying she's there and that she's alright. You're sad, but at peace when you hear the song. It's your mom offering you comfort.

Have you ever experienced music going on at the strangest of times and with no explanation? I have, and I've known without a doubt that it was my father. On more than one occasion I've had an incident with a stereo or an Ipod that could not be explained. Sometimes I will leave my Ipod in a docking station in my kitchen. It's turned off, and then all of a sudden in the middle of the night my husband and I awake to blaring music coming from the floor below. We run down to see what's going on. No one is around, but we take note of the song that is playing. It is never a song that was just previously played. It is usually a song I haven't listened to in ages out of the hundreds or so songs that are stored. The next day my husband and I would listen to the song when we were fully awake. Every single time the words of the song gave us a message, an answer to a question or to a problem, sometimes word for word. It's simply amazing. The spirit, in this case my father, used his energy to manipulate the Ipod. Since I can't call him up on the phone and ask his advice, this is the next best thing to getting an answer. If my husband and I didn't sit and listen to the song that came on carefully, we would never have known this.

Flickering lights is another sign spirits give us, along with misplaced objects or fallen objects. The more people and animals that I have loved who have passed on, the more experiences I seem to have. I'm aware and open to receive their messages and comfort. They are always with us.

Orbs in photographs, as well as EVP's (Electronic Voice Phenomenon), is also positive reassurance that spirits are with us. When one of my sons graduated from preschool there was a wonderful ceremony which had taken place. My mother-in-law, who just started learning about orbs, was completely shocked at what turned up in the photos she took that day. Hundreds of orbs! They all appeared above the children's heads on stage. My mother-in-law questioned me as to why this was. I simply said that there were a lot of grandparents who died who couldn't be there physically, so instead they came in spirit form. Why would they miss such a fun and joyful celebration?

So look for signs from the spirits in your own life. Talk to them. They can hear you and they will be elated that you're trying to communicate with them. Be open and pay attention. The signs and messages will come, and I hope that they'll bring you comfort and peace.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Children, God, Death and the Spirit World

As adults we are often skeptical of things, whether it is a belief in ghosts, life on other planets or even God. Why are humans in general so skeptical? The answer is because most often people do not want to believe in something that they cannot prove, that they cannot see or touch, and that they cannot understand. I'm open to just about everything because I honestly feel that we humans don't have all the answers, however there are times when even I doubt. Sometimes you just have to believe and have faith.

When it comes to children, they have a much different attitude. They see goodness, magic and wonder in just about everything. Because of this openness, they oftentimes experience more spiritual and paranormal phenomenon than adults do, and sadly we brush off their experiences as childhood fantasy. This is not always the case. Children have a huge connection both to God and the world of the spirits. After all, they recently came from there. What's not to believe? It is up to us as adults to listen to them and to try and understand. At all of my lectures I tell the group to really listen to their children and be open to any experience they may be having. If a child tells you someone was in his room one night, or someone became an "imaginary" friend, listen to him. Hear what he has to say. You may discover something wonderful, and you may learn a thing or two along the way.

I bring this all up because of something truly amazing which my children recently experienced. It was a moment which strengthened my own faith and beliefs, and it brought me much comfort. So I decided I would like to share it with you in this blog. But first, I would like to say that death is a difficult concept for children to grasp whether it is the death of a person they love, or a beloved pet. It is heartbreaking to watch a child mourn, let alone when it is one of your own children. No matter how much you try to help them or comfort them, they have to ultimately work it out for themselves. It is a process and a difficult one at that. To try to help my children understand death, I have been extremely open about the subject. We have a strong faith background in the Catholic religion and in God. Because of the work I do, I have also studied death and life after death for years. I know without a doubt that the soul lives on and that spirit communication is possible. So between our religion, my research and my own experiences, I have done my best to convey the concept of death to my children to the best of my abilities. I do not want them to be afraid, and I want them to know that whoever it is that has died is not that far away; that they stay with us and visit us in spirit form.

So this brings me to my story. Two weeks ago, my almost fifteen-year-old cat had to be put down unexpectedly. We were absolutely devastated. It had come out of nowhere. Just two months before I had the cat at the vet for a routine exam, x-rays and blood work. He had a thyroid condition for a year which he was being treated for with medication. It required me to bring him to the vet every three months to make sure his levels were good. He was doing exceptionally well and there was absolutely no changes in his behavior, appetite or weight. He never looked like an old cat. So when he suddenly couldn't walk and refused to eat we were taken totally by surprise. He was very wobbly and had some sort of a seizure. We rushed him to the vet immediately and had more blood work done. Upon giving him an exam, the vet found a tumor that did not exist two months prior. It couldn't be seen and I never felt it. There were other sudden indications that revealed he was going downhill. The vet told us to bring him home and keep him comfortable and to observe him. He would have the bloods back early the next morning.

That night nothing had changed and the cat still refused to eat and he seemed uncomfortable. My husband and I decided, as hard as it was, that it would be best to put him down. We knew in our hearts that something was terribly wrong with him, and we did not want him to suffer. Our thoughts were confirmed the next day when we got the blood work back from the vet. We found out the cat's red blood count was completely different from his last visit. Even the vet was surprised. Whatever tumor he had was an aggressive one and his body was shutting down.

My husband and I were upset enough, but we still had to tell our two sons, ages ten and seven, of our decision. Of course they were extremely upset. My older child told me he had prayed to God for over an hour the night before. He prayed to Jesus to save his cat and make him well. He was disappointed and a bit angry that God did not answer his prayer. Another hard concept which I had to try and explain to him. After our discussion, I felt like he understood, but he was still upset.

About an hour before we were to bring the cat to the vet, my son came to me again and said he changed his prayer. This time he asked Jesus to give him confirmation that our cat would visit once he died and went to Heaven. He asked our cat too, to give him a sign so we would know he was here. I asked my son, what kind of sign did he ask for? He answered that if God was listening to him, and if everything I said was true about the spirits visiting, then our cat would knock over the bunny on the wicker love seat in our sunroom after he died. I looked at my son and wondered just what to say. This was a pretty tall order. 'We do get signs and God does listen,' I began. 'But we can't expect them to come immediately. Over time we will get a sign. I'm sure.'He shook his head in protest. 'If God is listening, he will come back.' My heart was broken at his request and I prayed that after everything was said and done that he would forget about it upon our arrival home. We simply can't expect God and spirits to answer on cue.

So the hour came. My husband and I decided to get rid of everything belonging to the cat before we left, instead of coming home to it afterwards which is much harder. Before I carried the cat out of the sunroom I fixed the cushion and pillows on the wicker love seat and straightened the antique bunny. The bunny is made of sturdy cloth and the body is weighted down so it doesn't move. The soft, spindly legs rested gently on the sofa cushion while the upper body sat firmly up against the back of the couch. The sunroom was in order and I was the last person to leave the room. The windows were closed; the dog was in another room in her crate. No one was left in the house. We went to the vet and did the inevitable. To try to take their minds off of the situation, we took the boys out for ice cream sundaes afterwards to try to numb the pain. We arrived home an hour or so later. By this point I had completely forgotten about my son's request. The boys however, went running into the house and straight into the sunroom. Suddenly I heard screams and crying. 'He was here! He was here!' they shouted. I didn't know what they were talking about. I ran into the sunroom, and to my utter disbelief...the bunny was completely face down over it's spindly legs.

God had listened, and so did the cat. He had come back on his journey to Heaven to say goodbye and to let us know that his spirit will always be with us. It took seeing things from the eyes of a child to know that anything from this world, or from the world beyond, is in fact... possible.

Monday, June 28, 2010


Throughout my ghost investigating years I've covered over sixty haunted locales. One of the first questions people ask me is if I've seen an apparition. For non-ghost investigators I can understand why this particular question comes to mind almost immediately. After all, it's ghostly apparitions which appear in movies, TV and books, so people assume that seeing apparitions is a common occurrence when actually it is really quite rare.

So if you are wondering if I've seen one, the answer is no. At least not yet anyway. It is when I wake up in the middle of the night and walk through the darkness to get myself a glass of water that I worry it will be the first time I happen to see one. In all honesty, I don't know how I would react, and I've been studying ghosts for years. If you've read my books you know that both myself and paranormal investigator Joe Giaquinto have captured apparitions on film. For me, my favorite is the photo I took of the ghost of a little girl at Ketcham Inn in Center Moriches. It is so blatantly clear it is amazing, yet I could not see her with the naked eye.

Joe has always told me that it takes a great deal of energy for an apparition to form; that is why capturing orbs is more common. It takes less energy for a spirit to form an orb apparently, than a full-blown apparition. I have interviewed many people who have claimed to see apparitions however, and will even swear to their existence. Interestingly enough, it tends to happen more to skeptics than to believers.

Apparitions have been around since the beginning of time. It can be described as a way in which a ghost manifests itself by appearing as a partial or full figure. Although an apparition can sometimes appear to be solid, it is more commonly transparent. Early apparitions have been those of religious figures including saints, angels and Jesus Christ. Apparitions have also been found in folklore and in literature. Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" is a great example of a well-known fictitious story which tells how apparitions appeared to poor Ebenezer Scrooge. Just like in the story, sometimes apparitions appear to us to give us information, to warn us or to even help us along our journey. It's just a matter of being able to interpret it correctly.

In my first Ghost book I wrote about Peter Underwood's "Ten Types of Ghosts". From London England, Peter Underwood is one of the most experienced ghost hunters in the world, and he describes many different types of apparitions. Probably the most common type of ghost or apparition is that of historical ghosts. These are usually the ghosts that haunt old houses and historical locations. The apparition is often seen wearing period clothing, and oftentimes they have suffered in some way or died of trauma. They sometimes cannot pass on to the other side, or they simply refuse to move on because they are attached to the place in which they haunt. That would make them "place-centered" or basically stuck in one location. One of the more famous places to see this type of apparition is in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in the old battlefields. More locally, at the Country House Restaurant in Stony Brook, Long Island, the ghost of Annette Williamson has been seen by the restaurant's owner, waiters and customers. Annette died in the house tragically during the American Revolutionary War, and her spirit lives on in the house today.

Another type of apparition is that of the modern ghost. These are ghosts of the recently dead. People are more likely to see the ghost of a recently dead person than any other type of ghost, although most people will not realize it is a ghost until it has disappeared. Very similar is the crisis apparition which are the ghosts of the recently dead that appear for a limited time, usually not more than four days. Often it is the spirit of a loved one coming to say goodbye or to give a final message. Thousands of examples of crisis apparitions were reported during both World Wars.

If you believe that you have seen an apparition I would love for you to share your story. It is perhaps, one of the most unbelievable paranormal occurrences you can experience, and it one you most definitely will never forget.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Ghosts of Inanimate Objects

Ghosts of inanimate objects are quite unusual and are very often misunderstood, with visions of the infamous "Chucky" doll coming to mind. Believe it or not, ghosts of inanimate objects are recognized as a type of ghostly phenomenon like any other type of haunting.

I have learned a lot about this type of paranormal phenomenon from paranormal investigator Joe Giaquinto who spent years studying haunted objects, namely dolls. Dolls are not the only objects that may appear to be haunted however. Haunted objects can range from chairs to clocks to music boxes to basically anything.

One thing that needs to be cleared up is that the object itself is not haunted. In most cases there is a spirit attached to the object who is using the object as a means of communication. In other cases there is residual energy left behind on an object which can make it appear as if it is haunted. For instance, in the case of a doll you may have a little girl who owned a doll she loved with all her heart. She took the doll everywhere, she hugged it, slept with it, cried with it and treated it like a real person. The girl's energy over time can leave "imprints" on the doll. The girl loved the doll for several years and then one day when she was older, she didn't want the doll anymore. Maybe the doll winds up in an antique store or in Good Will. If the doll was exposed to the psychic and emotional imprints of the previous owner, this "energy" could surround the doll and the object could actually pick the energy up. The doll, to the new owner, may then appear as if it can move, change in appearance or shake, when all that it really is, is leftover energy that is dissipating.

In other cases, it may be an actual spirit who is causing the phenomenon to the object as I mentioned earlier. If a spirit has not crossed over, or even if a spirit comes back simply for a visit, they may go back to objects that were once important to them while on the earth plane. That is why another common haunted object is a chair. We all know someone who has their favorite chair; a chair that is always sat in by one person, a chair that was a special gift, a chair that just could not be thrown away. It would make sense then if a relative who is in spirit form who comes to check on us, takes up temporary residence in that familiar old chair, causing it to move or rock. To us though, it would appear to be "haunted". You may also find that when photographed, certain objects may have orbs around them. Again, this could simply be a spirit coming back for a visit.

Of course if you are witness to an object moving on its own, it's cause for alarm for most people no matter how much I try to explain things here. We are just not accustom to viewing such phenomenon. It usually is not something you should be afraid of though, especially if you yourself are familiar with the object and it's something that's always been a part of your home.

In some situations we obtain items that we don't know where it came from or the history behind it, such as when we buy things from antique stores. We don't know if there is energy or imprints attached to these items. Nor do we know if its past owner, possibly now in spirit form, was willing to give the item up. I'm not saying to never buy antiques, I'm just giving you a warning that anything is possible.

I have a story in Ghost I about a house that was very active in unexplained phenomenon and it wasn't a positive experience. Nothing bad had ever happened in the house or on the grounds before it was built and nobody had died in the house. It had been lived in by only one family. All of a sudden over time, all sorts of things began to happen. The house was clearly haunted. The owners were completely baffled as to how this could be. Not knowing what to do, the family called in a group of psychics to check the house out. The psychics came up with nothing. It was then suggested that perhaps they had items in the house that were haunted. The family thought this was ridiculous, but as it turned out the owner's father had been in the US Merchant Marines for over thirty years and had travelled all over the world. During his travels he brought home all sorts of items: daggers, a pistol, a bayonet and a flintlock pistol from India. No one knew the history behind these items, but it was likely that they contained negative energy. The family got rid of the items but unfortunately the incidents in the house did not cease. It is possible that the previous owners of these items did not cross over and stayed with the items and ultimately stayed in the house even after the items were discarded.

This story is of course the extreme, but it is a good example of how objects can be haunted. Just remember, there are things that are sometimes beyond our comprehension, but they exist none-the-less. Ghosts of inanimate objects, although it may be hard to believe, is a type of paranormal phenomenon that is both researched and studied.

If any of my readers have experienced a haunted object, I would love for you to share your story on my blog.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Shadow People

Shadow people are probably the most mysterious of all ghostly phenomenon, and they are also perhaps the most misunderstood. I decided to write about this topic because I am amazed at the amount of people who have experienced them, and have asked me about them. In most cases they have no idea who or what they are seeing.

Many people have not heard of the term "Shadow People" but it has been a part of paranormal lingo for quite some time. There have been reports of people seeing shadow people as far back as the 1800's and within all types of religions. They can also be known as "Shadow Beings", "Shadow Figures" or "Shadow Men" but "Shadow People" is the most common term for the paranormal phenomena I am about to reveal.

When someone reports seeing a shadow person they describe a dark, shadowy, humanoid-type form which they see in their peripheral vision or out of the corner of the eye. It is often fast and fleeting and cannot be looked at straight on. Shadow people lack mass and features and appear to move into walls or furniture. Unlike a ghostly apparition where clothing or facial features can often be seen, shadow people are dark, distorted and two-dimensional and have no features at all. There have been some reported cases where shadow people have tiny red or yellow eyes, but this is uncommon.

I had never heard of shadow people until I met paranormal investigator Joe Giaquinto who described the phenomenon to me. Since then I have spoken to or interviewed many people who have experienced them, and I have written about some of these accounts in both of my Ghost books. The people who have seen them tend to be skeptical because they can't put a finger on what exactly it was they saw. They usually begin by saying "I've seen a dark figure, like a shadow, out of the corner of my eye. It moved quickly and along the wall. When I turned to take a look at it, it disappeared". Right away I tell them they have seen a shadow person.

In a story I did on DEK's American Restaurant in Rocky Point, NY, one of the owners claimed to constantly see shadow people when he was working behind the bar. He would turn quickly in the hopes of getting a better look at it, but every time he did, it was gone. Shadow people can also appear in mirrors, but will quickly flee if looked at.

Scientists and skeptics alike have come up with all sorts of possible explanations, and some claim they are not ghostly at all. Some say it is a type of extraterrestrial being. Others claim they are "inter-dimensional" beings whose "dimension of origin" overlaps with ours on occasion. Of course there are those who simply believe it is a figment of the imagination, a hallucination or drug induced phenomenon, while some religious groups believe they may be demonic.

The people I have spoken to who have experienced shadow people have been regular, functioning people in the community, so I do not believe for a minute that they were hallucinating. Besides, they all have described exactly the same thing to me yet they knew nothing of the term and even doubted themselves. I always say the skeptic is the best witness.

Who are these shadow people then? Are they disembodied souls who are lost or did not move on so they hide in "the shadows" as not to be seen? Whatever the case may be, it is extremely rare that shadow people are harmful or dangerous. The best thing to do if you find yourself in an area where they continue to appear, is to talk to them and tell them it's okay to move on. It's up to them whether they do of course, but it's worth the try.

If any of my readers have experienced this type of phenomenon I would love for you to comment on my blog, with the hope that all of us will get a better understanding of these dark, mysterious, ghostly beings known as shadow people.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Clairvoyance, Clairaudience and Clairsentience

Last month I wrote about mediumship. This month I would like to go over some of the senses a medium or psychic may have. These may include clairvoyance, clairaudience and clairsentience.

I had a wonderful opportunity recently to attend a workshop given by Scottish Medium Bill Coller, who gave a presentation entitled "Learn to Improve Your Connection with the World of Spirit". If you are a medium already, or if you are someone just trying to form better communication with the spirit world, Bill Coller's lecture is one I would definitely recommend. Having over thirty years experience as a medium, Mr. Coller travels all over the world and works with translators in order to help others get messages from the other side. During the presentation I attended, he gave the audience an exercise to do with a partner for fifteen minutes. We were told to give the person we were sitting next to a "reading". There were only a handful of non-mediums in the room, myself included, so I knew this would be a challenge for us. The woman next to me claimed she had no psychic abilities of any kind. We sat there staring at one another wondering where to begin. We tried to concentrate and as we did, we were both getting a "sense" of a spirit coming through on the other side, but we doubted ourselves, wondering instead if we were taking lucky guesses.

Mr. Coller had asked everyone in the room to bring through one family member and find out five details or points. The details included, male or female, relationship to the person you were reading, from what side of the family was this person, what type of personality did the person have, what kind of relationship did the person being read have with this person in spirit, and/or a possible description of the person in spirit to name a few. I had picked up on my partner's grandmother and she had picked up on my father. But how could we be sure? We called Bill over to help us. He said to go with it and to listen to our intuition and senses. We remained still, open and aware. Through Bill's guidance, he helped me to "listen". Within five minutes I knew I had made contact with my partner's grandmother on her father's side, that the woman had a very strong personality, but was softer with her granddaughter, and that they were very close when my partner was young. I also told my partner that her grandmother stays with her and helps her from the other side. I don't know who was more amazed, me or my partner. She has had readings from professional mediums before and it is always her grandmother on her father's side who comes through, she revealed. Everything I told her made sense to her, and everything was confirmed through Bill. When it came time for my partner to read me, my father came through. She described him physically, which was correct; she told me he died fairly young of an illness, she described our relationship and also picked up that we lived very near one another. Everything she told me was accurate as well. She was shocked that she was able to do this.

It convinced me that although many people are born with the gift of mediumship, we all have the "ability" to be a medium, and at the very least, we can all develop some sort of communication with spirits on the other side. In having studied the paranormal for years, I have seen first hand that it is truly possible to communicate with spirits even if you are not "gifted" so to speak.

There are three terms which relate to the ways people can communicate with spirits on the other side. The term most people are familiar with is clairvoyance. Clairvoyance is a type of extrasensory perception or ESP. It is also considered to be part precognition and part telepathy. The word itself comes from the French and means "clear seeing". A person who has the ability to see a person, event or image from the past, present or future is a person who has clairvoyance. Physically the eyes cannot "see" what is before them. Instead, what is visioned comes from the "inner" eye. It is a form of receiving information through visual images or symbols. The clairvoyant learns to interpret these symbols or images which may be given to them by people or animals in spirit form. There are many types of clairvoyance and this form of communication has been studied throughout history. I am only touching on it here. A whole blog can probably be written on clairvoyance alone.

The next term is clairaudience, which is what paranormal investigator and friend Joe Giaquinto experiences. Clairaudience is the ability to receive voices, sound and music psychically. It is not audible through normal hearing. The word in French means "clear hearing". Sometimes the "inner voice" we think we hear may not be us at all. It is possible the voice is that of a spirit telling us what to do or giving us advice. In Joe's case, since he is advanced in this form of communication, he can sometimes carry on a conversation with a spirit clairaudiently. For the average person we may hear something through clairaudience and not even know it. It may be the voices of deceased loved ones or possibly angels or spirit guides.

In clairsentience, a person receives information from the spirits through touch, taste, smell, a gut feeling or through intuition. It is difficult to describe, because in a sense, you just "know" that a spirit is around or is giving you information. I am most familiar with this form because I have experienced it myself during the writing of Ghosts of Long Island II, More Stories of the Paranormal. I just "knew" and "felt" things and information coming from the spirits, but I could not explain how it was possible. The word clairsentience in French means "clear feeling" or "sensing". While writing, researching and investigating I was more open and aware of what was around me which enabled me for the first time to experience this unique phenomenon.

Pay attention to things such as intuition, sense, sight, sound, fleeting images and feelings. You may begin to notice a pattern as to what you may be sensitive to. As I mentioned, we all have the ability to communicate with the spirits. It is up to us to be willing to open our hearts and mind to a whole new realm...the realm of spirit communication.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Mediums and Psychics

I receive a lot of questions at lectures about mediums and psychics: what are the differences, and who is legitimate and trustworthy? In response to these questions, in my book Ghosts of Long Island II, More Stories of the Paranormal, I included a chapter on well-known, Long Island medium and personal friend, Richard Schoeller. In a no-holds-barred interview, Richard explained how he became a medium, the difficulties he encountered, and how he uses his mediumship today to help communicate messages from the other side, or to help others through their grief. It truly is an amazing story and one in which I hope you will read.

People are often confused as to what the difference is between a medium and a psychic. I have had readings from both, and they are two totally different experiences. The medium's sole purpose is to act as a channel of communication between those living on the earth plane and those in spirit form. In other words, they communicate with the dead and provide valuable messages for us. Oftentimes, mediumship begins at an early age. Parents often disregard it. I have to point out however, that many children do see spirits. Children have just come from that world and they are more open and accepting of the spirits than adults usually are. So don't disregard a child's "imaginary friend" or tell your son or daughter to go back to bed when they claim to see someone in their room. This is not to say that children who experience these things will be mediums later in life. Most children outgrow these experiences. It is the ones that continue to see spirits as they age, who probably have the gift.

For adults who become mediums, it is often quite alarming. Although Richard did experience spirits in his room as a child, it wasn't until he was an adult that he actually became a medium. His mediumship was brought on one night and he actually thought he was dying. He saw both sets of his grandparents in his room, all of whom were dead. So for the person who has been given the gift of mediumship, it requires careful training to be able to control it. It is imperative for the medium to be able to function normally in society. The medium who has learned to control this gift, can then share it with others. They offer a valuable service to those who are grieving or those who simply want to communicate with their loved ones on the other side. The medium provides people with messages that are beneficial to them. Many people, especially skeptics and those who don't believe in an after life, are blown away from the experience. Mediumship is a way of proving that life definitely does exist after this one, and that the after life, Heaven or whatever you may choose to call it, is a wonderful and positive place. It also gives us the comfort of knowing that our loved ones who have passed over are still with us and are helping us on our own life's journey. They are there for us. All we have to do is ask for their help and guidance.

A psychic is something different, although there are quite a number of mediums who are also psychic mainly because they are already "sensitive" to things. A psychic who is not a medium, however, does not communicate with the dead. In general, a psychic is someone who obtains information through ESP (extrasensory perception). Psychics usually tell us things about our own lives and can often tell us of future events or happenings. Interestingly enough, everyone has the ability to be psychic, but most of us choose not to tap into it. Some people are born with psychic ability, some people tap into it later in life, while still in other cases it can be brought on when something triggers it. Like mediumship, psychic ability is considered a gift and should be used wisely.

Since human nature tells us to be frightened of the unknown, many people are skeptical when it comes to mediums and psychics. It goes back to my old saying, just because you can't prove something, it doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. On the other side of the coin, you should definitely be cautious when choosing to have a reading from a psychic or medium. It's like anything else in life. Check the person out. Make sure they are reputable and/or come recommended. When you are in need of a doctor, lawyer, accountant or any other professional person, are you going to open up the yellow pages and just pick one? Most times you are not. You will ask your friends and family who they recommend and what their experience was. The same thing holds true when looking for a reputable medium or psychic. Do not open your phone book and call 1-800-psychic, ask around or do a thorough internet search until you find someone you are comfortable with. When you do, you will have a wonderful and rewarding experience.

During any reading, be open to the spirits and they will come. You will be amazed at the information you will receive. It truly is a remarkable gift.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Do Animals Have Souls?

This is a question so many people have asked. I remember when I was in the third or fourth grade and I asked a teacher 'Do animals have souls and go to Heaven?' and her reply to me was 'No, animals do not have souls or go to Heaven. Only people do.' Well, I was completely devastated and cried the whole way home from school. Luckily over time, I found out how very wrong that teacher was. Not only do animals have souls and go to Heaven, but you can also communicate with your beloved pets on the other side. They can, and do stay with us during our earthly journey, and it is said that our pets are the first to greet us on the other side. Can you imagine how wonderful that must be? I have always been a huge animal lover, having had many dogs, cats, birds, hamsters, fish and even a horse for twenty-five years. I'll have a whole bunch of animals to greet me!

It is extremely difficult losing a pet. It is completely heartbreaking and most often only true animal lovers can relate to our loss. If you have some faith and you are open, you will become aware of your pets existence in spirit form, and it will bring you comfort. I have had many signs from pets. Two years ago we had to put down our Golden Retriever who was thirteen-and-a-half. She lived to a wonderful age, but it was still devastating to us to let her go. My children took the loss terribly. It was the first time they experienced the loss of a pet. My youngest son was especially distraught and I didn't know what to do to help him with his grief. Several months went by and we finally got to the point where we could at least mention the dog's name in my son's presence. We also had a new Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy which helped a bit. Well, one day when our new dog was asleep in the kitchen, my son brought a ball upstairs and began rolling it in my bedroom which has hardwood floors. I live in an old house, but our floors are completely level. My son rolled the ball and it stopped about five feet away. He sat still and looked at the ball for a moment. It then began rolling back to him. He came upstairs to my office and told me what had happened. 'I think Jennie was playing with me,' he said, and I told him it was probably true.

Another time I took a photo of our new dog lying under the kitchen table. This was a place our previous dog had stayed as well. When I looked at the photo I saw an orb next to our new dog. I knew it must be Jennie. What's interesting is that I believe other animals can see both humans and other animals in spirit. Animals have more psychic sensitivity than most humans and often "pick up things". A friend of mine had to put a dog down a few years back. When she got another one, the new pet ran immediately to the spot where the previous dog had been buried. My friend assured me the hole had been quite deep. Her new dog often rested in this area over the years.

In my own house, I know my Cavalier has seen my Golden on at least two occasions that I know of. My office is on the third floor of our colonial and there is an eyebrow window located in the room under an alcove . I used to call the area Jennie's lookout tower. When writing my earlier books she would sit there and stare out the window for hours. She did this until she could no longer climb the steps to my office and I always missed her being there. When my Cavalier was finally housebroken I started letting her up into my office. She was too small at the time to see out the window, but she always ran back and forth in front of the alcove. One day when she was running by she stopped dead in her tracks. She turned toward the window and started backing up and growling. Her fur started to stand up as well. She then quickly ran away from the alcove. I knew without a doubt that Jennie must have been there, and it made me happy that she had come to visit her favorite spot.

The second time my Cavalier saw Jennie was in my living room in front of the fireplace, which had been another favorite spot of Jennie's. My husband and I were sitting on the couch when our Cavalier walked into the room. She started barking at the fireplace suddenly and then she began backing up. It was simply amazing to watch, and I had wished that I could see Jennie there too.

The most direct contact I have had with my pets since their passing, has been through my good friend Richard Schoeller, a wonderful medium on Long Island. When I have a reading with him, both my dog and my horse usually come in, as well as some animals from the past. Richard told me things about my pets that there was no way he could possibly know, especially where my horse was concerned. To know my horse was in spirit form right next to me gave me the most incredible comfort. My dog communicated with me and thanked me for letting her go when we did. Through Richard, she said we did the right thing. My husband and I could not watch the vet put her down. We stayed in the other room and visited her afterwards. During my reading Richard said to me, 'You weren't in the room when she was put down, were you?' I answered, 'No, we weren't'. He had no prior knowledge of this detail. He then proceeded to tell me that my father, who is in spirit, was in the room. My father wanted me to know that he was with Jennie while she was being put down, and that afterwards it was he who carried her up to Heaven with him.

So when people argue with you and tell you that animals don't have souls, don't listen. It simply isn't true. They are the most special of God's creatures and they have been given the most beautiful of souls which remain with us always.