Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Can Ghosts Play Practical Jokes?

I would never have believed that ghosts could play practical jokes until it actually happened to me. It was back in 2006, when paranormal investigator Joe Giaquinto and I set out for Eastport one miserable rainy and foggy afternoon We had plans to interview Lloyd Gerard of Lloyd Antiques on Main Street. He was going to tell us the story of his great-great-great-great-uncle Levi, who’d been haunting the place for years. He’d become sort of a legend in Eastport, according to Lloyd.

Andrew Simon Levi came from Russia to Long Island in 1860. He was a teenager determined to avoid serving in the Russian Army — in a sense a draft dodger. He became a traveling salesman, a peddler, selling needles and pins door to door. It is said he walked two months from Brooklyn to Montauk to Greenport to Orient, and then back to New York for supplies. He traveled alone, and never married. Levi died in 1926. For reasons unknown, his spirit has returned to haunt his great-great-great-great-nephew’s store.

“I’ve always been a skeptic,” Lloyd told us. “But what I see, what I hear, and actually what I smell…I have to believe, skeptic or not. Levi used to smoke cigars, and we have smelled cigar smoke. I don’t let anyone smoke in here, but we have smelled cigar smoke. Not only me, but the girl who works here once a week. She said to me one day, ‘Boy, who’s smoking a cigar around here?’ I said, ‘Nobody.’ A few minutes later she said, ‘But I smell cigar smoke.’ I said, ‘Well, it’s Uncle Levi.’ ‘Who’s Uncle Levi?’ she asked. I had to explain to her who Uncle Levi was. He’s here.”

Uncle Levi had always enjoyed playing practical jokes, and Lloyd said he still does. “He tips over tables, knocks things off shelves. He told one of my customers that a table upstairs was $65.00. It was a $400 table, and he tells this guy it was $65.00.”

Joe had asked Lloyd if he did, in fact, sell the table to the man for $65.00 and Lloyd replied, “I thought I better sell it for $65.00, or else. I didn’t want to incur his wrath. He’s been seen. He’s been heard. I hear him. He walks around upstairs. It could go for months with no indication that he’s here, then all of a sudden he’ll knock something off a shelf, something will fall over in front of you when you’re walking down the aisle.”

The apparition of Uncle Levi has appeared to many people, although Lloyd himself has never seen him. “Logical or not, people come to see me and say, ‘Where’s Levi?’ and I say, ‘It beats the hell out of me,’ but usually he’s upstairs. People go up to see him. Little kids come in and say how do we get to see Levi? He does come down here, though, and knocks stuff down. He loves practical jokes. People used to play practical jokes on him when he was alive."

After Joe and I had finished our interview, Lloyd said we were more than welcome to look around the store and take some photographs, adding that maybe Uncle Levi would knock something over for us. Joe and I laughed and headed to the infamous “upstairs,” talking about Uncle Levi and his jokes. It was quiet up there, and Joe walked around with his recorder while I took photos. Back then, on assignments, I had been shooting both manual for black and white, and digital for color. I had just taken some photos with my manual camera, and set it down in the middle of a table behind me. I picked up my digital camera and turned slightly to take a photo, when suddenly my manual camera crashed to the floor. Besides being concerned about its condition, I was completely stunned. I had a bag over one arm and a battery pack over the other. Possibly I might have knocked it over, but it was not as if the camera had been at the edge of the table. I’ve had my manual equipment for twenty years, and have never dropped it, damaged it or even scratched it, ever. I found this “accident” hard to believe.

I remember Joe looked at me and said, “Uncle Levi?” Luckily the camera itself was just fine. But the protective lens filter was broken, and the flash attachment had taken a bit of a beating; the part that attaches to the camera was broken. I was still in disbelief, trying to figure out how this could have happened.

Several days later, I had an e-mail from Joe. He had picked up some EVP’s on his recorder. He wrote, I honed right into the camera episode which I thought would be a good starting point, since I also asked Levi to talk to us afterwards. The best EVP is when your camera crashed and I said something like, “Oh, Levi? Was that you?” Right after, you hear a guy go, “Psssst!” Like someone is saying “Come over here.”

I listened to what Joe sent over, and sure enough, I heard the voice saying “Pssst!” In another EVP maybe five minutes later, the sound of glass breaking could clearly be heard. There was definitely no glass breaking in the store at that time. We would have heard it. Was Levi making fun? Perhaps this time the joke was on us.

You can read the extended version of this story in the chapter entitled "The Ghost of Uncle Levi" in Ghosts of Long Island; Stories of the Paranormal. Stay tuned to blogtalk radio on Thursday, January 5th when Joe and I will be discussing Uncle Levi and his practical jokes on the air. Visit us at www.blogtalkradio.com/kerriannandjoeshow.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Lighthouses, Legends and Lore

When we think of lighthouses, all sorts of images come to mind. Perhaps you picture a man of the sea smoking his pipe while looking over the vast ocean, or perhaps you see treacherous storms, or a life of loneliness and solitude; mystery and intrigue. Oddly enough, a great majority of people envision a ghost, the spirit of a previous lighthouse keeper who could not leave his watch, and who remains at his former post indefinitely. Are lighthouses truly haunted? If so, why? Or is it our imaginations conjuring up romanticized visions of days gone by?

An Internet search reveals hundreds of haunted lighthouses from all over the world. In the United States they stretch from Maine, to Georgia, to Florida, to Oregon and to California, just to name a few. And then of course, there's New York, home to its own haunted lights.

Lighthouses in general are intriguing, so if you add a ghost or two, all the better. Most of us can't imagine the life of the lighthouse keeper. It was an extremely difficult lifestyle. It is because of this, that many believe that some of the keepers may have lost their minds, and that upon their passing, their spirit remains. Their energy trapped within the conical walls of the towering spire.

I've had the privilege of having private tours of several of Long Island's lighthouses because I've written about them throughout the years. Eaton's Neck Lighthouse, Montauk Point, Huntington, Fire Island, and my personal favorite, Execution Rocks Lighthouse. Although I'm not a fan of climbing endless flights of spiral staircases, especially while carrying heavy camera equipment, I definitely have a fondness for these wonderful, historic places. I'm someone who loves to be out on the water as well, so I've jumped at every chance to visit these fascinating pieces of history.

The Huntington Lighthouse, as well as the Eaton's Neck Lighthouse, I have visited and written about in my earlier books on Huntington, where the focus was on preserving history, not ghosts. Do I think they could be haunted? Sure, but I'd have to do a thorough investigation to really find out. The Fire Island Lighthouse and Execution Rocks, were places I wrote about for the "Ghost" books. Both are presumably haunted.

At Fire Island, tales of pirating, illegal rum-running and shipwrecks abound, as do tales of ghostly phenomenon. The lighthouse is a now a beautifully restored museum. The volunteers I spoke to during the time I did my research, didn't believe in ghosts, but they did say that the rumor began after a children's book came out in 1987, which was written about a little boy who lived with his family at the lighthouse during the late 1970's to early 1980's. According to the story, the boy was lonely so the lighthouse became his friend. The boy said he heard the lighthouse talk to him. Not long after, workers at the lighthouse made up the name George, and claimed he was the one who haunted the old building. However, other stories I came across told of a lonely keeper who hung himself from the tower. Some claim to have heard footsteps on the metal steps, and music and moaning coming from the tower. Could this be the spirit of a keeper making his way back to the tower?

When I visited Execution Rocks lighthouse, I had a very different experience. Talk about a spooky place! Paranormal investigator Joe Giaquinto and I, were taken out in a 25-foot Homeland Security Response Boat with the United States Coast Guard, to the abandoned lighthouse which sits in Long Island Sound. We had an entire tour of the boarded up 2 1/2 story, lighthouse keeper's house, and of the sixty-foot tower. It was an incredible adventure. Surrounded by treacherous rocks, I shuddered as I recalled the stories of the hideous acts that may have occurred there. As the legend has been told, during the Battle of Long Island in the Revolutionary War, British soldiers rounded up "American rebels" in order to put them to death. Because they did not want to "fuel revolutionary passions," they quietly took the Americans away for brutal torture and execution.

It has been said that the British secretly took them to this island of rocks and beat them, then drove spikes into the rock reef, and then chained them to the rocks at low tide. As the tide rose, the American prisoners drowned beneath the icy waters. Other tales reveal that many of the prisoners met their fate by hungry sharks that happened upon a free meal. As if this wasn’t enough, the newly captured were chained next to the skeletal remains of their former comrades…a way of torturing them mentally before they met their own watery demise.

There is a line in the Declaration of Independence which reads, “…the murders they commit on the inhabitants of these States…” According to my research, several historians believe that this line refers to accounts of the brutality that took place on Execution Rocks, and that the line was included in the Declaration as a memorial to those who died there.

It is said that the ghosts of the condemned prisoners remained. There is even one legend that suggests the ghosts sought revenge against the British. Not long after the hideous acts had taken place, a shipload of British soldiers were sent to pursue General Washington while he retreated from Manhattan to White Plains. The ship was wrecked at the reef, killing all the Redcoats aboard. Many people have claimed that the ghosts who haunted the reef caused the shipwreck.

Every lighthouse has its fascinating legends and lore. You can read more about these and other haunted locations in my books, Ghosts of Long Island; Stories of the Paranormal and Ghosts of Long Island II; More Stories of the Paranormal. Both books are available in local bookstores and on Amazon.com in hardcover and in e-format.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Halloween Ghosts Versus the Real Thing

It's funny that every time Halloween comes around, my phone starts ringing off the hook. Organizations ask me to give lectures, reporters want me to give interviews, and people question me if ghosts are real. Don't get me wrong. I welcome all the hype and publicity, but what I do and what I write about really has nothing to do with Halloween at all! Yet I'm often dubbed "the ghost lady" this time of year.

I do happen to love Halloween, and the inside of my house is transformed into something that you might see in Disneyland. It's filled with skeletons, witches, ghouls and goblins; I have talking heads and brooms that glide around the floor. I even have a ghost that shakes and makes scary sounds. The fact remains, however, that these are Halloween ghosts, and they're not real.

About two weeks ago I was asked to speak to a third grade Cub Scout den about (you guessed it)... ghosts. This is not an easy topic to discuss with a bunch of eight-year-old boys. The last thing I wanted them to do was to go home scared. So my plan was to first squelch their idea of what ghosts actually are. I began with a go-around. Each boy was to tell me what he thought a ghost was. The answers were all quite similar. A ghost is "a flying dead body that can go through you." Really? I couldn't help but smile.

Kids are not the only ones who have misconceptions. I can't tell you the amount of adults who come up to me asking if what I do is like the movie Paranormal Activity. "Is that what it's really like?" they ask, bewildered. I cringe every time Hollywood comes out with another scary ghost movie. What you see in the movies and even on TV is not reality. I don't go into places and see blood dripping from the walls and pots and pans flying around the room. What I do when I work with paranormal investigator Joe Giaquinto, is the positive side of spirit communication. Did you note that I used the word "spirit" as opposed to "ghost"?

I prefer to call them spirits because they are the souls of people who have passed from this world to the next. There are all different types of spirits. A very famous paranormal investigator by the name of Peter Underwood, from London, England, compiled a list of the "Ten Different Types of Ghosts" based on the research he has done. I have included his list in my book, Ghosts of Long Island; Stories of the Paranormal, because I find it to be quite accurate. You can't define "ghost" as any one thing in particular.

The type of ghost that most people are familiar with, are the historical or traditional ghost. These are spirits who are "place centered" or stuck here, for one reason or another. They have usually died tragically. There are modern ghosts, those of the recently dead who come back to say goodbye, or cyclic ghosts who make their presence known during an anniversary of some sort. There are ghosts of inanimate objects and animal ghosts, but really the most common ghost is not a ghost at all. Instead, it is the spirit of someone we love, who has passed on and has come back to visit, or to help us on our journey.

Everyone has their own belief of where we go after we die. I happen to believe in Heaven. To me, if Heaven is a perfect place, then why can't those we love come and be with us? Why do we have this image of everyone sitting on a cloud hundreds of miles up in the sky, wearing a white gown and playing the harp? My father passed away six years ago. I do not picture him like this. Instead, I picture him next to me when I'm watching my son's baseball game, or I get an orb in a family photo taken at Christmas time. He's there...right with us, still being a part of our lives.

Countless people come up to me at lectures and show me family photos. They all have orbs in them. Heaven is not as far away as we think, and also, it's comforting to know that we are never truly alone.

So when I'm asked what a ghost is, I find the need to explain. It's not something scary or evil or demonic. Instead, it's a beautiful and positive affirmation that life does in fact, exist after we die. We co-exist with spirits every day. It's not about October 31st. So while you're out trick-o-treating with your kids, know that the "real" spirits are there with them watching over and protecting.

Have a happy and safe Halloween!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Signs and Butterflies

Being a "summer" person, it is always hard to leave my favorite season behind and move forward into fall. So after getting my kids on the bus that first week of school, I headed back out to the beaches at Robert Moses for one last moment of peace and tranquility. I had been accustomed to hundreds of people being around, now there were six, and that included me. Everyone was spread out, so it was as if I had the beach to myself. As I sat quietly in my worn beach chair, rusted on the bottom from exposure to sea and salt, I suddenly was surrounded by butterflies! Butterflies? They were big, orange and black ones. I cannot say what kind they were, but they were definitely butterflies. I was in the middle of the beach! Where did they come from?

The first one hovered over my head, and then I watched as it disappeared along the beach. Before long another one came and did the same thing. Then another and another. I know for certain that it wasn't the same butterfly. That particular day I had a lot on my mind and was hoping for some guidance from the other side. Were the butterflies a sign? Were they spirits? I've heard so many people talk about the significance of certain living creatures coming to us, like the Cardinal and the butterflies. Many believe that it is our lost loved ones coming to visit. It prompted me to do some research and ultimately write this blog.

As we all know, butterflies go through an amazing transformation. These various stages of metamorphosis relate very much to our own lives. Our birth is the caterpillar stage, our death is the chrysalis stage, and our resurrection to the afterlife is the butterfly stage. There are many cultures and religions who view the butterfly as a symbol of transformation. Native American Indians are very connected to nature and to animals. They have what are called totems which represent the animals and the meanings behind them. They view the butterfly as a symbol of happiness and change. The Chinese view the butterfly as a symbol for long life, while the Japanese view butterflies as symbols of love, marital bliss and harmony.

Most other countries around the world believe that butterflies are, in fact, departed souls. The butterfly represents the soul's freedom upon death. In ancient Greece, the word for butterfly is "psyche" which means "soul". In modern day it stands for "psychology", the study of the mind. The Greek's believe that butterflies are the souls of people who have passed away. Same thing is true in Russia, where their word for butterflies is "dushuchka" which comes from "dusha" which means "soul". In Mexico there is a small town where Monarch Butterflies migrate to every year. It happens to coincide with a Mexican holiday known as the Day of the Dead. The town celebrates the butterflies because they believe they're the souls of the deceased returning. Finally, in Ireland, the Irish believe that butterflies "are the souls of the dead waiting to pass through purgatory".

If you love butterflies, I highly recommend taking a trip to see the new butterfly exhibit at the Long Island Aquarium (formerly Atlantis Marine World) in Riverhead. It's absolutely fantastic!

As for Cardinals, many people believe that these beautiful red birds are also souls who are visiting us. My grandmother was a firm believer of this, and a red Cardinal appeared to her several times after her husband (my grandfather) passed away. Especially symbolic in the Christian religions, the Cardinal symbolizes faith, and is also symbolic of the blood of Christ. So if a Cardinal appears in your window it could be telling you to keep the faith and remind you of Christ's presence in your life. That is also why the Cardinal is seen on Christmas cards and in Christmas displays.

So the next time a butterfly or Cardinal flies your way, take a second look. Maybe it's a connection to a long lost soul, or just maybe it's the answer to something you've been searching for.

Information for this blog was taken from the internet, "Religious and Cultural Symbolism of The Butterfly," "Butterfly Garden Gifts" and "Symbols of the Butterfly."

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Hurricanes and Ghost Tales

By the time you read this blog, power will have been restored and the internet for me, will be up and running. When I first set out to write this, we were in the midst of Hurricane Irene. We had lost power, and wind and rain swirled around my 1930's colonial, which has withstood more hurricanes than I have. I know there are spirits from the past watching over my home and family, and this gives me comfort. I know this to be true because of the amount of times I've gone into my backyard on a clear night and photographed. I receive dozens of orbs...spirits. They're always here watching over and protecting.

My street is lined with Sycamore trees as old as my house. They've managed to stay standing despite fallen limbs. Power lines lay tangled in the street amongst the debris, while my oldest son complains that he can't play X-box. As for me, I've prepared well, and I'm satisfied with that. Sometimes it's actually nice. No TV, no radio, no phones ringing, no email to check. It brings us back to simpler times, and makes us realize what's truly important. We may not like to survive without these things, but we can.

So how then am I writing this blog without my computer? I am writing it the old fashioned way...with a pad and a pen. I will have to type it in later. It reminds me of my earlier days, fresh out of college, a young journalist hand-writing everything. My page is filled with cross-outs and arrows just like it used to be over twenty years ago. The creative process actively at work.

As I sit in my sunroom and gaze out upon the swaying trees, I recall a night in September of 2003 when Hurricane Isabel hit North Carolina. I was there with my family staying at our friends' B&B in the rural town of Siler City, 250 miles from the Outer Banks. The only other guests, were a mother and her adult daughter and their Border Collie. They were from Kitty Hawk, and their area was getting pounded from the storm. Siler City was hit with strong gusts and heavy rain. Trees fell in the forest around the post and beam country home with its tin roof. You haven't lived until you've listened to rain, and acorns from giant oaks, fall against a tin roof. It is a sound uncommon to most Long Islander's, but it is a sound that will be forever in my mind and heart.

As bad as the storm was, there was something enchanting about the experience we had that day. We made new friends. We shared a bond; we were experiencing something together. As the storm wore on, we eventually lost power. We had plenty of food, water and wine, and we made the most out of our situation. Although the ladies from Kitty Hawk were worried, we helped them to relax a little.

The place was beautiful. Candles shone all around the large open area that was the first floor. A beautiful kitchen, dining area and living room all drenched in candlelight. We sat around the long dining table, which was filled with food, and ate, drank and contemplated life. There was nothing else to do, but talk. It was quite amazing, and we had some of the best, and most thought-provoking conversations I think I'll ever have in my life. It was a time I will never forget, and one I will treasure always.
After we finished our discussion on the meaning of life, and darkness drew deeper upon us, the ladies of Kitty Hawk asked if any of us knew any good ghost stories. I smiled. They had not yet known what I did for a living. More wine was poured, as I began to weave my tales of Revolutionary War Ghosts, Native American Spirits, the lady in white... I told them of the ghosts of old whalers, of old lovers, of shipwreck and of peril. The faces of my captive audience glowed with a golden cast. With eyes wide, they were held spellbound on my every word. It was one of those perfect moment in time, one of which would never have happened if it wasn't for the storm. Sometimes I think these storms are God's way of reminding us to slow down, to simplify and to just "be".

The rain now has stopped in my Huntington home, and the wind is starting to die down as I continue to write. We've opened the windows, and the gentle breeze feels wonderful throughout the house. It has dawned on me that my windows have not been opened since the beginning of June. Because of air conditioning, I have not had fresh air in the house for three months! It's unbelievable, isn't it?

I know we all have a lot of clean-up to do, and we feel like we're inconvenienced, but in the midst of the storm and its aftermath, try to take the time to just "be". Maybe you'll be presently surprised at how wonderful it makes you feel.

Kerriann Flanagan Brosky is the author of Ghosts of Long Island: Stories of the Paranormal, and Ghosts of Long Island II: More Stories of the Paranormal. During Hurricane Irene, she was without power for four days. She enjoyed eating dinner with her family by candlelight, and spent quality time with her kids playing board games.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Fox Sisters, Spiritualism and Long Island's William Sidney Mount

At one time Spiritualism was believed to be more of a philosophy than a religion. It is based on the concept that spirits who have passed on can communicate with the living through mediumship, proving that life does continue after death. The Modern Spiritualist Movement began in 1848. Three sisters, known as the Fox sisters, are responsible for initiating what quickly became the latest craze. By 1855, Spiritualism had over two million followers in the United States and in Europe. By the turn of the twentieth century, however, Spiritualism was on the decline. Scientists tried to disprove the practice of mediumship, and many frauds were uncovered. However, as the years went on, real, gifted mediums continued to surface, causing a rebirth in Spiritualism. Today, Spiritualism and Spiritualist churches continue to grow and remain active in the United States, England and in several other countries. Besides mediuimship, the practice has expanded to include spiritual healing and energy work, amongst other things.

John and Margaret Fox, who were devout Methodists, moved into a house in Hydesville, NY, a small town located twenty miles from Rochester, in December of 1847. The Fox's had six children, four adult children who had moved away, and two younger daughters Maggie, fifteen, and Kate, twelve who lived with them. The house they moved into had a reputation of being "haunted", but the Fox's didn't believe in such things. A few months went by, and by March 1848, strange rapping sounds and bangs made their way throughout the house. It was so loud that the family awoke from sleep. Searching the house, they could not find the source from which the rappings came. Every night the noises could be heard. By March 31, Kate decided the sounds came from spirits who were trying to communicate with them. She was determined to communicate back. She and Maggie decided to clap their hands while asking questions to the spirits. If they clapped ten times, the rappings would be heard ten times. To further communicate, they set up a system by rapping for the letters of the alphabet. It was at this time that they received some amazing information. The rappings were coming from a man, a peddler, named Charles Rosa, who claimed he was murdered by the home's previous owner, John Bell. He also said that his body was buried in the cellar, although at the time, nothing was found.

The girl's became so proficient at communicating through rappings, that their skills began to elevate to a new level which included having the ability to move objects, levitate tables, and communicate with other spirits, including the spirit of Benjamin Franklin. News quickly spread of the girls' talents, and before long they were giving performances and making money. Other mediums began to emerge, and within a few years séances became the rage.

Many people, including journalists, spent time with Maggie and Kate, and could not find any fraud between them. The events that took place became known as the "Hydesville Rappings". By April of 1848, their older sister Leah, who lived in Rochester, saw the attention her siblings were getting and asked to join them so she could cash in on the act. Leah's husband had abandoned her and her young daughter, and she desperately needed money. She became Kate and Maggie's manager, and scheduled performances and séances for them.

The pressures placed upon them along with their fame, eventually became more than the girls could handle. By the late 1850's, both Kate and Maggie were alcoholics. Leah remarried a wealthy businessman and abandoned her sisters. Kate continued to perform, but Maggie grew resistant. There was little choice for her, however, and she remained working with Kate. In 1888, when Spiritualism began to die down, the girls made a shocking confession claiming they were, in fact, frauds and denounced Spiritualism. Maggie claimed that her sister Kate had started the prank out of boredom, and had wanted to play a trick on her parents. Apparently Kate had the ability to pop her toe joints, and taught the trick to Maggie. When they saw the commotion they were causing, they had decided not to divulge their secret.

Some were still convinced that the girls were legitimate mediums, and that Maggie's rantings about the fraud had more to do with being an alcoholic. Others claimed that a reporter put them up to the story, by offering them money. As it turned out, the sisters may have been true mediums after all. In 1904, a few years after each of their deaths, some school children were playing in the old Hydesville home, which became known as the "Spook House", and made the discovery of some human remains. William H. Hyde, who was a respected citizen and the new owner of the house, ordered a full investigation. An entire human skeleton was found between the old walls and the earth, just like the girls had said. Many believed that they were the remains of Charles Rosa, the peddler who was murdered.

One of the people who was inspired by the Fox sisters was Long Island's famous genre painter, William Sidney Mount, who was born in Setauket in 1807. When William was seven, his father died, and William's mother Julia decided to move her five children to nearby Stony Brook, to her parent's old farmhouse which was built in 1725. It was known as the Hawkins-Mount Homestead. William began painting scenes from everyday life, and later studied at the National Academy of Design in New York. Art wasn't his only interest. He was extremely intrigued by the paranormal, and many of his early paintings dealt with death, ghosts and the supernatural. By 1854 he was actively involved in Spiritualism, and wrote about it in his diaries.

Mount became part of the "Miracle Circle" which was comprised of a small group of friends who got together to do séances. The séances took place down the road at the home of Mount's good friend, Thomas Hadaway. The Hadaway house, as it was called, is what is today's beautiful Country House Restaurant, which is haunted by the ghost of Annette Williamson, among other spirits. Some claim that Mr. Mount's spirit comes by on occasion. The old Hawkins-Mount house is also said to be haunted, possibly by William's cousin Elizabeth, and also by Mount.

The full story of William Sidney Mount, and the interesting events which occurred while I was researching and investigating the house with paranormal investigator Joe Giaquinto, can be found in my book Ghosts of Long Island II; More Stories of the Paranormal.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

"Can Imaginary Friends be Real? The ghost of Iriving

This is probably one of my favorite ghost stories. It appears as the last chapter in my book, Ghosts of Long Island; Stories of the Paranormal. Every once in awhile, I like to revisit it because it's so classic. It gives me chills every time I read it. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Cheri and her family had moved into a house in Huntington sometime between 1966 and 1967. The house, which was built in 1940, was within walking distance to the Huntington Rural Cemetery, located on a quiet street. The Chapman’s began fixing up their new home when strange things started to occur. They had a lot of problems with the plumbing and with the electricity. Water would run for no reason, lights would go on and off, or flicker. She had plumbers and electricians in, and nobody could figure out what was causing these things to happen.

At the same time, her young son, who was four or five, started talking about his imaginary friend. Cheri and her husband didn’t think anything of it. All children have imaginary friends at some point. They had just moved and maybe it was a big adjustment for him. They were also so busy fixing up the house, that maybe the son was bored and just needed a friend.

Whatever the reason, the young boy said he did all kinds of things with his friend. One day he told his mother about some things he had seen in the attic. One of the items was a birthday present he had asked for. It was a truck, which had been hidden in the attic. Startled, Cheri asked how he could possibly know this. Her son replied, “I go up there with my friend." Cheri stopped for a moment, and started to reconsider this “imaginary friend." “What is his name?” she asked her son.

“His name is Irving,” the boy replied.

As time went on the relationship between the boy and Irving continued. So did the strange activity in the house. Still, the Chapman’s never put two and two together. The boy talked about Irving all the time, and how Irving talked to him, and played with him. Cheri became concerned when her son told her about the trips they took.

“Where do you go?” she asked.

“We float out of the attic, and we go to where he lives…in the ground.”

“What?” Cheri was stunned. What was her son talking about? “What do you see?” she asked.

“I see the bones and the dirt.” he said. “At first I was a little scared, but Irving talks to me and tells me it’s okay.”

She began to worry that her son might be going crazy.

Memorial Day weekend came around and Cheri and her family decided to attend Huntington’s annual parade. Because their house was so close to the cemetery which connects with New York Avenue, the Chapman’s cut through the cemetery on the Oakwood Road side to get to the parade route on New York Avenue. Halfway through the cemetery, Cheri’s son yelled, “Wait, that’s where Irving lives!” The boy pointed to a grave up on the hill.

At that point, her son and his imaginary friend had Cheri's full attention.

“Where?” she asked. “Show me.”

The young boy led his mother up to a tombstone. “Here,” he said. “This is where he takes me.”

Cheri looked at the tombstone, and to her astonishment it read, RIGGS, ROSE and IRVING.

How could this be possible? she thought. She had never taken her son into the cemetery. Nor did he know how to read. It was the first time she and her husband ever considered the fact that Irving could be a ghost.

The boy got older, and things continued to happen in the house. The Chapmans raised five children there. Cheri recalled a time when she was cleaning out the basement, and thought one of her children had come home.

“I heard the front door open, and from the basement I could hear someone walking around upstairs. I ran up to check and nobody was there. I thought it was one of the kids but it wasn’t. ‘My children would say to me, don’t worry, it’s only Irving.’”

Cheri had always confided in a friend she worked with about her son’s imaginary friend Irving. One day her friend was cleaning out the house of an aunt who had recently died. There were several boxes in the aunt’s attic, many of them containing photographs. As the woman was descending the stairs, a photo slipped out of the box. It was a picture of a man. She picked it up and asked her other aunt (the woman’s sister) “Who is this?”

“Oh, that’s Irving Riggs,” she replied, “our grandfather. He loved children.”

The woman was shocked. Could this be the same Irving - Cherie's son’s imaginary friend? When she spoke to Cheri, she found out the imaginary friend was definitely Irving Riggs.

The woman brought the photo over to the Chapman’s house. Cheri was amazed. During all these years, the house had been haunted by Irving, but the man had never even lived there. Was it possible that the close proximity of the cemetery had caused him to come and visit her son, because he loved children? It seemed impossible, yet there were too many coincidences.

Cheri and her friend sat over tea and talked about it for awhile. The friend left the photo with Cheri, who pinned it to the bulletin board next to the phone in the kitchen. A few hours later her son, who was now about seventeen years old, arrived home. He called out, "One minute, Mom, I just have to make a phone call.”

With that, Cheri, who had been sitting in the living room, heard the phone drop to the floor. She went into the kitchen to find her son standing there with the photograph.

“Where did you get this picture?” he asked.

“Why?” Cheri replied.

“Do you remember my imaginary friend, Irving? Well…this is him.”

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Ghosts from the Whaling Days

Having investigated over sixty presumably haunted locales over the past several years, it's nice every once in awhile to go back and revisit some of these wonderful ghost stories. The very first place I had written about appeared in one of my earlier books on Huntington's history, and later, I re-investigated it for my book Ghosts of Long Island; Stories of the Paranormal. It was the story of three ghosts who haunted an old inn in Cold Spring Harbor, and it remains a fascinating tale filled with history, ghosts and intrigue.

Way back when in the 1980's and early 1990's, it was known as the Old Whaler, and it had been converted into a pub-style restaurant. It was a fun place to visit, and I recall being there one night for dinner when I ran into Davey Johnson, manager of the '86 Mets. I was a huge Mets fan back then, so it was a thrilling experience to meet him and get his autograph. During other visits to the Old Whaler, I overheard conversations about ghosts. Could it actually be haunted? Who would have thought that years later I would be there ghost hunting with a paranormal investigator!

During my first interview at the Old Whaler, I was primarily interested in the building's history, since the Ghost of Long Island books weren't even a thought in my mind yet. Still, I couldn't help but ask about the rumors I had heard about the ghosts. Once I was told the stories, I was hooked! I decided to write about its history and the ghosts and it turned out to be a huge success; something I would pursue with other places years later. So it was the Old Whaler that started this whole ghostly quest of mine.

Located across from the picturesque seashore along Route 25A, the Old Whaler has changed hands many times, and I've had the opportunity to interview the various owners throughout the years. Currently, the upscale restaurant is known as Harbor Mist, and is owned by a delightfully friendly couple, Michelle and Barman. Although the names and owners have changed, the ghosts have most certainly remained.

It all began back in the mid-1800's. Cold Spring Harbor was a bustling whaling port, and a man by the name of George Van Ausdall purchased a tavern and inn from Oliver Jones for $2100. Shortly thereafter the name was changed to the Van Ausdall Hotel, and whalers from around the world would visit the inn when they were in port. Throughout its history, many have claimed the hotel was also used as a brothel. Several women from the town would work there because their husbands were away at sea for long periods of time and they were lonely, and they needed money.

On one occasion, a tired whaler came back from his long voyage a little earlier than expected, and decided to have a drink at the tavern before going home. Well, to his surprise, he found out his wife was working at the inn! Before anyone could stop him, the whaler ran upstairs and killed both the wife and the seaman she was with. The seaman's name was Van Whether, and he became the first ghost to haunt the place. The wife is believed to possibly be the second.

A strange story surrounds the third ghost. Through my research, I uncovered a newspaper article which spoke of a terrible accident that took place in the building in 1960. The article indicated that "a woman slipped in the ladies room and cut her throat on the ragged edge of a soap dish". That sounds very odd indeed. Perhaps it was a suicide, but in any case, the woman died in the bathroom before the ambulance arrived. This woman's presence, as well as the ghosts of the two who were killed there, have been strongly felt by many psychics over the years.

All sorts of phenomena has been reported. Doors would open and close, lights would turn on and off, faucets would run on their own, and a stereo would play music when no one had turned it on. This type of phenomena, on occasion, still occurs today.

Just a few weeks ago I had the opportunity to go back to Harbor Mist with clairaudient medium and paranormal investigator Joe Giaquinto, and well known Long Island medium Richard Schoeller. This was Richard's first time at the "inn" and we were interested in what he'd pick up. Without any prior knowledge about the resident ghosts, Richard spoke about the types of ghosts who haunt the place, as well as the possible locations of where certain events took place, including the ladies bathroom!

Twenty years have gone by since I did my first interview there when it was the Old Whaler. Although much has changed over the years, one thing is for certain. Harbor Mist remains a hot spot for not only good food, but for the spirits who have haunted it since Cold Spring Harbor's infamous whaling days.

For more information on this story and others, visit www.ghostsoflongisland.com.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Dreams have fascinated people since the beginning of time. What are dreams, and what do they mean? Next month on my live blogtalk radio show, Joe Giaquinto and I will host a very special guest named Susie, who reads and interprets dreams. There is so much information out there on dreams, that I decided it would be a great topic for this month's written blog.

Did you know that over our lifetime we dream approximately 300,000 dreams? Everyone dreams. There's no escaping it. Adults spend about two hours of sleep time dreaming, where children spend about four hours. Since babies sleep an enormous amount of hours, they actually dream the most. Even animals can have dreams. Many a time I've seen my dog fast asleep and snoring, when suddenly her paws start moving, her eyes begin to twitch and she starts whimpering. I often wonder what it is my dog is dreaming about. With her paws moving quickly, maybe she's running after something in a big field, or dreaming of greeting me at the door.

We can dream several different dreams a night. Usually we recall only the dream we were having right before we woke up. Dreams are often forgotten quickly, so it's helpful to write them down as soon as you wake up. Later, you may be able to find out it's meaning. Dreams typically occur in color, although I've heard that it's more common for women to dream in color, while men seem to dream in black and white. It is believed that our dreams are reflections of ourselves. Dreams run parallel to the events going on in our lives, and can be quite significant.

Each dream is unique to the individual who is doing the dreaming, so no two dreams are alike. Dreams are extensions of ourselves, and we can actually learn from them. Some dreams have profound meaning, some contain symbolism, others can reveal secrets about our true selves, and some may spark creativity through writing and art. Even if dreams don't make sense to us, somewhere there is a hidden meaning or revelation. So having the ability to interpret dreams, can be a helpful tool and a wonderful gift for self-exploration. We can learn from our dreams!

Have you ever had a recurring dream? Sometimes these dreams have to do with our past lives. They can be memories that have been stored, which come forth during time of sleep, by way of dreaming. What about flying dreams? You're free as a bird. You can fly! Some believe that when this happens the dreamer has left their body temporarily in what is know as astral travel or an out-of-body experience.

Some people have precognitive dreams which can be quite disturbing to the person who is experiencing it. Basically, it is a means of seeing into the future, or seeing an event before it happens. The Chinese, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and Native Americans have been known for having precognitive dreams, and they use them to foretell the future or impending doom. Through my research I discovered that a great many people dreamt of the attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/ll before the events ever happened. Other people have had dreams related to medical issues or disasters, which changed their course of action, and possibly saved their lives. For example, maybe a person changed their mind about having an upcoming surgery, or maybe they avoided a dangerous plane trip or car ride because of having the dream.

Spirits who have passed on can also become part of the dream state. These dreams are often very vivid and very real. I have had countless people come up to me at lectures, wondering whether or not it was actually their loved one coming to them from the other side, or whether what they were experiencing was "just" a dream. I too, have had these dreams, and I do believe it is a visitation. When we are in a relaxed and open state of mind, such as during sleep, it is very easy for our family and friends in spirit to visit us. They are able to give us valuable messages, or simply show our love for us. These types of dreams from family members are called ADC visitation dreams, or after death communications.

There are four points that can differentiate between a visitation and a regular dream. First, an ADC dream has strong clarity and vivid detail, and can be easily described upon waking. Second, ADC dreams contain specific messages which have been given to the dreamer, even if it has been done telepathically. Examples are, the dreamer may be left with a sense not to worry, or not to feel sad because their loved one is now happy and safe. Third, the dream invokes very strong emotions both during the dream process and after waking. Relief, happiness, love and joy are some emotions that may surround you. The fourth point, is that the dream brings comfort. You can tell the dream to others or replay it in your head, but each time you do, you feel a great sense of contentment and happiness.

When you go to sleep at night, be open and receptive to the dreams you will have. Keep a paper and pen by your bedside to write down pertinent information that may bring meaning and comfort to your life. What a wonderful way to start the day.

Pleasant dreams!

Tune in on Thursday, May 26th at 10:00 PM EST when Susie will discuss and interpret dreams on "The Kerriann and Joe Show - Spirit Connection". Go to www.blogtalkradio.com/kerriannandjoeshow to listen to live or archived shows.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Akashic Records

Paranormal investigator Joe Giaquinto and I recently attended a fascinating workshop with Scottish medium Bill Coller. The topic...The Akashic Records. Although I had heard of them, Edgar Cayce often referred to accessing the Akashic, I didn't fully understand its meaning or purpose. Mr. Coller's workshop was quite informative, and it shed new light on this interesting and often confusing subject.

Akashic is the Sanskrit word for "history", so Akashic records means historical records. Mediums refer to it as a giant spiritual hard drive, a data base which contains everything a person has ever done in life. This information is collected and stored in a type of energy registration that can be accessed by a medium. A medium is a person who can communicate with spirits from the other side through dialog. When Bill Coller gives a person a reading, he likes to give eight to ten points of evidence to prove that the communication is real. All this evidence should come together like a puzzle. It must be specific information, not general.

When a medium accesses the Akashic records, he is pulling out general background information, or flat information. It is not up-to-date. It's all in the past. So for instance, a medium can say to a person he is reading for, that "Your dad is in spirit, but while he lived on the Earth he lived in the countryside." This may be true, but it's too general and stereo-typical. A good medium will retrieve this basic information from the Akashic records, but then through dialog and communication he may say "Your dad lived in the countryside and went fishing by the river everyday. He loved the times you spent with him there." This is more specific information which definitely would prove spirit communication. The medium used the Akashic records to gain access to the background information, and then combined it with dialog and communication from the other side. The evidence is in the interaction.

The government also uses the Akashic records in what's called remote viewing. A psychic is called in to give the government intuitive information which is obtained through the Akashic records. For the government, it is used as a tool only. Nothing is real in Akashic. It has no reality, it's factual with no opinions. Simply, it's history.

The Akashic records is available to those in the spirit world as well. It shows the true picture of us. When we die, we are shown these records. We see our lives before us. Many people believe this to be purgatory. No one is punishing us for the things we've done over a lifetime, but we see what we have done and end up punishing ourselves. For example, it is very common during a reading for a spirit to come through and apologize for past actions. It wasn't until they died, that they saw what is was they did wrong. With the help of a medium, they are able to communicate with their loved ones on Earth, and say they are sorry for what they did while they were alive. They know all this information because of the Akashic records.

A medium can go into certain "file cabinets" in Akashic. For example, bereavement. How far does the medium go back in a person's bereavement file? He needs to draw out the most important loss, while encouraging that particular spirit to come through. Akashic is like TV. You go and look for a program. You know what channel it's on. You access the information on the program to find out what it's all about.

Through practice, even non-mediums can access information from the Akashic records. How do I know this? I actually did it! Towards the end of Bill Coller's workshop, he asked us to work with a partner and find out their "bucket list". We had to come up with an issue that stopped them from achieving something in their life. We were told to retrieve this information from the Akashic records. I was completely overwhelmed on how to do this. My friend Richard Schoeller, a medium and colleague of Bill Coller, came over to me and said he would assist me. He took my hand in both of his to help transfer some energy. He looked at Joe and pulled from the Akashic records "music". He then asked me to find out what that had to do with Joe. Although I was nervous, I was able to calm down and concentrate. Within seconds the word guitar kept popping into my head, so I said "guitar". Joe started to smile and Richard told me to keep going. The word teacher came to me, and suddenly I had a vision of a teacher telling Joe he'd never be good at playing guitar. I told Joe and Richard this information. It was correct. Prior to this, I had absolutely no idea that Joe had ever played the guitar. I went on to explain how Joe came to resent this teacher and how the teacher's comments to him left him without confidence, so he gave it up. Even Joe, a clairaudient medium, was amazed at what I was able to find out. My final word to him was "classical". I told him he had no intention on becoming a rock star. It was classical guitar that had interested him. I was correct once again. Both he and Richard were ecstatic that I had been able to retrieve this information from the Akashic records.

If you're interested in learning more about the Akashic records and Bill Coller's workshop, you can listen to Joe and me discussing it on blogtalk radio. We have our own show, "The Kerriann and Joe Show - Spirit Connection" which airs live every Thursday night from 10:00 - 11:00 PM EST. The show on Akashic records aired on March 24, 2011 and is available in a free download from our archive library. Go to www.blogtalkradio.com/kerriannandjoeshow.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Ghost of Abraham Lincoln

In celebration and in memory of President Abraham Lincoln, whose birthday was on February 12, I thought it would be interesting to explore Lincoln's past, as well as the ghostly phenomena which surrounds our 16th president.

There are many rumors as to the White House being haunted by former presidents, but none seem to be as popular as those surrounding President Lincoln. There are several well-documented records which claim that Abe Lincoln has made his presence known in spirit form. It's not only the White House he presumably haunts, but Ford's Theatre where he was assassinated, his old homestead, his grave site and his funeral train.

It's important to look at Lincoln's life while on the earth plane first. He served as president during an exceptionally difficult time in our nation's history. It was the time of the Civil War, and it is said that it was a period of great sorrow for Lincoln. He was often seen at the window of the Oval Office with his hands behind his back, looking out toward the bloodied battlefields across the Potomac River. He was greatly saddened by the loss of life on both sides. Lincoln's greatest toll, however, was a personal tragedy which befell his family on February 20, 1862 when his young son Willie died from an unknown illness. It is said that President Lincoln took his son's death so terribly, that Abe was on the verge of committing suicide. His wife Mary was no better. She was completely distraught.

Abraham Lincoln had a strong interest in Spiritualism early on, and after Willie's death it became even more prominent in his life. In 1842, Lincoln wrote a letter to his friend Joshua F. Speed which stated that he 'had a strong tendency to mysticism' and that he often felt compelled 'by some other power than my own will'. He claimed this power came 'from above'. Mediums frequented the White House, and many believe that through their guidance and those of the spirit world, Abraham Lincoln came to free the slaves. Seances were even held at the White House, and many Spiritualists were guests there. Lincoln claimed that Willie's spirit was with him, and he often said he could 'feel' his presence on a regular basis. Some believe that Willie's spirit lingered before crossing over to the other side because Lincoln was so obsessed with the boy's death.

Lincoln was very private about his Spiritualism, and kept his beliefs from the public. His wife Mary, on the other hand, was very open and was later criticized for her beliefs. Through mediumship the Lincolns were able to connect to their beloved Willie, which ultimately helped to ease their grief. Abe Lincoln was 'sensitive' to the spirit world and he often had visions and premonitions including that of his own death. His report of this vision, which came to him in a dream, was written down and is well documented. It occurred ten days before his assassination from John Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1865.

As if things weren't odd enough, the body of Abraham Lincoln was buried and exhumed five times for various reasons including that of a potential grave robbery. To this day it is still unclear as to why the body had to be reburied so many times, and there is mystery surrounding the fact that perhaps Lincoln is not really in the grave he is believed to be in. His final resting place is in an underground vault, covered in concrete, in Springfield, Illinois. Lincoln's wife Mary was buried in the catacomb as well. Before she died, Mary claimed to have talked to her husband everyday. She even hired a spiritual photographer to photograph her, and when the photo was developed, a faint image of Lincoln appeared behind her. At their grave sites people claim to hear weeping, footsteps and voices.

The old Lincoln homestead in Springfield is maintained by a historical society and is open to the public. There have been many reports of ghostly phenomena. Visitors have claimed to see the figure of a tall thin man holding the hand of a little boy, which is believed to be Willie. Others have felt cold spots, while some claim to have been touched by an invisible person. There have also been reports of objects moving around, music being played from unknown sources, and voices talking.

At Ford's Theatre, guests and actors alike claim to hear the haunted footsteps of John Wilkes Booth as he ran up the stairs towards the President. Some people have seen the apparitions of both Lincoln and Booth together, apparently trying to work out their differences. Strange sounds, laughter, and crying have also been reported as well as lights going on and off. From the stage, many actors have said that during performances they've seen lights mysteriously flashing in Lincoln's box which is permanently closed to the public.

As for the White House, there have been many sightings and occurrences. President Theodore Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover and Harry Truman all claimed to have heard knocking on their bedroom doors. When the door was opened, no one was there. For reasons unknown, they all believed it to be the ghost of Lincoln. During Calvin Coolidge's stay at the White House, his wife reported actually seeing Lincoln in the Oval office. What she described was Lincoln staring out the window with his hands folded behind his back. As mentioned earlier, this was how he was often seen while he was alive. Lincoln's biographer, Carl Sandburg, claimed to 'feel a strong presence' of Lincoln in this same area, although he did not see him.

It was during Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration when the ghost of Lincoln seemed to be most active. Many say it is because both presidents were in power during a time of war. Whatever the reason may be, during Roosevelt's thirteen year occupancy of the White House many people actually saw Lincoln's ghost. Lincoln's former bedroom had been turned into a study for first lady Eleanor Roosevelt. She consistently reported having the feeling that someone was watching her or that someone was in the room with her. Without a doubt, she believed this to be Lincoln. One of Eleanor's maids actually saw Lincoln sitting on one of the beds in the White House, pulling off his shoes.

Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands was a guest at the White House during Roosevelt's time. She claimed to be awaken from sleep by a knock at her bedroom door. When she got up and opened the door, she saw the ghost of Lincoln standing before her, staring at her. She actually fainted from the site of him, and when she finally woke the apparition was gone.

One of the best stories I've heard has to do with Sir Winston Churchill's White House stay. Apparently Churchill was very into taking long baths. On one occasion he climbed out of the bath and walked naked into the adjoining bedroom. To his utter surprise, Abraham Lincoln was standing by the fireplace leaning on the mantle and staring at him. Churchill, who was never at a loss for words said, "Good evening Mr. President. You seem to have me at a disadvantage." The ghost smiled, looked away and then disappeared.

Things seemed to calm down after that, and since the Truman administration there have been less reports. During Truman's stay at the White House there was extensive remodeling done on the home. Perhaps Lincoln didn't like the changes. However, Lyndon B. Johnson claimed to have spoken to Lincoln's ghost, and Ronald Reagan's daughter Maureen and her husband saw 'a transparent figure' several times in Lincoln's old bedroom.

Lastly, Lincoln's ghostly funeral train was seen for years by hundreds of people. At the time of his death there was a great demand for the public to see his body, so a special funeral train carried him from Washington through New York State and then west to his hometown of Springfield, Illinois. The trip took over two weeks because of the number of cities it stopped in. In total, over two million mourners filed past the open coffin. From that time on, every April two trains have been seen marking the anniversary of Lincoln's death. One ghostly train pulls a line of black-draped railroad cars, while the other train pulls a flatbed car on which Lincoln's casket rests.

The stories and mysteries surrounding our great president are endless. I've only touched upon them here. For reasons unknown, Abraham Lincoln's spirit has continued to visit the earth plane. As fascinating as this is, it is important to remember the president that he was, and the important role he played in the development of our country.

This story of Abraham Lincoln is dedicated to my nephew Peter.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


I never gave much thought to auras until two separate women came up to me at a lecture claiming to see my aura. It was the fall of 2008, and Ghosts of Long Island II: More Stories of the Paranormal had just been released. I had thirty speaking engagements lined-up over the course of a little over three weeks, and I was getting substantial media attention. I was completely engulfed in my book tour. I've always been comfortable lecturing, and it's something I truly enjoy. Having given so many lectures that particular season, I knew the material I was presenting quite well, and I was at ease. My overall passion for the subject matter prepared me for the weeks ahead.

Midway through my lecture series I was at a very small library in Glen Cove, NY. The area where I would be speaking was small, so I knew to expect a small group of listeners. It suited me fine. I had been speaking to groups ranging from forty to a hundred people, and I was looking forward to the intimacy a small group provides. Fifteen to twenty people showed up, and I could tell by the expressions on their faces that they were interested in what I was talking about. During the question period toward the end of the lecture, we had a wonderful discussion in which everyone was interacting. I can't tell you the happiness I receive when people "get" what I'm talking about. I love making a difference in people's lives through my stories and research. I felt truly in my element that night. Well, that energy must have shown through, because during the book signing portion of the evening, two women who did not know each other, nor were they sitting near each other, claimed to see an aura glowing around my head toward the end of the lecture. I was completely surprised and thrown off guard. I had never had anyone tell me that before, and at the time I really didn't know what to make of it. It was from that point on, that I became interested in auras.

An aura is an electromagnetic field that surrounds and radiates off people, animals and even plants. This auric energy, as it is also known, usually extends anywhere from two to three feet above the head, but can also appear below the feet. An aura is not easily seen, but people can be trained to see auras in themselves and others. Clairvoyants can often see these energy fields and can interpret their meanings.

A person's emotional state of mind and/or state of health can come through an aura, although it cannot be proven scientifically. It is believed there are seven levels or layers of auras, and each layer affects the others. The layers link emotions, feelings, behavior, health, spirituality and even divinity. That is why angels and saints are so often depicted with a glowing aura around their heads.

People have been encountering auras for centuries, and it dates back to Rome, Greece, India and Egypt. The aura is very subtle and can come and go quickly. Auras also come in many colors. It is said, that the more vibrant, colorful and brighter the aura, the more spiritually advanced the person. If the aura is very muddy looking, showing colors of brown, gray or black, it can mean health problems, emotional unrest, depression, disease or a dark personality. The one good thing is that auras can change depending on what is happening in a person's life. If the aura's energy is very uniform, the healthier and more balanced the person is in most areas of life.

There are many meanings and interpretations to the various colors which appear as auras. Red is probably the least favorite to appear, because oftentimes it represents a person who is angry, unforgiving and materialistic. This is not true in all cases. A deep red color can symbolize being grounded, powerful, and having lots of energy and will-power. Oranges and yellows appear above creative, detail oriented people or perfectionists. These people are often very uplifting, although sometimes they like to control others. They are more grounded spiritually, and they are inspired easily. Greens signify the heart both physically and emotionally. Those with greenish auras are people who are balanced, and enjoy and love people, animals and nature. They are restful and natural healers and they are very peaceful people, at ease with themselves and others. Blues represent balanced people who are calm, caring, loving and sensitive. They are also intuitive and can be clairvoyant. Purples and lavenders symbolize people who have great vision and imagination. It is not a very strong color, however, because it can also mean the person is a bit of a daydreamer who experiences fleeting thoughts and emotions. A gold aura represents divine protection and enlightenment. People with gold auras are often wise people who have inner knowledge and receive spiritual guidance. Finally, the white aura is the purest state of light and represents purity, truth, spirituality, and divinity.

There are many books out there about auras that delve much deeper into their meanings. To try to read a person's aura, you must be relaxed and calm. Look slightly past the person you are trying to read, and allow your eyes to focus on the area above the head, while still keeping the person in view. Within a few minutes, you may begin to see an aura. You can apply this same technique on yourself by using a mirror. The more you practice, the easier it will become.