Archive for the Updates Category

MARY HASTINGS Part Two

Posted in Afterlife, Entities, Ghosts, Hauntings, Paranormal, Saturdays, Stories, Updates with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 17, 2012 by Dave Lapham

She listened to the wind rustling the leaves of the oaks, the jays squawking, the far-off chugging of a tractor working in the groves. Then she whispered, “I just wanted you all to know I’m back, back for good. I’ve retired, and I’m moving into the house—just so you know. I’ll be visiting you more often.” She stood for a few more moments then drove back to the house. Sometimes she felt silly talking to her folks and Will like that, but it was a comfort, so she wasn’t going to stop.

As she drove into the yard and got out of her car she thought she heard the front door slam and footsteps slapping across the porch. Hmm, she thought, probably my imagination, and she dismissed it from her mind.

She had just finished unloading her car when her sister-in-law, Betsy, and her three daughters-in-law pulled up. They were soon followed by a passel of grandkids and a few great grandchildren. The silence Mary had experienced when she first arrived was now replaced with happy chaos.

“Aunt Mary, we’re so glad…” “Come see my new dog, Aunt Mary.” “I hope you had a wonderful trip…” “You must be tired, poor thing…” “Aunt Mary…” “Aunt Mary…”

Mary was tired, but she was engulfed in love. The younger women took charge of things and began preparing dinner. An hour later Travis arrived with his sons and grandsons, and the noise level swelled. The women eventually served dinner, a celebration of Mary’s homecoming and also perhaps the end of the sadness and mourning over their father’s recent death. When the last dish was washed and the last person had left the house, Mary traipsed up to her bedroom at the end of the hall overlooking the lake, happy but exhausted. She didn’t unpack, just pawed through dresser drawers until she found a nightgown, changed, and collapsed into bed.

In the middle of the night she awoke and looked at the clock on the night stand. Three a.m. She closed her eyes and lay in the stillness for a long time, but couldn’t sleep. Then she heard noise. It sounded like footsteps on the stairs. Adrenalin rushed into her veins, and her heart began pounding. Without turning on the light, she rose up on one elbow and reached for the top drawer of her night stand. She hoped that the pistol, a little .32 caliber revolver, which her father had insisted she learn to shoot from the time she was old enough to hold it, was still there. She fumbled through the papers, magazines, and assorted odds and ends until her fingers touched cold steel. She hadn’t had a gun in her hands in years, but she picked it up now and held it snugly. She sat up in bed and aimed the pistol at the door.

Quickly, Mary slid out of bed. Walking to the door, she opened it. No one was there. She tip-toed along the hallway and down the stairs. She knew someone could still be on the second floor in one of the empty rooms, but she had no desire to prowl in and out of those bedrooms. No, she’d stay downstairs where she could run if she had to. In the kitchen she called Travis.

“What’s up, Sis? You’re awake early.”

“Trav, could you come over here?’ She explained what had happened.

“I’m on the way.”

While she waited for her brother, she checked the outside doors in the kitchen, front hallway, and the office. All were locked with dead bolts. Travis soon arrived and checked every room in the house, finding nothing.

PROTECTING YOURSELVES

Posted in Afterlife, Demons, Entities, Ghost Hunting, Ghosts, Hauntings, Investigating, Paranormal, Safety, Updates, Wednesdays with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 14, 2012 by Dave Lapham

I’m a little late posting this morning. Just had a lot to do.

I was shuffling through some old pictures the other day and found one of some of my Marines in Vietnam. Before they went on a patrol, they conducted an elaborate ritual of putting on headbands, “cleansing” themselves with incense, praying, and Lord knows what else. It must have worked, because they got into a lot of scrapes and never lost a man.

Thinking of that made me think of protecting myself and the folks I’m with when ghost hunting. First, what are we protecting ourselves against? Let’s face it. Most ghosts are benign. They are friends, relatives, neighbors who’ve passed away, and when they go, they take their personalities with them. Most people, when alive, are not violent or even mean, although I’ll grant you that there are some grumps. The vast majority of paranormal entities, even the grumps, are not violent. Usually, they don’t have the energy. So, we seldom see objects thrown or experience getting pushed or hit. Most often, we get touched—and not in a harmful way. Female tour guides in St. Augustine have reported getting their bottoms pinched along Tolomato Lane just around the corner from the Old Wooden Schoolhouse. (See the story of this school house in my Ancient City Hauntings.) And Susan Harrell, the Ghost Tours Director at Ripley’s in St. Augustine at the time, was in a room alone when someone ran their fingers through her hair. (You can read that story in Ghosthunting Florida.)

There are occasionally malevolent spirits and demons out there who attack people who aren’t prepared, however. If we aren’t psychologically and emotionally ready, we can have problems. We have to understand that we have the mental strength to ward off attacks simply by ordering the attacking entity to leave in a stern and persistent manner. And remember that it is never wise to provoke an entity. In fact, it’s disrespectful.

To prepare ourselves we need to accept that we might encounter a ghost or other paranormal entity and to realize that we have the upper hand. We also have to use some common sense about going into areas which are known to be hazardous, and it is a rule in all of the teams I know that people work in pairs for safety and to validate any experiences. Common sense also means that we also carry flashlights, extra batteries, cell phones and walkie talkies if we have them, and first aid kits.

In the beginning of this blog I mentioned rituals. I think everyone has his or her own. Personally, I wear a small cross on a chain around my neck, and I always ask quietly for permission to enter. Others might carry small amulets. I also know that most teams have their own rituals, saying prayers beforehand, asking permission of any entities on a site to visit the area. I’ve even heard of some groups who, like my Marines, “cleanse” themselves, most often with sage. I’m sure there are many other rituals and preparations people use. Let me know if you do something special. I’d like to hear about it. However you prepare, do whatever makes you comfortable, and always use common sense.

If you’re interested in this subject, get a copy of How To Hunt GHOSTS by Joshua P. Warren. Shawn at the GhostStop recommended it to me. And finally, 12-21-12 is fast approaching, so if you haven’t bought your copy of 12-21-12 by Parker Lee, a fast-paced little e-book from Amazon, better do it quick. If you don’t read it by 12-21-12, you’ll spoil the fun.

Happy Thanksgiving, and don’t forget to check out Part Two of “Mary Hastings” on Saturday.

MARY HASTINGS Part One

Posted in Afterlife, Entities, Ghosts, Paranormal, Saturdays, Stories, Updates with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 10, 2012 by Dave Lapham

Mary Hastings pulled off the highway and stopped to check her dad’s mailbox before heading up the drive to the house. He’d been dead two weeks, but he was still getting mail. Even her mother, who’d died two years before, received an occasional piece of junk mail. Sure enough the mailbox was full, and none of it was for Mary. Laying the stack of mostly advertisements on the passenger’s seat, she closed her door and drove on.

As she continued up the orange tree-lined road to the house, now hers, she felt a warmth which made her smile, even after thirty years. She had grown up among these groves, swum in the lake, learned to drive dodging around citrus trees, received her first kiss by the water tower, enjoyed birthdays and holidays with her friends and a loving family. But she also felt a sadness. Her parents, her grandparents, her brother, Will, killed in Vietnam, were all gone, all now buried along with her great grandparents in the little family cemetery on the north side of the lake. Only she and her younger brother, Travis, remained.

She was thankful that the place had remained in the Hastings family. Mary had chosen to go off to college up north. At the time she wanted to get away from this place, this backward way of life, this boring little town of Lake Wales where nothing ever happened. The big excitement was a Friday night high school football game or a Saturday night movie. So she had elected to attend the University of Virginia, one of the biggest party schools in the country, and the home, more or less, of Edgar Allen Poe. She wasn’t a big party girl, but UVA did sound exciting, and academic standards there were high.

But that was a long time ago. She had majored in English Literature and had gone on to get her PhD. A series of teaching jobs at several universities followed, and suddenly it was thirty years later. Mary retired when her dad died, and now she was coming home for good.

In the meantime Travis had remained in Lake Wales and had taken over managing the groves just as his father, his grandfather, and his great grandfather had done. And he had harbored no ill feelings toward his sister because she’d chosen to do other things. As far as Travis was concerned, he’d always said, “No problem, Sis. When you get ready to retire, come on back. There’ll always be a place for you.”

In fact, there was. Travis and their father made sure that Mary was taken care of. At Travis’s request, their dad had willed her the family house and the adjacent five acres on the lake. The property was beautiful, covered with old live oaks, a well-maintained beach, and a large pavilion for family gatherings and parties. And the house. The two-story house was too large for Mary, five bedrooms, an expansive kitchen and adjoining dining room, and a wide, screened porch surrounding all four sides, but she loved it.

Approaching the house and seeing no cars there, she drove on to the family cemetery above the lake. It was a pristine spot. Her dad and grandfather had wisely kept the trees around the shoreline, so that anywhere a person might sit, he would feel the tranquility that only a forest and a lake can provide. The cemetery sat back several yards off the water on high ground. Enclosed by a filigreed wrought-iron fence, it was spacious, large enough to hold many more graves. Mary walked to her parents’ resting places and bent down to pat the fresh mound of earth covering her father.

Will was buried on the other side of her mother. Mary smiled down at Will’s grave and sighed. Even after forty-five years, she pictured him in minute detail, his brown eyes, strong jaw, his big grin, even the cow lick on the crown of his head. She had idolized her big brother. He’d taught her how to drive, how to smoke, how to drink, how to fend off unwanted attentions from the boys. When she was a girl he was always there to protect her. She loved her little brother, Travis, but Will was her hero. He’d been such a terrific young man. What a waste.

Does anyone like my stories or am I whistling in the wind? Let me know what you think. I’d appreciate it.

GHOST HUNTERS FACE NEW PHENOMENA

Posted in Afterlife, Ghost Hunting, Ghosts, Hauntings, Investigating, Paranormal, St. Augustine, Updates, Wednesdays with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 7, 2012 by Dave Lapham

Got out of Dodge this week. I’m holed up in the Best Western in New Smyrna, writing. Let me know who won the election. I read an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal recently. (I take the Journal because it actually has news and not tons of advertisements, and I pay less for it than the Orlando Sentinel.) Anyway, the article. It was written by Matthew Dalton, who wrote about Steve Parsons, a ghost hunter in Wales.

Mr. Parsons has 35 years experience and uses high-tech equipment with a big “dose of skepticism.” His problem is that he feels we’ve been taken over by “TV cameras and tabloid headlines.” There are so many “ghost shows” on TV that paranormal investigating has become entertainment and, according to Mr. Parsons, the “trend has spawned hundreds of amateur ‘ghost clubs’ whose members head out on weekends to scare up a few spirits.”

He points out that as a result of the television exposure there are now about 500 ghost “clubs” in Britain. Ten years ago only some 15 existed. And although many of these groups use the latest technology, many also use worthless gadgets that have flooded the market.

The sad thing is that often TV “investigations” are nothing more than show. I’ve talked to several very competent ghost hunters who’ve been involved with some of them in the U.S., and they agree that in many cases the presentations have nothing to do with reality. Events are often staged for entertainment value and have little to do with serious research.

And due to the popularity of ghost hunting, sites in Britain as well as in the United States that used to allow groups access now either charge or don’t let anyone in at all. Mr. Parsons gave an example of the Carew Castle in Wales, which purportedly houses the non-human ghost of a Barbary ape. The Castle used to charge paranormal groups $240 for investigations; it now charges $560.

We see that here in Florida. The Spanish Military Hospital in St. Augustine, which is listed in my Ghosthunting Florida, became overwhelmed with requests from paranormal groups. It now doesn’t let in any groups. Instead, they conduct in-house investigations and allow individuals to tag along for a price.

The reason I bring this up is because when I read the article, I began thinking about our situation in Florida. How many groups do we now have in the state? Forty? Fifty? I don’t know. I do know that I can count at least 20 I’ve come in contact with. I believe that the majority of the groups I’ve encountered are serious ghost hunters who either desire to help people understand unexplained activity in their homes and businesses or who want to further paranormal science. But how many groups are out there with their flashlights, digital cameras, audio recorders, and K2s banging around cemeteries, historical sites, and abandoned buildings just trying to scare up a little excitement? I would venture quite a few.

And then there are sites to investigate. Mr. Parsons reports that requests for investigations of both homes and businesses in Britain have significantly dropped off because people would rather have “Most Haunted” or “Ghost Adventures” in to do a TV show. I don’t think we have that problem here, but I do think we’re running out of places to investigate. How many times has the Italian Club in Ybor City been investigated? How about Ripley’s in St. Augustine or the Lake Worth Playhouse?

So why am I rambling on about this? I guess I want to emphasize how important it is to be as professional as possible during investigations. And how vital it is to do them for the right reasons, not because it’s more fun to hunt ghosts than to bar hop on Saturday night. We are interested in the paranormal because we believe in an afterlife and that the veil between our life and the next is very thin. So, think about it the next time you’re out on an investigation. Why are you there?

BUCK WARREN Part 2

Posted in Afterlife, Demons, Entities, Ghost Hunting, Ghosts, Hauntings, Paranormal, Saturdays, Stories, Updates with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 3, 2012 by Dave Lapham

No one would go with him, and we couldn’t actually see Crazy Crickbaum’s grave from the gateway. I wanted to make sure Buck didn’t cheat, so I rode around to the other side of the cemetery where I had a perfect view. Sure enough, just after I got off my bike and settled in to watch, there was Buck Warren marching boldly up to the grave of Henry Crickbaum.

Buck stood at the foot of the grave, arms crossed, feet spread apart. I was actually impressed. We hadn’t made any arrangements for him to pick up something from the area to prove he’d been there, but he bent down and grasped an old vase of dead flowers. Then he straightened and stood staring at the headstone.

He had been standing there motionless for about three minutes when a luminescent, chartreuse mist oozed out of the grave and formed a funnel, like a small tornado. As the mass rose, the top of it changed into a human-like torso with an indescribable, fiendish-looking head. Piercing eyes, shark-like teeth, the most evil-looking thing I’d ever seen. I was terrified. I almost vomited.

But Buck. Buck was magnificent. He dropped the flower vase, picked up a fallen tree branch, and swiped at the monster, who darted out of the way. As the beast closed in on him, Buck realized that his defense was useless and backed up, then turned and ran. The demon came after him. Buck looked back, tripped, and fell. The awful creature now hovered over him. I screamed, and the demon looked towards me with his fiery eyes, even though I was a hundred yards away. In that instant Buck leaped up and raced toward the entrance, faster than I’d ever seen him run on the football field. The demon turned to follow him for several yards, stopped, and then vanished from sight.

I jumped on my bike and raced back to the entrance. Panting, I slid to a stop and dropped my bike. Buck was sitting on the ground leaning against one of the arches. His hair was snow white—and he was crying. Everyone else stood there in petrified silence, not knowing exactly what had happened to him or what to say. I looked at Buck and related exactly what I had seen. Well, Buck became a hero, a true legend of Washington Junior High School.

But he was forever changed. He no longer bullied anyone, and even though he was as aggressive on the football field as ever, he treated everyone kindly. He’d hit a runner with a jarring, teeth-rattling tackle—and then help the guy up. Buck and I became good friends and remained so, even though I moved to Cedar Rapids, a hundred miles away.

Several years later, Buck and I joined the Marines and went to Vietnam in the same unit. On Halloween, 1966, our company was overrun by a North Vietnamese battalion. Buck Warren died that night saving our company and me.

Buck was buried in the Ottumwa Cemetery not far from Henry Crickbaum’s grave. The demon there has never been seen again to this day.

BECOMING A PSYCHIC

Posted in Afterlife, Ghost Hunting, Ghosts, Hauntings, Investigating, Paranormal, Psychic, Stories, Updates, Wednesdays with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 31, 2012 by Dave Lapham

I came across a book the other day, HOW TO Develop and Use Psychic Touch, by Ted Andrews. (This book was published in 2001 by Llewellyn, the same folks who published Vivian Campbell’s Stalked by Spirits.) I was intrigued when I saw the book. Ted Andrews, who died at a young fifty-seven in 2009, was a best-selling author and teacher of animistic and shamanistic lore and was most noted for his mystical writings about animals. But more than that, he was really a Renaissance Man. He was a healer, a musician, a clairvoyant. You name it, he did it.

What intrigued me were the titles of some of his books, How to Heal With Color, How To See & Read the Aura, Sacred Sounds, and most especially, HOW TO Develop and Use Psychic Touch. I didn’t know much about Mr. Andrews, but this particular book looked interesting.

In this day and age, we have so much technology at our disposal, ghost hunting has become almost a science. We have instruments to measure electromagnetic fields, to capture photographic evidence of shadows and apparitions, to hear voices from the other side. Even the most insensitive slug (me?) can find evidence of the paranormal. And, yes, most teams have a psychic or very sensitive person on the team, but for most the preponderance of evidence is collected with technology. The psychic on the team sort of mops up and confirms the findings provided by the technology.

So it’s interesting what Mr. Andrews has to say. Here are some random thoughts covered in his book. They are his not mine, but I believe what he says is right. I have just started reading the book, which has exercises at the end of each chapter.

We are all psychic. Almost everyone has had a psychic experience. Have you ever met someone who you think you might have known, and yet you know you’ve never met them. You might even know something about them. Or, when you’re driving down a certain street, and something tells you to turn when you hadn’t planned on it, only to learn later that an accident had occurred farther down. It may be a premonition that something was about to happen, a sudden insight, a hunch. Or you might have heard someone say something to you, either inside your head or out. It may have been a dream, a passing thought, or a smell. We’ve all had them. For example, I normally go to yoga at 6:45 Wednesday mornings. This morning I overslept and didn’t wake up until 6:46, a minute after class began. I awoke to the distinctive smell of the yoga studio. Psychic event? I don’t know, but it was really weird.

And if we’ve had one of these experiences, we can have them again. With study and practice, we can develop psychic abilities that might surprise us. I have a friend who is psychic and who, at one time, had only a vague sense that he was. After a couple of experiences, he decided he needed to find out more and began studying with some well-known mediums. He is now the psychic on a paranormal investigating team.

We know, of course, about our five senses, smell, taste, touch, hearing, and sight. Mr. Andrews considers common sense the sixth sense, which brings our other senses together. When through our experiences we can integrate our five senses, we will often have an awareness of things beyond what those five senses can tell us. “Common sense helps us to see the patterns of our life as defined by the physical senses.” And our seventh sense, our intuition, helps us to recognize where those patterns are likely to lead.

Mr. Andrews goes on to talk about clairsentience and psychometry, how psychometry works, the basics of psychic touch, enhancing your sense of touch, the power of empathy, and so on. If you can find this book, I highly recommend it. (May be a good topic for PIA next year.) In any case, I’m going to plow through this book to see where it takes me.

And on a lighter note, if you haven’t got your copy of my (Parker Lee) Amazon e-book, 12-21-12, do it soon. Time is running out. And if you don’t have a Kindle, Amazon will provide a free app to get Kindle books.

Happy Halloween! (Don’t eat too much candy.)