Last Saturday afternoon, myself, Girlcreeture and our friend Trisha were invited down to Warwick Rhode Island for Paranormal X:The Gathering, a meet and greet/dinner/Q&A/lecture with some of the top paranormal researchers in the area, put on by those bad asses at Scars Magazine.
We got there about 3pm and were steered down stairs to the function halls (ironically set up in the room right next door to the Pennsylvania Christian Foundation meeting). There were a few tables set up with all of the noted guests signing the traditional 8x10s, as well as posing for photos with anyone that asked. It was a nice break from the traditional convention feeling where you wait in line, shake the hand of your celebrity, they sign your pic, thank you, and you are moved on. The guests were not even really at their tables most of the day. They wandered around and got into the various conversations that the attendees were having, thus making it a lot more relaxed and them much more approachable.
I’ve studied spirits and the paranormal quite a bit in my lifetime, but I have to admit I’m very green when it comes to a lot of the “ins and outs” of ghost hunting (a term, I discovered, that most paranormal researchers HATE). So I was very apprehensive about asking questions, for fear that I would ask a “stupid” question that anyone who knows anything about ghosts should know. I’m happy to report that nothing could have been further from the truth. All questions were treated with respect and all of the information discussed was very layman-friendly. Everyone was there to share information and their love for the paranormal.
Everyone was asked to take their seats at 5pm to begin dinner; think wedding buffet. This wasn’t just some food thrown out to put something in our stomachs, either; it was some high-class stuff. Fresh steamed veggies, and artichoke chicken are just some samples of what were ate up (no sweet potato rangoons. though…).
Once the dishes were cleared and everyone hit the bar for a refill, the guest began too take the stage. Again, different from conventions, the speakers stood in front of the crowd on the floor to present their material, which mad it all seem a little more personal.
First up was Karen Mossey, an expert in EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon). She’s the consultant for “The Ghost Whisperer” as well as White Noise. She has been recording EVPs for years and began recording after the loss of her son at age 23, followed soon after by the death of her father. She explained the various concepts of the “hows” and the “whys” of EVPs and the different ways to record (everything from a $2000.00 digital recorder to a $10.00 handheld analog tape recorder). She spent the remaining time of her lecture playing dozens of voices that she had saved to her laptop, ranging from barely discernable beeps in static to crystal clear voices. Her finale was one of her first recordings in a cemetery. It was a minute and a half of what sounded like a doorway to another place. The tape went from the birds in the surrounding trees to a dead silence that gave birth to a low rumble that sounded as if the recorder was being thrown around. Then all at once out of the audible chaos came a chorus of voices, as if you opened the door to a large party. You could pick out a word here and there, but it was so much at once, it was hard to concentrate on just one voice. The voices rose louder and more chaotic and then seemed to just fizzle out in a discharge of static and then nothing but the birds in the trees. She stated that it was a clear, windless, 70-degree day and the recorder was placed on a flat cement surface. She has gone back to the same place, on the same date, at the same time each year, and has not been able to catch that kind of incident again. Very cool stuff!
Next up was Brian Harnois. You remember him at the cell-phone obsessed investigator from the Sci Fi Channel’s “Ghost Hunters”. Although no longer on the show, Brian is still involved in investigations. He let a small cat out of the bag that he and another ex “GH” alumni have just shot a pilot overseas in the same vein as “Ghost Hunters” and are looking for distribution. Here’s to hoping, as Brian was one of the main reasons I watched “GH”. He was the audience in my opinion. Sure, sometimes he made me shake my head and wonder, “What the hell are you doing”, but I have to be honest; Brian is much different off of the show. He was approachable and warm and friendly and willing to share any and all incidents/occurrences/stories with anyone who asked.
He revealed that he began being interested in ghosts after a sleepover at a friend’s house where he witnessed a full body apparition walk through the room they were sleeping in.
He expanded on many of the investigations that were shown (and some of the stuff that was NOT shown) on “GH”, as well. His off the cuff story telling was a refreshing change from the usual, dry, statistical monologues that many researchers can deliver.
The best story he told was one where he failed to “protect himself” before going on an investigation, thus “bringing home” the ghost of a little girl. Even funnier was that his resolution to the problem was to bring home a “haunted doll” from an investigation. You know…to give the little ghost girl something to play with. It seemed to work for as long as he had the doll in his house, there was no activity. The day that he brought the doll back to the owners, as he put it, “all hell broke loose in his house”.
The third lecture was from twin brothers Carl and Keith Johnson and Sandra Johnson, also “Ghost Hunter” veterans. Both Cark and Keith are Demonologists; they study demons and such things as possessions, house cleansings, Shadow people, imps, and the like.
Theirs was the most structured lecture. They both presented their lecture together, very rarely talking over each other. Armed with terminology and basic definitions of the hierarchy of evil sprits, along with a killer Power Point presentation filled with videos clips of exorcisms and cleansings put together and overseen by Sandra. What could have been a boring, sleep inducing presentation, became my favorite.
They tread over most of the basic information that we have all heard at one point or another; Ouija boards, automatic writing, and using yourself as a conduit for a spirit is a bad thing if done alone or inexperienced. Very rarely does the devil himself make an appearance. It is usually “just a demon”. They discussed some of the house cleansings that they have been a part of and let me tell you; they’ve seem a lot of freaky stuff. Their lecture seemed to be much too short for my liking, as it seemed just as they were getting going they had to stop and it was on to the next presenter.
The fourth lecture was presented by the “Ghost Hunters’ Divas of Darkness, namely Lisa Dowaliby, Paula Donovan, and (my own little “GH” crush) Donna La Croix. They discussed various topics from a woman’s role in paranormal research to reading and interpreting your magnetic waves from your research instruments (to be honest … I talked with Paula at our table over dinner for a good 15 minutes about what she did and went to school for. And I had no idea what the hell she was talking about!- The woman is not only cool, but a frigging genius!). Again we found out through the Q&A how each one of them began researching ghosts and why. Their presentation seemed to be very off the cuff as the topics discussed varied between the three of them depending on the question asked.
And last but not least was the very cool Tom D’Agostino.
Tom was presenting the History of Rhode Island Vampirism, how Rhode Island was one of, if not the most vampiric place in history. Salem, Mass had the witch trials, Rhode Island had vampire hysteria.
Back in the 1800s, when a female died between the ages of 15-18, there was cause for alarm, as it was feared that she was a vampire. The way they would test if she was truly a bloodsucker was to dig up the body a short time after it was buried and if it had one or more of the following “signs” she was a vampire:
Well, as we have come to find out in the last century, most of the above traits are very normal for a corpse after death from Tuberculosis (or “consumption” as it would be come to be known). The body’s hair and nails continue to grow on account of proteins. Many times, people would die in the winter and be placed in a frozen grave. Obviously in such cases the body would not decompose as fast as it would in higher temperatures. One of the symptoms of TB was coughing up blood, hence the blood in or around the mouth. And there was very little embalming going on back in the day, so there would almost certainly be blood left in the heart.
Once a person was discovered to be vampire, their body would be dug up and the heart and lungs would be removed and burned. Then those ashes were fed to the remaining members of the family as protection from the vampirism that could affect them. But if they died, they were obviously already infected. Yeah….cause eating the ash remains of a tuberculosis infected loved one would not make you sick or die. Man…
Tom sited way more instances that I thought could ever be true, but were. His presentation was very loose and he seemed very nervous to be speaking in front of a large crowd. He pulled it off well, though, making jokes to try and ease the morbid subject matter. It made it even funnier that he was laughing at his own jokes. Again, very cool guy in a very outrageous presentation.
The whole day was put together Scars Magazine; John and Ray did an amazing job putting/holding this day together. They did everything, from stuff and hand out goodie bags to last minute run too Kinko’s for the programs (no worries mate- nobody noticed the spelling) to working their magic getting the bat to open early. These guys personally made everyone who walked through the door feel welcome. I can’t recommend this event enough!
This was the first of its kind that I’ve heard of, but hopefully it will be (at minimum) an annual event. I am already looking forward to next years. Keep an eye here and on the Scars magazine MySpace page for upcoming events!
Recount you experiences with the other side in the Dread Central forums!
Want free stuff? Bring us new blood!