Sue and I are admittedly not devoutly religious folks, but we still do celebrate Christmas as a shared cultural experience and with the reverence of the season's history (including the Christian origins of the holiday and acknowledging - of course - Saturnalia, Hogmanay, and Yule,) so we do hope you'll accept our wishes to you and your family of Merry Christmas and the Happiest of New Years.
I would like to take this time in the season to address a few things since my (my personal) last posting...
First, of course, I'd like to remind people that are not in the know that yes, this is the season to tell "scary ghost stories". I have covered this in the past, but of course, before Halloween became a phenomena (which has spread and is still spreading world-wide - "trick-or-treating" and the like was PRETTY MUCH relegated to North America until almost the late 1970's,) ghost stories were historically told at Christmas... an institution better known still in Britain with the M.R. James offerings being best known then here on this side of the pond... save the lyrics to "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" and in Toronto, some may remember Robertson Davies having a similar tradition at University of Toronto as well.
Of course, most people know the most famous Christmas ghost story... which also reminded us, not all ghosts are scary... some are tailor made to be played by Brian Blessed in a good mood... (although Robbie Coltrain did it proud too at least once...)
Of course, all this has been covered before... so allow me to move on to more personal stuff here...
These last few months for Sue and myself have been personally tough. I shan't go into details save to say there was a bad scare that lately has improved and will continue to improve... but it did a couple of things...
One is it taxed our time and energy a bit, and although Sue has soldiered on doing updates, she's also been in recovery mode... and we would like to thank EVERYONE who kept us in their thoughts and prayers... it has been a tough time... but things are better... and there's only a few more hills to climb... so again, thank you.
Although no doubt, the above concern was (and is) the main one, as we're based in Toronto, we got whacked with the ice storm a few days (from writing this) back... I took these photos close to my "day job" office to demonstrate...
Toronto (and all the areas around us) were covered in a beautiful, but nasty covering of ice which gave everything, including the trees, the appearance of being made of delicate glass... it was stunning...
More interesting photos here...
...and also, horrible as the weight of these ice-laden branches brought down power lines and at this time, tens of thousands of people in Toronto are still without power four-days on now... and are celebrating Christmas without light and more often than not, without heat too. The wonderful Christmas snow we had this morning came with frigid temperatures which many must endure... and Sue and I know we're fortunate that our lights and heat were only gone just over three days, we only lost a few food items from our fridge and spent three nights in the cold with candles and (thankfully) a gas range (cooker for our UK friends) to ensure we stayed fairly toasty and had hot food....
...and you thought Toronto was only good for our mayor! We also do storms pretty relentlessly too!
This was no where near the horrors suffered by Eastern Ontario and Quebec in 1998, but as any Canadian will tell you, Torontonians are notoriously thin-skinned and easily upset... still, this has been very bad and as stated, is ongoing for many... our thoughts are with those people still coming through this holiday with the lights out...
Why this is mentioned here is that we were telling people that it may be January 15th to respond to mail and requests... and that's never been more true. We now have a back-log of about four days mail. We'll do our VERY best to respond to everyone, but please remember that we don't offer or have "emergency" services, so we do ask that you be patient during this time of year... especially with our mail servers down with the ice... and remember, we read all the mail you send us, and we will respond to every e-mail that requires response by or before January 15th, 2014.
Lastly, with the mention of January and the new year, Sue and I would like to sincerely wish each and everyone reading this a happy, healthy, prosperous, and safe New Year... and may 2014 be a better time for everyone...
....aaaaaaaaaaand six quick PS notes!
First, if you want some fun, consider signing up to our message board at this time of the year and give us YOUR 2014 predictions! (No, you don't HAVE to be psychic, just give it some thought and give us you honest impressions of what 2014 might bring... it's a genuinely pseudo-scientific 'study' of how folks of any stripe do in terms of prognostications... No prizes, not winners or losers... and I always give mine and am usually horrible wrong... so consider giving it a go! http://psican.org/links/mboardpreds/
Next, if you haven't already, check out PSICAN's Facebook and other forums. Details about them are available at http://psican.org/facebook/
Third, if you haven't yet, PLEASE have a look at and consider participating in our "Remote Viewing" experiment... http://psican.org/2013.RV.Experiment/
Fourth, if you haven't read this yet, PLEASE revisit and read about our Christmas Miracle... we hope you like it. http://psican.org/links/miracle001/
Fifth, allow me to pass along a PERSONAL (Matthew) reccomendation for Christmas music... my all time favourite Christmas album is The Chieftain's The Bells of Dublin (the link beside here is to iTunes, but there's other places to get it... and you should!) which is just wonderful... Here's a YouTube sample below which is my favourite tune on the album, but the whole thing is worth the listen! (Click the image below...)
Lastly on this extended P.S., I will be HOPEFULLY putting up not so much a rant, but an introspection of things within a few weeks... as we said, it's been... an interesting few months... but we're optimistic for the year ahead and again, wish YOU the very best for 2014!
We love to hear your personal experiences with ghosts, and hauntings in the province of Ontario so please do keep sending them in. Your privacy will be protected, and witness comfort is our primary concern. You may email us directly at submissions AT torontoghosts.org or submissions AT ontarioghosts.org
For those that are reading this... or finished my last rant... thanks for sticking it out past "ghost season"! You guys, the ones that are as interested in the subject in early May as you are in October, are the ones that usually are the greatest contributors and indeed, help with the study.
Now that we have a little time, I figured I'd like to tell you where we're going in terms of what we're up to for the next few months...
First, we do have our ongoing Remote Viewing Experiment which, if you haven't had a look, please consider helping us out now... it's open to everyone and all done online.
We already have the NEXT experiment planned for Spring of 2014 (provided everything goes to order!)
We also have had people say they have an interest in an in-person meeting where anyone could come and discuss "things paranormal". I will be very honest and state that we did try this a few times in Toronto with limited success in terms of attendance. This said, we may consider another "kick at the can", so to speak, in early 2014... nothing like a "convention" or that sort of thing, more a slightly more formal meet-up... but that would be determined later and subject to interest and availability. If we do go ahead with a public meeting or the like, it will most likely first be announced on our message board.
Consider this, we do here people note that things are kind of local to one area... basically, they wonder why it's so "Toronto-centric"? This is because Sue and myself are from (and live in) Toronto... and don't have the funds or means to travel too far afield. As such, we keep things local... but...
PSICAN, as a group, is not like most other North American groups... as you can be a PSICAN member without living in Toronto or even seeing us face-to-face!
PSICAN works this way...
If you have an interest, are willing to answer questions and join in conversations online, and complete the membership protocols successfully, you're a member!
All a "member" means is...
#1: You have demonstrated a knowledge and ability in terms of things in the paranormal field.
#2: You have demonstrated an ability to put aside personal beliefs for firm data or the ability to see many potential answers to mysteries.
#3: You have proven to understand ethical behaviour in the study and when dealing with experients.
#4: You have a passion and a commitment to these studies.
What you get by being a member is...
#1: Access to information as we can provide it... from books, to videos, to other members input who've worked as hard as you to earn the spot.
#2: Data and witness/experient information as it's available in your particular area of interest and location.
#3: Well, we're working on this one... I'll say more when we're closer to getting it hammered out... but it's a "thing" that will generally help everyone, but as a member, you'll have better and broader access. This idea is likely to take a couple of years...
NOW, how much does this cost YOU if you were to do it?
Nothing. Nada. Zip.
We really just want good colleagues!
You can even be a member of another group AND a PSICAN member too! It's pretty much similar to belonging to an academic body....
Why am I bringing this up?
If you live in an area that needs a PSICAN like body or group, please consider being a member and we will help (as we can) get things rolling for you... Perhaps you can start something in your own neck of the woods and as such, contribute to the study as a whole....
...or be an independent and become a PSICAN member for the extra help and info when needed.
Like I said, we don't charge and we don't ask for money... and we most certainly do not "sell" information or the like...
What it is, for those new to this, is Sue and I are experients ourselves and indeed, want to have colleagues who we can trust, count on, and generally know when we float ideas, hypotheses, or general thoughts to, we will get good feedback and maybe spark other thoughts and ideas.
Truly a "share" situation.
We do not want "group think" as such, save in the idea that these things should be examined properly and from the standpoint of observation of what and potentially why... not based on belief, faith, hope, or philosophy only... though those items may play a role in interpretation.
Basically, we are trying to model ourselves (unabashedly) on groups like The Society for Psychical Research and The Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena (as examples). We believe Canada would benefit as a whole from this sort of more academic way of looking into things.
If you agree, and are willing... we'd love to have you on the team, so to speak... consider this a recruiting drive.
ANYWAY, with that in mind....
As we now get into "ghost off season"(<- Yes, a joke!) and into the Winter and festive months, I may scale back my personal blog posts to around one per month... this is because I am hitting the books and doing up a couple of research projects on the go (sadly, for other people... not for me so I can't discuss them too much,) amongst other obligations... of course, I will be available (as always) through e-mail (email@example.com) and through our message board...
...but other than that, I've gots me nose to the grindstone!
So, again, thanks for hanging in there... we do constant updates to the sites that Sue lists here on a fairly regular basis... and of course, the message board and (for better or worse) the Facebook group are chugging along...
...and now that "ghost season" is indeed over for another three-hundred and so days, we can really get down to some data to sink all our teeth into!
"Isn't like Hallowe'en like the bestest time for you, Matthew? Isn't it like the most enjoyable time EVAR for you!?!"
Not at all.
...at least, not for many years.
Pity poor Sue and I as the day quickly approaches...
Every damned year around now, it's the same...
"Hi there! I'm with the media, I've never read any of your stuff, and I want you to take me to a haunted house/whatever and show me some witnesses that are pooping their pants in fear! You'll be FAMOUS (sorta)..."
"I'm a student film-maker/whatever with the highly original idea of basically asking you to either do what the mainstream guy above asked for, of interviewing you in a really cool and haunted location! YOU set it up and I'll show up! It'll be AWESOME!"
"Hi... I asked you to send me a list of scary haunted houses me and my friends can freak out in and you haven't because YOU SUCK!!!"
"Whadya mean breaking into that cemetery to see the ghosts on Halloween night is illegal and wrong? YOU'RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME!!!!"
"Why can't I join your ghost hunting team NOW!?! I wanna hunt GHOSTS and I don't wanna wait until January to start!!!!"
"Oh wow! I bet you have the COOLEST Halloween parties because of your work!!!"
"Can you speak to my group/organistion and bring all your evidence to show us spooky ghosts! We want to be amused by you!"
...oh, and with the media requests...
"Can we take pictures of your house/offices (the latter of which we don't even have,) because we assume it looks like a set from The Addams Family!"
Thanks to WikiCommons for the image above...
Did you know it's not unusual on Halloween proper to be called on the phone by panicking media types who forgot what day it was requesting interviews and the like... and they usually start calling at around 5am.
FOR THE RECORD...
I did love Halloween... heck, here's a picture of me, aged eighteen in the mid-1980's...
...and yes, that's a man who loved the "Victorian Whore-House/Mausoleum/Funeral Parlour" aesthetic a LOT! I pretty muched lived it until I turned thirty! I still have a "thing" for it, but it's now an appreciation... not a way of life.
Our home, also, is not at all spooky... save as War of 1812 reenactors, I do have some swords and a "display" (not working) musket on my wall... otherwise, it's a "ragged" white wall with mostly bookshelves filled with history and yeah, paranormal books that are immediately visible. You're FAR more likely to find a toy Dalek on a shelf being displayed than ghostly stuff.
Media requests for us to embarrass ourselves or others? Well... read this (click here).
In a nutshell, ask and the answer will be a knee-jerk two-letter response... and the anagram of that word is "ON"... and no, we DON'T care who you are. Read that article I linked to just above.
As for the days leading up to Halloween? I was booked by the end of September from October 4th through November 3rd... and as this hobby is not how I earn my daily bread, (I work full time doing something else,) I am unavailable (and usually exhausted) most weekdays anyway.
This... the "paranormal studies" hobby of mine, however, has really drained the fun of Hallowe'en from me.
Being in my late forties, the parties have ramped down with a VENGEANCE! To be honest, since my late twenties, I tend not to be all that "woo-hoo" in the party/social occasion... kids and age have that affect.
I've covered this and covered this... and I've done in nicely... but to be quick and brusk, no, you CANNOT join the team between September and November because, again, we don't charge anything and taking in new people is genuine WORK! Marking the exam, reading the articles... and at this time, MOST people just assume they join, we hand them the keys to a haunted house, a night-vision camera, and then they have the chance to run around being frightened yelling, "What the hell was that?" every few minutes just like those teevee show they like.
Last year, we had over forty complaints from people that DESPERATELY needed to be paranormal investigators... they were all told to wait until December... almost all complained bitterly... less than five knew to be a part of our group required more than a desire to wear matching outfits and look like some bizarre paranormal gadget-ninja for a potential YouTube video. ONE person came back in December. Fourteen people basically gave me right-royal crap for not letting them come ghost hunting with us... because (fill in a variety of reasons here including how committed they were - but apparently not committed enough to come back a few months later - or how psychic they were or even how much money they have...)
This October has also seen an increase in the "I Need To Look Smart So Let Me Mock You" sceptic stupidity... and again, using 'sceptic' here to describe these people is being VERY economical with that words true meaning as not only do these people not "doubt" as a rule, (they are 100% certain it's all nonsense,) but lately they've gotten unbelievably infantile and dumb.
As a personal and current example, I usually limit my own speaking engagements a lot (especially at this time of year) because, to be frank, I'm probably not what the people requesting the speaking engagement want... They either want a ghost-hunting reality-ish television plumber to "Ooo!" and "Ahh!" over while they discuss their terrifying business, or they want a ghost-hunting reality-ish television plumber to laugh and point at and grind down using their brilliant 'scepticism'. This year, the latter has been more prevalent so far... and as such, I did only one talk for a charitable organisation... that still went badly... as I tried to tailor the talk at the last minute to cover off the things my eavesdropping (on certain conversations prior to my speech) were going to be addressed "at" me. In other words, although *most* in attendance were nice and the talk was supposed to be friendly, a handful there were sharpening up their verbal knives to hunt woo-woo. For my trouble and efforts to cover the bases, I was referred to by one fellow who was at the gathering as a "f_cking a__hole".
Once home, Sue pointed out that we were treated with a LOT more courtesy when she spoke (and we both attended) a meeting at Skeptics Canada.
The incident this year may SEEM like a one-off and most invited talks are not like this... and most actually aren't... (most of them want the spooky-boo stuff which can be equally irritating as we really don't have any spooky-boo material to show...) but every year, someone from CFI/CSI (formerly CSICOP) or a like-minded group wants to speak to one of us for an article or something... or, more frequently, they want us to speak to them as a group. To be honest, I used to enjoy speaking with sceptics and still consider myself a legitimate (doubting - not denying) sceptic, and I do like people who challenge things and ask hard questions... but this new breed of hipster sceptic that's out in force right now is just... well... like I said above, "infantile and dumb".
Recently, we have heard (again) of nitwits going to public libraries and removing paranormal books from the "Non-Fiction" shelves to the "Children's Fiction" sections. Earlier this month, at a favourite out-of-town used bookstore of Sue's and mine, someone moved the entire "Paranormal" section, tag and all, from their non-fiction area and wedged it in between "Sci-Fi/Fantasy" and "Literature - Classical Fiction". Guerilla sceptics are proudly and openly re-editing Wiki pages like crazy trying to protect the world from dangerous thoughts and ideas they deem unworthy... and all of this often includes, (because they're not paying attention,) books about things like debunking UFOs, history and folklore of Vampires, and even self-help/affirmation books.
This is because *they* are WAY smarter than you or I AND they know what's best for us AND indeed, they will show us the way! As one group proudly says about their censoring, moving, editing/spinning efforts to save us all from things like Rupert Sheldrake... "Its all about having fun and changing the world".
Right now, I'm guessing they re-broadcast Penn and Teller's television program Bullsh_t on Ghosts as I've had MORE than a handful of turdwaffles use the whole "Why are ghosts dressed? Do the clothes have a soul?" to prove that there's no such thing as ghosts ever... and when I argue the point I've made time and time again about this, (short version: We don't know why apparitions are seen as clothed... but people still see them as dressed as a rule, so perhaps we need to find out why... but this doesn't prove non-existence, just poses a good question.) do they stop and say, "Good point!" or, "At least you've thought about this, though I still don't believe you."?
They win because they win because they're smart and it's all nonsense and that's that!
In other words, they are AS BAD as those that say things are because they know they are and that's all anyone needs to shut up.
We've gone from "If You Can't Attack The Data, Attack The Person. It's Easier And No One Will No The Difference Anyway." to "If You Can't Attack The Data, Pretend You Did, Call The Person a Name, And Declare Victory."
At the bottom of EVERY page in PSICAN is the following...
The paranormal is "...beset by True Believers ('They must be, therefore they are!') and True Unbelievers ('They can't be, therefore they aren't!') Rare are those who pursue evidence wherever it may lead, no matter how the results may square with their cherished hopes and dreams. Ironically, both the TBists and the TUists see themselves as champions of objective analysis and critical thinking, when in fact they are defenders of their respective faiths and, not incidentally, their egos." - Karl Pflock
The late Mr. Pflock is right... and simply calling someone a name, oddly enough, doesn't win the argument.
This October, the fake sceptics and their really stupid, warped, and useless antics are ramped up for some reason.... a bit more than most years too. My guess, like the seasonal ghost hunters who don't think of the topic until Walmart puts up it's Hallowe'en displays, the moronic activities of these sceptics are normally channelled into ordering full-caf soy-milk lattes while fixing their fashion scarves, listening to bands you've probably never heard of, and quoting sound-bites or twitter posts from Richard Dawkins to prove their intellectual prowess... but it's "ghost season" now.
FOR THE RECORD: These new-breed hipster faux sceptics who practice "guerilla tactics" do make most of the real sceptics (even the devout non-believer ones) sad as they know that their brand of stupidity hurts everyone... even their own cause.
Here's a giggle for you, the reader though... I realise now that I'm most likely preaching to the choir!
If you've read this far, seriously, I sincerely doubt you're one of those people who I've semi-tagged above as being on my crap list. Time and experience has taught me that anyone reading to this point is actually INTERESTED in the subject more than someone who doesn't really give it any thought until the local grocery store puts out their Hallowe'en treats and forgets about the topic as soon as November rolls on in.
THIS is why I can complain to you... I'm certain you can see it.
We're not here for fans, fame, and fortune, we (Sue and I... and maybe yourself) are here because we, ourselves are experients... and are looking into things... and oddly enough, I'm reading ghostly books, visiting ghostly sites, discussing things ghostly on Valentines day as well as the end of October.
The real tipping points for me with this hobby killing my Hallowe'en spirit started a while back with the media requests as they assume we can't WAIT to be in front of a camera... which is bollocks... they treat you like dirt more often than not.
The next one is this nonsense that Sue wrote about here...
The idea that this person honestly figured that they only had interests in a study they "loved" for about four months out of twelve "maybe", was infuriating... and the more I looked, the more I found these seasonal ghost experts, authorities, and others... and that genuinely angered me.
These aren't colleagues, they're little more than bandwagon jumpers who put on a face of being caring and seeking knowledge when a television camera is around or they might sell an "e-book" or trinket or two.
As we openly shun media and have no products we need to promote hard, yes, we can say this is not only stupid, but unfair to you, who'd like materials that has actual hard research and effort put into it, but the crap put out by these Johnny-come-lately is usually generally reprehensible. You're not here to fluff an ego that needs fandom or to throw money at an e-book written by someone who admits they don't care about their topic for literally two-thirds of a working year... it's insulting to us NOT ONLY as people running these websites, but as experients ourselves.
The last nail also has been around for a long time... but it took other's for this to be TRULY the last nail... and that's the seasonal ghost enthusiasts who feel it's our duty to provide them with entertainment. This is a little forgiveable in SOME ways as often, people are writing because, okay, they want to have a bit of fun and that's all... and I wrote this article for people local to us about places they can visit.
...but you may (or may not) be shocked at the amount of people who, when we point out this article and nothing more, write back to berate us. They treat us like they are the WORST customers at a moderately expensive restaurant with us playing the part of a poor, schleppy waiter who put the wrong soup in front of them and served a room-temperature glass of white wine.
I often hold back wanting to tell them they can have a complete refund for the services we haven't rendered... as this would amount to ZERO as we don't charge... and at last check, it's not our job to help facilitate rather questionable people (a word the rhymes with Gucci or "Sloosh-ie" beginning with "D" comes to mind,) a chance to show their friends how BRAVE they are at the real haunted place or to give them a chance to jump-scare their friends so they can snap a fantastically embarrassing photo of their buddies being scared "poop-less" for Facebook or Instagram... but that would be a waste of typing. I usually send a one-word answer... "sorry"... and that's it for me.
Again, SOME people are nice when we simply tell them about the article we have prepared... but a shocking amount are not at all nice. I'm averaging about one or two per week of the not-so-nice types with ten days to go until Hallowe'en...
...and yeah, it spoils my All Hallow's Eve mood...
...well, the fan-seeking darlings of "ghost season" and the demanding ghost seekers, and the intrusive and expectant media have made things not-so-great...
Now that you know this, allow me to remind...
It's not all bad and not everything is about my complaining...
Sue and I *do* enjoy our neighbourhood on Halloween... we walk through, admiring the decorations and the costumes and THAT is genuinely nice... so on Halloween proper, guaranteed we're not available... because we're calming down and thinking about how, within a few days, the hustle and bustle of this season with the "Seasonal Paranormal Fans" will be over... and we can re-concentrate on the real work and studies...
We do like the aesthetic and will be bargain hunting for fun Hallowe'en decorating items.. (I'll tell you about that in a moment...)
We also do, as stated, walk through and visit our entire neighbourhood on Hallowe'en night... which is usually an amazing thing to see in our neck of the woods.
So, it's all not doom and gloom...
If you like Hallowe'en and ghosts... and don't want to loath the coming of the season...
Don't make our mistakes.
Don't run a paranormal group or website... or if you do, lay the law down HARD and simple for visitors and don't let anyone spoil your Samhain revelry.
We will be having a good time October 31st through to the weekend... but October is a HARD month for us for all the wrong reasons!
THIS SAID, to you from us...
Oh yeah, those decorations we buy? After Hallowe'en?
Well, it is true, our house isn't "Chateau d'Faux Goth" nor could it be mistaken as an old set from The Munsters, but we do love our Christmas time... and... well... have a look at a close up of our tree.
You see, those media folks that want to see our home would probably be depressed to see it at Hallowe'en... but Christmastime might be more to their liking!
What? We're weird? You're only figuring this out NOW!?!
Happy Hallowe'en again... and yeah, we'll have some fun when the silly has died down! :
Welcome to Pandering to the Media et al 102... in which the next most common question we get at this time is where does one actually go to see a "real ghosts".
I must caveat above here with the words (in scary quotes,) "real ghosts" as the absolute best place to see a ghost, guaranteed, is at one of those dark-ride haunted houses/rides, or in a movie/television program...
...but let's assume we mean a ghost as in someone feels that really experienced something at this place that was considered paranormal in nature.
You're going to hate... Hate... HATE this answer when I give it to you, but if you want me to be honest...
Go to a haunted place.
That's the best advice I can give you.
"But wait!", I hear some of you saying, "How do I know if a place is haunted?"
Simple. If someone said or says they ran into something in a place they think is a ghost, that place is effectively as haunted as the next.
"Really? C'mon!" you might intone, "That could be ANYWHERE!"
Here's the problem...
Below I will list for you the absolute, unequivocal evidence that EVERYONE accepts that shows ghosts exist. This is the ONLY evidence that no one should argue with and no one in science would dispute. Below, is the complete list to assist everyone in properly and verifiably saying ghosts exist...
#1: People say they experience ghosts.
Oh? You wanted more? You expected information about recordings, photos, electro-magnetic field readings, or psychical readouts? Sorry, none of those have been accepted as absolute proof of ghosts... and most of those are questionable in the extreme in terms of even being helpful in establishing ghostly experiences as being something "external" to the witness... in other words, that ghosts are not all in our mind.
This said, I do personally believe (can't prove, but I do believe) that some... MAYBE even most reported ghostly experiences are external and not "all in the witnesses head", but the problem is 'belief' is not 'fact'... and if you wish to measure and quantify something, you need facts.
People are working on and at things to find 'facts', but to date, anyone being honest has to realise that the ONLY evidence that should be universally accepted about ghosts currently is that people say they experience them.
Ergo: A place can be considered haunted provided someone says they experienced something there.
Sorry to rain on that parade, but I do have some good news... we CAN increase the potential (if possible) by simply looking into the statistics of a place.
For example... and I must go "non-ghostly" here...
If I wanted to see a wild brown bear in it's natural habitat, where should I go?
Answer: The woods is probably a good place to start.
So, if I take someone to the woods (after all, loads of people say they see bears in the woods,) will I see a wild bear?
Probably not... unless...
...have a lot of people seen wild bears in this area I take you to?
Not only one or two, but many people?
Obviously, the more people who have experienced something at a site, the better the chances of you witnessing something.
So, we now have a place where multiple people have experienced a ghost.
How do you find THAT out?
This is where, like it or not, you'll have to do some research.
You need to find out about haunted sites and look at reports.
It's in doing this that you will be surprised to find something out... which those of us working in earnest in the field have known for a long time...
That old abandoned creepy looking house which everyone knows is haunted and there's even stories about satanic rituals and/or murders... is probably not haunted at all and probably is not all that evil.
Abandoned homes, cemeteries, forgotten tunnels, and the like usually get unfairly tagged because they "look" creepy. Human nature, being what it is, usually says if something looks creepy, it is creepy, and there MUST be a reason... and in time, usually the neighbourhood kids come up with an awesome story and whammo! A legend is born! (Case in point... with corrections!)
How will you find this out?
Find your area, go to the library, go to trustworthy websites, look up the history of the reports.... and preferably, what's been documented and looked into for verification.
Is the story about the site BS?
Let's face it, as much as people love to say, "The murder was hushed up!", even before Twitter, it was next to impossible to contain a nasty find or situation from the actual press. Google the address or site name... can you find a historical document about a crime or odd death? If not, take all reports with a BIG grain of salt. Chances are, at that point, any criminal or "news-worthy" event was a construct to make a place more creepy (and therefore "HAUNTED!!! BOO!!!!") by someone trying to thrill their friends.
Heck, one famous "castle" in Toronto tells the ghost story of the man who fell to his death on the site... and a man did fall... you can find information about that... but you will also find that he didn't die there... or even of the fall... but the ghost story is re-told to impress patrons anyway. (Economy with the truth is the hallmark of people that NEED someplace to be creepy.)
Next, how many people over time have had experiences at the reported haunted place?
You'll find many of the best "ghost stories" are actually one-off tales twice told... In other words, what happened to one person (which makes a great story to be re-told,) is indeed, told and told and told again. A place with only one reported experience is dubbed massively haunted... but it was only one or two witnesses once... and their stories are just repeated. If you're trying to find a "haunted" spot, you want lots of experients (the fancy word for witnesses) on different dates.
Next, ignore most of the ghost hunters web presences when the place you're interested in (via them) isn't a well documented site through another source.
This does not pertain to everyone, but a shockingly (not really) large portion of 'ghost hunters' play up the frequency and the type of experience they know about or had at a place. Most of them want attention... and that's hard to get when you say "Nothing happened" or "Some stuff happened, but it was kind of boring". Find books and newspaper articles... how far back do reports go prior to the 'ghost hunter' getting involved?
This, of course, is a judgement call because there is always the chance that the ghost hunter stumbled upon something first, but if we're aiming at quick finds, how many chances are you willing to take that may turn out to be a... um... "dead end"?
If your best source is only one source that has much to gain by being "dramatic", then maybe you should examine other information.
Lastly, is it safe or legal to have a look?
Okay, simplicity says breaking and entering or trespassing just shouldn't be done EVER.... and if most people bothered to have a look, they'd find that most "frequent witness sites" tend to be (gasp!) open to people to wander around quite legally!
Sure, not at 3am when the ghosts are all out and...
3am is NOT necessarily when all the ghosts are around!?!
Welcome to the next truism... for those that NEED to go "ghost hunting" at night, admit it... you're doing it because it's more creepy.
Now, hold on... I can think of ONE good reason... and that is because at night, there is less "foot traffic" (other people) to muck up recordings or the like, but beyond that, anyone who's even 1/4 looked into reports knows that most of the really detailed reports happen... at "normal" times.
In other words, between 6am and about 11pm as a rule.
Well, witnesses is a big reason!
Most ghost stories are not passed on to people by policemen or security guards, but by other folks doing their normal stuff when something "not-so-normal" (maybe "para-normal"?) happens... and voila!
You'll be shocked to hear, most people doing housework in a home aren't doing it at 2:30am. Most people at a bank aren't there at midnight. Heck, most people at bars and restaurants aren't there too long after closing... they have homes to go to.
...so the lion's share of sightings and experiences are at more normal times.
Again, the only reason for SOME investigations in the wee hours is because a phantom set of footsteps probably would go completely unnoticed in a shopping mall at 4:30pm... but not at 2am... this said, why is the investigation taking place? If the experients were all "normal folks", unless it was the overnight security guard, it would make more sense to be there when/where things happened... not simply pluck a late-night out of the air...
After all, going back to my non-ghostly model, heading out to the woods at noon would probably not be a great time to see a bear and would greatly impeded the chances... because you're more likely to see said bear at late dusk. If late dusk is the best time for bear sightings, would it make sense to go at 10:30am with a wee picnic brunch?
Okay, if our main experient (preferably experientS) have experienced stuff at dinner time, why on Earth would you assume 3am is a good time to find the ghost?
So much for "ghost hour" and "light's out"!
So, if you want to experience something, figure out...
#1: The number of sightings over time. How many different experients over time?
#2: Is there any truth to any legends or stories of the place you're going to? Are the ghostly things coming from a single source or from a source that needs to promote their own ghostly experiences?
#3: Is it okay to be at that place to see what happens?
I will add one more little thought... call it #3a...
If you go to this site to look at things, are you going to potentially embarrass yourself and make that place hate all people interested in ghosts?
Most places are "okay" with a passing interest, but will want to focus on their current activities instead... and if you visit, you should either be informed (and potentially prepared) for this or prepared to allow them to teach you about THEIR stuff, not the ghostly stuff. Show respect and decorum... and you'll do well.
So, let's look at my native (and local) Toronto... and see what fits the criteria.
For the record, I have done up a page listing places to visit in Ontario (the most popular page on the site!) but let's narrow it down to one place... and the site I'm going to pick on is...
Old Fort York... or Historic Fort York.
It meets every criteria...
...and best of all...
#3a: Although not a "ghost site" (they don't advertise or 'sell' themselves based on their ghostly lore) our experience has shown that if mentioned in a friendly way to staff AND if you let the staff do their jobs (which is teach about the fort and it's history) and you approach when it's convenient for them (one-on-one with you and not when they may be addressing a crowd... especially kids...) they will at least entertain the notion of discussing the things that have been reported there.
In other words, not "ghost friendly" as such, but not "unfriendly" either... which means you can look into things provided you're respectful and you don't cause ANY fuss.
You can take loads of photos, they don't hate recording devices... and the big, Big, BIG hint...
Go on a rainy Sunday. Better yet, a COLD rainy Sunday!
"OMG Matthew! Is that when the ghosts are MOST ACTIVE!?!?!?!"
Nope... there is no set schedule for THAT! (How I wish there was!) It's when they are usually not at all busy and you can often find yourself alone in the buildings for a while. Again, provided you act responsibly and with respect... and DON'T overstep any boundaries... you will be allowed to record, photograph, and generally soak-in the atmosphere.
In 100% honesty, if I was a budding 'ghost hunter' just starting out, for a mere $8 per person (and the money goes to the fort and Toronto's museums, so that's an awesome thing too!) and maybe another $20 for souvenirs (always buy things at the gift shop... doesn't need to be "ghostly"... buy a book... heck. even a keychain... the staff appreciate you helping them out!) and a quick bite to eat for lunch, you can spend from 10am until 4pm in an amazing historic site doing ALMOST anything (within limits) and chatting with the staff... and again, pick a cold rainy Sunday (and check the calendar to ensure no "special" programs at happening that day,) and you can have a heck of a day at a well known haunted location that is, indeed, the most "reported" site in all of the City of Toronto.
Will you "see a ghost"?
I dunno... if I took you at dusk, to the woods... even near a rural garbage dump (the brown bear's favoured location to grab a safe meal), would you see a wild bear?
...but I can say this without hesitation...
You're WAY more likely to see that brown bear in the woods, at dusk, near a rural garbage dump then in a small wooded park in an urban environment.
...and you're WAY more likely, statistically, to have a ghostly experience at a well known, well documented "haunted" location at a normal time that other experients had their moments, then you are illegally wandering a cemetery in the wee hours.
So, that's my explanation of "where" to see a ghost.
I would give more examples, but being based in Toronto makes knowing the rest of Canada (and further afield) difficult to discuss. Try to find respectful and low-on-campy-crap ghost websites nearer to where you wish to look and either ask them to recommend a place or even read through, hit the library or bookstore... or even Google... and you'll find someplace to check out.
The entries found on this blog are based on the thoughts and discussions of Sue Demeter-St Clair and Matthew James Didier....two paranormal investigators/researchers based out of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The blog is now archived, but will remain online for those interested in reading it. Please have a look for us via these websites:
The Ghosts and Hauntings Research Societies, Paranormal Studies & Investigations Canada - PSICAN, and Pararesearchers of Ontario We are also members and supporters of The Society of Psychical Research, and the Institute of Noetic SciencesPages We Contribute To On Facebook
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