Page 1

Paranormal Underground Volume 2, Issue 1

January 2009

Investigator Spotlight: Shannon Sylvia — One Ghost Hunter’s Search for the Truth

Near-Death Experiences:

A Product of the Mind or a Brief Glimpse at the Other Side?

Haunted History: Lincoln’s Prophetic Dreams

Special Report:

Building a Successful Paranormal Team

Also Inside: How to Ghost Hunt on the Cheap


Diary From a Haunted Hotel Ghost Hunter Case File: Thornewood Castle

T.V. Watch: Supernatural January 2009 Paranormal Underground 1 YouTube Ghost Videos: Real vs. Fake

Near-Death Exp INVESTIGATOR SPOTLIGHT Ghost Hunter Shannon Sylvia: A Paranormal Life


SPECIAL REPORTS A Doorway to the Other Side? Exploring the Mystery of Near-Death Experiences


Building and Maintaining a Successful Paranormal Research Team

24 Claudia Ghidella

CASE FILES OF THE UNKNOWN Haunted Sites: The McMenamin Brothers Build a Haunted Empire


Cryptids: Is the Kraken Real?


Haunted History: Lincoln’s Prophetic Dreams



Paranormal Underground January 2009

Depart Publisher’s Note 4 From the Editor 5 Paranormal News 6 Letters 7 T.V. Watch: Supernatural 8 Recommended Reading: 19 Near-Death Experiences Reader Feedback: 21 Near-Death Experiences

perience Issue CULTURAL BELIEFS Near-Death Experiences Across Cultures: Similarities and Differences in the NDE Phenomenon


QUANTUM MUSINGS Anoxia on My Mind: A Scientific Look at What You Remember as Your Brain Runs Out of Oxygen


FICTION: FEATURED AUTHOR “Gift of Life” by Jaime Johnesee

tments Equipment Update: 58 Ghost Hunting on the Cheap What Do You Think? 62 Ghostly YouTube Videos Member Profile: 64 SkeerdyCat Roundtable Debate: 66 Near-Death Experiences Reviews of the Month: 68 Book: Saved by the Light DVD: Stay Theater: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button


PERSONAL EXPERIENCES Diary From a Haunted Hotel Ghost Hunter Case File #2: Thornewood Castle Life With the Breathing Impaired My Near-Death Experience A Glimpse Into the Light

January 2009 Paranormal Underground

46 48 52 54 57


Publisher’s Note Paranormal Underground Volume 2, Issue 1

January 2009

EDITORIAL Publisher Chad Wilson

Managing Editor Cheryl Knight

Assistant Editors Lauren Fletcher Karen Frazier Mindy Kinnaman Lisajoyce Vergara

Contributing Editors Jaime Johnesee Chad Wilson

Science Editor Binoo’mukua

Contributing Authors Binoo’mukua Lisa Abney Jenny Brown Dave Galvan Claudia Ghidella Karen Frazier Jim Frazier Carolyn M. Hughes Jaime Johnesee Mindy Kinnaman Cheryl Knight Bri Larkin G. Lewis Justin McIntosh Regan Vacknitz Lisajoyce Vergara Chad Wilson

Send comments and letters to:


The Truth in ModernDay Ghost Hunting


hat is truth? To most, the truth is based on the facts available. In ghost hunting, both non-believers and believers interpret the facts according to what they believe: their truth. The non-believers who follow the scientific view of the world say the paranormal is not scientifically proven, while believers say science doesn’t know everything. This constant dissension between the two groups has no end in sight. Much like religious beliefs, how each individual feels about such things as ghosts, UFOs, Bigfoot, and the myriad of other supernatural subjects out there, is based on their own personal belief system. Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion, both the non-believer and the believer. One belief does not supersede the other. Yes, those who have scientific facts to support their belief gain a higher level of acceptance by many people in today’s society. However, what we deem as “impossible” or “improbable” today, might one day turn out to be scientifically proven. For example, at one time the world was believed to be flat. What man could not see couldn’t possibly exist: The Earth ended at the horizon and just dropped off. Through the diligence of seekers of truth such Eratosthenes and Magellan, we now know that the world upon which we live is round. The same can be said of the paranormal, just because we can’t see, or prove, the existence of ghosts at this time does not mean

Paranormal Underground January 2009

Chad Wilson, Publisher

they don’t exist. The same goes for UFOs, the elusive Bigfoot, and other paranormal phenomena. So . . . this brings me to Paranormal Underground’s first issue of 2009, our Near-Death Experience issue. Whether you believe NDEs are proof of the other side or a result of hallucinations and wishful thinking, case studies conducted by researchers, such as Dr. Sam Parnia, continue to advance this area of study. During Parnia’s AWARE study, doctors will use sophisticated technology to study the brain and consciousness during cardiac arrest. They will also test of out-of body experiences and claims of being able to see and hear during cardiac arrest. Research such as this will help advance this area of the paranormal. Through trial and error, which is what the field is going through now, equipment and theories will be developed that might possibly help answer some of our many questions about life after death. So, before discounting what someone else believes, realize that someday our current “truth” might be a thing of the past.

From the Editor

What Is a Near-Death Experience?

Volume 2, Issue 1

January 2009

ART Art Director


ur first issue of 2009 focuses on the Near-Death Experience (NDE) and its possible causes and implications. And with several schools of thought on the issue, the debate rages on. In Karen Frazier’s Special Report on NDE, she examines the factors most common during NDEs; brain-based, psychological, and transcendental NDE theories; and whether certain personality types are more likely to have NDEs. And in our Cultural Beliefs recap, archaeologist Binoo’mukua discusses similarities and differences across cultures in the NDE phenomenon. Our Roundtable Debate, reader Personal Experiences, Recommended Reading list, and Reader Feedback, also focus on NDE. Research into NDEs continues to expand. Doctors at 25 U.K. and U.S. hospitals will conduct a three-year study of 1,500 survivors to determine if people with no heartbeat or brain activity can have out-of-body experiences. The study, coordinated by Southampton University, will include placing images on shelves that can only be seen from above. To test this, the researchers have set up special shelving in resuscitation areas. The shelves hold the pictures that can be seen from the ceiling. According to Dr. Sam Parnia, who is heading the study, “If you can demonstrate that consciousness continues after the brain switches off, it allows for the possibility that the consciousness is a separate entity. It is

Paranormal Underground

Chad Wilson

Design and Layout Cheryl Knight

Artist unlikely that we will find many cases where this happens, but we have to be open-minded. Dr. Parnia and his colleagues will analyze the brain activity of the 1,500 cardiac arrest survivors and determine whether they can recall the images in the pictures. Hospitals involved include Addenbrookes in Cambridge, University Hospital in Birmingham, and the Morriston in Swansea, as well as nine hospitals in the United States. The result of a study this large should answer many questions for those wondering if an NDE is the result of a dying brain or the consciousness getting a glimpse of the other side. I also wanted to say thanks to paranormal investigator Shannon Sylvia, the focus of this month’s Investigator Spotlight. After Shannon appeared on Ghost Hunters International and Paranormal State, she went on to team up with Make sure to check out page 10 to learn more about Shannon and her experiences researching and investigating the paranormal. Happy New Year!

~ Cheryl Knight Managing Editor

Claudia Ghidella

PROMOTION Marketing Director Jaime Johnesee

Promotions Director Karen Frasier

MySpace Admin. Chad Wilson

YouTube Admin. Karen Frazier

Copyright © 2009 — Paranormal Underground™ is a trademark of ParanormalUnderground magazine. All rights reserved. Paranormal Underground and its contents are the property of ParanormalUnderground magazine. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. This publication and all content within this publication may not be copied, quoted, distributed, modified, or reprinted without the express written consent of Paranormal Underground magazine.

January 2009 Paranormal Underground


Paranormal News

Will Obama Release X-Files?


FO enthusiasts have asked President-Elect Barack Obama to release classified documents about sightings of alien spacecraft. In a recent letter sent to Obama, the Extraterrestrial Phenomenon Political Action Committee (EPPAC) asked that he “end the six-decade truth embargo regarding an extraterrestrial presence engaging the human race.” According to www.telegraph., the group wants the incoming president to insist on a “full briefing from your military services and intelligence agencies regarding what they know” and to open congressional hearings “to take testimony from scores of government witnesses who have already come forward with extraordinary evidence and are prepared to testify under oath.” The campaigners believe that the British government’s decision to declassify thousands of UFO sighting documents last year has made it difficult for the United States to maintain its policy of non-disclosure. Stephen Bassett, EPPAC executive director, expects to have 40,000 signatures via e-mail and fax by Obama’s inauguration day on Jan. 20 in support of his calls for disclosure. He told The Sunday Telegraph, “The truth embargo is now at the end of the line. The release of documents in Britain and France has put huge pressure on the U.S. It makes the


Do Angels Exist?


n alleged “miracle” at one Charlotte, N.C., hospital has generated buzz with the locals. The picture at right was taken in the hallway leading into Presbyterian’s Pediatric Cancer center. A little girl there was taken off life support, her mother in her room praying. At the same time, a nurse noticed a man standing in the hallway. When she pushed the security button to let him in, no one was there, according to According to a nurse, this happened several times — seeing him behind the doors, then he would vanish. A witness present at the time thought the man in the hallway had government here look pretty stupid. “I think we are seeing the Democrats moving towards disclosure. John Podesta has outed himself as an enthusiast. He thinks the American public can handle the truth. Bill Richardson thinks there was a cover-up.” Bassett also believes that military and intelligence officials have studied the technology of alien spacecraft, material that would help the United States develop new energy resources.

Paranormal Fest Set for Feb. 21


aranormal Fest will be held Feb. 21 in Columbus, Ind., at the Crump Theatre from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. Vendor spaces are $20 and come with 1 free event pass. Discounts are available for ghost hunting groups. Contact for all ticket and vendor information.

Paranormal Underground January 2009

Pictured above: Was an angel captured in this photo of a security camera?

wings, so the witness took the picture of the security camera. The patient made a full recovery and is now home with her family.

Favorite Paranormal Reality Show?


aranormal Underground’s December Home Page poll asked site visitors, “What was your favorite paranormal “reality” T.V. show during 2008?” Here are the results: Ghost Adventures Ghost Hunters Destination Truth A Haunting Paranormal State Ghost Hunters International Haunting Evidence Most Haunted Psychic Kids: Children of the Paranormal Ghostly Encounters Other None

34% 31% 10% 8% 6% 1% 2% 1% 1% 1% 0% 4%

Do you have a topic that you’d like to see polled on Paranormal Underground? Let us know at


Burglar Stuck in Haunted House


burglar in Malaysia who broke into a house claims he was held captive by a “supernatural figure” for three days without food and water, according to Police official Abdul Marlik Hakim Johar told The Star newspaper the house’s owners found the 36-year-old man fatigued and dehydrated when they returned from vacation Thursday. The property owners called an ambulance to take him to a hospital. The man told police that every time he tried to escape, a “supernatural figure” shoved him to the ground.

Surprising Survey Results?


ore people believe in aliens and ghosts than in God, according to a new survey. The survey, however, was done by a marketing firm in conjunction with the release of an X-Files DVD. The poll of 3,000 people found that 58% believe in the supernatural, including paranormal encounters, while 54% believe God exists. Women were more likely than men to believe in the supernatural and were also more likely to visit a medium, according to Researchers who have compared various human belief systems say our tendency to believe is deeply rooted. “While it is difficult to know for certain, the tendency to believe in the paranormal appears to be there from the beginning,” said Christopher Bader, a Baylor University sociologist.

Ghost Hunting & the Current Economy


had Wilson’s December 2008 Publisher’s Letter discussing current economic conditions and the possible impact on paranormal investigation included the following thoughts: “The rising costs of everyday living hasn’t seemed to put a damper on equipment purchases and overnight tour bookings . . . The current recession won’t stop investigators from doing what they love . . . searching for answers.” Here is what a couple of our readers had to say on the topic: Good writing . . . It would make sense that the recession will impact everything and everyone . . . I would imagine that although the field research by people like yourself may continue, research into the equipment that you use may falter. I would further imagine that, as you say, ghost tourism would continue to grow. In harsh economic times, people tend to look for things to take their minds off of their woes. What better way than to look for signs of an afterlife? —Brad Actually, the current economy has been a tiny bit of a blessing. With the price of gas so much lower, we are able to go farther without feeling the pinch. Knocking on wood here, but we have been blessed in the fact that, so far, no one on our team has been affected by job losses. And the desperate Black Friday ads have allowed me to pick up a couple of extra cameras, some extra memory cards, and new flashlights. —Cheri, Northern Alliance of Paranormal Investigators

Reader Feedback Just wanted to drop you a line and let you know that we really like your magazine! I run a new paranormal Web-zine with a few friends, and while we were putting the latest “issue” together, we came across Paranormal Underground and really enjoyed it. It’s nice to know that there’s other people out there trying to put out some quality paranormal-related material without charging an arm and a leg. Keep up the good work! —Greg Newkirk, “Who Forted?” Keep up the great work! —Steven Raebel, Michigan Paranormal Project I think you guys are doing an absolutely fantastic job with the magazine. It is such a professional publication. The style and quality of the writing is fantastic. It is a firstclass publication. —CougarBob Great job on the magazine. —Parachasers I’ve read every article in the December issue, and I’m going to go back and catch up on the previous ones also. I really like “Diary of a Haunted Hotel.” The magazine is amazing, and I know when people read it, they’ll be hooked. Thanks guys! —Justin, Bluegrass Paranormal Research Society Nice Issue!!!! —Pete Haviland,

January 2009 Paranormal Underground


T.V. Watch


Are YOU Afraid of the Dark? By Jenny Brown

This book — this is Dad’s single most valuable possession. Everything he knows about every evil thing is in here. And he’s passed it on to us. I think he wants us to pick up where he left off, you know, saving people, hunting things. The family business.” This is Dean Winchester’s plea to get his younger brother, Sam, to join him in fighting the evil that lurks in the night and to find their recently MIA father. This, in a nutshell, is the premise of the T.V. drama Supernatural, which debuted on Sept. 13, 2005, on The WB, and is now part of The CW’s lineup.

The Winchester Boys Twenty-two years later we join the Winchesters and find that Dean and dad John have been fighting the good fight — slaying (or, as the boys say, “ganking”) malevolent creatures while hunting down the Yellow-Eyed Demon, Azazel, to avenge Mary’s death. Because of John’s single-minded determination to train the boys on nothing but hunting, his fatherly skills have been somewhat lacking. And, as a result, Sam has found it

The Beginning In 1983, baby Sam lay in his crib while a yellow-eyed demon hovered over him, slitting his own arm and dripping blood into the infant’s mouth for a purpose yet unknown. In an ill-fated move, mom Mary Winchester interrupts and is slaughtered in a most heinous and haunting way; she is pinned to Sam’s nursery ceiling, encircled by flames. Enter dad John and fouryear-old Dean, who can only snatch Sam from his cradle and flee, barely escaping with their own lives before the house is engulfed in fire. And from the ashes of this grue- The T.V. drama Supernatural debuted on some tragedy, the Winchester family Sept. 13, 2005, on The WB, and is now part is reborn as a clan of hunters. of The CW’s lineup.


Paranormal Underground January 2009

necessary to separate himself from his brother and father and find a life for himself outside of their horrific family business. That is, until John goes missing, and Dean can’t seem to track him down. Despite Sam’s best efforts to explain to Dean that his budding academic career as a pre-law student at Stanford is more important to him than tracking down their wayward father, he is nevertheless sucked back into the fold. Then Sam commits irrevocably after his girlfriend, Jessica, falls prey to the same fate as Dean and Sam’s mother, set ablaze by their demonic nemesis, Azazel. Now, it’s not just the family business to Sam. It’s vengeance. It’s war. Finding Dad Imagine if you will, being trapped with your brother 24 hours a day, seven days a week, on the road, staying in seedy motels, using fake identities, never knowing just what town you’ve awoken in from day to day. This is the life of Dean and Sam Winchester. Add to that the daily battles with monsters, spirits, demons, and ghouls that “normal” people have never even heard of, and you’ve got yourself quite an adventure series. The brothers spend the better part of the first season tracking down dad and hunting things that go bump

“Don’t be afraid of the dark? What, are you kidding me? Of course you should be afraid of the dark! You know what’s out there!” —Dean Winchester

in the night. Saving damsels in distress, and almost getting themselves killed in the process, is all in a day’s work to these brothers. And, when they do finally track down their dad, it’s not exactly the warm welcome that Dean, the peacekeeper of the family, was hoping for. Fists and harsh words fly, feelings are stomped on, and — oh, yeah — Dean dies. But not to worry! There’s always the crossroads demon who’s ready to cut a deal. We find out there is a lot more to the brothers than meets the eye. For instance, there’s a reason dad had to leave them behind and let them find a way back to each other. We also find out what happens to that Yellow-Eyed Demon. Does good triumph over

evil? Well, I’m not going to spoil the entire show for you! You’ll have to watch to find that out for yourself. Who Are Those Guys? Ok, so you might be asking yourself: “I’ve seen a preview of this show, and where have I seen these guys before?” Well, it just so happens I have the answer for you. Jensen Ackles (Dean Winchester) started out on TV as Eric Brady on Days of Our Lives. You might have also seen him on Dawson’s Creek as C.J. No? Not ringing a bell? How about on Dark Angel as Alec? Am I getting warmer? Just prior to Supernatural, he was on Smallville as Jason Teague, Lana Lang’s love interest. Jared Padalecki (Sam Win-

chester) you might recognize from Gilmore Girls as Dean Forester, Rory’s love interest. Or, you might recognize him from House of Wax. So, that’s Supernatural in a nutshell; part spooky, part comedy, part sexy-romantic, and all fantastic. If you’ve ever heard any fan say it’s “hotter than Hell,” I’ll guarantee you she is referring to the Winchester boys. And for you guys out there, there’s plenty of eye-candy in the form of Ruby and Bela and, lest we forget, Dean’s main squeeze, his cherry midnight black ’67 Chevy Impala, laden with every weapon known to man and demon-kind. So, set your TiVo/DVR starting Thursday nights at 9 p.m. when Supernatural returns. You won’t be sorry.

January 2009 Paranormal Underground


Investigator Spotlight

Ghost Hunter S A Paranor By Cheryl Knight


rom an early age, Shannon Sylvia wanted to be a parapsychologist. Her desire to unlock the secrets of the unknown originated as a child inside her family home in Leominster, Mass., just outside of Boston. “Since I was a small child, I was plagued by paranormal problems with spirits in our home,” Shannon said. “Growing up, there were too many to count.” Shannon’s family saw shadow figures, heard disembodied footsteps come up the stairway from the basement, and had many things go missing, fall down, or break without any apparent cause. “I could hear several voices at once speaking a different language, but I could understand my name,” Shannon said. “I’d hear footsteps all the time over my head when no one else was home except me.” Recurring Experiences These paranormal experiences terrified Shannon, resulting in recurring nightmares. Reaching out for help, she and her family decided to ask the church to intervene. Various priests were called in to bless their house several times. However, the paranormal activity seemed to worsen during Shannon’s teenage years. So in an effort to understand what might be going


on, she read everything she could get her hands on pertaining the paranormal, soaking it up like a sponge, according to Shannon. “I don’t believe it was demonic,” she said. “I think it was a poltergeist.” Becoming an Investigator Upon moving away from home in 1997 at the age of 21, Shannon figured she’d left the paranormal activity behind her. But after purchasing a condo, which was a converted schoolhouse, the paranormal activity promptly started up again, including phantom noises, moving objects, slamming doors, and floating orbs. “When the Internet became big, I was able to contact ghost-hunting groups and ask questions, befriend people like myself, and eventually become an actual investigator,” Shannon said. New England Paranormal (NEP) conducted several investigations of Shannon’s condo, turning up some incredible EVPs that the group has even used in their lectures. Impressed with what she experienced during and after the investigations by NEP, Shannon decided to take the next step and join the group in January 2005. And after completing her training, she set out to gather as much evidence of the paranormal as possible. “I am in love with everything paranormal, and this gave me the

Paranormal Underground January 2009

SHannon Sylvia: rmal Life knowledge to launch my investigative career,” she said. An Unexpected Path After investigating with NEP for several years, Shannon was asked to join the Ghost Hunters International (GHI) T.V. show, which first aired in January 2008. “I got the call to join GHI and began filming in July 2007. It was an amazing experience, doing what I love doing the most in beautiful countries around Europe,” she said. “I was very lucky to be chosen for GHI.” According to Shannon, the investigations on the T.V. show were very different from her experience with NEP cases. GHI took a more scientific investigative approach and offered less interaction when it came to helping clients solve their paranormal problems. “Being on the show was 500 times more work than anyone could imagine,” Shannon said. “We were overseas for many weeks at a time. Although its an honor to be in that position, it’s a job, and there are demands you are expected to meet.” Shannon, her husband Jeff, and their home were also featured in the “School House Haunting” episode of Paranormal State (PS) that was filmed in January 2007 and aired in January 2008. The PS team investi-

gated the Sylvia’s haunted condo in an attempt to document the active paranormal phenomena. “The experience was surreal,” Shannon said. “There were about 18 people in and around my 1,500-square-foot condo trying to film for the show.” According to Shannon, the PS team was fully aware that she was a paranormal investigator prior to filming, and they also knew that other paranormal teams had investigated the home. The investigation did reveal some interesting results, including several unexplained EVPs. Shannon Joins Shannon, who holds degrees in communications and fine arts, currently investigates with, runs a Web/graphic design business, and is often on the road across the United States ghost hunting and attending speaking engagements. Shannon describes herself as a ghost hunter, kickboxer, designer, violinist, and traveler. She also loves fresh- and salt-water fishing. Shannon recently talked with Paranormal Underground about her experiences as a paranormal investigator, most memorable cases, travelling overseas for GHI, and significant evidence captured to date. Read on to find out more! *****

January 2009 Paranormal Underground 11

Investigator Spotlight Q: Please talk a little bit about yourself, both personally and professionally.

Shannon: I have owned and operated a Web site and graphic design studio that is near my home for more than eight years. I am a former ballet dancer that loves fresh and saltwater fishing. I love to kickbox several times a week to stay in shape. I have been married to my best friend, Jeff, for five years, and we have two Jack Russell Terriers named Jacky and Meadow. (Do fish count as pets too?)

Q: What paranormal groups have you worked with to date?

Shannon: TAPS, New England Paranormal, N.E.A.R., and Mass Paranormal. I’m currently on the Livescifi team, and I’m an affiliate of several other teams across the United States. Q: How many investigations have you conducted to date?

Shannon: More than 90. This includes overseas and U.S. cases,

Q: How long have you been investigating the paranormal?

Shannon: Officially since 2005 after I completed my training with NEP. Q: What interests you most about the paranormal?

Shannon: Everything about it. It’s sometimes something we cannot see, touch, or hear, yet its there. What could be more fascinating?

cases, have been responsible for training the new investigators on the team and leading the team groups during an investigation. It really depends on which team I’m working with. Q: What are the most common types of equipment you use on investigations?

Shannon: Number one always and most effective is the digital voice recorder. I bought a professional one used in the music industry, but I still recommend the Sony version you can find for $35 in most stores to start out with. I always have a video camera and digital camera on hand. These are the basics. A thermometer is handy in case of fluctuations of air temperature, and I love my TriField EMF detector, which comes in handy for debunking. Q: Tell us more about your experiences on Ghost Hunters International?

Shannon: In foreign countries, some of the decent Shannon Sylvia (pictured second from left) investigated several accommodations and daily overseas locations during her time as an investigator for the T.V. needs were sometimes hard Q: What prompted you to show Ghost Hunters International. Pictured (left to right) are: to meet. take the next step and go Brian Harnois, Shannon Sylvia, Donna LaCroix, Robb Demarest, and Barry Fitzgerald. It’s very expensive out on investigations? in Europe, where you’re Shannon: I moved from expected to pay double for my childhood home in 1997 into an privately, with other groups, and as food and water three times a day. It old schoolhouse converted to cona guest. wears on you physically, emotionally, dos where I still reside today. and spiritually. Little did I know it was haunted On the flip side, we also had Q: What are your primary roles as well, except more in a lighter many, many good times, good memowhile out on an investigation? nature when it comes to activity. ries, and good laughs. Investigating All the neighbors in the buildShannon: I am an investigator. I use world famous locations is an honor. ings have either seen apparitions, my own equipment, am responsible for evidence review, and, in most heard voices, or have been touched. Q: What have you been doing


Paranormal Underground January 2009

Paranormal Investigator Shannon Sylvia describes herself as a ghost hunter, kickboxer, designer, violinist, and traveler. She also loves fresh- and salt-water fishing and currently investigates with

since leaving the show?

Shannon: Investigating, working full time, and did I say investigating? It’s so much fun! I love this. Q: What different types of locations have you investigated?

Shannon: Romanian castles, a Scottish orphanage, an underground city where thousands died from the plague. I’ve been on top of Frankenstein’s Castle in Germany and was touched by ghosts in a monastery built in 1100 in Turin, Italy. Dozens of homeowner cases and local outdoor cases have been added to my resume. Q: What have been your most

exciting cases to date, and what happened on those cases?

Q: What case will you remember the most and why?

Shannon: Waverly Hills back in July when I was working with Livescifi for the first time. I had always dreamed of going there. It was a slow start, but by the end of the night we caught live on camera, in front of thousands of viewers, a volleyball launched at us as we were walking down a hallway when we saw a shadow figure. Once at the end of the hallway, my husband fell ill with the taste of bleach in his mouth and had to be removed from the building. It was pretty intense. The voices, EVPs, and video evidence we caught were very overwhelming.

Shannon: Lucedio Abbey in Italy. First off, it was amazing just being in Italy! A dream come true for me. Being a Christian and knowing this case was a possible demonic lurking around a former monastery, freaked me out a little. My arm was rubbed a few times throughout the night, we were verbally being told to “get out” of the chapel. At one point, there was a large black apparition standing next to me, so I shifted to the left a little since I could feel it standing there. It wasn’t until minutes later that Barry finally told me he could see it standing there. Thanks Barry!

January 2009 Paranormal Underground 13

Investigator Spotlight Q: What have been some of the scarier moments you’ve had while investigating, and how did you handle those instances?

Shannon: Same place. The abbey. It was around 4:30 a.m., and it was a combination of stress, illness, and straight fear. We had been told to split up, and I was standing alone in a room almost the size of a football field. I could see and feel this spirit around me, and the room got blacker and blacker, almost like tunnel vision. I was scared. I knew if something knocked the snot out of me, the camera man would just stand there filming it, so it was getting to me emotionally. I don’t like not having someone near me just in case, especially in this scenario. My hands were beginning to shake, things were going numb, and I just stood there. I didn’t run though.

before Halloween. On Halloween weekend, I investigated the Shanley Hotel in N.Y., as well as Rolling Hills Asylum. Q: What have been the most significant EVPs you’ve captured during investigations?

Shannon: In my own home when I asked, “Is Jacob or Elizabeth here?”

We got a class A EVP saying, “It’s her!” in a very sweet, young voice. Also, at Bobby Mackey’s when several of us were leaving the well room, we all heard very loud footsteps as if they were coming down the stairs in front of us. We just stood there and watched. They came out loud and clear on the audio. There have been so many more . . .

Q: What has been your favorite country to investigate in?

Shannon: Italy. Wow, is it beautiful. I just wish it was for vacation purposes and not work. I’d have loved to spend more time there. Q: Please tell us about recent investigations and events.

Shannon: Ohhh so many! I recently visited the U.S.S. Salem in Massachusetts, a haunted battleship. Oct. 1-5 I attended Haunted Hickory in North Carolina. I was at Bobby Mackey’s filming a movie and holding another investigation the week


Q: What has been your best video and photographic evidence caught to date?

Shannon: We have video from Bobby Mackey’s of a fiery red orb floating around the well room at the time you hear the footsteps. Also, some great footage of the volleyball coming right at us from down the empty hall at Waverly Hills. Q: How do you go about becoming trained in this area?

Shannon: For me, I was not only a client of a paranormal team, but they required me to take their class in Boston. At first, I thought it was only filling their pockets with more money, but I actually got something out of the class. Ghost-hunting groups may or may not require it around the United States. I do know some people take on apprentices, as I did with my husband who’s quite an impressive ghost hunter now. Q: Whose work in the paranormal field do you respect the most and why?

Investigator Shannon Sylvia hopes to someday investigate St. Augustine Lighthouse, the Myrtles Plantation, and Tombstone, Ariz.

Paranormal Underground January 2009

Shannon: I finally met Chip Coffey. Boy is he a ham! He’s so serious on T.V., but is the

Pictured above: During an investigation at the Burlington Hotel, an old bordello in Port Costa, Calif., a light anomaly is captured by the team via a Sony DSC-V3 IR digital camera. Pictured at right: An apparition is caught on digital camera during a investigation at the San Remo Hotel in San Francisco.

kindest, funniest soul you’ll ever meet. I truly think he’s talented. There are many out there whose egos have gotten the best of them, and they make the good people look bad. I sniff them out a mile away. I will always worship the ground Hans Holzer walks on. I respect Ryan Buell because he’s a hard-working kid who takes his job seriously. He’s genuinely there to help people, which I respect, and he also has not been tainted by Hollywood. Q: What sites do you have on your wish list to investigate?

Shannon: Hmmm. St. Augustine; the Myrtles Plantation; Tombstone, Ariz.; Egypt; Sallie’s House; Waverly Hills again. There are so many places! Q: Who is your favorite person/ people to investigate with?

Shannon: I loved investigating with

Robb from GHI; the two of us can’t keep a straight face, and we don’t even know why. Q: What words of wisdom would you offer amateur ghost hunters investigating for the first time?

Shannon: Be patient and kind. Many homeowner cases are not haunted. It’s like fishing, except worse. You need to pay all your own expenses, take your personal time, and sit and wait. It’s a lot of work! Be kind to the spirits, they’re like you and me — except dead. Don’t be nasty and mean if you’re investigating an asylum or home. There’s no need to be! Also, don’t get into the field of ghost hunting expecting to be famous on T.V. That’s a rarity. Q: What would our readers be surprised to find out about you?

Shannon: That I’m extremely friendly, and I am not what I ap-

peared on T.V. on some occasions. I take my work seriously, so I have a serious side, but I am very sarcastic, sassy, and friendly. I would give the shirt off my back to anyone who needs it. Just don’t sell it on eBay! Q: What are your favorite paranormal shows and why?

Shannon: I love A Haunting. That show scares the crap out of me, and it caused my obsession with Bobby Mackey’s in Kentucky. It’s the only paranormal show I watch. Q: What plans do you have for the future?

Shannon: I am in the works with three new projects coming up. Livescifi is growing by the thousands, and we are marketing the Web site, growing the team, and investigating our brains out. In the far future, I plan on opening a day spa in Reykjavik, Iceland.

January 2009 Paranormal Underground 15

Special Report

A Doorway to t

Exploring the Mystery of By Karen Frazier


magine having surgery and instead of waking up in the recovery room, you suddenly find yourself floating above your body in the operating room. With a strange feeling of detachment, you look down upon the shell that used to be you. Perhaps you hear and see medical details as the doctors and nurses work frantically on your body — struggling to save your life, or possibly even pronouncing you dead. Now, you are traveling through a tunnel toward a bright light. The peace and joy you are feeling is unimaginable. You see friends and family who have passed on before you standing in the light. Perhaps there is also a being of light or religious figure there. You experience a life review — seeing every event in your life from all points of view — not only yours, but the people who have been affected by your actions. Now you come to a barrier, but you know if you cross it, you will never be able to return to your life. Maybe a voice tells you that it isn’t your time and shows or tells you snippets of your future should you return to your life — showing how your life will make a difference. And then, faster than you could imagine,


you are whipped back through the tunnel and back into your body. These are the classical elements of a near-death experience (NDE) with out-of-body experience (OBE) involvement. Across centuries and across cultures, similar experiences have been reported by millions of people. Some have experienced true brain death. Others report such an experience just before having an accident. Some NDE reporters have had their experience during surgery. Others have had an experience while they were asleep. There are as many unique triggering events for NDEs as there are experiencers. Each has significance to the individual that is quite often life changing. What Is an NDE? There are many elements that appear common to near-death experiencers; however, there is no cookie cutter set or sequence of events. People may experience none, some, or all of the classical elements during an NDE. Early NDE researcher Dr. Raymond Moody published the seminal work Life After Life: The Investigation of a Phenomenon — Survival of Bodily Death (coauthored by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross) in 1972. His

Paranormal Underground January 2009

Claudia Ghidella

the Other Side?

Near-Death Experiences book, based upon the stories of 150 near-death experiencers, classified the common elements of NDE as follows: • A sense of ineffability — beyond the experiencer’s linguistic abilities to describe what has happened • Observing medical personnel working on one’s body from a vantage point above the body — and often hearing oneself pronounced dead • Feelings of peace and joy • Hearing unusual sounds — such as a whooshing or the sounds of beautiful music • Seeing or traveling through a tunnel • Meeting loved ones and/or beings of light • A vivid, bright light at the end of the tunnel, with an overwhelming desire to travel toward the light • A panoramic review of one’s life • Reaching a barrier beyond which there is no return • Making a decision to return — or being told to return • A rapid return to the body — often abrupt — once the decision to return has been made • Frustration as one attempts to explain the experience to others

• A renewed purpose in life • Loss of fear of death After interviewing hundreds more near-death experiencers following the phenomenal success of his book, Moody added the following four elements: • Realm where exists all knowledge • Cities of light • A realm of bewildered spirits • Supernatural rescues (where the experiencer has some profound physical or psychological change, such as spontaneous healing following the NDE) Later researchers also added a few more elements to Moody’s list, including: • Depersonalization • Hyperalertness While OBE is often associated with NDE, it is interesting to note that OBEs by themselves are not necessarily indicative of NDE. OBE is actually a state that can be induced, and even learned. Since the publishing of Moody’s Life After Life and Reflections on Life After Life, there have been many researchers who have looked into all aspects of the phenomenon. One researcher, Bruce Greyson, M.D., established widely accepted criteria by which an experience

January 2009 Paranormal Underground 17

Special Report larities and differences. In non-Western cultures, it has been found that the central elements of the experience are very similar, while the interpretation of these elements is often quite different. The differences in interpretation tend to mirror the religious/cultural beliefs of the experiencer. For example, an experiencer from a Buddhist culture may report peace, a tunnel, and beings of light; however, their interpretation as to the meaning of these events is more reflective of the Buddhist belief system (perhaps they meet Buddha in the light). A Christian is likely to encounter a light and interpret that to be a religious figure, such as Jesus. A 1985 study looked at the NDEs of Asian Indians and compared them to the NDEs of Americans. It was found that the Indians often encountered Yamaraj, the Hindu king of the dead, while Americans were more likely to encounter Jesus. A cross-cultural study was carried out in 1977 that focused on the deathbed visions (experiences that people have had usually in the 24 hours before death) of 440 termiPositive vs. Negative nally ill American and Indian NDEs patients. The most common A large percentage of near-death experiencers describe While the above elements positive scenarios; however, for some, the NDE is hellish feature (occurring in 91% of and frightening. are common to many NDEs, cases) was the appearance of they don’t necessarily show dead relatives. the whole picture. Many nearOne hundred forty patients death experiencers report only a few frightening scenarios during their reported seeing religious figures, such of these elements, or none at all. A NDEs are likely to report a deas God or an angel. The description large percentage of near-death expecreased fear of death following their of these religious figures, however, riencers describe positive scenarios; experience. were consistent with whatever the rehowever, for some, the NDE is hellligious beliefs were of the experiencer ish and frightening. NDE in Other Cultures — so no Hindu patient identified a Like positive NDEs, there are There are descriptions of NDEs Christian figure, or vice versa. some common elements to unpleasin multiple cultures throughout the ant near-death scenarios, which are world. While the elements of an Does Personality Affect NDE? reported by about 15% of near-death NDE seem to span across various In short, no. Studies have been experiencers. These elements incultures, there are some noted simidone to see if certain personality could be judged as being an NDE. The first part of these criteria is context: • Symptoms or signs suggestive of death, serious illness, injury, or physiological crisis/accident of some kind, or • Experiencer’s expectation or sense of imminent death In this context, the following content may occur: • Visualizing or being apart from the physical body • Hyperlucidity — greatly enhanced cognition • Darkness or light that is perceived as alive, powerful, and intelligent • Sense of a presence • Sensation of movement • Hyperalertness — especially of the physical senses • Sudden onset of overwhelming flood of feelings and emotions • Encounter with a known dead person, animal, or non-physical entity • Life review (past) • Life preview (futuristic) • Information can be imparted through dialog or “knowing”


clude an encounter with a frightening void or hellish purgatory, negative flashbacks from one’s own past, and unexpected indifference (in the form of shunning). Many of those describing frightening NDEs have been found to have deeply repressed guilt, fear, and anger, or expectations of judgment/ punishment after death. While the experience may be negative for some, those reporting hellish scenarios during their NDE often view their experience as a wake-up call or a catalyst to bring about positive change in their lives. Surprisingly, even those relaying

Paranormal Underground January 2009

Recommended Reading

Near-Death Experiences


The Truth in the Light: An Investigation of Over 300 Near-Death Experiences —by Peter Fenwick


What Happens When We Die?: A Groundbreaking Study Into the Nature of Life and Death —by Dr. Sam Parnia

ant to learn more about near-death experiences? Here are some books and Web sites that you might want to check out:

Life After Life: The Investigation of a Phenomenon — Survival of Bodily Death —by Dr. Raymond Moody and Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Reflections on Life After Life —by Dr. Raymond Moody Journey of Souls: Case Studies of Life Between Lives —by Michael Newton Lessons From the Light: What We Can Learn From the Near-death Experience —by Kenneth Ring, Evelyn Elsaesser Valarino, and Caroline Myss Closer to the Light —by Melvin Morse, Paul Perry, and Dr. Raymond A. Moody Embraced by the Light —by Betty Eadie The Day I Died: Remarkable True Stories of Near-Death Experience —by Tammy Cohen The Big Book of Near-Death Experiences: The Ultimate Guide to What Happens When We Die —by P.M.H. Atwater

The Tibetan Book of the Dead (The Great Book of Natural Liberation Through Understanding in the Between) —by The Dalai Lama (Foreword), Karma Lingpa (Collaborator), Padma Sambhava (Compiler), Robert Thurman (Translator) Into the Light: Real Life Stories About Angelic Visits, Visions of the Afterlife, and Other Pre-Death Experiences —by John Lerma One With the Light: Authentic Near-Death Experiences That Changed Lives and Revealed the Beyond —by Brad Steiger The Near-Death Experience: A Reader —by Lee W. Bailey My Descent Into Death: A Second Chance at Life —by Howard Storm The Near-Death Experiences of Hospitalized Intensive Care Patients: A Five Year Clinical Study —by Penny Sartori and Paul Badham

Saved by the Light: The True Story of a Man Who Died Twice and the Profound Revelations He Received —by Dannion Brinkley Is There An Afterlife?: A Comprehensive Overview of the Evidence —by David Fontana Out-of-Body Travel and Near Death Experiences: Compiled Works Through 2006 —by Marilynn Hughes

Web Sites —Near-Death Experiences and the Afterlife —Near-Death Experience Research Foundation (NDERF) —The International Association of Near-Death Studies (IANDS) —Horizon Research Foundation —How NDEs Work cfm#NDE —University of Virginia Health System Division of Perceptual Studies

January 2009 Paranormal Underground 19

Special Report types are more likely to have NDEs. One study looked at IQ, extroversion/introversion, neuroses, and anxiety. No statistically significant difference was found in the number of reported NDEs. Another study evaluated hysterical tendencies, psychoses, death anxiety, and danger seeking. Again, there was no difference in reported experiences for each personality type. From the limited studies that have been done on NDEs, it appears that personality is unlikely to affect the quality or quantity of NDEs. But Really, What Is an NDE? Researchers and near-death experiencers alike are seeking the answer to the question, what is an NDE? Is it merely the result of physiology and chemistry brought about by a dying brain, or is it something more cosmic with profound implications for our spiritual beings? The answer to this question depends upon who you ask. Several theories have been put forward that explain elements of NDE, while not necessarily explaining “the whole.” Theories fall into three broad categories — brain

NDE researcher Bruce Greyson, M.D.


theories, psychological theories, and transcendental theories. Brain-Based Theories Brain-based theories look at the role of the brain and brain chemistry in the NDE. One of the main brainbased theories involves the lack of oxygen to the brain that occurs during the dying process. One NDE researcher, Dr. Susan Blackmore, has proposed that a lack of oxygen to the brain as brain death occurs affects the visual cortex, which creates “tunnel vision” — thus explaining the tunnel element that is common in many NDEs. Everything in our field of vision is processed in the visual cortex of the brain. Light coming off of objects that we see reaches the back of the eye, where it is converted to energy and transmitted to the visual cortex. Most of our vision comes from the middle of our visual field (called central vision), as opposed to the peripherals. During oxygen deprivation, the lesser used portions of the visual cortex — that is, the peripheral vision — are the first to be sacrificed. The remaining available oxygen is focused on the central vision, thus creating tunnel vision. Another theory involving lack of oxygen comes from the hallucinations of mountain climbers and pilots experiencing oxygen deprivation at altitude. Fighter pilots have reported euphoria, detachment, and dream-like states, especially when experiencing high G-forces, which decreases levels of oxygen to the brain. For many, these hallucinations during low oxygen offer a possible explanation for NDEs, which often occur in an oxygen-deprived state. Opponents of the lack of oxygen theory argue that while these theories can explain a single element of the NDE, it can’t account for all of the elements present in a single ex-

Paranormal Underground January 2009

Early NDE researcher and author Dr. Raymond Moody.

perience. Additionally, many NDEs have been reported by people with normal oxygen levels. In many cases, the NDE is reported as happening immediately prior to an accident occurring when oxygen levels are normal — which seemingly negates the lack of oxygen theory. A study that apparently refutes the lack of oxygen theory stems from clinical trials performed on cardiac patients by Dr. Sam Parnia (one of the foremost NDE researchers) at Southampton General Hospital. The study examined the NDEs of cardiac arrest survivors, comparing their experiences to the common components of NDE. Study participants were divided into two groups — those who had an NDE and those who didn’t. There was no statistically significant difference in oxygen levels between the two groups — leading to the conclusion that oxygen levels most likely did not play a role in their NDEs. Drug reactions are at the center of another brain chemistry-based theory of NDE. Many drugs, such as ketamine and amphetamine can lead to extremely complex hallucinations that feel real to the experiencer.

Reader Feedback

What do You THink About Near-Death Experiences?


aranormal Underground recently asked a few of its readers: “What do you think about near-death experiences?” Here’s what they had to say:

Joyce: There is a lot of speculation

as to whether near-death experiences are actually dying or just a dream or hallucination.

I think there are different types of NDE. I know someone who “died,” and they could feel and hear everything around them, but they were not breathing at the time. They had no heart beat, no visible signs of life at all. She said it was all very peaceful until the EMT’s brought her back. While I believe every word she said, I don’t think she was “dead.” In a true NDE, there would be no brain activity, and those are very rare. Those are the controversial experiences. I do believe some people have had them, and they are real, not dreams or hallucinations. If one believes in an afterlife, and I do, then how could one not believe that it’s possible to “die” and go into that life only to come back later and remember it? As I’ve said, those cases are extremely rare, but if someone is “dead,” and I mean declared dead and really

dead, no brain activity or life signs for several minutes, even hours, then they have to be somewhere. Energy does not just die. It goes somewhere. What that place is I don’t know, but if they are forced to return, they may remember it and tell of it. *****

Bill A.: Near-death experience is a

topic many will shy away from due to the religious and other connotations attached to it.

Some will view it as “crossing over” and making it part way to Heaven or whatever afterlife they believe in. Others will immediately pull the hypoxia card and say it’s the lack of oxygen to the brain that causes the light at the end of the tunnel. As for myself, I’m on the fence on the issue. I can see both sides and am not sure which is the correct one. Maybe it’s a dream-like state we go through upon the brain going through it’s last functioning synapses; maybe it’s our long-dead relatives calling us home. The ones that return can never be fully sure, and the ones that don’t seem to not talk about it. I guess it’s a personal issue that is different for each and every one of us *****

Carolyn: Never having personally

had my own incident involving a neardeath experience, I can only form an opinion of what I have read about others’ such encounters. I do believe that this phenomenon is very real. Each time I read what science suggests as the metaphysical explanation, I still can’t reconcile myself to those explanations with people who can recount, word for word, what was said by those physicians working on the “clinically dead” body while that person hovered out of body above. Nor, can I dismiss the similarities of accounts and descriptions of the experience of people who do purport having a near-death experience. Also, having several immediate family members in the medical profession (both physicians and RNs), and from their descriptions of what they have personally witnessed, no I cannot discount it. *****

Aprilee: I believe there is only

“death” as it relates to the body, not the consciencensess!

I believe a near-death experience is where someone’s soul or consciousness pierces the veil seperating our dimension from the next dimension that we all ultiminately evolve to.

January 2009 Paranormal Underground 21

Special Report While these drugs are sometimes present during NDE, there are too many cases of NDE where the drugs aren’t present to make it a comprehensive explanation for NDEs. This theory was studied at Southampton General Hospital, as well. Participants were divided into groups of those who had taken these drugs and those who hadn’t. In this study, participants who had taken the drugs and those who hadn’t both experienced NDEs equally, indicating that it is unlikely that drugs play a key role in NDEs. Theories involving neurotransmitters center on the presence of endorphins in the body during times of extreme physical, emotional, or mental stress. When endorphins are released into the body, increased activity in the brain’s limbic lobe is generated. Endorphins can often lead to increased euphoric states — which may be similar to the increased feelings of peace and joy present in NDEs. Increased activity in the limbic lobe can also lead to vivid hallucinations — which could present a possible explanation for many elements of the NDE. Opponents of this theory feel that the explanation only takes into account a few small elements of the NDE, while failing to address the experience in its entirety. Intractable epilepsy points to a possible explanation for the OBE portion of NDEs. Subjects with intractable epilepsy often report experiences similar to the OBEs present in the NDE. A 2002 Swiss study had doctors placing electrodes in the portions of the brain stimulated during intractable epilepsy episodes. One of the outcomes of this experiment was that stimulation of certain portions of the brain caused OBEs in the subjects — including floating near the ceiling


are primarily anecdotal in nature. Surgical or critically ill patients experiencing out-of-body states may actually be more aware of their surroundings than their unconscious condition indicates. Therefore, information gleaned by patients during this period of awareness could then be incorrectly translated as an OBE.

Does this portion of “Ascent into the Empyrean,” painted by Hieronymus Bosch in the Sixteenth Century, depicts the tunnel described in near-death experiences?

and seeing oneself lying below. This led to the theory that the OBE portion of an NDE might be caused by the stimulation of certain parts of the brain during near-death states. Opponents of this theory point out that patients often report detailed medical information that they would not be privy to unless they actually observed it in an out-of-body state; however, scientists argue that reports, including detailed medical information by OBE experiencers,

Paranormal Underground January 2009

Psychological Theories Psychological theories center around something central to human nature — wishful thinking. In essence, most psychological theories center on the hypothesis that those nearing death want to believe that there is something that awaits us beyond death. This wishful thinking leads to an NDE that fulfills these hopes. Further potential evidence for wishful thinking theories can be found in the differing cultural interpretations of NDEs and in the hellish scenarios experienced by those who have an expectation of some type of judgment or punishment after death. The extreme life changes often encountered by near-death experiencers are explained by psychological theorists as the closeness of a brush with death, as opposed to a profound spiritual change brought about by a transcendental experience. A scientific study published in The Lancet medical journal offers support for this theory. In the study, medical records of people describing NDEs were collected. It was found that not all near-death experiencers had been critically ill. Some of these experiencers hadn’t immediately reported an NDE, but rather reported one a few years later — which could possibly indicate that the NDE was arrived at “after the fact” in order to fulfill the expectations and desires of the experiencer. It is a commonly accepted

theory of most brain researchers that it is human nature to create false memories after the fact to fulfill our expectations or hopes for given situations. Opponents of psychological theories point out that while false memories are certainly a possibility, it doesn’t necessarily follow that because one person has false memories, all people have false memories. The wishful thinking theories are difficult to prove or disprove. Transcendental Theories Transcendental theories center around spiritual explanations for NDE. In other words, they take the NDE at face value as evidence of the afterlife and the ongoing essence of the human soul. Those supporting transcendental theories look at the similarities in the elements of NDEs across populations and cultures as proof that NDEs are spiritual in nature. Transcendental theorists argue that each of the brain-based and psychological theories of NDEs fail to take into account the big picture in NDEs, explaining only one or two of the elements with each theory. Lives Changed Forever No matter what NDE theories exist, one thing is certain. For most people encountering NDEs, it is a life-changing experience. Whether a negative or positive scenario, the experiencer often returns to the world of the living forever changed. In some cases, these changes are overwhelmingly positive. The experiencer uses the NDE as a catalyst that causes them to bring about positive changes in the world, their own lives, and the lives of others. It is often the case that following an NDE, the entire direction of the experiencer’s life is altered. There are reports of major career changes,

Largest Near-Death Experience Study Underway


n the fall 2008, a massive and far-reaching study of near-death experiences was announced by the Human Consciousness Project at the University of Southampton. The AWARE (awareness during REsuscitation) study is led by Dr. Sam Parnia, an expert in the field of consciousness during clinical death, Dr. Peter Fenwick, and Professors Stephen Holgate and Robert Peveler of the University of Southampton. A successful 18-month pilot phase of the study was conducted at hospitals in the UK, and the study is now being expanded to include other hospitals in the UK, Europe, and North America. According to Parnia, death is not a specific moment, but rather a process that begins during cardiac arrest — defined as the cessation of function in the heart, lungs, and brain. “During a cardiac arrest, all three criteria of death are present. There then follows a period of time, which may last from a few seconds to an hour or more, in which emergency medical efforts may increased philanthropy and volunteerism, and major shifts in personality following NDEs. In other cases, the near-death experiencers may become withdrawn and depressed. This reaction is quite common and often brought about by the feeling that the experiencer, for some reason, was kicked out of Heaven and rejected by God. Depression may also occur because of the skepticism and disbelief that near-death experiencers encounter when attempting to describe their experience to others. Theories aside, for most near-

Near-death experience researcher Dr. Sam Parnia.

succeed in restarting the heart and reversing the dying process,” Parnia explained. “What people experience during this period of cardiac arrest provides a unique window of understanding into what we are all likely to experience during the dying process.” During the AWARE study, doctors will use sophisticated technology to study the brain and consciousness during cardiac arrest. They will also test of out-of body experiences and claims of being able to see and hear during cardiac arrest. death experiencers, what has happened to them is absolutely real, and the effects on their lives are profound. There are very few reports of a near-death experiencer remaining fundamentally unchanged by their encounter with the other side. With all of the theories and research, the question remains: What lies behind the near-death experience? Research is ongoing, but it is probable that the answer will never be fully reached. If it is, however, the discovery could reveal the fundamental nature of the human soul.

January 2009 Paranormal Underground 23

Special Report

Building and M Successful Paranor By Lisa Abney, Haunted South Paranormal Research


n the past, I have been asked by many a friend, paranormal enthusiast, and stranger if they could go on a ghost hunt with my team. I can understand why many people want to experience the paranormal in a more controlled or scientific setting, but there are many more reasons why my general answer is, “Tell me why you really want to go.” I am a hard and fast believer that there are people who are “born into it.” From a very young age, they experience things that propel them into study for deeper understanding of various activities. Then there are those who come into it for the excitement of the hunt. The first group, I sometimes call “ghost magnets.” They can’t escape it, and generally they aren’t afraid of many things that would make other people run out of their shoes. The other group I sometimes call “paranormal paparazzi.” (Please understand I say this with much affection.) I understand and applaud both types of people. Regardless of which of these two groups they are in, it is the ones who decide they are up to making paranormal research an ongoing commitment that find there


aren’t bountiful resources from which they can draw to learn the skills of their trade. This is a real shame, especially today, in the age of multi-media, where anyone can get a bachelor’s degree online. So, when I asked if I could write an article for Paranormal Underground, and one of the topics that came back to me was successfully starting a paranormal research team, I jumped at the chance. So, You Want to Form a Team? The most sincere advice I can give is, do it for the right reasons! I have little doubt that many newcomers to the field realize just how much hard work it really takes to keep their group a well-oiled machine (more on that later). This is an educational, charitable, and informational study, and the bottom line of paranormal research is that it is an attempt to better understand unexplained phenomenon. If you are thinking of starting your own team, there are several questions you should ask yourself BEFORE putting your team together and deciding to go public. Questions like these are a good place to start: • Are you in this to help others

Paranormal Underground January 2009

The most sincere advice I can give is, do it for the righ to the field realize just how much hard work it really t

with their experiences/activity? Or are you just looking to have something to do on Saturday night? There is nothing more insincere to perspective clients than wanting to tear up their home in an effort to experience strange phenomena. However, a kind and understanding

Maintaining a rmal Research Team

ht reasons! I have little doubt that many newcomers takes to keep their group a well-oiled machine.

approach to a client is sometimes the one thing that keeps them sane in an environment that can be stressful or even hostile. • What are the goals for your team? If you are looking to build a great group of people that know their stuff and are passionate about

the paranormal, than you really can’t go wrong. But, if you just have a couple of buddies that have spent the last few years watching T.V. to learn about this field, then your team may need to spend some more time studying case histories and researching the ins and outs of investigation and documentation. The primary goal of any team should be helping clients, and through that you can learn so much about your own experiences. • Do you want a T.V. show? To be honest, if I didn’t bring this up, I would get a few e-mails asking me why it wasn’t mentioned. So, here goes: The shows are great! I admit I watch them all, because it is very important to me to see what other teams are doing and maybe even save myself a little time by learning from others. They are entertaining, informative, and they actually are doing a great job showing the general public that we aren’t all a bunch of crazies wearing tin-foil hats and running around in the dark. If it weren’t for the popularity of paranormal reality shows, I doubt there would be the influx of interest in the field that there is today. They

have brought paranormal activity from whispers in corners to full-on conversation at the water cooler, coffee shop, and even the dinner table. But with that said, there is little to no chance at all that you are going to get a T.V. deal out of all of your hard work. If you are doing it to be the next big thing, then, in my opinion, you are in this field for the wrong reason. Getting to Know You So, you have carefully looked at your reasons for doing this and are certain you are up to the challenge of being a full-fledged team of paranormal researchers. GREAT! Now, who do you get to be on your team? At this point, the best place to start is with the people you trust the most. Period. I cannot express enough that TRUST is the foremost important part of a strong team. Your team members need to be able to look you in the face and explain the activity they have seen, be responsible with team equipment, and help keep the team safe. They need to do all this while documenting paranormal occurrences, and you have to trust that when you cut them loose to collect

January 2009 Paranormal Underground 25

Special Report Finding common ground in a group of people that have had paranormal experiences is usually not too difficult. But doing so as friends first, and then as a team is sometimes easier. I know I’ve spent many a night with friends talking ghosts, and this is the most surefire way to discern how important a person’s paranormal experience is to them.

information for your team, you can rely on them. In the field during an investigation is the last place you need the added stress of questioning a team member’s motives or claims. Finding common ground in a group of people that have had paranormal experiences is usually not too difficult. But doing so as friends first, and then as a team is sometimes easier. I know I’ve spent many a night with friends talking ghosts, and this is the most surefire way to discern how important a person’s paranormal experience is to them. Being able to see the impact of paranormal activity on the life of one of your team members can help give you a better understanding as to what they have gone through, as well as what will shape them as a investigator. As a bonus to your team, it can also help you in the field if similar activity is experienced.


Commitment to Stability With Your Team Once you have decided to go forth and document the paranormal world, there are a few things that will help maintain a solid group. First and foremost, treat your team like a family. Caring for your clients is important to your team, surely, but caring for those that help your clients is key. You need to be aware of what is going on in the lives of your team and look out for each other. Keep in touch! There is no better way to lose track of people than not answering e-mails or phone calls. And this goes both ways for investigators and team leaders or founders. If you want to be involved with an active team or if you want members to call on when a client is waiting, then be sure that you are willing to make the time to keep an open dialogue with your team. Find out what your team members are most interested in. I have

Paranormal Underground January 2009

a team of nine people total. Sure, it seems like a lot. But while most of our members have a really great overview of paranormal investigating, individually many of our members are exceptionally talented with a specific form of research (i.e., EVP, KII, video, photographic evidence). Finding out what part of investigation is crucial to your members should be discussed and worked out with your team as a group. If you have two members of your team that are really good at video and photography, then team them up during review. Or if you have a team researcher and someone that is good at analyzing data then team them up together. Your team will only benefit from learning to properly work together toward a common goal. The Well-Oiled Machine As a founder and lead investigator, it is very important to watch your team interacting and properly assign responsibilities to members based on their strengths. A lead investigator is someone who is just that, a leader, one who can make decisions necessary to get things moving. It’s not easy to do a walkthrough and listen to claims while figuring out where you can put cameras and set up larger equipment, plus trying to break the team into smaller groups to investigate. Lead investigators need to also be aware of whether or not their members are becoming tired or stressed, and make sure everyone gets enough time to investigate. Your case manager is a very important figure in every investigation you do. This is the person who will be keeping in close contact with your client and conveying information to the team, as well as investigating. As a case manager, you are on call when it comes to the client. Case managers

need to be very good at dealing with the general public, as well as having excellent people skills. The people you choose as team investigators are as important as anyone else. They collect and record data, while observing paranormal events. They are the people who will patiently sit in the dark for hours for the chance at catching a great piece of evidence. Your investigators should be comfortable with using technical equipment, be detail-oriented, and have excellent written and verbal communication skills. Researchers will be your historians, fact finders, and saving grace. They will help you authenticate historical sites, explore property history, and dig up any and all information you can find to help with a client’s respective understanding of the situation. Most importantly as a team, make sure you have fun together! Your investigations should be a serious, focused time where your team is hard at work, but don’t forget to have a good time. Whether it’s a greasy spoon at four in the morning after a strange night or just a BBQ were everyone can B.S. and unwind together, truly enjoying everyone’s company will bond your team more than anything. Your Team in the Paranormal Community OK, so you are out in the field and you want to meet more teams in your area. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, this is one of those touchy subjects that can go either way. I have made friends with several teams in my area, and I am very grateful to have them as friends. I have even teamed up with another team and the experience was a genuine pleasure. However, you may need to be the first one to extend the

The people you choose as team investigators are as important as anyone else. They collect and record data, while observing paranormal events. Your investigators should be comfortable with using technical equipment, be detailoriented, and have excellent written and verbal communication skills.

olive branch. Unfortunately, there are many teams out there that feel they have a sense of entitlement about being the “older” team in your area, and will never really want anything to do with you. This is really sad, because we should be working together. We are all working toward the same goal and trying to help people. I am a big supporter of reaching out to other teams that may have investigated the same place you have in order to validate the evidence of both teams. Not to mention that open communication with other teams may keep you from making the mistake of trying to investigate a site that they are already documenting. When you do find teams in your area that are supportive of newcomers or just open to meeting new people, do not take them for granted! The help of other teams could open the doors to mentoring, a new learning experience, a

spring board toward new ideas, or even a source of new cases if they are over booked and need to help a client but are unable to do it themselves. I hope this article has helped you in some way. In the end, should you decide to form a team of your own, remember to be honest, sincere, inventive, and most of all, true to the work.

Lisa Abney is cofounder and lead investigator of Haunted South Paranormal Research. She is a paranormal and occult specialist. Lisa began studying paranormal phenomenon at a very early age after several unexplained events in her life. While not a skeptic by any means, she is very cautious to call every unexplained experience a paranormal occurrence. For more information, visit or

January 2009 Paranormal Underground 27

Case Files of the Unknown: Haunted Sites

The McMenamin a Haunte By Karen Frazier


hen brothers Mike and Brian McMenamin set out to redefine the pub business in the state of Oregon during the 1970s, they couldn’t have realized what their empire would grow to become. Based on the concept of the friendly family pubs in Europe, the McMenamin’s empire has grown to more than 55 neighborhood gathering spots that include affordable destination resorts, on-site breweries, distilleries, and wineries, all filled with fun cultural elements like quirky art, good food, and live entertainment. “It’s got to be fun,” was the McMenamin brothers’ motto. In that, they have succeeded. The McMenamin brothers are highly astute businessmen who have an uncanny ability to tap into what the public wants. Is it any surprise, then, that with the huge popularity of the paranormal, the brothers have also managed to add an impressive array of properties with haunted reputations? If there is a historic property in Oregon or Southwestern Washington that has fallen into disrepair, chances are that the McMenamin brothers have considered renovating the location. Here are just a few of their haunted properties — all open to the public.


The Olympic Club: Centralia, Washington The Olympic Club Hotel, Pub, and Theater in Centralia, Wash., was built in 1908 as a “gentlemen’s resort.” It was at the center of a variety of “wild west” type stories — including gambling, bootlegging (it was THE bootlegging center of the area), train robberies, and ladies of the evening.

It was also central to the Armistice Day Massacre of 1919 (also known as the Centralia Massacre), where tension between labor unions and mill owners came to a head, resulting in many deaths and injuries. Today, the Olympic Club has been restored to the glory of its heyday — with 27 European-style guest rooms, the state’s only pub theater (tickets are only $3 — moviegoers can

The Olympic Club Hotel, Pub, and Theater is also home to many strange happenings, including fire alarms that go off for no reasons, oven doors opening, and candles suddenly igniting. Guests and staff report hearing footsteps and the feeling of unseen people brushing past them.

Paranormal Underground January 2009

n Brothers Build ed Empire eat and drink while watching the movies from funky period couches and chairs) and a pub and restaurant. It is also home to many strange happenings, including fire alarms that go off for no reasons, oven doors opening, and extinguished candles suddenly igniting — or, conversely, lit candles can’t be extinguished. Guests and staff report hearing footsteps and the feeling of unseen people brushing past them. Perhaps the playful prankster that causes all of this is the ghost of Louis Galba, a resident in the woodframe hotel next to the Olympic Club who was trapped when the hotel caught fire on June 26, 1908. Galba reportedly jumped out of his second story window when the fire broke out. He died several months later from the injuries he sustained in the fall. The Olympic Club Local: 360-736-5164 Elsewhere: 866-736-5164 112 N. Tower Ave. Centralia, WA 98531 Hotel Oregon: McMinnville, Oregon Another McMenamin’s property, the Hotel Oregon, is the tallest building in Yamahill County. Built

in 1905 as the Hotel Elberton, it was a popular stop in the travels of many through the 1950s. When the hotel closed, other businesses moved in, including a local greyhound terminal, a soda fountain, and a bookstore. Employees of those businesses reported strange events like cold spots, items mysteriously falling off shelves, and strange gusts of wind. The ghost believed to be causing all of these phenomena was affectionately named John. The building eventually fell into disrepair until 1998, when the McMenamin brothers restored the property, renaming it the Hotel Oregon, At the Hotel Oregon, guests and staff hear footsteps following them down hallways and opening a European-style hotel with restaurant/pubs on see swinging doors and, occasionally, something being tossed across a room. the first floor and top floors. Guests and staff notice John’s presence — hearing footsteps ry of the famous McMinnville UFO following them down hallsightings in 1950, when farmer Paul ways and seeing swinging doors and, Trent photographed a UFO. occasionally, something being tossed across a room. Hotel Oregon The Hotel Oregon also has anLocal: 503-472-8427 other interesting and fun distinction. Elsewhere: 888-472-8427 Every year in May, it hosts the UFO 310 N.E. Evans Street festival that celebrates the anniversaMcMinnville, OR 97128

January 2009 Paranormal Underground 29

Case Files of the Unknown: Haunted Sites

The Cornelius Pass Roadhouse (above) reports ghostly activity in the restaurant. Cold spots, unexplained footsteps from the attic, and lights that turn on mysteriously are reported. The Edgefield (at left) has had its fair share of reported strange happenings, including sightings of spirits peeking into or out of windows.

Edgefield: Troutdale, Oregon Formerly the Multnomah Poor Farm, McMenamin’s Edgefield is on the National Historic register. Reports of strange happenings pour in from guests and employees, including reports of a woman who wakes people by shaking their feet, a ghostly black dog that sticks its nose in the faces of sleeping guests, an invisible cat meowing to be let out of a bathroom, spirits peeking into or out of windows and wandering the parking lot, and the sound of children crying and playing when no children are present. But the most reports come in about Althea’s Room, a third floor attic room in the main manor. In this room, guests are awakened by a ghostly young girl who serenades them with nursery rhymes and then asks them to play with her. For an in-depth article about Edgefield and its many hauntings, as well as its standing as one of Citysearch’s top 10 Haunted Hotels, see Paranormal Underground’s September issue, which is still available for


viewing in our archives. Edgefield Local: 503-669-8610 Elsewhere: 800-669-8610 2126 S.W. Halsey St. Troutdale, OR 97060 Cornelius Pass Roadhouse: Hillsboro, Oregon The Cornelius Pass Roadhouse is a complex containing some of Oregon’s oldest buildings, dating to the mid-1850s. Formerly the home to the large Imbrie family, and later a granary and then a restaurant, the McMenamin brothers bought the Roadhouse in 1983 and transformed it into a brewery, restaurant, and pub. Reports of ghostly activity have centered mainly on the restaurant — housed in the Imbrie’s former home. Cold spots, unexplained footsteps from the attic, and lights that turn on mysteriously are reported. Could it be that the ghosts of the many members of the Imbrie family who died on premises still occupy the property?

Paranormal Underground January 2009

At the Edgefield (at right), most reports come from Althea’s Room, a third floor attic room in the main manor. In this room, guests are awakened by a ghostly young girl who serenades them with nursery rhymes and then asks them to play with her.

The Cornelius Pass Roadhouse (above) is a complex containing some of Oregon’s oldest buildings, dating to the mid-1850s. The Olympic Club Hotel, Pub, and Theater (at right) in Centralia, Wash., was built in 1908 as a “gentlemen’s resort.” It was at the center of a variety of “wild west” type stories — including gambling and bootlegging.

Cornelius Pass Roadhouse Local: (503) 640-6174 4045 N.W. Cornelius Pass Rd. Hillsboro, OR 97124

The Grand Lodge (at left) was built in 1922 as a Masonic and Eastern Star Home. Today, the front desk keeps a “Ghost Log” for guests to record their encounters with the other side. Strange happenings reported by staff and guests include levitating objects, ghostly scents, and encounters with ghostly apparitions and voices.

The Grand Lodge: Forest Grove, Oregon Built in 1922 as a Masonic and Eastern Star Home, the Grand Lodge joined the McMenamin’s family in 2000. Now, the front desk keeps a “Ghost Log” for guests to record their encounters with the other side. Residents of the Masonic and Eastern Star Home were aged and infirm Freemasons. There was also a smaller building on the property that housed the orphans of the Freemasons in the late-20s and early-30s. Now, the property has 77 European-style rooms, several bars and restaurants, a 10-hole disc-golf course, and an outdoor soaking pool. Staff and guests alike note strange happenings — such as levitating objects, the sounds of laughing children running up and down the upstairs hall, ghostly scents, and

encounters with ghostly apparitions and voices. Grand Lodge Local: (503) 992-9533 Elsewhere: (877) 992-9533 3505 Pacific Ave. Forest Grove, OR 97116 McMenamin Properties Provide a Historical Atmosphere These are just a few of the stories associated with McMenamin’s properties. For those visiting Oregon, other McMenamin properties with haunted reputations include The White Eagle Restaurant and Pub and the Crystal Ballroom, both in Portland, as well as the Thompson Brewery and Public House in Salem. Whether there is merit to the ghost stories or not, guests at any of the McMenamin’s properties can expect to be entertained by good food and drink in a lively historical atmosphere. To learn more about the McMenamin’s properties, visit their Web site at

January 2009 Paranormal Underground 31

Case Files of the Unknown: Cryptids

Is the Kraken Real? By Jaime Johnesee, Zoologist


here probably isn’t a sailor alive that hasn’t heard of the Kraken — rumored to be a gigantic cephalopod that was responsible for destroying and sinking many vessels at seas. The term Kraken (pronounced either Kraykin or Crackin) first appeared in print in Systema Naturae, written by Carolus Linnaeus in 1735, but sailors had been exchanging tales about the beast since the Twelfth Century. Born in Norway, these tales often referred to a creature so large that it is sometimes confused for an island or even a chain of islands. In the book The Natural History of Norway, written in 1752, Bishop of Bergen Erik Ludvigsen Pontoppidan stated that the Kraken is “incontestably the largest sea monster in the world.” He also described the Kraken as being one and a half miles wide. His description denotes the characteristic squid-like appearance. The Myth of the Kraken Sailors feared and respected the myth of the


Kraken, but continued to fish in the creature’s feeding grounds because that was where the best fishing was. When they caught an abundance of fish, they credited the creature, and when they went home with less than they wanted, Krakens were blamed. When sailors were lost at sea, it was said the creatures stole them off the ships for food. While the name Kraken doesn’t emerge in Norse sagas, creatures that are depicted as being similar in appearance are.

Known as Hafgufa and Lyngbakr, they made their debut in Örvar-Odds saga and the Norwegian text of Konungs skuggsjá. Krakens were always described as separate entities from sea serpents. They seemingly have had their own category no matter the language or particulars of the story. In some of the lore, Krakens are most dangerous when descending back into the ocean depths due to the whirlpool they create upon doing so. In others, the animal smashes through the sides of the ship and brings down yardarms and masts. Sometimes, the Kraken is described as having crab-like extensions; other times it’s described as having the tentacles of the squid. Descriptions of the Kraken have varied from “octopus-like” to “whale-like.”

Tsunemi Kubodera, of the National Science Museum of Japan, filmed this giant squid on Dec. 4, 2006, off the Ogasawara Islands, near the remote island of Chichijima, southeast of Tokyo, Japan. Could this be what sailors of yore called the Kraken?

Paranormal Underground January 2009

Grandiose Kraken Lore While the descriptions of this creature varied and as the sightings grew, some took fibbing to a whole new level by making outrageously

false claims about the Kraken, such as a single Kraken destroying 10 British war ships in the late 1700s. It seemed that if you were a sailor during early times, you had personally witnessed either a Kraken or a mermaid. But, as time went on, the stories lost the grandiosity of the previous ones, and reported sightings declined sharply. Stories of the size of Krakens also became more realistic, and the descriptions match what we now know to be either the Giant Squid (Architeuthis) or the Colossal Squid (Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni). However, what we do know of these squids makes their surfacing to attack a ship or steal a sailor seem far fetched. They are a deep water species, for the most part, with the Colossal being smaller but more aggressive and far more likely to attack than the Giant Squid. What I think happened during these reported Kraken sightings was that the carcass of one of these animals floated up near a vessel, and the sailors embellished a story about how the unknown creature attacked the boat. I think much of the lore behind the Kraken is the result of the same phenomena I mentioned in last month’s Cryptids column — sailors boasting about things they had never actually seen and/or sailors taking liberties when retelling the story. Is the Kraken a Monster or a Giant Squid? Is the Kraken real? I think so; of course, I think the Kraken is nothing more than either Architeuthis or Mesonychoteuthis. If this fabled creature really is nothing more than either the Giant or Colossal squids, it is still a huge accomplishment to sight one. For literally thousands of years,

One Giant/Colossal Squid specimen, found on a New Zealand beach in 1880, was reportedly 65 feet in length, with 40 feet of that being tentacles.

these animals remained elusive. It wasn’t until 2004 that a live Giant Squid was captured on camera. Do you believe these elusive cephalopods are behind the stigma that is Kraken, or do you believe in the possibility of a giant creature capable of tearing ships apart? Be sure to let us know what you

think in either our Cryptozoology forum or in the Articles section of Our Magazine forum at If you have a cryptid or mythological creature you’d like profiled in an upcoming issue, please feel free to drop me an e-mail at

January 2009 Paranormal Underground 33

Case Files of the Unknown: Haunted History

Lincoln’s Prophetic Dreams By Jaime Johnesee


braham Lincoln was a man of amazing clarity. Known as “Honest Abe,” he was the type of politician no one has seen since. He came from the most humble beginnings; he cared deeply about this country. What stood out about Lincoln was his ability to think ahead of the times. Lincoln saw the reality of the times and the possibility of the future. He knew that the United States would never be as great as it could be until each American had the same rights and opportunities. He was proof that even a poor boy from Illinois could grow up to become a lawyer, and then eventually President of the United States. It was this same forward thinking that wound up costing Lincoln his life. The Dream of Death While in office, Lincoln and his wife, Mary Todd, held séances presided over by the most famous mediums of the time. Cora Maynard and Nettie Colburn were just two of the many spiritualists that consulted with Lincoln after the death of his son Willie. Before his bid for re-election, Lincoln looked into various mirrors and noticed two versions of himself staring back at him. In one instance, he looked normal. In the other, he was very pale, and his image began to dissipate as he gazed at himself.


It was during the 1864 election that the Union was starting to make fast strides toward ending the war. All Lincoln wanted was peace and harmony throughout the country. He waited at City Point aboard the ship River Queen for news of the war. It was during this time that Lincoln looked into the future in a shocking and eerie sort of way. During one of his very few moments of sleep, Abe dreamed of his death. He said he had fallen into a deep sleep and started dreaming. In this dream, everything around him had gone still and he began hearing subdued sobs. He followed the noise and ended up While in office, Lincoln and his wife, Mary Todd, wandering into the East Room of held séances presided over by the most famous mediums of the time. the White House where a body lay on a catafalque. The people and the Hill Lamon, about the dream. It soldiers packed into the room continued bothering him until the gazed upon the corpse mournfully. day before his actual murder. Lincoln asked the soldier acting as In fact, on the day of the assasa guard for the deceased, who had sination, Lincoln told his bodyguard, died. He was told, “The President. W.H. Crook, that he had dreamed He was killed by an assassin.” of his death three nights in a row. In the dream, the crowd sobbed Both Lamon and Crook pleaded and wailed with grief. It was this with Lincoln not to attend the play; dream noise that awoke Lincoln. however, Lincoln insisted on conIt bothered him for at least 10 days tinuing with the outing as planned. before he talked to his friend, Ward

Paranormal Underground January 2009

He had given Mary his promise that they would get out to see the play. Mary also knew that the dreams had been eating at her husband and thought the play would be a wonderful distraction for him. It is said that upon leaving for the theater, Lincoln told Crook “Goodbye” and not his usual “Goodnight.” An Inevitable Death? It was Lincoln’s futuristic ideas that led to his death. If he not been a proponent for abolition and unifying the states, John Wilkes Booth and other Confederate sympathizers would not have decided Lincoln needed to die. And if he had not fretted over the premonition of his dream, he might not have been out to the theater that fateful night. Was this premonition a warning, or was it the very thing that pushed him to his inevitable death? Even more amazing is that even 143 years after his death, Lincoln’s ghost is still reportedly seen around the White House. It is said that Lincoln’s spirit was most active during Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s administration, because they were both president during times of great war for the country. Eleanor used Lincoln’s bedroom as a study during her husband’s time in office. Even though she never saw the specter of Lincoln, she often felt someone watching her as she sat in the room. A young clerk claimed to have witnessed Lincoln sit on the edge of a bed and pull his boots off. There are many reports of knocking occurring before manifestations of Lincoln’s spirit. The Lincoln-JFK Connection Lincoln’s spirit and premonitions aren’t the only paranormal mysteries surrounding the President. Some think Lincoln was reincarnated as President John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

Lincoln Reveals His Dream of Death


resident Lincoln revealed his distrurbing dream about his impending death to his longtime friend, Ward Hill Lamon. Here is how Lincoln described his dream: “About 10 days ago, I retired very late. I soon began to dream. There seemed to be a death-like stillness about me. Then I heard subdued sobs, as if a number of people were weeping. “I thought I left my bed and wandered downstairs. There the silence was broken by the same pitiful sobbing, but the mourners were invisible. I went from room to room. No living person was in sight, but the same mournful sounds met me as I passed alone. I was puzzled and alarmed. “Determined to find the cause

of a state of things so mysterious and shocking, I kept on until I arrived at the East Room. Before me was a catafalque on which rested a corpse wrapped in funeral vestments. “Around it were stationed soldiers who were acting as guards; and there was a throng of people, some gazing mournfully upon the corpse, others weeping pitifully. ‘Who is dead in the White House?’ I demanded of one of the soldiers. ‘The President,’ was his answer ‘He was killed by an assassin.’ “Then came a loud burst of grief from the crowd, which woke me from my dream. I slept no more that night; and although it was only a dream, I have been strangely annoyed by it ever since.”

Those that believe the two politicians were one in the same person have a litany of interesting facts to support their belief. The connections between Lincoln and Kennedy follow: • Both presidents were greatly loved and despised. • Lincoln was elected on Nov. 6, 1860, and Kennedy was elected on Nov. 8, 1960. • Both had previously been members of Congress. Lincoln was first elected in 1846; Kennedy in 1946. • After their assassinations, both men’s posts were succeeded by a Southerner named Johnson. Lincoln’s successor, Andrew Johnson, was born in 1808, and Kennedy’s successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, was born in 1908. • Both men were killed on a Friday by shots to the head with their wives sitting beside them.

• John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln in a theater and ran to a barn storehouse. Lee Harvey Oswald shot Kennedy from a warehouse and ran into a theater. Both assassins were killed before they could be brought to trial. • Lincoln was shot inside Ford’s Theater; Kennedy was shot inside a Lincoln (made by Ford Motor Company). • They may have both foreseen their own deaths; before his murder, Kennedy told both his wife and his personal advisor, “If somebody wants to shoot me from a window with a rifle, nobody can stop it, so why worry about it.” Were Lincoln and Kennedy one and the same? What do you think about it? Be sure to let us know your thought in the Our Magazine forum at

January 2009 Paranormal Underground 35

Cultural Beliefs

Near-Death Experien

Similarities and Differences By Binoo’mukua


hile working, a 42-yearold man is suddenly stricken with pain in his abdomen and back. Thinking that the pain will pass, he continues to work through the morning. By midday, the pain has become severe, and he collapses before he can notify a coworker for help. He is rushed to a nearby hospital where testing reveals he has a leaking aneurysm of the descending abdominal aorta, and without emergency surgery he will certainly die. As he is whisked from the emergency room to the surgical suite, the man drifts in and out of consciousness, noting the myriad of doctors and nurses that surround him as they explain his situation and prep him for surgery. Suddenly, he is aware that he seems to be floating. The pain is gone, and he feels a peace like he has never known. Looking down, he can see the surgical team as they work on him. He notes their conversation, he notices every detail of the room, and he understands that the surgical team below him is working frantically to save his life.


As these events unfold, he is drawn away to what appears to be a long dark tunnel, with a blindingly bright light in the distance at the end. As he travels through the tunnel, the light grows larger. Upon reaching it, he experiences a joy and peace that is indescribable. Within the light, he notices loved ones who have passed before him, all happy to see him but also informing him that he must return, as this is not his time. Immediately, he finds himself back in his body post-surgery. He has made it through; the surgeons have saved him. Yet, his experience still lingers, and he knows that his life will never be the same. This is a typical near-death experience (NDE). Reported across cultures from around the world, the NDE is a phenomenon that occurs in an estimated 35% of those who have been resuscitated from a medical or traumatic occurrence. This article will examine the NDE and the similarities and differences that occur within them from various cultures worldwide.

Paranormal Underground January 2009

What Is a Near-Death Experience? An NDE is described as an experience that sometimes occurs when a person is near death or has been resuscitated from near

Near-death experience sensations reportedly includ tion, extreme fear, total serenity, security, warmt ing with loved ones that have died long before th people interpret as a deity or spiritual being.

nces Across Cultures:

s in the NDE Phenomenon clinical death, wherein they experience a range of sensations that may include detachment from the body, feelings of levitation, extreme fear, total serenity, security, warmth, the experience of absolute disso-

de detachment from the body, feelings of levitath, the experience of absolute dissolution, speakhem, and the presence of a light, which some

lution, speaking with loved ones that have died long before them, and the presence of a light, which some people interpret as a deity or spiritual being. These experiences are reported from people in various cultures throughout the world, with similarities and differences existing within all reported NDE. But what exactly are NDEs, and why do they occur? Since the late 19th Century, researchers have been examining the NDE in attempt to offer an explanation as to what they are and what is their cause. Theories have ranged from glimpses of an afterlife to phenomenon occurring due to the final biological functions of the dying body. But research on the subject in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries was sparse and not considered scientific due to what was considered by many the spiritual nature of the subject. As medical procedures improved and the ability by practitioners to successfully resuscitate those near death, the number of reports concerning NDEs has increased, prompting serious research into the phenomenon.

However, due to the vast amount of research that is being done, this article will only look at the two main schools of thought on the subject in order to better understand the NDE phenomenon. The Spiritual Viewpoint on NDE Currently, there seems to be two main ideologies in NDE research. The first is the spiritual side, which believes that the NDE is evidence that the body has a soul, and the NDE is the journey that the soul takes after death. Many of these types of claims are “spiritual� NDEs, or those NDEs that spiritual or deity-like beings are encountered. In Western European societies, these beings will always be representative of, and coincide with, the icons of the religion of that person experiencing the NDE. For example, in 1982, a woman who was involved in a severe automobile accident reported a NDE in which she conversed with the Virgin Mary. She had been a Catholic all her life and claimed that the blessed mother had told her that her time

January 2009 Paranormal Underground 37

Cultural Beliefs

The biological/physiological NDE viewpoint says that the experience is a normal physiological process that occurs when the systems of the body begin to shut down as it dies.

on Earth was not complete, and that she must return to accomplish her unfinished tasks. Many other similar cases have been reported in this manner, all requiring the person experiencing the NDE to return to Earth from what is usually described as paradise or Heaven. Those beings encountered have been reported to range from the Virgin Mary to Jesus Christ to angels to even God. In other cultures where spiritual beings are encountered, they too will correlate to the person’s religious belief. These beings have been reported as Allah, Krishna, Buddha, and a myriad of others. In all cases, regardless of cultures, the message seems to be the same in that it is not the person experiencing the NDEs time to die, and they must return in order to complete an unfinished task. Not all NDEs, however, have a peaceful, benign, spiritual element. Several cases have been reported in which the person undergoing the


NDE has had truly terrifying entorturing her. This continues for counters. In these cases, the person what seems to her an eternity, until describes being taken to a terrible she finally awakens in the recovery place, or Hell, where they experiroom of the hospital where she ence indescribable pain, suffering, learns that she had died on the and emotional distress. operating table but was resuscitated These “dark” spiritual NDEs by the physicians. seem to be completely opposite to Theologians will argue that these their “light” spiritual counterparts spiritual NDE cases are proof of in every way. Instead of a feeling of Heaven and Hell in that the body peace, there is a feeling of dread or must contain a soul in order for this apprehension. experience to occur. There is a feeling of falling into However, the second school of a deep pit toward darkness, rather thought on the NDE phenomena than rising through a tunnel toward will argue a point of view to the light. And instead of a benign spiricontrary. tual being offering guidance, the hapless person is besieged by what they The Biological/Physiological describe as demons who endlessly Explanation of NDE torment and harass them. The second school of thought In one such case, a woman unon the NDE is the biological/ dergoing surgery for an ovarian cyst physiological viewpoint. From this reported that suddenly she could perspective, the NDE is considered see herself on the operating table a normal physiological process that as the surgical team worked on her. occurs when the systems of the body While trying to get the attention of begin to shut down as it dies. someone in the room, she became Much research has been done in aware of a darkness descending this field, and this article will attempt upon her like “a curtain being lowto surmise only a small amount in ered on the room.” order to give the reader a general She goes on to recount that in the next instant, she began to fall through what appeared to be a “dark, cavelike tunnel, filled with terrible screams and sounds of suffering.” As she falls deeper into the tunnel, she reports that deformed creatures begin to “grasp and gnaw” at her, and the deeper she falls, the more creatures appear. Try as she might, she is unable to grasp anything that will slow Some researchers argue that as the body dies, systems her fall, until, finally, within the body begin to shut down. As a result, the she is overwhelmed conscious mind can experience a myriad of sensations by the beings that are to include flying, falling, sounds, smells, and sight.

Paranormal Underground January 2009

In 1982, a woman who was involved in a severe automobile accident reported a NDE in which she conversed with the Virgin Mary. She had been a Catholic all her life and claimed that the blessed mother had told her that her time on Earth was not complete, and that she must return to accomplish her unfinished tasks. Many other similar cases have been reported in this manner, all requiring the person experiencing the NDE to return to Earth from what is usually described as paradise or Heaven.

thought of the biological/physiological ideology of the NDE. Some researchers from this point of view argue that as the body dies, systems within the body begin to shut down. As a result, the conscious mind can experience a myriad of sensations to include flying, falling, sounds, smells, and sight. In several instances under laboratory settings, parts of the NDE, such as the tunnel of light and the feeling of levitating above the body, have been recreated in test subjects under controlled conditions. One researcher used a process known as “retinal-cortical mapping” — a process that maps and records the neurons within the retina of the eyes and exists within all primates — to make a computer-generated image known as the “lattice tunnel hallucination,” which closely resembles the tunnel of light described by many who report NDEs. The researcher argues that as

the body begins to die, the neurons within the retina begin to fire in rapid succession, creating the tunnel of light seen in the NDE. Many from this viewpoint also argue that the descriptions given in the spiritual NDE accounts are not logically sound. The reasoning behind this point of view is that across cultures, the deity-like or spiritual beings described always correlate to the iconic representation of the being within the persons religion. In other words, we only know what these beings look like through the paintings and representations given to us of them through our religions, and in most cases of an NDE that one is reported, they are described exactly as they are portrayed to us in those representations. Other Views on NDEs In researching this article, I became aware that both sides of the argument have taken points from the other to use in support of

their ideas. In addition, there is a myriad of other ideas on the NDE that range from communication with alien beings to contact with the denizens of Atlantis. Throughout this commentary, I have tried to remain neutral on this subject, and present the reader with a brief, yet concise, point of view aimed solely at allowing you, the reader, to form your own opinion on this subject. Ideas presented here can be easily researched, as there are literally volumes that have been done on the subject of NDEs. Some good, some bad, and some just plain . . . well, out there. In any case, I hope that you will look into this phenomenon, for it is a truly fascinating matter. I leave you with this: No matter what your point of view on the NDE is, one thing is certain, death is a road that we are all destined to travel, and one day we will all know the answer. Until next time.

January 2009 Paranormal Underground 39

Quantum Musings

Anoxia on My Mind:

A Scientific Look at What You Remember as Your Brain Runs Out of Oxygen By Jim Frazier


ver wonder why so many people who have had neardeath experiences describe seeing the same thing? Could there really be a light-filled tunnel that those near death pass through? Sure, it’s possible, but there’s a much more likely explanation based on what happens to the human brain when the oxygen goes away. I’m not trying to impugn the word of those who have had these near-death experiences, because I think that those people who have shared their experiences have been, for the most part, very truthful. However, there are certain factors that cast doubt on the validity of those memories. In other words, they are only describing what they honestly believe they experienced. The human memory is a tricky thing, even under the best of circumstances. The Effects of Loss of Oxygen to the Brain Let’s look at the types of injuries that occur when people have a near-death experience. Predominantly, they involve the loss of oxygen to the brain, either via


heart attack (loss of oxygen-carrying blood flow) or drowning (loss of oxygen to the lungs). Sometimes people will “code out” following a gunshot wound or some other blood loss trauma, but the end result is always the same. The brain is deprived of oxygen for a few minutes, only to have it mi-

The vast majority of humanity has been trained from a young age to believe in some form of an afterlife. raculously restored before acidosis can begin turning healthy brain cells into cream-of-wheat. Normal human blood occupies a very narrow window on the pH scale, between 7.35 and 7.45. Tap water varies more than that. A few brief moments without oxygen, and the pH will take a nosedive toward

Paranormal Underground January 2009

the acidic end of the scale, destroying brain cells en masse. This is why corpses can’t be “re-animated” with an iron lung or a heart-bypass machine. Some factors will slow the loss of brain cells, like extremely low temperatures, which reduce the rate of the pH-dropping chemical reactions in the body. This is why Timmy can occasionally be revived after floating face down in the well at the old Johnson place, even though it took Lassie a good 45 minutes to track down someone who speaks canine. Assuming, that is, that they shot that episode in the dead of winter. Oxygen Deprivation and NearDeath Experiences So how does the loss of oxygen affect what a person experiences? Nobody really knows. Nobody truly remembers the event, because short-term memory is among the first things to be lost when the brain stops breathing. Short-term memory is processed in a small portion of the fore-brain known as the Hippocampus, which is named for its passing resemblance to a seahorse (actually a pair of sea

horses, since higher mammals have one of each side of the brain). Hippocampus is Greek for River Monster, or so I’m told. I’m sure Wikipedia is just teeming with merry pranksters, but I know that Hippopotamus means River Horse, so I’ll go with it. Wouldn’t you know it, though; the Hippocampus is about the most sensitive part of the brain when it comes to oxygen deprivation. It shuts down faster than the Trash Collector’s Union when City Hall starts talking budget cuts. So, long story short, whatever near-death experiencers might have actually experienced gets misplaced along with wherever they left their car keys. It just never gets consolidated into long-term memory. Kind of like your electronic tax return when your computer crashes as you’re about to hit send. Your computer may reboot, but that’s at least 20 minutes of your life you’ll never get back. Society Tells Us: Don’t Go Toward the Light All of this begs the question, Why do so many people with neardeath experiences claim to have seen the brightly lit tunnel? The answer: Because the human mind will fill in the blanks, and that is what we’ve been societally conditioned to believe will happen when we die. It’s an old cliché, “Don’t go toward the light,” as if we choose in that moment whether we live or die. The vast majority of humanity has been trained from a young age to believe in some form of an afterlife, so when memory fails us, we go with what we know. Or at least what we think we know. A traumatic event has a significant impact on a person, and the human psyche has a few mechanisms for coping with it. It’s a well-

Claudia Ghidella

So how does the loss of oxygen affect what a person experiences? Nobody really knows. Nobody truly remembers the event, because short-term memory is among the first things to be lost when the brain stops breathing.

proven fact that the mind will try to make sense of what has happened, even if it has to subconsciously create a few additional memories to make things fit. Perhaps at some point in the future, we’ll be able to download our brains to some form of digital storage. Then we’ll actually be able to experience the lives of others, including their deaths. It would be nice to know what really happens when we die.

In the meantime, though, we’re stuck with good old human memory, and it just can’t hang with a neardeath experience.

Jim Frazier is a nuclear engineer. While he is highly skeptical about paranormal phenomena, he believes that there is much in the universe that is beyond our current level of understanding — so if the paranormal exists, then logical explanations lie in quantum mechanics.

January 2009 Paranormal Underground 41

Fiction: Featured Author

Gift of Life By Jaime Johnesee


f only . . . Ken Miller did not allow himself to finish the thought as he blew into his icy hands trying to ward off the chill that had less to do with the temperature and more to do with why he was standing outside in the middle of a freezing January night. His mind felt like it had shortcircuited somehow. The things he had learned that night just couldn’t possibly be true, and yet they were. He had seen the events take place with his own eyes. He heard the truth with his own ears. The truth could not be denied, and yet here he was, a 40-year-old man, standing in the middle of a Michigan snow storm feeling like a five-year-old who just learned that Santa is not real. Oddly enough, it wasn’t the disproving of a fabled creature that destroyed Ken’s reality, but rather proof of the existence of a different creature that caused his mind to spin. As he stamped his feet trying to get just a little warmer, he tried to recall how his routinely boring day had turned into a rendezvous with a creature he had been sure was nothing more than Hollywood make-believe. ***** The morning had started out normally enough. He had delivered almost a hundred loaves of freshbaked bread to a few grocery stores in


the Southwestern-most corner of the UP (that’s how most Michiganders referred to the Upper Peninsula). He had joked with shop owners, swore at snowmobilers driving on the roads as if they were just larger trails for them to goof off on, and talked his way out of a speeding ticket. After finishing his runs, he drove back to the bakery he owned and tried to figure out just how he was going to get the cake done for the Mullens wedding and still bake the three dozen

She pulled a pocketknife from her coat and sliced her hand open. popovers Clarice Shore had ordered for her husband’s birthday party. It wasn’t until later that evening that the baker, a recent divorcee, came face to face with terror. It seemed surreal to him now that just six hours ago his biggest concern was baked goods. It was all so small and pointless now. Yet, his mind still hovered to his bakery and just what was going to happen with it.

Paranormal Underground January 2009

***** Feeling the cold deeper than ever, Ken turned, climbed into his truck, and put the heater on full blast. Pointing the vents toward his face, he then held his hands up in front, allowing the shock of hot air to roll over his frosty digits before flowing beyond to warmly caress his visage. As he slowly thawed he came to the realization that his life would never be the same. He had thought about that before, but now it finally hit him . . . there was no going back. “Damn, damn, damn! I just got into the black, too,” he muttered. After spending his whole life in debt, he had just mailed the final payment in on his bakery and house. He was truly a business owner. His truck was paid off. His credit card debt was superficial, just enough to keep a line of good credit. “Leave it to me to finally become financially free only to get chained down to something else.” He looked up into the night sky and continued, “How is this even fair?” He didn’t get the answer he hoped for. Instead, a shadow grew long across the hood of the truck, and Ken’s midnight appointment slipped into the passenger side of the maroon 2006 F-250. “Where have you been? How are we going to do this and where are we going?” Ken demanded of his new friend, although friend didn’t seem an accurate word.

“Don’t worry about me or where I have been. Worry only about yourself. Are you truly ready for this? Once you go forward, there will never be any way for you to go back. You will never again be the man you are now. Do you still wish to proceed?” The husky whisper caused an immediate reaction in Ken and his face flushed. She was so beautiful, his new acquaintance. “I do.” A moment of mirth swept over him as he realized that what he said eerily reminded him of wedding vows. He smiled and chuckled; she glared disapprovingly. “I have not been in your situation in a very long time, but I remember the decision is a crucial one. I could grant you another day to mull it over.” She actually looked concerned for him. “I need to do this. There is no other way.” He resigned himself to his fate, looked into her charcoal eyes, and smiled. The moonlight danced off her perfect peaches and cream complexion and played with the golden hues in her hair. He knew she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. He also knew she was not what she appeared. He asked her to give him a few minutes to think. She left the cab and told him he had to hurry so they could either move forward tonight or wait until the next night. He nodded his understanding, and she left him alone to cogitate. ***** Ken sighed. It had been such a normal night for him until that phone call. He would never forget that call. It struck terror in his heart and made him more afraid than he had been since he was a boy of twelve and was almost hit by a speeding car. Of course the car had missed him; the phone call had not. ***** “Miller’s Bakery,” he had an-

swered the phone. “Ken? I’m so glad I caught you there, I have the results,” Ken’s doctor, Richard Grunwald said. The waver in the kind man’s voice told Miller everything he needed to know. “How long do I have?” He sat on a stack of flour sacks and felt the tears roll unbidden down his cheeks. “Three months . . . maybe. The cancer has metastasized from the intestine to the liver and pancreas. We can try radiation, but to be honest, Ken, I believe it would just make your last weeks on this planet hell. Why don’t you come in tomorrow and we can talk about pain management?” Ken acquiesced and hung up the phone after making the appointment for 3 p.m. He was startled out of his state of shock by the door opening and the bell ringing out to let him know a customer had arrived.

He peered through the doorway separating the back room and the storefront and noticed it was dark out. He had been sitting on that stack of flour a lot longer than he had thought, at least two hours longer. He flipped the switch and turned on the parking lot lights on his way up front. ***** “How can I help you miss?” He was chagrined at how despondent he sounded to himself and was sure the gorgeous young woman would notice. “I’m hungry, and I have a proposal for you,” she said bluntly. Perplexed, Ken stared blankly at her. She continued, “You’re dying. How do I know this, you ask? Because I have a friend that works at the lab. She tells me all about the more dire results, and I help those

January 2009 Paranormal Underground 43

Fiction: Featured Author people out.” “How on Earth . . . what do you mean?” He crossed his arms in front of himself and narrowed his eyes at her. She was just some slick, albeit beautiful, snake oil salesman trying to squeeze some cash from him before he died a painful death. “I’m a vampire. You let me feed from you, and I will heal your body by infecting you with the virus.” She said it so matter-of-factly that Ken couldn’t help but laugh. “Oh what a coincidence. I’m a leprechaun. Why don’t you come back later, and I’ll give you my pot of gold?” He should have been angry, but instead he found the whole thing ludicrously funny. She opened her mouth and showed him her eyeteeth. They were extremely fang-like. “Yeah well, I just need a green hat with a clover leaf, and I could pass as a leprechaun.” She then pulled a pocketknife from her coat and sliced her hand open. She bleed for a moment, and Ken watched as the blood stopped and the wound scabbed over, healing completely in just a few seconds. His jaw dropped open, and he asked to see the knife. He too cut himself, but the blood didn’t stop. He wrapped a tea towel around his hand to staunch the flow. Her eyes followed the blood and she licked her lips subconsciously. Ken’s mind raced. Could this person standing before him really be . . . a vampire? “So what, will I just live with cancer forever?” “No. There will be no cancer or any other human disease. The virus will not allow it. You will be free from pain for a very long time. But not forever, that’s a myth. We don’t live forever, we just have expanded life spans. The average human lives what, 80, 90 years? We live to around 205 years. And we don’t turn humans by


feeding from you. I never kill those I feed from. Sunlight doesn’t kill us, but it does give us a helluva sunburn. Crosses are still just crosses, and garlic, while pungent, won’t hurt us either. Holy water is just water, and silver is just a metal. Does that answer all your questions?” “Almost,” he said “So, will you feed from me until I’m almost dead and then make me drink your blood like in the books and movies?” “I don’t even need to feed from you at all. I just need to get you to ingest or inject my blood. Technically, it can be any bodily fluid, but blood is at the root of this condition. It is

something you will need to continue on as a vampire, mainly because the virus causes your body to stop manufacturing red blood cells. But, you can convert the cells from others and use them without fear of rejection.” “I’ll do it,” he blurted out, surprising himself. She told him to take care of whatever needed taking care of, since he was going to have to leave everything behind and move on with her. She asked that he write a suicide note and tell people he was going off to drown in the lake before the cancer ate him alive. This would better explain his disappearance and would assure no one would come looking for him.

Paranormal Underground January 2009

***** He did everything she asked, and then he waited for her in his driveway. Startled back to the present by her return to the truck, he nodded to her. “Do whatever you have to do. I don’t want to die just yet.” “Okay. After I feed from and then infect you, you’re going to be really ill for a day or so. Pretty much like any virus you’ve had. The only difference is the unrelenting thirst. No matter how much fluid you drink, you will remain parched until you drink blood. You will need to drink at least a pint a night, and you don’t have to drink just human blood, but it does have to be fresh. You can also eat fresh bone marrow instead of drinking blood. Understand? I will take good care of you while you are ill and will show you how to get the blood or marrow you need. I will stay with you as long as you need me to and teach you all I can so that you continue to live undetected and happy. Agreed?” He nodded his understanding, and she leaned forward and bit into his carotid artery. Ten seconds later, after she drank her fill, he was amazed that the wound closed up so quickly. He told her he thought arteries had to be stitched closed. She told him she had bit her tongue and allowed a few drops to run into the bite before pulling away. Her blood closed the wound faster than any doctor could with a suture. She then sliced open her hand and let him lap the blood from there before her own gash healed. She motioned for him to trail her, and he took his suitcase filled with the money he had been saving as well as a few necessities, like clean underwear, and followed. He then realized that on this snowy night his life had ended, but he began a new, more interesting one with a beautiful woman by his side. “Can I ask you one extremely important question?” She shrugged “Sure.” “What’s your name?”

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January 2009 Paranormal Underground 45

Personal Experiences

Diary From a Haunted Hotel By Carolyn M. Hughes


hen I began working as a night auditor a year and a half ago at Quality Inn at General Lee’s Headquarters, located on the Gettysburg battlefield, I anticipated experiencing nothing more interesting than having some bizarre request from a guest. However, I never expected my spirit friends to visit so often or to hear so many accounts of activity from unsuspecting guests. I never thought they would alert us to their presence in so many creative ways, or for there to be so much activity involved. I am of the personal belief that spirits only want us to know they are still here and not to forget what happened here, for it is on this ground that they truly gave their “last full measure of devotion.” Here is my ongoing diary of my experiences within the hotel . . .

Thurs., Oct. 16 5:30 a.m. Courtney and I visited the boys on the battlefield tonight. This evening, she related the following events that took place in today’s early hours: Courtney walked into the breakfast room to start the morning coffee for the guests. As soon as she approached the antique cabinets


Courtney walked into the breakfast room to start the morning coffee for the guests . . . she noticed that the doors were open on two of the cabinets. The doors had previously been locked.

located in the rear of the room, she noticed that the doors were open on two of the cabinets. Both cabinets have wooden latches that lock and keep the doors closed. They were turned, unlocked, and the cabinet doors were open. The last time Courtney was in the breakfast room was at 1:30 a.m. At that time, locks were locked and cabinet doors were closed. No guests had entered that area since the entire building, which com-

Paranormal Underground January 2009

prises the lobby, office, breakfast room, and laundry, is closed at midnight.

Mon., Nov. 24 4:07 p.m. (I was thinking while driving to work on Monday that the boys hadn’t been very active of late. Once I arrived and all the other staff had left, I was busy in the breakfast room setting things up for the morning and

actually said out loud, “Boys, you haven’t done anything lately. Don’t you love me anymore?” Be careful what you wish for!) It was the shift change, and I was in the process of being informed by the manager of things I needed to know for the upcoming night. The phone rang, and it was our security company letting us know that the silent alarm in the workshop behind the hotel had been tripped. Someone was immediately sent to investigate, but nothing was amiss.

Mon., Nov. 24 6:05 p.m. I was going through some paperwork in the office when the museum/gift shop alarm started loudly going off inside the office. When the security company called, they informed me that the motion detector had been tripped. Within three minutes, my maintenance man was sent to go through the gift shop and museum. He could find nothing that would have tripped any of the motion detectors. He even checked the heating system that may have inadvertently blown hot air over one of the sensors. None of the motion detector sensors are located near any heating or air conditioning vents. When he returned and explained everything to me, he was puzzled. He said, “Do you think it was a ghost?” I said, “Actually, yes I do.” He looked at me like I was nuts and left. Okay, fine.

Mon., Nov. 24 6:51 p.m. I was checking in an elderly gentleman when I heard a loud click come from behind me. The lobby

I was finishing up some early audit paperwork when the museum/gift shop alarm went off again. Once again, the security company informed me that the motion detectors indicated that someone had tripped the sensors. Once again, my maintenance man was in there within minutes. Yep, there was nothing and no one in there to trip the sensors.

lights immediately went out. The guest asked me if one of the other employees was playing a prank and shut off the lobby lights. I told him I was the only one working at the time. I then explained to him that the light switches for the entire building are in the office behind me in a panel that is closed. He was shocked. I then checked the panel, which was closed, and saw that the lobby lights switch had been switched to “off.” All the light switches are hard to “snap” into place and cannot slip on their own. When I informed the guest of this, he asked me to finish up checking him in as quickly as possible. He wanted out of there!

Mon., Nov. 24 9:07 p.m. I was finishing up some early audit paperwork when the museum/ gift shop alarm went off again. Once

again, the security company informed me that the motion detectors indicated that someone had tripped the sensors. Once again, my maintenance man was in there within minutes. Yep, there was nothing and no one in there to trip the sensors. This time, he didn’t ask about ghosts, and I didn’t say anything to him. I just smiled when he came in, made his report, and quickly left. The only other time this happens is in the winter time. We sit out on the battlefield and it is wide open space for miles. When high winds kick up, it will often set off the alarms in the museum/ gift shop. There was no wind on Monday night. Okay, boys. I’m convinced. You are still here. No more alarms please. It scares the crap out of me when they go off.

Stay Tuned . . .

January 2009 Paranormal Underground 47

Personal Experiences

Ghost Hunter Thornewo By Regan Vacknitz, A.P.A.R.T. of Washington


uilt in 1908 by Chester A. Thorne, Thornewood Castle is a 27,000-squarefoot, Gothic Tudor style manor — the only one of its kind on the West Coast. Chester Thorne, one of the founders of the Port of Tacoma, and the first president of National Bank of Tacoma (later National Bank of Washington), built this home for his wife. Since the construction of Thornewood Castle, many notable guests have stayed within the beautiful brick walls. Both President William Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt are just two to mention. Pieces of this castle, like the staircase and stained glass, date as far back as 400 years. Construction took three years to complete, from 1908 to 1911, with many of the materials — including the brick, oak paneling, oak staircase, and the medieval stained glass — coming from a castle in Europe. Thorne spent a substantial amount of time and money collecting 15th to the 17th centuries glass for use on the property. These artifacts were previously owned by a Duke who spent 40 years collecting them. We had a chance to stay at the Thornewood Castle on Mon., Oct. 24, 2005. Mrs. Deanna Robinson,


Thornewood’s current owner, held a Candle Light Mystery Tour on the evening of Oct. 24, 2005; what better way to have a Honeymoon than with spirits, candles, and tales?

The Mystique of Thornewood Castle We joined in for an investigative-style tour from the basement to the old top floor living quarters built for the servants. The tour extended out into the secret garden and surrounding grounds of the castle. The tour started with a fabulous dinner held at 7 p.m. in the formal din- Built in 1908 by Chester A. Thorne, Thornewood Castle is a 27,000 on the West Coast. Within the castle’s walls, there are reports of ing room. My husband, David, and I, observed a voices, and phantom smells. few other guests present for the evening’s and textures to make any palate events. There were two salivate with desire. And while we ladies from Canada, one single lady ate, we were educated on some of venturing out to complete a desire the history of the castle, the past to stay at the castle, and a reporter and current owners, and the story of for the Tacoma Home and Garden Stephen King’s Rose Red. magazine. After supper, with the plates beWe discussed why we were ing cleared, and as the rich desserts there over a display of aromas, sites,

Paranormal Underground January 2009

r Case File #2: ood Castle

one another. One of the oddest things to learn about the castle was the story behind the wishbone shaped good luck charms. The story told was that during some construction in the 1910s, some of the Native Americans working on the castle were believed to have left small good luck totems in the shape of wishbones throughout the basement of the castle. To this day, the wishbones can be found sporadically and intentionally placed. We moved to 0-square-foot, Gothic Tudor style manor — the only one of its kind the entrance level of books moving, unexplainable footsteps, distant disembodied the castle, where we learned of the first spirit to be seen walking among the living. began digesting, we gathered our Beneath the grand stairequipment and ventured out. case is a small, almost unnoticeable We started in the basement restroom. Strategically placed, the where we learned of the local Native bathroom is almost incognito with American tribes that blessed the the rest of the rich grained wood. castle. In the past, the tribes used This is where the story of Cadwalthe land as their annual gathering to lader Colden Corse began. come together, trade, and share with Cadwallader was married to

Thorne’s daughter, Anna. They lived in the castle just shortly after the death of Thorne. One evening, the neighborhood was privy to two ambulances carrying Cadwallader away from the home. Seems that Cadwallader was shot in the head by a rifle, survived, and to this day, no one really knows the reality of what happened. No one knows for sure, but some speculate that he attempted suicide that night. Today, it is reported that Cadwallader’s spirit walks from that downstairs bathroom into the grand fireplace room. Hauntings at Thornewood Castle We continued our investigation throughout the rest of the castle, hearing tales of books moving, unexplainable footsteps, distant disembodied voices, and phantom smells. We viewed each room, learned the history of who stayed, lived, and loved in each. We came upon the bridal suite, used by brides getting married at the castle. Here, we heard a fascinating story of a residual haunting in this particular room. Many current reports from within the Bridal Suite room in-

January 2009 Paranormal Underground 49

Personal Experiences

Pictured at left: Native Americans helped construct Thornewood Castle between 1907-1911. Following their traditions, they cut and hung numerous wishbone sticks or twigs around the basement foundation walls during construction to help protect occupants from evil spirits, bring good fortune to the house in the future, and provide protection to the construction workers. The sticks still remain where they were hung during construction. Pictured at right: This shot was captured in Thornewood’s secret gardens as the owner described the castle being protected by angels. To us, and to Deanna the owner, the picture I captured that night looks like an angel, with wings spread wide. Her head is bowed, and her arms are folded in front of her.

clude a woman in period clothing. Once the betrothed is dressed, adorned, and ready, while peering into the full length mirror, the apparition appears behind the bride to be. When the startled bride turns around, the apparition disappears. Continuing on throughout the castle, we ended on the third floor. This is where my husband and I spent the evening, in the Rose Red suite that featured a beautiful combination of antique and red décor. Down the hall from us was our exquisite bathroom, with a large soaker claw foot tub, delectably scented soaps, and little bits of Heaven in terry cloth. Further down the hall was the originally built as


servant’s quarters. Another common haunting complaint within the castle was that of servants moving about in their quarters when servants hadn’t been employed for many years. This is where our first abnormal event would take place later in the evening. After viewing our quarters for the night, we took a walk out to the secret gardens and meandered around the grounds. While we were out with the small intimate crowd, we heard Deanna disclose that she had never felt a negative vibe from the castle, only positivity and protection. And while Deanna talked about the castle being protected by angels,

Paranormal Underground January 2009

I decided to take pictures around the garden statuary. My best ecto shot to date came from that night at Thornewood Castle, as Deanna talked about angels. To us, and to Deanna the owner, the picture I captured that night looks like an angel, with wings spread wide. Her head is bowed, and her arms are folded in front of her; she’s amazing! My Ghostly Encounter at Thornewood We finished in the gardens and headed to our guest rooms. We were the only guests staying on the third floor, two doors down from the servant’s quarters. There were three other guests

Picture above is the Rose Red room where I witnessed the apparition of a man. He walked around the foot of the bed, came to my side of the bed, sat in the chair next to me, turned, and then looked directly at me, only to vanish slowly.

staying on the lower-level floors, but with the vast size of the beautiful castle, we would not have been able to hear them talk, run, scream, run, or make any other noise, for that matter. With the other guests being such a distance away, we would not have been able to hear their alarm clocks. We finished putting equipment away and crawled into our comfortable bed; my ever-so-enthusiastic and adventurous husband was asleep before he hit the pillow. I lay awake, taking in the air and the sounds around me, mentally reviewing the evening’s events. And that’s when the event to end my evening happened. I felt the air chill even though

the windows were closed. (I equate the chill to the crisp Washington autumn air.) I saw movement to the left of me, and watched as the sheer gauzy curtain covering the closet door billowed out as if a person were exiting the walk-in. I watched a man, no older than his early 30s, walk around the foot of the bed. He wore slacks, a white shirt that was unbuttoned at the sleeve and tucked loosely into his slacks, and a black vest, also buttoned. He looked pale; the high autumn moon illuminated him perfectly, creating an ethereal hue. He was of a tall and thin-built stature, with dark clean and close cut hair that came to subtle sideburns around

his chin and ears. He continued to walk around the bed, not aware of my presence, and came to my side of the bed, sat in the chair next to me, turned, and then looked directly at me, only to vanish slowly like something out of a Scooby Doo cartoon. Is the Thornewood Haunted, you ask? Well, for this one-time novice and green spectral detective, it definitely was that night.

About the author: Regan Vacknitz is a cofounder of Auburn Paranormal Activities Research Team (A.P.A.R.T.) of Washington. Visit and myspace. com/apartofwashington for more information about A.P.A.R.T.

January 2009 Paranormal Underground 51

Personal Experiences

Life With the Breathing Impaired By Bri Larkin


ince buying my home in Missouri during spring 2002, my family and I have had experiences that we can’t fully explain. I have been documenting those occurrences here, within these pages, for Paranormal Underground readers since the September 2008 issue. And, as I said in my very first article, before I had my experiences, I was pretty much what you would call an atheist. I really didn’t see or sense anything that would lead me to believe there was anything beyond what I could see in day-to-day life. To this day, even after everything I’ve experienced, I’m still searching for answers. I will say I’m now agnostic. I just simply don’t know what’s out there, although I’m trying my hardest to figure it out. I will continue to portray to you the different phenomena we have witnessed while living in this house.

***** The last time my friends, the Paranormal Activity Investigators from Kansas City, visited, we had a small Halloween party. I bought some candy and little Halloween toys; we dressed up in costumes and had an investigation along with the party. My husband took our daughter to my parents’ house for the night. My mother had been mysteriously ill for awhile, but claimed she felt well enough to have the baby overnight. We ate, drank, and were merry.

All of a sudden, the planchette shot to GOODBYE.

***** I want to talk about something I’ve never told anyone outside of the group who witnessed it. I’ve never believed in paranormal toys like pendulums, crystals, Ouija boards, but this gave me a reason to think twice about these mediums. It was also a start of a slightly scary and dark holiday season for my family.


One of my friends brought along her Ouija board to play with. So, we turned out the kitchen lights, set up the table in my tiny kitchen, and plopped the Ouija board in the middle of the festive favors donning the table.

Paranormal Underground January 2009


My friend was quite seasoned with the Ouija board. She had many strange experiences and got some incredible information about a guardian who watches over the souls of people while they sleep. Once they are ready to come to terms with how and when they died, they awake and go on to whatever astral plane there is to go on from there. The guardian has no sense of time, or even a sense of a God, he just works for the people who sleep. That’s his job. No more, no less. She said she’s talked to him quite a few times. When people wake from their spectral slumber, sometimes their loved ones will have dreams of them. My other friend claimed this happened to him when his father died. He didn’t dream of him for three months after his passing. One night, his father came to him while he was sleeping and told him he was okay and everything was fine. My friend asked, “What’s Heaven like?” His father laughed and said, “That, I cannot tell you!” Although my friend had been boarding for years, she made it very clear that she’s never experienced any negativity and has never opened any portals to anywhere or anything like that. *****

I’ve never believed in paranormal toys like Ouija boards, but that one night gave me a reason to think twice.

So, my friend and my husband sat across from each other and placed their fingers on the planchette. A few questions were asked that I can’t remember and a couple of little nonsense messages came through. We started talking about Shadow Dog. All of a sudden, the Ouija board shot to “YES.” I started talking about my beloved little dog, Sassy, that died when I was 16. It was my first day of my first job. We had been on vacation and had to kennel him because he was too old to travel. My mother called the kennel while I was getting ready for work and found out he died a couple of days before. The Ouija board kept going to “YES.” I giggled a bit and said, “Oh sure, tease me about it!” My friend with the board told me to ask a question no one in the room would know about Sassy. “Okay, in what month did Sassy die?”

“J-U-L-Y.” I bit my lip. No one would have known that. I chalked it up to a lucky guess and we moved on. ***** A little while later while I was taking a turn at the board, we continued to get little messages. They were nothing too important, some gibberish, etc. All of a sudden, the planchette shot to GOODBYE, confusing everyone. I’m not embellishing when I say this, but a heartbeat after the board told us goodbye, my phone rang. My mother was suddenly very ill. I had to go get my daughter. We cut the party short. We discovered the following week my mother had uterine cancer. Needless to say, it was a pretty dismal holiday season. I didn’t know if that was going to be the last Thanksgiving and Christmas I would have with my mother. We’re very close. She had surgery on New Year’s

Eve. Thankfully, they caught it in time. ***** So, in conclusion, I can’t say for sure if the Ouija board was really giving us messages from “the other side” or not. I still don’t think Shadow Dog is Sassy. I always had looked at the scratches on the door and figured if it was anything, it’d be the dog who lived here before. Was Sassy communicating with me that night? Could he be Shadow Dog? What about the abrupt stop right before the phone rang? Maybe someday I’ll get up the nerve to try to talk to the Guardian myself. Until that time arrives, I can only speculate on whether or not my wonderful Sassy is still around, still loving us all these years later.

You can reach Paranormal Activity Investigators at their site: http:// paranormalactivityinvestigators. com/.

January 2009 Paranormal Underground 53

Personal Experiences

My Near-Death Experience By Anonymous


guess I should give you a bit of the context surrounding my experience. The accident happened in January 1993 on an isolated highway on the Prairies. I was on my way home from a day trip to a park with my dog, Cassie. I had gone to the park to paint and enjoy one of those rare January days when the temperature goes above the freezing point ever so slightly. We played in the snow and had lunch beside a frozen lake. It was a really great day. Quite honestly, if I had to pick what I would be doing on my last day on Earth, this would have been it. My last memories before the accident were of driving home and my car radio acting weird. I remember thinking it was odd that on the way to the park my radio stopped working at exactly the same spot. Both times the music abruptly stopped and I could get nothing but static. It was a brand new car stereo, so I remember thinking I would have to take it in to get fixed. My List of Lucky Occurrences I don’t remember losing control of my car on black ice or hitting the oncoming truck head-on. I don’t even remember my car being sheared in half and crushed by the


weight of the truck’s cargo hold landing on it. I’m lucky that the driver of the truck managed to miss the driver’s side of my car and only directly hit the passenger side. I’m also lucky that the load the truck was supposed to be carrying wasn’t ready for pickup, so the empty weight of the back of the truck didn’t crush my car any

I could feel the light; it was cool and soft, and it made me feel warm inside. further than down to my dashboard. I’m lucky that my seat broke so that I was flat on my back in a car crushed down to the dashboard. I’m even luckier that a member of the local volunteer Fire Department saw the accident and had immediate access to the heavy equipment (I think they used a caterpillar) needed to get the back of the truck off of my car.

Paranormal Underground January 2009

The list of lucky occurrences that allowed me to survive is too long to cover here. Let’s just say I was very lucky and leave it at that. A Glimpse at the Other Side? I guess you want to hear about the experience now. Just remember that this can all be plausibly explained by my brain attempting to cope with my body being very broken. My head was badly injured; I didn’t wake up for days after the accident. My eyes were swollen shut, there was a gash on my forehead, and my face was badly bruised and cut up. My whole body was bruised and broken up pretty badly. So it becomes difficult to know which memories were real and which were imagined. I remember standing on a balcony with my grandma watching my dog, Cassie, playing on the grass just below us. I wanted to go down and join her, but I couldn’t figure out how to get down to where she was. It seemed strange that there was this building in what looked like a wilderness area to me. I thought it was raining, but I remember being surprised that I wasn’t getting wet. There was this really soft beautiful light that kind of rained down on everything. The light seemed to glitter like sunshine does through

raindrops. I could feel the light; it was cool and soft, and it made me feel warm inside. The colors and quality of light were amazing; I still start to cry when I think about how beautiful it was. I also remember that it seemed like summer and winter, all at the same time. I could smell sweet spring flowers and fresh winter snow all at the same time. I’m sorry if I’m not making sense. It really was beautiful. And it seemed so real to me, more real than even my home where I’m typing this right now does. There was a meadow just on the edge of a forest. I remember thinking about how quiet and peaceful this place was. Cassie was playing in the meadow, barking at me to join her. I could see other animals and people just at the edge of the forest. Cassie wanted to go into the forest, and so did I. Grandma said I couldn’t leave the balcony. I pleaded with her to let me go into the forest. She held my hand and said I would have to go back. I couldn’t even remember what it was that I was supposed to go back to. I didn’t know anything about the accident. I didn’t question that Grandma was there (she had passed away a few years before). I wanted to stay. Grandma told me that I could stay with her on the balcony for a while, and she said that she would do whatever she could to get me through this. I really didn’t understand what there was for me to go through at all. If I had known, I probably would have put up more of a fight to stay. I’m not really sure how long we stayed on the balcony. I remember the urge to follow Cassie was tremendous. Eventually, it seemed to get dark outside, so Grandma and I went inside for tea.

Claudia Ghidella

I remember standing on a balcony with my grandma watching my dog, Cassie, playing on the grass just below us. I wanted to go down and join her, but I couldn’t figure out how to get down to where she was.

The light inside the building was not anything like I had experienced outside on the balcony. It seemed more like an ordinary dream from that point on, except that Grandma was still there, and we talked for a long time. The balcony disappeared at some point and was replaced by windows. It got too dark outside for me to see much through the windows.

After My Near-Death Experience Much of what happened to me after that is still very confusing. My first real memories are of firemen giving me a teddy bear. They were talking to me like a little kid, trying to make me wake up, and they became all excited when I opened my eyes. I thought that was a dream at the time. I had no idea of where I was or of what happened.

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I also remember that it seemed like summer and winter, all at the same time. I could smell sweet spring flowers and fresh winter snow all at the same time. I’m sorry if I’m not making sense. It really was beautiful. And it seemed so real to me, more real than even my home where I’m typing this right now does. After the accident, I started seeing these lovely colored lights around people after the accident. I don’t always see them, but I see them often enough. To make matters worse, I’ve seen people that aren’t there.

I found out later that they were the ones who had rescued me, and they were happy that my eyes were undamaged by broken glass in the accident. Apparently, there was no way to know if I was ever going to see again until the swelling went down enough for me to open my eyes. I was told I woke up about three days after the accident. I really have much clearer memories of my dreams during that time than I do of real memories for the initial period of my recovery. I would often dream of amazing places, and I could walk and do all of the things I couldn’t do when I was awake. Nothing matched the first dream in terms of realness, but I continued to see my Grandmother in my dreams, and I sometimes dreamed of Cassie. It was weeks after the accident when someone finally told me that Cassie hadn’t survived. A few months after the accident, when I had pretty much convinced myself that I had a really vivid imagination, someone from the wrecking


yard that had the pieces of my car tracked me down. He gave me what was left of my backpack that had been sitting on the floor on the passenger side of my car. Pretty much everything in the pack was crushed and broken. But among the debris were my favorite hand-made watercolor brushes, ones that Grandma had given me, and they were as good as new. It seemed like a sign from Grandma at the time. She had promised me one when we talked. I’m the Same Old Me I guess I should let you know, since you can’t see me, that I made a remarkable recovery. For someone who was not expected to live, let alone see, hear, walk, talk, etc., I surprised people. You wouldn’t be able to tell from looking at me that anything unusual had happened. I wouldn’t stand out in a crowd. I’m not as athletic as I used to be, but most 44-year-olds aren’t. That’s just life. It’s pretty hard to condense this

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sort of experience into just a few pages. The road to recovery was pretty intense in its own right. Along with the struggles of trying to be normal in a physical sense, I’ve also had to struggle with changes to who I am in a non-physical sense. My first husband accused me of being some kind of changeling, that his real wife had died, and I took her place. I’ve tried very hard to assure everyone that I’m just me, same old, same old. That is probably why I do my best to look for comfortable, scientific explanations for what I experienced that day, and for things that I’ve experienced since then. I started seeing these lovely colored lights around people after the accident. I don’t always see them, but I see them often enough. To make matters worse, I’ve seen people that aren’t there. I take a lot of comfort in the fact that I may just be susceptible to magnetic fields and EMF fluctuations (so I’m not actually crazy).

Personal Experiences

A Glimpse Into the Light By G. Lewis


t all started with a near-death experience (NDE) when I was 22 years old. By started, I mean sensing things and having a lot of personal experiences. In Asian culture, they believe that an NDE, once experienced, opens the way to being receptive to communication with the dead. There appeared before me a large cone of light that *****

encompassed the entire area.

I can’t remember a great deal of the details of my experience — just bits and pieces of it. I had to also rely on what a couple of other people said at the time. What has always bothered me is this absolute focus on the event, itself. I had gone into the hospital for surgery. It was nothing complicated and certainly nothing to worry about. After all, I was in my very early 20s at the time; how bad could it be? There is one very important aspect to this. I had watched my Dad die over a period of three years. I never grieved but felt the loss, nonetheless. Even years later, I was still mourning him. We shared a bond of love that never was broken. I was given the usual sedation for the pre-surgery phase and then wheeled into the operating room at 7 a.m. This is where so many things get tangled in my memory, except for three things. (The next memory I had, aside from the NDE, was waking up in the hospital ward and it was no longer daytime. It was 11 p.m. that night.) The NDE: I can remember

sitting in total darkness, my arms wrapped around my knees. It wasn’t so much darkness as the feeling of the absence of life. I wasn’t scared, felt no pain, and the calm I felt was something I couldn’t possibly explain. The light: There appeared before me a large cone of light that encompassed the entire area. It seemed to be very long, and I looked at the end opening. An indistinct figure formed at the end of the cone. The figure was a mass-like human shape, pure white and lighter than the cone itself. There was an inner connection to that blurry form as in recognition. What was odd is that I was not permitted to even touch the cone of light. I was sitting just outside of it. I heard a male voice say, “It’s not your time.” I was hurled out of the area and then woke up in my hospital bed. I was stunned and very much speechless. I felt as if my life had been sucked out of me, then given back. I didn’t understand what had happened. *****

The following day, my mom came to visit. I found out that she’d been sitting in the downstairs lounge area. She had settled herself in a chair so she had full view of the main corridor that crossed the main hall. She had seen me, on a gurney, being wheeled down that hall. I was a white as a sheet, my face turned in her direction. Mom was scared and wondered what was going on. No one spoke to her for hours. Finally, the surgeon came to her and said, “We nearly lost her.” I remember waking up in the hospital room at 11 p.m. There were no signs of an IV being used, no residue left by contacts such as those used by a monitor. Nothing. Yet, I had been in Intensive Care for hours. I will never know what happened, and no one else seems to know, either. I had always been able to pick up feelings around me. The difference was that now it was more intense, and I started having the ability to see the other side of life, the side where life changes into other forms, as in a state of transition.This ability is limited. The message I received so many years ago also left the impression that I could only go so far in understanding as I was still human. I was, however, given this small step of understanding as a privilege. A truly humbling experience. It was something beyond human terms in the understanding of life and is now ever-present in my life.

January 2009 Paranormal Underground 57

Equipment Update

How to Ghost Hunt on the Cheap: Part 1 By Dave Galvan, Paranormal League of America


any people have approached me in the past few years and said, “I would love to start hunting ghosts, but the equipment is awfully expensive.” It’s true that buying ghost hunting equipment can place you deeply in debt in ways you wouldn’t want to think about — unless your funding source is lottery winnings. On the other hand, it isn’t necessary to be a Rockefeller to get the type of equipment needed to hunt ghosts. Audio Equipment One modern misconception about ghost hunting is that it requires a lot of expensive equipment. That being said, 99% of any evidence isn’t necessarily going to be what is seen on TV. Much of the evidence collected in paranormal investigation is audio. Realistically, the audio equipment that you have will be among the most important you can purchase. Even an old tape recorder will suffice; however, I strongly recommend purchasing a high-end microphone to use with it. The down side to tape recorders is that they are often bulky — especially when compared to the digital audio recorders available today. I strongly recommend that you own at least one digital voice recorder


(DVR), but there is no need to spend an arm and a leg to do so. My favorite digital video recorder is the Olympus VN-4100PC. These units cost around $60, although, if you wait long enough, you may find one on sale for around $40. I personally own three of these recorders, and I like them a lot. The thing to remember when

The Olympus VN-4100PC costs around $60 and allows you to download your audio files directly to your PC.

Paranormal Underground January 2009

purchasing this model is that you choose the 4100PC, not the 4100. The two are exactly the same model with one important exception: The 4100PC has a USB port built into the side that allows download of your audio files onto your PC. This provides some serious advantages in many ways, including the ability to back up your files and run the audio through software in which you may clean up or enhance the audio so that the EVPs are easier to hear. The main drawback that I have discovered with the Olympus 4100PC is that it records only in mono. This wasn’t an issue until I needed to listen to audio straight from the player. All of my headphones were stereo, so when I went to listen to the newly recorded audio, I could only hear it in one earphone. A quick trip to Radio Shack, and I had an adapter that allowed me to listen in both ears. I am a fan of the Olympus line of DVRs because of the microphone quality. A friend of mine has a similar version made by Sony, and the microphone isn’t nearly as sensitive. Another advantage of the Olympus line is that it performs a backup of the audio file in the event the batteries die while recording. The Sony model, on the other hand, just turns off and erases the recording that was just made.

There is nothing more frustrating than being in the middle of a recording and having the batteries die, leaving you with a blank audio track. Video Equipment Video can be a tricky situation. Everyone always wants to capture a lot of video — ghost videos are the holy grail of what we do, and they are why we got into the field in the first place — but it is difficult to find an inexpensive option. The problem with video is that every quality option will leave you broke. The easiest thing to do is to purchase a couple of camcorders and point them in the direction you wish to have covered. If you choose to do this, I would recommend Sony’s line of video cameras because their night vision technology is about 10 years ahead of everyone else’s. Even with the Sony technology, you may eventually want to pick up a few infrared (IR) illuminators that mount on top of the cams to get as much distance as possible. Alternatively, there are plans online that will teach you how to turn an ordinary flashlight into an IR illuminator; I recommend that you find such plans and learn how to do this — it could save you a lot of money. The key to using camcorders is the media used to capture the video. Just as people often forget to consider the cost of ink/toner for a new printer, it is easy to forget to factor in the cost of the media to which they are recording. There are several types to consider when purchasing a video camera: Tape: Also known as digital video, tapes cameras are the least expensive cameras on the market. The media, on the other hand, is very pricey. At a cost of about $10 per tape and an average of 90 minutes of video per tape when using the slow speed, costs can rise quickly. As you can imagine, this is a very expensive option in the long run and will some-

Sony brand cams offer night vision technology that is about 10 years ahead of everyone else. Pictured is a Sony-Handycam-DCR-SR82.

times leave you scrambling for tapes when your wallet is empty. Mini-DVD: This option isn’t much better price-wise. Add to that the fact that when you record on slow speed, you can expect to change the media every 30 minutes, which can be cumbersome on an investigation. Hard Drive: Now we’re getting serious about camcorders. The hard drive cams record to a mini-hard drive, exactly like you have in your computer. To transfer the video to your computer, its as easy as attaching a cable and downloading. These cameras are the most expensive on the market, but they pay for themselves very quickly since you never have to purchase any media. These cameras are ready to record right out of the box — no media required. Even the low-end cameras usually will let you record for up to 10 hours, which is more than enough time for an investigation. There are two major downsides to consider with these cameras. First, they are the most expensive option on the market. Second, feedback on these cameras also indicates that the hard drives may be a little more

fragile than people would like. While the hard drives in a laptop are a little more secure if you were to accidently drop the computer, the drives in these cameras appear to fail a little more frequently than people would like them to. If you do decide to go with one of these cams, be very gentle with the units since the hard drives can fail. If they do, then all data will be lost. Also, it may be tempting to go high def on these cams. Don’t fall for it. The picture may be higher quality, but it’s not worth the extra price. Digital Video Recording The other option is to go with a digital video recording system. This is a video system that is basically the same thing as the security camera systems used by businesses. These cameras are most likely what you will see on the ghost hunting T.V. shows when they place stationary cameras in rooms and areas with reported activity. There are two main drawbacks to this system. First, unless you fork over some big bucks, these cameras need to be wired to the system you purchase, requiring a lot of cable to

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Equipment Update run them. Even if you go wireless, you will need to plug them into a local power outlet in order to power the camera. Additionally, they are very expensive to purchase. The key factor of the digital video recording system is the main unit, the recorder itself. This is a rectangular box that one can connect to a monitor (sold separately, of course). The camera cables then run into the recorder, where video is recorded and stored. A caveat: when I say video, I literally mean just the video. There is no audio when it comes to this system, so you will also want to plan to put digital audio recorders with all the cameras. A four-camera system can be purchased for around $400. After purchasing a system, which can handle from four to 16 cameras, you will need to buy the cameras that go with it. Make sure the base unit and cameras can record at 30 frames per second. I will talk more about this later. The cameras are a whole different beast altogether. Along with the frame rate requirements, the cameras will need to be IR capable (meaning they can see and record in infrared). I would strongly recommend researching these systems before buying. A little bit of online research will tell you how well others have liked the cameras. There are plenty of online reviews available. These cameras generally start at $100 each, which can add up quickly. As I mentioned earlier, you will also need a monitor. It is possible to purchase a cheap monitor at Goodwill that will do the trick, or you can get an inexpensive LCD monitor if you don’t feel like lugging around this giant monstrosity of a screen. The monitor is primarily necessary to ensure that the recording system is hooked up correctly, and that the cameras are pointed in the right direction. Once you get the system home, your home monitor can be connected to the base


Pictured above is a digital recording system with four day/night color cameras. Most systems like this are weatherproof and have built-in infrared sensors. You can purchase this type of system for $800 and up.

unit to review evidence. So, for a four-camera system, the cost is roughly $800. Adding in audio recorders can take the cost of the system up to about $960. While it isn’t necessary to have audio recorders next to each camera, I think it’s a good idea to have audio with the video. It helps with debunking as well as finding legitimate evidence. It is up to you to determine whether or not it is financially viable to have a digital video recording system or camcorders with hard drives. There is, however, another option. Turning Your PC Into a Digital Recording System It is possible to turn a PC into a digital recording system. This is a lessexpensive option, and one I am looking into as I upgrade my equipment. What you will need is a spare computer. If you are a computer junkie like me, then some spare parts will work just fine. If you are not very comfortable putting together a computer, chances are you know someone who is — a relative or

Paranormal Underground January 2009

a friend who has done this before. I spent a number of years as a computer technician back when it was a lot harder than it is now, and even today, my 70-year-old mother is fairly comfortable putting in her own computer memory. If you don’t have a spare computer or parts lying around, find out what the minimum system requirements are for the hardware that you will be purchasing. Then start going to garage sales, or even Goodwill. Sometimes, you can still get good deals if you get lucky. I’ve found that Goodwill and dollar stores can be a ghost hunter’s dream. Once you get a computer that works well, make sure that Windows XP can be run at a comfortable speed. You will want to max out the RAM on the machine. While affordability is key, you don’t want to sacrifice quality and stability just for the sake of cost. It doesn’t make any sense to spend a single dime if you don’t get the desired results. After you have maxed out the RAM, you can now start taking things out of the machine. This machine will only be used to record and

view video — I strongly recommend that you do not use your personal PC for this purpose. If the video system crashes the computer for any reason, you could lose everything on the hard drive. I repeat: Do not use your primary computer fo this! Take out the audio card and modem. This will free up system space and memory to be used for recording. I would place a spare networking card in the system, just so you can download updates to the operating system. Other than that, all you need is an inexpensive video card to view the video and a DVD/CD recorder to archive it. The most difficult part is the video capture card. I alluded to this earlier when I mentioned frame rate; so, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty on this. The capture card that you will need advertises a specific frame rate. When you go to the movies, you are watching a film rate of 24 frames per second (fps). What you will need for this unit is a frame rate of 30 fps per camera. There are cards that will advertise 30 fps; however, what that means is 30 fps total. It’s not per camera. So, when you are running three cameras, you will get 10 fps for each camera, which is hardly anything. Or even worse, if you are able to use four cameras, then you are running 7 fps. What you need for this system is a card that will run four cameras for a total of 120 fps. This allows the 30 fps that you need per camera. A lot of times, these cards are stackable, meaning if you wish to run eight cameras at some point, you just need a card similar to the one you just put in. Current cost for one of these cards is around $100, and they will slip very easily into an open PCI slot on your computer. The cameras used on one of these set-ups are the same cameras as with a base unit. Once you get everything set up, and you download all the software updates, a large hard drive is necessary to store your video. I would recom-

This PC-based Digital Recording System can save a ton of money on a simple set up. But remember, don’t use your primary computer for this. If the video

system crashes the computer, you could lose everything on the hard drive.

mend getting a 1 terabyte hard drive, either an internal or external model. It doesn’t matter which you choose, but if you go internal, make sure the hard drive is in addition to your existing hard drive ton which you keep your software and operating system. It’s a good idea to keep these two drives separate. Let the second drive record video and nothing else. Cost for this drive can be somewhere in the region of $100-$120. The Pros & Cons of Using Your PC as a Digital Recording System The pros and cons to this set-up are simple; you are saving a ton of money on a simple set up. On the other hand, the computer-based systems can be rather touchy. If you have one software glitch, you could very easily have it crash and lose all the video that you have recorded. Wrapping up the costs of this system — a spare computer should run $40 at Goodwill, the card is about $100, as are each camera and the hard drive. This totals roughly $540 on a video recording system, excluding

the price of the monitor or necessary cables. Still, it’s a far cry from the $800 you would have to pay from getting a base unit that does the same thing. As you can see, it can get rather pricey just to have video at your investigations. My recommendation? I plan on upgrading to a computerbased digital video system by June 2009, and run that in conjunction to one Sony hard drive camcorder. So, with my new computer-based system, along with my audio equipment, I will very easily be able to review any and all evidence at my leisure. In the next Equipment Update, I will tell you how EMF detectors are the most overrated piece of equipment on the market.

Dave Galvan has been hunting ghosts for the better part of a decade. He is the founder/director of Paranormal League of America (PLA), a ghost hunting group based in Portland Oregon. He will be speaking at the Mount Hood Paranormal Conference April 25-26. Visit www.paranormalleagueofamerica. org for more information about PLA.

January 2009 Paranormal Underground 61

What Do You Think?

Ghostly YouTube Videos: Normal or Paranormal? By Justin McIntosh, Bluegrass Paranormal Research Society


ello! My name is Justin McIntosh, and I’m the founder of Bluegrass Paranormal Research Society. We are a group of paranormal investigators that have dedicated a large portion of our lives trying to find proof of the existence of ghosts. Along the way, I have noticed that our credibility relies on our knowledge of the subject as well as the evidence we have captured throughout our investigations. We try to present our findings as professionally as possible, while trying to get feedback through many different sources. One of these sources is the infamous “YouTube,” which I do enjoy quite a bit. But, where there’s good, there’s sometimes bad. We all know YouTube is littered with pranksters who love to throw a sheet over their head and run in front of a camera; oh, and I can’t forget my favorite . . . the screamers. (A word of advice when watching a “ghost” video: Pause the video and read the comments, then scroll through the video.) There are a lot of garbage videos being uploaded every day. While state-of-the-art video editing software has great benefits, it also makes it very easy to manipulate and alter video to mislead viewers. These days, it’s often hard to tell when something is being staged or when you have just witnessed a true paranormal event. This being said,


let me guide you through a few select videos. I believe that these first four videos are not paranormal in nature. I will explain each video and what signs to watch for when trying to determine whether a YouTube video contains authentic paranormal evidence. To view each video, visit the following playlist on Paranormal Underground’s YouTube channel: list?p=D86F5467A4C6B66E. 1: Ghost Caught on Security Camera

This video was captured at a gas station in Parma, Ohio in November 2007. It got a lot of media coverage and almost 10 million views just for this one posting on YouTube. So just what is this alleged ghost? Well, as you watch the video, you’ll notice that the blurry, blue blob they’re seeing is directly on the lens of the camera at one point. You can tell by the blurred edges and the general movement of it. This strongly resembles a bug to me. Conclusion: This video does not represent paranormal activity.

Paranormal Underground January 2009

2: Real Ghost Video Proof 2

It says it’s real, so it must be, right? Well to start off, at first, I felt as if this was one of the best videos of paranormal activity that I had ever seen. But after watching it many times to try and debunk it, here is what I came up with. First, the video is supposedly three different videos capturing the same exact occurrence — down to the minute, within a six-day period. It’s funny how in six days nothing in their pantry moved at all. Also, the camera angle seems to be identical in each of the three tapings. Conclusion: This video does not present authentic ghostly activity. 3: 100% Real Ghost Video

I’d say that 99% of all “ghost” videos posted on YouTube are a hoax. And this video is similar to

many other “staged” ghost videos posted on YouTube. This video starts out with a male cursing because of strange things happenings at his house. He then sets up his camera, and you hear him move a chair; remember this chair because you’ll see it later. After a minute or so, the chair slides into view, and the man’s bag gets pulled off the dryer. Notice the handle on his bag. If you watch the video frame by frame, you will see fishing line being pulled in the same direction as where the chair was positioned. Conclusion: A classic, fake YouTube video. 4: Scary Ghost Creature Attacking in Hotel Security Camera! Scary!!!

This is a typical example of the “lack of knowledge” that is polluting the paranormal field. You can clearly see that a moth has flown up to the camera during this video. See the wings flapping? I see more and more of these videos put on the Internet every day. This type of video really hurts the credibility of our field. Conclusion: This video definitely does not display anything paranormal. So, are there any authenticate paranormal videos on YouTube? Well, after a lengthy search of more than 250 videos during the past week, I have managed to locate four videos that made me go, “Huh, interesting, and possibly genuine.” This is quite a statement about how cluttered YouTube really is.

1: Real Ghost Spirit Demon Caught on Camera

I was astounded to stumble upon this piece of evidence. This video appears to be a reflection at first, but upon reviewing the video, I noticed that it was not on the wall, but free floating. Contrary to what the video states, it resembles a small child to me. Conclusion: Real? Maybe. Worth watching? Definitely. 2: Ghost Woman or Child on Stairs

This seems to be authentic video footage of a paranormal investigation. You clearly see an apparition move from a landing on the stairway into an open room. The camera operator stops and starts asking questions directly after this happening, did he see it? This all makes this a good video; but is it real? Conclusion: It might be real. 3: Apparition

This is a great video. It’s just as it states, a full-bodied apparition walking

past an investigator. Yet, the investigator does not even acknowledge it. They show this video several time using different filters; some are very clear. A few things to note: Watch how the apparition gets closer to the camera and still has the same shape, which throws out any reflex ions. Also look for its limp walk; very unusual. Conclusion: I’m convinced this one is real! 4: Scarefest Evidence Winner

This video is an award winner. It’s a great capture of yet another full-bodied apparition. It was entered in a contest at Scarefest 2008 held in Lexington, Kentucky, and hosted by Patti Starr. Guests at the event included the Paranormal State team, members of Ghost Hunters, Chip Coffey, and John Zaffis. Conclusion: I believe this video shows authentic paranormal activity. Well there it is, “Normal or Paranormal? YouTube Videos,” brought to you by your host Justin McIntosh. I hope you all enjoyed watching the videos. Hopefully I helped some readers gain a better understanding of what to watch for when reviewing evidence. And, remember, not every speck of dust is a ghost! Of course, this is just one investigator’s opinion, so please review the videos yourself, and make your own conclusions. Happy hauntings!

Justin McIntosh is the founder of Bluegrass Paranormal Research Society. For more information, visit

January 2009 Paranormal Underground 63

Member Profile

Jenny Brown (Skeerdycat) Age: 32. Born/Currently resides: Washington. Status: Engaged. Education: Bachelor’s degree in accounting. Zodiac Sign: Gemini.

Potpourri. Sometimes I’m outgoing, sometimes introverted. Sometimes a girly girl, sometimes a tomboy. I like to have fun with my girlfriends, but I also enjoy just sitting at home watching T.V. or reading a good book. I’m smart, but not so smart that people name things after me. I’m a good friend and a good listener, and

Occupation: Accountant. What brought you to Paranormal Underground? I’ve always had a basic interest in things unseen and what’s in the spirit world. What does your member name mean? As fascinated as I am with ghosts and the paranormal, I’m a big chicken. I have a black cat, named Flo, so any chance I get to use a cat in a screen name I try to. So for a paranormal/ghosty type forum, Skeerdycat just seemed to fit. Who are your heroes? I’d have to say my dad. I work for him and want to be able to take over the family business one day; I hope to be as knowledgeable in our field as he is. Jokingly, I’d say Wonder Woman. Any woman who can stand out in the superhero field full of men without a sidekick to speak of, spin around, and get into costume gets my vote. Not to mention she has brains to boot. How would you describe yourself? I’m like the Jeopardy category


Jenny, at left as a child, is most interested in communication with the dead. She is pictured here with her grandfather.

I’m very loyal in areas of my life, be it work ethic, romance, friendship.

Tell us about your family and what you like to do. My family consists of me, my boyfriend, and our cat. We have been on a few family vacations, all three of us. My parents live very close by,

Paranormal Underground January 2009

and we get along well and do quite a bit with them. We’re pretty much homebodies but will go to the movies, out to dinner with friends, or just out for a drive.

What are your favorite TV shows, paranormal shows, books, movies? Well, I love Supernatural. I also watch Smallville, ER, Monk, Psych, Fringe, Lost, Heroes, The Daily Show w/Jon Stewart, The Colbert Report, and tons more. I watch Ghost Adventures and Ghost Hunters. I’m a book junkie and read all the time. I love the Harry Potter series. I also love the Warrior Cats series. Even though they are geared toward kids, I find them enjoyable for me as well. I also like the Supernatural series based on the show. I’ve been reading Lilian Jackson Braun’s The Cat Who... series mysteries, and Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody Mysteries were some of my favorite mystery books. I have read almost all of the Star Wars novels that have been released after the movies. I’m also a big Nancy Drew fan and have the original series in hardback. Movies, well, every Disney movie should cover that genre. All the Harry Potters, the Bourne trilogy, and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Also, the Star Wars original trilogy is my favorite, but I enjoy them all. Anything with Johnny Depp in it. So, add Pirates to that movie list.

There’s so many other great movies. Old movies like Charade, Cool Hand Luke, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Seven Year Itch, Breakfast at Tiffanys, The Birds; I could go on and on.

Favorite music? Well, I’m a rock girl at heart. I grew up with the grunge fad, wore the flannels and combat boots like Eddie Vedder. Had every Pearl Jam thing known to man. Loved the Alternative stuff. I still love that alternative/emo/indie rock. And I’m a classic rock fan like my boy Dean Winchester. Give me some AC/DC, Led Zep, The Who, you name it. Any other “favorites”? I love to knit and crochet. My grandma taught me when I was a kid; she passed away when I was 12. I stopped and forgot how shortly after that. I picked it up again about five years ago and have been knitting like crazy since. And my kitty; she’s my favorite thing too. What are your pet peeves? Stupid people, bad drivers, and broken promises irritate me. And bold-faced liars. And . . . loud car stereos that you can hear all the way down the street. Are you a skeptic or believer? I’m both. I believe in some things, and I’m skeptic on others. I think part of it is because I just haven’t experienced enough or read enough. There’s a lot I want to believe, but there’s a lot I have a hard time wrapping my mind around too. What areas of the paranormal interest you the most? I think it’s all fascinating really, but I would have to say the communication with the dead strikes a chord with me because of the people in my life that I have lost and would love to talk to again and know that they are OK. I’ve always been curious about the things that go bump in the night too, like the things Dean and Sam hunt on Supernatural and whether or not they truly exist.

Jenny’s black cat, Flo, is one of her “favorites.”

Have you ever studied the paranormal? Not really. Not like I have other topics like Egyptology (one of my quirky interests) or paleontology (my almost major). I’m still relatively new to the field. But I’ve read a lot more on it since joining here. Talk about any paranormal experiences you might have had and how they have affected you. When I was in high school, I was driving home from a basketball game (I was in the band, played saxophone) and it was late, dark, and I was tired I’ll admit. When I drive home, I drive past the road that goes to my grandparents’ house. Right as I approached the road to my grandparents’ house, someone jumped out in front of my car and appeared to flag me down to stop. I slammed on the brakes, and the person walked across the street and disappeared. I looked all around for them and could see nothing. As I looked back at the road, I saw a cat cross the street and run to a house to safety. It’s as if the person was asking me to stop so that I wouldn’t hit the cat. Was it my grandma who had died when I was 12? I don’t know, but it was right by their house, so it’s weirded me out ever since. I’ve had episodes where I’ve

thought I’ve seen my dog, who we put down 15 years ago, running around. And I’ve actually had some dreams that bits and pieces of have come true. How has all of this affected me? It’s made me aware that there might be more out there than what we can see with our own eyes, and that sometimes even what we see with our own eyes can actually be something beyond what our brains can process. It’s made me want to know more, but it’s also made me afraid to seek too much truth for fear of learning an answer I might not want.

What do you think happens to us when we die? That is the 64 million dollar question isn’t it? I don’t really know. Hopefully, we don’t end up signing contracts to appear on Ghost Hunters to throw hangers at Jay and& Grant. But seriously, I wish I had the answers or even a clue. Do you have any words of wisdom that you live by? Not really, I just try to take it one day at a time. Which is always easier said than done. But when I’ve had a really bad day, I always find solace and comfort in curling up with my teddy bear that I’ve had since I was 1. When life gets you down, get your teddy bear!

January 2009 Paranormal Underground 65

Roundtable Debate: Near-Death Experience

Believer: NDEs Indicate There Is Life After Death By Claudia Ghidella


have always been a believer in Some of the elements of an life after death, perhaps because NDE can indeed be reproduced I was raised Catholic. The idea in the laboratory, such as auditory of an afterlife in heaven, or somephenomenon experienced durwhere else, was taken for granted. ing an NDE, a buzzing sound, the While my beliefs have changed bright light, and the feeling of traveldrastically about the nature of life, ing through a tunnel. the mind, and conThese effects sciousness, I do not can be reproduced doubt that after the by depriving the physical body dies, brain of oxygen or we do indeed go on. giving it drugs. Near-death expeBut there are riences (NDEs) have many elements of been described by NDEs that, so far, every culture on the have not been able planet throughout to be reproduced in history, and now that the lab and cannot science has taken be explained away: an interest we have • During NDEs, some proof of the vathe blind have seen, lidity of the phenomand the deaf have enon rather than heard for the first Claudia believes that there are many anecdotal evidence. elements of an NDE that can’t be time in their lives. Unfortunately, sci• Objects are recreated by natural means. ence has only been seen by the “dead” able to go so far in person that they explaining, and attempting to explain could not possibly see from their away, the NDE. vantage point. The evidence supporting NDE • People in close proximity as a valid account of life after death with a dying person experiencing an of the physical body mounts, while NDE can also experience the NDE. science has yet to explain some of • Those who return from death the common elements of NDEs. bring back specific visions of the In attempting to explain away future that are fulfilled. NDEs, skeptics have turned to the Science and skeptics still have a dying brain, seeing the brain as the long way to go to explain or explain seat of consciousness, assuming away NDEs, but I am still betting on that once the brain dies, the “perthe existence of life beyond what we son” is gone. experience with our senses.


Paranormal Underground January 2009

Skeptical NDEs Are Possible B Be More “A By Mindy


he idea of near-death experiences (NDEs) has been one in which I originally began as a full-fledged skeptic. When I was a little girl, my grandfather had a number of heart attacks. After one, he said that he had floated above his body, watching as the doctors operated upon him. I admit it, I never really gave this story much credence because my grandfather was quite the story teller — he is the same guy who had us believing he had actually met Frankenstein. I thought he was a bit crazy for admitting to dying and then coming back to life. Mindy has hope people die, they Growing up, my mind plane of existen has become more open to all things paranormal. My thoughts on NDEs changed, a result of my belief that there

What is your opini Experience? Le thoughts on the su editor@paranorma

l Believer: Because There Has to After Death” Kinnaman

has to be more to death than for people to simply stop being in existence. I cannot say that I fully believe in the phenomenon because I do not even begin to know what happens upon death. I just have a hope that there is something more out there, and it is because of that hope that I believe it is plausible for people to die and visit another plane of existence — whether that be Heaven, Hell, or some other form of the afterlife — prior to being resuscitated. NDEs belong to an area where I will fully believe it e that when y visit another when I see it first-hand. nce. The only problem is the fact that I am not too keen about dying to have to experience an NDE.

nion of Near-Death et us know your ubject by emailing

Skeptic: Oxygen Deprivation Causes NDEs By Jaime Johnesee


actually cause someone to think they have no doubt those having a have been attacked by a ghost benear-death experience (NDE) cause they experience the inability to are experiencing something. move upon waking, as well as hearWhat I doubt is that it’s a glimpse of ing sounds others don’t just before the other side. falling asleep or before waking. Of I believe Dr. Kevin Nelson and the reported incidents of NDE, 60% his research showing that people that of those people report having REM have NDEs have a different arousal intrusion. system controlling REM intrusion is sleep-wake states than an underlying symppeople that have never tom of many diseases had a near-death expeand disorders, and rience. studies have shown His study, pubthat cardiorespiratory lished in the April 11, incidents can bring 2006, issue of Neuforth REM intrusion rology (the scientific during an attack. publication for the Dr. Nelson said, American Academy Jaime thinks that NDEs are “During a crisis that of Neurology) states caused by the brain’s reaction occurs with REM state that an NDE is a time to being starved of oxygen. intrusion, this lack of during an episode of muscle tone could redanger, such as a heart inforce a person’s sense of being dead attack, when a person dealt with a and convey the impression of death to flood of feelings, including a sense other people.” of being outside one’s body, unusual The human mind is just too alertness, seeing an intense light, and fragile for me to think that NDEs are having a feeling of peace. anything more than the brain’s reacNelson’s study found that those tion to being starved of oxygen and who had been through an NDE are slipping into a dream state. I’m hopmore likely to have a sleep-wake ing there will be far more research in system where the boundaries between this area in the future since neurosleep and wakefulness are blurred. science has made huge leaps and These people are more likely to bounds in just the past 10 years. experience Rapid Eye Movement In the next 10 years, I expect (REM) — which is a state of dreaming they will not only find what areas of — during normal conscious hours. the brain are active during NDEs but REM intrusion is not unfamiliar also why they occur. I’m hoping one within the paranormal community as day we’ll get the answers we seek, it is this same condition that causes but until then I will enjoy hearing all sleep paralysis and other sleep dissides to this topic. orders. These types of disorders can

January 2009 Paranormal Underground 67

Reviews of the Month: By Mindy Kinnaman

In Your Library: Saved by the Light


ery few people have a neardeath experience (NDE), and even fewer have one as profound as Dannion Brinkley’s. Brinkley shares the story of his NDE and what he learned from it in the 1994 book Saved by the Light, cowritten by Paul Perry. In 1975, Brinkley was struck by lightning, which killed him. He was eventually resuscitated, but while he was dead, he visited the afterlife, where he was given a mission to help save the world from a horrible future. At the time of his NDE, Brinkley felt as though he was the only person

who had such an experience, but then he met Dr. Raymond Moody, who introduced Brinkley to others who had an NDE. Moody also helped Brinkley accomplish portions of the purpose given to him by the angels he encountered. Brinkley’s story is amazing, and I encourage anyone with a fascination in the subject to read his story. Whether or not you believe it is up to you, but I doubt you will walk away without wanting to learn more about the phenomenon. • I give this book 4 out of 5 “neardeath experiences.”

On Your Small Screen: Stay


car accident in New York City brings together an unlikely group of people who must stop a suicide from happening. That is the premise of the 2005 Marc Forster film Stay, and though it may not immediately be apparent, this film does tell a unique story, featuring this month’s Paranormal Underground issue theme, near-death experience. Following the car crash, Henry Letham, played by Ryan Gosling, seeks solace from a psychiatrist, but then is referred to a


substitute, Dr. Sam Foster, played by Ewan McGregor. Foster and his fiancé begin to notice parallels between Letham’s life and his favorite artist, who killed himself on the eve of his 21st birthday. Can Letham be saved? So, what does this film have to do with neardeath experiences? Well, if I told you that, I would not only ruin the whole film, but I would also have to kill you. I kid. • I give Stay 3.5 out of 5 “afterlives.”

Paranormal Underground January 2009

Now Playing: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button


enjamin Button is a man who lives his life backward, while those around him lead traditional lives, in David Fincher’s newest venture, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. And timing in at a whopping two hours and 39 minutes, viewers may feel as though they have aged a bit during viewing. The film, loosely based upon the short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, follows Button’s strange birth where, after seeing the strange child who has killed his wife, Button’s father leaves him on the doorstep of a home for elderly. The home is the perfect place for a man born in his 80s, but as Button grows younger, he strikes out on his own to find love and other adventures. The story is bittersweet and certainly will tug at your heartstrings. Unfortunately, it may also bore you somewhat as it can seem a bit tedious in places. • I give this movie 3 out of 5 “reversed birthdays.”

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January 2009 Paranormal Underground 69

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