Tag Archive | "ghosts"

The Uninvited

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As the old adage states “seeing is believing.”  But, is it possible that we cannot always believe that which we see?  On October 13, 1917 in a field in an area of Fatima, Portugal called Cova da Iria, a crowd reported by accounts of the time at anywhere from 30,000 to 100,000 people witnessed what would be officially accepted thirteen years later as a miracle by the Roman Catholic Church.  The “Miracle of the Sun,” as it has become known was described by witnesses as the sun “dancing” or “trembling” in the sky.  Yet, while many people did “see” this event, some observed nothing out of the ordinary.


Recently, an event occurred in my own home that had me questioning whether or not I could “believe” that which I saw.  My wife, having passed away early this past summer, I now reside alone – unless, of course, you count my faithful canine companion Rocco.  One evening last week, as I sat in my living room watching a movie on television, my attention was turned toward the spinet piano on the far wall of the room.  To my surprise, standing next to the piano was a young girl who appeared to be about eight years of age.  With sandy brown hair and wearing a skirt, she stood silent and motionless.  I spoke to her, and she turned and smiled at me.  Thinking that someone had entered the house, I turned my gaze to the front door, but it was shut tightly and bolted.  Turning back, my uninvited visitor was gone.


It is believed by some that houses and objects can retain the vibrations of those who have left this plane of existence.  I am the third owner of this sixty-something year old home and know that no young girl ever resided here.  Yet, the piano that I bought at the behest of my wife was not new at the time of purchase.  Could the girl that I saw be the spirit of someone who played and loved that piano sometime in the distant past?  And, if so, why has this spirit been made manifest at this time?


Perhaps, the explanation lies in the changes that have occurred since my wife’s passing.  In an effort to remove the clutter and refresh my living space, my youngest son has taken it upon himself to redo the interior of my house one room at a time.  In conjunction with this project and since I do not play the piano, I had made the decision to part with it.  Yet, when my son and two helpers attempted to move it, they could not.  Did disturbing the piano provoke the young girl’s appearance?


At this point, perhaps you’re thinking that I’m going off the deep end – that I simply imagined it or was dozing on the couch and concocted the image in that twilight reality between sleep and wakefulness.  And, you may be right.  Yet, like the faithful tens of thousands who witnessed the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima, I firmly believe that the spirit I saw was real.


And, should she return, I plan to investigate her story and what lies beyond.    If I do, you’ll be reading it right here on Write On New Jersey.



Owner of Haunted House Sued!

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 The annals of weird lawsuits is about to be thicker by one more page.  A young New Jersey couple is taking the owner of their rental home to court for not warning them that their rental property is … haunted!  Yes, an actual court date has been set for later this month (April 2012).  If the Yahoo reporter who broke this story had cared enough to inform his readership of where, exactly, the house is located, I would have made plans to sit in on the proceedings in that township’s courthouse and then report back to you, dear readers, the outcome.


Lacking this information, I can only speculate as to the suit’s denouement, given the limited information that was released.  Tenants Jose Chinchilla and Michelle Callan claim to have evidence of the haunting, which includes taps on the shoulder (undocumented), sheets yanked off their bed (undocumented) and an EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) snarling, “Let it burn” (documented on audio tape).  The couple also hired a paranormal investigation team to check out the property, hinted to be located somewhere on or near the Jersey shore.  The team photographed lights turning on and off by unseen hands, and a bowling pin toppling over for no apparent reason.



Do these things indicate a true haunting?  Or were they somehow manufactured, as claims the owner of the house, to weasel out of paying the rent?  And how will a judge view the evidence?  While the flickering lights and spooky voice may be unsettling, are they enough of a basis for a lawsuit?  Was anyone harmed here? Was anyone even threatened?  Apparently, they were not.  On this basis alone, and although I believe strongly in the paranormal, were I the judge, I’d toss the case out of court. I would order the couple to ante up, and I’d issue a warning to the owner to advise future tenants concerning the unseen tenants of the property.


But what of cases in which the haunting has had definitive and deleterious effects upon the occupants of the home?  I’m speaking of cases in which documented evidence exists and multiple occupants and property owners, dating back several generations, are convinced that the site harbors not only spirits, but evil spirits?


One case of many was Summerwind.  An odd conglomeration of architectural styles, this private home once graced a seemingly peaceful tract of land in our corn belt.  Built before the Great Depression by a wealthy couple, whatever lived in that home that was not of this Earth caused every servant in the house to flee and quit on the spot.  The skeptical owners, however, remained.  But one night while all alone in the house, the door to the basement swung open of its own accord, framing a vision so horrifying that the man of the house shot at it.  Two bullet holes remained in the door, untouched for years.  The owners fled immediately, never to return.


Fast forward to the early 1970s.  Enter a family of six: two little boys, two little girls, their mother, and the man she married.  The family assumed that Summerwind, now a handyman’s special that they’d rented, would be their dream home.  It turned out to be their worst nightmare.  Gripped by a malevolent spirit felt and seen by various members of the family, the head of the house descended into paranoia, violent behavior, and a creepy penchant for playing “funeral home music” on an old organ left in the house.  As a direct result of this radical change in personality, he lost his business, his mind quickly following suit.


Friends ran from the house screaming.  The little girls, then aged 8 and 10, had planned to commit suicide, as life in the house had become intolerable.  Their mother had taken to sleeping outside in the woods, to avoid whatever had taken full possession of her husband.  Only when she was reduced to abject poverty, to chopping up the furniture as kindling to offset the lack of heat and electricity (the utility companies had cut them off) did she beg her dad to rescue them.


The man did so, in his camper, shaking his head the entire time at things that go bump in the night.  His daughter and grandchildren moved to Canada and never again saw or heard from the man so possessed that he played that organ all through the night.  The inference was that the family had been forced to go on public assistance (Welfare).  Meanwhile, the granddad had decided that his son, recently returned from Vietnam, needed a project.  The granddad then rented Summerwind, but the then-owner refused to leave her car to accompany father and son even as far as the front door.  Caveat emptor, caveat renter!


A good handyman, the Vietnam vet took on the job as a labor of love, but quickly abandoned it, refusing to speak of what had so spooked him.  Later, he confessed to hearing two loud gunshots in the house, so close that he’d feared for his life.  But all he found were the two ancient bullet holes in the basement door, no odor of fresh gunpowder and no new bullet holes anywhere.


Regressed by his sister, who had dug deeply into studies of the paranormal, the son was directed to unearth a box in the basement that predated the signing of the U.S. Constitution.  The box was thought to have contained the original deed to the land: a gift to the Caucasian owner in 1767 from the two once-feuding and then-reconciled Native American tribes that had originally owned the land.    The son, the daughter, and the granddad of the 1970s revisited the now empty Summerwind.  The niche where the box was assumed to be found was exactly where the family, through the regression, had been led.  It was a secret spot that no one would have bothered with, if not for the regression.   And yes, it was in the basement.  But there was no box and there was no deed, so the family abandoned their quest and never again set foot in the house.


Years later, Summerwind caught fire during a lightning storm and burned to the ground.  A few brick pillars remain standing but the oldest daughter, one of the kids who’d plotted to end her life with her sister and who thankfully did not, swears that she will never return to the site, house or no house.


Let’s add up the witnesses.  Conservatively, let’s assume that the original owners had two servants.  Add the original owners, the family of six from the 70s, the granddad, the Vietnam vet, and the then-owner of Summerwind.  This is at least thirteen people adversely affected by the haunted location, including three owners.  Clearly, this was a case in which two separate sets of owners knew about the malevolent haunting.  In such cases, do the owners bear the onus of alerting would-be tenants to the resident evil? 


I believe that they do.  Unless the outcome of the Chinchilla-Callan case proves favorable for the plaintiffs, no legal precedent will exist to force, say, a Summerwind’s owners to come clean.  But the owners do have a moral obligation to their tenants.  Most rental agreements stipulate that the property be “occupant ready,” a term that includes having the house cleaned.


Well, there are ways to clean houses and then there are ways to clean houses.  If the judge rules in favor of Mr. Chinchilla and Ms. Callan, we may see a legal precedent come to pass in which allegedly haunted locations must be cleansed, prior to occupancy, by spiritually-minded mediums, ministers, Catholic priests, and zealous independent paranormal investigators.  And if that’s not one for the law books, I don’t know what is!


Guest Appearance on WDVR FM: Frightfully Fun!

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How cool is it to be a guest on a great, live radio station?  This past Monday, I found out just how cool, at WDVR FM/89.7.  Invited by DJs Sande Neske and Manny Garcia of the engaging Out and About with Sande and Manny program, I headed west to beautiful Sergeantsville, New Jersey, with Tom Petruzzelli, Editor of WriteOnNewJersey.com. The kind invitation was prompted by Manny’s discovery of the Write On New Jersey article, The Faces of the Haunted and to his and Sandy’s interest in such things, as evidenced by their own information-rich website, ParanormalUnlimited.com.

I’d never been in a radio studio during a live broadcast, so I was revved to do this show.  After a wrong turn or two en route along the gorgeous, turning leafed lanes leading to Sergeantsville, Tom and I slid into our seats with all of two minutes to spare, still panting as we adjusted our mics.  Sande and Manny were both extremely professional and friendly, putting us immediately at ease.

The DJs asked for more details about the abandoned and reportedly spirited schoolhouse highlighted in The Faces of the Haunted.  From there, we segued easily into other paranormal topics, not limited to the true tale of the night that my uncle passed into God’s hands (For Whom the Clock Chimes) and how my sister-in-law, a woman who’s got her head screwed on straight, was once visited in my guest room by something otherworldly.

During the broadcast, Tom’s niece, Cherene Petruzzelli, called the station.  Cherene has her own haunting tales to tell, and I don’t want to rain on her parade by talking about them here.  Sande took her call and graciously offered to bring Cherene on the show to discuss her deliciously frightening experiences, which have been witnessed by a number of people and documented by a team of paranormal investigators.

After the brief conversation with Cherene, we went to a station break.  Off air for a few minutes, Sande’s eyes flew wide open.  “I just heard a growl through my earphones!” she cried.  “I’m not imaging that.  I’m not making it up.  Oh, my God — there it is again!“   And then Sande pointed to the On Air signs on the wall, explaining that those are never lit when the DJs are not broadcasting.  But the four of us clearly saw those lights blazing brightly!

When human beings pass into spirit (pure energy), they sometimes “kidnap” electrical devices to make their presence known.  There are numerous, documented cases in which street lamps, house lights, and appliances turn on and off, unaided by humans, in the presence of ghosts and spirits*.  Were we visited by something otherworldly in the WDVR studio?  Did we unwittingly invite it in by speaking live, of things that go bump in the night, to an audience of 50,000 people?  Well, things go bump in the day, too, as they did on Monday!  Whatever it was, I’m glad it was friendly!

After the uninvited visitor left (or did it?), we touched briefly on the topic of music and I clued the listeners in to the talent of Taylor Hicks, who has worked and/or performed with, among other notables in the industry, The Allman Brothers, Gladys Knight, and Eric Clapton/BB King producer Simon Climie.

Manny then engaged Tom, owner of Objective: Resumes, to educate the audience on the importance and competitive edge of a professionally written resume, particularly in this economy.

Having crafted resumes, cover letters, and other professional documents for 31 years, Tom is an expert on the topic.  He’s quite knowledgeable about the job market, the ever-evolving trends in resume writing, and how technology continues to dictate those trends.   Through the kindness of Sande and Manny, Tom informed the listening audience as to how they can contact either Tom or myself to develop a compelling resume and cover letter designed to secure interviews.

The hour that we spent on air went by too quickly.  I had a ball, and so did Tom.  We couldn’t have asked for better hosts than Manny and Sande!  If you’d like to catch them live, on air or streaming on the ‘net, check out Out and About with Sande and Manny (Mondays, 3 PM to 5 PM, Eastern Time).  And, if you’re a fan of a broad range of music and interesting, community-oriented topics, tune in to WDVR FM/89.7 any time.  The station broadcasts live, 24/7.

*          A ghost is an entity, often disturbed, that remains behind in the space it once occupied on Earth, while a spirit has moved on peacefully to the next world.

Paranormal State

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“Despite thousands of years of theological study from every different form of religion, the duality of nature, light and dark, remains unfathomable.” ***

Everyone loves a good ghost story, particularly if the story bears evidence of a genuine haunting.  Born on Halloween and gravitating from earliest memory to “things that go bump in the night”, I relish true ghost stories.  Why, then, when I first tuned in to the A&E series, Paranormal State, was I not so much chilled and thrilled as I was thinking, “Hey, these kids are smart. They got the network to bankroll and film their paranormal investigations and made names for themselves. They’re probably theatre majors seeking careers in that vein.”

Although this reaction was probably the result of too much exposure to reality TV, Ryan Buell, founder and captain of the Paranormal Research Society (PRS), would probably appreciate my healthy dose of skepticism.  Ryan, you see, is a skeptic himself.  But he’s much more than that, and he and I have a bit more in common, as I discovered in reading his absorbing book, Paranormal State, written with Stephan Petrucha.

Tormented by paranormal activity as a child, Ryan’s nightly confrontations with things either beyond the grave or not of this world — or perhaps both — were met with confusion and ultimately, repression on the part of his family.  He grew up with these issues unresolved, turning inward for solutions that never quite materialized, as well as the writings of respected researchers and authors, which also left questions unanswered.  Driven to uncover those answers, while studying at Penn State University, Ryan founded the PRS (Paranormal Research Society) in 2001.  Its objective was to find the truth behind reported hauntings.

In establishing his core group, Ryan’s criteria was no less stringent than that of the classes created and taught by his professors.  He desired associates who were serious and hardworking; cohorts who did not frighten easily, and who could balance their course loads with the rigors of conducting investigations (primarily, long after the sun had set), gathering and documenting evidence, and arriving at well-supported conclusions, conclusions that either affirmed or refuted otherworldly activity in reportedly haunted settings.

What Ryan didn’t want were jokesters and thrill seekers, including students who showed up for investigations after getting tanked in the local taverns.  The resulting, well-culled group was a collection of unique, focused, dedicated, and interestingly diverse young people as thirsty for knowledge of the paranormal as their leader.

The team’s first cases were an old, unsolved murder that had occurred on campus and the 2001 disappearance of a coed.  For the latter case, the PRS collaborated with the local police, who welcomed the assistance.  Soon, the PRS was branching out into other cases, which people often brought to the team.

As word of their investigations spread, the PRS attracted the attention of A&E, which offered to craft a series (originally, 13 episodes) centered upon the investigations.  Contrary to my initial opinion of how the show was created, Ryan did not curry the favor of the producers or directors; they came to him.  When they did, he laid down the law.

The series, like the investigations themselves, had to be conducted with the utmost of integrity: no special effects, no coaching of clients, psychics, or anyone else concerned prior to the explorations, no subterfuge whatsoever for the sake of ratings.  The network’s onus was, essentially, to condense days’ worth of investigations into meaningful half-hour formats appealing to viewers.  In so doing, A&E financed more sophisticated equipment for the team, paid travel expenses, and perhaps most importantly, sought out and identified potential cases beyond the geography of Penn State and surrounding areas.  With input from his team, Ryan would have final say as to accept the cases or not.  And, all investigations, as they had from the inception of the PRS, were to be conducted without monetary compensation from the clients.

In crafting the series, Ryan Buell arrived at a deeper understanding of the paranormal, himself, and his talents.  He also became confident and courageous enough to share some very personal data with his readers.  Like me, Ryan was raised in a Catholic family and retains a strong faith.  While I walked away from the Catholic Church many years ago, and while I got the sense that Ryan no longer practices scheduled rituals as the Church demands, neither one of us threw Baby Jesus out with the bathwater.  We both honor the core of the faith while refusing to bow to manmade constraints that remove it from the teachings, and indeed, the life lived and the examples set by Jesus Christ.

But even with his roots firmly planted in Catholicism, Ryan is accepting of other religions — or the lack thereof.  One of his associates is agnostic; two are pagans (and before you conjure images of devil worship at the mention of “pagans,” please understand that paganism is an ancient religion that respects life in all its forms and those who created that life).  Ryan’s openness allows him to utilize the services of both priests and psychics, often simultaneously: partnerships never sanctioned by the Catholic Church at large.  (And this, I have always found odd, as 39 Books of the Bible mention prophesy, including direct references to it being a gift from the Holy Spirit).

But Ryan himself was not keen on the use of psychics, as many of those with whom he’d had previous contact proved themselves to be charlatans and thieves.  Chip Coffey, a reputable, tell it to ya straight psychic, was more or less thrust upon him by A&E as, I suspect, was soft-spoken psychic Michelle Belanger.  Ryan grew to develop a genuine respect for, as well as friendships with, both of these individuals featured frequently on the series. Michelle, in fact, wrote the enticing forward to Ryan’s book.

Lorraine Warren, a psychic of worldwide renown, was not dropped in Ryan Buell’s lap.  Initially leery of an association with the series, Lorraine came around on her own, impressed by Ryan’s focus and commitment, and that of his team. Lorraine and her deceased husband Ed were, respectively, the psychic and demonologist who had conducted the most extensive work on the “The Amityville Horror” case.  Interestingly, I have a connection to that case via less than six degrees of separation.  My uncle, who passed over several years ago, was friends with the head of the household murdered along with the rest of the family in that infamous house in Amityville on Long Island, New York. Ironically, my uncle and the murdered man had been hunting buddies.

If you’re a fan of the series, Paranormal State, and have yet to read the book, you’ll want to know what cases the volume covers.  I’m not going to give you a lot of details. :-)  Life should hold a few surprises, and those in the book include some behind the scenes information that, because of time restrictions or other reasons, never made it to the screen.  There are a few horrific cases, not limited to those involving demonic activity, the investigation of long-lived urban legend, physical manifestations of spirits at a pub, and the haunting of an asylum whose departed denizens scared two former military men away from the place, with vows of never stepping foot onto the property again.

In the book, as in the series, Ryan and his team debunked a few of the cases as having no basis in the paranormal.  They always seek, first, to attribute unexplained activity to the here-and-now.  These include the creaking of an old house, vibrations caused by nearby train tracks, blackouts precipitated by a power company, or – most interestingly — the beleaguered emotional states of some clients.  Anything else must be proven to be paranormal, as far as one can prove things in an evolving science.

The book is a very basic primer for those uninitiated into matters of the occult; it whets the appetite of those who may wish to delve further into this broad and fascinating domain.

Initially a skeptic, I came away from the book with a much greater respect for Ryan Buell and his team.  This includes original members Elfie Music, who serves as spiritual advisor, Serg Poberezhny, technical guru, and Josh Light, another original member now acting primarily behind the scenes.  Heather Taddy and Katrina Weidman began as trainees assigned to conduct interviews and historical research prior to the investigations, and who became active participants in those investigations.  As with most casts in most series, Paranormal State‘s has gone through changes demanded, in part, by the graduation of the students from the university.

What began at first as a quest for the truth behind alleged hauntings or possessions wound up being exactly that — and much more.  For Ryan and his team’s greatest joy is to bring peace to their clients, whether by helping lingering spirits to  pass over, ousting demons from other realms, or assisting clients to purge themselves of their own, internal demons that prevent them from pursuing fulfilling lives.

If you’re looking for something different in your reading material, something that will leave you still wondering, but in a good way, look no further than this book.

***  Excerpt, page 220, Paranormal State by Ryan Buell with Stephan Petrucha (2010, A&E ibooks, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)

Read My Palm

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Throughout my twelve years of Catholic school, I’d been taught to avoid fortunetellers like the plague, for some were thought to do the work of the devil.  But, like the length of my uniform skirts and the friends with whom I hung out, I didn’t give much credence to what the nuns had preached.  From the time that I could read fluently, I had researched — through books and whenever possible, personal experiences — palmistry, tarot card readings, phrenology, ghosts/spirits, seances, Egyptology, the Loch Ness monster, UFO’s, lycanthropy, vampirism, astral travel, meditation, tea leaf readings, and Eastern theosophy.

Imagine my astonishment when, a few years ago, my research uncovered the fact that the gift of prophesy is not only mentioned in 38 of the 66 books of the standard Bible, it is deemed to be a gift from the Holy Spirit!   While the Bible differentiates between the practice of consulting charlatans versus those who demonstrate true psychic ability, and issues warnings against the former, it is sometimes difficult, in this life, to discern the between the two.

As a child, I remember reading that virtually every human being is born with a sixth sense, the capacity to predict future events with a reasonable degree of accuracy.  The general consensus was that psychic ability was a type of survival mechanism, and that it could be cultivated if one removed from one’s self, as much as possible, from negative events and persons.

Later, I learned that the discipline of meditation enhanced one’s clairvoyance.  By meditation, I refer to focused and frequently practiced spiritual meditation, not the type designed simply to reduce one’s stress level.

I had my first, unplanned reading as a young woman in her early twenties. I’d been seeing two young men at the same time, and was very much interested in the one we’ll call Dave; in fact, Dave and I wound up getting formally engaged.  Romping through New York City’s East Village one Saturday night with friends, including Sam, the other guy I’d been seeing, we stumbled upon a storefront card reader, replete with the headscarf, gold hoop earrings, and crystal ball.  Everyone thought would be fun to consult her.

Approaching this as a lark, I was shocked to discover that the woman who was not much older than myself saw me with the two men: one blonde (Sam) and one dark (Dave).  She finished the reading almost in shock, saying that although I’d come far in my career for one so young and otherwise had a good head on my shoulders, I’d insisted upon falling in love with Dave, who would “bring me to ruin.”   Well, I was far from ruined, but Dave and I did split up and the schism, at the time, was deeply painful.

For years, this experience haunted me.  How had she known?  She had to have been very gifted, I’d supposed.

But further investigation enabled me to understand that “all of the information is already out there” and it’s just a matter of tapping into it.  Also, a psychic can read a subject more accurately if that subject approaches him or her with an open mind or at least, a generally positive mindset.  Not all clients do, despite their strong desire to be read.  Against my better judgment, and because I’d been pestered to do so, I had once referred a very difficult person to an excellent psychic.  Thoroughly exasperated, the clairvoyant later told me, “He’s enough to make you want to throw away your cards!”

The second reader into whom I ran — quite literally — was sitting, oddly enough, at a little card table on a quiet corner just off New York’s Little Italy.  She, too, had the scarf and the gold hoops, but no crystal ball: just a pack of regular playing cards and a very quiet, slightly amused air, as if she’d known I was about to barrel right into her.

I’d gone to the Feast of San Gennaro with the man I would eventually marry, and remembering well the incident with the first psychic, refused her offer to read my cards!   However, my future husband was very much interested.  His was a short reading, and all I remember was that she’d told him that he had an honest woman in his life, a very honest woman, and that she wasn’t sure if he could handle her.  Considering that the woman was me and that my husband is still wondering, after all these years, what to do with me, I’d say that reader was also dead on!

The next reader and I crossed paths like ships in the night, and this, she foretold, was through destiny (and thereby hang tales too long for this article).  She nailed every physical ailment in my body in the first few seconds — though I had not thought to consult her about those — and then she picked up the brochure of my realtor that I’d brought for her to see.  I was in the process of moving to Jersey and the reader, whose name was Christie, intoned, “There is a job for you across the other side of a covered bridge.”  Neither one of us understood what this meant (yes, spirits do move through genuine psychics), but months later, the light dawned.  My realtor’s office was located at the foot of a sort of covered bridge … one that enabled foot traffic over a busy highway … directly across from the writing job I’d landed!   This was just one of the many things that Christie had predicted, that later came to pass.

Bonnie, whom I met next and befriended, added to my education.  She was the first one I’d known to use a tarot deck other than the original Waite deck familiar to most of us.  The deck she used was called The Rose Deck; it was dark and beautiful, with intricate artwork.  The Rose Deck was but one of many different designs that I would later access through other readers.  Bonnie explained that she used the tarot only as an icebreaker, as some clients were not comfortable with her just pulling their most intimate secrets out of the ether.

This lady explained that when her beloved grandmother had passed on, she was a young child of four.  On the night of the day that her grandmother was laid to rest, Bonnie’d dreamed that her gran had appeared to her, advising her that, at the age of twelve, the young girl would come into the gift of prophecy.  As foretold, that is exactly what happened to Bonnie.  Fascinated with the planets and their influences, she studied astrology and was gifted in this form of reading as well.

Eventually, the accuracy of her work came to the attention of law enforcement agencies in both New York and New Jersey … and I’m talking about both State and local levels.  Often grudgingly by Bonnie, who abhorred violence, her talents were utilized in cracking major cases.  To protect her privacy, I’ll just tell you that these cases all made the headlines in their day: murder, kidnapping, and theft of a large fortune.

Bonnie also had the uncanny ability to simply touch an object and “read” its owner.  One night over dinner in a restaurant, she’d admired an emerald bracelet my husband had given me and reached across the table to stroke it.  Immediately, she got that glazed look in her eye that I’d come to know and began telling me very personal things about a certain in-law that I had never shared with her!  An in-law that had only touched that bracelet once!

Kit, a.k.a. Katherine, was another lovely reader, an older, deeply spiritual woman lauded by the Catholic Church for her continuous contributions to the community.  Kit, in my experience, was an anomaly in that she was a devout Catholic who also practiced as a psychic.  Among the many things that this wife and mother foretold in two readings, she saw me following a certain musician, approximately two years before I’d ever heard his name.  She also spoke of the wonderful friendships, travels, and experiences that my following him would bring me.

A few years later, Trish saw me journeying to the city of that musician’s birth, and the adventures — and great music — that awaited me there, and the good friend with whom I’d traveled.

Most recently, a very nice lady named Robin, who shares my love of music, foresaw me being asked by Sneak Attack, The Counting Crows’ media representatives, to cover one of their recent concerts.  She did not name the band by name but intimated that it was a large, well-respected, well-known act.

If your curiosity is peaked and you wish to consult a psychic, I have but two bits of advice to give you, which I myself have followed.   Seek a psychic, please, through the recommendation of someone that you trust.  And then feel that psychic out.  As I’d learned long ago, we are all indeed born with at least a modicum of clairvoyance, so use yours.  You want a reader who is spiritual; one who believes in a Higher Power, and a positive power.  Anyone who gives you another sort of vibe, avoid at all costs.

Séances, Psychics, and Ghost Hunters: Smoke and Mirrors or the Real Deal?

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Starring Demi Moore, Whoopi Goldberg, and the late Patrick Swayze, the film Ghost remains a classic not only with romantics enamored of a good love story, but also with those who believe that life does not end with the death of the body.  Brutally murdered, the soul of Swayze’s character, Sam, remains tethered to Earth in order for him to warn his lover (Molly, played by Moore) that she too is in danger.  Desperate for an emissary able to bridge the worlds between the living and the dead, Sam stumbles upon Oda Mae Brown, a rather reluctant spiritualist played by the irrepressible Whoopi Goldberg.  Unaware of her true gifts and hailing from a line of psychics, Oda Mae bilks clients wishing to contact their loved ones on the other side, via séances.  Her cash-cow subterfuge continues until Swayze intervenes, convinces her of her talents, and spooks her into helping him protect Molly and bring his killer to justice.


The comedy in much of Sam and Oda Mae’s early interactions was, of course, a result of an inventive twist: most of us have been schooled to believe that psychics are full of what makes the grass grow green and that séances cannot possibly call forth the dead.   But are they?  And can they?


The ritual of the séance rose to its height in Victorian times, ingeniously marketed by a woman who called herself Madame Blavatsky.  Ingratiating herself into high society, this diminutive and charismatic Russian immigrant preyed upon her clients’ grief and curiosity, employing sleight of hand that would have made a magician proud.  Levitating tables, unexplained flickering lights, disembodied moans, ghostly apparitions, and trances through which the dead “spoke” from beyond the grave all marked the séances of Blavatsky, who was eventually exposed as an impostor.  When the famed escape artist, Harry Houdini, lost his beloved mother, he frantically sought a medium capable of contacting her.  Undeterred by the infamy of charlatans such as Madame B., Houdini searched in vain until the day that he died.


Despite Houdini’s failure and the machinations of the self-proclaimed spiritualists, human beings continued to search for means through which they might communicate with the dead, or at the very least, gain proof of life after death.  As part of Blavatsky’s ruses, her accomplices often conjured up apparitions of what became known as ectoplasm.  These filmy specters were nebulous clouds (smoke) said to represent the spirits of those passed on.  Although the majority of the photographs capturing ectoplasm proved that the ghosts were manufactured, there remained a handful that defied scientific explanation.


Modern-day ghost hunters, including psychics, utilize sensitive, state-of-the-art recording devices and cameras to gather evidence of those who linger in the earthly plane, including ectoplasmic proof.  Those who are on the level have no problem submitting their evidence to intense scientific scrutiny, and in fact, invite such analysis.  And the fact remains that a certain degree of this evidence cannot be explained away as smoke and mirrors; in fact, it cannot be explained, period.


Over the years, a growing body of data substantiates the fact that places — physical locations — retain energy.  This includes voice recordings of spirits and photographs of the here-and-now that, inexplicably, illustrate visages as well as full-body images of those long gone.  What happens to one’s spirit when his body is cremated or buried?  What if one does not heed the call to meet one’s maker, but chooses to remain instead rooted to this world, perhaps out of malice, perhaps out of love, perhaps out of nothing more phantasmagorical than genuine confusion?  Do these souls capitalize upon the talents of mediums or the use of other vehicles by which their very existence may be substantiated?


The Ouija Board is one such time-honored vehicle that should be approached with trepidation.  The board itself is printed with letters and numbers. Participants (the living) very gently rest their fingers upon the placket, a triangular-shaped piece of wood or plastic, and ask questions of those gone before them.  The placket is thought to move upon the will or whim of spirits, touching upon the alphabet and/or numbers to spell out answers.  As a child in Catholic school, I was taught never to treat a Ojai Board as a game, for it was believed to be — even by the Catholic Church — a portal onto another world, a world perhaps best left unexplored.


I did not give this caveat much thought until, long after I’d graduated, a woman I trust, a woman who has never been given to flights of fancy, told me a story that raised the hackles all along my spine.  After an acquaintance of hers, a friend of a friend, had died of a drug overdose, those closest to him were in terrible shock, as the man had been quite young.  Wishing to know if he was all right on the other side, two of these people appropriated a Ouija Board one night and asked my friend if she were willing to participate.  Having an open mind, she agreed.  She swears that her hands, and those of her friends, barely touched the placket.  And yet, upon questioning, the thing spelled out the dead man’s full name, the reason for his death, his apology to those he’d left behind, and his explanation that his death had been an accident, as the drugs with which he’d injected himself had been too pure.


Still skeptical, my friend asked the spirit where he was at that moment. She’d hoped he would describe heaven and dearly prayed that he would not describe hell.  To her amazement and horror, the man spelled out the name of the establishment that he used to frequent, the one whose clerk was rumored to have supplied the drugs that had killed him!  Many years after this incident, this woman has never again stepped foot within sight of another Ouija Board.


During the course of producing work for a great number of clients, I met and later established a friendship with a very gifted psychic; often, she had supplied the police with clues that helped them solve puzzling and/or high profile murders.  This was always done at the command of the police, who were aware of my friend’s reputation and accuracy.  She had given me a few readings and I’d always found her to be quite accurate.  However, her gifts did not really phase me, as I have researched the paranormal ever since I was a small child.


What did stun me, however, was something that happened one night as we were having dinner in a nice restaurant.  Our conversation had been anything but metaphysical; we were discussing work and other mundane things.  As I raised my arm to call the waitress to our table, my friend caught sight of a bracelet that my husband had given me the prior Christmas.  Admiring the bracelet, my friend reached out quite naturally to touch it.  Suddenly, her gaze went flat and in a rather deadpan voice relayed very personal things about one of my in-laws; things so personal, in fact, that most of the family were not aware of them.   Due to the nature of this information, I had never shared it with my psychic friend.  This particular in-law had touched my bracelet but once, the previous Christmas, to admire it!  When the woman “came out of it,” she explained what I already knew: that objects hold the energy of those who had once possessed or touched them.  She also confided that this was how she had broken a number of the murder cases, by touching personal items, such as keys and wallets owned by the victims, to “read them.”


Maybe the answer to the question of connecting with our loved ones beyond the grave is not a matter, after all, of seeking out a third-party psychic, or ghost hunter, or medium.  Maybe it’s simply a matter of faith, of waiting patiently for them to contact us. 

The Mystery of the Veiled Ring

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Initial Ring D

Do you believe in Ghosts?  I do! There is a great deal of truth conveyed in the old adage “seeing is believing.”  And, having been visited by my grandmother about six years after she passed away made a believer out of me.  Since then, I’ve taken to reading ghost stories (true accounts) and have gone on Ghost Tours in the many cities I have visited.  Other than seeing the apparition of my grandmother, I cannot report any such striking experiences with the paranormal.  Yet, in everyday life, I am frequently reminded of my connection with family members who have passed from this plane of existence.


In 2000, my mother, Rita, died suddenly.  We were very close and still are.  Although I do not see her, I know she is there, and, more significantly, she has a unique way of conveying to me that which she wants me to know.  Shortly thereafter, in 2002, my cousin Robert died, also suddenly.  He was only 43 years old and the youngest in our family of 10 cousins.  After his death, his sister, for reasons unknown to me, visited a psychic.  Although many people choose to employ psychics to communicate with deceased loved ones, I have and would never consider doing it.  I believe in letting my mom rest in peace.  If she wants to reveal something to me, I know that she will do so. 


When my cousin’s session with the psychic ended, she phoned me immediately.  She was anxious to tell me that the psychic indicated to her that my mother and her brother were together, they often go to my aunt’s house in Wildwood, and there were several things that my mother wanted my cousin to tell me.  Most of what my cousin told me was just a confirmation of things I had been telling my sister about our mom since her death.  At the end of our conversation, she mentioned that my mother wanted me to give my cousin a ring that was in her jewelry box.  For the longest time, I could not even think of parting with any of my mother’s belongings; so, I just ignored that portion of what my cousin had said.  Neither she nor I brought the subject up again.


In May, around the time of my cousin’s birthday, I told my sister that I was thinking of going through my mom’s jewelry box to see if I might discover the ring she wanted me to give our cousin.  I’ve been through the box many times and often wear my mom’s jewelry but have never had any serious thoughts about giving my cousin a ring.  My sister, a non-believer in psychic phenomena just said “do what you want.”  As soon as I opened the box, I knew – without a doubt – the ring that my mom wanted me to give my cousin.  “It’s this one!” I said as I handed the pretty gold initial ring to my sister.  Neither I nor my sister had ever seen this ring before.  From where it came is a mystery to both of us.  One thing is certain:  it did not belong to our mother.  We both agreed, however, that our cousin should have it.  Why were we so sure that this particular ring was the one which our mom wanted us to give to our cousin?   The ring, you see, was configured as the initial “D” and our cousin’s first name is Diane – the only of the 10 cousins whose name begins with a “D.”


If you doubt in the existence of the spirit world, remember the story of this ring.  It should make a believer out of you.

The Ghosts of the Atlantic County Courthouse



Science has proven that energy cannot be destroyed; only altered.  Given this scientific evidence and the truth that human body contains and expends energy, it seems reasonable that upon death of the body, energy or spirit changes into a different form.   Theories exist, as do much empirical data to support them, that geographic locales, manmade structures, and even objects retain imprints of energy exuded by those who had once occupied or touched them.  Therein lays the crux of every ghost story.  The chills it raises along one’s spine as the tale is spun out spring not merely from the fear of the unknown, but from the understanding that the account may very well be factual.


With a rich and often violent history predating the Revolutionary War, the State of New Jersey enjoys a long tradition of ghost stories.  Documented, recounted, and verified via paranormal researchers by numerous audio and video recordings as well as still photography proven not to have been doctored, the stories span the width, breadth, and chronology of the State.  Atlantic County is no stranger to supernatural tales.  From all reports, its courthouse, erected in 1838, appears to be the single-most haunted structure in the area.


Jo DiStephano Kapus, a past president of the Atlantic County Historical Society and a former title searcher who worked for many years in the courthouse, has diligently researched, stockpiled, and shared tales of otherworldly manifestations centering upon the country’s seat of government; her writings have appeared extensively in news publications and magazines servicing the region.  Based primarily upon the corroborative reports of witnesses as well as lore surrounding the building, the stories contain elements that can be traced back to real-life occurrences.  All of the narratives that Jo has collected and published indicate the presence of many spirits still bound to the earth through events that transpired within the Atlantic County Courthouse.


One of these involves a weeping spirit.  Late one afternoon, a former senior court clerk was completing her duties for the day in Courtroom 1, where two other employees were also working.  Within that quiet space, all three staff members were startled to hear an unmistakable sobbing emanating from the back of the courtroom.  To the shock and horror of the workers, something or someone had coalesced there: a visible and bright form of energy hanging in the air, whose shape was long and although indistinctive, suggestive of a human being. The employees agreed to determine a logical explanation for the sobbing, and dispersed via three separate exits in the courtroom.  Although their search was fruitless, Jo uncovered an account that seems to be linked to this particular haunting.


A local newspaper story printed in 1898 yielded the terrible tale of a ten-year-old boy, Japheth Connolly, who had gone missing.  Two days later, in a shallow grave in a wooded area not far from Somers Point, searchers discovered the child’s body, brutally strangled.  Just before the boy had disappeared, he had been seen with a drifter, a 28-year-old man whose name was William O’Mara.  Further investigation revealed hard evidence linking O’Mara to the crime. At the man’s trial, which was conducted in the courthouse, members of the outraged community demanded retribution in the form of a lynching.  Although found guilty, O’Mara escaped capital punishment with twenty-five years of hard labor.  During the trial, both the drifter’s mother and the mother of the murdered child had sat in Courtroom 1, weeping profusely throughout the entire proceedings.  Did the energy of one or perhaps both of these women leave its grieving stamp upon the room?  While no definitive answer exists, this scenario seems likely.


A number of other witnesses have come forth to report the sound of a child running in one of the courtroom’s upstairs corridors, when no child has been present.  Perhaps returned to oversee the trial, could this be the ghost of the little boy so cruelly murdered?


Other inexplicable incidents have occurred in the courthouse on a basis so frequent, they seem almost routine.  Doorknobs jiggle when no one is seen to jiggle them, a chandelier sways and tinkles of its own accord, and an elevator ascends and descends upon its own whims.  Underpinning all of these episodes are voices and footsteps engendered by no earthly beings, echoing eerily throughout empty rooms and hallways.  Some of these energy imprints may have their roots in cases disclosed by Jo D. Kapus, including that of a prisoner whose vigorous hanging in 1907 caused some bystanders to become hysterical, a man who hanged himself in the bell tower in 1950, and another who took his own life in 1984 as the judge handed down a sentence he did not wish to live long enough to see fulfilled. 

Who knows what future hauntings await those who toil within or visit these halls where justice has long been meted out and continues to be executed?

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