Please see the first article for back ground on the Guided Lantern Tour here.
I have to admit, when I asked Stephanie Hewes Borelli Middletown resident & co founder of Paranomal Association of Central Connecticut (PACC), about doing an article about the Guided Lantern Tour at Indian Hill Cemetery and 3 other Middletown locations, I was going in wanting to be a believer in this sort of thing , but I'd never seen evidence of my own of spirits. With the popularity of the tv show "Ghost Hunters" on SyFy and "Paranomal State" on A&E, the phenomenon of seeking out evidence of an afterlife has grown in popularity in recent years. While many with psychic abilities choose to stay "closeted", keeping their abilities secret, a term introduced to me by psychic medium Laura Cartwright of PACC (also of Middletown), Laura has always felt at home with her abilities.
I asked Laura how long she had been able to communicate with the dead, and she responded 'forever'; "I'm around the dead at work, and at home." Laura joked. "I'm a medium, mom, professional figure skater, teacher for the deaf, and a student of mortuary science." A shared sense of humor and willingness to include others so that they may experience the phenomenon of the paranormal world as they do s is something very wonderful I quickly picked up on when being introduced to the group. Auggie DeFrance of the Indian Hill Cemetery Association gathered a group of roughly 25 participants just inside the cemetery at 7 pm last night. He spoke about the history of the cemetery and welcomed everyone. Indian Hill is a private cemetery, and so were the other locations we visited last night. I was asked by PACC to not name them as to not draw unwanted trespassers.
That is one thing the PACC does not want to do, cause disturbance to historic sites or offend families of the departed who may be entombed therein. PACC founders Stephanie Hewes Borrelli and Laura Cartwright opened the evening with rules on how to respect the spirits and the physical cemetery. Participants were divided into smaller groups of on average 8 - each group was teamed with a technical analyst to capture photos, evp ( electronic voice phenomenon) and use a K2 (light meter the spirits can interact with), and a temperature and static electricity meter. One goal was to back up sensory evidence of the paranormal with more tangible evidence and look at it from a skeptical standpoint when analyzing it afterwards. During the event I found Mike Kalinowsky and I happened to have the same digital SLR camera, and I enjoyed geeking-out a bit with him trading photography tips. Technical analyst Mike Kalinowsky was one of many trying to capture more tangible phenomenon that he explained he would later try first to find a logical or scientific explanation for - dust on a lens, light refracting etc. Laura and the other psychic medium/shaman in our group Dee White Dove (Suffield, CT), showed us how to use digital voice recorders to pick up noise hard to hear for the human ear. A few in our group prayed for guidance. "I don't like to force beliefs on anyone, I am just hear to interpret." added Laura, who as a member has been on dozens of investigations with PACC. I had three friends attend the event with me, one of which Mary*, is extra sensitive to paranomal activity, spirits seem drawn to her and since childhood she has been able to hear, and sometimes even see spirits. Mary does not like to call herself a psychic medium, but rather a "sensitive" sense she does not feel she has developed her skills as of yet. Ironically, immediately after forming the group and going through introductions, both psychic's in our group knew Mary had a gift.
I spoke with Dee White Dove about this: "I saw my first spirit when I was 5 years old. Back then yes, it was frightening. I grew up in Maine in the 60's, so it was the 60's everywhere else and 1940 there." Dee went on about her childhood," It was a little backwards there, I started seeing things and my parents weren't supportive; it was right around when that movie with the child who is the "bad seed" came out (in reference to The Omen) plus I was adopted too so it freaked my parents out."
Today Dee is a ordained minister, shaman, reiki healer, and psychic consultant just to name a few of her many jobs.
"So is everyone psychic? Can everyone see spirits? Because I can't; so are people like me broken?" I asked. I was beginning to feel like the only one who couldn't see anything and hadn't photographed anything cool either.
"No, (laughingly) everyone to some degree has psychic abilities, its like when you think of a friend and then maybe a few days later they call, well for me its just I'll be holding the phone and suddenly it will ring. Now that's something else!" responded Dee, " Imagine stars in the sky, we all look at the bright ones first then notice the fainter ones, but for spirits, its the same, they see the bright stars first, they see those of us who are sensitive first, and flock to us. Sometimes I'll walk in a place and its like a deli line literally, so many people."
I began to understand. I asked "Ok, so what do you see physical people or people in your head, or say your minds eye?" Dee answered, "Well for me its both, sometimes I just see shadows, most times, like black and white negatives on the world. It would be a lot easier if its like the in the Sixth Sense and suddenly someone solid & real is next to you." Dee followed this up by a pretty good Haley Joel Osmond imitation, "I see dead people oooooooo."
I thought it was a little funny, yet sweet when someone shouted out to Dee asking to use her dowsing rods, hand held non electronic instruments that cross in the presence of activity, because Dee replied non-chalantely as if they had asked is she had any gum, with an "of course hun, in my bag back pocket" PACC really is family and I cannot stress enough how welcoming they were to new participants.
During the investigations at each location participants were encouraged to take photos to try and capture "orbs" or balls of light that often show up on film, which in the paranormal world are a sign of the presence of a spirit. Repeatedly, Laura throughout the night pointed out where she thought there were some, or she had seen a lingering spirit. Throughout the night, other team members provided what they liked to call validation; other evidence to confirm the first type. If Laura or Dee sensed a presence, sometimes through hearing them, seeing smell, or physically touch, a team member would ask the spirit to make the lights on the K2 meter flicker. At one of the crypts at our first location, my friend and I tried this device against the door of the tomb, asked if anyone was there and got flickering right away. "He thinks we are bugging him but this lady over hear really is enjoying the company."said Laura. This happened multiple times during the evening, Laura felt it was necessary to respect the wishes of the deceased who wanted to be left alone, however, according to her many times they are happy to be heard or seen or just plain visited. Historically, from an architectural standpoint, cemeteries build during the 1800's were like stroll gardens, designed as places where family even brought picnics to so-to-speak visit dead relatives.
During the photo investigations everyone started passing around digital cameras with the light phenomenon they had captured. I noticed that the 11 year old girl in our group seemed to be getting a lot more interesting things than the rest of us had on camera. Laura explained that spirits love children, they are fascinated because they are pure souls, and closer to the other side if you look at life cyclically. This seemed to be very evident this evening, in location 2, Laura had the girl speak out load and call spirits to the recording device, and got immediate blinking lights on the K2.
Dee has a noticeably fiery personality, she often left the group to wander into the shadows on her own seemingly fearlessly, and come back. She demonstrated drawing with the direction of the spirits while she sat at a grave site. Her pen aggressively hit the paper and her and Laura went back and forth in a constant chatter interpreting what the spirits were saying. At this point, I listened to the live voice recording and both myself and Mary heard a definitive male laugh. Dan Riviera of Above the Realm, a paranormal investigative team, monitored audio while Dee continued to receive. The group agreed we could all smell faint cigar smoke. According to the PACC group, we were in a hot spot of activity, and some not so nice, we however were cautioned not to show fear.
I asked Dee about fear & her experiences with evil entities. "Well higher level demonic entities are rare, rarer then the TV shows make it seem, that's not to say not to take precautions. I once got tricked, as evil spirits manifest as friendlies." she explained, Dee went on" I was at a place where monks used to live, however some had started practicing Santeria before the place closed. I was on the investigation and on break, and I saw plain as day a three year old child in a white pinafore dress with pig tails less than 10 feet away. She was so real I stood up and thought she was someones lost child, and I went over to her and tried to pick her up. When I looked closer though she had liquid solid black eyes.. that was the sign it was a demonic force tricking me, and I know now I'll never be tricked again." I asked more about the good vs evil idea, and Dee told me that she tells people to rent the movie "Exorcist II The Heretic", because in it ,she says is a good explanation of good spirits and people -those who "walk with the light" vs. evil spirits. Rest assured, Dee reminded me of what was discussed in the beginning of the investigation; always ask the "god of your understanding," for protection and guidance in times of peril. I really liked this term as a universal way of incorporating spiritual respect for all in the PACC group, another feature and goal of the group is not to make anyone uncomfortable.
I asked Dee:" Why does she do all this? She explained, again in a enthusiastic tone, the she gets a kick out of helping people, and getting others to see what she can, not to convert them to anything, but to experience this other level of the world she finds so fascinating."Once you see it its addicting, now I'm addicted to meditation, and now I see so much more, its incredible whats out there and I wish everyone could have these experiences. Now that I've seen it and I'm not afraid, I want to go out and learn more.. then poke it with a stick!"
I asked Dee to explain why spirits necessarily stayed around, "Does it ever follow you home?" Dee explained, that spirits are either object, place, or person bound, because they either a) don't know they are dead b) have unfinished business C) or are stuck and need help crossing to the other side. According to Dee, say if one buys a wooden chest at a flea market the old owner's spirit might be attached to it, if said spirit is not at rest, however, time and place over lap after death to spirits, so say the chest was cut from a tree used to hang someone, that person's very unsettled soul may be attached in place of or in addition to the owner's. If you brought this object home, they may attach to your house, and either play nice or become a nuisance. Basically spirits are complicated, and groups such as Above the Realm, Visions of the Past, PACC come into offer either guidance or simple documentation in paranormal areas.
Later on at the third location, I got to see first hand what this meant. Under an ancient tree overlooking a breathtaking view of Middletown, the group found a spot that they felt was out of place. The temperature was at least a degree colder, another sign I am told of paranormal activity. When spirits try and manifest they can take energy such as body heat, battery power, or electrical power to try and break through with is a basic explanation I was given by the tech crew. Three mediums including Laura and Dee said they felt the spirit of a child killed immediately after birth that had been dumped near by. The three formed a meditative circle which they said they were able to meld with each other psychically and help the child cross over. Afterwards, all three mediums appeared to have been crying. "Sometimes I feel what the spirit feels, empathy, it takes a lot out of people with this gift, but it feels good to help someone cross." explained Laura. I felt privileged to have been allowed to witness the intimacy of the group watching out for each other and being honest with their emotions. Several other times during the visit to location 3 Dee and Laura physically supported one another, or asked for assistance from others, because they were experiencing what they call "channeling."
Channeling is when a medium makes a strong psychic connection with an entity, sometimes allowing that spirit if a friendly human one, to enter into them. This was difficult for myself and others to grasp, but watching appear Laura physically have difficultly standing up from a grave or stumble was convincing and exciting for the other participants. A group member took photos that showed orbs and blue lightening like light appearing to emanate around the mediums during the incident when Laura channeled. Apparently then the man who she was speaking with had a lot to say, which Laura stated and the group found humorous, and another medium took over so we all could move on from the chatty man.
Lastly, at the fourth location other mediums joined the group. Technical members set up dvr video recording and demonstrated its usage for the participants. Participants took over k2 light meters, and voice recorders. I should mention also that before each recording everyone says their name so that his or her voice can be eliminated as not being a spirit. Later they would analyze these many hours of tape and audio to see if evidence would validate other evidence. Again Laura and Dee were overwhelmed with emotion; Laura stated she saw a figure on the roof of the building that was once a private residence and got a sense of overwhelming sadness. A Middletown local man in the group was able to confirm the historical significance of the placement of this figure and whom it most likely was.
Laura got immediately excited." I love that! I love stuff like that when what I see or hear is validated with actual history. I had no idea the history of this place but this is proof to me." Smiles of accomplishment followed by high fives ending the night; this was followed by hugs, followed by email exchanges with newly made friends and well wishes.
Last night raised $1800 after expenses to be divided equally amongst the Indian Hill Cemetery Association, the Middletown Old Burial Ground Assoc. and the Godfrey Memorial Library.
As a reminder the locations visited are private property where trespassing laws apply. PACC takes its work very seriously and professionally not to disturb the deceased, property, or hurt or harm others. Obviously, do not try an recreate this investigation on your own.
More information on Paranormal Association of Central Connecticut, Above the Realm Paranormal, Visions into the Past, and all the mediums & investigators, most of which do private sessions can be found on the websites below: