Thursday, September 24, 2009

My first paranormal investigation

I have been investigating the paranormal off and on for nearly a decade now. Even though I was interested in the subject I never actively pursued anything with a serious mindset. That changed in the summer of 2000.

I was waiting for my friend Tom (whom I mentioned before in many posts) to get off work as we wanted to go look for some ghosts, when he told me a co-worker of his Fred, was also interested in the paranormal. I met Fred, and while he was a bit energenic, I could tell he definitely new about ghosts. Even better was that he had a digital camera, which at that time was a big deal since they were so expensive. I was excited by this because I had been reading on the internet at that time that ghosts would usually manifest themselves as "orbs" or these balls of light and a digital camera was the best way to capture them. I told him about the New Hope Cemetery in Madera which Tom and I believed to be haunted (the stories behind that are for another post). At that time, Tom's roommate Scott showed up to see what was going on. Scotty has always been a skeptic so we decided to drag him along just to see if we could get him to believe. Fred asked if he could take a friend of his along (it was a girl, so I think he was trying to hook up with her) and we all headed off in Tom's truck to Madera.

I had been wanting to go back to the Madera Cemetery for a while. I had recently purchased an EMF detector (theory on these is that ghosts can alter the magnetic field in the area and these things detect the changes) and wanted to try it out on this cemetery which Tom and I believed was haunted. Even better now that Fred had a digital camera, we could hopefully document anything that occurred. I decided to give Scotty the EMF detector and told him how to operate it. The rest of us had flash lights and I had a film camera. Tom and I headed in one direction, while the others headed elsewhere. Not even five minutes into this, I heard Scotty yelling that the EMF detector was going off and Fred was getting several orbs in the pictures.

Excited by this, all of us grouped back together and starting taking pictures and noticed we were getting even more orbs. We were so excited by this that we didn't think to what could cause the increase in orb activity, we just figured the place was really haunted. After a few hours (and rolls of film), we left. We did try a cemetery up in Raymond but didn't have any luck up there.

At this time, I thought we had hit the jackpot. We finally had proof of the cemetery being haunted with all the orbs we got. For years I thought we had captured ghosts on film (albeit the digital type) and told anyone and everyone I knew about it. Hell, the four of us even started our own paranormal investigation group as we were so emboldened by what had happened that night. The problem was, I didn't know any better. I had read something on the internet from a self-proclaimed expert on the paranormal that orbs were the manifestation of ghosts. But these weren't ghosts, they were dust particles reflecting the flash of the camera. What I did not mention before, was that this cemetery is out in the country and that there is no grass there, only dirty. And during the summer the ground is dusty. So by us walking around, we were stirring up dust which the camera was then picking up as orbs due to the flash. As for the EMF detector, I discovered later that if you held it a certain way the thing would light up. That's what I get for buying something that is supposed to be a ghost finder on the internet.

My point of this story is this. Don't believe everything you read on the internet, especially when it's involving anything paranormal related. When I do investigations (which are infrequent now) if I get an orb in any photo, I discount it almost immediately. Unfortunately there are still groups out there that post nothing but orb pics, but it is not my place to judge their methods. I've learned a lot since that night. I'm much more skeptical now of things, though I still do believe in the essence of the paranormal. Just that I need hard evidence to make me believe something when I'm told it's a ghost, or a UFO, or a bigfoot sighting.