Right Place, Right Time

I don’t actually believe in luck, but over the past years, I’ve had more than my share of it while witnessing the paranormal. For instance, I’ve seen quite a few black shadows. Not the ones that dance elusively around your peripheral, but the kind you can track; that move purposefully within an environment and menacingly blend in and out of the natural surroundings. I’ve even seen a few in broad daylight, a sight you don’t soon forget, but the difference between a legitimate black mass and anything else is stunning. There’s no room for doubt, and for a moment, you’re acutely aware of just how awesome it is to be in the presence of such a thing. I’ve never found them frightening, but on more than one occasion I’ve been frozen in my tracks.

I’ve also been blessed to have captured thousands of EVP from any number of different devices in any number of situations. I was part of a team that video taped an amazing full-body apparition in a location that was verifiably void of any human contamination. In a similar situation, I watched a tape of translucent humanoid shadows move in and around a space; come and go through walls… And through people. (I was one of them.) I’ve been touched a bunch of times in ways that defy reasonable explanation. I’ve seen a few mists and a pair of glowing orbs. It’s been fun!

And over the years I’ve investigated within inches of newly deceased bodies at a funeral home, observed reflections of movement in standing water at an old restaurant, heard discernible whispers at an abandoned mental hospital, and watched a graveyard entity disappear. I may choose not to believe in luck, but I may have experienced more of it than the average investigator and been able to record far more paranormal events than I would have thought possible.

So, I don’t know how not to believe in all this stuff. I used to embrace skepticism, but that was a long time ago – before that first black shadow came within five feet just to personally stare right through me. Maybe it’s not too difficult to understand why I’ve grown weary of the usual dissociating. Each time someone suggests a possible coincidence, or finds fault with my observational skills, my patience quickly dissipates. Every intimation of an overactive imagination, or suggestion that my senses are being deceived, plucks my last nerve. Of course all of those are highly plausible, but I’ve learned how to look there first. With so many unexplained sightings, were there a rational explanation for each, I would have no choice but to consider myself an impetuous, completely oblivious person with the observational acumen of sand. There’s been way too much paranormal water under the bridge for that.

I suppose I sound a little defensive, and there’s some truth to that, I’m sure, but why not? Where’s the value in denying certain events in the name of skepticism when the truth appears to be otherwise? Telling it like it is makes more sense to me than telling it like we think it probably should be. And I’m used to having my veracity questioned, my sanity in doubt, and my motivation examined. I’m sorry that everyone hasn’t seen these things, or heard those voices. I’m sorry some people feel that because it hasn’t happened to them, it couldn’t have happened to me. And others. But whenever I get too annoyed, I consider the fact that I am just a drop in the proverbial bucket, because I am not alone.

There are thousands just like me, and in a way, we draw strength from one another. It doesn’t take a lot of talent to be in the right place at the right time, but you do have to learn how to stand your ground. Not with the paranormal life you might encounter, but with the living who can’t believe it happened. In the paranormal deck of cards, the motivated skeptic card always trumps the red-eyed demon. I can’t help wishing it was the other way around – sometimes.
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Voices From Forever by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/ZBBmj Available on Amazon
There Is No Silence by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/U6KY7 Available on Amazon.

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“Island”

While preparing an episode for The Voices Podcast entitled “My favorite EVP,” I ran across a lost voice in my archives. It was recorded in late August 2012, and basically consisted of a spirit comment to a vacation question. This is coincidental because I leave for vacation in two days – we’re spending a week on the island of St. Croix in my favorite part of the world.

After last year’s highly enjoyable Los Angeles trip, and during my first EVP session back, I wondered aloud where we might go next year – this year. The voice responded by saying “island.” Obviously, I never thought anything more about it since the EVP found a comfortable spot in the archives and was never heard from again. But he knew! He said “island.” We’re going to an island. He was right!

I never plan these things – my wife does all the research and work. All I do is say “yes,” and I didn’t even get that opportunity this year. St. Croix was her choice from the beginning, and I was just relieved to be included. So, I probably won’t accept that I was subconsciously influenced by my chatty deceased friend, but I’m definitely in the coincidence camp this time. Over the years, spirit voices have not shown me a single convincing sign of being clairvoyant, and this singular incident is not nearly enough to change my mind.

But it was a cool rediscovery of yet another EVP of significance. I guess you never know what to expect. Today’s innocuous comment could be tomorrow’s reality. It may have been a time slip, or true evidence of the fluid nature of time; perhaps they actually are in touch with our future. I still haven’t a clue – there’s no proof either way. But one thing’s for certain – we’re going to an island, and before the day is out, I’m gonna turn on a recorder and ask someone how he knew. I doubt I’ll get an answer – it’s just one more on a long list of EVP that make me smile. Maybe I should invite this voice to tag along. Maybe he already said yes.
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Also visit The Voices Blog at http://thevoicesblog.wordpress.com
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Voices From Forever by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/ZBBmj Available on Amazon.
There Is No Silence by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/U6KY7 Available on Amazon.

“Where’s the party?”

So often, while investigating, we act as though the spirits are right beside us wherever we go. We behave as if the doors to rooms are impassible barriers, and that the invisible residents trapped within are patiently waiting for us to enter. The extent to which we tend to limit spirit movement is alarming to me, so I try very hard not to make those kinds of assumptions. Spirits may indeed be hold-up in the bedroom, but where’s the guarantee? Why are we so certain of that?

I frequently move in and out of rooms unpredictably or position myself in hallways, foyers, and staircases – more centralized areas, because I believe they more comfortably watch us from a “safe distance.” I think it’s human nature, and therefore spirit nature, to establish a kind of DMZ between strangers – especially considering the intensity of a paranormal investigation and the potential for heightened emotions. I think this is backed up by the frequency of EVP I’ve captured on remote devices planted in adjoining areas. A recent investigation serves as a clear example. Most of our attention was given to the living room. The previous homeowner died in that room, and it was the only spot that provided any contact with the team medium. However, one of my personal video cameras was parked in an adjoining family room throughout our visit, and produced more EVP than any other device – by far.

There are really very few indicators available to aid in determining location “hot spots,” so I try to place remote devices in the least interesting areas and visit them less often during the proceedings. On the aforementioned investigation, not only was I able to record more EVP on that remote device, I was also blessed with some interesting, though inconclusive, video anomalies. One EVP was especially fascinating and actually makes my point. It said, “The party’s in here,” and that certainly seemed to be the case. If I relied solely on recording devices I could carry, that gem and others would have been lost, and that would have been a shame. Perhaps we would be better served to look where we’re not.
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Also visit The Voices Blog at http://thevoicesblog.wordpress.com

“Is anyone here?”

A paranormal investigator walks into an abandoned bar and asks, “Is anyone here?” And a disembodied voice says no.

That’s it. Thats the punchline, folks. That’s all there is, and it actually happened to me, once upon a time, exactly that way. Well, it seemed like a perfectly reasonable question to ask at the time. When I heard the answer, I got quite a laugh, but then I slowly began to feel incredibly stupid. I don’t ask that question any more. I rank it right up there with the times that an EVP voice has outright told me my questions were “dumb.” (I appear to be the only person to ever admit to such a response.)

Regardless, that’s actually very good advice from beyond the veil; I consider myself blessed. Our comments often suggest that we’re just not operating with functioning brains, but we shouldn’t feel too bad – we all do it. “Show yourself. Give me a sign. Do you know you’re dead? I won’t hurt you. Are you lost? Go to the light. Didn’t you used to be so-and-so?” And on and on… The totality of our thickheadedness seems to be endless. We appear quite willing to be nothing more than the purveyors of hackneyed nonsense, and like a mouse in a trap, we’re a stereotype. At first, it’s all cheese heaven, but eventually…

I won’t presume to tell you how to talk on an investigation, but appearing to be more of a mental equal might give the spirit better motivation to converse with you. At the very least, we ought to act as though we have some sense; maybe spend more time expressing an interest in “them” than we do in repeating our same worn-out, silly routine. We can capture just as much proof that someone is there by asking smarter questions, and the better choices we make improves our chances of learning something significant. We have to see it from their point of view and stop wasting everyone’s time.

“But Randy,” you may say, “at least in the joke, the paranormal investigator got an answer.” Yes, but thats not the real punch line. The real punch line is that he heard nothing at all. And that’s not funny either.
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Also visit The Voices Blog at http://thevoicesblog.wordpress.com

Seen and Not Heard

A little quiet goes a long long way. I’m amazed at how many paranormal investigators have trouble keeping their mouths shut. I know that’s blunt, but sometimes being blunt is the only way to get the message across. We need to understand that our incessant chatter bothers everyone – including spirits. How could they possibly communicate with us when we’re so busy finding new reasons to flap our gums? We’re supposed to be providing a natural and inviting environment for them to speak; an encouraging atmosphere that’s focused on them – not us.

My most satisfying investigations are always the quiet ones, when hardly a word is spoken. I think we should indicate that we’re ready to listen, and that usually comes by being quiet. I’ve remained totally hushed for ten minutes or more before breaching the silence with my first question or comment – spacing my remarks within long gaps of nothing. This doesn’t always provide a ton of EVP, but sometimes it does, and the results are clean and easier to decipher.

Once, I only asked three short questions in the space of half an hour. “Do you live here with the Smiths? What do you do here? Why don’t you just calm down and give these people some peace?” I captured eleven responses during that time and discovered that the spirit did not actually stay in the house, that he liked to visit in the morning, and that he came there because they made him laugh. That’s a lot, don’t you think? It was a great exchange, and to this day, I think the spirit was so forthcoming because he knew I was actually listening. My visit was clearly all about him – not me, and why not – that’s the whole point.

Unfortunately, not all investigations can provide the kind of laid back situation I just described, but there’s no reason for us to contaminate the scene with our constant yammering. The goal isn’t to see how many questions we can ask, you know. The goal is to see how many responses we can capture. My grandmother used to say that “children should be seen and not heard.” Sometimes that applies to paranormal investigators as well.
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Also visit The Voices Blog at http://thevoicesblog.wordpress.com

Comfortable Paradigm

Sometimes I misread things. I’ve heard more EVP than most, but I still manage to draw the wrong conclusions way too frequently for comfort. Occasionally, the most outstanding learning opportunity is staring right at me, but I just don’t see it. That’s how it is with my recordings around small children. I have been so busy trying to figure the identity of the EVP voice, or trying to discover great significance with every comment, that I totally missed a fascinating trend.
 
Since I’ve finally wised-up, it looms rather monumental to me, and even though I’m a little ashamed to admit my dereliction of duty, I have to share with you. When I have recorded around children, while spending most of my time observing, there are a lot of EVP recorded. They are engaged with the child, speak to him directly, or discuss his activities. They even seem to be looking out for his welfare – a comforting thought, actually. 
 
However, when I spend time playing or interacting with the child instead of merely watching, there are noticeably less EVP. Additionally, the nature of the voices change from protective, playful, and intensely interested to uninvolved and typical. To put it another way, the voices seem to reflect a guardian attitude when I am not devoting my complete attention to the child. As I become more actively involved, the spirit comments have reverted to familiar and more ordinary response patterns. It’s almost as if they no longer feel responsible within the situation; they don’t feel obligated to pick up my slack.
 
Of course, as of now, this is conjecture on my part, but it has been consistent over a substantial number of sessions, so I realize specific tests now need to be done. I also understand that this conclusion is based on some pretty flimsy circumstances, and there’s not nearly enough data to support it, but it kinda makes sense – it fits with what we know about human nature. Still, it seems surprising to me, and at the same time, I wonder why it took so long to notice the trend. 
 
There are two lessons for me to learn here, the first of which is obvious, but the second stands as a bonus. Simply put, I need to focus a little more on the bigger picture. We spend so much time proceeding with our preconceived notions and comfortable paradigms that we sometimes miss large chunks of the puzzle. It’s amazing what we can learn from children.
 
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Also visit The Voices Blog at http://thevoicesblog.wordpress.com

 

Colossal Dork

Last entry I discussed the values of employing a naming convention for EVP clips, and here I am, back again, to add to the confusion. What a colossal dork, right? Not only do I think your EVP clips should be organized, instantly recognizable, and consistently named, I think this nerdfest needs to prevail over the entire disorganized mess you’re loosely referring to as your “evidence.”

From my limited observation, paranormal investigators love to brag about how neat and orderly their stuff is. Hmmm. If that’s accurate, why is it frequently so difficult to find anything? I’m not talking about the equipment cases – those are almost always staunch representatives of a well-oiled machine ready to pounce at a moment’s notice. I’m talking about your results. Can you find investigator Joe’s personal video masters for around 2:15 am from three years ago? You know, where you claim to have captured that free floating mist on the stairs. So, find the original and let’s make absolutely certain we’re seeing it right. Three years later? Of course. Can you put your hands on it – like now?

That never happens, right? Not three years later. Well, it will. How quickly and easily can you find the footage? And while we’re at it, hopefully no one will question that super cool EVP; hopefully you won’t have to compare Bonnie’s audio with Bill and Ted’s. Hopefully, your excellent adventure in search of the authentication won’t cost you half a day digging through 12 years of poorly labeled DVDs. Fingers crossed…

This isn’t like back issues of Superman Comics – it’s proof of the afterlife – the hereafter. Eternity! Have some respect! And every last piece of evidence contributes to the universal collective understanding. Dude, it’s not just Jason and Tango who get to prove that eternity exits. Plus, your EVP are frequently better than their’s – you just have to be able to prove it. There are thousands of us on the case, you know – not just Zak and the boys. And in my book, our evidence is more valuable because we help people directly and don’t have to answer to ratings.

So shape up. Get organized. Show some pride in yourself and your very valuable work. We are the keepers of an awesome thing – paranormal validation. Being organized isn’t so tough – you can figure out how to do it, and then you too can be a colossal dork. It’s easy, and I guarantee you’ll feel better for it.

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Also visit The Voices Blog at http://thevoicesblog.wordpress.com