Friday, June 10, 2011

Cool Breezes and Swear Words

This is my seventh investigation--and although I've yet to have a full-bodied spectral sighting of my own, I've seen enough to go from Atheist to Agnostic to Borderline Believer when it comes to the question of whether or not ghosts exist.

But just because you'd think it's highly likely that deceased servants and family members roam the Merchant's House doesn't necessarily mean they're going to make their presence known.

Imagine a group of people coming into your home once a month with recording devices and Electromagnetic Field Meters and probing questions about everything from what color your wallpaper was 100 years ago to whether you have any regrets.

Dan Sturges, in his exit interview following this June investigation, explained what we perceived as a somewhat lackluster night by noting that we're not dealing with eager participants in a Reality TV show desperate for our attention: "You're really at their mercy-whether they're in the mood to speak with us, or if they're even around; or maybe we're not in the right state of mind."

One of the things I like about Dan's investigative technique is the routine protocol that's been developed. We say 'hello' when we open the house, 'goodbye' when we leave, and 'thank you' when we're done investigating each individual room or stairway or vestibule. If there are spirits in the house, he says, they ought to be treated politely.

Dead people are still people, right? If you buy into that, then it stands to reason they've retained all the feelings and flaws and personality they had when they were alive. "So if one of the servants is in a shitty mood," reasons Dan, "then they're not going to talk just because we're asking the questions."

Pardon the swear word, folks. This blog usually doesn't work blue, but Dan's casual six-letter variation of a four-letter word does segue nicely into discussing one of the two EVPs we picked up on this muggy June night. In the first, you (or at least, I) can clearly hear a man's voice say "Oh, shit." That's what several of us thought we heard when Dan played it back for us.

Later in the evening, we picked up an EVP directly following Anthony's question, "Are you a working person, are you a member of the family?" The reply seems to be "I wish you wouldn't have told me that"-although it's difficult to say what the "that" is, since the comment caught on EVP doesn't seem to be connected to Anthony's question.
Click here to listen.

These two outtakes are highly unusual for the sort of EVP we get at Merchant's House, which can almost always be interpreted as interactive responses to an in-the-moment question. Interesting, though, that both of the June EVPs seem to be coming from someone who, as Dan so eloquently put it, is in a "shitty" mood.

On a positive note, there was an odd moment in which it's quite possible that a former resident of the house summoned up one of the elements in response to a plea made in jest.

It was a muggy night, and among our crew (Dan, Anthony, Mike, Cathy and me), there was a great deal of brow mopping and fanning. Loyal to its period, the Merchant's House has no air conditioning; and the fans we had that night, even on full blast, weren't providing much relief.

Calling out to the ether, Mike joked, "Can you make it cooler?" Just then, Dan said he felt "a cool breeze going right down my face." Although a window was open, it's worth noting that nobody in our overheated gang experienced anything even remotely resembling a breeze that night, cool or otherwise-and the standing fan, pointed away from Dan, was just moving dead air.

In his exit interview, Dan reconstructs that moment, noting an unusual trajectory: "A cold sensation hit me in the back. It went over my head and down my face." Asked if he believed this was otherworldly relief granted upon request, cool customer and enduring skeptic Dan plays it like a diplomat: "I can't say, 'oh my God, there was a ghost blowing on my face.' It was cold. It happened. I can't say if was paranormal or not...but it did feel good."