Save the Drama for your Mama: Problems in the Paranormal

When I first began my journey into the field of the unknown eighteen years ago, things were peaceful and quiet.  The Internet was not much then; no social networking sites existed.  As a young woman, living in Florida, the odds were stacked against me for finding others of my kind.  Most investigators back then were male, much older and lived out of the state.  My neverending task to find one decent colleague in the field was becoming more and more challenging.  Finally, I came across a gentleman out of Stuart, Florida, who was looking for the same thing I was… paranormal partnership.  Once again, keep in mind, there was no Facebook, MySpace or Twitter in the 90s, so I had limited information on this guy.  We began communicating via e-mails, and eventually began talking fairly regularly, but strictly about the field.  We started comparing our research and talking about recent cases we had worked on.  One evening, after work, I hopped on the computer and found a message from this individual waiting for me in my inbox.  “Thought you might like.  Love, T.R.”  Well, I assumed the attachment was information from a case he had recently researched, so excitedly I opened it.  To my complete shock, there, on my monitor in plain view, were three photos exposing a very private part of this ghost hunter.  Um, yeah.  After moving on from that weirdo, I decided there was not a single person in the state of Florida willing to discuss the paranormal with me on a serious and respectful level.  Time to look elsewhere, I suppose.  So, I checked out other states, still not finding much, until I found a group in Illinois.  After paying my $10 to join, even though I lived nowhere near the Midwest, I started receiving pamphlets and other bits of ghostly literature from the group.  I was told that I could actively participate in group investigations any time I was in Illinois and that they would keep me posted on all of their paranormal adventures from afar.  The group seemed knowledgable and easy to get along with.  I was willing to take anything at this point.  Well, maybe not everything and anything.  It wasn’t more than a couple months after I instigated my membership that I found information online regarding the group’s leader.  He had been arrested for voyeurism. The charges were found to be valid and needless to say, quite surprising to the members of his large group.

I was beginning to wonder after this if all paranormal investigators were sexual deviants, except for me.  Peeping Toms?  Sexually graphic photographs sent via e-mail?  C’mon, really?  In 1999, I finally found the serious and respectful colleague I had been searching for.  He was a man and much older than I, but sexual deviant he was not and he lived only a few hours away.  In 2010, we parted ways, which leads me to wonder…why is there so much drama in the paranormal field?

The paranormal seems to embrace and welcome the eccentric and egocentric.  Hey, I can happily admit that I, myself, am a strange bird.  I can be melodramatic and goofy, and I may even proudly display my freak flag at times, but I also know when to bring out my more serious and stable side.  I am passionate about this field and I would never disrespect my clients or my colleagues.  I feel that as odd as this field may be, it still needs to be treated with decency and respect.  For many who are being plagued by evil spirits, we, as investigators offer great promise and hope.  We are there to support, guide and sometimes even rid our clients of these malicious afflictions.  They need to be able to trust in us and know that we are there to help, certainly not hinder.  How can we offer our services if we are continuously immersed in our own troubles?  As paranormal investigators we bring forth much drama these days.  Over the past few years and much more recently, we have become just as evil as some of the demonic spirits we are encountering on our investigations.  Okay, so we may be a tad “off” at times; odd and strange seem to always find their way to the paranormal community.  That is fine, and even quite fun, but who needs the unnecessary drama?

I have personally dealt with much of this drama and frankly, I’m sick of it.  Done. Over it.  Facebook unfriending.  Backstabbing within groups.  Gossip among the community.  I know Chip Coffey personally, therefore, I’m better than you.  Enough!  Who cares about who knows who.  So what if you met Zak Bagans at some kind of paracon and now that makes you Ghost Investigator of the Year.  Hardly.  And don’t get me wrong.  I love Zak.  I love Chip.  I love many para-celebs, but flaunting who you know in other investigators’  faces is just wrong and childish.

And enough with the owning of fancy equipment, people.  To successfully hunt ghosts, your group does not need to purchase thousands of dollars worth of gadgets.  You may think that if you simply own more equipment than the next group, you will be entitled to the almightly investigator’s throne of fabulousness, but it’s just materialism really.  Who has the better EMF?  Who has the talking ghost boxes?  No need to compete, is what I say.  Armchair ghost hunters will watch shows like Ghost Hunters or Ghost Adventures and assume that by having all that complicated technology, investigations should be more successful.  I can honestly tell you that when I got my start in the field back in the mid-90s, I never had those fancy gadgets to bring along with me.  I had a writing journal and pen, a basic camera (not even digital) and sometimes, a video camera.  With my bag of simple ghostly goodies, I had case after case of amazing evidence.  I never needed more than what I had.  So sadly, many other researchers in this field today do not feel the same.  The more gadgets they possess and the more expensive each of these gadgets are, the better their group.

And speaking of money, I’m tired of certain paranormal groups out there charging for membership or asking for donations.  These are the groups that end up with the fanciest thermal cameras, by the way.  Here’s my advice to those being troubled by restless spirits:  Don’t pay a cent to anyone offering help!  Just because some individuals in this field are able to make money, does not mean everyone can or should.  Shame on those groups thinking they can “bust ghosts” for a “small fee.”

Ghost investigation groups were scarce back in the day, as mentioned earlier in this article.  No one wanted to start a group or even belong to one.  No one  wanted to say the “g” word out loud; ghosts, after all, were taboo.  Now, I must say, ghost hunting is the new black.  It’s hip to investigate, right?  With all the paranormal shows out there right now, America is believing in other realms.  We are embracing the unknown.  Women are bedazzling their pink EMF meters and hunkering down in old, abandoned buildings late at night.  Parents are taking their kids out on ghost hunting expeditions instead of family vacations.  And frat boys are spending less time chugging beer from kegs, but rather investigating creepy graveyards early into the morning.  It seems as though everyone has jumped on the ghostly bandwagon.  Ghost tours are more popular than ever and people who can barely pay their monthly bills are somehow finding hundreds of dollars to put out on tickets for overnight investigations with para-celebrities.  So naturally, egos are also at an all time high.  Investigators want to make money off this field.  They want to achieve fame.  And with so many big egos and all the desire in this field to become someone significant, there is no surprise we shall encounter drama.

So, who or what is really to blame for all this nastiness?  The hot new ghost shows that are flooding our televisions?  The plethora of paranormal groups in the U.S. constantly competiting for the top spot?  Para-conferences?  I’m not really sure where or how it got started, but I would love for it to stop.  Why can’t we jut all find peace and work harmoniously with one another.  Share your research and work as teams in unity, rather than in opposition.  After all, we all embrace one commonality… the love of the paranormal.  If we work against one another, bicker and let our egos take over, we are not true investigators; we are ghost hunting for other reasons.  We need to reflect on why we began ghost investigation in the first place.  I know why I got started.  I did it because I was curious about the unknown.  I wanted to know more about death, the afterlife and why things go bump in the night.  I could care less about the gossip and gadgets; cool logos and group t-shirts.  Just save the drama for your Mama!

I lost one of my dearest friends and colleagues to this ugliness.  My very first paranormal friend and colleague, eventually lost his strength to fight the drama.  He wanted so much more; he wanted the fame and fortune.  It turned him into someone he was not, and that is why we parted ways.  Sadly though, I have worked with many others like him.  Investigators I considered “dear friends” turned against me, all because they wanted more.  They wanted to be the best of the best, famous and well known within the paranormal community.  I even once knew an investigator who symbolically lifted her leg on every haunted building and/or residence in town, claiming research rights and forcing other groups away.  This person refused to share any kind of paranormal information with any one else.  If she investigated the structure, it became hers somehow.  She was a fame monger.  She wanted to be queen of the paranormal.  Who knows, maybe one day she will get her wish, but it won’t happen in a kind and decent way.

As investigators, we cannot keep allowing this drama to surface.  Enough with the gossip, egocentrism and bitterness.  We are all in this together.  The paranormal is just now becoming more widely accepted in society, so let’s continue to encourage this embrace.  Showing respect, concern and understanding among our paranormal peers is what matters most in this field.  Remember why you are investigating in the first place and regain that passion.  Happy Hauntings!

Through the Veil: A Paranormal and Metaphysical Gathering

What: An educational and entertaining paranormal and metaphysical event.  There will be an amazing opening ceremony, an incredible vendor area,  informative and interactive workshops, and an unforgettable line-up of well-known psychics, investigators and paranormal researchers.  Also featured will be the “Experience Table,” where you can attend mini workshops on things such as dowsing rods, the Ovillus, and EFT (Emotional Freedom Tapping).  In addition, you can try your hand at Zenar cards, energy wheels, telepathy experiments and much more!  There will even be a screening of Door to the Dead, a TruTv pilot that aired this past February and features Christopher Moon and John J. Oliver.

When/Where:  June 5th-7th, 2009 at the Hilton Hotel, 255 Courtland Street in Atlanta, GA 30303

Website:  For more details, please visit www.throughtheveil.org.

Schedule of Events:

 

Friday, June 5th: 

7 PM Opening Ceremony/Cash Bar Opens

8 PM Christopher Atkins (well-known 80s celebrity and heart throb who achieved fame in the classic Blue Lagoon, starring Brooke Shields.  Atkins also starred in Dallas, and more recently, VH1′s Confessions of a Teen Idol.  Atkins will speak about his own spiritual journey and the many insights he has received in his life.)

9 PM Rochelle Sparrow and Cortney Kane

10 PM Karaoke, Meet and Greet

Saturday, June 6th:

8 AM Vendor Area Opens

9 AM Room A-Shawn Sellers (Crossroads) Room B-Maxine Taylor (There’s Nothing Wrong With You. Deal With It.)  Room C-Michelle Babiarz (Incorporating Spirituality)

10 AM Room A-Christopher Moon (Telephone To The Dead)  Room B-Tiffany Johnson (Past Lives: Then And Now)  Room C-Rochelle Sparrow/Cortney Kane (Opening To Your Psychic Abilities And Spirit Guides)

11 AM Room A-Stacey Jones (Forensic Parapsychology)  Room B-Ericka Boussarhane (Learning To Exercise Your Psychic Muscles)  Room C-Susan Rushing (Practical Guide To Psychic Protection)

12 PM Room A-Patti Starr (Journey Into The Spirit World)  Room B-Chris Atkins (My Spiritual Journey) Room C-Paulette Huff (Psychics, Mediums and Empaths)

1 PM Break

2 PM Room A-John Zaffis (Possessed Possessions)  Room B-Lorrie Jones (To The Other Side And Back; NDEs) Room C-Chris Moon (Telephone To The Dead)

3 PM Room A-SHOCK (Paranormal Evidence-The Truth Behind False Positives) Room B-Kurt Alfi and Tim Naylor (Paranormal Ethics)  Room C-Ericka Boussarhane (Learning To Exercise Your Psychic Muscles)

4 PM Room A-Gallery Reading with Chip Coffey and Tiffany Johnson ($25 pre-register or $30.00 at the door)

5:30 PM Room A-Auction (100% of proceeds benefit JDRF)

6 PM Break

8 PM Room A-Maxine Taylor (Your Destiny Is Calling)  Room B-Patti Starr (EFT or Emotional Freedom Tapping)  Room C-Patricia Squires (just added to list)

9 PM Room A-John Zaffis and Fr. Andrew Calder (Demonology Clinic)  Room B-Lorrie Jones (To The Other Side; NDEs)  Room C-Shawn Sellers (2012)

10 PM Room A-Shamanic Journey Drumming

11 PM Room B-Seance’

Sunday, June 7th:

9 AM Fr. Andrew Calder (Demonology and Investigations)

10 AM John J. Oliver

11 AM Speaker Panel

12 PM Chip Coffey (Key Note Speaker)

1 PM Closing (See you next year!!)

Full Event Access Tickets:  $99.00 a person (does not include the gallery reading). Payment can be made at the event in the form of cash or check.  One day passes are also available.  Please see website for more information.

The first 200 full event access paid attendees will receive a FREE copy of “Seeds of Thought” by Tiffany Johnson.

Behind The Scenes With Chad Calek and Paranormal State

chadpromo3Do ghosts really exist?  Well, Paranormal Investigator Chad Calek is on a mission to find the answer to this intriguing question.  Calek’s numerous ghost investigations and the library of evidence that he has collected over the years is certainly pushing the 32-year-old in the right direction with his search.  Calek is beginning to really make a name for himself in the field.  He is the founder of a national investigative paranormal team, and has starred many times on A&E’s hit series, “Paranormal State.”

Calek’s interest in the paranormal did not come upon him recently; he’s been fascinated by ghosts since he was a child.  Calek moved to a small town in Iowa when he was only twelve years old.  Told by locals that his new home was reputedly haunted, skeptical Calek scoffed at the stories.  It wasn’t long before Calek, his family and close friends began experiencing “very intense” paranormal activity in the house.  It was then that Calek became a believer.

Today, as a paranormal investigator, Calek is “constantly attempting to document paranormal activity in hopes of capturing that one definitive piece of evidence that the scientific community will acknowledge as legitimate.”

Calek officially formed his paranormal investigative group, American Ghost Hunter (AGH) a few years ago.  According to Calek,  AGH was intended to be a group that anyone with an interest in the paranormal could join.  “There are a lot of groups out there that have all kinds of political criteria that must be met if you want to join and interact with like-minded people, which I simply don’t understand.  Interest is interest, and ideas were meant to be shared in my opinion.”  AGH enables people to join, regardless of which group they have previously been associated with, or maybe were not allowed to join.  “We want to build a community that is made up of all walks of life, and we’re doing just that,” states Calek.

ryanchadpromo1AGH’s mission is “to ensure that never again is it considered to be ‘crazy’ or ‘nerdy’ to be interested in the paranormal.”  Calek says he would like to take this interest into the world of pop culture so it is a more commonly discussed and pursued field, which can be taken seriously.  The Internet plays an integral part in making this a possibility.  “The Internet has changed everything.  It’s made it very easy to speak out for many and to meet like-minded people,” explains Calek.  “Hollywood watches the Internet and saw the swell of interest and tested a few shows to see if viewership would, in fact, match the Internet interest.  And it did… in a huge way.”  There seems to almost be a certain “para-mania” that is sweeping the nation by storm these days.  People, more than ever, are tuning in to watch shows such as “Paranormal State,” are starting  up their own ghost groups and are paying  hundreds of dollars to attend paranormal conferences.  Calek explains that as a young man, when his family was terrified living in their haunted home, there was no one they could turn to for help.  Back then, there were no paranormal interventionists or groups who could offer guidance and support.  There also was really no way of being able to prove if people’s cases were legitimate.  Although there are falsified cases, there are also the cases (a large percentage) where there is no logical explanation for the phenomenon at hand.  If you were to publicize your case or try and reach out for help back then, most likely you would be ridiculed and laughed at by the skeptics.  By joining a group like AGH, you can feel confident that you will not be judged.  You can participate on investigations with similar individuals and join in on ghost related discussions.  “Most importantly, we want a politic-free community to emerge on a national level where the focus is not a person’s location or local affliation to a group, but rather a mutual interest in paranormal phenomenon.  Once the public, as a whole, accepts that this interest is real and reports have credibility, in my opinion, only then we will be able to make a serious advancement in the field,” explains Calek. 

By joining Calek’s group, ghost enthusiasts can take part in paranormal investigations that are held across the country.  This coming June the AGH crew will travel to Iowa to investigate the Davenport Paper Company Building, a 90,000 square foot building that is the state’s oldest fireproof structure.  Calek says he’s been to the haunted building before and even stayed there for an entire week.  While there, he caught some of his most responsive paranormal activity to date.  The building’s owner later agreed to let Calek open it up to the public, which the investigator claims is an AGH goal.  He would like to be able to open up haunted locations all over the U.S. that may have once been inaccessible.  In July, AGH will investigate Selma, Alabama in the hunt for Jesse James’ ghost.  Well known Psychic/Medium Chip Coffey, will join the team for two nights at the Adams Grove Church, Selma Train Depot Museum and at the St. James Hotel, rumored to be haunted by the outlaw’s ghost.  Since AGH formed, Calek states the group has visited some of the country’s most supernaturally active sites.  Calek has organized ghost hunter lectures at these locations and has brought in some of the most reputable and knowledgeable investigators in the field today to speak at these events.

When Calek isn’t investigating with the AGH-ers, he is busy chasing ghosts with the crew from the hit television show, “Paranormal State.”  Calek remembers back to when he first met Ryan Buell, the show’s host.  “I directed and edited a documentary on Waverly Hills Sanatorium three years ago and one of Ryan’s friends saw it online and showed it to him.”  Apparently, it was a hit with Buell, who after he watched it, called Calek to see if he’d be interested in coming out to speak at his national paranormal conference, “Univ-Con.”  The two ghost hunters found out they had much in common after meeting, despite having some slightly different views on the paranormal.  At the time, Calek got contracted with a very high profile Hollywood director and started to work on a show with him.  He admits it was exciting, but stressful.  Buell’s “Paranormal State” was still in its beginning stages, which made it the perfect time for the two men to connect even further.  “I think we bonded a bit due to the mutual stress we were going through at the time, common in the early stages of launching a new program.”  “Paranormal State” made its debut and proved to be  successful for Buell.  “I was very proud of him and his team,” recalls Calek.  After the show’s first season came to an end, Buell and his team got picked up for a second season and that was when Calek got the call.  “Ryan then called me out of the blue and asked if I would like to come on board for an episode of “Paranormal State.”  Calek thought it sounded like fun and agreed to do it.  The two investigators approached the idea as just a “one time thing;” just to see how it would turn out.  “It was a lot of fun and the episode called ‘Good Vs. Evil,’ turned out great.  So we decided to try another and things really began to click.”  Calek has now shot eleven “Paranormal State” episodes and says he will be returning for the season three finale.

So, what’s it like to work with Mr. Buell?  Calek calls it “alot of fun, but fast paced.”  Typically, Calek takes his time on investigations, but with television and production schedules, time is of the essence.  When it comes to a three day filming schedule for an episode, there is “an amazing crunch process,” explains Calek.  The investigator admits he had to learn how to keep up.  Despite the hustle and hard work, Calek says the cast always manages to have a fun time off set.   “The team are all special people with a gift for this field.  I really wish people had a chance to see more of their personality on the show because collectively and individually, they all have incredibly bright personalities.  We have a lot more fun than the show depicts, and they all have these amazing and very unique senses of humor that I would love to see portrayed on screen, but because the show is so serious, you don’t see a lot of that from the editor.”  And what about Buell?  “He’s become one of my closest friends and there’s a lot of him that gets lost in the edit,” remarks Calek.  Buell expresses a serious side on a show that often deals with malevolent entities and the families who are suffering because of them, however, the investigator does have a silly side, too.  “Ryan has a very off center sense of humor that can even be confusing at times,” says Calek.  “He has many different ‘Ryan-isms,’ as I call them, that have become legendary on set such as the ‘thousand mile stare’ that he’s become a bit famous for.”  Another favorite “Ryan-ism” of Calek’s is “the answer that answers nothing.”  “For example, I would ask Ryan what the plan is for dead time and if he wants me to hit the basement alone.  His response would be something like, ‘Probably, but maybe not.’  This is usually followed by us dying laughing,” jokes Calek.  Despite the “Ryan-isms,” and his unique sense of humor, Buell is known more for his determination and passion for the paranormal.  “He’s a serious fighter for what he stands for and believes in, which I respect in ways I can’t even articulate.  It’s easy to give in to a lot when you’re tired and have been living on the road for a year, but he stands his ground with the best of them.  I’m proud of him.  To be as young as he is and to accomplish what he’s accomplished… well, let’s just say most people couldn’t do it,” remarks Calek.

Calek is no stranger to “lights, camera, action.”  In addition to his “Paranormal State” appearances, he is also a filmmaker.  Currently, Calek is working on a documentary about his hometown called, “AMERICAN GHOST HUNTER.”  The documentary’s title, which is also the name of Calek’s ghost group, originated from a nickname he acquired when he was fourteen.  Calek promises to explain in the upcoming documentary why he got branded with the name, as there is a humorous story behind it.  As a filmmaker, Calek says he wants to continue to make meaningful and powerful documentaries that will expose and tell the stories of the world that need to be told, no matter what the genre.

Calek’s career in the paranormal has taken him to many haunted locations across the nation.  According to the ghost hunter, the most supernaturally active location, by far, is Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Louisville, Kentucky.  “The place is out of control and has never let me down,” says Calek.  And as far as the investigator’s scariest personal experience?  It happened during a “Paranormal State” episode titled, “Return of Six.”  The case took place in Quincy, Illinois and it involved a family, specifically the daughter, who was possessed by a demonic entity.

If Calek could trek anywhere in the world for a ghost hunt, he says he would choose either the Tower of London or the Catacombs of Paris, both of which he is working on gaining access to now.

With all the traveling Calek has to do, one would never guess that he has a fear of flying.  Calek says he has had to overcome this fear in order to live out his dream.  And when the investigator/filmmaker is not working, he is home with his wife, Laura and their two dogs, Capone and Hobbs.  Calek admits it’s very hard to be away from them.  When he is home with his family in Los Angeles, he likes to spend time with them at the beach.  Calek is also a talented musician who enjoys guitar playing and singing.  In addition, he describes himself as an avid video game player; a big fan of Xbox’s “Call of Duty.”  Most of the time Calek misses out on his “me” time, however, he knows he can’t complain as he is living out his dream.

With so much under Calek’s belt, I asked him if he has a mentor.  “Honestly, life is my mentor,” reflects Calek.  “I’ve learned more from the adventures I’ve been on than from any one person.  I think experiences create knowledge, which I’ve been fortunate to have many experiences in my life.”

There is no doubt that ghost hunting is more popular than ever and investigators like Chad Calek are helping to make the paranormal realm an easier and more exciting place to explore.  Perhaps we may soon even get an answer to the one question so many of us have asked for so long now.  Do ghosts really exist?  Calek thinks the answer is within reach.  “Someone will be able to prove ghosts exist, and with the more people attempting to prove it, the better the chances and once that happens, imagine the implications on humanity as a whole.  Imagine the validation of an afterlife and how meaningful that would be to soceity.  It’s really exciting to think about that.”

 

American Ghost Hunter (AGH)

Visit www.theamericanghosthunter.com.  Here you will find more information on upcoming events and investigations.  It is also a great paranormal social network where enthusiasts of the paranormal field can meet, discuss ideas and share evidence.  There are also live video chats on the site, featuring  several of the field’s top researchers.