Not Quite Being a Paranormal Writer

I applied for the Paranormal topic at About.com today. But, I tried 3 times over the afternoon, the site keeps giving me a 404 error when I send the application. So, for personal posterity, here is what I sent.

Time travel, mad science, aliens, cryptozoology, the supernatural, lost worlds, the unexplained, weird science, history, and magic absorb me. I would enjoy exploring and writing more about these topics and others for About.com. Of course, it isn’t possible to write about anything without burying yourself in it and exploring your way out again, eventually. Getting lost is part of the adventure and with anything paranormal getting lost is expected. We don’t have all the answers, if we did it would all just be science.

I am an urban explorer, photographer, history geek, Pagan, artist and I’ve just joined the local archivist group in Barrie, Ontario.

I love history and old places. I’ve been interested in the paranormal since I was a kid but I’ve grown to be skeptical about a lot of it. I do believe there are mysteries and unexplained things we just are not able to understand with our current knowledge. I like theories and I will read about pretty strange, unexplained and unusual stuff but I like to make sense of it in some way. I also like reading theories I don’t agree with because we need to hear from both sides and, often, you can find something that does make sense or gives you better insight from those who disagree with you.

I believe in ghosts and I believe places can be haunted, but I am not a ghost hunter. I have a friend who runs a ghost hunting group in Colorado but I don’t think it is really possible to make contact with ghosts or spirits on our level of existence. I do believe in reincarnation. I do believe places can be haunted but not by ghosts who can interact with living humans. I don’t think anyone is going to be having a social cup of tea with a ghost. Ghosts are something leftover from life. I prefer to think we don’t hang around after death but get recycled/ reincarnated and move on to something new instead. Possibly not always a human being, people seem to take that for granted.

I photograph old and abandoned houses, mostly in rural Ontario. I’ve been doing so for more than 10 years now. I’ve never seen a ghost or felt a presence. I did get attacked by bees, birds and once I think I stepped on a frog – that was the grossest thing. Afterwards I couldn’t find it but it still squicks me (gives me sick shivers). I’ve also seen my share of mummified animals. But, it’s the living animals which usually keep me from entering an abandoned house. I also don’t like the idea of trespassing beyond what I feel is polite. I am Canadian.

I have been a Pagan since my college days, officially. I always questioned religion but didn’t do much about it until I was out in the world, on my own. I think of myself as an Atheist Earth Witch because I don’t believe in gods but I do believe in life, nature and people. I’m a quiet Pagan, a lot of what I do is personal, just for myself. But, I do like to help anyone who is interested in learning more.

I read about issues involving ecology, history and science. These seem very connected to me. If I could go back in time (and not die right away) I would like to be an alchemist. They didn’t just get stuck at turning things into gold. They were early scientists in the time of herbalists and Witches. No doubt they had thousands of great theories which didn’t get written down somewhere – or more likely did get scribbled out somewhere, had something spill on it and wound up being used for kindling.

Looking forward to getting started!

Laura

Social Media:

I am an editall editor at dmoz. I’m careful about how I use this but it does enable me to at least list my sites.
Twitter is my favourite social media but I do have Facebook and other sources, like Scoop.it. I have three active blogs, two of those are listed on Alltop, Writing and History topics.
http://laurabrown.ca/
http://wordgrrls.com/
http://wreckyratbird.com/
http://asciiartist.com/
https://twitter.com/thatgrrl
https://www.flickr.com/people/thatgrrl/
http://thatgrrl.tumblr.com/
http://pinterest.com/thatgrrl/
https://www.facebook.com/ThatGrrl
https://ello.co/thatgrrl
http://www.scoop.it/u/laura-brown
http://www.dmoz.org/editors/profile/view?editor=shedragon

From Fred, the Missing Strange Traveler

The following is cut and pasted from an abandoned site, on Tripod. I would have reposted more newsletters, but I only found two.

Welcome, to The STRANGE TRAVELER

Adobe Photoshop Image

Hi. I’m Fred, the Robin Leach of haunted castles, alien landing fields, mystical monoliths and really cool bars. You have just stumbled into the only travel Website on the Internet that takes a “Twilight Zone” approach to vacation planning.

This is how it works: First, dim the lights.

Stare deeply into your computer screen.

Then imagine you are in the black-and-white world of early 1960s television, sitting in a AAA travel office filled with happy brochures on Disneyland, the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas.

Suddenly, you realize that the terse, thin-lipped agent marking up your TripTik is actually Rod Serling, host of “The Twilight Zone” and one of modern society’s first supernatural tour guides.

In your head, you hear his clipped, dramatically inflected words offering guidance in your search for vacation ideas that don’t center on theme parks, relatives or all-inclusive resorts:

“You’re traveling through another dimension – a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind; a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That’s the signpost up ahead. Your next stop …Alton, Illinois.”

Or Pascagoula, Mississippi.

Or Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Paris, Roswell, Loch Ness, the Nazca Plain, Stonehenge, Area 51, The Queen Mary or that spooky old house everyone whispered about in the neighborhood you grew up in.

The Strange Traveler thinks vacations should be more than sunscreen and lengthy discussions about where to eat dinner. Your travel tales should make jaws drop around the office water cooler, and widen the eyes of fellow parents on the T-ball sidelines.

You see, the world is filled with Strange Travel possibilities: destinations reputed to be haunted, cursed, charmed, visited by aliens, inhabited by monsters, worshiped by strange cults, or infested by vampires, faeries and zombies. Some of these places are the doorways to true mysteries. Others are heavily hyped tourist traps. Most have overnight accommodations, lots of local color, and at least one decent bar.

That’s where The Strange Traveler comes in.

This Website and its newsletter are your tour guides to bizarre, out-of-the-way destinations. This e-zine both guides readers to strange places they can visit, and advises them of the supernatural undercurrents flowing beneath traditional getaways.

Read more

Phantom City

When thousands of residents of the Chinese cities of Jiangxi and Foshan reported seeing a ‘floating city’ in the clouds earlier this month, theories attempting to explain it ran wild, speculating everything from experimental holographic technology to glimpses of an alternate reality. A shaky video captures what appears to be the silhouette of a city skyline high above the horizon, at a larger scale than that of the real skyscrapers on the ground.

Source: Phantom City: Thousands Spot Towers Floating in the Clouds | Urbanist

How to Catch Ghosts at Home

ghost houseHow do you explore your own home when you think you might have paranormal, ghostly activity? What really works to find ghosts and protect yourself from them, before or after they have been found?

Do you have a ghost in your home, or are they just routine settling sort of noises?

So much of the paranormal ghost behaviour can be explained as something else. I don’t know how paranormal investigators who ghost hunt ever hope to find something that will be final and definitive proof of ghosts. It’s an uphill battle. Sceptics will bring out a list of very practical sounding explanations for any noise, shadow or movement in a building. Finding a possible unparanormal explanation is much simpler than proving there actually is something unexplained, something paranormal.

Don’t spend a lot of money on people who claim to know ghosts, spirits or all about hauntings. It’s too easy for someone to be conning home owners with something like this. There is far too much unknown for anyone to guarantee or promise any kind of service when it comes to the paranormal. People may offer to help you, but be extra cynical if the start talking about money.

There are real ghost hunters, there are real psychics but (in my opinion) there are no experts. We are all amateurs when it comes to dealing with the paranormal and the unexplained.

You can do it yourself when it comes to ghost hunting in your home.

One traditional Pagan element you can buy fairly cheap and have a large quantity of is salt. Pagans use salt to purify their tools Salt heals wounds by drying them out and pulling the edges together. Salt is still used to preserve food by drying it out and preventing it from rotting.

If you are concerned about paranormal activity in your home begin by sprinkling salt around the perimeter. A circle of salt around the edges of your property or the outside of your apartment door, depending on where and what you live in. (Salt is not going to be a good thing for your lawn and garden – try to stick to pavement as much as you can).

Use dried sage and clear your home or room of negative energies. Burn the sage in a dish, something which will allow it to burn and smoke but prevent the fire from catching in your home. The smell may bother you, so crack a few windows.

Talk to your ghost(s). Speak politely, calmly and yet be firm. Ask the ghost to leave your home. Remind the ghost that they are no longer alive in the current world. You could carry on a monologue explaining your reasons for asking them to leave, apologizing for not letting them stay, and so on. Be respectful and don’t get upset or excited.

Try to Photograph a Ghost

Write down the time, date and local weather conditions. Take time to observe the area for anything routine which could cause shadows or flickers of light.

Explain your plan to any ghost you hope will co-operate for a photo. Ask them to be available.

Keep a running journal as you take your photos. Make a note of which room you were in, where you were standing, the time and the temperature of the room or anything unusual like sounds or light/ shadows. Make a note about any feelings you had as you took the photo.

Check your photos carefully when you load them onto your computer. Something small could be in the background, reflected in a mirror or window or camouflaged by the surroundings.

Helpful Links

How to Locate a Ghost Hunting Tour Group

Ghost walks (or ghost tours) are guided tours where guests are shown the haunted history of an area or a location. Ghost tours cater to tourists and are not meant to be as frightening or taken as seriously as an actual ghost hunting would be.

If you want the reality of a ghost hunt you will need to talk to the ghost hunting or paranormal research group and ask to be included next time they go out on something other than a tour. However, you would have to be someone with more knowledge and commitment to investigating the paranormal than at the tourist level.

Finding a Ghost Walking Tour

If you are already online the easiest way to find a local ghost hunting tour group is to try an online search. Open your search site of choice: Yahoo, Google, DuckDuckGo (a new search which I’ve been trying and liking), etc. Type in the search terms – “ghost tour”, “haunted walk”, “haunted tour”, “ghost exploring”, and then your local area which could be the town or city or the county you live in. Don’t restrict your search to a small area, unless you live in a very large city and want to find something right in your neighbourhood.

Don’t forget to check social sites like Flickr, YouTube and Pinterest for people who are giving ghost tours or have been on a ghost tour and given a review of their experience.

Also, search for paranormal seekers and ghost hunters in the larger area around you. Often they will have links to smaller groups in the area on their websites or blogs. This is a great help, of course, for people looking for local ghost tours.

You can also contact the larger groups and ask for information, links or phone numbers to contact any local ghost hunters who would give tours if asked or may already run scheduled tours.

Another way to find your local ghost hunters is to watch where local groups list their upcoming events. I found my local group listed in the local newspaper and a website giving free space to local groups to list their upcoming events. The ghost tours are a tourist service, a small business, so they won’t be trying to be too secretive, they want customers to find them. Ask around town, talk to other local business people and see what they know.

Historical Walking Tours

Here in my area, Barrie, Ontario, Canada, we have Doors Open, which is a tour of historical homes and places. The doors to private homes and businesses open once a year for people to have a look.

Look for tours of historical places in your area and ask the people who give the tour if any of the places are known or suspected to be haunted.

Talk to people in your local historical society too. Anyone with an interest in history of the local area is likely to know other people who share the same interests.

Urban Explorers Like Old Places and History

Try to find a group or individual who explores old places, not for ghost hunting, necessarily. Urban explorers like old places. They don’t focus on finding ghosts or any thing paranormal but they are usually interested and have stories of their own to share.

Local Pagans Will Know Where the Ghost Tours Are

Is there a local group of Pagans, Wiccans or Witches? These are another group of people who tend to be involved in the local paranormal community. Chances are great someone in the Pagan community will also know about the paranormal researchers in your area. (Actually, they are very likely to be part of both groups).

If your town or local area has a Pagan supplies store, ask there about ghost tours. They will likely have a business card, brochure or something they can hand out to tourists looking for a local ghost walk.

Find Out What the Ghost Tour Includes

Don’t forget a ghost tour is a business, like any other kind of tourism service. Don’t pay for the tour without checking to make sure you are getting what you want. Just what does the tour include? Will you need your own transportation between locations, if there are more than one included in the tour? Does the tour guide have a plan for handling things if someone gets too spooked out and needs a break? Will you get to see data taken from the tour and discuss it afterwards, like a paranormal investigator rather than being just a tourist sent on your way right afterwards?

Also, find out what you need to bring. Should you dress warmly, bring your own water or coffee? Find out what you are allowed to bring as well. Can you bring your own ghost hunting gear, if you have any?

Need More Ghosts?

Barrie Paranormal Links: My Own Local Ghost Hunters