Paranormal Investigation

"My Experience" by Barbara Graver

While I already have several blog posts on the topic of paranormal investigation available on the blog, I wanted to deal with the topic in a little more depth in a longer article.  The reason I felt it's important to do that is because paranormal investigation it is becoming VERY mainstream and a lot of people are unaware of how dangerous it can be.  

I share the following content from my days as a paranormal investigator as examples.  Sections 1 and 2 share evidence of obviously dark phenomena.  Section 3 shares a possible visitation by a departed loved one - with caveats.  Please note:  Attempting to record EVPs, take spirit photos or asking for dreams of the departed serves as an open invitation to the demonic.  I do not recommend it.

EVP Recording (MP3)

This podcast episode includes the single word EVP I recorded when I was actively involved in paranormal investigation. The recording has not been manipulated or altered in any way. To most people, it sounds like the word 'good' pronounced with a possibly German accent. What is interesting about this EVP, is that the voice of the spirit (at the very end of the recording) seems to be responding to the conversation between myself and another investigator. I found the quality of the voice telling. If I had to guess at how a demon might sound, this would be it. 

I also did a full (10 minute) podcast on this topic.  It includes a couple replays of the EVP which does make it a bit easier to understand as well as some additional info not shared in this article:

The Black Shape (Photo)

Our family experienced what I believe to be demonic activity in two out of three homes we have lived in. In the first house our experiences included sightings, electronic disturbances and a strong feeling of being watched. A dark shape was seen repeatedly both by myself and others in the house.  

This unedited photo taken in that first home shows my son over shadowed by darkness. Not surprisingly, he had terrible night terrors in this house. Once when I was taking spirit photos in the basement there, a fully functioning cell phone shut down - for no discernible reason.  While this wasn't the first time a phone had shut down on me during an investigation, it was the only time the phone was permanently "fried.".

In home number two (a double block), two different tenants and a handyman reported phenomena that included mechanical toys starting up on their own, items disappearing and a strong feeling of being watched. EVPs were captured on multiple occasions and several people who visited the home felt it was haunted.  Murmuring voices were sometimes overheard on the second floor and two people (out of the four who were present) very clearly heard a woman's laugh right in the next room, even though that room was empty.

Other things occurred in this house which I hope to share in a future post.  I have no memory of any kind of phenomena in my childhood home or the home of my grandparent's. I was, however, subject to nightmares and sleepwalking as a child.

A Possible Visitation (Story)

Prior to the possible visitation below, I saw what I believed to be an actual apparition of my deceased father.  It is my belief now that my father appeared to me because he was in purgatory and in need of prayer. 

The possible visitation recorded here occurred in a dream and was published to my old blog in 2011.  I don't know if this dream is what it seems to be or not. But it does seem to fulfill some of the criteria for a true visitation - namely the desire to make amends and a single appearance for that purpose only.  

Please note, demons can provide information we don't currently have and trigger very strong emotions.  So those things alone, do NOT guarantee we're dealing with a human spirit. To be honest, in my opinion, nothing does.

Tim and I said goodbye in 1984 when he was making plans to leave the area and I was making plans to marry someone else.

Naturally, a great deal has happened in the intervening years. So it's not surprising, or in anyway indicative of my feelings, that it had been a long time since I'd thought of those days at all.

But three weeks ago I had a dream. And my friend Tim was the leading character. He was young and handsome in the dream and taller than I remembered. There was a remarkable brightness about him. And I know that kind of brightness.

He looked different but I recognized him anyway.  As if I was standing next him, stepping back in time to remember how it felt to be close to a person I once loved.

In the dream, we met by chance. I was living alone in a big sunny apartment and he was working at a nearby market. We bumped into each other at his work and he asked if he could see me. Later on, standing in my dream apartment he told me he'd wanted to contact me before but that he was afraid that doing so would stir up old half-forgotten feelings.

And then he explained what he had felt so very long ago and the hows and whys of what he did, and didn't, do. The information was new but surprisingly coherent, fitting in neatly with events I had wondered about but not fully understood at the time.

Seeing our history in this new light changed things. I no longer felt responsible. My many old regrets lifted. It was obvious to me, even in the dream, that Tim had come to make amends.

After we had finished talking, we set out together on a wide boardwalk with long strings of golden lights on either side. There was some kind of festival happening all around us and I was happy in a way I'd almost forgotten. I told him that he was right about the emotion. "I can feel it," I said. "Can you?"

He didn't answer or if he did, I don't remember. There was a knowing that our time was ending and that he had brought me back to the place where I belonged. When I woke up and considered the brilliance and the clarity of the dream, I knew he was gone. 

Reluctantly, I pulled my laptop into bed and found the obituary online. Tim's picture (above) showed the same beautiful smile I'd loved so long ago. I saw that he had died in a hospice at the age of 53. I was sad that I didn't know, but I was grateful for the dream and the peace it had brought me.

Apparitions, Visitations and the Catholic Church

The Catholic Church has no definitive teaching on ghosts though it follows Scripture in regard to mediumship and other practices concerning the dead. 

Mediumship (calling upon the dead) is also known as necromancy.  One of the reasons God doesn't want us to call upon the dead, in my opinion, is because, as humans, we are almost always unable to discern between human and inhuman spirits.

Catholics do believe in supernatural beings like God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit, as well the angels and saints in heaven.  They also believe in heaven, hell and purgatory.  We know that human souls are confined to one of these three "locations" after death.  But we don't know everything about what happens after we die and to some degree opinions on the topic vary.

Catholic exorcists like Father Gabriel Amorth, for example, believed that all human spirits were strictly confined to hell, purgatory or heaven - and did not think that human spirits appeared to the living under any circumstance.  Other Catholic exorcists, like Fr. Vince Lampert, and religious demonologists, like Adam Blai, do believe that the departed can put in an appearance - though only with God's express permission - in order to make simple amends or ask for prayers or Masses.

I'm inclined to agree with Fr. Lampert and Adam Blai.  But it must be stressed that encounters with the departed are rare and ALWAYS end as soon as amends are made, prayers are said or a Mass is offered.  If you encounter a spirit who wants to have an ongoing conversation or relationship, you are dealing with a demon.  Plain and simple.

The best way to deal with a possible visitation, is to pray for that person and have a Mass said for them.  If they return, they are not who you think they are. While this may be a hard bit of advice for the grieving, we should never attempt to initiate any kind of contact with the departed.  The best way we can help them is by offering prayers and Masses for the repose of their souls.

Problems with Most Paranormal Investigations

I captured my first clear EVP (please see the player above) almost 20 years ago and performed paranormal investigations at various locations and private residences in my area (prior to my return to the Church).  It is my opinion that this kind of activity can be spiritually, mentally and emotionally dangerous.

The dead CANNOT be summoned.  If the departed do appear to us, it is by the grace of God - not because we have called them.  Our faith tells us not to practice mediumship for a reason.  If we call upon the dead, the answer we get will be demonic.  And calling on the dead is common to most paranormal investigation.

It's also important to note that the dead are not stuck or trapped; they are in hell, purgatory or heaven.  While our prayers can help the souls in purgatory, it not up to us to free them, tell them they are dead or send them "to the light."

In my opinion, there are five common problems that can be observed in many paranormal investigations:

  1. Most investigators are not spiritually prepared to deal with evil spirits or any sort of spiritual warfare at all, for that matter.  While it's my opinion that only a Catholic priest can ever be fully prepared for such an encounter, it is also true that the more unprepared a person is, the more danger they are in. 
  2. There is often a trophy hunter mentality to paranormal investigation.  While most investigators sincerely want to prove the existence of spirits, others are primarily interested in making a name for themselves.  Many take serious spiritual risks to get evidence that they can share with their fan base. 
  3. Most paranormal investigators use questionable or dangerous practices in order to gather evidence,  This includes calling upon or attempting to provoke spirits, high tech equipment that is easily manipulated, the use of psychic mediums and more.
  4. Many paranormal investigators have faulty ideas about the preternatural.  Because many believe that the unseen realm is filled with earth-bound human spirits, they are inclined to accept any tale a preternatural being spins.  Some don't believe that anything "on the other side" can hurt them and that we only need to "fear the living."  In this last group, we find many individuals who don't even believe that demons exist.
  5. Some paranormal investigators think of themselves as crusaders who can single-handedly "clear" a home of "negative spiritual energy."  The actions such individuals take can range from simply ineffective to downright dangerous.  This may not be apparent while the person doing "the clearing" is present but, if the presence is demonic, things are likely to escalate after they leave.

While all of the above problems are common, they can have serious consequences.  From my perspective, the number one problem is that many paranormal investigators don't realize the spirits they are encountering are very often demonic.  This is also true of most mediums and occultists - though some are aware of the true nature of the beings they are dealing with.

While there are measures that can be taken to rid a home of demonic influence, demons are very legalistic, so it's important to be sure of your authority.  We do have a authority over our own homes, for example, but an outsider (other than a priest) usually does not.  Because of this we should never allow any investigator to "cleanse" or "clear" our homes.

It's also important to note that we may have the authority to use certain prayers in our home, while others are proper only to priests.  This is a big topic and one I hope to talk about more in an upcoming post.

Even if a paranormal investigator avoids avoids all the problems listed above, paranormal investigation is still emotionally, mentally and spiritually risky.  Anyone who is thinking about calling a paranormal team into their home should  be aware that demons may already be attached to these individuals.  By welcoming such people into your home, you may unwittingly invite in a demon.  

If you believe that your home has any sort of presence, please do yourself and your family a favor and consult your parish priest!


Please feel free to search the blog for more posts on this, and related, topics!