Tag Archives: paranormal

Interview with Demonologist Rich Valdes!

This my friends is one of the most interesting interviews that I’ve had the privilege of doing. Rich Valdes has been a demonologist for over thirty-five years. He is such a legendary presence in the demonology community that he’s featured in a new show, Eli Roth’s Legion of Exorcists, premiering Thursday, June 1st on The Travel Channel. It’s a little different also because most of my interviews are by email. Rich was kind enough to spend some time having a phone conversation with me!

TPF: Hi Rich and welcome to The Phil Factor. I really do appreciate you taking the time to talk with me. I want to be considerate of your time, so let’s jump right into the questions! Was there a point in your life when you decided to become a demonologist, or was it something that happened circumstantially to you?

Rich: I didn’t know what it was called at the time, but I was thirteen years old when I started taking an interest in anything and everything that was like demonic, and the Pastor of the church that my mother attended took notice of it. I had an affinity for it.

When I was about to turn eighteen he reached out to me. He said “I’ve always felt that you had a calling for demonology.” I asked him what that was because at that time I had never heard of it. He explained that it was the study of demons and theology and all the cult practices and religions. I was immediately hooked and I started studying with him for two and a half years before he passed away. Then I had to take a break from my studies.

TPF: How long have you been a demonologist?

Rich: I’ve been a demonologist now for thirty-five years, after nine and a half years of training through three different churches.

TPF: I was wondering how after your pastor passed away, how you continued your studies, because I don’t think you can get that at a community college.

Rich: No. No, that’s usually only offered in churches.

TPF: So the more you became involved in demonology, what surprised you the most?

Rich: What surprised me the most was how demons interact with us. They know more of us, the humans, than we know of them. It’s psychological warfare. Imagine if you would, having to battle something that has pre-dated mankind. They know our weaknesses and strengths even before we discover that we are up against one. So that’s what makes it so difficult.

TPF: What was the most frightening experience you’ve ever had?

Rich: Do you have time for this?

TPF: I have time if you have time!

Rich: (Chuckles) Ok, the scariest experience, well I wouldn’t say scariest, but it rattled my cage a little bit and made me realize that what I was up against was something that knew me better than I knew it. This was a case about sixteen years back, I was asked to take on. As a demonologist, you have to test and see if there are signs of demonic infestation, oppression, and possession. I contacted the husband of the couple. His wife was the one that was actually being tormented by what he felt to be something demonic.

I drove to Ocala from Miami, but before I did,  I called him and I stated, “Do me a favor. Do not say my name out loud. You will refer to me as “Frank”. “Frank Black”, kind of like my favorite character from Millenium. It’s one of the many tricks of the trade, and he referred to me as Frank. When I got there, he answered the door and referred to me as Frank. He took me upstairs to where his wife was. There was a little table by the window with two chairs.

She was sitting on one side. I put my briefcase down and I introduced myself, “Hi. my name is Frank. Frank Block” and she said, “We both know, we all know that’s not true. Your name is really Rich or Richard.” I was like, “No.” Admittedly I had to fib a little bit but I had to keep my poker face up. I informed her, “No, I’m Frank” and she said, or they said, I should say “As you please.” Then I continued with my testing. Let’s just say that she did not pass. Everything that I tried kept proving that there was something or things with her.

Toward the end, as I started wrapping things up, I looked right at her, but never looking right into the eyes, that’s one thing that we’ve been trained never to do. I dismissed myself and said, “Thank you so much.”  She replied, “No, we thank you, Richard Valdes.” That threw me for a loop. Of course, you always have to keep a poker face.

I went downstairs and said goodbye to the husband. I said, “Thank you very much.” I got into the car and drove three blocks down and I literally went through a half-pack of cigarettes. Let’s just say that I couldn’t drive anymore and I stayed the night in a roach motel and I took advantage of the opportunity to call my pastor and told him that we needed to get a young and old priest over here ASAP.

TPF: Wow! That sounds impactful.

Rich: Yes, it is impactful when you know for a fact that individual didn’t know my name and all of a sudden you’re there being exposed and all those testings that I used, they were repelled by whatever testings I used. It wasn’t Captain Obvious things like crosses or anything like that.

TPF: Has anything funny ever happened during one of your investigations? (this is me asking the dumbest question a demonologist has ever heard. He’s probably at the demonologist meeting right now saying to his friends “And then he asked me if anything funny ever happened! I ought to send a demon to his house to see how funny he thinks that is! What a maroon! “)

But this was his polite reply to me…

Rich: Umm, no. Not that I can recall. I’m always vigilant for anything and everything and the phenomena no matter how small they may be, end up towards the end building up to be something more.

TPF: You are premiering in The Legion of Exorcists, on The Travel Channel on June 1st, Could you tell us a little bit about that show?

Rich: The only thing I can say is that it is by far the first time that people will witness a show that is presented by theologians, individuals that are well-studied within the church or have degrees and have been certified and trained predominantly by the church. It won’t be by paranormal investigators, although I myself am a paranormal investigator. To have the experience as well as a demonologist, they brought me in just to give a different perspective. it will be the first show presented on the Travel Channel that we have individuals that are not being addressed as paranormal investigators that are talking about demons and giving their first-hand experience with demonic activity through the eyes of a theologian.

TPF: That was my last question Rich. I appreciate you sharing your time and experiences with me and my readers.

Yes, I know this was significantly longer than my usual posts, but Rich and his knowledge and stories were well worth it and one of the highlights of my Paranormal Month. If you or a family member does get possessed, just let me know in the comments and I’ll get you Rich’s number!

Have a great Sunday and thanks for reading! ~Phil


Legendary Creatures & Cryptid Stuff with Author JW Ocker

You might be asking yourself, what is a cryptid?  You may not know the word, but you have definitely heard of specific cryptids. Does the name Bigfoot ring a bell? How about The Loch Ness Monster? Those are the big name headliners in a field called cryptozoology. To borrow from JW Ocker’s book, “a cryptid is a creature or species whose existence is scientifically unproven.”

Author JW Ocker does not take cryptids as seriously as cryptozoologists do, but he’s all in on the fun of the possibility of cryptids, and I’m with him on that! Wouldn’t it be a wonderful, fun world if all those legends like the Mothman, The Jersey Devil, and the Loch Ness Monster were all true?  Let’s get on with the interview!

Picture from CNBC

TPF: How did your interest in the paranormal begin?

JW: As a kid I liked monsters and I was also raised religious, so soul-deep in gods and demons, but it wasn’t until college or thereafter that I really started digging the strange in a real way. Probably at that moment when I got my first real job and a place all my own and was supposed to start getting serious about life. I looked out at that landscape and realized, “Ah. The regular world kind of sucks. Guess I’ll be spooky instead.”

TPF: Which of the creatures you wrote about is your favorite, and why?

JW: The Mothman. It’s got a great story arc (most cryptid stories peter out, but the Mothman story raises to a climax with the collapse of the Silver Bridge), but also because Point Pleasant supports its creature in a way that has become the template for all other cryptid towns. Plus, you can explore the TNT area where the creature was most often sighted and pretend it’s the late 1960s and it could pop up anytime with its glowing red eyes and freaky motionless flying.

The Lizard Man of Scape Ore Swamp-Pic from Redbubble

TPF: Which creature would scare you the most if you came upon it in the wild?

JW: The Lizard Man of Scape Ore Swamp or, if you can count them, Gray Aliens. The former is because a humanoid reptile just sounds like it could mess you up more than anything else in cryptid lore (minus the water monsters, which is a totally different fear). The latter is mostly because of the movie Communion.

TPF: What did you do before you figured out that you could make a living writing about interesting oddities?

JW: Oh, I can’t. Not and keep my family in Bigfoot t-shirts. I’m also a strategist at an agency in Boston. That basically means I tell stories for businesses, which is a lot like telling paranormal stories except that the monsters all wear suits and I’ve got to pitch them to rooms full of people with “Chief” in their titles.

TPF: Those monsters sound scarier than anything else we’ve discussed here!


TPF: When I look at your collection of books, it seems like you’ve covered almost everything. Do you have a work in progress right now, and if so what is it about?

JW: I’m currently working on a book about cults that will come out next year. There’s still a ton of weirdness out there I want to tackle, but after my last three nonfiction books–cursed objects, cryptids, and cults–I might just be out of c-words.

Thank you for your time JW. I’m completely enjoying Cryptids and I’m planning some trips in hopes of seeing a Jersey Devil or maybe a Snallygaster! To my readers, JW is a fun follow on social media and has a website: OddThingsIveSeen.com which is always a fun read. You can also find him on Facebook. In addition to his paranormal subjects, he also has quite a few fiction novels for both young readers and adults. You can find his entire collection on Amazon!

Have a great Saturday everyone, and come back tomorrow for my interview with a demonologist who will be appearing on The Travel Channel in the coming week! ~Phil

The Top Ten Psychic Pick-Up Lines

I first published this column back in April of 2017. Since then, a funny thing has happened. Every single day for the last six years, people from all over the world find this column and read it. Either a lot psychics are looking for help with their love life, or a lot of people are curious about what psychics do when the lights go out.

Psychics are people too though. When they’re not reading minds, predicting the future or communicating with the spirit of your Great Aunt Maude, they’re out there looking for love just like the rest of us. I imagine though that their special skills allow them to try a much different approach when meeting someone. Here are the Top Ten Psychic Pickup Lines:

10. I know your future and it’s me.

9. You’re fine. How am I?

8. Let me read your palm. No, not on the table.

7. I’ve been in touch with your great, great grandmother and she wants you to date me.

6. It’s not you, it’s me. Don’t worry, this will make sense in about 6 months.

5. I see a tremendous amount of pleasure in your future.

4. Don’t talk to that guy. The stars say that heonly lead to heartbreak. I on the other hand…

3. I already know what you like

2. Do you have a dog? You do? I’m a pet psychic. Take me to your apartment immediately.

1. Why yes, I do have crystal balls.

Have a great Tuesday! I know you will. ~Phil

Copyright ThePhilFactor.com 2023

Interview with a Pretty FN Spooky Psychic

Just in case you don’t understand the title, my blog guest today, Amanda Paulson uses “PrettyFNSpooky” as her moniker on most social media.

Amanda Paulson has participated in multiple media projects with paranormal research in the Pacific Northwest, taught workshops on spirit communication and amassed hundreds of thousands of views making spiritual-related content for the company Tamed Wild. In 2022 Amanda created the first Dark History Tour Series for the Campbell House in association with the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture and is in her second term as City-at-Large Representative Historic Preservationist for the Spokane Historic Landmarks Commission. She has been featured in the YouTube series Ghost Files, profiled in popular publications Apartment Therapy and The Inlander, and her personal writing published in Haunted Magazine and The Feminine Macabre Vol.1. 

TPF: Hi Amanda and thanks for visiting The Phil Factor. You have a pretty long history of paranormal involvement. Why were you interested in the paranormal, and how did you get started?
Amanda: My experience began when I was 7 years old and living in a haunted duplex with my mom and grandma. I would watch my dolls and other bedroom knickknacks mysteriously move at night and have detailed nightmares about the house being “haunted”. When this activity followed me after we moved, I grew an interest in understanding the purpose of these experiences and finding irrefutable proof. I started investigating in 2008 when I joined the Billings Paranormal Investigative Society in Billings, Montana. They taught me everything I know now about equipment and how to conduct a private or residential cases. I eventually moved away and left the team but they are undoubtedly responsible for my growth and where I am today.
TPF: When I started following you and reading your social media, your Emotive Touchpoint theory immediately grabbed my attention. It rang true to me. Could you tell my readers about your Emotive Touchpoint theory?
Amanda: The Paranormal Emotive Touchpoint theorizes that there are soft spots throughout the world where the other side is closer or easier to contact. These soft spots, or touchpoint’s, present themselves to us by giving us what I call “odd emotions” like nostalgia, deja vu or liminality and do not require the location to be traditionally haunted. They are simply spots that are charged by emotion and still reverberate emotion, that give us a clearer means to communicate with any entity on the other side. Kind of like finding the right station on a walkie-talkie, or a better Wi-Fi  connection – I believe the key to it all is to pay attention to our living emotions.
TPF: For most people, when they hear paranormal, they think of seeing or communicating with ghosts. For you, what was your most definitive experience with “the other side”?
Amanda: I have some experiences that I’ve shared on my blog that felt rather definitive (like my time staying alone at the Lizzie Borden House) but today, I’d say my most definitive experiences with the other side are from the mediumship readings that I have been doing for others. I use a technique that allows me to enter a trance state and journey the living’s subconscious and in that space, I sometimes come across messages or visions from people who have passed away. Hearing stories from the strangers that I’m reading for afterward, that match exactly with the spirits I’d been communicating with for them, has provided me with better “proof” than I had ever gathered in my 15 years of ghost hunting.

TPF: You are starring in a documentary, Death Is With Me, that will be released later this year. What is that about?

Amanda: Death is With Me is a paranormal true crime documentary based out of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State and tells the true story of the Lady of Lake Crescent. It follows my journey researching the Lady of the Lake and investigating her purported ghost. But when the investigations take a strange turn, mine and the crews understanding of the intersection of violence, history and the supernatural, change forever. We premiered in Seattle recently and will have another screening in Orange County, California soon but it will be publicly released on a streaming platform sometime later this year.


TPF: A lot of people fancy themselves to be paranormal investigators. Are there any dangers for amateurs who muck around in the paranormal?

Amanda: It’s my personal belief that there are no outside, spiritual dangers of exploring the paranormal though that can change for others with different spiritual or religious beliefs. I believe though that it’s important to ground yourself and check in with the state of your mental health as you search for the meaning and understanding of life after death. The topics explored in the paranormal field can be heavy and it’s important to know your North Star – your reason why. That inner knowing and strength will guide you and protect you along your search for the other side.

TPF: Amanda, thanks so much for taking the time to share your knowledge and experiences with my readers. Amanda is a great follow on social media, so here are her links:

Blog: www.prettyfnspooky.com

IG: Prettyfnspooky

Twitter: Prettyfnspooky

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/prettyfnspooky/

TikTok: Prettyfnspooky

The ‘Death is With Me‘ movie: Follow here! 

Readers, as always, thanks for reading! If there are any other paranormal subjects that you’d like me to research and/or get a guest for Paranormal Month, just let me know in the comments!

I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghost!

There are two things I’m not sure if I believe in, ghosts and death. Well, I’m sure I don’t believe in my own death, and if, by chance, it does happen, I plan to overcome it by becoming a ghost. I’m sure you’re thinking to yourself What a weirdo! Hey, relax on the judgment there. I’m contractually bound to come back after death if I have one, a death, that is.

Contractually bound? Yup. Nothing I can do about it now. It was many years ago in college. One night two friends and I were drinking some adult beverages. You know how when you’re young, like 20 or so; you think you’re really deep even though you’re really idiots who don’t know anything? We had imbibed a few and got to talking about death and the afterlife.


We all were curious to know if there really was life after death, so right then and there, we Googled and then re-enacted a centuries-old Druid ceremony complete with a circle of salt, candles under a full moon, and signing a pact with our own blood, which was flowing easily because of the alcohol we had been drinking.

Ok, no, we didn’t, but I had you going there for a second, didn’t I? There was no blood-signed contract, and there was also no Google when I was in college, but we did make a promise to each other that whichever one of us died first would come back and haunt the other two so we would know that there was life after death.

I don’t know where those two college friends are now, and I don’t even remember one’s last name. Hopefully, because of our vow, some sort of afterlife mojo will help us find each other to keep our promise. As far as I know, none of us has ever shown up to haunt the others. With Paranormal Month in the air, I got to thinking of this and what else I might do if I were to be a ghost.

Stars DEMI MOORE and PATRICK SWAYZE. Licenced by Channel 5 Broacasting. Contact Five Stills: 0207 550 5583/5509/5544. Free for editorial press and listings use in connection with the current broadcast of Channel 5 programmes only. This. image may only be reproduced with the prior written consent of Channel 5. All rights reserved. Not for any form of advertising, internet use or in connection with the sale of any product.

I know this may be hard for you to believe, but in my life, I’ve been a bit of a practical joker at times. I’m pretty sure that if I ever return as a ghost, I won’t remove my shirt and help anyone with pottery. Jeez, what a waste of an afterlife.

I’ll probably be what we all know as a poltergeist. I’ll move a lot of people’s car keys just before they have to leave for work. I’ll show up invisibly during live televised events and give the President or Taylor Swift a wet willie. I’ll be on the field at all my favorite live sporting events, helping out a little to ensure my favorite teams win.

You know that feeling you get when you feel like someone’s behind you, but you turn around, and no one’s there? That’ll be me.  Who knows? Ghost Phil may even zip into the internet and follow the connection to your computer and cause embarrassing typos when you’re posting pictures.

So do you believe in life after death? Do you think there are real ghosts? What would you do if you were a ghost?

Have a great Tuesday!  ~Phil

That Time I Went To A Psychic

About 6 years ago I had my first experience with a psychic medium. If she was any good she’d be called a psychic large. Am I right? A winery near me had a psychic medium doing tarot card readings every weekend. For $25 you’d get a glass of wine and your reading. Below are my cards. Truth be told, if she really is psychic she’d know that the flower print table cloth is a terrible background for people who want to take pictures of their cards.

I’ll tell you my mind set approaching this. I believe that psychic phenomena does exist, however, I am skeptical of those who claim to have psychic abilities. I take a “prove it to me” approach. I went into the reading determined not to give the psychic any information that would lead her into general statements that I would then interpret through my point of view and believe she was psychic.

As soon as my psychic, Maren, dealt the cards I shouted “Blackjack!” which she didn’t even laugh at.  Interestingly, just now as I typed “dealt” I accidentally added an “h” on the end of it, making it dealth which is only a letter away from death.

Yes, I did get the death card. I didn’t panic because first of all, I’m Phil, and secondly, in writing a good novel your main character can be faced with three types of death: physical, romantic, or occupational. Think about novels you’ve read and you’ll see one or more of those themes in all of them. For me the psychic surmised that the death card was related to a work situation. She was right. I hadn’t lost my job, but had recently found out I wouldn’t be getting a highly coveted promotion. That was one in favor of the psychic.


To start the reading, I was asked to choose an identity card. She explained the traits of each and asked me to choose the one that I felt reflected my personality the best. I wanted to choose the Knight of Swords but was told that I was too old to be a Knight, so I had to be a King. Obviously she wasn’t taking mental age into account. The knight definitely is more my mindset.

Of the Kings I chose the King of Wands. Maren laid this down and flipped over a card that completely covered my identity card. She paused and looked up at me. The card was the High Priestess card. “Are you psychic?” she said. “You’re either psychic or very intuitive.”

high priestess

I didn’t admit if I was psychic and allowed her to continue. She had laid out the cards in the Celtic Cross formation. I was pleasantly surprised that she was spot on accurate on a bunch of things and happily the final card of my reading was the Three of Cups card seen below, which indicates a happy ending that apparently has nothing to do with a massage.


As far as the last card being the celebration of some accomplishment, you’d think if her goal was to make her customers happy she would give that card to everyone.

I went with my wife and two friends who also had readings and none received similar interpretations in their readings. In our discussion after, we discovered that everyone’s readings were different and everyone felt she was surprisingly accurate, even the two of us that went in as skeptics.  My verdict: I think Maren really did have some psychic abilities.

At the end she handed me her business card which said “Maren’s Messages. ” I was disappointed it didn’t say Maren’s Massages.” A massage and a psychic reading in one? How awesome would that be?

I know this isn’t as funny as most Phil Factors, but here’s my idea:  If I’m psychic or intuitive, in addition to the fact that I have a Master’s in Psychology, I imagine that I’d be pretty good at this process.  What if, as a party entertainer I did humor infused psychic Tarot card readings? “What? The Death card! Ummm….no I don’t take credit. You’ll have to pay cash. Right now.”  Or maybe, if someone gets The Three of Wands “Oh sorry. Your co-workers like you….the way Ukrainians like Putin.”  I’m pretty sure if I studied the cards and put some thought into it I could come up with a bunch of smart ass lines. What do you think? Should I go into the psychic party entertainment business?

Thanks for reading! I knew you would ; ) And keep coming back for the rest of this month for more

Do Tarot Cards Really Tell The Future? Interview with an Expert!

Picture Courtesy Parade.com

In keeping with my paranormal theme this month, I thought it would be interesting to hear from a soothsayer. The popularity of tarot cards and tarot reading seems to have exploded over the last decade. More people are doing it and more are looking for skilled tarot readers to answer their questions and give them a glance into their future. Not understanding how a deck of cards with spooky pictures could give us information about our lives, I found an expert on Instagram who was willing to volunteer her wisdom and experience.

Andrea -Tarot reader extraordinaire

Hi Andrea, and thank you for visiting The Phil Factor. How did you first become attracted to reading tarot and oracle cards? Curiosity mostly.  Since childhood, I have been interested in esoteric or metaphysical subjects.  I was particularly interested in Witches since I have an ancestor who was burned in the Salem Trials.

Does a person have to be psychic to read cards? Anyone who wants to learn the basic meanings of the cards can do simple readings.  However, I believe it is very beneficial if you are a very empathetic person and understand human emotions/relationships.  That way you aren’t just reading the definition of each card to the client.  There can be a lot of nuances in the cards.  Like symbols and how each card interacts, not only with the other cards, but also with what the querent may have asked originally.

Should someone be worried if the Death card comes up in a reading?Death is like a transformation in your life or emotions.  Example meanings for the Death card could be:  a birth, a divorce, a new job, the beginning or ending of relationships.  Or even a catalyst in thinking.  It’s about change and a possible transition or regeneration. 

Picture Fine Art America

Does it really mean someone is going to die? I’ve flipped the Death card over many times and that has never been the outcome.

Are predictions in a card reading absolutely going to come true? I don’t typically do ‘predictive’ or ‘yes/no’ readings.  Everyone has free will and can change the course of their day by one simple alteration.  Maybe they typically go to Starbuck’s on the corner, but that day, they decide to turn left instead of right and end up at Tim Horton’s.  In my opinion, absolute predictions need to be taken as fluid thoughts.  You continually have the ability to change how your life is directed.  ((free will)) And you can’t assume your will can change someone else’s. 

What advice do you have for someone going to their first reading? Be open and willing to hear what is being said without too many preconceived ideas or desires.  Take a pen/notepad and jot down your own thoughts on the cards.  Write down anything your reader says that captures your attention.  What may not make sense now, may come back to you later.  Or you may notice similar messages being repeated to you in different manners, by different people or situations.

As a final thought: I absolutely love reading tarot and oracle cards.  I do it almost daily.  It’s so interesting to see what thoughts the cards have on the questions that are asked and how pertinent they are to the person.  Reading tarot makes me realize how connected everything and everyone is to each other.  Everyone lives an interdependent life, and we all affect each other, just like the ripple a stone makes in a pond. 

Andrea, thank you for visiting The Phil Factor. Hopefully the cards will tell us that this interview will get lots of views in the future! If you’re interested in learning more about tarot readings from Andrea you can follow her on Instagram as TarotWytch.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms reading and to everyone else, I hope it’s in the cards for you to have a great day! ~Phil

Is Disney’s Haunted Mansion Really Haunted? Maybe!

Could Disney’s Haunted Mansion really be haunted? Happily, the answer is yes! No one is sure, and it can’t be proved, but… what would you say if you knew that the tombstones outside the original Haunted Mansion in California’s Disneyland had the names of the original designers of the ride?

Pic from DVCshop.com

Sure, a decorative nod to the deceased creators of the ride may not be enough to convince you. Although, if you designed this iconic ride, the peak of your life’s work, after you passed away, wouldn’t you hang around to see people enjoy it?

But that’s not why I think Disney’s most popular ride is haunted. That tombstone argument is flimsy at best. What would you say if you knew that each Haunted Mansion at all of the Disney parks across the world also contained the ashes of thousands of people who passed away?

Photo by Annie Leibowitz featuring Jack Black, Will Farrell, & Jason Segel.

Yes, this must come as a shock to you that wholesome Disney parks are the repository for the ashes of many, many people. Don’t believe me, google it. There’s many articles online from many respected outlets reporting that many, many grieving relatives have brought the ashes of a loved one to rest at Disney’s Haunted Mansion. That’s why I believe that there’s at least one mournful Disney loving soul that hitched a ride with their ashes and family to the Haunted Mansion.

But don’t get too sentimental about what a wonderful final resting place the Haunted Mansion would be for your family member or pet. Disney cast members have a code they say into their walkie talkies when they find ashes somewhere in the Haunted Mansion. They say code HEPA. Yes, HEPA like the air filter. They vacuum up the remains of your loved ones and dispose of them. Not such a sweet final resting spot is it?

The next time you go the Haunted Mansion ride you might want to look for ashes in the car seat before you hop on. And also keep an eye out for a ghost or two that looks just a little too real.  ; )

Have a great Saturday! ~Phil

That Time I Went Ghost Hunting

After I spent an evening learning about what Monroe County Paranormal Investigations does, I was fortunate to be able to go on a ghost hunt with them two days later. (To read my previous interview with the ghosthunters, scroll back a few posts to last weekend) To be clear, this wasn’t an investigation. Myself and several others bought tickets to join M.C.P.I  for a mini-class on the tools they use and how they use them in a location with a haunted history. The location was the Union Tavern in Rochester, N.Y. The structure, pictured above, has quite a past. It’s first known history dates back to 1819.

The property was first owned by a renowned pirate. Later in the 1800’s it was rumored to be part of the Underground Railroad. During the 1930’s, when recreational alcohol was outlawed, it was a speakeasy (secret bar). Since then it has passed through several hands as a bar/restaurant. The one thing that has been consistent  throughout it’s history is reports of paranormal activity. The Monroe County Paranormal Investigations had been here before for a requested investigation and found strong evidence of invisible entities in the restaurant, including several reports of a little boy who catches people that fall on the stairs.

After a brief introduction to their tools the investigators gave us some of their equipment and set us loose in the restaurant that was closed for this event. I didn’t take many pictures because it was quite dimly lit inside and I didn’t want to use my flash.

I found this in the basement. I think it was a plant.

The pros had brought with them a digital voice recorder that they left running throughout, an EMF meter, an infrared camera, and some dowsing rods, and a thing that can make a laser grid on a wall so you can see if anything passes through it.

The first thing I watched was Rob, the founder of MCPI, sit down at a table in an area of the restaurant where there had been repeated reports of ghost sightings. He held out his EMF meter

Rob spoke aloud asking anyone there to come close to his meter. At first nothing, but a few minutes later his meter made a noise and the red bulbs lit up. Then he asked the entity to come closer and make the meter light up again. It did. He next used a name that the owners provided for the ghost that they see in this area of the bar. “If this is Leann, come close to my meter to light it up.” And in response, with no one else moving or talking, the meter lit up to red. He asked Leann if she liked cooking and baking. The meter lit up again. Rob pushed out a chair and asked her to sit down. Keep in mind that he wasn’t holding the meter in his hand the whole time. He set the meter down on the table and it still seemed as if the ghost was responding to brief questions.  After about five minutes of interaction Leann the ghost may have wandered off.

Here’s my part of the story. The half dozen others who had joined myself and the MCPI had quickly grabbed the available EMF meters and infrared thermometers, leaving me with dowsing rods. Yes, dowsing rods like the kind used 200 years ago to find water. See the vertical hollow handles where it’s thicker? That’s where you hold them. You’re not actually touching the rods themselves. They are lightweight and very sensitive to movement. Someone whose hands shake nervously shouldn’t even bother trying to use these.

I didn’t mind getting “stuck” with these instead of an electronic meter. They just seemed more organic to me. After Rob’s conversation with Leann tailed off, I wandered away from the others down the bar. I held the dowsing rods and asked if anyone was there if they could push the rods together. At first it seemed like they moved, but I didn’t feel that I held my hands steady enough. So I planted my elbows on the bar to stabilize my arms. I waited until the dowsing rods were completely still for about ten seconds, and I said softly “If anyone is here can you push the rods together?” I felt cold goosebumps sweep across my body and suddenly the rods that were pointing straight out moved towards each other until they crossed. I was excited, but skeptically cautious. I wanted to see it again to be sure I was getting a response.

I planted my elbows solidly and waited until the rods were still. I again said “If you are still here, please push the rods together.”  Again, after my question, the rods seemed to almost jump together. The difference this time was that two young guys that had showed up with all the latest ghost hunting tech were near where I was conducting my experiment. As the rods moved one of the guys with an EMF meter suddenly said, “I’m getting a good reading here!”

Later I moved upstairs and found a back room that no one seemed interested in. I thought, “If I was a ghost, I’d go in here to get away from all these people.” I steadied my hands and waited. Then I whispered again, asking for someone to cross the rods. They started to move tenuously, just a little. I again asked the entity to “push them harder, to make them cross.” After my second ask I felt the goosebumps sweep over me and the rods again seemed to move on their own. I heard noise just outside the doorway and it was a guy with a meter who excitedly said, “Hey, I just got a big reading.”

Keep in mind that we were probably walking around that bar for about 90 minutes and I only had two ten second interactions. Ghost hunting can be boring sometimes too.

What’s my verdict? Did I really interact with a ghost? My answer is Probably. I’m telling you, when I got those responses, my hands were as still as a statue. The rods seemed to almost jump that first time. Plus the tech ghost hunters seemed to confirm what my goosebumps were telling me. I walked all over that place repeating that same routine, but all I got was those two brief instances. I’d like to thank the gang at MCPI for a great education and experience!

I hope you’ve enjoyed my ghost stories. What do you think? Do ghosts exist?Have a great Sunday! ~Phil

Sometimes The Paranormal Finds You

Are you familiar with the story of the Amityville Horror House? Everyone became aware of this legendary ghost story when the original film was released in 1979. The story that inspired the movie is supposed to be true.

A family had moved into a beautiful house in the town of Amityville, on  Long Island, about 45 minutes from New York City. The house was vacant because a year earlier a man shot and killed six family members there.  After the Lutz family moved in, they began to be terrorized by invisible entities that seemed intent on harming them. After just 28 days the Lutz family moved out.

I travel quite a bit for work. No, it’s not to anywhere beautiful or exciting. It’s mostly in the northeast part of the United States. On Monday of this week I was traveling for work and as I often do after a long day of driving, I seated myself at the hotel bar and ordered a beer and dinner.

As often happens, a stranger sat down next to me. While watching the sports news and eating our dinner, we started talking; first about sports and then about our jobs and families. When he found out that I used to work on Long Island occasionally, he immediately said, “Did you ever go see the Amityville horror house?”

I replied that I had once considered it as I drove by the Amityville exit, but chose not to because I didn’t want to be delayed further by the brutal evening rush hour traffic.

(What’s really horrifying is that the Amityville story has spawned a couple dozen Amityville themed movies including the ridiculous one above)

My evening dinner companion then told me that one day he and his family drove five hours just to see the Amityville horror house. That’s a wholesome way to spend family time together, huh?

They parked their car on the street in front of the house and got out to take pictures on their cell phones. My friend Doug said that he first tried to take a picture, but his phone screen was just static. Then his wife and kids tried taking pictures on their phones and the same thing happened. Four peoples phones wouldn’t function, as if the house itself didn’t want to be seen. But after they drove away, their phones returned to normal functioning. How’s that for creepy? Some things just can’t be explained.

I asked my new friend if he minded if I told his story on #ThePhilFactor and he gave me permission. Him spontaneously telling me that story when I’m in the midst of Paranormal Month, was an interesting coincidence, and it gave me a fun idea. If you’ve ever had your own ghost/paranormal story, would you like to be a guest author on #ThePhilFactor and tell your story? If so, message me in the comments.

Have a great Wednesday! ~Phil