Over the past few weeks, I’ve been waking up at the same time every night – at 3:33 am. At first, this was greatly amusing – I even chuckled aloud once or twice. But then, I began to wonder why, and of course I thought there might be a paranormal connection. What else, right? Oh, I realize how frequently people manage to awaken themselves like this with their own inner clocks, but that’s no fun. Given my proclivity for things paranormal, a supernatural explanation should not be unexpected. You know, I even started to look forward to it.

But last night, as I opened my eyes to the now familiar 333; stood and started on my way to the bathroom; as I reached the bedroom door, something caught my t-shirt and held me back. It was actually difficult to pull away – whatever had me used a lot of force. I checked for nails, small slivers of wood – anything out of the ordinary, and I removed the shirt to search for snags, tears, or whatever. You can imagine – there was nothing. Was this what all these 333 moments were about? Was a spirit preparing me for this small tug of war just to let me know he was there? Was this actually paranormal?

Probably not. You know, I realize that we’re not exactly on top of things in the early morning hours; that we’re groggy when we wake up, and our senses are not to be believed. But this was a hefty pull, and I was awake, dammit! I know many of you might prefer I keep this to myself – why incur further embarrassment. You don’t want to think of me as confused and blindly accepting of such esoteric explanations. But what’s the difference? Something pulled my shirt. In fact, it lasted 3 or 4 seconds before I could break free. Does it matter which explanation suits me more?

It’s not so terrible to believe a spirit has been waking me at 333, and pulled my shirt. Mankind has always believed in things that go bump in the night, so frankly, it seems more normal than a lot of rational explanations based on maybe and what if scenarios. In my little world, I reserve the right to believe this fantasy and unexplained nonsense any time I choose.

I think what gets me; what chafes my thighs the most, is that because of this I have become a sleepwalking, dream-dazed, unaware old man, whose commentary on the things he does is now completely unreliable and specious. I couldn’t possibly be getting it right because I was asleep 5 minutes earlier. It couldn’t be a ghost or a spirit. Really? But why on earth does it matter? Why can’t it be Aunt Sue here to tell me that she’s present? “Because that’s just silly!” Who cares?! I like that possibility. It pleases me to think some spirit – whoever he or she might be, went to all the trouble of tugging on my shirt. I like all the foreplay of waking me up every night at 333. And it’s never going to be explained, so I think I prefer the nonsense explanation to the “walking dead” theory.

Even if I am wrong about this, it will never matter. It’ll just be one more fascinating little piece of life that makes me smile. Forget all the serious stuff, and my betrayal of duty as a modern man in a world full of incredible, but true explanations. When I pass this plane, I’m gonna ask everyone I meet on the other side if they pulled on my shirt and woke me up at 333 every night. I’m gonna ask until I find the guy who did it, and then I expect to smile about it all over again.
Also visit Voices Unplugged at http://voicesblogunplugged.wordpress.com/
Voices From Forever by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/ZBBmj Available on Amazon
There Is No Silence by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/U6KY7 Available on Amazon.

Temporal Therapy

We’ve been anxious about the afterlife from our beginning. For thousands of years we’ve entertained a constantly evolving and intense curiosity centered around our own demise. What happens when we die? Where do we go? What about our soul? Can we come back? We seem plagued by so many questions that appear to have no definite answers.

Some of our inquiries find religious solutions or resolve themselves within the science of “the times.” These offer mechanisms of faith and knowledge that appear to provide both rejoinder and life-affirming action, but they have proven to be temporary, and over time, return for another generation’s consideration. In short, over the millennia we’ve come to very few correct conclusions, which is why we still spend so much time on the same old issues.

Today’s paranormal investigator seems to focus mainly on spirit communication. Of course that’s over simplifying a bit for the sake of brevity, but what used to be ancestor worship seems to have evolved into proving the afterlife through contact. Many of us might deny that is our signature interest, but in some form or iteration, that which follows life is at our core. Today’s paranormal is all about the afterlife. We don’t seem to mind not understanding the particle accelerator, but we are frantic to know exactly what happens when we die. If you think about it, that’s pretty significant. It truly helps to define us, and therefore, should lead us to a better understanding of our human condition. A worthy end indeed, and a valuable contribution to society, right?

But I think we get confused into believing that every problem actually has a solution, and that all we need to do is find the right one. There are so many theories, and many of them “feel” so right… Certainly one must be accurate, even though history has shown that incontestable truths become old-time foolishness soon enough. Our modern ideas fall by the wayside in the wake of new and better discoveries. We proclaim that our experience teaches us reality, that our careful research offers insight, and that spiritual understanding provides “the way.” But we’re not so bright. Even though we sputter and bluster and pontificate about thus and such, we still know nothing about the afterlife for certain.

I recently found myself trying to ease the very worried and heavy heart of a 94 year-old woman, as she pondered the uncertainty of what awaits her. And I lied. I told her all about the wonders and joy of a rich hereafter; about an eternal existence free from bodily failure and mental degradation. I told her how she and her lost loved ones would meander through time in peaceful bliss – without a care or worry; without so much as a single fly in the ointment of everlasting nirvana. I told her my favorite theories – those that spoke to me. I told her as if I knew them to be true, and they seemed to soothe her restless imagination. But I was wrong, and I knew it.

Words are usually only temporal therapy, but what’s so wrong about taking our death with a dose of the inevitably fabulous? Are the facts so sacrosanct that our only final certainty must be that we haven’t a clue? Isn’t it better to believe there will be a new, exquisite life emerge through that final exhale?

I don’t know. I think there are no honest answers – just more questions, but there comes a time when all we really care about is finding a calm and peaceful now, even if that “now” is no more than the final second of our final breath. It should be sufficient to know that whatever awaits us is worth waiting for, but can that be enough? Will that satisfy the itch? I doubt it, because this is not about who we are. It’s about who we will be and our instinctive need to move forward.
Also visit Voices Unplugged at http://voicesblogunplugged.wordpress.com/

Respect for the Medium

I’m just a weekend away from my reading with a medium. I’ve been looking forward to this for quite a while, and if you are a listener of The Voices Podcast, then this is not news. Regardless of how excited I am about it, there is still a great learning experience to be had, even though I hold a life-long mistrust of mediums that has only recently softened. 
Lately, I’ve had some positive first-hand experiences, so now seems like the perfect time for both the reading itself and for whatever leap of faith I’ll have to take. I attended one of these things with my daughter some time ago, and I was remarkably impressed by the medium’s accuracy, even though she didn’t hit every nail on the head. Nobody’s perfect, but none of the usual stereotypes proved true either, so I decided that day that I wanted to record a personal reading for the podcast. This has been in the works for many moons.
I’ve been extended a number of free mini-sessions over the past few years – impromptu, short ventures of five minutes or less – probably offered because of what I do with EVP. But these have always seemed somewhat preposterous – full of Native American spirit guides, wolves that travel by my side, and old crone-like women protecting me. I don’t know what to make of this stuff, but an full-length reading should be more conclusive. The medium I have chosen is someone I know, but she is clueless about my personal history or that of my family, so if the other side chooses to communicate, almost anything they say will be unknown to her ahead of time – I’ve told her nothing. We haven’t discussed my goals or intentions, my attitude, or what I would like to hear. This is going to be a pretty cold reading, and a fair test of her gift – she’ll be completely on her own. Whatever happens, will happen – accurate or not.
Believe it or not, I have an odd history of skepticism, and nothing has tested it more than mediumship, but that’s primarily because you so rarely are able to prove the findings as right or wrong. Either way, my intentions are not to judge her accuracy. Her contribution to the paranormal is an important and significant aspect of the field, insofar as mediums speak to the heart and soul of the deceased. EVP seem primitive and incomplete when compared to her work, and yet they receive more universal credibility. That seems unfair to me since the medium is the ultimate conduit in spirit communication. If Dad can’t speak the language, he’ll need an interpreter; if Aunt Sue is lost, she’ll need more than my audio recorder or IR cameras. 
So, it seems that mediums operate completely in the realm of unbelievability. It is difficult enough for me to deal with a mouthy skeptic – I can image the flack a medium has to dodge. Therefore, my hopes are for a good reading, and even though I can promise you everything will be taken with a grain of salt, I intend to view the situation as an experience well worth both the money and the effort – no matter what. Voices Podcast listeners will get to go along for the ride, so I recommend the rest of you tag along just this once – maybe we’ll all learn something, and generate a new and much deserved respect for the medium.
Also visit Voices Unplugged at http://voicesblogunplugged.wordpress.com/


Homeward Through the Haze

The other day I was asked to babysit a one year-old toddler named Kenny, who also happens to be my grandson. He’s a funny little boy who has mastered the art of getting into everything – a future demolition expert, no doubt. Kenny is a good boy though, and he listens well when he thinks he knows what you’re saying. Of course, my experiences in babysitting are not the focus of this post.

I turned on the digital recorder while Kenny was visiting. I’ve done this with other grandchildren and have always recorded lots of voices around them, which has led to a sort of theory. It’s not new, but I think all children are under some kind of protection by spirits. I’ve captured EVP that seem to further the theory – voices that give the impression of dealing solely and directly with the child. These are unfamiliar voices to me, and seem less random than the usual EVP I record.  Beyond this different nature of presence, unfortunately, I know of nothing concrete to prove my theory.

But something caught my attention this time, and it startled me. At one point, Kenny pushed a toy into the glass door of a cd cabinet, and he turned and offered an anxious “uh oh.” You can probably imagine that – it’s a fairly common thing for kids to say, but Kenny doesn’t say many words, so it was memorable to hear him use a new one so appropriately. “Uh oh!”

On the recorder, you clearly hear a female voice say those same words less than a second before Kenny, and it caused me to wonder… Was she teaching him what to say? Was he able to hear her and repeat what he heard? Just exactly what kind of relationship does this voice have with my grandson? A lot of questions for which I have no answers, but it certainly has me thinking.

A lot of people believe that children see spirits when they’re very young, and I’m not the only one who has ever tried to capture EVP during those alone moments with a child. But I’ve never heard anyone suggest they are teachers. It’s hard enough being born, and what follows must be a nightmare for kids. Perhaps the presence of spirit is how it’s done. It could be a real comfort to a child to have omnipresent, visible and audible protection, comfort, and emotional understanding. I don’t think it’s out of the question there might also be a few teachable moments.

There’s very little proof of anything paranormal, so attempting to advance certain theories will never result in unquestionable belief. Certainly, this one-time occurrence does not serve as evidence, but now I want to know! I want to know if my EVP voice was Kenny’s coach, and not a random spirit with too much to say. If she had a hand in his “uh oh” that would be an amazing thing to know.

Of course I plan on recording as much as possible – it isn’t always an easy hookup, but what if I were able to capture this again? Or a few more times? How many examples of this interaction will be necessary to serve as circumstantial proof that we get our first life coaches very early?

I’m reminded of a David Crosby song where he says: “It’s the blind leading the blind and I am amazed, how they stumble homeward through the haze.” It wouldn’t surprise me to discover that we all have a little help now and then.

Old Folks

Frequently, I need to take a break from “the paranormal.” I say that because I actually consider myself to be a full-time researcher. I spend more than the usual 40 hours a week writing about, experimenting with, and recording for EVP. It may not provide a health plan or disability insurance, and I can’t exactly claim unemployment when the spirits aren’t talkative, but there are other benefits, I think. One of those is the blessing of being able to take a vacation from “work” whenever I find it necessary. Imagine that! Someone who gets sick and tired of listening to disembodied voices wax poetic and commentate on life… “Whatever.”

So, for this brief vacation from craft, I decided to embark upon a journey I’ve been dying to begin for many years now – discovering my ancestry. I spent the first 3 days of this week tracking down the Keller portion of the family tree. I’d reached a dead-end for my mother’s side of things as well as for the families of both wives, but I was certain that exploring the Keller branch would be gratifying. As many of you know, I searched for my father through EVP for quite some time, so it only seems natural to continue the search within his background – that which made him who he was.

And what a background it is. I went all the way back to the first Keller to arrive in America – some time around 1735. I found several high profile Lutheran pastors, a Revolutionary War soldier, a Union soldier who died at Gettysburg, one of the founders of Muhlenberg College, a couple of professors, and an author. And those were just the famous people; there were a lot of seriously rich Keller’s in Pennsylvania as well.

But I made a mistake. I turned right at Andrew when I should have hung a Leroy at George. Somewhere along the way, I adopted Andrew Keller as my great grandfather. Poor fellow is still getting the raw end of things 140 years later. But this error was made all the more painful by discovering that Johann Keller arrived from Germany in 1735 – not Holland. I should have known better. Family talk has always been that we were Dutch. I was so unashamedly enthralled with Johann’s brood, that I just assumed the legend was wrong. I fell into a Keller-induced-funk. I wanted to just chuck the whole stupid venture. I even considered living in denial. Who would know, right? The line of Andrew Keller was so ample – no one would even notice I was crashing the party. But, I couldn’t sleep. I should have been recording for EVP, but noooo. I started over – this time with George – Andrew and all his relatives would be free from the pretender.

Now, I realize that these names have already sent you spinning for the back button, but stay with me just a little longer, because it’s not bad news. My real family may not have been wealthy and nationally famous, but it turns out they were just as wonderful. We still have a Revolutionary War soldier, except this one was given some land for being brave. Not too shabby. He served for the full duration of the War, so I guess he earned that land. And we still have a Union soldier who died at Gettysburg. Imagine the coincidence! One of my relatives was even named Ulysses Simpson Grant Keller – USG, for short. He turned out to be quite the teacher and commanded great respect in his community.

My branch of the family also has quite a few preachers, and except for their lack of national prominence, I am sure they were bastions of the community – Reformed Church variety. And then there is Jacob John, who came to America in 1753. From Holland, actually – who’d-a-thunk the legend was true. In fact, I can trace the Keller’s back to 1605, so far.

Still bored? Well, then I better tie this in to EVP somehow. Now wait! I’m not gonna claim that I’ve recorded the voices of Johann and Jacob John. Haven’t heard a word from USG or Albertus; Elizabeth Lizzie, Lucy Ann, or Katie McCoy. Yes, I said McCoy – the Irish branch of this menagerie. None of these ancestors have ever introduced themselves to my recorder, to my knowledge, but it could happen, right? What could possibly prevent my seventh great grandfather from popping in once in awhile to pontificate about the old days – the “really” old days? Not a thing. It could have already happened. Who am I to say it hasn’t?

I found a photo of an old painting of one of my ancient aunts – someone from 1791, posing in her bonnet and dire black, buttoned up dress. What a spectacular shock it was; one of those truly amazing moments that grab your ankles and consume your soul. It was something I cannot find words to express, because scowling back at me from that painting was the face of my dad. If he had worn bonnets, that is exactly as he would have appeared. She had the same nose and deep-set eyes; the same straight mouth and slightly square jaw; the same intelligence peeking out from within, and the same look of determination I esteemed all those years.

I finally found him! Right there in the face of Anna Cecilia!

I can’t wait to see him one day and let him know how cute he looks in a bonnet. Maybe I’ll get him and Anna Cecilia side-by-side for comparison, and laugh for a century or two. Of course, that doesn’t do me much good now, does it? Still, this is what vacations are for, I guess. We have to take a moment away from our quests in life and spend a little time with the old folks – even when they won’t talk back.