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.
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Also visit Voices Unplugged at http://voicesblogunplugged.wordpress.com/

 

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The Sixth Sense

The sixth sense exists. It’s real, there is proof, and I’ve seen it in action. It’s not as strong as our other senses, of course, which is why most of us are not aware of it, but it’s there – absolute, undeniable, and statistically provable.

The experiment goes something like this… Put two curtains in front of a person and let them know that behind one is a photo of something. It could be anything – a rabbit, a family of four, ball bearings; doesn’t matter. Behind the other curtain, there is nothing. Now choose which curtain hides the photo. Sounds like a 50/50 proposition, doesn’t it? It is. On average, people get it right half the time. We’re obviously guessing, and the laws of probability rule the day.

Now replace the random photo with a picture of something erotic, and repeat the experiment. Miraculously, the erotic photo is discovered 53 percent of the time – consistently. Is that because we’re a sex obsessed species? Well, yes, as a matter of fact. Over the millennia, we’ve had to survive varying degrees of a harsh environment, and the key to our survival has been the ability to successfully reproduce sufficiently enough to continue as a viable species. When faced with the promise of something so vital to our subconscious need to exist, our sixth sense is awakened, and we’re no longer merely guessing.

I would imagine that some of us fall below this 53 percent – like me, for example, but that means there’s someone else whose sixth sense is incredibly stronger than the average. I find that encouraging. I love the idea that there are people with a highly developed sixth sense, even if I’m not entirely certain what that means or how it can be reliably put to use. Evidently, this truly is a gift – like throwing a baseball faster, or playing a violin better. Certain people among us just seem to know things the rest of us don’t, and we should revere and celebrate their abilities as much as those of any athlete or musician.

Personally, I’m satisfied that the sixth sense is more than the stuff of coincidence or fiction. Scientists at Harvard and Cornell are convinced as well, and while it’s a tremendous leap to suggest any paranormal implications, that too may be possible. It certainly gives me pause to wonder, and I’m not alone. Studies are being done on willing test subjects with the hope of discovering those individuals whose sixth sense is the most highly developed, and whether this could include the ability to deal with “other” things unseen.

If this sixth sense had a hand in allowing mankind to make wise decisions and recognize better survival choices millennia ago, why couldn’t we use it once again – now, when we seem so hellbent on annihilating ourselves in such a variety of ways. I think we’re missing the boat here! Not that we should become a planet of seers and fortune tellers, but maybe we could finally learn to embrace life without so much misappropriated effort, unfounded prejudice, and lousy decision making.

Personally, I’m all for it. The sixth sense is real – just as real as the moon, the stars, and Hershey’s chocolate. There’s no denying the data. Why deny ourselves the benefit?

Stupid

Okay! I’m gonna try to keep this brief, because frankly, if I say too much I’ll just look stupid. Occasionally, you run across EVP that do that to you – they make you look and feel stupid! Maybe dumb is a better word, or uninformed, incapable, ineffectual, or even reactionary. I don’t know. I was recording around a small child, and doing things the way I do them – pulling out clips of suspicious sounding, possible voices. You know! Hopeful EVP.

I usually don’t return to the clips until I’ve listened to the original file exhaustively, and I had labeled this clip “male voice,” expecting to figure it out later. When I went back to sink my teeth into the thing, no matter how many times I re-listened, it kept saying, “Jesus is close. Forget about him.” I know. I know! But I can’t just ignore it. I can’t pretend it didn’t freak me out. I know the color had to drain from my face; I could feel that weird sensation of warmth and tingling combined. It felt exactly like that time I completely erased my hard drive. It was the same feeling I had seeing my deceased father standing in the hall. Oh, who am I kidding – it’s impossible to explain.

I just felt stupid. Was this voice talking to me, the child, or to someone else I couldn’t see? Was this one of those subliminal attempts to alter behavior? Was it someone “negative” attempting to lure the toddler away from Jesus? Was the voice telling a spirit friend to leave us alone because the boss was coming? It could have been telling us to stop messing around and pay attention to The Lord’s entrance. He might as well have said, “Drop everything. There’s a Beatles reunion in the bedroom!” You’d pay attention to that, right? I mean, come on, when you hear a spirit say, “Jesus is close,” you listen up.

There are so many different ways to interpret what those words could mean, but that could never be a throw-away phrase. Forget the fact that you might not even believe in Jesus – the name Itself definitely ups the ante, and automatically heightens the emotional response. Of course, there’s also a chance that the spirit just decided to freak me out. Well, that worked, didn’t it? Regardless of how many different possible meanings one could attach to this simple statement, it definitely freaked me out.

But that’s how it is with EVP, isn’t it? Just when you least expect it, there’s a controversy of some kind. You’re totally convinced that you know exactly what the voice is saying, and someone else comes along and throws the proverbial wet blanket on the fire. You’re positive that you’ve heard something earth-shattering, but no one else is impressed. A key word could actually be several different words – each one changing the meaning completely. EVP can be very frustrating despite the fact that they’re also such a pure blessing.

So what am I going to do with this “Jesus is close” comment? I don’t know! I suppose eventually I’ll decide what it means to me – I’ll take my best guess. It’s conceivable that I’ll file it away somewhere and re-listen several months later. Who knows, maybe then it will sound like something different, but as for today, I just feel stupid. Stupid because of how I reacted, stupid because I can’t decide what it means, and stupid because I love every minute of it. I do, you know – every last, freaked out minute of it.

Bring Some

I was sitting awake by the hard blue light of my iPad, trying to figure how best to allocate my time. More and more these days, things grab at it, and I’m left with doing my own thing hurriedly. This week, there was only one day to spend on a very long list of necessary evils, most of which did not get done. So when I turned off the light, and said “goodnight” to the understanding woman beside me, I thought maybe it would be peaceful enough to concentrate and find a solution.

I decided to tap on WavePad, and record while I sat – just because. It’s what I do. No questions to ask; no comments or requests – just the dark, cold air and my thoughts. The recent months have been a time of doubt for me, and occasionally I’ve felt as though my contribution to the paranormal field has been maximized – there’s nothing more I can contribute. But that’s tough to decide – it’s difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff.

You know, EVP are a passion for me. I still have my priorities in line, but I feel close to these voices – they’ve found an indelible place on the list. I listen carefully, and my anticipation is not in hearing them so much as in understanding what is behind their words. We have become such strange friends, because we’ve formed a perfectly reciprocating relationship. Nothing unworthy in that. Isn’t that enough to continue what I arrogantly call “my work”? I can make changes, certainly. Less social networking, perhaps. Less worry about book sales. I can cut back on the number of podcasts too. There are lots of ways to solve my time issues.

I stopped the recording, anticipating nothing, but instinctively, reached for my headphones and began to listen. Some kind of whispering was there – nothing anyone could ever understand; whispers that most researchers would label as ambient sounds. I know the room well, and I know what they are, but they’re not voices until there are words. But then… there were words. “Sad,” she said – clear as a bell, and equally as expressive.

I thought she was talking about me. I thought she had gauged my mood; that possibly all the whispering had been centered around my self-absorbed need for over-analysis. Perhaps she was even carefully chosen to express a group sentiment – “sad.” Well, I was a little sad. How intuitive of her; how correctly she had assessed my demeanor. But before I could rest too comfortably in that interpretation, she spoke again. “Bring some,” she said.

Bring some? Really? Doncha just love it? How do you not fall head over heels for these voices? Not only was she not interested in my somber reflection, she didn’t make a lick of sense. I can’t walk away from this; can’t concern myself so stridently with the relevancy of “my work” or whether I’m maximized, marginalized or whatever-ized. There’s a spirit out there doing her best to entertain the bejesus out of me, and maybe someday, along the way, I’ll make some sense out of it. But until then? No need to be “sad,” I’ll just “bring some.”

Together

Someone once told me to never write anything down late at night. Apparently, reading it the next morning proves the point. What seems so profound in the very early morning becomes stupid and foolish in the light of day. But I couldn’t sleep, and frankly, I’m feeling sorry for myself.

I woke up missing those old investigations. I know, it’s weird, but how I loved it there in the quiet and the dark; sharpening my senses; preparing for anything. I miss every part of it – even setting up and tearing down the equipment. I miss all the little things too, and I suppose it makes sense, because it’s hard to replace the intensity. There’s adrenaline flowing, your mind is in full-on observation mode, and there’s this bond you form with fellow investigators; the way you rely on one another. I miss those people most of all.

Oh, it’s great to see them in other settings – on the street, in the mall, or at a restaurant, but it’s not the same. I mean, the guy texts and drives, but there’s no one I’d trust more in a dark abandoned building on a moonless night in the middle of nowhere. It’s the same with each one of my former teammates. Those times together were unique and so totally indelible. We formed a trust that was really quite visceral, and what we didn’t create in the name of friendship, we certainly forged through complete confidence in each other.

You quickly grow to realize that if you have to, you’ll brave anything to stand by their side. You’ll definitely have their back; you’ll never accept fear over their safety; will always walk into the abyss, if need be, to guarantee they’re not alone. And you understand they’ll reciprocate. But at the end of the day, when everything ends and it’s all up to technology to provide the answers, you know that you’ve done something meaningful, and more importantly, you did it together.

We share more on those investigations than is ever obvious. The experience is not dissimilar to being a member of a Super Bowl team, or the campaign staff of the newly elected candidate. You’re like a Blue Angel, a part of Delta Force, or one of The 300. You breathe rarified air, because this thing you do together, week after month after year, is just that special. You’re real spiritual warriors and come what may, you’ll handle whatever you find with grace and valiancy. And you know this because you know these people, and every ounce of your own strength and mettle comes directly from them. Even if you fail, you do so with family.

A little over the top? Will this be embarrassing in the morning? Possibly, but this is what I’m feeling, and why there’s no rest for the weary tonight. Because I miss them as much as I would miss the work. What I wouldn’t give to get the whole gang together again and go haunt some ghosts. What I wouldn’t give for just one more walk through the dark with “the team.” Our mates are so much more than brothers or sisters in arms – they’re our perfect counterparts; our better halves. So before I try to sleep again, thanks guys. I miss ya all the time. Sorry I don’t call very often, but I know you understand.

Simple Complexity

I’m as interested in finding scientific explanations for the paranormal as anyone. I like that! If you’ve read some past entries, you can back me up on it, and you probably realize just how confident I am that all paranormal questions will eventually produce scientific answers. Unfortunately, so far, instead of any answers, we have a hodge podge of folklore, superstition, philosophy, and some poorly stated theories.

Every time I try to make scientific sense of it all, I find myself frustrated, and annoyed with the hard truth that I’m just not intelligent enough for the task. Someone smarter usually steps up and let’s me know just how ill-prepared I am to argue such matters, and regrettably, they’re right. But I don’t want the scientists among us to shoot me down and just walk away. I want them to “get to work” on the problem!

I understand if they don’t want to creep through a pitch black tunnel in search of some specter, armed only with night vision and a recorder. An evening in some filthy, rat-infested pathway to Hell isn’t anybody’s idea of a swell night out, but somebody’s gotta do it. I will. In fact, I say let the scientists work in the comfort of a laboratory somewhere. I’ll even volunteer to bring in their meals – maybe a nice Chablis, if they like. Beer? Name your poison, and I’ll gladly schlep through the abandoned mental hospital in search of God knows what. My pleasure, actually, and if I fall through that weak third floor, chances are I won’t break anything important. Either way, I’m happy you’re on the case, Mr. Science Guy, because truly, there are real problems.

We’ve got unexplained interactive voices, free-forming mists, stuff flying around the room, ladies in white, see-through children, light-emitting orbs, and worse! But it’s more than just all that, isn’t it? I mean, it involves religion, and technology, and philosophy… And there are those nagging questions that have been plaguing mankind for countless millennia – ever since some caveman looked out over a noisy savannah and wondered “who am I really?” Questions that speak to the true nature of life, death, and the hereafter; of the soul, of angels and demons, God Almighty, alternate dimensions, singularities, time/space – all kinds of stuff!

You know, if we had some real scientists tackling just one of these quandaries, I’d be confident that when answers were offered they’d be the right ones. I’d be certain the proper theories were being aptly applied in the right instances. I’d be willing to accept findings and marvel at the elegant, simple complexity of it all.

But alas, instead of joining us, sometimes they laugh at us. They seem to delight in our foolish attempts to bring order and clarity to a field that has so far lumbered through in spite of itself; in spite of all of us who lumber in it. But at the end of the night, these science guys aren’t there – just us. We’re plumbers and store clerks; artists and maintenance men. We are the guy who had a shadowy visitor as a child, and the young woman who’s still afraid of the dark.

And we’ll continue plodding along, in the dark and in lieu of our sanity – we’ll accumulate miles of video and years of audio, type volumes of reports, spend every extra dollar on equipment that may not even work… And we’ll do it all without pay, consideration, or even respect. But that’s okay. Every EVP I record puts me yet another step closer to some elementary truth – a truth that the greatest minds among us have yet to acknowledge. Their loss, but wouldn’t it be sweet if they’d help?

The Sound of Life

It makes sense to me that if any part of the paranormal were to be deemed believable, it would be EVP – initially, because of the amount of available evidence. Every paranormal investigator participates in EVP sessions – it’s standard, and in all probability, every investigator can offer some amount of EVP results, so there’s an army out there. That’s a lot of voices. Everyone in the field does it, and everyone has opinions about how to do it.

So, it’s understood that paranormal investigation almost always provides some EVP evidence, but there’s another reason why EVP might be the standard bearer for paranormal substantiation. There is also the ample truth that it makes sense to us. EVP easily fit the expectations of what our own “spirithood” ought to be like. Most of us hope there will be a way to make contact from beyond the grave, and many of us are counting on it. In that light, EVP make perfect sense because they speak so well to our own self-awareness.

The idea of being presented with an apparition is much more unsettling – for anyone, even the most experienced among us. It’s exciting – even exhilarating, but suddenly the world in which we live comfortably and securely, becomes a less familiar place. Seeing a spirit is an intensely unusual proposition, and instantly life-altering. I’m not talking about a shadow figure, a mist, or a light-emitting orb, but an honest to goodness apparition. A ghost. And seeing one first-hand explodes into a game-changing piece of memory that will always haunt us in some way.

Not so with a voice. A voice is almost always less spectacular, and easily absorbed as part of life. Who hasn’t been faced with hearing an unusual voice from time to time – alone in a field, while driving – in just about any place or circumstance? “Must have been my imagination…” Sometimes we’re not even certain an unidentifiable, unexplainable voice isn’t something we’ve said ourselves, or something we were thinking. The idea that there could be an actual spirit voice to hear simply by going out of our way to record it, is electrifying, not terrifying. EVP offer us the choice to hear or not to hear, so they play to our expectations, and more often than not, they become friendly evidence.

There’s almost never any palpable danger associated with an EVP. It can be creepy, sure, and unexpected, and cause you to question the wisdom of being where you are, but there’s still a strong sense that you can evade it if need be. It has no form, no evident power over you, and offers no threat to your well-being. If you hear a voice you don’t like, you can always leave and vow to never come back, but if a spirit is strong enough and inclined to make itself visible, well then anything is possible. It is an immediate threat, whether accurate or not. By recording for spirit voices, we know what we’re in for and have a pretty good idea of what to expect.

The idea that spirit voices are the easiest aspect of paranormal evidence in which to believe, may also have something to do with the fact that there’s always the possibility of a credible, real-life explanation. Once you’ve unsuccessfully attempted to discredit one, it’s unproblematic to have confidence in what passes the tests. But there’s a more universal reason we hold EVP in such high evidentiary esteem – because they represent a form of communication we innately practice every day of our lives. EVP speak to us. They talk, and it’s as simple as that, I think, because there’s an intimacy associated with talking to someone. When something is wrong, “we need to talk.” When everything is wonderful and exciting, we channel those manic feelings and tell anyone within earshot. We talk about dinner, the NFL, property values, UFOs, and our favorite color. We discuss politics, religion, sexuality, and stuff no one really wants to hear.

You can’t talk to a menacing apparition, and if you could, I doubt it would be a very engaging conversation. But EVP? They sound like you or I; say what we would; speak as we do. They are the sound of life everlasting, and they stand as a testament that the hereafter we all hope is real, probably really is. We identify with spirit voices because we understand who they are. We may not know them personally, or understand a single motivation or life experience they’ve traversed, but we know who they are. And we know, admit it or not, who we will become.