by Victoria Upton • photo by Two Eagles Marcus
Is there a chance that some form of bodily energy continues to inhabit familiar places after death? The premise is not even close to being as mind-boggling as the basic fact that we reside in an infinite universe filled with mysteries and unknowns.
Science is powerful, but it can’t explain everything. Long before modern scientific knowledge, the notion of spirits from beyond held a place in folklore, religion and culture.
Whether or not you believe in haunted houses, Reverend Robert A. Du Shane, owner/operator of Paranormal Michigan does. The founder of WPARanormal Incorporated grew up in a home in Michigan where spectral sightings were a regular occurrence. He founded Michigan’s first incorporated paranormal investigation team and co-authored Ghosts of Grand Rapids, Paranormal Lansing, Haunted History of Kalamazoo and Michigan’s Haunted Nightlife. He and the other authors conduct the Ghosts of Grand Rapids Tours.
Du Shane and his wife Nicole recently purchased a home in Kalamazoo, Michigan, that was on the market after the owner found it difficult to keep tenants because of “ghosts.” They plan to restore the home to its Queen Anne Victorian splendor and open it as a Bed and Breakfast.
We explored the enigmatic sounds, sights, smells and feelings that are close to home with Du Shane:
Q. With Halloween around the corner, our interest in the paranormal peaks. Is there a peak time of year for paranormal activity?
A. It is hard to say whether or not there is a peak season for the actual activity. I can tell you, interest in the paranormal peaks in October, so we receive a higher number of investigation requests during that time.
As a paranormal investigator, are there special tools you use to determine if a house is haunted?
Investigators rely on several tools to gather data that may point to a haunting. However, there is no tool out there that can tell you there is or is not a ghost. The most common tools are EMF (Electrical Magnetic Field) detectors, motion sensors, various types of thermometers and cameras of all types.
Is there an app for that?
I do not use any of those apps for a very good reason. I am a computer tech and app developer, and as a developer I wanted to see exactly what these programs are doing. Most of the apps and computer programs are simply generating a random number and giving you a pre-programmed response. I haven’t come across a cell phone app yet that actually uses any of the phones’ sensors.
Are there particular areas of a home that are more likely to be haunted?
Any area of a home can be haunted, but I have found that more often than not it is the bedroom of the deceased that is most active.
Does the age of the house matter?
The age of a haunted house can vary greatly, hauntings seem to be tied more often to the land than the house. I have investigated a house that was less than one year old and found it to be haunted. The oldest house I have investigated and determined to be haunted was approximately 200 years old.
How does a house become haunted?
The most common way a house becomes haunted is by death in the home or on the property. Another common cause is bringing haunted objects such as antiques, old books or occult items.
What about religion?
I have found that families that practice pagan beliefs have the most hauntings. Conversely, I have found that the Catholics’ methods of dealing with negative entities are the only ones that actually work when trying to “clean a house.”
Is there anything authentic in the movie “Ghost-Busters” connected to real-life ghost hunting?
I guess maybe the fact that ghosts are real. Unfortunately, I think that may be about it.
What about “Poltergeist?”
It is a relatively good depiction of a demonic haunting, although I have never heard of someone being pulled into the spirit realm by a TV or closet.
A Haunting at Michigan Masonic Center
As told by Dirk Hughes, Director Michigan Masonic Museum and Library
“A Prince Hall brother (we’ll refer to him as “L.C.”) from Detroit visiting the Grand Rapids Prince Hall lodge for the first time. The Prince Hall brothers were meeting in one of the lodge rooms on the 6th floor of the building. When Bro. L.C. came out of the elevator; he was confused as to which way to go when he noticed an older, distinguished-looking white gentleman beckoning him to follow. Bro. L.C. thought it was a little odd, since almost all Prince Hall Freemasons are of African-American decent, but not “overly” odd, because it is not uncommon for brothers to help each other out regardless of their lodge membership, race, etc. Bro. L.C. followed the older gentleman at a distance into the west lodge room, losing sight of him as he turned into the entryway. Bro. L.C. proceeded into the lodge room to find his other Prince Hall brothers there, happy to see he was able to make it. The Prince Hall brothers asked him if he had any difficulty finding the place and Bro. L.C. said, “No, I just followed the old white guy here.” The Prince Hall brothers were confused and asked Bro. L.C. what old white guy he was talking about. “The old white guy that just walked in here before I did,” Bro. L.C. defended. The Prince Hall brothers assured Bro. L.C. that no one had come in just before him, let alone an “old white guy.” There was only one way in and out of the lodge room. Bro. L.C. couldn’t understand what had happened to the gentleman who had shown him the way to the meeting. After the meeting, Bro. L.C. was walking down the stairway and saw the portrait of Lou B. Winsor.* “That’s the old white guy who I followed to the meeting!” Bro. L.C. declared excitedly.
“Impossible,” the other brothers assured him. “Bro. Winsor has been dead for decades.”
This account was told to me by Bro. L.C He is still sure the man who we saw was the same man as the portrait.”
* A large portrait hangs in the stairwell of the Michigan Masonic Center building of Bro. Lou B. Winsor, Grand Master of the Masons in Michigan for the year 1897 and Grand Secretary for the Grand Lodge until his death in 1936.
10 Signs Your House is Haunted
1. Electrical Disturbances
Pay attention to flickering lights, glowing orbs, sudden computer shutdowns, and television channels changing on their own. Having your doorbell ring when no one is there (nor is anyone running away from your house) could mean your visitor is out-of-this-world.
2. Missing objects
Pick up on missing items. Inconsequential objects have been known to disappear, never to be seen again. Keys can’t be found and then are discovered sitting out in the open.
3. Moving Shadows
Take note of incidences of “seeing things” including shadowy figures that you see from the corner of your eye or shapeless shadows that appear without explanation.
4. Strange Animal Behavior
If your cat seems to follow an invisible object with its eyes or your dog repeatedly barks at an unseen object, there might be something ethereal going on.
Look for full body apparition of a stranger who appears then fades away and vaporous wisps of lights that seem to float innocently away. Hallways and bedrooms are frequent locations. One of the best ways to know if your house is haunted is to see it for yourself.
An object such as a book or box levitates and then slams down on its original spot. Doors open for no reason or a cabinet door is left open when you are certain it was closed when you left the room, and you’re the only one at home.
Be aware of unusual sensations. Is a spooky specter spying on you while you’re browsing the internet? Sensing someone is looking over your shoulder, and when you look, no one is there is a common occurrence. Feeling as if someone has brushed against you or an invisible hand pats you on the back could mean an otherworldly guest is near. Cold spots in a room are another indicator.
Listen for strange noises. A sound of water dripping in places where there is no water source is one example. Other sounds frequently reported include whispers, the sound of footsteps and hearing the sound of something like a marble rolling on an upstairs floor.
9. Background Check
Explore whether your house has a history. Spiritual energy is said to remain following a historical tragedy, a sudden, unexpected death or strong emotional turmoil. If your house is on ancient burial ground or a battle site, you may have an issue with unwelcome inhabitants.
Scrutinize any unusual smells. The scent of perfume, smoke, food or rancid odors that come out of nowhere can indicate paranormal activity.
There’s no reason to be alarmed if you believe your home is inhabited by spirits. There is little evidence they can (or will) harm anyone.
A Haunting Experience
Mary Rademacher Reed describes an incident she experienced 10 years ago.
“I woke up in the middle of the night, and I saw a man standing in front of my full-length mirror. He was dressed in a ‘50s style tee-shirt and jeans, and he was combing his hair back. He never looked at me. I blinked my eyes to make sure I was awake. He never did look at me. All of a sudden I could smell the stench of feces. There was no way to explain that smell. I turned the light on, and he was gone. The smell lingered for a moment. I didn’t know what to believe. It never happened again.”
The Power of Suggestion
Is it possible that the mere expectation of seeing something spooky fuels your imagination? In anticipating seeing a ghost, a sheer curtain capturing a gust of wind becomes an ethereal being. A branch touching the window becomes a phantom tapping in Morse code. A voltage sag causing lights to dim becomes an indication of active spirits stirring about.
Du Shane reveals that many haunted cases he investigates are unfounded. He cites an example where he was called to explore a possible haunting at a home where the chandelier had crashed to the ground. The answer was simple; the light had only recently been installed, incorrectly.
There is no undeniable evidence that can quell the question on whether ghosts are authentic.
All astonishing discoveries including radiation, relativity, curved space-time, viruses, and radio waves were great surprises. It may not be so far-fetched to conceive that future discoveries and understandings will lead to “paranormal” assumptions being considered “normal” realities.
Someday, today’s paranormal investigators may be considered metaphysical revolutionaries; Galileo’s of the future perhaps?
To connect with Ghosts of Grand Rapids or Paranormal Michigan, as well as learn more about haunted tours, visit www.paranormalmichigan.com.