First, some admittedly limited background. The family in question is what we might call "of a certain class"; they occupy an 8,500+ square foot home of about 25 rooms built entirely of masonry situated on about 20 wooded acres. The home is not old in the multi-generational sense, having been constructed in 1978. Indeed, they reported that it came as a significant surprise to them when they arrived at the conclusion that the place was haunted. They acknowledged a series of tragedies in the family, and they also related that from 1989 to 1994 an elderly relative received at-home care in the South wing of the home. They also identified that they had taken in two of their younger cousins in 2005 who were troubled by mental health and drug addiction issues, one of whom later died in a particularly fiery and disastrous car wreck.
Details have to be kept to a minimum because the family enjoys a certain prominence and is significantly involved in the real estate and commercial markets in their region. The accident was somewhat publicized.
The home is now occupied by the titular head of family and his wife - although in modern sensibility it would be wise to note that the couple are fairly equal in their business and professional roles, so perhaps "heads of family" is a more accurate rendering. Their children are grown and the couple reports regular visits in which they entertain grandchildren and other extended family. The couple is also active in various civic pursuits and host a variety of meetings and gatherings on a semi-monthly basis. They are hale and healthy senior citizens, both in their sixties. The gentleman in question also happens to be a member of a specific fraternity and it was through these contacts that the Vicar was contracted to interact with and if necessary dispel an inhabitation, if one was found to be present and troublesome.
|A view down the hallway of the room where the activity is reported to be centered|
The Vicar began this investigation with the appropriate skeptical remove that is the hallmark of the proper Wizard. Though the Vicar can often be found poking and otherwise irritating the scientists who accidentally stumble across his blogspot, the truth is that the Vicar has training firmly grounded in science and logic - but don't tell the scientists and skeptics, as it would ruin the fun. In these matters, we must first disbelieve if we are to come to a valid belief, and evidence gathering is hampered when we proceed from preconceptions. A team was brought in, including the always reliable Sam, who has accompanied the Vicar for many years on these sorts of excursions and who insists that he and the Vicar together do not in any way constitute a modern Watson and Holmes duo, much to the Vicar's disappointment.
We also brought along a psychic, an ovilus, electromagnetic field detection equipment and - of course - smart phones. A 35 mm film camera was also in our tool box since digital photos have the nasty quality of being easy to manipulate and can also contain "digital artifacts" that can be quite misleading. Our pictures did not turn up any anomalies associated with this sort of activity, but in truth, the Vicar is not surprised and we should in general be skeptical and wary with respect to "evidence" in these matters. Though it is a hard pill for the scientist to swallow, the paranormal is aptly named and will rarely manifest for us incontrovertible proof - that which is paranormal is literally "off to one side of normal" and as such, it will no more obey normal rules than it will respond to traditional applications of the scientific method. The paranormal phenomena are also perfectly to be expected, statistically speaking. After all, if most things in the cosmos obey a certain set of rules, it is reasonable to conclude that a certain small percentage will at least appear to not obey those same rules. Universal laws can hardly be properly universal if they do not take into account periodic violations of the same.
The activity that the couple described is typical of poltergeist and related phenomena. The lady of the house reported that she would hear things when she was alone in the house, and these included the typical opening and closing of doors, treading of feet upon stairs, and catastrophic collapses of shelving or else the sounds of objects being thrown about. Usually, nothing would actually be out of place when she went to check. The sole exception was a puzzle box, which on two occasions was seen to move - once entirely across the couple's bedroom, as though thrown - by both people at the same time.
The piece was a gift, purchased by the young man who died in the auto wreck mentioned earlier. He bought it for the couple while on a church trip to the Holy Land. They related that he stayed with them for a period of about eleven months and that he was a talented artist. "When he brought home the puzzle box, I thought at first that he had made it. He was very talented at things like that," the woman reported.
We were led to the room in which the young man slept until his untimely passing. On our way there we were told about the accident. "He was drunk and had been taking alprazolam and smoking grass," the gentleman said - his use of slang perhaps dating him just a bit. "The police said he flipped the car on a sharp turn. I know the road and it goes almost into a 90 degree bend at that spot, so I can see where that's exactly what would happen if one were speeding and inebriated. They figured he was doing close to a hundred, and the car rolled over ten or fifteen times. It caught fire, of course. He was so completely burned that there really wasn't much to bury."
"The memorial service was really beautiful," the lady added at that point.
The room in question was not what the Vicar or his party expected. It was comparatively small and now used for storage, adjoining a large bathroom decorated in a Greco-Roman revivalist style with a full walk-in shower complete with a Tuscan column. One wall of the shower is entirely of glass block - a fact which figures prominently in one of the spookier events recounted by the couple.
|The haunted shower - Definitely a first in our experience|
When the couple went together to investigate, there was no sign that the shower had been running at all. "Everything was dry," the lady said. "There was no steam, and no water on the floor. This is all tile, and water takes a while to evaporate."
"It was all of a half hour later," her husband said.
When asked if anyone else could have been in the house, the gentleman was genuinely amused. "Not with the security system we have."
We decided that it was time to turn on the ovilus, and after about twenty minutes of letting it "clear", we began to move around in the part of the house where the activity was reported to be the strongest. The gentleman informed us that he had business and would have to leave. His wife remained with us and was able to immediately validate and bring meaning to what happened next.
In the hall, the Vicar held the ovilus near a group of photographs of family members. These cannot be reproduced here for obvious reasons, but one in particular was of a pretty blonde woman in her middle twenties. Nearby were photos of the two cousins. As the Vicar swept the ovilus near the pictures of the cousins, it quite unexpectedly "woke up".
Those readers familiar with these sorts of devices know that they will often be silent for extended periods of time, only to suddenly speak one word of no clear significance and then return to silence. At other times - perhaps paranormally active times - an ovilus will go from dead silence to emitting a series of words or syllables closely placed. Students of the esoteric arts will understand immediately the logic behind these kinds of "randomized" tools: Consciousness of the sort we might associate with discarnate intelligences can impose order on chaos, much as living human beings are known to do. The advantage of an ovilus over a Ouija board is simple in that living human agency and interference - unintended or otherwise - is largely removed from the equation.
In front of the picture of the deceased cousin the ovilus said, "Night". Less than two seconds later, it said, "Road". The Vicar had some difficulty putting his thoughts into words at that point, since this was the first activity the ovilus had produced and it was more spectacular than we were used to. Sam, on the other hand had no such trouble.
"Oh, holy shit," he said.
Our psychic works somewhat differently from some of the more theatrical folks in the business. She has a habit of remaining entirely silent until the end of an investigation, generally jotting down notes in a little leather-bound book that she keeps for the purpose of recording impressions. It is her belief that not stating her impressions aloud produces two critical effects - First, it limits the appearance of charlatanism, and second, it gives her a wider range of communicative tools. This was one of those rare occurrences when she decided to address the lady of the house directly. "He played guitar," she said, very definitively. "It burned in the car with him."
For her part, the lady looked very shocked. "There's no way you could know that. He didn't play while he was here, though. We wouldn't let him set up the amplifier."
Our psychic nodded. "That's why it was in the trunk of the car." She closed her book. "He's actually here right now. He's a very strong presence."
The Vicar passed the ovilus in front of the photo of the young blonde woman, and the ovilus immediately said, "Wonderful". Before the Vicar could inquire of the lady of the house what this might mean, the psychic provided an explanation.
"That's his mother," she said. "He's still angry with his father for leaving he and his brother after she died." The lady quickly verified this.
"She died quite young," we were told, "when the boys were 2 and 3. She had a blood clot and it went to her heart... They had a very difficult childhood. Their father didn't exactly abandon them, but he traveled a lot after she passed. It was business, but he was always away longer than he should have been."
The Vicar is quite certain that it doesn't take a genius or an adept in the secrets to realize that a family might hang pictures of relatives near one another. It would be equally likely to conclude that a distraught father might be absent or otherwise poor at fulfilling his duties - particularly when one of the brothers came to an end because of abuse of drugs and alcohol. That kind of behavior often grows out of deep pain and a questioning of one's core identity - effects that are often rooted in experiences of loss and abandonment.
The skeptical view would capitalize upon this and cunningly ignore the fact that the ovilus had provided us with fairly relevant statements. This has a lot to do with the careful vivisection of the whole body of knowledge by academics into neat sets so that data can be contained and prevented from intermingling. This is a strategy evolved to hinder the intuitive leaps that are so critical to esoteric awakening. Ignoring our instincts and obsessively focusing on the purely pedestrian is the whole purpose of skepticism and science in these sorts of situations - Otherwise, we might have to confront the scary possibility that something invisible and intelligent can be in the same room with us at any moment. Moreover, a variety of such things could be virtually everywhere at all times - perhaps even looking over your shoulder as you read this post.
The Vicar returned the ovilus to the position directly in front of the deceased young man's picture, and it again reacted almost instantly. "March," it said. The lady of the house gasped.
"His birthday was March first," she supplied. There were tears in her eyes. A moment later, the ovilus said, "guitar".
The upshot of our experience was that all of the phenomena we encountered were centered around the spirit box device, and all of it was entirely dependent upon subjective awareness and interpretation. The Vicar is keenly aware that this represents a critical flaw to the skeptical mind. The reality of the esoteric tradition is such that the subjectivity of these matters is quite the opposite to our way of thinking - Experience is meaningless in the absence of human interpretation. And as this case clearly illustrates, the interpretations we make as people are not entirely drawn from fantasy and wishful thinking. The statistical likelihood that these seemingly relevant words would emerge in the pattern they did, with the definitive clarity that they seemed to imply, is fairly low. Quantitative reasoning in these matters is a matter of debate, of course, but the occultist tends not to worry about the opinions of those who won't even tag along on such an excursion, much less bother to become educated on the realities of the ars arcanum.
Before we wrapped up our investigation, we were asked by the lady of the house to visit the south wing. Her father stayed here during the last part of his life, and he passed away in his room. His former bedroom has long since been converted into a home office. It is a sunny room with floor-to-ceiling windows all along the south wall that offer a view of the lawn backed by dense woods about an acre distant. No photos were allowed in this room, since the gentleman uses it for his business ventures and there was a concern that we might accidentally capture images containing sensitive or confidential information.
The lady attempted to speak to her father at this point, and our psychic turned on her smart phone's audio recorder app in an effort to capture an EVP. This was fruitless, as it turned out, but also unnecessary in the Vicar's view. When we reached the center of the room, the ovilus spoke two words, back to back.
This was meaningless to the Vicar and the psychic looked uncertain. Sam had long since decided he would ignore the ovilus - in truth, the Vicar drags him along through the coercion of pay, since Sam is a large fellow with a colorful past that has provided him with a useful set of skills. These do not include coping well with paranormal activity, however.
The lady of the house had teared up again, however, and she needed a moment before she could explain. "My dad was in the war. He used to tell a story about getting in trouble for going awol one weekend. They were in Paris at the time, and they were supposed to report at a certain time but they came back late. Anyway, they were punished with KP duty. He said they had to peel and cut potatoes for a whole week."
We concluded our visit with the requisite protocol for coping with these kinds of inhabitations. The lady was advised that while the presences seemed harmless and appeared to represent family members, there was no certainty that they are not non-human discarnate intelligences or Others as they are known to Athena's Men. She was offered the service known as a warding, in which power symbols are placed throughout the home with special attention to those areas most effected. This typically puts an end to paranormal activity, because the sigils used have a dual impact - they are capable of interfering with the energy patterns used by "spirits" to manifest activity, and they operate in the human unconscious, providing a sense of safety and security. This latter effect is thought to explain the former, incidentally - the beliefs and emotions present in us produce energetic resonances that can be as powerful or more so than the intensity of the patterns that discarnate intelligences depend upon. The fundamentals of this were described to the lady, and she was advised that if the presences in the home were family, they would also be blocked from continuing to inhabit the property.