Saturday October 30, 2010
By LEE MEI LI
Although some of us may not believe in the supernatural, we all fear the unknown.
What are ghostly encounters? For centuries, researchers in this field have attempted to prove cynics wrong: that ghosts do exist. But perhaps the more interesting question is: Why do they exist?
For over 35 years, freelance paranormal investigator Tim McHenry has been on the hunt for answers. In an e-mail interview, McHenry says he had his first “encounter” at age 12.
“For a long time, I doubted my sanity because of society’s ridicule and kept my experiences to myself. I had another encounter with a ghost on a hunting trip at age 36, and finally came to the realisation that they were real and that I was quite sane,” he explains.
McHenry, 50, who resides in Rhode Island, the United States, is an underwriter for a sub-prime automobile finance company. After office hours, he operates The Truth Paranormal Investigations, an outfit specialising in paranormal investigations of “disturbed” homes.
McHenry clarifies that he is no “ghostbuster” and that he is merely helping people understand what they are dealing with.
Dead or alive
So, why do ghosts exist?
“I believe in the Survival Theory — the survival of the human spirit or energy after the death of the physical body. There have been numerous documented cases of Near Death Experiences (NDE) involving ‘out of body’ experience — they’ve heard doctors talking, seen their own body and also their surroundings.
“I think that the Survival Theory and NDE are related; ghosts or spirits are a continuation of these,” says McHenry.
“I don’t think that all ghosts we encounter are trying to send us a message. The voice you hear or the knock on the wall may just be them letting us know they’re there or that we’re invading their space.”
McHenry believes that there are rules on the “other side” that prevents ghosts from communicating directly with the living. Of course, rules are meant to be broken, which is why encounters happen.
McHenry believes ghosts are just like people — you get all sorts.
“There are nasty ghosts but they are extremely rare. TV, books and other media have always portrayed ghosts as scary and dangerous yet that is the farthest from the truth. Remember, they were people once. Some are pranksters or jokesters, but by and large, most people are nice. Some of us, however, belong in jail. I believe the same is true of ghosts,” he argues.
McHenry talks of two kinds of hauntings: residual hauntings and intelligent hauntings.
A residual haunting is a paranormal experience usually repeated in the same place or day due to an event or tragedy — like a looped videotape.
“You can’t communicate with it and you usually can’t get rid of it. Because it’s just an event repeating itself, it’s nothing to be afraid of,” explains McHenry.
Intelligent hauntings, on the other hand, refer to contact with an intelligent ghost.
“They can communicate with you and have the power of reason. They may knock or pull your hair or tug a shirt tail. No one knows the ‘why’ of the haunt. Oftentimes it’s caused by tragic events or an untimely death — unfinished business,” says McHenry.
Law of attraction
“A medium recently told me that brain wave function is what allows some to experience ghosts and not others. I think it also has to do with the experience of seeing a ghost for the first time. Like an ink blot or clouds, different people see different things.
“If someone tells you they see something specific in an ink blot, all of a sudden you may see the same thing. I also think the law of attraction has a lot to do with it as well. For some reason I have an affinity for finding haunted locations,” says McHenry.
So if you spend a lot of time thinking of ghosts, will you eventually attract one?
“Ghosts communicate with us through reading our thoughts. This may explain why a lot of people who experience a haunting often report dreams and nightmares. Sleep paralysis or ‘Old Hag Syndrome’, as it used to be called, is very common during REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep — our deepest form of sleep. A lot of people report ghostly encounters when they’re actually hallucinating or experiencing other symptoms,” says McHenry.
This is not to say that ghosts that appear in dreams are just a figment of an over-active imagination.
“I recently had an experience that was probably an encounter with an entity that followed me home after an investigation. I had fallen asleep while sitting in my recliner. I remember a large greyish mass in front of my recliner with a muscular arm and hand tightly gripping my forearm.
“I remember suddenly snapping awake. I quickly turned on the light to find myself standing alone in my living room with the TV still on. The bruise later turned out to be the exact shape of thick fingers around my forearm.”
This is an example of what McHenry believes to be ghosts trying to communicate with someone through conscious thought.
Contrary to popular belief, ghosts don’t only appear at night.
“My first two encounters were during the day. It’s true that a lot of encounters happen at night, but I think that’s because of our upbringing. A lot of ghosts appear translucent and misty, and are hard to see during the day.
“But I have plenty of witness testimony to substantiate that there are almost as many sightings of ghosts during daylight hours as there are at night,” McHenry clarifies.
“A lot of paranormal encounters happen between 3.30am and 5.30am. Some famous locations don’t become ‘active’ until these specific hours. But people like to be scared and night-time investigations sometimes fit the bill, so to speak.”
While some cynics may say that humans are more dangerous than ghosts, we still scare ourselves silly whenever we think of what “they” might do to us. A word of wisdom — ignorance is bliss.
Not of this realm