By Jeff Clementson | Editor
Spirits, specters, ghosts — everyone loves sharing their favorite stories about them around the campfire. But what if they are more than mere stories in your life? What can you do to protect yourself? What kind of evidence of their existence might be out there?
These are the questions a unique, new program called “Paranormal Investigations” at Myztic Isle, a spiritual shop in the La Mesa Springs shopping center, seeks to answer.
Psychics Georgia Vlahos-Ravenhawk and Ken Kessler along with paranormal investigator Brian Bennion came up with the three-part series — a class on psychic protection from ghosts, a class on how to use devices to investigate ghosts and a field trip to do an investigation. The inaugural class investigated Old Town San Diego’s Whaley House, El Campo Santo Cemetery and Cosmopolitan Hotel on Oct. 15.
The paranormal instructors — as well as many of the participants in the classes — said they have experienced contacts with spirits, sometimes unwanted ones.
Vlahos-Ravenhawk said she started feeling “presences” in her late teens when she would visit historical sites in her native New Jersey. But it was when she moved into a 200-year-old “very haunted house” with her now ex-husband that she realized she needed to learn how to deal with them.
“I’ve always been a magnet for ghosts, and a reluctant one,” she said. “I think everybody has had some kind of experience — some of us get a lot more.”
Kessler, who led the class on psychic protection, said he was a complete skeptic about the paranormal and “always thought there was a trick or scam behind it” until an experience handling a pendulum that moved on its own began changing his mind.
“I had more experiences; it wasn’t just a rock and a string that changed everything, but that’s where it started,” he said.
According to Kessler, protecting yourself from spirits and other psychic energy has everything to do with intention.
“If you decide you are protected or you decide you aren’t protected, either way you are right,” he said. Some of the techniques he suggested to use include calling on angelic protectors, imagining a protective cloak that surrounds your body, using crystals and burning sage.
The techniques are used to ward off unwanted “hitchhiker” spirits that can attach themselves to people for a variety of reasons — and the seasons even play a role in it.
“One of the reasons why I wanted to do a psychic protection class at the beginning of October is because the veil is thin,” he said. “There’s lots of activity, lots of energy around and protection is a good idea.”
“I’ve been experiencing paranormal phenomenon my entire life,” Bannion said. “So I decided I wanted to have answers.”
Bannion, who led the class on paranormal investigating, has been investigating since 2007. He took an online course to get certified after moving to San Diego and experiencing lots of paranormal activity at the North Park pizza restaurant where he works.
Although the Myztic Isle class is much more basic than the courses he took, he said it is a good way to learn how to do an investigation properly.
“It is a real simple way of doing paranormal investigating without using million-dollar gadgets,” he said. “You can do paranormal investigation with just a few simple materials.”
An investigation consists of using devices like EMF (electro-magnetic field) meters, radio sweeps, recording devices, and also less-technical tools like pendulums and divining rods.
Investigators are supposed to sweep areas with the EMF to discover where the electro-magnetic fields are created by lights or other electric devices to rule out looking for spirits in those areas. If the EMF spikes in an area that is clear of any normal electro-magnetic activity, that should be noted. Laser thermometers measure drops or spikes in temperature. Radio sweeps that scan frequencies, or even white noise devices, are used with recorders to capture any potential electronic communications.
It is believed by paranormal investigators that ghosts are energy and that is why they can manipulate electronic devices, and communicate through them.
Old Town ghosts
The trip to Old Town started at El Campo Santo Cemetery, the burial spot for one of San Diego’s most famous ghosts — Yankee Jim, a serial horse thief who was the last man to be publicly hung in the city.
Although there was no sign of Jim (other than the cigars left by tourists near his grave), Bennion did report some contact with a spirit familiar to him at the back of the cemetery — a spirit he previously told the class about.
“I have picked up a small boy there,” he said. “A lot of other people who are paranormal investigators — that I hadn’t even talked to — brought up the same thing, so since there’s that distance between us, that brings a little validation to it.”
The group on the trip had various backgrounds with the paranormal. There was a woman who said she was a medium who could speak with spirits; a woman who writes paranormal romance novels; a man who is skeptical but had experienced a paranormal event he couldn’t explain; and a mother who came with her son who was a fan of the television show “Ghost Hunters.”
Kessler said shows on the paranormal like “Supernatural” or “Ghost Hunters” are a “double-edged sword,” for paranormal investigators.
“On one hand, it brings more of this awareness to the public, almost mainstream,” he said. “But if you look at the reality shows, at the end you can see all the writers and if it’s a reality show, why would they need all these people scripting things out?”
The evening in Old Town was not scripted out. Other than the brief contact with the boy spirit in the cemetery and a few mysterious EMF spikes outside the Whaley House, there was little paranormal activity to record — certainly not the kind dramatized on TV. The visit to Cosmopolitan Hotel included a rundown on the hotel’s ghost sightings, and one member of the group shared a story about a previous trip there where she was pushed by an unseen force, but there was no activity to record there that night.
Bennion said that is to be expected at a lot of investigations — sometimes places are filled with paranormal activity and other times nothing, especially at places that are inundated with tourists.
The next paranormal investigation field trip is scheduled at the less-touristy destination of Pioneer Park Cemetery in El Cajon on Dec. 10.
In addition to the ghost investigations, Myztic Isle also recently started hosting discussion groups on a variety of paranormal topics.
“I started ‘Paranormal Explorations’ to get a talking group started where people could have a confidential environment to talk about that part of their lives that is very important but rarely gets expressed,” group host Adrienne Prince said.
Prince began her interest in the paranormal as a child in Santa Fe, New Mexico when she asked for help from angels and soon after her mother discovered yoga and meditation and set her family on a new path.
She hopes the Paranormal Explorations groups will allow people to talk about their own experiences with strange incidents that most people never talk about.
“I believe it was Gabriel García Márquez that said, ‘Every person has a public life, a private life and a secret life,’ and I knew that was really true for me,” she said, adding that her public life was being a teacher and writer and her private life was being a mother and partner. “But I had this secret life where I had these angelic contacts since about age 7 and guidance and things that have gotten me out of near-death situations and I’ve been strongly led my entire life and I didn’t feel I could talk to anybody about that.”
The first Paranormal Explorations was held in July and dealt with UFOs. About a dozen people came, Prince said, and people talked about their interest in UFOs, although no one shared any personal experiences or sightings.
She hopes the more personal nature of the next topic, “Life Beyond Death,” a discussion on strange incidents surrounding death and dying will “bring that part of their lives out and [that people will] be able to talk about it and find out they are not alone” in their experiences.
Prince said that sharing at the Nov. 14 “Life Beyond Death” discussion will be limited to personal experiences or experiences of immediate friends and family, and not include third-party stories because those conversations lead to debate rather than sharing.
“I try and maintain a respectful environment,” she said. “People should only talk about the experiences that they’re having. A skeptic is welcome to come but they need to understand that people will be talking about their first-hand experiences. So if they’re going to be skeptical on that, I wouldn’t be interested in having them come because that would be telling people their experience wasn’t trustworthy.”
Other possible topics in the future include synchronicities, coincidences and divine guidance; healing miracles; and a talk on fated love in February.
For more information on paranormal events at Myztic Isle, visit myzticisle.net.
— Reach Jeff Clemetson at email@example.com.