Archive for the ‘Paranormal Activity’ Category

As a ghost tour guide in Ybor City, I stroll the old village’s streets, entering haunted sites with my guests, telling the ‘creme de la creme’ ghost stories of the town’s immigrant history. I describe with senate passion the events that led to an entities’ attachment…I conjure the characters involved. Derelict surgeons, nurses who can’t let go, mad doctors, murderers and victims…even children. Sometimes their presence is almost palpable. Will they reveal themselves tonight? Will they make an EMF meter go ballistic…or show themselves as a blur in a photograph? It is these entities that I hope will come out to play. Part of my job is to introduce them to my guests, both in story as a narrative but also in some real way that participants can walk away feeling like just maybe…a disembodied spirit was present. Of course, it is THEIR choice to come out…and make themselves known.
On occasion though, a guest will introduce me to ‘their ghost’. No matter how many times this happens, I never cease to be amazed, slightly taken aback by this introduction. They will stop me somewhere along the way, usually while we are investigating in a haunted building. Often very casual in their remarks, they will say something like, “My house is haunted” or “I had this strange experience”…and off we go, into a personal wormhole of paranormal experiences. These very personalized accounts are often, at least for me, just as intriguing as the formal historic ghost stories I tell on the tour.
Recently a man visiting from the Chicago area was on the tour along with his wife. A tall, younger man, he seemed on the surface of it to be like any other guest…interested and engaged. As though he was relating the experience of something commonplace, he turned to me and said, “I’ve been seeing them since I was eight years old”. After all this time, I am still paralyzed in amazement when someone says something like this to me. I said, “Really?”
He said, “Each house me and my wife have lived in, ‘they’ have been around. We lived in a house along with my two young daughters and this ‘third’ little girl started showing up. We call her ‘Amy’.”
All I could say was “Oh really.”
He said “Sometimes, she would get rambunctious. She would tease my daughters…’pick’ at them. I would simply enter the bedroom and, using my parental voice, say loudly ‘AMY! Stop that! Behave!’…and she would comply.” I said, “This worked?” He said “Of course. After all, she is just a little girl!”
Amazing. You can learn a lot about ghosts from guests.

Tales of ghosts are not new, and in fact date back into the shadowy beginnings of history, as we know it.

A ghost story survives from 1200 BC ancient Egypt, translated from hieroglyphics found on shards of pottery.

There is also the legend of Tu-Po, who served as a minister to Chinese Emperor Hsuan (lived 827-783 B.C.). After a disagreement with the emperor, Tu-Po was put to death, but he did much more than just haunt his former boss. It is said that Hsuan was killed by an arrow, fired by a shadowy figure that resembled his former minister.

And then there is this, from Ancient Rome:

Roman senator Pliny the Younger, who died in A.D. 113, told a ghost tale so haunting that it survives to this day. “There was at Athens a large and roomy house, which had a bad name, so that no one could live there. In the dead of the night, a noise — resembling the clashing of iron — was frequently heard, which, if you listened more attentively, sounded like the rattling of chains,” disturbances that led to the appearance of a specter “form of an old man, of extremely emaciated and squalid appearance, with a long beard and dishevelled, hair, rattling the chains on his feet and hands.”

Needless to say, the house was abandoned and had to be rented out for a cheap price. When a philosopher named Athenodorus heard the story, he reportedly rented the house and confronted the ghost. The ghost appeared, and rattled around before vanishing. Athenodorus calmly marked the spot where the ghost vanished and, in the morning, ordered that the spot be dug up, the story goes.

“This was accordingly done, and the skeleton of a man in chains was found there, for the body, having lain a considerable time in the ground was putrefied and mouldered away from the (chains). ” After being given a proper burial, the ghost departed, and the house was haunted no more, according to Pliny’s tale. (Translation from Pliny the Younger, The Harvard Classics, 1909-1914.)

So as shocking as it is to encounter a spirit, don’t think you are the first – or only one – to do so. You are just the latest.

image by Alejandro Jodorowsky

image by Alejandro Jodorowsky


Sometimes being a tour guide of a ghost tour is like being a sherpa in the high Himalayas…you never know what may happen in that ‘rarefied air’. Your skills must include a command of information and historical facts, story telling, experience and knowledge of paranormal activities/investigations and a deep and sensitive respect for the experiences and feelings of your public guests.

Each tour, (because of the many varied influences offered by guests, the environment and the ‘perceptions’ of the moment), is unique. On one such tour recently, a family was participating comprised of a father, mother, two teenage daughters and a third daughter who was ten years old. In story, I was recounting the actions of an entity who will on occasion ‘flick’ the hair around or touch the ear of guests…but he only does this with females. Men are safe from his trickery. It became apparent that the girls, particularly the ten year old, were emotionally affected, that is to say, obviously uncomfortable. As I became aware, the concerned father, addressing the ten year old, said “Are you ok?” She said “No. I need to leave”. The other two daughters said they would go upstairs with her, away from where we were in the basement area. A public space upstairs, I said they would be safe there. This all happened very quickly. The father, a man relatively conventional in appearance, turned to me and said, “It’s ok. She has ‘the gift'”. I was stopped in my storytelling tracks. I said, “Ok. We need to take a moment and address this!”

He said “I’m a police officer and I don’t believe in what I can’t touch or see…or prove. But my daughters have brought me over. They all are ‘sensitives’. They can see and hear the dead. However, my youngest is different. She has a physical connection and they will sometimes ‘touch’ her. I had a feeling your story was going to affect her”. I could only respond with “Amazing”. Those on the tour were very interested and so, as time allowed, he shared and we all listened intently. He told of events in which his family had been touched by emotions while in contact with deceased loved ones. “We have been on ghost tours around the country” he said. “In an odd way, it has brought us all closer together. It’s something we alone share and understand”. Throughout the rest of the night the girls were in and out…intently involved but at times keeping a distance. When we went into the next haunted site, they remained outside and their parents took turns attending to them.
There may be several lessons we can take away with us concerning the events of that night.
First, a book indeed cannot be judged by it’s cover. I never know as my tour begins who may be a ‘believer’ and who may be not. I have learned that people attend ghost tours for as many reasons as there are individuals. For some it’s a serious paranormal investigation. For others it’s an enjoyable way to learn about history. Others yet it is just entertainment…a way to do ‘something different’ for the evening. Or for some it is a confirmation that we exist after death. And yes, some come hoping for the thrill of being scared. And you will never know by looking at them initially which one it may be until the tour is nearly over. Secondly, the ones who might become scared are usually not the disbelievers, unless they have been ‘converted’ in the course of the evening. More often it might be the ones who have had prior experiences and they really do KNOW that this is real. And thirdly, when a moment arises that is outside of what might be expected…and certainly outside of what might have been planned…sometimes something very rich occurs. And when this happens, (and it happens far more often than you might expect), both the tour guide and the guests must respect what can be revealed in that moment by being sensitive and non-judgemental. These are often the ‘jewels’ of a ghost tour in which the guests become as interesting as the ghosts.