Quest For The Afterlife - part 2
As I previously wrote in Quest For The Afterlife, The Journey Begins, my daughter and I made a trip to the Gettysburg Battlefield on July 1, 2001. It was the 138th anniversary of the battle, so we felt it was appropriate to begin at that time. Since I only lived 30 minutes from the site, I had decided to make the trip again on the 2nd and 3rd of the month, too. These three dates encompassed the entire battle which transpired in 1863.
I woke early on the 2nd and made my preparations for another quick trip. My daughter was unable to accompany me so I asked to take my 22 month old granddaughter for company. Ryder was a very smart child, speaking relatively early, and just a pleasure to be around. I thought she would enjoy running free in the fields and getting a chance to climb and explore. Off we went in search of ghosts and angels.
When we arrived home that evening, I immediately downloaded the pictures. I was rewarded with many more intriguing photos. I know the battlefield so well that I was able to discern exactly where most of the pictures had been taken, but there was one that had me stumped. It had so many images that it was hard to make out exactly what it was supposed to be. The images were sort of layered, one on top of the other with what looked like shadowy people. I scrolled quickly through all the rest of the photos wondering if there was something wrong with my camera. Nope. It was only that one picture that held so many layers.
If I had taken a picture like this using a regular camera, I would have supposed it was a double exposure caused by me failing to advance the film to the next frame. Because I was using a digital camera, I knew that couldn't be the cause. I got online and looked up information on what kinds of malfunctions could happen with the digital ones and what kinds of photos each malfunction could produce. I didn't find anything even remotely resembling what I had looking back at me from my computer screen.
My daughter came over to take a look. I pointed to one of the superimposed images saying that I thought it looked like an officer wearing perhaps a Hardee hat and a duster. For those who don't know, a Hardee hat was a specific design used by the Union enlisted men as a dress hat rather than the low, flat Kepi's or slouch hats with which most people are familiar. A duster is a long overcoat which has a cape-like overlay across the shoulders and upper arms. While Hardee hats were the official hat for the entire northern army, the famed Iron Brigade was most famous for wearing them.
Though there were many layers of imagery, I assumed the focus of the picture had been on some sort of building as there seemed to be what looked like the side of a house or barn underneath it all. I tried and tried to recall where it had been taken, but there was so much going on in this picture, I couldn't make it out. I decided that the next day, instead of wandering about to my favorite places, I would retrace my steps.
About half way through my day on the 3rd, I came to the back side of the scene of Pickett's Charge. I knew this was the scene of my photo. The house, situated across the field from what would have been the Union center line, had been used as General Meade's headquarters during that awful day the Confederates were slaughtered. The barn standing not far behind the house had been used as a field hospital for officers. It was the barn I had snapped. The wood siding was identical to that in my photo.
This photo became the catalyst which drove me to start web surfing for as much ghostphotography as I could find. I came across several sites with photos posted, but was amazed at how many of them were pictures of what looked like bubbles. I didn't have any of that stuff in my pictures and wondered why. There were quite a few photos similar to the ones I had taken, but their numbers were very low compared to how many were of the bubbles I was soon to learn were called “orbs”. As I read and learned about others' experiences, I was puzzled by my ability to keep getting what I discovered were referred to as full body materializations.
There were many trips to Gettysburg that summer and fall, always with Ryder in tow, sometimes with my sons or daughter. They were good times. I really didn't care whether I got any images or not. I was happy we had a mutual interest which would allow for so much time to be spent in each others company. One night after arriving back in town, I dropped my granddaughter off at her home. I stayed to visit awhile, regaling my daughter with her daughter's exploits. Ryder was at the kitchen table, pencil in hand, busy making art on a piece of computer paper.
I stopped to admire her work before I left and just stared at the paper she was working so diligently on. The entire page was covered with hundreds of tiny circles and nothing else. She continued to put more circles on the page until finally I asked her what she was drawing.
Without looking up at me she said, “My buddies.”
“Your buddies? What do you mean? What are those circles?”
Still not looking me, “My buddies!” said with some impatience like I was being more than a tad stupid.
I sat down beside her and picked up the paper, forcing her to look at me. “Do you mean your friends? Are you drawing pictures of your friends?”
An impatient nod, followed by, “my buddies.” Then a smile.
“Wow, you have a lot of friends. Where did you get so many buddies?”
“Today.” She pulled the paper out of my hand and proceeded to squeeze more circles between the others.
I went home and downloaded my pictures. Ryder had been drawing what looked exactly like the bubbles I'd seen on so many “ghost” photos, only she was drawing hundreds of them! As I scrolled through my pictures, I was disappointed that none of them had a single orb on them. I didn't know what to make of it.
I had decided that I really liked using a digital camera, so in the late fall I purchased a decent model with a good sized viewing screen and, yippy!, a flash. I was able to buy external memory which enabled me to take as many pictures as I wanted because now I not only could delete poor quality photos on the spot, but my flash cards could hold several hundred photos, each.
Ghost hunting is a term I don't particularly care to use, but it appeared to outsiders as though that was exactly what I was doing. I didn't bother to try to explain myself to them because, frankly, I didn't want to engage in long winded conversations about my quest for the afterlife. It weirded people out. I also held a position of authority which I was careful not to endanger with talk of ghosts and spirits. Ten years ago, most people just weren't as open as they have become due to all the television programs on the subject polluting the networks today.
Lindsay and both of her daughters were often with me when I went to Gettysburg. Aurora was the baby, having just turned a year old seven weeks before Ryder reached her 2nd birthday. As we were coming down the road towards the Wheat Field, I decided not to stop there that day. Aurora was getting fidgety and the weather was kind of cold. As I coasted by the field, Ryder started jumping about in her seat, pointing and shouting about her “buddies”. Clearly, she wanted to stop.
I quickly pulled over and parked. We took both girls out of the van and started walking to where Ryder was pointing. I let her lead the way. Lindsay and I watched in amazement as Ryder raced off across the field towards a tall monument, with Aurora desperately trying to keep up. By the time Lindsay and I had reached the girls, they were both sitting on the low edge of the monument base, looking at something only they could see. We watched in silence as Aurora smiled and waved her baby hands at something or someone just above her. She had her head tilted back and chattered baby gibberish, gurgling in glee and clapping her hands.
Aurora was usually a somber child given to mute stares and empty expressions. We didn't know it then, but she is a victim of Asperberger's Syndrome, a disorder on the Autism spectrum. It wasn't that she didn't ever laugh or interact with people, but usually she only did so with those of us who were very involved with giving her care. That day, she was full of life, delighting in whoever or whatever was amusing her. Both girls were upset when it was time to leave, crying and struggling to pull away from our handholds as we tried to lead them back to the van.
My pictures from that day yielded one that appeared to be a man standing by a horse along the tree line of the Wheat Field. I blew it up and was startled to see that he appeared to have really long hair and a bare chest. It didn't make sense to me. The Wheatfield was a scene of horrific casualties, changing hands six times during the course of July 2nd. I couldn't imagine anyone taking their shirt off even though it was midsummer.
I posted the picture online to a site I had come across in my web surfing, which is now defunct. The administrator of the site contacted me and claimed that the photo was of an Indian. I had no doubt she was correct in that she seemed to have some major abilities, which I will get into at a later date. I was really confused by her claim. What did Indians have to do with the Civil War and Gettysburg, in particular? I wondered if somehow the Indian was linked to my heritage. My great-grandmother was a full blood Cherokee. Perhaps one of my ancestors was trying to make contact? I puzzled over this picture for almost a year, until I purchased a book by Mark Nesbitt.
Mark Nesbitt is a native of Gettysburg who has written a series of books titled Ghosts of Gettysburg. After about a year of exploring the ghostly side of the town, I purchased the entire series, hoping to find some answers to what I was experiencing. At the back of one of the books is a story written about a woman's personal ghostly experience at Gettysburg. Along with the story is a hand-drawn picture of what she had seen. Apparently, she had witnessed a scene of an Indian village right there on the Wheatfield! Historical research has confirmed her vision. In the 1700's, the ground now known as the Wheatfield and surrounding areas, was home to a tribe of Indians
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Several of the other pictures finally revealed what I had never before been capable of capturing. There were a number of them so covered in orbs that it was difficult to discern what was behind them. It seemed to me that I was being privileged with straight forward answers to my questions. In the beginning of my journey, I had wondered if the entity of the mist were capable of interacting with us or if it was just there for its own purpose. Considering what transpired between my granddaughter's and their invisible (to me) friend, I am now of the firm belief that we certainly can interact with them. The next question would be, “for what purpose?” Is it just a social thing, sort of like when we interact with living people who are friends, family, and acquaintances? Are we to take the opportunity to learn something specific from our interactions? Or am I perhaps viewing it all from a rather selfish angle? What if their purpose for attempting to interact is because they have a want that needs to be met? What if they too are searching for answers about why they're where they are?
I took steps to try out my theories by actually asking for “them” to smile for the camera. I was rewarded with bright shining orbs so close to the camera lens as to seem like they were on top of it. I received several photos with the jelly-like see through image where there was a distinct face smiling from ear to ear. I got even more brave. Sometimes the evening mist rolls across the fields of Gettysburg in a flowing ribbon. Skeptics would insist that it is caused by the cooling down of the atmosphere as the sun sets, meeting with the heat rising from the sun-warmed earth. That may be exactly what it is most of the time. But can anyone explain why the clouds and ribbons of mist come closer when I call to them, inviting them to come and be with me?
Skeptics would also claim that photos of orbs are nothing more than lint on the camera lens, dust motes drifting through the air, vapor mist caught in the flash of the camera, pollen that has become airborne. Well, of course, these things happen. Dust and pollen and vapor mist are all a part of the nature that abounds on our planet. I can not think of a single way to explain a child, a mere baby, doodling hundreds of “dust motes” on a paper and calling them her buddies. I can't explain why the pictures taken before and after a request for appearance would only show dust or pollen on the one with the specific request.
I didn't have any specified manner of discovery in mind when I began my mission. Photography just seemed like the place to start. By the time I had been taking pictures for about 8 months, I was convinced that there is more after we leave our bodies. I still didn't know what that may be, but I was hoping we didn't just linger around the earth trying to talk to people who probably couldn't see or hear us. How sad would that be?
As I continued to search the web for others' experiences, I began to feel as though I had learned as much as I could from the photography aspect. I wasn't done taking pictures but I needed more. Surely there was more that could be done to contact and interact more directly with the deceased? Finally, I decided on the next step toward discovery.
Sorry, you'll have to wait for the next segment......
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