Quest For The Afterlife - part 4
In Search Of EVP'S
When I mention EVP to people in passing, most are unaware what the letters stand for. Explaining they are the first letters of the words Electronic Voice Phenomenon, doesn't allow most people to grasp what that means. The first time I came across the letters I had no clue what it meant either. I kept seeing sections of paranormal websites with entire pages dedicated to EVP, but no description of what exactly that might mean. My curiosity eventually got the best of me and I clicked on one of the links.
The page I was directed to was filled with recordings of words or phrases attributed to being the voices of now deceased people. That is, they were recordings made after the person had died. I listened to a multitude of posted recordings. Most only sounded like weird electronic noisesclicking and humming. I was about to give up thinking that the posters were trying to pull a fast one, until I came across a really eerie, very clear recorded message. The message stated, “My children burn.”
The story associated with this message is a chilling one. Supposedly, the man who recorded the message had received it near Sach's Bridge. As a young boy, he had often gone fishing with his father near the bridge. On one such excursion, his father had gone down the embankment beside the bridge to look for a good spot to set up. As the boy followed, he saw his father walk over to what looked like was a smoking campfire, not quite burned out. Just as the boy was about on the scene, his father commanded him to go back to the road and stay put, but not before the child had seen what looked like clothing burning. As it turned out, the campfire was actually the still smoking burned body of a little girl. Years later, he heard the recorded the message and it prompted his memory of the incident. It has been a long time since I heard this recording and read the story associated with it. I hope I have remembered it correctly.
I listened to the recording over and over again, a deep chill settling in my bones. It was so awful sounding. I wondered if there truly were demons in existence. I had never given much credence to the idea, which to me was too scary to contemplate. I'd grown up hearing all the same urban legends and as children, my friends and I had spent our fair share of time psyching ourselves into near hysteria. I had always associated evil with the acts of the living who for whatever reason spewed hatred and violence over the world around them. In my estimation, the mere belief in evil entities was equivalent to feeding them. All the people I knew who had a firm belief in their existence seemed to live their lives in fear of them. I didn't want to become one of those people who are constantly looking over their shoulders expecting an evil response to their every action.
As I listened to the message again, I made up my mind to discard any thoughts of evil entities. The crime perpetrated on that little girl had been committed by a living human being. That he was an evil man, twisted in his behaviors was not in doubt, but demons had nothing to do with his actions. Now some may take the stance that perhaps he had given himself over to the underworld through his lack of religious convictions, but for my purposes, demons were not part of my quest....at least not at this particular point in the journey.
Aside from that one nasty EVP, the others I was able to make out were fairly mundane. There were recordings of ghostly children giggling, female voices saying hello, a couple of men saying help me, and so on. I made up my mind to try to capture a few of my own EVP's. Before I spent any money on a recording device, I did some research through the internet and by purchasing a couple of books on spirit communication. There were differing opinions regarding what type of recorder was best used. I already had an old analog recorder that had an external microphone. I decided it would do for my first attempts. I purchased a bundle of blank tapes as tapes for this purpose should only be used once. Even though we can erase them, too often residual fragments of past recordings bleed through. This can muddy any new recordings or be mistaken for having captured an actual EVP.
I readied myself for the experiment. I was already settled in my decision that spiritual entities surely existed, though I wasn't certain of their origins. I set up my recorder in my living room. I had chosen to do this during late night hours to ensure the neighbors living on either side of my townhouse apartment were already asleep. I didn't want any bumps or bangs from their activity to be picked up on the recorder. I stretched out on my sofa and settled into a comfortable position. I wanted to make sure I wouldn't feel the need to move about making noises that could later be misconstrued as EVP.
I closed my eyes and invited whoever might be present to speak into the recorder. I didn't say the words out loud because I figured it wasn't necessary. I remembered my dream where my brother David had spoken to me without actually talking. I reasoned if he could talk to me that way so could any other deceased person with a mind toward that end.
I maintained my stillness and tried to empty my mind in case a responder to my request should wish to communicate through other avenues than the recorder. As I lay there, I started “seeing” images flashing through my mind. It was very uncomfortable to the point of making me feel nauseous. I felt like I was in a nightclub where a strobe light was going crazy. I tried to push the images out of my mind and after awhile, they stopped. I don't know how long I was lying there before I began to experience another even more uncomfortable sensation. It seemed like there was a heavy pressure being exerted on my brain. At the same time this pressure began, another image came into my mind.
It seemed like I was seeing the crown of my own head open up. As it opened, a very bright white light with a slightly gold cast to it began to rise out of my skull. The more this light rose, the greater the intensity of the pressure I was feeling. It was almost as if someone were touching my brain. I didn't like it and I was so startled by the sensation that I sat bolt upright. The minute I began to move, it was like the light coming out of my skull was sucked back into it. I actually felt a jarring thump like something had truly dropped back into me.
I jumped off the sofa and began pacing back and forth. It was too weird. That was not what I was expecting. I didn't know what had happened. I wondered again if I might be playing in areas best left alone. I wondered if perhaps some ghost had misinterpreted my invitation to speak as an invitation to jump inside of me. Hey! I saw the movie Ghost too. I calmed myself and sat down to listen to the little bit of tape recording I had accomplished. There were no notable sounds.
I made up my mind not to do that again! I wasn't ready to give up but I was determined not to lay down on the job again. I didn't know what had happened and I wasn't going to risk going there again until I had an explanation for it. I continued reading material related to spirit photographyand EVP. I was surprised to learn that Thomas Edison had actually been working on a device to communicate with the dead when he died.
The true search for disembodied voices began when in 1933, Friedrich Jurgenson attempted to make a recording of bird songs. When he played back his recording he was surprised to hear faint voices recorded with the sounds of the birds because he had been alone when the recording was made. He checked all around the area, even going to a nearby college to inquire if perhaps someone had been sending out radio waves. There were no radio stations in the area and he could find no one who had been using radio equipment. He attempted to capture more voices by going off to a very quiet location to record. Once again there were voices on the tape. He carefully examined the voices he heard and identified one of them as being that of his deceased mother who called him by a pet nickname from his youth. These discoveries and recordings led to a book in 1964 titled Voices From Space.
Dr. Konstantin Raudive read the publication and was so impressed that he arranged to meet with the author. An alliance was formed and they began a joint effort to capture more voices under strict laboratory conditions. Raudive went on to make over 100,000 recordings before his death in 1974. During his clinical experiments there were over 400 people involved with the work who heard the voices. This led to the publication of the book Breakthrough in 1971.
My association with Cathe Curtis continued through her website. I didn't tell her of my efforts at recording EVP, so when I was invited to meet her and a few of the other members for a weekend at the Gettysburg Battlefield, I was excited. I had just purchased a digital recorder and was anxious to try it out where I was sure I would have a good chance of capturing something. The weekend chosen for this outing was in the middle of February, meaning it would be pretty darn cold. I didn't care. I had already scheduled myself off for that weekend because my birthday was on the Saturday in question. I took it as a sign from the universe.
Lindsay and I traveled the short distance from our homes to meet Cathe when she got in toGettysburg from her hometown of Fredericksburg, MD on Friday night. Since we wouldn't be traipsing around in the cold outdoors that night, my grandson Noah was brought with us. He was only seven weeks old at the time and Lindsay didn't want to be away from him at night. Cathe was entranced with him and opted to hold and snuggle him almost the entire time we visited her in her hotel room.
This was the first time I met Cathe in person. Aside from the interaction we had online and in the chat room, I didn't know what to expect. She turned out to be a delight, chattering away about the subjects that interested her most, spirituality and the Civil War. She came across as a very sweet woman, kind and caring, but possessing a will of iron. I liked her immediately and found her stories very entertaining and humorous. She had been a guest on several radio talk shows and often was engaged in carrying out a little ghost busting if the need arose.
When the subject of EVP's came up I proceeded to tell her about my one and only experience up to that point. I remember her looking at me with a little bit of concern as she sat upright. She claimed that what I had been doing was preparing for astral travel. Astro-what?
Astral travel is a condition of the soul willfully leaving the body in order to travel through other planes of existence. Supposedly, those who are capable of doing this, can choose several destinations. Some people are able to travel back to the past and see events that transpired. Others are able to travel to the future and see what is ahead based on what's happening in the present at the moment of travel. Still others simply travel around the globe, sort of like tourists. Those who claim to be capable of astral travel have also claimed to interact with deceased personages and to carry on conversations with them. Some people claim they have met beings we would consider aliens, demons, angels, etc.
Cathe was of the mind that maybe I shouldn't be messing with astral travel. I got the distinct feeling that she didn't really have any first hand experience with it and wasn't sure it was a safe thing to do. She needn't have worried. I hadn't liked the sensations that came with it. I wasn't sure I was buying in to the belief that it was even possible, and decided that astral travel and its exploration would have to wait. I still hadn't managed to explore the subject of EVP's to my satisfaction.
The next day Lindsay and I spent with the group going to various locations around the battlefield. People were snapping pictures and using recorders at random. There were only a few people present as most were waiting to join in when darkness closed in. According to most ghost hunters, the darkness of night provides a better backdrop for the flash of the camera to reflect off a spirit whether in the form of an orb or as a materialization. I wasn't in agreement on that piece of information. I had plenty of pictures on my home computer that would present another view. That night I was standing by a house sitting right on the end of where Pickett's Charge had taken place. It's a little one room house now owned by the park. I was peeking in the window and talking to Lindsay when I noticed the light on my recorder. I hadn't bought a voice activated recorder at that time because they were relatively new and a little out of the price range I was willing to invest. The indicator light was glowing red to indicate it was on. I hadn't turned it on because it was hanging from my wrist by its strap, and as I was busy taking pictures, the noise would interfere with getting a good clear recording.
I turned it off and then proceeded to examine it for possibilities it could have gotten turned on by accident. There was an on/off switch which had to be manually moved into position before the record or playback buttons could be used. I shrugged my shoulders thinking that maybe I just hadn't turned it off. Then I looked at the recording position numbers and realized I had also turned on the recorder. Not expecting to hear anything other than Lindsay and I chattering away along with the rapping of the recorder against my wrist as I snapped pictures, I was stunned to hear a very whispery but loud Hi!. I played it over and over again, trying to find a natural explanation for the voice. What was even stranger was the fact that though there were several living humans carrying on conversations at that location, none of us could be heard on the brief recording.
As weather and time would permit, I made several more trips to Gettysburg with my granddaughter Ryder in tow. One warm spring afternoon we had gotten out of my van to walk down in what is known as the railroad cut. On July 1, 1863 the railroad cut had been used by the Confederates as what they believed would be a natural breastworks for fending off the advancing Union soldiers. Unfortunately, over 200 men became entrapped as the sides were too steep to allow for sight of the approaching army or the possibility of easily scaling the sides.
Ryder was a little over 2 years old but very independent. She walked ahead of me along the railroad tracks, chattering away to herself and several times I had to call to her to wait for me. I had turned my recorder on and was just letting it go without asking any specific questions of any spirits who might be wishing to speak. I felt like they knew they were welcome to say anything they might wish to convey.
We had been meandering along the tracks for about ten minutes when I heard a distant train's whistle. I didn't know for sure if the tracks were still used but I assumed so because they were in good repair. I quickly turned the recorder off and raced to grab Ryder. Quickly, I headed back the way we had come. I did not want to become trapped should a train come speeding around the bend. I pushed her up over a low part of the embankment and then pulled myself after her, sure the train would appear at any moment. It never came and I didn't hear any more train whistles. To this day I don't know whether I had heard a real train or just echos of one down through time.
On the way home, I turned the recorder to playback and let it run while I was driving. There wasn't much but a few murmurings that could have been anything...until it reached the section where Ryder and I were in the railroad cut. I pulled over to the side of the road to rewind in order to listen again. There was the distinct clip-clop of a horse's gait walking very close, almost as if it had been beside me. After a few seconds, the clip-clops speed up as if a horse has been spurred into action. Following this speeding up, a man yells out “Ryder” at the top of his lungs, followed by my granddaughter saying “what?” in answer to the call.
I played and replayed the recording in an attempt to make sense of it. I had never spoken to Ryder in that tone, but it didn't matter. The voice was that of a man, certainly not mine. There were no other people around. Ryder and I had been the only people I could see in the entire area. Even that didn't matter because the voice had clearly called out Ryder's name. How and why would a stranger call out that name in particular even if they were near enough to be heard?
I asked Ryder to tell me who had called her name and played the recording. She casually replied, “The man on the horsey.” I asked her if he had a big gun. She shook her head no. Then she said, “Big knife.” Confirming that she meant he had a sword, I ask if it was long like this and I spread my hands apart to indicate a length. She smiled and nodded her head. I asked her who he was. Her answer? “My buddy.”
Later it was brought to my attention that when a messenger arrived at an encampment or on the scene of a battle carrying information, they would call out “Rider” to alert the others to their presence. It would seem that Ryder had misunderstood the mysterious horseman as calling her name.
From the experiences I'd had so far, I could conclude that not only is there a continuum of some sort of existence after physical death, but some of the living were quite capable of seeing and hearing them, even communicating with them and interacting. I wondered if my granddaughters were able to see and hear them because they are children, innocent and unbiased. They have no worries or cares to distract them from observing all that goes on around them and they haven't been taught not to trust what they see, therefore, they have no reason to shut it out.
My journey was surely taking me along a path I had never expected to travel. I intended to continue exploring the possibility of interacting and communicating with whatever and whoever was on the “other side”, but I also decided it was time to explore what other options were open besides photography and EVP.
More to come later.....
- Quest For The Afterlife
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