Got ghosts? Take control of your space

filtered-smudgeYou’ve shopped around. You’ve gone from neighborhood to neighborhood and open house to open house, and you have finally found your perfect, adobe restoration project. Everything is going smoothly until your electrician meets you at the top of the basement stairs and tells you you’re going to have to find another electrician because he’s not going down in the basement again. Ever.

Or, let’s say you’re doing the work yourself and as you begin to work on particular areas of your dream restoration project, your tools begin to go missing or are moved, ostensibly when there’s no one else around.

These are common claims from people who have bought homes in the Taos area. The buildings in question don’t even have to be old to for it to have its own resident spirits, entities or paranormal “issues.”

What should you do if you feel you may have stirred things up in your home with restoration phases, opening long-closed passageways, or tearing down old walls? Should you try to make peace with the spirits that you have stirred up with your changes or do you take it upon yourself to help the spirits to move on?

Renovation: The perfect storm for paranormal activity

Experts say the conditions of changing ownership, large interior and exterior changes in a structure is the perfect storm for paranormal activity. These actions can also release held energies in wood, stone, and adobe.

Additionally, houses that have been empty for long periods of time are susceptible to attracting these energies because the “ghosts” or entities know they probably won’t have much chance of being disturbed or bothered by the living.

dollsSomething else that might contribute to the accumulation of spirits is energies or attachments are what are called “haunted objects.” These are most likely items purchased at estate, yard sales and antique shops. The physics of how an object can hold information is complex, but the field of measuring that information is known as psychometry or the ability to discover facts about an event or person by touching inanimate objects associated with them. Not necessarily a new field of study, scientists are just now discovering the grounds for such information storage in objects, because these phenomena have been reported as long as humans have thought to make note of it.

The most common haunted objects include:

  • Dolls
  • Jewelry
  • Antique bed frames and headboards
  • Paintings (especially self-portraits)
  • Mirrors
  • Clothing (especially gowns)
  • Chairs

If you love antiques it might be hard for you to forego garage sales and antique shops. There’s something special about an item that is found after a delightful hunt. But perhaps that “specialness” is actually a lure to get you to take it home. It is always a good idea to inquire about the history of an item before buying it, especially if it’s especially old and expensive and you’re bringing it into your home. The more expensive something is the less likely you’ll want to part with it, even if you discover it’s the source of your paranormal activity.

Before carrying these object into your home, you might want to give them a spritz with salt water, smudge them and let them sit in a light airy spot for as long as you can. You could even clap your hands, bang on a pot lid with a spoon or ring a bell loudly over the items and say, “Be on your way. I wish you no harm.” This gives any attached spirit an opportunity detach itself and leave before you bring the item into the house.

Be assertive and take charge

If you’re having paranormal issues in your home or restoration project, there are a few steps you can take yourself that might help abate the situation. These are the actions you should be able to take on your own without having to call in experts.

toolsThere are several schools of thought about steps one can take to rid or at least quiet paranormal activity in a building. Most will agree that a tidy, nonchaotic environment is helpful in clearing an area. It may be difficult to keep things tidy while a renovation is going on, but taking the time to return tools to their proper place daily and making sure construction trash is collected outside goes a long way toward appeasing spirits who take to hiding tools and making things rough for the sloppy contractor. Of course, some spirits are so annoyed by the sudden increase in activity and change to their old digs, they might just throw a fit anyway.

This is when you need to step it up a bit with some sage-bundle burning, or smudging. Be careful about the sparks that fly off the sage bundles around construction littler. That’s another reason to keep the area picked up. There’s less opportunity for ghostly pyrotechnic shenanigans and unexplainable accidents.

Another step you can take is to spritz the area with salt water, and if you like, a few drops of essential oils like rosemary, lavender, and frankincense in the water can really make an impact on the heavy feeling in a room.

dreamcatcherAnother thing experts recommend is to keep a log or a journal of any activity that occurs. It’s a great way to recall the events while they are fresh in your mind but also to see if a pattern of activity exists. The determination of such a pattern would be extremely helpful to an investigator.

It could show a natural cause for the activity such as a furnace or refrigerator kicking on If the activity turns out to actually be paranormal you may decide it’s a paranormal investigation or maybe even a spiritual cleaning is needed. Obviously, if it looks like the ghostly events are occurring at a certain time (or day), then this would be the time an investigator to schedule their inquiry.

When you are compiling your paranormal activity journal or logbook, here are a few things that you want to include:

Note the exact time and date when the activity occurred.
Make a note of everyone who was present and what they saw. If possible have each witness record their thoughts in their own words.
Note the weather conditions at the time.

A journal is an invaluable tool if an investigator or medium comes to help and it will go a long way in establishing evidence about the haunting in your home.

There are more steps you can take to regain control of your environment if you think it’s being plagued by spirits. The internet is full of information, from the basic to the elaborate, and it may get to the point with your particular situation that you want to call in an expert.

When it’s time to call in the experts

You know it’s time to call in a professional investigator or medium when your situation is all you can think about, you’re afraid to spend time in your home or when you feel like you are in actual danger or being harmed.

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If you’re simply experiencing paranormal activity, think about weighing your options before you go about contacting a paranormal exterminator. Are you in any real harm? Are the infrequent yet persistent events easy enough to deal with? If they are you should do what you can to make peace with the spirits and manage to coexist. If you can’t abide them in your space, call a priest, religious leader or do a google search for Taos + psychic medium and a list of local professionals will be presented.

Another avenue for supplies, research and connections is Optimysm, 129 Kit Carson Road, (575) 741-8545 https://www.facebook.com/OptiMysm

Other items mentioned in the article are readily available on amazon.com or by searching for other, perhaps more magical providers.

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Mini-investigation at the Taos Territorial Inn

I was called to do a mini paranormal investigation and demonstration at the old Territorial Inn on Padre Lane this October 31 by owner John Bradley. He said they’ve been having motion-detector alarms going off in the middle of the night when the property has been empty recently.

I came and set up some basic equipment, but I did not conduct a thorough three-hour investigation in the middle of the night, which is usually the way investigators with New Mexico Research and Investigation (NMRIP) work. I was asked to show guests of Mr. Bradley how NMRIP conducts its investigations and then I was to escort the guests from Padre Lane to Martyrs Steakhouse and their dinner reservation, telling stories about the Taos Historic District along the way.

One of the things that struck me right away as I was setting up equipment in the basement was that there seemed to be something just outside of what we could actually see in the basement, and that while the demonstration and investigation were going on, these energies seemed to be in the dark crawl spaces, waiting for us to clear out.

That being said, my equipment did not register any paranormal activity either during the demonstration or after, when the equipment was left rolling and the building was empty. I hope I can come back to the property to do a proper investigation and look further because I am certain there is something there.

Notes on the Moby Dickens Bookshop Investigation 2/2/2013

We heard about the possible paranormal activity on Bent Street and especially at Moby Dickens Bookshop. It was notable because it was near the 166th anniversary of the Taos Revolt.

Knee-deep in blood and history

The Taos Revolt was an insurrection in January 1847 by Mexicans and Pueblo allies against the United States’ occupation of Northern New Mexico during the Mexican–American War.

January 19, 1847, insurrectionists began the revolt led by Pablo Montoya, a Mexican, and Tomás Romero, a Taos Pueblo man also known as Tomasito (Little Thomas).

Romero led a Native American force to the house of Governor Charles Bent which is located just across the street from the present-day Moby Dickens Bookshop.

They broke down the door, shot Bent with arrows and scalped him in front of his wife and children. After they moved on, Bent was still alive. With his wife Ignacia and children, and the wives of friends Kit Carson and Thomas Boggs, the group escaped by digging through the adobe walls of their house with a spoon into the one next door. When the insurgents discovered the escaping party, they killed Bent, but left the women and children unharmed.

US troops and militia crushed the rebellion of the Mexicans and their allies, killing the insurgents that retreated to Taos Pueblo, where they took refuge in the thick-walled adobe church.

The Army breached a wall of the church and directed cannon fire into the interior, and inflicted many casualties — killing about 150 people.

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Increased Activity

New owners of Moby Dickens reported books were found on the floor alarms were tripped and it didn’t seem like it was the cats — Tony and Mabel — two cats that came with the business when the Moores bought the business back in August of 2012.

Members of New Mexico Research and Investigation of the Paranormal visited with Jay and Carolyn Moore and set up an investigation on the anniversary of the firing on the church.

NMRIP members participating

Reyes Cisneros – NMRIP Founder
Elias Cisneros – Tech Specialist
Melody Romancito – Data Analyst
Stephen Mason – Investigator
Ella Romancito – Intern
Mike Hidalgo – Intern

Investigation Overview

The night of the investigation was bitter cold. We set up our equipment — this time with the help of interns Mike Hidalgo and Ella Romancito, then, in an effort to fake the possible spirits inside, we left the building with our equipment running and went and sat in our cars as long as we could stand to do with the cold.

Dunn House ShopsAfter 20 minutes or so, we went back into the building and conducted the rest of the investigation. We used several standard pieces of “ghost hunting” equipment, including Electro-Magnetic Field detectors or (EMF detectors), static cameras, laser-grid array, iPad applications and radio sweep communication devices.

Personal Experiences

During this period of about an hour and a half inside the shop, we had a few personal experiences.

NMRIP Founder Reyes Cisneros said he felt some kind of energy go through his upper torso, chest and head while he stood in the middle of the upstairs. In fact, during the investigation Reyes had his recorder going and you can hear an EVP of a male voice say very clearly the word “throat.”

NMRIP Data Analyst Melody Romancito also had an experience in the upstairs. Her daughter, Ella, working as an intern for NMRIP became sleepy and while she sat in the big chair up there, every time Melody approached the sleeping girl would feel pressure on her chest. She reported it was almost as if she “forgot” how to complete a breath.

Stephen Mason, NMRIP Investigator said he felt someone watching him while the investigators were in the shop. He took a photo that looks like someone is peering through the window, but we have debunked it as simple reflection of lights from the outside. Nevertheless, Stephen said the feeling of being watched was palpable.

061NMRIP Tech Specialist Elias Cisneros said he felt a presence by the window closest to the register — the one facing out on the parking area there.

NMRIP Intern Ella Romancito fell asleep when she said she had been prepared to stay awake for some time before the investigation and a high degree of anticipation for the event. She said she was surprised that she had fallen asleep, and that she slept soundly for more than 30 minutes. She said she felt as if she had been made to sleep.

EVIDENCE

We managed to capture many pieces of evidence — much of it not even touched on in the video on Youtube.

Laser Grid

One such piece of evidence is the laser-grid video taken during the first stage of the investigation — when investigators left the building for more than 20 minutes, simulating closing time.

Laser-grid evidence is gathered by taking a laser pointer and fitting with a grid-array filter and point it into an area where claims of movement have been indicated. The pointer is secured and a static camera — ideally with night-vision turned on — is trained on the grid array with the thinking that anything moving in the grid will be visible on the video.

During this investigation there is quite a bit of visible movement along the parking lot wall downstairs. Also, you can hear the cats reacting to something and there are several sounds, including the sound of the floor creaking that we have later identified as the sound of a rocking chair on a wooden floor.

EVPs

EVP 11 petElectronic Voice Phenomena gathered during the investigation was significant with 13 pieces of audio evidence being brought to the clients’ attention.

The EVPs are significant because they are clearly intelligent, real-time “hauntings, rather than residual energy, like the sound of the rocking chair — which actually could be either residual or intelligent.

Also notable about the EVP evidence is the fact it occurred while the shop was empty and while it was occupied by the investigators, and seem to be responding to the investigators with impatience, a bit of sarcasm and with a degree of humor.

Specifically these are the finishing of Reyes Cisneros’ sentences and specifically correcting him about the name of John Dunn House — and also the tongue-in-cheek “It might be … death” response.

We would also like to note that the voice gathered on the EVPs seemed modern in cadence, which is a surprise. There seem to be at least four individuals — both male and female.

Lastly, it’s not lost on us how weird it is to hear a voice refer to a cat as “the pet.” It is chilling and alien — as if the entity is unfamiliar enough with the idea of the difference between a cat and a dog is negligible, and the somewhat feminine whisper says “the pet,” very close to the microphone, as if annotating the scene.

Refer to the Youtube video of the Moby Dickens Investigation for the particulars of the EVPs.

Conclusions

NMRIP and Ghosts of Taos (represented by NMRIP Data Analyst Melody Romancito) agree that Moby Dickens Bookshop displays paranormal activity and plan to return for another investigation sometime in April.

We also feel it is significant to note that at the end of the investigation, there were several words that popped up the Ghost Radar. It said “Church” just as we left.

Investigating Ghosts of Taos: Bent Street

Dunn House ShopsTaos is filled with spirits, but some places are more “haunted” than others and the reasons behind the hauntings are often easy to understand. It’s no secret that the Plaza and surrounding areas has its share of claims of ghosts, when there is a rise in claims, it is often for a reason.

During the month of January, shop owners on Bent Street and in the Dunn House complex have reported an increase in unexplained activity which marks the 166th anniversary of the Taos Revolt — a bloody page in Taos history.

Many people lost their lives during the Taos Revolt of 1847 — among them is New Mexico’s first territorial governor, Charles Bent, who was murdered in front of his family at the family home on what is now Bent Street. An account of his murder by his dautghter, Teresina, can be read here.

We investigated on the night of January 21, after Moby Dickens reported a tripped alarm and an unexplained relocation of a book during the night before.

Technically it wasn’t late enough to do a formal investigation, and low temperatures make it difficult to mount an investigation of three hours or more, but Ghosts of Taos decided to go down to Bent Street and see what they could see.

We did manage to capture one EVP and one odd coincidence. We shot a little video and had a bit of interaction through EMF detectors and Ghost Radar.

Notes from the Red Cat Melissiana Investigation

Location: Secret cellar of Red Cat Melissiana on Doña Luz in Taos New Mexico
Investigators: Ghosts of Taos and members of NMRIP

Pre-Investigation

Prior to the night of the investigation, we interviewed shop owner Melissa Serfling and were stunned by results exhibited on my daughter Ella’s iPad and the application called Ghost Radar.

The radar screen lit up like we have never seen it before. The number of green dots that flooded the screen flowed toward the center in waves.

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It started as Melissa began to tell us an anecdote about how her father used to josh her potential suitors, saying that she was essentially descended from the witches of Salem and perhaps that is why the spirits seems to peacefully co-exist with the shop.

Even before coming to the shop to do the pre-investigation interview, my personal experience on going down to the basement were marked with signs of what I know to be ghost presences.

I felt a nearly oppressive heat on my face coupled with the sour smell of old wetted cedar. I have always associated that smell with a saturation of memories and perhaps an indication of the depth of spirit activity to be found.

So based on the results from the iPad application and my previous sensing of the old cedar smell (which I only experienced that first visit, by the way) I decided when we were to do the actual investigation, I should be fortified with protection because this was something of a scope where I was a novice in the extreme.

That afternoon, while I took a little nap, I had the sensation that a tall lanky man with thinning black hair and a cardigan sweater was leaning over my bed, shouting into my ear while I slept.

I interviewed a couple of people about what I might need to protect myself, did a little more research about the history of the location and when it came closer to the night of the investigation, I felt ready.

The Investigation

The night of the investigation was on the night of the full moon just before All Souls. I felt this was significant as these are the high holy days of the dead and with the so-called veil between worlds being thin during this period of the seasonal swing, it might give us a little more oomph or at least give the entities the extra go-power they’d need to manifest.

I arrived about 15 minutes early, so I sat in my Jeep Cherokee and waited, trying not to look inside the windows of the shop because my sense of anticipation was so keen I was sure I’d be seeing faces in the window – my projection of anticipation onto the investigation – and we couldn’t have that.

So I sat, waited for the other investigators and kept watch as the odd street lamps seemed to be reacting to movement or something. Now, I knew that it is tempting to decide the lamps have some sort of motion sensors, in fact, they go on and off with no apparent reason or pattern – movement or otherwise. It made me feel a little uneasy as the lights seemed to converge to where I was sitting in my car.

Then I felt what could be explained away as merely wind, but there was no wind that night. It was cold and still. I felt my jeep shift on its four-point plane as if something were sitting on the bumper of the front drivers side. Unnerving.

So I decided to say a little prayer of protection. I clamped my eyes closed and my hands into prayer position and said a brief prayer. While my eyes were still closed I heard what sounded like a woman’s voice, very close, almost inside the car, say “awww.” The tone was a slightly sarcastic, as if to say “You think that little prayer you just said is going to protect you here?”

I was very glad to see the headlights of another investigator swerve across the parking lot.

We stood outside and waited for the others to arrive and as soon as everyone was there we entered building (not without having to disturb the owner because I was trying to open the wrong lock on the door). Melissa was gracious about it and let us in. We set up our equipment and were ready to begin the investigation in earnest within 30 minutes of getting inside.

During the investigation, I felt like there was nothing there. It felt as if everything was on pause – as if the spirits I had felt bombarding the space before were now waiting just outside our sensors. I felt nearly nothing. I say nearly because there was a sense of expectation.

We sent in teams of two because the wooden floors were so loud and it was hard to find places to set up where we wouldn’t contaminate someone else camera.

We set a few digital recorders around in the tunnels, and I set up one of my newer pieces of equipment – a laser grid – in the tunnel, pointed toward Padre Lane. I then set up my Sony camera with night vision onto the field the laser grid was creating and if anything moved in that field, it would be apparent during the review of the recording.

While I was inside, teamed with NMRIP member Elias Cisneros, I sat still on the third step from the bottom and would occasionally snap a digital flash picture while Elias explored deeper into the tunnels.

While I sat there I had the feeling something was coming along and sitting right next to me – putting its face close to mine, kind of grinning, as if to ask “See anything? I didn’t think so.”

During the investigation, I kept a brown leatherette box with me filled with spare batteries but also it carried the tools I had been advised to bring to protect me from any malicious spirits.

At this point in the investigation, I set up an additional digital recorder, my Aleisis field recorder, and set it up on the table where that brown box also sat.

This is significant because during the close of the investigation, one of the investigators, Steve, offered that the reason we were not getting any spirit activity was because of this box. Apparently it was too powerful and was not allowing the spirits to manifest.

At that point we were asking questions and hoping for responses on the K2 meter (which reads fluctuations in the electro-magnetic field) which also was sitting on the table.

So we moved the K2 to the floor between us as we gathered in the main room. Finally we were getting some responses. I can only guess the tools I had brought were just too strong and once we moved them from close proximity of the box, we started to get some answers.

The only problem was this was near the close of the investigation. We had to wrap it up by 3 a.m. – not only because this was what we had told Melissa and also because this was what we had promised as we entered the investigation. If indeed the ghosts were waiting for us to leave, it is bad form to stay longer than promised or to not leave when it was promised that the investigators were leaving a site. This is something I feel very strongly about – keeping promises with the dead.

Just before we stopped the investigation I got the sense of two women in widows weeds bending down to pick up rocks to toss at us and scatter us as if we were a pack of dogs.

As we broke down our equipment, the guys became diverted by something in the flower room. There was a glass vase filled with animal bones and for some reason they were getting K2 readings off of it. I stayed near the desk, which is at the top of the stairs for the cellar. All the time I was putting my equipment away, I kept sensing a dark, flapping motion, as if someone or something were trying to shoo me away.

Later, when I was telling my husband about this sensation, he said, “That was the priest,” but when I asked him to clarify, he just shrugged and said that was who it seemed like. I didn’t press for more information.

Post-Investigation / Evidence Review

During the evidence review I was a bit disappointed until I reviewed the evidence from the Alesis field recorder. During this period of the investigation we were asking provoking questions and we received more than a few answers. The evidence that appeared on the video is not all of the evidence but is evidence I judged to be the most compelling and obvious.

One question I asked was if the spirits there would like us to bring them something to eat. The answer is faint but it says either “sweet” or the word “eat,” but more importantly it is that semi-sarcastic voice again, asking back “Eat?” as if to say “What do we need food for – we are disembodied, you idiot.”

Another EVP we got was an answer to was asking whether the spirits wanted us to say prayers for them. The answer was “yes,” and moreover, it sounded like a woman in her 60s, and perhaps with a Hispanic accent.

Another EVP we captured was an answer to Reyes Cisneros question as to whether anyone had a story to tell. The answer is “I do.” And again it sounds like an older Hispanic woman – in this case, sounding somewhat closer to the recorder.

Another compelling piece of evidence is the video of the laser grid. Nothing seems apparent when you watch it in real time, but if you pay close attention to the top of the tunnel, you can clearly see something sliding or crawling along.

Elias was also able to capture a weird mist-like image on his digital camera – both in the tunnels and on the stairway.

Additional Feedback

The feedback we got about the investigation from Melissa was that the evidence presented in the second video was disappointing to her and nowhere near as exciting as it was in the first video.

This was more than a little disappointing for my part. I was bummed because we were not able to take the time to present the evidence to her in person and with appropriate equipment.

Ideally, I would have preferred to sit down with her and show her on a large monitor the movement I am seeing along the top of the tunnel. I would have like to hand her headphones and guide her through the evidence in person – rather than leaving the conditions she reviewed the video being out of my control. From what I gather she watched it on a laptop and did not listen with headphones, so it is no surprise that she was unimpressed with the evidence.

However, I am impressed with the evidence we gathered the night of the investigation over and above the evidence presented by the iPad application. Yes, that “evidence” was showy and we were clearly excited by what we saw, but I am still more impressed by captured movement in the tunnels and the EVPs we were able to gather.

I would like to have another opportunity to investigate down in the Secret Cellar at Red Cat Melissiana or at the very least – continue investigating what is down in the tunnels on Doña Luz.

I have learned three important things during this investigation. I know enough now to leave my bundle of protection outside the building where we are conducting the investigation. I also know we need to present the evidence to the client in a controlled situation or they will be unimpressed with the outcome.

One last and probably the most important thing I learned. We cannot do these kinds of investigations for pay. Once a client pays for an investigation, they could have a certain expectation that would have to be met by the investigative team and that is not what we are about.

Investigation of Red Cat Melissiana

Ghosts of Taos and New Mexico Research and Investigation of the Paranormal (NMRIP) investigate a little shop’s cellar on Doña Luz in Taos, New Mexico, where many ghost presences have been reported.

Part One is the pre-investigation interview with Melissa Serfling, owner of Red Cat Melissiana, and shows a rather startling result on one investigator’s ipad app, Ghost Radar.