Friday, July 15, 2011

Ghostly Competition

Aside from watching marathon spans of Ghost Adventures, the Travel Channel (and Zak Bagans) have found another way to scare the absolute bejesus out of me...(July has suddenly become "scary month.")

Enter Paranormal Challenge (Friday nights at 8pm cst) where two teams go head-to-head investigating the same haunted location in hopes of gathering the "best" or most convincing evidence of spirits.

They are then judged by a panel of respected members of the paranormal community on their team work, use of equipment, and the evidence (photographic and sound) they are able to gather.

Through social media (Twitter) I've been able to get to know a few of these teams of paranormal investigators, especially Northeastern Spirit Society (based in Fairmont, WV).

(Check out their awesome logo)

Although they have a lot of experience between them, the group has only been investigating together for about a year now.

Tonight you can watch them in action on the Travel Channel as they explore the famously active West Virginia Penitentiary in Moundsville...

It's an interesting place with a lot of violent history. Do I sound like an expert? I'm not. I only watched the original episode of Ghost Adventures and did some reading on the location. Simple.

In anticipation of their episode (they just keep getting better each week) I caught up with the lead investigator of NSS, Daniel Bellay, for a fun interview.

He explained that his first paranormal experience happened when he was a child, when he went to explore a "haunted" location with friends.

It was a "distinct feeling" and experience he says he'll never forget.

WHY do you enjoy investigating paranormal activity?

"I have loved the paranormal since I was a child playing with Ghostbusters gear and wanting to see spirits. I do it now because I feel as though I have a skill at contacting spirits and capturing evidence. It is a passion and a hobby that exhilarates me."
As an adult, Daniel began making friends with others who were also interested in the paranormal. With "TONS"of solo investigations between team members, they began investigating together on a very frequent basis.

He says their "weekly hangout" is at the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, WV, where a couple of the team members lead Ghost Tours.

Something very important to Daniel is accepting everyone for who they are and listening to others when it comes to their paranormal beliefs and techniques. You could say that Acceptance is a team motto.

Through paranormal investigations, Daniel said he "hopes to discover answers about how we can better communicate with spirits." He is fascinated by the intelligent responses captured during his investigations.

For those unfamiliar with the term, an "intelligent" response is when spirits seem to communicate with a person--such as answering questions or saying names of present individuals. The spirit seems to be aware of its surroundings as opposed to "residual" responses where energy is trapped and the same sounds are heard (for example, tapping associated with a specific event) over and over again. Residual activity is the most commonly captured.

This, along with other terms are often used on these types of shows, but they are almost always explained. You don't need to be a para-expert to watch, and you might find yourself inspired to scout out a local "haunted" location yourself.
What advice would you give to "new" investigators or people who are interested in conducting investigations?

"Keep trying to find the best piece of evidence you can week after week. If you catch something amazing, go back and try to improve your skills to get something even better next time. There are no guarantees in the paranormal, you just need to learn how to communicate and get a response."
Tune into the Travel Channel tonight and see what happens, I know I can't wait!


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