Thursday, July 26, 2012
Shortly after someone on YouTube uploaded the episode of The Biography Channel's My Ghost Story which James and I appeared in, a slew of negative comments flooded in. Orbs are always an easy target because oftentimes they are dust, dirt, insects, etc, but these trollers went after our EVPs and a lot of the ectoplasmic mists we captured on our investigation. We got off pretty light, but the others in the episode didn't fare so well. It happens everywhere, these not only negative but extremely hateful comments, and it seems to have reached a zenith of some sort. Once I began to see the same kind of comments on my Facebook page, I felt the need to attack such hate by stepping back and looking at the larger picture. My journal about this phenomena became a quick post on my page, then snowballed into a full-fledged blog ( wow, two in one week )! I'm sure many of my readers will relate, and I hope that hundreds of gnarled little troll fingers will find their way to this article, where perhaps they will refrain from their OCD-like need to spread their own specific brand of "H8". So, here is that original post:
Folks, just a quick word here, my own trending topic, about something I've been witnessing of late. Anyone who reads the comments left under YouTube videos will know what I'm talking about. Some refer to it as trolling. That is an offense to trolls everywhere. I call them the Hater Generation, and noticed many of them have migrated to Facebook, where they continue to spread pandemics of hate, general negativity and bad grammar. I mean, if you're going to slander an individual, movie or cause, at least make an attempt to use Spell Check. That way it'll appear that through the use of proper spelling and sentence structure your opinions may actually have some value, instead of appearing you're simply eight and hacking away at a Speak & Spell.
When I was eight I didn't have an iPad, smartphone or GPS capability. The only social media was called a playground and if you offended someone you were smacked in the face in real-time. There was none of this instant information from across the globe business in which you could disempower someone with glee from the safety of the virtual world inbetween shots of Pixy Stix. There was no Wikipedia. There was RESPECT. I have read so many horrendous things from these haters who apparently have absolutely nothing going for them ( certainly no spelling bee prizes ) that they feel the need to fill this void with the harrassment of total strangers. Whether it's their remarks concerning Christian Bale coming to visit the victims of a shooting, the president speaking at a memorial, a wildfire ravaging our forests, or even an innocent SpiritChasers video clip of a purported ghost - there they are, in full attendance, from one-word insults:
"FAKE!" "FAIL" "( Insert Racial Slur )!" "MEH..."
To almost comprehensible sentences:
"U R F#@£ING GAY!!!"
And so on... You've seen them. You know them. Will nothing brighten up their day? I don't know where they come from, but it surprises and unsettles me that now on Facebook they are no longer able to post comments from the comfort of anonimity. What's worse, they seem to feel a sort of pride in their behavior, and if you click on their profile, you, too, will see with horror their dull eyes and smiling faces in their aquisition of cheap photoshopping apps which they believe will ordain them with some cosmetic level of celebrity. But, one cannot photoshop ignorance, kids. The same goes for bigotry, homophobia, etc. ( Sorry )! No matter which lighting filter you've programmed your app to give yourself a flawlessly soft complexion while you're turning your head just so, a troll is a still troll. And trolls are UG-LEEEEE!
Yet how did this begin? Who or what created these illiterate little Gloomy Guses and Sour Sallys? Was it when South Park went into syndication? Are they staying up late enough to watch Robot Chicken on Adult Swim, taking notes by the glow of their Droid? Is it all the Family Guy, or any of the other offensively popular comedies conditioning them to laugh at the disabled, desperate or just plain different? ( And how did these television programs become such phenomenons in the first place, blending genuine hilarity with the utterly distasteful? It's still at the height of it's fad in an age when we were supposed to be piloting flying cars by now, living as more enlightened beings in utopian societies )!
So would it be Desensitization? ( There's another D word, for anyone keeping score ). And yet I grew up in daily fear of a nuclear holocaust, watched The Challenger explode on the news, witnessed some pretty horrific plane crashes, assassinations, avoided supposed poison and razor-filled Halloween candy, escaped the satanic cults preying on role-playing gamers, lived through a planetary alignment that was supposed to kickstart the end of the world, saw the handiwork of serial killers and the abductions of children. Frightening times, yes, but not desensitizing to such a degree that I would be propelled to fold messages of evil into those origami fortune-telling games and leave them on the desks of my classmates.
As you may have read, the website Rotten Tomatoes recently suspended their comment system altogether after a mountain of threats and hate speeches with a lengthly explanation entitled: "This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things". Just a month prior, the Erasure Information Service website was forced to permanently close their message boards because, once again, some people couldn't play nice. I myself simply can't wait for those virtual reality suits which transmit sensation so the next time a trolling trollup declares that the images captured by The SpiritChasers are no more than car exhaust I can power up my VR and slap the shit out of them.
It all really comes down to a bit of terrorism, albeit on a different scale. Like the old conspiracy regarding a certain filmmaker who was said to be releasing movies in order to drive people in other countries mad. No viewers of his popular films could ever possibly live up to such unrealisticly high standards of happiness and perpetual joy compared to their own vacant, vapid lives. Same here. Flood the comment systems of all social media far and wide with the crude, the crass, the inhuman, the illegible. Squeeze every last bit of hope and pride from your fellow men and women by bludgeoning any compliment or positive remark as viscerally as possible with an ungrammatical black hammer shaped in the tongues of demons. Is it entirely possible that many of these young trolls are expected to post such hatred by their "churches" ( the Westboro Baptists? ), by anti-American groups overseas ( or within our country ), by the "People Of Walmart" ( who would spell just as well as they dress? ), or by some other shadowy organization crushing, clutching at the heart of our way of life and all we hold dear? What, without any provocation, would cause an "internut" to inform someone they've never met that they suck?
Yesterday, in response to a video game I favored, an unidentified man wrote, "No. Just, no." Really? Are people still writing that? That comment went out with spray-tanning your children. And just like making your child look like an Oompa Loompa in a family portrait, trolling only serves to embarrass its facilitators, as embarrassments to humanity. Yes, haters, please show us how far down the evolutionary scale you'll continue to slither. Such creatures end up extinct, you know. You're only giving away your hand, revealing a spread of ignorance, one that no one of any intelligence and dignity would care to deal. And, just as one of my bumper stickers proclaims: "KARMA: It's everywhere you're going to be," in moments of their own intense troll despair, when a simple word can be the straw that broke the camels back, they should not expect the vocalization of kindness, human decency and grace when all they left for others was negativity. I don't know how this began, or how it will end, but the last time I dropped an f-bomb in my youth I was forced to suck on a bar of soap for half an hour by a mother who understood the power of words and the transformative agents of dignity and respect. When you're not working to heal a situation, you become the scar, host to a festering wound, a toxic language akin to a virus, communicable through the mouths of trolls, their generation of hate dissing, deevolving, moving toward extinction.
Just food for thought, kids.
My name is Christopher Allen Brewer, and my motto is RESPECT ( you gotta give it to get it back ).
( And my favorite app is the "Photo FX" multi-filter photoshopper - available on iTunes ).
- Christopher Allen Brewer, July 2012
Monday, July 23, 2012
I often have evenings in which I'm fervently looking forward to my dreamtime, wondering what messages might be revealed to me after a long week of frustration, or after moments of startling serendipity. Moments when I know there is an altogether greater force initiating contact with myself, coordinating chance happenings and dispatching dreamtime architects who can best employ the proper use of symbology to speak with me. We dismiss a lot of mysterious events and dreams as coincidence and random downloads of infomation, little novelties that break up the boredom of static reality, tidbits we skillfully place inbetween mundane small talk with coworkers. I had a series of interesting and prophetic dreams after playing Silent Hill 2 for a week straight, and although the nighttime data firing through my cortex wasn't necessarily pleasant, it did a lot to inform me about the nature of fear and the misunderstandings between good and evil. Fear can contaminate, can taint an experience so immediately, seducing us with fight or flight, distracting us to such a degree that our only focus is on survival, that we see nothing else but patterns of escape. It is also a necessary element, and it played a large role in the earliest of The SpiritChasers investigations, attempting firstly to break through it, to put it in its proper place, then how to summon it, greet it, and listen to what messages it had for us.
I thought about fear a lot this past weekend with the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado, as James and I were attempting to aquire tickets for a midnight Dark Knight Rises screening ourselves. We had been to the Century Theater previously, where the shooting had occured, and Batman has always been one of the primary archetypes I have drawn on since childhood. I have a shrine to him in my home, where he continues to inspire me with hope, empowerment, the will to act and a desire to fight injustice. Batman is a super hero that doesn't have any real super powers. He's a normal man born out of tragedy after witnessing the shooting of both his parents. He became something greater in order to fight injustice. He's as real as any archtype from our collective unconscious and we've been drawing on them for as long as recorded history. Myths make up our lives and we follow and reenact their stories whether we're conscious of it or not. They are far more than simple comic book characters, they are todays modern commentaries on how we live and act against injustice in our times.
Earlier last week I posted a video on my Facebook page just days before tragedy struck, which expressed my bat fandom, featuring a trip James and I had taken to the Orient Land Trust bat cave in Moffat, Colorado, a few years back. The bat is also my main totem animal, the symbology behind echolocation and the means to see in darkness assisting me time and again on my spiritual path. The video was also a comment on duality, and featured a photoshopped image of myself as The Joker, which shooter James Holmes unfortunately modeled himself after. I created the image in 2008, for a MySpace profile picture, in anticipation of the then upcoming film The Dark Knight, just before Heath Ledger, who brought its Joker to life, passed away. Prior to filming, Ledger had secluded himself in a motel room for six weeks in order to tap into the darkness his role required. Before his passing, he admitted he had great difficulty detaching himself from his character. The Dark Prince isn't something to be summoned lightly, reflections of which can be found in any villain. For me, The villainous Joker would always seem a necessary element, an uncomfortable mirror of any evil and madness in Batman, and inside each of ourselves. Never one to shy away from darkness, however, from that which is hidden, from mystery and the forbidden, I also took time to peer into my own dark well.
In one of the aforementioned dreams, in January of 2008 to be exact, I drempt of the devil, hitchhiking near my neighborhood Walmart. He was disguised as a vagrant, slouched, damp and dark, holding a cigarette, hiding his fire behind its smoke. I recognized him immediately, driving past him in my carnivalesque dream car, his coal-black eyes quietly waiting for some response. Two nights later I passed this very same intersection in the "real world" to witness the very same man standing there, the cherry from his cigarette casting a dull red glow about his narrow eyes. It was one of those things where you have to mentally stop and ask yourself if you really saw what you thought you saw, but he was there, his thumb in the air, his dark eyes waiting for a response, and I knew not to stop for him.
That night, I dreamt of him again. He was sitting where I left him: cold, lonely, misunderstood and heartbroken. He was almost childlike in his hurt, like a schoolboy I wouldn't play with, his sorrow deep and yearnful. In that desperate emotional exchange, I knew instantly that I had allowed fear to betray this messenger, and myself. He had a gift of knowledge for me, he was only playing his part in a spiritual test, one I had failed. There was no way to go back and retrieve the information he would have given me. He had put on the tattered clothes our culture had chosen for him, displaying symbols cast upon him, like the people who have to dance humiliatingly about outside of establishments with signs bearing their sales. He was sad for me, and when I drove by the next night looking for him I was devastated to find him gone.
When meeting, observing or dreaming of someone, I pay special attention to the archetypes they represent: victim, warrior, healer, sabotuer, pirate. We are each playing out a story, and how we interact with the cast of characters can help inform us as to our own role and destiny. Many of the characters I admire are seekers of hidden knowledge, from Indiana Jones to Fox Mulder to D'anna Biers from Battlestar Galactica. The occult simply means "that which is hidden", and as children we naturally gravitate toward the same, whether it's hidden Christmas presents or adult content. I had a higher tendency for such in elementary school when I could always be found in the occult section of our library. I'm still as curious and inquisitive as to how things work, but I have since broken through many barriers of fear in my search for fruit-bearing experiences. I've always been worldly, then otherworldly, as I had to bend my perception in order to make sense of the inexplicable stories playing out before me. We don't know exactly what we're dealing with when instigating contact with anything outside our safe and cozy realm, so many simply choose not to. They will view their God as benevolent, grandfatherly and just, and anything beyond this perception will be summarily demonized. I can't afford to be so strict when peering into the unknown. During those times inside and outside of the dream world when I have had exposure with the Divine, they have mostly been benevolent, loving and graceful experiences. But, because I want to see beyond my conditioning, I know there are many more facets to the great mystery, and in order to understand more of the phenomenon, I have to look with a different pair of eyes. Partaking of adventures outside my comfort zone and stopping to meet individuals placed before my path, ones I'd otherwise shy away from, means I'm making it that much easier for the Divine to commune with me anywhere. It means more opportunities. It means I'm not simply expecting the extraordinary and miraculous to meet me in a safe and comfortable Tuesday afternoon coffee shop.
After dreaming of the Devil, I understood that a lot of the blame cast upon him came from individuals who could not take responsibility for their actions. "The Devil made me do it" became a mantra for those who would not face up to their own skeletons, whether they were adultry, alcoholism, theft, or slander. There are very real and very malevolent forces at work in our universe, but I believe we create most of our own demons here on this Earth. It's very easy to brand something with a generic title that makes sense: devil, demon, witch, psychopath. Not long ago, a Facebook user with nothing to do decided to inform us that ghosts are the Devil's work, that we were being fooled by the Dark Prince and that there are only angels in Heaven, no spirits. Julee had some choice words for this person, which she retracted afterward, but I understood where this woman was coming from, motivated by fear, conditioned by years of generic symbols her ancestors had left her. Some symbols we use for protection, sometimes we withhold information in order to protect the emotional state of another. This is acceptable. We each have our own versions of sanity and order and those were hers. When I was given an Indian name in high school, I honestly didn't see how it fit into my own reality, which was at the time simply trying to graduate while dealing with various crises and a full-time job. The tribe I belong to is Oglala Sioux, but instead of participating in sundances I was dancing with a goth crowd on the weekends at after-hours clubs and I didn't understand how an eagle feather and a bundle of sage held any personal transformation at all. I lacked self-worth, and I was too humbled by the honor and responsibility of an old ancestral ritual. That is, until I noticed a complete restructuring of my dream state.
The first lesson came in a dream where I was being driven down a dusty road in a busted-up pickup truck which I knew was a symbolization of my own body and state of mind. The sun was bright in the barren desert landscape I was being driven through, which represented my life up to that point. Because of the glare, I could not see the driver, but I could make out the faint outline of a smile. Coming up on the right side of the road was an enormous sign, like the "HOLLYWOOD" one in California. I couldn't make out the words until we had passed it. Looking through the rear windshield I was stunned to discover the sign read, "GOD EXISTS". As I turned my head back I saw that what I thought was an intense glare of sunlight on my driver was something else entirely. He was made of light, and that's when I knew who He really was. In that realization, I was instantly jarred awake. I wrote it down due to its magnitude, never having journaled my dreamtime before, then dismissed it as we often do.
A week later, I dreamt of my body floating in and out of a nebula. Physically, I could feel my body hovering over my bed. I was surrounded by stars and could sense the entirety of life coursing around me. I woke myself up saying, "I am the universe." Those words continued to echo throughout my rational mind as I reached for my journal. Again, I recorded this extraordinary event, deciding to make a log of them as I began to suspect something powerful was attempting communion. It was during this period of discovery that I happened to be listening to an instrumental composition one afternoon when a particular chord struck some nerve in my brain, like a deep bell in a part of myself I hadn't previously been aware of. In that moment, time dissolved, and there was no beginning or end to the song. There was no linear structure. It was as if sound was placed in a liquid environment, floating in and out of an audible spectrum. I wasn't dreaming, I was linked to a higher perception, and I remember being crestfallen when everything went back to "normal". Afterward, I began to notice a synchronicity occurring in my travels, a strange pattern, evidence of Divine alteration with no way to prove it but to relate my stories in writing. I do have physical objects I have aquired which have come to me via chance happenings, from bottlecaps with messages written underneath to cards I have always happened upon at just the right time. These have been the breadcrumbs I have followed, connecting the dots and clues of synchronicity in order to see a larger picture. They have led me to people and places I'd otherwise have missed had I not had the foresight to pay attention. Still, as the "supernatural" relies on one's own belief system, I find it difficult to prove my experiences as having actually happened. This, however, began to change after I founded The SpiritChasers, and began to capture photographs and voices of the inexplicable and strange. Are these the devils I was warned about? Are they demons hiding in someone else's clothes? I can imagine the great disappointment if I didn't attempt communion with them, so I do, and sometimes they answer.
"I'm fine, it's OK", said one voice, who I believed belonged to a woman I was looking for who died more than a century ago. But then nothing really dies. If energy cannot be destroyed, only transformed, then I think these postcards from the paranormal we keep receiving are evidence of that. I never disregarded this woman as a demon, or believed she was in hell. I simply called out her name, wondering if she was at peace. Another time I asked a particular spirit if she was nearby. "I'm coming out of the wall," was her response, recorded digitally and captured in a photo we took immediately afterward. It may have seemed the natural inclination to run, but as a male I'm bound to different expectations of bravery, even though we were in a dark underground cave at the time which was rumored to lead to an entrance to the Underworld. Regardless, fear can find you anywhere, and James and I were both feeling it during last Friday's Imax premier of The Dark Knight Rises. Before the film began, wide beams of light suddenly appeared behind the screen. You could feel the tension of those in the audience who didn't understand this was due to the flashlights of the increased security looking for any signs of danger. I spent the entire movie at the ready, jolting at every gunshot, cringing at every explosion. After walking out of the theater and into the sunlight we were greeted with an outdoor benefit concert for the victims of the shooting. It was a celebration of life, after a movie, however cringe-inducing, that dealt with hope and perseverance. The prayer vigil that followed two days later was highly emotional and joyous, with yet more messages of our struggle to overcome fear and to embrace the heroism inside each of us. I thought of those spirits, of angels, of guides and my Creator. I had been crying, a perpetual lump in my throat all weekend finally released, when I began to hear the refrains of a particular melody which had at one time brought me great comfort and brought me face to face with an entity I knew as my author.
It was during Christmas a few years back, and I was doing nothing more than sitting on my bed, lamenting the fact that James and I would have to drive two hours through a dangerous blizzard to be with my family. I had already been in two severe car accidents which had scarred me with fear as it was, so I was upset, and distraught, but I agreed to face this fear in order to spend the holidays with my loved ones. At that moment the instrumental song I was listening to switched itself to a different sound filter. I looked up at the stereo and was overcome with an unmistakable sensation that someone had just sat at my side, but I kept my eyes forward, not out of fear, but out of respect. Again, time dissolved, and I had the physical sensation of sitting in a cone of light. I was instantly at comfort, and knew the presence sitting to my left was the familiar father figure, the man who had driven me through the desert nearly two decades ago. It is difficult to explain, but He was using music to communicate with me. It was a poetic, sonic, structured language I could not only hear but feel in my heart. The rising and falling melodies of the music perfectly matched with the dialect of His voice. His final message, as the music crescendoed, concerned His love for me, as well as His protection, and the fact that He was always near me. I could feel His warm embrace as the light faded and the song came to a quiet end. I played the song back immediately, then again and again, trying to get back to that state, but the way in had dissipated, and I was only left with gratitude and wonder. I remember racing up the stairs afterward, tears in my eyes, stumbling over myself to tell James I just had a spiritual experience. He asked what happened, his eyes full of the same concern I had just been wrapped up in, and I hesitated. How exactly does one tell another that God just spoke to them? "The music turned into a voice...He said he knew what I was feeling...the chords of the music aren't just chords...Oh, God, I know I'm not making sense...I can't prove it, but..."
I listen to that song on a consistant basis, but I have never been able to recapture that same feeling or experience I did that Christmas. I even contacted its composer, Richard Gibbs, to thank him for it, wondering where it came from, informing him that it was like a sonic postcard of a place I had also visited. He responded with gratitude immediately.
Originally I was to write about gods of fear and what cultures have done to appease them, how fear plays a large part in constricting ones perception during dark ghosthunts at deadtime. How there can be nothing without an element of danger, how thrillseekers find themselves addicted to it. Basejumping, spelunking, mountain climbing, hang gliding, ghost hunting, living. I'm sure such an article has already been featured in Men's Fitness. I was to write about more of the dreams in which I found myself in places dim and backward, populated by artificial people delivering artifacts of fear, but perhaps another time. I have confronted all of the darkness I wish to after this weekend and right now I find myself craving sunlight and simply watching an inspirational movie in peace. A candle burns in our home for all of the people affected in the shooting and I know with my every cell who is sitting next to them at this very moment.
The following link, copied and pasted into your browser, features the aforementioned melody I was listening to on the Christmas the Divine decided to pay me a visit. It proves absolutely nothing, but if I can offer but a fraction of what I felt during that experience, perhaps it can inspire others to reevaluate the extraordinary they've dismissed in their own lives.
- Christopher Allen Brewer, July 2012
Friday, July 13, 2012
At 9:23am, on March 3rd, 1991, United Airlines Flight 585 left for Colorado Springs from the Stapleton International Airport in Denver ( from Peoria, Illinois to Colorado Springs via Moline and Denver ). The 737 carried 20 passengers ( including the body of a deceased man whose body was being transported back home for burial ) and five crew members, including Captain Hal Green and First Officer Patricia Eidson. It was a fair but windy day, with low level wind shear warnings as the plane prepared to land at the Colorado Springs Municipal Airport.
At 9:43a.m., after approaching the 35-acre Widefield Park below, just a few miles short of the airport, the plane suddenly nose-dived into the western edge of the park, creating a 39-foot wide, 10-foot deep crater. All aboard were killed instantly - the plane had nearly disintegrated, with the remaining wreckage scattered about the park and nearby residences ( including the nearby Kokomo Apartments, which the plane missed by 100 feet ). One of its residents, 8-year-old Michelle Summerson, who had been standing in a stairway at the time of the crash, was knocked down by the force. The windows of several homes were also blown out by the blast.
A severe wind shear was initially believed responsible, though eventually the National Transportation Safety Board cited a rudder system malfunction as the probable cause. This particular rudder was also believed responsible for another plane crash, the US Air Flight 427 in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania on September 8th, 1994, which killed all 127 passengers and 5 crew members. Additionally, on June 9, 1996, Eastwind Airlines Flight 517 experienced loss of control due to a similar malfunction. All planes were Boeing 737s and these accidents led to the eventual discontinuation of this rudder model.
Back at Widefield Park, a gazebo was built housing a memorial stone upon which the names of the victims were engraved on a metal plaque. The names are as follows:
Bonnie Bachman, Dan Birkholz, Andy Bodnar, Mildred Ann Brown, Lisa Church, William Crabb, Clay Crawford, Jo Crawford, Trish Eidson, Robert Geissbuhler, Jr., Pam Gerdts, Hal Green, Fred Hoffman, II, Herald Holding, Maurice Jenks, Michael Kavanagh, Kevin Kodalen, Andrzej Komor, Anita Lucero, Paula McGilvra, Vincent Riga, Lester Ross, Monica Smiley, Peter Van Handel, and Takashi Yoshida.
In 2006, when I moved from Manitou Springs to live with James in Widefield, I had never been to the park previously, which lied just down the street from us. The crash came up during one of our late-night conversations. James had actually been home with his parents when it happened. They, like many of their neighbors, thought a bomb had gone off. He related to me stories of friends' windows being broken from the force of the explosion and the grisly urban legends concerning body parts being discovered in others' backyards. Naturally, I wondered aloud if the site was haunted, but James was only impressed with the heroics of the pilots, who were able to steer the plane away from the apartment complex in their final moments. James told me of the gazebo, and I still couldn't help but feel a morbid curiousity. Were all of those souls at peace? With such a sudden, traumatic death, was it possible that there were some who didn't know they were deceased, and were still bound to the site? At the very least it seemed as if there would be a residual haunting, whereby certain events and noises would keep repeating themselves over and over in time due to the extreme energy imprinted over that particular area. Say for instance every March 3rd one might hear the explosion under certain circumstances, perceive pieces of the wreckage, detect the scent of the burning, perhaps even feel the force of the impact. I was certain the area would be magnetized with extreme psychic energy, so certain that I was at first fearful of going, of tapping into such an overwhelming trauma.
By fall of that year, we would explore the paranormally active Colorado Springs City Auditorium together for the first time as The SpiritChasers. I was planning a Halloween party, hoping to include an authentic ghosthunt as one of the highlights. We planned to pass out EMF detectors, laser thermometers, digital voice recorders, dowsing rods, pendulums, infrared cameras and other tools I had aquired on eBay for our guests to use. I would be working on a DVD invite for the party which incorporated footage from our investigation of the City 'Aud. We were also filming additional scenes in the style of a late-night paranormal informercial, very public-access and over-the-top. Everything was synchronistically coming together, so I made James, in the middle of one night, take me to Widefield Park to scout out the terrain as it seemed the perfect candidate for a group ghosthunt.
As is often the case with many supernatural hotspots I've been to, I immediately began to sense a feeling of confinement, of energies pressing in on me, a physical prickling sensation, an intuitive red light when I feel I am under observation. We took no equipment with us that first time, and as we neared the gazebo, one of the nearby park lights began winking on and off. It was not a motion-sensitive light, and this would not be the first time this happened. Later, when visiting with my cousin Denise, who would appear on an episode of BIO's "My Ghost Story" with me years later, the same thing occured. James and I entered the gazebo and I began to read the names of the deceased from the memorial stone. I quickly began to realize that this was more than just a possible ghost story, that this was in fact a great tragedy, that many lives beyond those I read had been affected. I felt a great sense of loss, and the heavy psychic trauma I was concerned about began bearing down on me, so much so that I began having second thoughts about leading a ghost tour through here. It seemed disrespectful and dishonest. Still, I needed to make some sort of contact for myself.
The night of our party, our "SpiritChasers" program having been a successful lure, I began feeling an overwhelming protectiveness regarding the park and memorial site. Some of our guests began to ask when our ghosthunt would be underway. I brushed off their inquiries, distracting them with paranormal television shows, taking their pictures with a disposable "ghost camera", ghost stories, appetizers and alcohol. As it grew late, some guests began to depart, allowing a grateful relief that no one insisted on our promised ghosthunt. One of our party-goers had arrived in an intricate Marie Antoinette costume, and I simply couldn't fathom leading them about the park in that get-up regardless.
Four nights later, on Halloween, 2006, James and I returned to the park with a digital camera, voice-recorder and EMF detector. We didn't anticipate aquiring any evidence of the afterlife, we were simply attempting to tap into the energy of the surroundings and the real people behind the tragedy. Once again, in the trees near the gazebo, the same light blinked on, then intermittently began turning on and off as if in a kind of morse-code response to my questions. The park was completely silent, but eventually we began to hear whispers and voices. James began snapping photos whenever the EMF detector went off, and I followed the voices about the park, the both of us witnessing dark shadows playing about the field. We believed we were making authentic contact with something beyond our realm, and my questions turned from general inquiries regarding their presence to apologies for the trauma they suffered.
We went home, turning on a live Ghost Hunters presentation from The Stanley Hotel, also in Colorado, while James made hot cocoa for us and I began to go through the digital images he took. I'll never forget the elation I felt when the first of the inexplicable images materialized in front of me. James rushed over to look at the viewfinder with me and we watched as a bizarre slideshow of the supernatural began to play out before us. Ectoplasmic-like forms swirled above and around us, unattributed to breathing, moisture, camera straps or fog. As fledgling ghosthunters, we already knew these things could contaminate our shots, and we were therefore very careful when taking them. We also began to notice little pinpoints of light hovering above the ground near the crash site, luminous orbs we knew were not insects or dust particles. James had always been the most skeptical of us, and he was convinced we had a genuine paranormal experience. I already felt in my being that we had experienced something otherworldly, and I was already looking forward to more adventures into the unknown.
The next year, we went back with a close friend, who was studying to become a parapsychologist. The spirit photographs we took were even more dynamic, and I was certain that this was more than just a residual haunting, that there was in fact another form of consciousness there which was trying to establish contact with us. In another synchronistic event, a friend called me regarding his own personal story regarding the crash. He had been living at the Kokomo Apartments when it occurred, and was able to procure some pieces of the wreckage, which he eventually buried under one of the trees in the park due to a number of poltergeist-like experiences he experienced before doing so. He felt the pieces were cursed in a way, but invited me to dig them back up with him to see what type of activity would present itself to us afterward. Again I struggled with the lack of respect attached to such a venture, knowing full well it could make for some great material for our next SpiritChasers Halloween Special, but I inevitably declined. I was too attached to those souls, as was James, so we decided to leave some mystery behind.
We returned to the park in the spring of 2012. After dark I recited the names on the memorial stone and in the flash from James' digital camera I was able to see the face of a man standing before me, a face we had captured in an earlier photo. I also found out the reason behind all the activity taking place in the special grotto of ash trees near the gazebo, as I never knew until then that each tree had been planted in honor of every life lost in the crash.
We blessed them as we had always done, and finally, after years of spiritchasing and investigations at other Colorado haunts I was finally able to see past the tragedy. I looked past the typical ghosts and electromagnetic oddities and instead focused on the consciousness of the area, of nature itself. I had recently been watching some videos a woman had recorded concerning her experiences with what she beleived were "sprites", fairies, earth energies. I had no perceived outcome, I was simply calling forth whatever happened to be there willing to show itself to me. The images I began to capture began to show what I at first thought were insects, even though I knew it was still too cold for them to be there. After enlargement, I discovered they were something else, luminous and fairy-like. One even had its arms outstretched as if welcoming me. I also captured a number of orbs unlike any other in all of our years doing this. These had a particular structure and color, and were larger than any I'd ever photographed previously.
I still remain protective of this place and its inhabitants. Though I have moved back to Manitou with James ( now living near Briarhurst Manor - also the site of a Ghost Hunters investigation ), I deeply miss the park and will always think of it as the site where we made first contact. We've gone on numerous summer walks in this park, watched the geese gather in the nearby lake during spring, witnessed the last solar eclipse from here, and enjoyed the autumn scenery as the trees put on new seasonal displays for us year after year. But no matter what we were doing, we always left in a state of respect and gratitude, thanking those responsible for adding to the strange beauty of life.
The following YouTube link from March of 2011 details the events of the airline tragedy and can be copied and pasted into your browser.
- Christopher Allen Brewer, July 2012
- Christopher Allen Brewer, July 2012
Monday, July 2, 2012
Wednesday, June 27th, 2012
It has been unbelievably crazy here as our state continues to burn. Every day looks like the apocalypse. The smoke and falling ash are awful and ever-present, and they remind me of the underground coal fire fog in Silent Hill. Everything has a spooky red haze about it, including the moon. We were barely here in Manitou a week when our evacuation was announced.
I had lived in Manitou previously, down the street from one of the old entrances to Cave Of The Winds, a location I now believe to be one of the entrances to the Underworld the Ute Indians had spoken of. The home I lived in was built up against the side of a mountain, and from my utility room one could actually place their hands upon the rock wall. A psychic, who had never been to my house before, informed me that a natual spirit portal existed there. It explained some things, as once during a dinner party some of my guests witnessed a man in my foyer who no one recognized. Another friend was extremely uncomfortable there, sensing he was being observed by someone he could not see. These reports did not bother me, as I didn't mind the company, and thought the spirits made a great burglar deterrent.
I had always hoped to move back to Manitou one day, as this beautiful, eclectic mountain town still held many charms and mysteries I never fully explored during my time there. In the fall of 2011, James and I attended a Barnes & Noble book signing for Stephanie Waters' "Haunted Manitou Springs". A number of synchronicities immediately presented themselves, encouraging us that we were meant to be there and form a friendship with the author. It was such a delightful event, and after reading the book my decision to return to Manitou was cemented.
I sat with Stephanie's stimulating book, recalling several of the places she'd written about, learning new legends and bookmarking some of the locations The SpiritChasers would have to investigate. We had an upcoming premier at The Lon Chaney Theater for Spiritchasers V and there was so much to look forward to. I sent my wishes out into the bright autumn afternoons and got back to things like business cards and party invites. By the Spring of 2012, I had filmed two episodes of BIO's "My Ghost Story" and received a sale date for our house. James and I had been to Manitou every weekend by that point, collecting the mineral water from eight of its natural springs for my special homemade lemonade. We began looking for a place to live there, and nearly settled on one of the properties featured in "Haunted Manitou Springs". We met the landlord of the Barker House, a pleasant, friendly woman who had some chilling stories of her own to share regarding the building. We were still awaiting approval on another property which was built in the 1800's and featured the same artistry displayed at another paranormally active location, Miramont Castle.
I thought that living in a haunted building could prove somewhat distracting, but I knew that regardless we would be guided toward the best possible place for us. The next day, we were informed of our approval for the first place we looked at, the one we'd fell in love with but didn't think we'd qualify for. We were ecstatic, and Julee came up from Denver on a sunny weekened in June to help us move. After three hellish days moving in the unbearable heat, the excitement wore off and I quickly forgot I was an official "Manitoid" again. My only concern at that point was unpacking and sorting, inbetween unending trips back to the old house to clean and move more items to a storage facility in a searing hot car with an air conditioner whose motor had given out a few months prior. I had no time to create new material for this blog, or to post new updates on our Facebook page. The last article I had written, concerning Cheesman Park, dated back to June 8th, but it was move, unpack, sort, then fall fast asleep with a cool wind blowing down the mountain through my bedroom window.
This was our routine for the first week, then a fire broke out and roared out of control. It started with an arson in Teller, grew to 20 suspicious fires, then the one in Waldo Canyon exploded, threatening to trickle down Williams Canyon toward us. Cave Of The Winds lies in Williams Canyon, and the pictures they began to post were terrifying. The town of Manitou doesn't clear their forests, and everything was in tinderbox condition as it was, having been so hot and dry. Needless to say, we were in immediate danger. I took photos from our front deck, the giant wildfire plume continuing to grow and shift. A friend living by Garden Of The Gods had already been evacuated and the park was closed off.
We had been up late that Saturday night watching the spooky red glow over the mountains. It looked just like a scene from War Of The Worlds. Everyone was outside watching and listening to the news on the radio. I registered my phone with the county and reverse-911 for emergency notifications. We were on pre-evac, but thankfully the wind began blowing the fire away from us. We went to bed hoping it didn't shift. Then, at one in the morning they enforced a mandatory evac, but we were fast asleep. We woke up around 10a.m., stepped out onto the front porch, saw the same giant plume we did the day before, but this time it was much closer and looked more violent. It was quiet that morning as usual, but eerily still. It was then I noticed that all our neighbors' cars were gone. A police cruiser drove past, but we have a big tree out front and he didn't see us. Just then a helicopter roared overhead with one of those giant water bins suspended from it. I ran back inside and noticed I had several texts from Julee, telling us to get the hell out!
We had only met a couple neighbors, and one was on oxygen so they left when the smoke got bad. No one knew we had moved there, so no one came to inform us. I had my phone on all night but hadn't received any calls. Our TVs and cable hadn't been set up, so there was no way to know what was going on. From our private alcove and a building in front of us, you can't see the street, so we didn't see any of the mass exodus happening right in front of us, the largest evacuation in Colorado history up to that point. All roads leading into Manitou were blocked off. The police cruiser kept circling around, so we only had time to pack up a few clothes & our pets, and we left.
There were roadblocks everywhere, and everything smelled like a giant campfire. We went back to the empty house in our old neighborhood, not knowing when and if we could ever return. I accessed 9 News from my phone, and they showed the huge plume of smoke, saying it could throw embers a mile away and start new fires. I really thought that was it. James had to be at school the next day as well as an interview. We had nothing but a couple shirts and shorts inbetween us and there wasn't even a chair to sit on, with no idea when the house would be sold and closed off to us. We ordered a pizza and sat on the floor, watching a movie on my portable DVD player. After a nap, I woke up to a text tone from a friend informing us that Manitou's evac had been lifted and we could return after 8pm.
As we drove back, the view of the mountains burning was alarming. The smoke was everywhere, an eerie fog descending over everything. It was like driving through a battlefield. We returned to Manitou, but everyone was still gone. I went back to work unpacking boxes, grateful to be home, praying for the many people who had lost thiers. I could taste the fire in the back of my throat and feel its sting in my eyes. It was surreal, standing on the back deck at night under a blood-red moon, watching the wildfire smoke drifting in and out of the trees like ghosts.
The next day, new, huge fires had broken out here and in Boulder, and the Waldo fire was still only 5% contained. It now threatened the Air Force Academy, so the military, who have had the resources to stop this fire all along, began deploying planes. It really looked more like a volcano had gone off than a wildfire, and if the wind shifted again I knew we'd be back to square one. I didn't think I could handle another evac, and this alarming chain of events was made all the more unsettling by a series of comments I began to notice on Facebook. The following is a comment I posted to my own page in response to them:
"I've noticed a disturbing amount of comments regarding the fires in relation to the natural order of things. Yes, fires are a natural and necessary occurence. Tsunamis happen, as do tornados, floods and drought. A lot of these comments, however, have been posted by those who have never lost their home and all their earthly possessions to an act of nature. These people have never even experienced the fear and displacement of evacuation, not knowing if your house will still be there when you return, and if it's not, having to start from zero with no place for your family and animals to go. These comments are startling in their ignorance, similar to those left by trolls on YouTube. They are heartless, embarrassing and unnecessary. One woman wrote about the necessity of post-fire seedpods. Fine. But I hope she remembers that she herself isn't exempt from natural selection. If an organism grows too large and consumes too many resources, nature will take care of this imbalance, whether it involves a pandemic or something else. I'd like to hear what she has to say about seed pods when she's running for her life."
I was angry, on edge, exhausted from moving all of our worldly possessions about and fearful of losing them. We had just gotten here, and were simply looking forward to hiking up the mountain behind us, watching as deer foraged and listening for bats in the evening. Instead, we have been in a state of emergency for over a week and our living room is still full of boxes. We go to bed every night with the ever-present smell of a giant campfire blowing through our windows, looking to see where the plumes of smoke have moved to, ready to leave at a moments notice if necessary, knowing there is no time and no way to save everything we just moved should the fire return. And it's not even the 'fourth! As much as I love and miss fireworks, I cringe at the thought of errant sparks and unattended flames. Everything is burning, and my dream of moving to the rocky stronghold of a safe mountain town is burning with it.
Monday, July 2nd, 2012
As of this writing, the Waldo Canyon Wildfire is now 45% contained. We can still smell it, but are no longer in immediate danger and all of the Manitou attractions closed off by the fire are back open. My new office is almost complete, which means we can get back to spiritchasing soon and post new blogs. I do apologize for our absence here, just when things were getting exciting, we disappear, last seen in Manitou. I didn't think our leave would take so long, that my PC would sit for as long as it did in a cardboard box while we moved, while fires raged and our future here was uncertain. My PC is still sitting in its box, and I have had to type this all out on my iPhone. I'll have everything set up this week, and I'm looking forward to my next blog concerning the haunted park we used to live down the street from. Not Cheesman, not a former graveyard, but one in which a 747 crashed, leaving the site a highly charged and paranormally active area. Make sure to stay tuned as The SpiritChasers lock into the supernatural in our new neighborhood and begin to generate new magic here. We sure picked a great time to move into the mountains!
- Christopher Allen Brewer, July 2012