Thursday, June 13, 2013

ACCESS DENIED / ACCESS GRANTED



   OtherSiders42473.  This was once a password I used when I was originally setting up a flurry of accounts for The SpiritChasers.  We chose the name we did because we got our start filming a late-night public-access paranormal infomercial in our basement every October and thought The SpiritChasers was comedic enough to stand out.  By the time we decided to cut down on the comedy aspect it was too late, we had already captured a lot of startling evidence, establishing a name for ourselves that everyone knew us by and my original plan of christening our team The Othersiders was thrown out the window.  Somebody on Nickelodeon or Disney ended up using the name a couple years later, so we just kept the kitsch.




   That was six years ago, though my first official paranormal investigation occurred at age 12 in 1984, fueled by all of the Ed & Lorraine Warren books I had read throughout my childhood.  Spirit had made it very easy for me to access this information. At the elementary school I attended there was actually an occult section in the library, believe it or not, and I found myself naturally gravitating toward these books and loitering in this area every chance I had.  I was labeled a “weird kid” because of this, and somehow, after all these years working in the metaphysical community, I find that the occult is still a dirty word, still demonized due to lack of the understanding regarding it.  But I knew then, due to early research during my recess period, that the occult simply meant “that which is hidden”.  As a child who was expert at locating hidden Christmas presents every winter, nothing could stay hidden from me for too long.   

   At present, however, there are several things I do not have access to: secrets, locations, communities, television producers - restricted for any number of reasons.  Headquartered in Manitou Springs, Colorado, a historical mountain town at the base of Pikes Peak, The SpiritChasers have the benefit of living near some very old, infamous buildings which have a documented history of authentic hauntings. Even in another golden age of spiritualism, mediumship and paranormal research, many of these property owners want nothing to do with the circus act that televised ghost hunting has become. They simply want their bed and breakfasts to remain charming, quaint places, for their castles to be haunted only by the wine and cheese crowd.  They’ve long since become exasperated with groups before us asking for permission to run miles of cable throughout their property, positioning all manner of sensitive recording equipment about, requesting “Ghoul Schools” be conducted there, swarming their hot spots with EMF detectors, Geiger counters, infrared cameras and dowsing rods.
 


   Last year James and I spoke with the property owner of one of Manitou’s most haunted residences.  We were moving and briefly considered setting up shop in a paranormally active location.  The owner really wanted us as tenants and she goaded us with stories about the supernatural phenomena people were experiencing there.  She didn’t want to go on record, and she was of the mind set that if you ignore something it will go away, but she did promise that if we took her up on a lease we’d be given access to the juiciest spots and would be able to interview any who were willing to be.  Just as our application was being processed we were approved for a larger, more modern setting with no reports of paranormal activity.  We took it, much to the dismay of the woman, whose tune changed immediately.  When James next asked her about the possibility of setting up a visit she gave him a flat-out no.  ACCESS DENIED.
 

 
   The place we moved into lied across the street from another historical, haunted locale which was featured on an episode of Ghost Hunters. We were then evacuated the following week due to the raging Waldo Canyon Wildfire.  After everything settled down, we found the town as charming as we’d hoped, though we still longed to gain entrance to that undisclosed building and the treasure trove of stories to be found there.  This is exactly why we so enjoy participating in paranormal retreats and conventions, one of which we will be presenting at in September. Everyone shares their stories, evidence, and secrets freely ( well, most everyone ).  True, the community has its share of divas, some who would never rub shoulders with people who named themselves The SpiritChasers.  “Serious investigators” who savagely guard their own turf, rolling their eyes at any mention of celebrity ghost hunters as if they were lovers they had already conquered and moved on from.  But most people come from the place we have, growing up watching Poltergeist on HBO, collecting ghost story paperbacks from a spinner at King Soopers, religiously watching programs like In Search Of, Unsolved Mysteries or Sightings.  People who can drop the ego for a weekend, lower their defenses and share the gift of story.  I didn’t get why paranormal researchers were so damn defensive until several years into our own investigations, finding ourselves defending our evidence year after year.  No, actually, that wasn’t dust, smoke, breath, condensation, light reflection, shadows, insects, swamp gas… 
 



   I have never had as many passwords as I do now.  I have never in my life had to remember so many combinations of upper and lower case words, numbers and symbols - all to gain access to something that is already mine.  Yahoo, Hotmail, Facebook, Blogspot, YouTube, Paypal, eBay, Amazon, Comcast, Verizon, iTunes, PCs, online multiplayer games, safes, etc.  It’s like meeting another ghost hunter armored to the hilt.  Again, under the name we have assumed, we have had our share of disapproving looks. We then have to submit certain passwords to them until we gain access to conversation, cliques, retreats, interviews. “We were on the ‘Whispering Walls’ episode of ‘My Ghost Story’ / we were on Fox 21 News again last year / we’re frequent guests on ‘After Dark With Dr.Mike’ / we’ve been mentioned in three haunted history books  / our evidence has been featured on the SyFy Channel website…”  ACCESS GRANTED.  This combination of words ( upper and lower case ) and numbers is usually our ticket in, much as I loathe having to go through this every time in attempts to prove our worth.  James doesn’t even play this game, he simply keeps his greaser cool off to the side, smoking a cigarette, playing with his phone.  As our spokesperson, however, I’m obligated to engage in these primitive chest-beatings, unfortunately, all to gain entrance into a scene I’ve always had a passionate interest in.
 
 
 
   Many times on investigations I have sighed with exasperation due to the seeming lack of activity present, despite the passwords I have entered - whether they be meditation and psychic communion, charging the atmosphere with special machines, carrying a messenger bag full of giant batteries ( food for those that feed on energy in order to manifest before us ).  Oftentimes it seems as if nothing is working, or perhaps just enough to raise some eyebrows. But always, there is something at work. “Each time you pray,” I was once told, “everything that happens afterward is part of an answer to that prayer.” I keep this in mind whenever we’re in the field, knowing that little by little, we are receiving a part of the contact we pray for.

 


   I work in a place where I hear people telling me about the inexplicable and wondrous in their lives on a daily basis, and most wouldn’t believe how common the miraculous actually is.  They also have their own assembly of passwords, every one of them wanting to appear valid, authentic, important, sane.  Sometimes, thankfully, I don’t have to do any more than to share one of my own stories.  This is where we have come from and what we will always be about – the simple gift of story.  These are instantly accessible, to everyone, whether or not they have thousands of dollars worth of ghost hunting equipment at their disposal or simply tune into the shows every now and then.  Everyone wants to be part of a story, the more romantic the better, and as an Oglala Sioux - coming from a race of storytellers – I am grateful to have been part of many incredible stories.   It’s so much easier to verbalize this truth, than to have to defend what I do after hours, flashing a business card like a multipass and a drawing my iPhone or iPad Mini from my waist like a sidearm, swiping at my SpiritChasers photo album, ever attempting access…
 
 


   Last week Spirit had made it very easy for me to gain access via one blessed soul crossing the same little intersection of the universe I was.  Somehow our easy, defenseless conversation drifted toward the supernatural, and they told me of an old office building they were renting out in which all manner of spooky things were happening.  I left my devices at my waist and simply told them of my interest in such things.  They simply held up their keys, inviting me with a mischievous smile…
 
 


- Christopher Allen Brewer, June, 2013


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