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This article by Diana Wolf was prepared for the October 30, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Who Are Ya Gonna Call? Ghostwatchers!
Halloween brings, on the heels of trick-or-treaters,
our annual dose of specters, spooks, and ghosts. But for Dawn Good
and Susann Pie (pronounced pee-AY), co-founders of Ghostwatch Paranormal Investigations, ghosts are a year-round pursuit. Although spirit activity doesn’t necessarily increase with autumn’s shorter days, interest does.
"Some people feel that the veil is thin towards the end of the
year, and several religions believe that it’s easier to contact the
dead and easier for the dead to come through," says Good.
Good lives a haunted life. As a teenager, she saw an apparition of
two male figures in her bedroom doorway. Years later, driving near
New Hope, Pennsylvania, she saw a soldier standing beside the road,
his papers blowing in the 3 a.m. wind. When she turned her head for
a second look, the figure was gone. It is no surprise she now tracks
"You could call it a hobby, or maybe a calling," she says
of her involvement with the Hamilton-based Ghostwatch. Originally
founded in 2000 as Princeton Paranormal Research Society, the group
reorganized and changed its name but not its mission which is to help
clients, educate the public, and further understanding of haunting
phenomenon. Good and Pie pursue these goals by conducting two confidential
investigations per month. They do not charge for Ghostwatch services.
Beyond their belief, there is nothing bewitching about these two cheerful
women who could be sitting next to you and your Route One co-workers.
Good, who works as the office department coordinator for a Princeton
company, did grow up in a haunted house (confirmed, she says, by Ghostwatch
investigations), and Pie’s involvement is an extension of her Hamilton
business as a healing arts practitioner. Both women have college degrees
and area family ties. Good’s silver ghost necklace is the only evidence
of her attachment to the paranormal.
Good and Pie believe in spirits; their group’s 10 active members include
some skeptics seeking hard scientific evidence. Good says an open
mind is the only requirement, and that increases the comfort level
of clients. Clients often feel embarrassed because the media portrays
belief in the supernatural as silly or trivial.
"A lot of people will call us two or three times and hang up because
they’re afraid to even put words to what they’re experiencing,"
says Good. "Sometimes if a floor squeaks, the floor is squeaky,"
reminds Pie. "It’s not necessarily a ghost."
Every Ghostwatch inquiry is treated seriously. It begins
with a 90-minute preliminary walk-through. The official four-hour
investigation occurs from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m., during spirits’ most
active hours. Power is shut off in the house to eliminate any electromagnetic
interference. Flashlights are covered with a red gel to aid night
vision and prevent photo glare.
Despite movies like "Ghostbusters" that showcase high-tech
gadgetry for warfare on spectres, Good and Pie claim that investigation
equipment can be purchased at the corner electronic supply shop. GPI
members divide into teams and some pan a room with a handheld Electro
Magnetic Field (EMF) detector, sensitive to activity levels as low
as a radio alarm clock. They may also use a non-contact thermometer,
common in refrigeration industries, that identifies pockets of cold
air. A motion detector is set up in any vacant room, and if it goes
off . . .
"It’s a lot like a stakeout in that there’s a lot of waiting and
watching," says Good.
"Odor is definitely a part of the experience," adds Pie, but
sight and sound offer the most substantial proof of the presence of
a spirit. One member of each GPI team carries a camera — any type,
be it digital or disposable — and a voice recorder. Good and Pie
report that white circular orbs, thought to be concentrated spirit
energy, are common visual manifestations, as are mist and rays of
light. Complete apparitions are the rarest. When a spirit’s presence
is felt or seen, investigators attempt contact by asking questions
aloud like: "Who is here?" "How old are you?" and
"What do you want?"
Pie recalls an experience she had at Sach’s Bridge, a covered bridge
at the Gettysburg Battlefield (pictured above). "I asked if there
was somebody with me because I felt somebody standing or a presence
there," she says. "They replied, `Yes’. I said, `Did you die
here?’ and he hollered `Oh yeah.’ That was very chilling, and he was
in a lot of pain."
Ghostwatch maintains that every investigation yields something useful,
whether it’s 25 extraordinary pictures and multiple sound files or
just a few images. Activity can vary on any given night due to fluctuating
energy levels. Ghostwatch shares its data with the client, validating
their experience and confirming that he or she isn’t "mental."
What happens next depends on the client and the spirit. Identifying
paranormal activity is often enough to bring clients peace of mind.
Still, some want the spooky critter gone. Ghostwatch empowers their
clients to handle matters on their own with clearing techniques such
as meditations or working with positive energy.
One Ghostwatch client heard a disembodied voice singing Christmas
songs. No one else heard the voice, which was muddling the words,
and that bothered her. Working with a positive energy, she gained
the strength to finally yell "Stop it!" and the voice ceased.
If those methods aren’t enough, a blessing of holy water, the conducting
energy of quartz, or the alkaline properties of salt may also be used.
It’s hard to determine why some homes are haunted, because many different
anniversaries, births, and deaths are contained within an old house’s
walls. Spirits can be earthbound waiting for a lost love or trapped
to an object. Their guilt, fear, or lack of knowledge regarding their
death may keep them local. Or the spirit may simply want something.
"We wouldn’t force the entity to leave just because we felt like
telling it to leave," says Good. "We’d see if we could possibly
send them to the light."
"Sometimes you just can’t anyway," Pie adds. "No matter
how hard you try, they’re there. There are many things beyond this
— Diana Wolf
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