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If I weren’t a radio talk- show host speaking every night with callers who have had paranormal experiences in their lives, I would be downright astonished at the number of people who said they have seen, and communicated with, the spirits or ghostly manifestations of their departed relatives. Mainly these communications come from parents or grandparents, but I have also heard
stories about communications from departed children.
GHOSTS AND COMMUNICATING WITH THE DEPARTED
On Coast to Coast AM we discuss the question all the time: what are ghosts? Do all of the departed become ghosts or just those spirits who don’t know they’re dead? In his forthcoming book, Haunting of America, my friend and repeat guest Joel Martin tells an amazing story he heard about a person recovering from surgery in a hospital. One night he was awakened from a deep sleep by the jingling of bottles. He thought that it was one of the nurses bringing him some medication on a tray, but when he looked up, he could see no one in his room. The jingling was coming from
outside his door. So he got out of bed and crept to the door where he saw a very pale, strange- looking man in a white laboratory coat rolling a medicine cart down the corridor. Odd, he thought. Why would a person be making that much oise with a medicine cart at night? Normally it’s the nurses who deliver the nighttime meds to patients. So he followed the strange .gure as he walked right by the nurse’s station, where the nurse on duty didn’t even look up. This was even weirder. Didn’t she see him?
So he asked her, “Hey, who’s that guy?”
The nurse looked up and said, “What are you doing out of bed and walking the halls?”
“Wait a minute,” the patient said, “forget about me. What about that guy? Who is he?”
“Oh, him,” the nurse on duty said. “That’s just a guy who used to work down in pharmaceuticals. He’s delivering the prescriptions to the nurse’s stations.”
“Used to?” the patient asked, now getting very ner vous about this.
“Yeah, used to,” she said very nonchalantly. “He died a few months ago.”
“You mean that’s a ghost? And you’re not scared to death?”
“We know the guy. He’s been the night pharmacist at this hospital for de cades,” the nurse said. “Everyone here knows him. He’s just doing his job, then he disappears. He doesn’t know he’s dead and we don’t want to tell him.”
Sounds very blasé, I know, but people who are used to ghosts, and know the ghosts they’re used to, remain very unfazed.
Take, for example, a story from History Channel’s UFO Hunters as they made their way across En gland. They were shooting a scene one night in a 450- year- old pub- and- restaurant near Leeds. As they were interviewing retired police of.cers there about UFOs they’d seen, one of the pub managers, who had just sent her two teenaged daughters home for the night, walked up to the producer and told him about the UFO sighting she’d had right down the road from the pub. “Let’s get her on camera,” the producer said.
During the ensuing interview, the UFO hunters asked her about her sighting, when she had it, and what the UFO looked like. Finally they asked, remarking how calm she seemed about her sighting, whether or not she was scared at having seen this pulsating orb of light right in front of her on a dark country road.
“Oh,” she said almost casually. “After seeing the ghost we have down in the basement at night, nothing like that frightens me that much anymore.”
“What?” the team asked. “Who?”
It was an old ghost, she said, who’d been killed in the pub sometime in the 1600s during the wars between the Cavaliers and the Roundheads after King Charles I was overthrown and was still angry about it.
“Angry. You mean he kills people angry?” they asked her.
“No,” she said. “He fumes and he fusses and sometimes even throws things at people in the basement, but he’s never killed anybody that I know of. I just tell him to go away, and he does. Everybody knows about him here.”
Ghost stories can be exciting and thrilling. I hear them on Coast to Coast AM all the time, and the people who tell about visitations from their relatives seem to have experienced a sense of peace at having heard from the other side. Ghost stories are so common, in fact, more common than UFO sightings in my opinion, that I’ve often wondered whether there are ways to open yourself to ghostly visitations so that you can almost call them to you on command so as to communicate with them.
There are plenty of stories of mediums who claim they can communicate with the departed, stories that range all the way back to ancient times. Those who say they can communicate with the departed have been both celebrated and reviled in pop u lar culture and even host their own radio and televi sion shows. Even in American political history there are stories of mediums and channelers who visited presidents in the White House to reach the spirits of the departed.
In one of the most famous stories, Nettie Coburn wrote a book about her experiences in the Lincoln White House. She had originally been asked to conduct séances to contact the spirit of Willie Lincoln, who died during Lincoln’s .rst term of a fever said to have been caused by bacteria in the White House water supply. But young Nettie Coburn found herself more involved in presidential policy- making than just trying to reach out to Willie to provide solace to the president and Mary Todd Lincoln. During one of her invitations to the White House—called there to provide advice on a very serious matter—Nettie was asked to contact a spirit to help the president reach a very serious decision that could affect the outcome of the war. Lincoln had written the Emancipation Proclamation, but, he said, he was still not certain whether to sign it. Nettie’s ghostly contact was the great American orator, Daniel Webster, who, speaking through Nettie, urged the president in an impassioned plea to sign the Emancipation Proclamation and so give a high moral purpose for the Union to pursue the war that had ravaged the nation. Whether this story is accurate or not— after all, it was recounted by Nettie herself years later in her book, Was Abraham Lincoln a Spiritualist or Curious Revelations from the Life of a Trance Medium— we do not know, for we only have Nettie’s version of the story. Lincoln himself, however, does not attribute his decision to issue the Proclamation to Nettie Coburn’s channeling of Daniel Webster. Rather, as he wrote to Albert G. Hodges, he was “anti- slavery because if slavery is not wrong, then nothing is wrong.” For President Lincoln this was an absolutely moral decision.
Nettie’s story, however, has captivated historians of the paranormal because it shows just how almost conventional it was for presidents, Franklin Pierce and Woodrow Wilson included, to seek advice from people who said they could talk to the “other side.”
Can you talk to the other side? Many of our contributors recount stories of their loved ones communicating with them just after death or even years later. Some— and you can do this, too— have told and written to me that all they had to do was to ask for a sign from a loved one in order to receive a message. In one particularly warm story, a woman recounts her years with her live- in boyfriend, a man who was abusive to her, but whom she loved nevertheless. After his death, our contributor, still hoping for a sign from him, began dating other men. Then, one day, lonely and disconsolate over the loss of her lover, she asked for a sign that he was still with her. That was when the refrigerator died. Oh, great, she thought. That’s all I need. To spend hundreds of dollars on a new fridge when I barely have enough money to buy food.
So she opened the refrigerator to see what she could make out, and what do you think she found inside? There, on the top shelf, were three cans of beer. Three cans that her deceased boyfriend always kept on the top shelf, right in front. That was her sign, she said, that her boyfriend was there by her side, staying with her through the rest of her life.
Ghosts, it seems, don’t have to materialize or even talk to people. They can just perform acts that let others know they’re still present.
We suggested a number of exercises in Worker that can help people communicate with the departed in waking life as well as in dreams. In dreams, we said, because the logical mind has stepped back from its mediating function over our sensory input, you are open to all sorts of images that might not make sense or might challenge your grip on reality in a waking state. But in a dream state, all possibilities are open. Therefore, if you want to try to communicate, try it as a form of a lucid dream, as many of our contributors have done. As you do your deep breathing and repetition of your mantra, hold the person’s image you want to communicate with .rmly in your mind. Actually begin the conversation, even conjuring up mentally what you think you might say and hear. Doing this enough times over a repeated sequence of eve nings, I have been told, will actually bring the person into your consciousness while you are asleep. And in that state, you may discover things about that person, things the person might have wanted to say to you in life, that you could not otherwise discover. Our contributors have reported this, and I have no reason to dispute any of their stories.
As for communicating with a loved one in a waking state, I can think of no story more charming than the one the late George Burns often repeated. George Burns was one of our country’s greatest entertainers. A comedian, dancer, singer, and radio, televi sion, and movie star, his career stretched all the way back to the earliest days of vaudev ille in the early 1900s when he and his partner Abie Kaplan soft- shoed their way in bars on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. George soon teamed up with Gracie Allen and, from the vaudev ille stage, through two- reelers and feature- length movies in the 1930s, on into radio and then televi sion, Burns and Allen became the most celebrated husband- and- wife comedy team in America. But Gracie retired from televi sion in 1958 and died in Los Angeles in 1964. Thereafter, for thirty years, George Burns visited her tomb almost every day to talk to her. He would tell her about his business plans, how he wanted to sell his successful McCadden Productions, and about his returning to motion pictures in the 1970s to star in The Sunshine Boys.
Did George Burns really talk to Gracie Allen all those years, or was she only a .gment of his imagination? Was her spirit actually present in the mausoleum, or was George Burns merely expressing his own thoughts, listening to his own voice, and giving himself the answers he knew that Gracie Allen would give him? You see, Gracie Allen wasn’t the “dumb Dora” character she and George had created for her onstage and on televi sion. Far from it. She was a savvy partner who, along with George Burns, had guided the couple’s career from the 1920s all the way to network televi sion and the creation of McCadden, one of the early inde pendent producers of situation comedies. But Gracie only spoke to George.
Therefore, I’d like to believe that, seemingly all alone next to his wife’s burial place, George Burns was not really alone. It was there that he could summon the spirit of Gracie Allen, the one person he could talk to without being onstage, and open up his heart to her for thirty years. It was what kept him going long after his contemporaries had left the business and died. It completed his every day after stopping at the Hillcrest for a cocktail and some lunch. George Burns did what any one of us could if we only believed in the possibility that people really don’t die.
Therefore, just as my listeners and our contributors have done, and tell you about in their anecdotes, you can do. You can start by using the exercise that we’ve talked about: breathing, reciting, opening up your mind to the universe, and then visualizing that person you want to communicate with. Do this enough times while not allowing any logical, judgmental thoughts to intrude upon your practice, and you will have summoned the spirit of your departed loved one with whom you will be able to communicate.
Soon you will see, just as our contributors have seen, that we really don’t die, and that the barrier between the living and the dead is a lot thinner and more malleable than people think.
Sometimes the reason for a ghostly manifestation is that the spirit doesn’t know it has died. However, the living, by opening themselves up to what they’re seeing and not denying it, can communicate with a spirit and help it on its way, just as Melissa Arkin did.
My True- life Ghost Encounter This took place in 1992. I had just lost my job as an assistant manager and I had started working full- time with a security company that up to that point I had only worked part- time for on weekends. I had the graveyard shift at a new shopping center that had just recently opened.
Although the shopping center was new, in a far corner of the parking lot was a medical arts building that had existed there before the shopping center. It was a two- story building with a variety of clinics lining the second .oor. The second .oor was just a long hallway with of.ces on either side and two restrooms that were kept locked and only for the patients to use. To reach the second .oor you could either take an outside elevator, which was extremely slow, or you could walk up the stairs, which were open on the outside of the building. To enter the second .oor hallway there were double glass doors on the elevator end. At the back end of the hallway was a single glass door that led to an enclosed stairway down to an exit door no one ever used.
One of my responsibilities was to conduct a walk- through of the second .oor every night, checking to make sure that everyone was out, including inside the locked restrooms (I had a key) and checking that all the of.ce doors were locked before I locked both doors at either end. This occurred at 11:00 p.m. nightly. It was then my responsibility to reopen the doors to the second .oor at 6:00
a.m. and conduct another walk- through.
Almost immediately I started noticing strange occurrences while on the second .oor. The AC shut off automatically at 10:00 p.m. so by 11:00 p.m. when I went to do my walk- through it was extremely hot and stuffy inside that enclosed second- .oor hallway. It was also extremely quiet. The hallway was carpeted. I was not afraid or even concerned to be checking the .oor by myself and in truth was usually lost in thought of something else and just going through the routine on autopilot.
One night I thought I heard something as I was walking down the hallway. I stopped and strained to listen. There was just silence but then, there it was again. It sounded like someone crying and sobbing. It was extremely soft but grew louder as I walked ever so quietly down the hallway. It sounded like a young girl, perhaps a teenager, and it was coming from inside the locked women’s restroom. As I stood in front of the door listening, the sound suddenly stopped and I felt a sudden cold chill run through me, even though the air was hot and stuffy. The hair on the back of my neck stood up and I got goose bumps. My thought was that a patient or perhaps an employee of one of the doctors’ of.ces was inside, and I would just let them know that I was there to lock up the building and that they would have to leave now.
I knocked on the door and announced, “Security! Are you alright? I need to lock up the building now!” There was no response. I repeated the same announcement several times and knocked loudly on the door. I then announced that I was coming in and used my key to unlock the door and enter the women’s restroom. I checked both stalls. There was no one inside. I checked inside the men’s rest-room next door. Nothing. I chalked it up to my imagination and didn’t think anymore about it.
The next night the same thing happened, and I tried to think of ways to explain it. Perhaps I was hearing someone who was actually inside the clinic on the .rst .oor and the sound was carry ing up through a ventilation duct. No, that couldn’t be it, because the clinic closed at 6:00 p.m. and the cleaning crew was done and gone by 8:00 p.m. The clinic was locked and the alarm set. If anyone was still inside it would trigger the motion sensors and the alarm. I was at a loss to explain it.
The third night I decided I would just do my run- through quickly and so as not to hear anything I would sing a song. As I approached the women’s restroom, singing out loud, I heard a toilet .ush inside. These toilets are not the type that .ush automatically using infrared or what ever. These are the old- fashioned kind with a manual lever. Needless to say, there was no one inside. It was at this point that I started talking to whoever or what ever this was. I would say things like, “Oh, you think that’s funny, don’t you! You’re a little joker, aren’t you?”
The next night I heard laughing and giggling sounds instead of crying and sobbing. The laughing and giggling of a young teenage girl. As I walked down the hot, stuffy hallway I would continue to talk to “her,” saying things like, “Where are you? I know you’re here. Where are you hiding?” And then I would feel a sudden cold chill pass through me and I would say, “There you are, you little trickster!” Each night I got goose bumps again and again as we played our little games.
Some nights she would wait till I was at the far end of the hall, after I had locked the back stairway door and was walking back to leave. Then she would open the double glass doors at the entrance and let them swing closed right before my eyes. There was no wind. No logical way of explaining it. All the while I continued to talk to her as if she were really there, I just couldn’t see her. “Very funny, you!” I would say to her.
Things continued on like this for months. Even though I kept it to myself and never told anyone, I began to hear comments from the guards who worked there on my nights off. They would say how they felt there was something strange about that second .oor. One of them, another female guard, said she had had some very weird things happen while using that restroom, and it got to the point where she refused to go up there at all. She would get her boyfriend to go up there instead.
Another time when I was not on duty I happened to be talking with the supervisor from the security company while he was waiting for the guard to come back to the security of.ce in the shopping center. The guard on duty was locking up the second .oor of the building. Suddenly, the guard came running back across the parking lot, screaming. When he reached us he was babbling something about an earthquake. He said that while he had been in the second .oor hall the walls had begun to shake and rattle and the .oor was rolling in waves under his feet. He said the whole building seemed to be moving and making a loud roaring sound. When we assured him there had been no earthquake he refused to believe it. Needless to say, after that he, too, refused to go in that building at night.
Excerpted from Journey to the Light by George Noory and William J. Birnes.
Copyright © 2009 by George Noory and William J. Birnes.
Published in George Noory and William J. Birnes by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.
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