Students were made more aware of ghosts, ghouls and even ghastly happenings on campus at Mary Ellen Guiley’s “Mistress of the Unknown” presentation in the Student Union Multi Purpose Room on Monday, Oct. 25 at 8 p.m.
Seemingly appropriate of the gaudy spooks brought by the Halloween season, the presentation was of a more serious than gimmicky nature.
Guiley is fully versed with information having experienced with an array of supernatural subjects, ranging from angels, shadow people and fairies, which she first saw as a young kid.
“To me it was quite normal,” she said. “I thought everyone saw them.”
What started in her childhood has currently led to a full-time career of paranormal investigating and collection of over 45 published works on “every paranormal subject imaginable.” She is currently working on “The Vengeful Djinn,” which will be released in March.
Guiley’s SUNY New Paltz presentation, however, stuck primarily to spirits and ghosts, which Guiley described as “version[s of people] left behind in psychic time and place,” or earthbound souls who’ve assumed this state due to sudden, unexpected death, unfinished business or the possibility that they do not know they’re dead.
The audience of about 25 was then regaled with a series of pictures of supernatural instances and tales of where Guiley’s investigating has taken her, along with the subsequent experiences they’ve provided; these ranged from the reception of the “Twilight Zone” theme song via electronic voice phenomena (EVP) recording at a Moundsville, W.V. penitentiary to witnessing a number of shadow people and apparitions at the Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Louisville, KY, where a tuberculosis epidemic caused the deaths of many patients. Tunnels needed to be constructed to discreetly remove the growing body count.
“I think there are a lot of souls stuck there,” Guiley said of the site, which had witnessed beatings, shock treatment and lobotomies.
She then went on to a fairly in-depth description of the EVP technology and the “ghost box,” which has already advanced to real-time capabilities, rather than strictly providing results through playback.
“The technology is still very primitive,” Guiley said of the short, enigmatic responses capable of being received, “[but] I think we will develop [advancements] to hold longer conversations.”
Specific cases of unheard voices that were played included a number of Spanish responses to English questions at a site in Mexico and repetition of the phrase, “I can’t do it,” when conversation was attempted.
Once Guiley completed her presentation, it was out into the field for any unsuspecting yet willing ghost hunters who remained in the audience. No tools were necessary, being that Guiley said the body is your best instrument. So off everyone went as a group of blank slates, hoping to feel that paranormal breeze.
The first of the Student Union’s noted supernatural hot-spots was the fourth floor, where nothing was said other than there is a definite presence that’s previously been picked up on. Fifteen minutes of watching, wandering and cell-phone photography later, the gaggle of amateur ghost hunters reconvened to state its findings. All except one student, who felt a strange “sort of pulling” presence in one of the classrooms that disappeared once he turned the lights on, remained supernatural experience-less or silent.
Everyone was then informed of the case of a janitor’s spirit which can be found haunting the halls from time to time – something which members of the radio station, who’ve been subject to closing doors and strange noise in the midnight hours, said made sense.
The team then trekked to spot no. 2 in the hallway near the Student Activities and Union Services Offices on the second floor. Much smaller and narrower, all that was asked this time was to pace up and down a couple of times, remaining open to any felt presences. Once again, most remained without paranormal inclinations, except for one student who was drawn to a piece of art adorning the wall. Another described her past experiences of strange happenings occurring when she and friends sat near the now non-existent fireplace, which Guiley corroborated with the supposed story. She said a piano can often be heard, due to the spirit of a young girl that graces the area from time to time.
One thing the majority’s failure to find any spiritual presence can be blamed on is over-activity of the living, which is not the right setting for seeking the supernatural. Guiley said it’s an involved, timely process since “ghosts aren’t going to perform on demand.”
“It would have been better if we had more time for the tour,” said first-year secondary education history major Adde Graf, alluding to another possible factor for the minimal findings.
Rather than fervently running into a site, banging and making a ruckus to awaken spirits, Guiley enlightened everyone on the importance of awareness, perception and intuition. She said it’s more a matter of being in the right place at the right time. Once you tune into the atmosphere, it often begins with the observation of strange energies or even a mere cool breeze.
“[The paranormal will] be present if we open ourselves to that sort of consciousness,” she said. “If they want you to see them, you’ll see them.”