Sunday, November 29, 2015

Are Cemeteries Haunted?

Boot Hill Cemetery used between 1912-1968
When I first visited a tucked away prison cemetery with a dark past (“Boot Hill” in New Westminster, BC), I was astonished that the city allowed it to be forgotten. During a second visit, the small plot of land had been mowed. Each visit it was different, sometimes overgrown and other times the grasses had been cut to an even height. The gravestones seemed to be sinking deeper and deeper into the mushy, lumpiness of the earth, while the grasses and brambles continued their growth over top... As if to say “no one cares”.  I found this place fascinating and
wanted to know more. Incredibly I caught several EVPs on our first visit, (voices captured on our digital recorders upon review, but not heard with our own ears at the time) welcoming the small group of women invited along on the trip, responding to our questions and talking with us as if in conversation. You can find these EVPs here: VSPI-Evidence(scroll down to Boot Hill).

Does this mean all cemeteries are haunted? No.  Does it mean this specific one is? We can’t say. But it certainly brings about a host of questions:
When we die, does our spirit go elsewhere or stay here on earth?
Why would spirits hang around, or visit, their grave site?
What purpose do we have once we die?
Why are some cemeteries at peace, while others are seem to be active?
What types of spirits hang around cemeteries?
Is it negative energy, or our imagination at work?

Yale Pioneer Cemetery
Cemeteries can be spooky places when the sun drops and darkness creeps in.  I think that is why I love them so much. Although I don’t tend to sit in graveyards during the late hours, visiting them during the day often has me feeling I am not alone. I can get just as creeped out during the day as in the night. Why? Because I use all of my senses and often get feelings I'm not alone. I place a light of protection around myself and the team (or whomever I’m with) before entering any cemetery. I also say a prayer and ask only those spirits who hang around the graveyard to step up and visit with us. I feel fine in most cemeteries, but sometimes I feel as if someone is following or standing next to me while visiting certain headstones. I read the names and dates out loud, wanting to ensure any spirit(s) who hang around are aware that they have passed on.

A few years ago, we visited a home where it was discovered the daughter had visited a nearby cemetery with her friends late at night, played with an Ouija board near the oldest area, and dared any spirit(s) to haunt her. A few nights later, the trouble began. Shadows, knocks, a feeling of depression crept in, with visuals of freaky dark entities and more was experienced. The young lady had opened a door. When we visited her home, she was in denial.  Her parents were clearly afraid. Talking calmly with the family, after a walk around with a medium gathering evidence, conducting a deeper interview, we came to the conclusion that it was darkness that had followed her home.  Now does this mean the entity came from the graveyard?  Or was it negative energy from the “other side” responding to her dare?

Old gravestones under tree
This past summer, my wife and I visited the cemetery the daughter had been frequenting, and discovered a peaceful energy. It had tall west coast trees surrounding the mountain site, with a gully to one side, and a lower area with more recent burials on the other. The older part was in the top area, near the entrance. It was small, but had some fascinating headstones. One caught my eye and thus I researched this person’s history. Unfortunately, he was killed in a railroad accident. No EVPs were caught, nor did we feel any energies following us or standing nearby. That doesn’t mean there isn’t something hanging around. It just means we were not welcome to discover it. My thoughts are, this young lady asked out loud and welcomed anything/one in. She didn’t specify; she simply dared a haunting to occur. This brings about another question. Can spirit(s)/entities come from other places when we call out? I would think “yes”... but I can’t definitively say so, as we really cannot be sure. I believe, whatever darkness heard the young lady, was drawn to her and decided to take the challenge.

There’s a cemetery in Sonoma County that I am fascinated with. It draws me in each time I visit. Spring Hill.  From the moment I walk across the line of entry, I feel a zap of energy upon me. My feet begin buzzing, my body feels a swirling surrounding it, and my head feels light and happy. It’s the most beautiful cemetery I’ve seen thus far, sitting in the middle of a farming area underneath the Eucalyptus, Oak and Redwood trees. It dates back to 1852 and began as a farmer’s family plot; but soon included a nearby Presbyterian community, and has been used as recently as 2013. I hear it calling me, and thus when my wife and I visit; we walk around acknowledging those passed on and sit quietly allowing the feeling of peace to be with us. I always feel a woman walking along side of me. I recognized her energy after several visits. We have captured one EVP where a woman answers a question I spoke out loud. Otherwise I feel this cemetery is tranquil. It puts joy into my heart and I walk away feeling refreshed each time. Of course, as we leave, I put up protectors and ask all spirit energy to remain and not to follow us home.

So the question continues. Are cemeteries haunted?

There lays a small cemetery, just outside of a fort settlement along the Coastal Highway in Northern California. Fort Ross. It’s serene, sitting on a bluff with the view of the fort to its north, and the ocean to the west, making for a beautiful place to rest. It’s not easy to spot while travelling the highway, and would be missed if not for the large Russian Orthodox cross which marks the site. 130 people are buried here. The grave markers are smaller wooden crosses carrying no names; but a list of known deaths and presumed burials is available on a plaque facing the ocean. It is believed a large number of women and children may be buried here, as well as Aleutian natives, with the earliest burial being from the 1820's.

Fort Ross Cemetery
A few years back, my wife and I visited the Fort and learned about the cemetery. After an educational visit at the fort, we hopped into our vehicle and drove a short distance south along the highway, around a bend, and there it was. We decided to picnic at the edge overlooking the ocean, with the cemetery behind us. But first, we wanted to walk the cemetery and check out the view. It felt peaceful, and oh what a scene! Of course, we had our digital recorder running, and later upon review of the recording, out of nowhere a male voice says “Check the Point” as if in conversation with us. What? Who? Oh my! I had chills crawl up my back when I heard the voice. It is in perfect English, perhaps with a slight accent. The point refers to a thin strip of land that stretches out into the water from the fort. You can walk it near to the edge. The view of the ocean is massive until the fog creeps in and envelopes the area. Needless to say, it’s gorgeous.
During a return visit, we sat in the area we had received this incredible EVP and asked questions. We captured a whispered “yes” from a male voice when we asked for that same man to step forward.

Does this mean because we called out to him, that his energy heard us and came in response?

So it begs me to ask, anytime we think of our loved ones who have walked before us, our ancestors... do they come to us? Are they the ones who create the “feeling” someone is nearby? You know, that swirl of energy we feel buzzing around you, as well as the thought that someone is watching, or standing behind/beside us.

It opens up another question... Why are some cemeteries filled with paranormal activity, and considered “haunted”? Such as: St. Louis Cemetery in New Orleans; Highgate Cemetery in North London, England; Boot Hill in Tombstone, Arizona; Bachelor’s Grove in Bremen, Illinois; and so on? What keeps the spirit(s)/entities hanging around? Or are they? Could it just be the eeriness of the graveyards creating a fantasy in our minds, thus having us believe they are “haunted”? Or are spirits truly trapped? Or forever banned from moving forward? Or... oh boy, there are so many “OR's” to mention. Never-the-less, you get the idea. Each thought brings on more questions.

With the nature of our quest to assist our clients in finding peace and to help spirit(s) move on, I wonder if they simply want recognition before they enter their next phase in being. In many instances, through investigation and research, the team has found that often a spirit needs help or wants to be acknowledged. Once this is rectified, *poof*, they are gone.
Then there are those that choose to stay and “guard” the premises... as in one case, a previous owner remains to ensure no one damages the home or steals from its present owners. It truly was astounding when we discovered evidence, stories that corroborated with what was happening, and a theft that was prevented because he showed himself to the invader... Who was found guilty of stealing from other homes (he was doing repairs for the owners), and sent packing out of the country back to his homeland of Ireland.

Are some spirits simply guardians of cemeteries? Is this why these places appear to be active? I often believe that we misinterpret most activity as being negative. Through experience I’ve found that some spirits resort to more aggressive behaviour to ensure they are being heard by the living. Could this be why we may label a place as “haunted”, and may even think it to be “evil”?  But then again, there are graveyards which have reported activity when the living is not present. Why would that be?

Could this energy be residual? We’d have to explore what the land was used for prior to it becoming sacred ground.
Are some spirits simply not at rest and doomed to roam their grave site, in hopes of finding an answer to move forward? Or do they want to stay because of a fear of moving on; or unresolved issues; or a driven anger which won’t allow them to see “the light”?
Then why would they remain where their body is buried?

Some of these questions may be answered by religious belief. Throughout the ages a belief in some kind of survival after physical death is discussed, and testimony to the existence of spirits and a world beyond is indicated in sacred writings. Some beliefs point to all spiritual activity in the physical world is that of demons, while other beliefs indicate our spiritual being moves on to another level and into an invisible spirit world. Then there is the belief in dimensions, that one surrounds the other, and some people in the physical world can interact with those of the spirit world. It lends to the fact that while we are in our physical body we cannot see beyond certain forms of light or hear certain frequencies of sound. There is also the belief that once we’ve passed on, that is it. There is no more. We have ended. Many forms of beliefs support a reincarnation; after we die our soul waits for the opportunity to be reborn in another physical body, in order to develop spiritually and acquire a superior grade of consciousness and altruism. Some religions believe that after death the soul is brought for judgement; while entering heaven is a reward for good behaviour, or a gift from God. There are also teachings that those who die in a state of grace but carry a forgivable sin, will be sent to a place called Purgatory. Here they undergo purification in order to enter Heaven; while those who die with an unrepentant mortal sin immediately go to hell. It all depends on your own religious beliefs. Simply said, science has not proven what happens to us once we die. We are still very much in the dark, but continue to explore and make attempts to understand.

That leads us back to the original question. Are cemeteries “haunted”?

Grave marker @ Essondale Cemetery (aka Riverview), Coquitlam BC
With this, I end by saying cemeteries are for the living to remember those passed on before us. Be respectful and aware of all your senses when visiting this sacred place. For those of you, who believe in life after death, please remember to put a layer of protection upon yourself; and ask the spirit(s) to stay when you leave.

If you have any thoughts about this, please don’t hesitate to comment, join in on our Facebook discussion, or email us. We respect a diversity of views, as it is a form of learning from one another.

Talk soon!
Kati



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