Are you just dying to see what it is like to be a real life ghost hunter? Ct Ghosthunters, a paranormal research and investigation group, will offer a Paranormal Presentation on Sunday at the Killingworth Library.
Patch interviewed Sydney Sherman, Ct Ghosthunters Founder and Lead Investigator as well as author of the newly released You Are Not Alone, in advance of his Killingworth presentation to find out what it's like to be a real-life ghost hunter.
PATCH: When did you notice that you were different?
Sherman: I think the first opportunity I had to realize I was different was when I was in kindergarten and I was talking to a friend in line outside of school. (I was 6). A young girl approached and I asked her her name. My friend asked who I was talking to and when I responded she started laughing at me saying there's no one there. She called me dumb and I ran home crying ... I just assumed everyone could see them, I didn't even know they were dead until that day.
PATCH: What do you say to skeptics?
Sherman: I think skeptics are great. They make what I do validating even to me. I tell them to be skeptical, question everything. When I can give them something tangible, something concrete and they become believers or at least open themselves up to the possibility, it makes what I do fun for me.
PATCH: What is CtGhosthunters?
Sherman: CtGhosthunters is a group of paranormal investigators here in the state for over 30 years. We are a group dedicated to uncovering the truth of the afterlife and providing education to others about what is real and what is seen on TV. We do not believe in "orbs" as scientific proof of a spirit's existence. One of our mottos is "If the activity you are experiencing can be caused by any other means, you cannot say definitively that it is paranormal."
We are active in our communities through sponsored events such as The United Way, Toys for Tots, Relay for Life, coat drives, canned food drives and many others. We support the great history of our state and value its role in who we are today.
PATCH: How do ghosts and poltergeists differ?
Sherman: Ghosts (or spirits as we prefer) are energy. They are the life force with which we exist. They are not evil, nor do they cause harm. Poltergeists I believe is an uncontrolled negative energy that is created from our situation, home environment or even illness. They do not exist as a once-living being but are created through the despair, anxiety and turmoil that may exist in our life. In over 50 years I have never experienced nor witnessed either a demon or poltergeist.
PATCH: What is an orb?
Sherman: An orb is a spherical object that uses the light around itself to appear as if it is creating a light source. "Orbs" are dust particles, bugs, droplets of moisture in the air, reflections of light from a light source or other reflective surface. They are not indicative of spiritual presence.
I educate people to try this tip: Next time you are in a dark room or outside at night, turn on a flashlight and look at all the particles streaming through the beam. Normally you would not see these as they are around us all the time. This is what can be picked up in a photo when the flash from the light hits it. On investigations we use IR (infrared lights) to see in the dark.
These will sometimes appear as a round shape ball of light, confused as a spirit ... but it is not. We believe in light anomalies which can be indicative of a spirit presence or the flow of their energy, but these present much differently and are not captured that often.
PATCH: What is a haunting?
Sherman: A haunting is descriptive of a place or area that contains spiritual activity, usually used in a negative context as haunted makes people think of dark energies and scary events. A location is termed "haunted" if some type of paranormal (or above the normal) activity occurs or is perceived to have occurred. We use the term visited which is more along the lines of what I see and know to be true. People and places are visited by spirits and their energy -- sometimes in an intelligent way, some times in what is known as a "residual" manner.
PATCH: How do you know when something is paranormal?
Sherman: This is an interesting question as I see what would be considered paranormal every day but yet for me it is very normal. It is almost impossible to say with 100% certainty that something that has occurred or an event was caused by paranormal activity. The shows on TV that have paranormal activity occur with every investigation, I have a hard time as this just does not happen. For people who do not have the benefit as I do of seeing them for themselves, it is left up to the interpretation of the information gathered, but I caution education is always the key in determining the difference between what MAY be paranormal versus what may just be activity which occurs in our natural environment.
PATCH: What equipment do you use on a hunt?
Sherman: We use several different pieces of equipment along with our personal experiences on an investigation. We have EMF (Electromagnetic Field Detectors), EVP detectors (Electronic Voice Phenomenon), and multiple cameras (IR, full spectrum) which allow us to see outside what the normal field of vision is. Laser grids, motion sensors, stationary IR cameras and lights, vibration sensors, flashlights, thermometers, K2 meters and other items.
PATCH: Did you receive any training?
Sherman: I never had any training as the reason I started CtGhosthunters was not to see for myself if spirits existed but to attempt to capture evidence for others of what I see every day. My members are trained on the equipment and how to properly identify what they are seeing or hearing when reviewing potential evidence. They are also asked to remain skeptics and to look at things rationally and realistically and avoid jumping to conclusions.
PATCH: Do you have a “traditional” job as well?
Sherman: Yes, I am an R.N.
PATCH: Do you have tips for those who want to ghost hunt?
Sherman: Be respectful. Always ask permission, never trespass. Do not antagonize or provoke. Look at any situation or evidence with skepticism and look at it scientifically. Be yourself, do not try to copy what you see on TV. Give back to the community and educate yourself so that you are better able to assist your client with what they are experiencing.
PATCH: What are some of the misconceptions of the afterlife?
Sherman: That they are stuck here or that they have unfinished business. They are energy, they cannot be "stuck" here. They come and go as they please. Their business is no longer an issue. People need to stop seeing them as if they had physical bodies, restrictions or limitations as we do. They are not evil nor do they look disheveled. The are whole vibrant beings. This is common sense.
PATCH: Do Ouija boards work?
Sherman: I say no. It is a piece of cardboard with letters on it. The plastic pointer is just that -- a plastic pointer. I think that it is like anything else that is suggestive of a particular outcome and we can make anything happen or fit a situation if we want it bad enough.
PATCH: What is the goal of your new book?
Sherman: My hope for my book is to bring a more rational and realistic side to what happens to us when we pass. I want people to understand what truly happens to us. I want to stop the lies and misinformation that has taken over an event that we all will someday experience. I want others to understand that our loved ones ARE still here and that they can still have a relationship with them NOW. No, not a relationship like before, that is not possible, but a different one. They are with us every day. They try to get our attention every day. We, without intention, ignore them every day. I want them to be able to avoid the frauds of the field and learn how to recognize them. Most most of all I want them to prepare for what is ahead ... It is not scary, it is natural....
PATCH: Is what we see on television fairly accurate or more misleading?
Sherman: It is very misleading and I understand that. As a population we tend to make up what we don't know. I am fortunate as I can see the truth. But, I feel that we should be able to watch the shows on TV and enjoy them to some degree but we should understand they are for "entertainment purposes only"....
PATCH: There are numerous ghost detectors available online. How does one know which are best?
Sherman: That is hard to answer. Read their mission statement. What are they offering? How long have they been doing this? Do they have a testimonial page? Will they provide you with references? Are they talking about things that make sense or just repeating the message from TV that all dead people are evil and here to harm us. What does their website look like; is it skull and crossbones with headbanging music (to me this says they really do not have a good understanding of what the field of paranormal study is all about), and do they provide education and help in their community.
PATCH: What are some of the creepiest places in Connecticut?
Sherman: The Ivoryton Playhouse, Rockland Cemetery, many homes along the Underground Railroad, Yankee Silversmith (no longer standing), University of New Haven and The Greenery in Cheshire.
The Connecticut Ghost Hunters presentation at the library consists of a PowerPoint presentation and discussion. They will go over the different types of paranormal phenomena, as well as how to recognize what is truly paranormal versus what occurs naturally in our environment. They will discuss the history of the paranormal field and myths and legends of haunted locations in Connecticut. The Hunters will also discuss the equipment used and have it available for demonstration. This presentation will last roughly 1 ½ hours.
The Paranormal Presentation will be held on Sunday, October 14th at 6 p.m. Who ‘ya gonna call to sign up? The Killingworth Library! Please pre-register at the library or call 860-663-2000. The location of the presentation is subject to change.