If you haven't already, you should check out Ashley's article The strange candle light in the museum where he talks about a shared experience he had with a fellow investigator. The article began with a thoughtfully considered critique of my former article: The voice from the attic. It was in this article that I spoke about what remains one of my most profound paranormal experiences - if that is what it was. In conversations, I have had with people, with Ashley and what I even commented in the article, I still cannot give it the label as paranormal. In fact, I think in a text exchange with Ashley I said that a ghost could literally appear and slap me in the face and I would still have doubts. It is just the way that I think. Ashley did I guess you could say 'warn me' before posting his response as he had struggled to hear the voice I had included and he had to critique it as he saw it. I think maybe in some ways he expected me to be offended as this the way most people tend to react when their experiences are questioned. My response was something along the lines of "I wouldn't have included it if I didn't want your honest critique".
A big part of what we wanted to demonstrate with the resurgence of this series was the concept of intelligent adult discussions and critiquing our own experiences. We wanted to highlight how important this process was and how it is possible to say to someone "I didn't hear it". without them getting upset. I think it also gives an added layer to the word experience. At the end of the day, that is what it is was. It was something that was extremely profound and personal to me and was a big part of why I am still here researching the paranormal. Whether or not it was paranormal doesn't even really seem to matter at this point. It was the experience that moulded me. It doesn't matter what 'evidence' a person presents, there is always going to be someone that will have an opinion that could differ from yours. Maybe it is an explanation you haven't considered. Maybe like in my case they just didn't hear or see what you did. Our brains are highly intelligent and intricate that make us see, feel and experience things on a different level. A lot of people define these as paranormal, but what if they are just normal? While in my case I definitely cannot rule out that some sort of sound was misinterpreted and made me react in that way, but maybe there was a reason I reacted that way? Not a paranormal reason but my brain for some reason set me on that path. It could have just been fight or flight or maybe something deep within my subconscious. Who knows us better than our brains? This is why one of the key points we must remember is that an experience is meaningful and powerful and very real to the person experiencing it. Regardless of what is causing it and if it is paranormal or not, it is something of significance to the person who is experiencing it. To everyone else, it is just an experience that someone else had and they are never going to be able to relate on the same level because they were not there experiencing the same thing. Ashley referenced how important it is to document the full case data behind experiences instead of just presenting a short clip of evidence and I honestly couldn't agree more. It provides the context to understand things at a deeper level. I know for me, it wasn't about the 3 seconds that I thought I heard a voice. It was about the story behind it, how it made me feel and how it still makes me feel all these years later. If we can start collating these experiences and not just focusing on a 3-second clip of a possible voice, we can maybe gain a greater understanding as to how and why we experience things as we do!
In Ashley's article, he spoke about an investigation at an ANZAC museum where he and another investigator saw what looked like flickering candlelight. It was something they had tried to recreate but were unable to properly. Shared experiences are sometimes a double-edged sword. On one hand, you have two people who are seeing and experiencing the same thing so you can rule out that one person is seeing something out of the corner of their eye or that they are hallucinating. On the other hand, you have two people who can be unknowingly influencing each other. As years pass and you recollect old experiences (like we have been doing in the case files) the details can become muddled and you can end up remembering a completely different version of events. I do know however how much Ashley likes to journal. It is a good reminder as to why your most important tool is a notepad and pen. Knowing Ashley, he would have taken meticulous notes after the experience and he is also not one to get caught up in a matter of suggestion, although it could be a possibility. The situation was approached in the same way most people would approach it, and that is to recreate the experience to try and figure out what was happening. While the worker at the museum used a lantern to recreate the light, Ashley mention it looked similar, but it wasn't quite what they saw. We can't discount the fact that it could have been a staff member or even the volunteer there on shift walking to another room with the lantern. While the worker may claim they were not in the area at the time, it is quite funny how people very quickly forget their movements when caught up in the excitement that something paranormal may have happened. I have seen it happen with my own eyes. That is one of the benefits I guess when you run investigations, is that you have the gift of sitting back and watching how people behave during an investigation. When something happens, they will claim things such as "I was never anywhere near the table or I didn't even go in that room it couldn't have been me!". Then you have me who has been watching the entire time and sometimes filming with a camera who can then prove that they did in fact go in that room or knock the table. With an investigation occurring at the property and a volunteer on staff, I am sure they have their own tales to tell. Volunteers always get excited when people come in to do investigations. It is like they want validation for some of the weird things they know they have experienced. So of course it is possible the volunteer in their excitement forgot their movements or timing. Without knowing how many people were in the building or where everyone was I of course can't make a judgement, but this is one of the possibilities.
I have no doubt that they saw a light, but what was causing it? If not a real person holding the lantern then what was it? 'Ghost Type' lights have been a part of paranormal folklore for centuries namely because people actually see them and no one knows what causes them. I was once at a cemetery at night and I and 2 other people saw what looked light lanterns walking towards us. We figured it was other people strolling through as it was the type of cemetery with wide paths that people would stroll through at night. Except the lights disappeared and we spent the next 40 minutes looking for the people who we thought were holding the lights. While it could have been something atmospheric and could have been real people holding the lanterns, this kind of phantom lights are common in ghost stories. Then you have the element of a staircase, a place where if residual energy does exist, a staircase would be the perfect place for it to lie. It would be one of the main traffic areas of the building over the span of many years and no doubt an area people focus on. Are these the perfect elements for a form of residual playback? Ashley mentioned using the Singapore Theory, a technique where something as simple as playing music could unlock any sort of residual energy that could be around. Was the light a manifestation of that? There are so many things that this could be, and we aren't going to get any answers so it is time to look at my own story which I kind of have an answer, but maybe I don't?
It took me a while to think about the kind of case I would submit here. I thought of an experience I had which much like Ashley was a shared experience with another investigator and would actually end up being a shared experience with more people. The problem is I am pretty sure it wasn't something paranormal but maybe I am writing it off too quickly so with that in mind, I am submitting it to the case files!
There were 10 of us investigating J Ward prison for the criminally insane. It is a building that consisted of 2 levels plus an underground kitchen plus some extra living quarters, shower block and outbuildings. People were spread out all over the place, but there was no one in the underground kitchen. As I and another investigator started walking down the stairs, the person next to me froze in a type of fear which they were overcome with. I saw what looked like a white flickering light falling from the top corner of the window which suddenly disappeared halfway down. I remember yelling 'look at the light'. Something that would become significant later. My colleague had seen it too and it wasn't the light that spooked them, it was just this strange feeling of fear. My first thought was that it was some kind of bug or spider reflecting light, although I don't know how the light would reflect off it in that way as it was really bright, but that is what I went with at the time. I thought the light was kind of strange and even a bit cool but figured there would have been some sort of rational explanation for it, so I honestly didn't think too much of it. I myself had also not experienced the same feeling of fear as the person next to me, so I don't know if they did just get a bit spooked because it was dark and we were on an investigation, it happens!
The infamous bathtub in the Governors bathroom which sits next to the underground kitchen
Not long after, a couple of people came running into the underground kitchen where I now was. They said, "you saw the light!". They had been on the top-level doing EVP work and heard a loud bang. It was then they saw a white flickering light which they said hovered for a little bit and then they saw it travel downward. About 10 seconds later they said they heard me yelling from outside "look at the light". So we assume here we saw the same light. Now instead of just me and another person seeing this light, you have 4 people viewing it from two different locations. It was just a bit strange because it kind of threw out my reflective spider explanation and put it in the category of light anomaly. What caused this light anomaly is most likely not paranormal at all, but it was an anomaly nonetheless because I don't know what it was. I guess this is why I questioned whether this would even be worth submitting to the case files. I suppose it is a good lesson in that just because it is unexplained to me doesn't mean it is paranormal. There is a term called xenonormal which basically means that there is an explanation for it, but to the person experiencing it, they don't know the answer because they don't have the knowledge in that area. Many believe that most paranormal experiences actually fall into this category because there is an explanation for what happened, but the person it happened to just doesn't know it!
I do of course have to wonder if maybe I am overthinking it and overlooking something that Ashley may be able to add. There could be a clue here that my own bias to rationalise everything is not seeing?
What do you think? Could there be more to the light anomaly?
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