JANUARY :: We share more of our favourite haunted locations, further frightening experiences, and some possible fascinating evidence of the paranormal.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Time Slips :: Alternate realities, or something else entirely?

"…for us physicists believe the separation between past, present, and future is only an illusion, although a convincing one." - Albert Einstein

Time slips have interested me for many years. The concept of “slipping” back into the past is simply fascinating and was more than enough reason to investigate the theory a little further, as it may provide some clue as to the cause of some "paranormal events".

Time slips are an inter-dimensional time displacement, in which a person (or persons), experience a slip in time; that is, they find themselves either forward, or as in most reported cases, back in time.  These “slips” can occur at any given moment, and in any given place. From my understanding, there is no defined set of “circumstances” that one needs to experience a time slip; however, those who claim to have experienced this phenomenon report a distinct change in the atmosphere around them immediately prior to the slip.
I have read many reported cases of time slips and the majority seem to involve the past, from tourists coming across quaint country hotels only to discover on their return journey that they have simply disappeared, to locals witnessing past battles upon fields where indeed such conflict had occurred many years prior.
It is difficult to come up with a rational explanation for this phenomenon. The protagonists are clearly shaken by their experience, and where the experience is shared with others, it is impossible to blame one's imagination. So, besides a collective hoax, have these people suffered a time slip? Or are these experiences something else entirely?
Another interesting thing to note about time slips, is that there is no fixed duration for them. Some can be relatively short-lived, lasting no more than a few minutes, whilst others are full-blown interactions with an alternate reality lasting several hours - or, in the case of travellers who have apparently found hospitality in mysterious, non-existent hotels, an entire night.
Yet the most remarkable thing about this phenomenon is that among physicists, there is a strong belief in the possibility of multiple (even infinite) alternate versions of reality, all occurring at the same time. The theory is that whenever time probability comes into play, reality splits: Toss a coin and you create two separate realities, one where the coin falls heads, and the other where it lands on tails.
Whilst accepted that time slips are theoretically possible, the theory rules out the possibility of being aware of these realities.  However, the personal accounts of possible time slips would seem to challenge this view.  
Here are a few of the more famous accounts of time slips for your consideration:

Painting of Marie Antoinette in the
Trianon Gardens by Antoine Vestier.
During the summer of 1901, two English women, Anne Moberly and Eleanor Jourdain, were visiting Versailles when they became lost whilst looking for the Petit Trianon. As they wandered the grounds, they passed a deserted farmhouse and noticed an old gardening plough. Then as they continued along the path the atmosphere around them seemed to change.
They came across two men dressed in period clothing wearing three-cornered hats, who directed them down a path when the women asked the direction to the Petit Trianon. As they continued on their way, they crossed over a small bridge to what they assumed to be the Petit Trianon, where they found a woman sketching on a stool dressed in eighteenth century clothing and a footman rushing out to speak with her.
As they rounded the side to enter, the atmosphere lifted and they found themselves alongside a present-day wedding group waiting to enter the Petit Trianon.
Months later, Moberly asked Jourdain about the lady they had seen, to which Jourdain replied that she hadn’t seen a woman, but agreed with other details. As they did further research they discovered that the day they had visited  the Petit Trianon was the anniversary of the massacre of the Swiss Guard at the Tuileries in 1792.
Jourdain returned to Versailles a year later to retrace their steps and noticed that the paths they had walked on that day in 1901 simply didn’t exist. Also, the door the footman had dashed out from was boarded up, and had been for many years.
The authenticity of this story has been questioned as the protagonists appeared to “add details” upon publishing their book, An Adventure.
Was it really Marie Antoinette’s ghost that the women stumbled across that day? A residual impression of the past?  I'd like to believe it was.
Another intriguing account of a possible time slip comes from the biologist Ivan T. Sanderson, who, whilst on a biological survey in Haiti, became bogged in mud forcing himself, his wife and assistant to walk down the muddy road in search of assistance. Sometime later, both Ivan and his wife looked up to discover they were walking down a street in Paris in the fifteenth century, complete with cobblestones, lanterns swaying in the breeze (a breeze they couldn’t feel), and even candles lit behind windows. Both Ivan and his wife were in agreement with every detail around them, his wife exclaiming: “How did we get to Paris five hundred years ago?”
The final account of a possible time slip that I'd like to share with you today, comes from a retired police officer who was holidaying with his wife in Liverpool, England. The pair split up to look at different shops, but were to meet back at Dillon’s Bookshop. As the police officer started to head back towards Bold Street he noticed a strange quietness around him.
He continued along the path: An old 1950s van passed right in front of him, almost colliding with him, and he noticed the name on the side of the van said “Caplan’s”. He then looked down to discover he was no longer walking along a path but standing on the road. As he moved back towards the footpath, he looked up to see that Dillon’s Bookstore now had the name “Cripps” and was displaying women's shoes and handbags. The people around seemed to be dressed in 1940s fashion. He was absolutely baffled. He then noticed a young woman nearby that appeared to be dressed in  modern fashion, and decided to follow her into the shop. But upon entering, the shop was transformed back into Dillon’s Bookshop. Interestingly, the young woman corroborated the holidaying police officer's experience: She was expecting to look at shoes & handbags not books!

So, do you believe these stories to be true accounts of people experiencing a time slip, or something else? Could these events be evidence of residual haunts, or are you of the opinion that they are simply imaginative fancy, or even a clever, well-embellished hoax?

Further Reading:
An Adventure (Ghosts of Versailles) by Anne Moberly & Eleanor Jourdain


Friday, 11 April 2014

Shadow People :: A glimpse of something Other?

"The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and the other begins?" - Edgar Allan Poe
I recently participated in a paranormal investigation with a group of six other people. Normally I'd be put off by all the company, but the investigation was being undertaken at a location I had wanted to investigate for years and I didn't want to miss out. I hadn't expected to see, hear or feel anything, but as it turned out, it was an investigation during which I would have a surprising, and unforgettable encounter with a Shadow Person.
Let me set the scene: It's night and I'm standing out in the open on the bare floor of a dry creekbed. It's incredibly dark as there are no streetlights and the moon isn't out. I'm at a doorway cut into the bank of the creek, which leads into two very cramped, underground rooms, which one hundred and fifty years prior had been home to men, women and children. Disease had been rife and many people died, their spirits now to blame for the reported ghostly activity at the site.

My eyes are taking longer than normal to adjust to the darkness, and the only sources of light are an EMF detector on the dirt floor a few feet in front me, and the view finder on a camcorder. There are three fellow investigators deeper within the caverns, and another two behind me; one has gone back to the safety of the car. It's a quiet, still night and quite warm. There's not a breath of wind. Any movement is noticeable, and the source of any sounds are easily identifiable.
It seems even the ghosts are having a quiet night, until out the corner of my eye, I see something move: A dark shape I can just make out in the darkness. Then in a flash it is closer, and not only can I see it, but I can also sense its presence. I recognise it as someone moving towards me, and as such, step backwards so that it and I do not collide. As it passes by, moving through the doorway in a quick, swift motion, barely a few centimetres in front of me, a gust of cold air seems to move with it, and its silhouette blocks out the light from the EMF detector and makes the device spike.

This is what I can tell you about the figure I saw that night: It was tall, slender and densely black, with no distinguishing features, but in the general shape of a person. At first I thought it was a person, most likely one of my fellow investigators. It was very dark, afterall. It was only as it walked right up to me that I realised it wasn't a person at all. I was taken aback and seriously perplexed: Did I really see what I thought I saw?
However, it quickly became apparent that I had, in fact, seen something unexplainable. You see, I wasn't the only one to have witnessed it, as about five metres behind me a fellow investigator reports seeing the same dark figure pass by me at the exact moment I did - an exciting corroboration.

What I believe I saw was a Shadow Person.  Although Shadow People aren't new to me, this was the first time I'd seen one whilst "in public" (so to speak).  I've been subject to their sudden and unwelcomed appearance in the privacy of my bedroom since childhood. One of my earliest childhood memories is witnessing multiple shadow beings moving in motion along my bedroom floor. I can't have been more than six years old at the time, but the memory remains, as clear in my mind as if it had happened only yesterday. To this very day, some 27 years later, these shadow figures continue to pop up in the middle of the night on a regular basis.
However, what I feel is most extraordinary about this public encounter with a Shadow Person is the following:
1. The figure was prominent enough that despite the darkness I was able to determine it was there, and it had appeared solid enough that my instinct had been to move out of its way so that it could pass unimpeded;
2. The passing of the figure coincided with a spike on an EMF detector; and
3. The figure was seen by another investigator at the same time that I had seen it, proving that I hadn't imagined it.

So, who - or what- could this Shadow Person be?
There are a lot of theories and speculation about Shadow People. It may be that they are nothing more than a figment of our collective imagination, brought about by hype and hysteria - that wonderful power of suggestion. It seems that an interest in the paranormal accompanies many encounters with Shadow People.

A common belief is that Shadow People are ghosts; that is, the spiritual energy of people now deceased, and the reason for their dark, shadowy appearance is because it is an easy form of manifestation. If you're going to believe in ghosts in the first place, this seems like a reasonable conclusion, especially as the presence of Shadow People tends to be linked to "haunted" locations, where there is a history of human death and despair.
Another theory is that Shadow People are not human spirits at all, but something far more malevolent, or even demonic in origin. Most people who encounter these beings report a sense of unease or ill-intent from the creature, but from my own experiences, I have found this isn't always the case.
Like many people who report seeing Shadow People, I more often than not will encounter them after dark and in the dark, normally not long after having gone to bed. I can distinguish these events from Night Terrors due to the fact that in most instances, I haven't yet fallen asleep when I see them. In fact, quite often I will notice the spectre of a dark shadow in the room not long after having switched off the light.
In addition to this, I find the encounters I have with Shadow People are always very similar to one another, and they seem to have the following characteristics and habits:
  • A Shadow Person is always reminiscent of a shadow, and whilst they tend to appear within the darkness, the black mass of a shadow person is always distinctly darker.
  • A Shadow Person may be semi-transparent, or solid in appearance.
  • They may appear as a tall or short human-shaped figure, or simply as a black mass.
  • They can appear directly in front of you, float above you, or meander low to the ground.
  • Shadow People have no distinguishable features. That is, no face or limbs.
  • Whilst "shadowman" is a common descriptive term, a Shadow Person is neither noticeably male or female.
  • They don't touch per se; however, on a small number of occasions I have felt a distinctive weight on my upper torso, causing short, shallow breaths, but I am always able to move, and I do not suffer from sleep paralysis.
  • Shadow People do not make a sound - or, at least, no audible sound.
  • They can move as fast as a flash of lightning, making you doubt what you've just seen, or move deliberately slow, giving you the time to consider and evaluate what it is you are seeing, before promptly disappearing.
  • A Shadow Person does not seem to be bothered by the fact that they can be seen. In fact, it is almost as if they want to be seen and acknowledged, although who knows for what purpose.

For me, their sudden appearance, and subsequent disappearance, feels like a bit of a tease; as if I am being given the slightest hint, or glimpse of something other - something far beyond all that we think we know about the universe and our place within it. Sometimes they frighten me, whilst at other times I am completely unfazed by their presence. It's both exciting and frustrating at the same time, like trying to put together tiny pieces of an enormous puzzle.
Normally in these circumstances, when I am presented with something I don't understand, I go in search for the answers. When it comes to understanding the paranormal, this tends to involve researching different cultural and religious understandings, and delving deep into the theories of psychopathology.

Therefore, what I find particularly interesting about Shadow People is the fact that unlike other paranormal phenomena, there doesn't appear to be an identifiable cultural or religious origin or explanation for their existence. Yet the instance, frequency and similarities between the reported encounters is quite remarkable.
It is also interesting to note that one doesn't have to have a belief in the paranormal, nor be spiritual in any sense of the word, to have an encounter with a Shadow Person. These encounters are a one-off event for many, whilst others, such as myself, seem to have them on a regular basis. The reason for this is unknown; however, from the plethora of evidence of personal experience that is out there, it would appear that these beings are completely indiscriminate, appearing to people of different cultures and socio-economic groups, and being completely unbound by religious orientation, age, gender, or psychological state.
So, ghost, demon, hallucination, or something else entirely?

Right now, I couldn't even pretend to know, but what I am certain of is that the Shadow People will no doubt continue to be an ongoing presence in my life, just as they are for a staggering number of people the world over.
Want to read more about the Shadow People? Try these links:

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

The Ghosts of Sydney's Quarantine Station :: A Personal Experience


Sydney's Quarantine Station
© Ghost & Girl

"Having endured the long voyage to Australia in the hope of starting a new life, immigrants could find themselves detained in quarantine and in some cases seriously ill. Separated from healthy family members and prohibited from any contact, those in quarantine had no way of knowing whether they would see their loved ones again. Some children left the Quarantine Station as orphans, and women as widows, alone in a strange country with no means of support." - From Quarantine to Q Station: Honouring the Past, Securing the Future by Jennifer Cornwall & Simon McArthur
Sydney's Quarantine Station is located in North Head, Manly, in the state of New South Wales on the east coast of Australia. Between 1830 and 1984, all vessels suspected of carrying sick passengers were sent straight to North Head to be quarantined. After an average of forty days, most passengers would be released into society.
The site of Sydney's Quarantine Station was chosen for three main reasons:
1. It was the first safe anchorage point within the Heads;
2. It was completely isolated, well away from the main settlement of Sydney; and
3. The site had its own natural spring, which ensured long-term habitation.
Quarantine Station's Second Class Precinct
© Ghost & Girl
Today the sights, sounds and smells of the sick and quarantined are all but an echo, with the site (now called Q Station) offering corporate, educational and historical services to the public, with fine dining and serviced accommodation. The Station also offers a variety of ghost tours. As a (once local) resident of the Sydney area, I have had the privilege of visiting (and staying at) the site on a number of occasions.  
There are ghosts at Quarantine Station, make no mistake. Many ghosts, in fact, some of whom have made themselves known to me during my stays there. I thought I would share with you some of my most memorable encounters:

(i) A significant experience happened on a recent tour of the Station that I undertook with my mother. The tour began down by the dock in the Wharf Precinct, after which it proceeded towards a small building located by the Luggage Fumigation. The guide asked us to split into two groups and enter one of two rooms, then she closed the doors. Although the darkness consumed us in the room, I was aware of being "rushed at" by an entity that I felt was decidedly male. Whilst I couldn't see him, I was able to sense him as he got up in my face. I got the distinct impression that he wasn't happy about the fact that I knew he was there. It was an awful experience. I felt assaulted. It resulted in my bursting into tears!
Gravedigger's Cottage, Quarantine Station
© Ghost & Girl
(ii) During an overnight stay on site in the Second Class Precinct, my mother and I both experienced being touched on the face during the night in our bedroom. The light in the room was also mysteriously turned on at one point, and we could "feel" someone walking around in the early hours of the morning.
(iii) On a separate occasion, but also whilst staying overnight in the Second Class Precinct, I awoke during the night to find a grey cat on the bed, which promptly vanished before my eyes. The raucous woke my sleeping companion. 

(iv) During a ghost tour at the Station, I experienced the smell of potatoes as we walked towards the second class dining facilities. I wasn't the only one, as a handful of other tour attendees also picked up on the smell, but there were others who couldn't smell anything at all. The tour guide then proceeded to reveal to the group that the smell of potatoes is often picked up by members of tour groups. This event sticks out in my mind due to the fact that at the time, the Quarantine Station did not have a restaurant or accommodation, so there was no obvious explanation for the smell. As the Station is quite isolated, there is little opportunity for contamination from other sites.
(v) Whilst passing the Gravedigger's Cottage during another tour, the guide was relaying the history of the cottage and its most infamous resident, when the windows to the cottage were suddenly opened and closed quite forcibly by someone (or something) inside. This was well before the cottage became accessible to the public, and the group initially assumed it was some kind of prank. However, when the perplexed guide contacted security to come and investigate, it turned out that the building was completely locked, and no one could possibly have been inside. This revelation rattled all of us, but none more than the guide herself.

Quarantine Station's notorious Shower Block.
© Ghost & Girl
I seem to be sensitive to this type of activity. When in a location I am able to pick up on energies and can sense the presence of spirit, although I find that spirits do not wish to communicate with me in a more direct manner, or perhaps I am not yet able to communicate with them in a conversational way. However, these experiences and encounters, and the intensity of them seems to depend on environmental factors, particularly the weather. On those occasions where I have experienced quite a lot of activity, such as shadow people and one-on-one interaction, it has been stormy and wet. In these instances, the presence of thunderstorms has left the atmosphere feeling almost "charged", delivering some unexpected events as a result.
The types and intensity of paranormal experiences at Quarantine Station seem to vary; however, Shadow People are common, as is the sight of an elderly Chinese gentleman in and around the Asiatic Quarters, or the hand of a little girl that will tug (or hold onto) unsuspecting visitors.
Then, of course, there's the unmistakable sensation of being watched, and of feeling uncomfortable in certain areas, such as the notorious Shower Block.
If you're ever in Sydney, and aren't afraid of a little ghostly interaction, then I strongly recommend an overnight stay at the Quarantine Station.
It'll be an experience you're not likely to forget in a hurry.


For more information, visit Q Station.