Imagination is a vehicle

Throughout this trip we have encountered the notion that imagination plays a fundamental role in our ability to interpret the world around us. Indeed, humans are creative creatures, and so it makes some measure of sense that since perception is subjective, an individual’s imagination must shape interpretation.

As this documentary is a personal experiment of sorts, I have decided to test my own ability to use imagination as a vehicle to interpret the world. Now in the final stages of this journey, I have been doing stream of consciousness writing to help guide our archival research.

Akin to the methods which a medium may use to channel spirit, I have been using a combination of meditation and loosely channelled imagination in an attempt to retrieve pieces of information. Whatever words or phrases first come into my emptied mind are written down. Thus is the hypothesis: raw imagination can provide the truest insights. In this case, the truest insights into our search for the dead. In short, this is an experimental approach to test the validity of mediums using imagination as a tool for spiritual communication.

Undoubtedly, this is difficult to explain!

Our ability to keep an open-mind has been a point of consideration from the very start of this journey. Just as we can adopt a rigorously scientific mindset, we have to at least attempt to take up a spiritual mindset also.

Somewhat surprisingly, perhaps, this method has actually yielded some form of result so far.

What I may ultimately produce using this method is as of yet unknown. However, the experiment is not over. I will continue to keep an open mind and search for answers using whatever methods are at my disposal, and imagination, it seems, is a limitless pool.

A most unhappy castle

Since our last trip to the UK, we felt like we had unfinished business in regards to witnessing mediumship in action.

At the start of this project, our intention had been for a broad observation of belief in ghosts, spirits and the afterlife. However, as we have progressed we have come to realise the essential and central role which mediumship plays in these beliefs. The Spiritualists’ National Union (who enshrine “The Continuous Existence of the human soul” as one of their seven principles) provides accreditation for those who demonstrate a good level of mediumistic ability. The academia also takes an interest, with many studies, past and ongoing, focusing on the anomalous abilities demonstrated by those who identify as mediums. And indeed, the existence of a group in society who not only believes in survival but possesses the abilities to prove it is an inticing concept to believers and sceptics alike.

Last night we were fortunate to be able to enhance our insight into mediumship by meeting, once again, with Paranormal Now of Wales. Previously when we met with them our understanding of life and death was fundamentally challenged. Even now I am still struggling to integrate the experiences of our last meeting. Left with more questions than answers, we returned with a series of interview questions which we hoped would clarify certain aspects of mediumship. We also arranged to visit a supposedly haunted location, to once again witness them in the field.

The choice of location had been motivated by two concerns: our legal ability to film, and my own personal bewitchment. A ruined 14th century castle, seemingly entirely unbeloved by modern society, captivated my sentimental, historian heart. Yet, the location, it would seem, had more to tell. Once we arrived, the night quickly revealed itself as one which I would not easily forget. We all – medium or otherwise – experienced anomalous phenomena, ranging from intense feelings of presence, to the hearing of disembodied voices, to the witnessing of full-bodied apparitions. Whatever its true history, it felt like a most unhappy castle.

At the time of leaving, concern for safety had overtaken desire for documenting the paranormal.

I mentioned previously the sense of spiritual awakening that I have been feeling on this journey. This sensitivity was at its highest last night. Whilst I could feel the heaviness and tension of that location, I also felt extremely grounded, calm and – perhaps much to the counter of my teammates last night – safe. Whatever entities lurked at that castle, worldly or otherworldly, I felt a connectivity to and surety of my spiritual self unlike any other time in my life. All of this has left me seriously contemplating how it may indeed be the case that there is is a medium in all of us, and that with the right exposure and discipline we can attune ourselves to this most misunderstood of paranormal phenomena.

Without a doubt there will be more to follow.

Back to where it began

The end is within sight.

After weeks of preparation, filming in various countries, preliminary editing, and the release of In Search of the Dead‘s first trailer, we are ready to complete our final round of filming, back where it all began, in the UK.

From the 28th of September to the 8th of October we will be travelling across the country for yet more interviews and investigations. Not only that, we will make an attempt to find our own proof of life after death, by digging through local archives using information given to us by psychic mediums. It is our hope that we can not only find something spectacular for the documentary, but also for ourselves. Undoubtedly, our level of personal involvement in this project has far exceeded what we had expected. Now we want to find closure.

In keeping with our previous trip to the UK, we will once again be meeting with the academia also. This time we hope that we will have a chance to discuss the practical, as well as theoretical, side of researching life after death. We are honoured to say that our interviewee is greatly experienced in conducting experiments around survival, in particular in partnership with mediums. We are hoping to have our minds boggled!

This project is our baby. When all is said and done, we will be able to say that we gave it our best. What happens after that is down to all of you, our audience. We hope that this can be the start of a wonderful career for us. But, more than that, we hope we can bring something fresh to the paranormal genre: something serious, yet personal and emotive. We want to make you think. Whether or not you choose to believe at the end of it, is, as always, in your hands.

Until next time.

 

The Journey

We are back home after ten days of non-stop traveling and meet-ups across the UK. Although exhausting, those ten days have been among the best of my life.

We could not have asked to have met more generous and supportive people; people who without hesitation welcomed us into their homes and places of work in order to discuss their views and research on camera. To any who are reading this post now, thank you. We are overwhelmed by your kindness. 

In addition to conducting interviews, Erik and I were fortunate enough to shadow two experienced teams of paranormal investigators. The first at the start of the trip in Scotland, and the other at the end, in Wales. We learned so much during these experiences. However, it was the second of these two investigations which really challenged my understanding of life and death. I do not know if I can ever think of the world in the same way again.

It was entirely thanks to Paranormal Now of Wales that Erik and I were able to have this experience. Richard and Jared, the two mediums of the group, are truly talented, and revealed detailed information on matters that we were not even expecting to hear about. Our only response was to be astounded. As such, new doors have been opened to us, meaning that we now have new adventures to pursue.

Although the first round of filming is now complete, we are by no means done with our journey. We have more filming to do, more people to meet, and – above all – more questions to answer. 

Considering I went into this expecting to be dissatisfied, I am already shaken, exhilarated, and left needing more.

Death touches us all

For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one. – Khalil Gibran

Over the past few days we have been fortunate to have met with some wonderful people. Their generosity, at having given up part of their day to talk with us, is overwhelming.

As well as gathering great interview material for the documentary, we – on a personal level – are learning so much. Not only that, we are being captivated by this experience. Admittedly, I had expected to have gathered information via these interviews in a somewhat sterile manner: go in and extract the necessary information with pre-prepared questions. That, however, is just not how it works.

When discussing spirits, death and the afterlife, there has to be personal involvement. I have been somewhat taken aback by how deeply the subject is affecting me.

In particular, after a meeting with a spokesperson for the Spiritualist Church I was left bewildered. Not only had I learned so much about a religion which, until previously, I had thought of very rarely, if ever, my personal life had been drawn into the discussion. I do not wish to reveal too much (as the documentary is the time and place for that!), but I will say that this journey is much more profound than I ever thought it would be.

We are not merely researchers – we are human beings.

The following day – yesterday – I was once again reminded of this fact when meeting with a psychical researcher and author. As she discussed her own personal experience of the death of a loved one and possibly receiving a message from the ‘other side’, the rawness of her emotions were visible to me. Vicariously, I felt those emotions, and as such understood a little bit more about why what we are doing has to be so much more than a sterile examination.

Death touches us all – we cannot discuss it without giving over a piece of ourselves.

The Spirits of the Borders

On Friday we crossed the border into Scotland.

This ancient land of rugged wilderness was saturated with an otherworldly presence. As I looked out from the passenger window of the car, it was like I could see this profound atmosphere rise from the ground itself. History – the very lives of the people who have inhabited this land for centuries – seemed to permeate from the fog as it oozed across the landscape.

By the time we arrived at our location, we were anxious to begin our adventure.

We were lucky to have arranged to shadow an experienced team of paranormal investigators at a stellar location. Not on-location investigators ourselves, we were there to observe and learn. Admittedly, although excited, I was expecting to have a quiet evening.

I began by asking members of the team questions I had prepared beforehand. I wanted to know why they do what they do – their beliefs. Their passion was infectious!

After the interviews were concluded, much of the investigation centred around the use of electronic equipment, which sought to provide the spirits – if they were present – with a means to communicate. The results were surprising. It was not such a quiet evening after all…

And so it begins…

Yesterday we travelled from our home in France to the port, across the English Channel to Portsmouth, and then up the country to near Sheffield. Today, we will continue our journey north to the Scottish border, where adventure (and hopefully a ghoul or two!) awaits!

After just one day of our journey, Erik and I are already exhausted! Travelling, including seemingly endless hours of driving into the night, is certainly tiring. However, we are full of excitement for this adventure, and cannot wait to meet with all those we have scheduled to meet with.

As I begin this journey, I am filled with a mixture of emotions: anxiety, excitement and a longing to be surprised. I want to experience something which will challenge my understand of the world around me. Yet, at the same time, I am having a hard time believing that I will experience such a moment. My sceptical, cynical mind, is expecting to be disappointed: to either encounter nothing that I would classify as paranormal, or to be able to explain away anything I do.

I sincerely hope that I will be proven wrong.

What is your starting opinion? Are you of the same mind as me? Or, do you need no convincing?

Encountering so many believers, as I invariably do as The Paranormal Scholar, as well as in my conversations with members of the public, can often make me feel unreasonable in my beliefs. That being said, I cannot abandon my stance of scepticism. Whilst I have an open-mind, and always try my best to be non-judgemental of what others have to tell me about their own beliefs, I need something more than stories. I need evidence. I need to see something with my own eyes. I need to experience something inexplicable for myself. Only then will I be convinced.

So, with that, let us go in search of the dead!

Back to Blighty!

We have booked our travel tickets and arranged our hotels!

The first round of filming for In Search of the Dead has been planned and will soon be underway.

From the 15th to the 24th of June, Erik and I will be travelling the length and breadth of the British Isles to meet with people from all walks of life, believers and sceptics alike. Our schedule is packed full of great interviews and exciting adventures. We cannot wait to get started!

We will be posting updates here of our progress, including (hopefully!) behind-the-scenes photos. Undoubtedly, we are going to be very busy – as we are packing in as much as we can – but posting regular updates is important to us.

That said, speak again soon!