It all started out with a beer and a reliquary. And a glove.
“Don’t touch it with your bare hands,” says Raymond Swyers. He was referring to an ash-colored wooden box. He explains that this box — a reliquary — “held a piece of a saint at one point.” Swyers described himself as protector for the evening.
Swyers then shows us the rosary he is wearing. “It’s from the Vatican, during John Paul II,” he explains.
At this point we went to get a beer.
The Brooklyn Paranormal Society (BPS) was slowly gathering at 12th Street Bar & Grill. The bar was overflowing with the participants — or “boo-zers” as they were referred to on the meetup site — who gathered to have a drink or two before moving into Prospect Park where the night would really begin.
For a group that hatched a plan in early September to drink and hunt ghosts, well, this turnout was rather impressive. The meetup site showed that 66 boo-zers said they were attending, and that number probably isn’t far off.
According to Jayme Pacelli, she and other “society founders” Anthony Long, Jimmy Shen, and Pat Pacelli were drinking at Catch 22, a bar in Bay Ridge, when they hatched BPS.
They didn’t waste anytime planning. The BPS already had one “investigation” on Wednesday, September 23 in Fort Greene Park. And Prospect Park was the next territory.
The event details specified on BPS’ site are enticing, providing us with five murder sites in the park that would be the focus of the evening’s “investigation.” The resources came from news articles written about these murders:
Each boo-zer was handed a black tourmaline stone for protection, and a lit candle that would provide light (and atmosphere) during BPS’ “investigation.”
The BPS then disembarked from 12th Street Bar and Grill and made their way to Prospect Park. As the group crossed Prospect Park West towards the park’s entrance, an iPhone was playing Bach’s “Pachelbel’s Canon.”
“Guys, we got vibes. Over here,” said co-founder Anthony Long. He was sporting a Jaws t-shirt, a Goosebumps hat, and had a pair of binoculars around his neck.
The large group gathered close to a tree where a murder had taken place. Stacy Cecil was our psychic, who went on to explain that she was not told any information or history about the murder that actually took place here.
“I have a mental picture of a man being stabbed. He is an African-American man in a white t-shirt,” explains Cecil.
As the team organized their (low-fi) equipment, boo-zers began to ask Cecil questions about being a psychic. Cecil was very clear when she began to explain the variety of psychics, including clairvoyance (clear seeing, or psychic vision), clairaudience (clear hearing, or psychic hearing), and clairalience (clear smelling or psychic smelling, sometimes also called clairscent).
“How does being a psychic affect your daily life? Does it happen when you’re in Chipotle?” asked a boo-zer.
“What is that?” asked another boo-zer.
“It’s incense in a French onion soup cup,” responded Cecil.
The most intriguing part of the evening then happened. Long introduced the Electronic Voice Phenomenon. The EVP is often referred to as a “ghost box” or “spirit box.”
The Paranormal Research and Resource Society describes a ghost box as “a communication tool used by some investigators to speak to the other side. Typically, a ghost box is a modified portable AM/FM radio that continuously scans the band. When on, it is believed to create white noise and audio remnants from broadcast stations that entities are able to manipulate to create words and even entire sentences.”
Maura Jamie, who has had some experience with the paranormal, volunteered to take the ghost box and try to talk with the spirits. She spoke into the device, asking the following questions:
“Can you give us a sign if you are here?” (Silence)
“Do you know who murdered you?” (Silence)
“What is your name?” Some heard the ghost say, “Tom.”
“Is your name Tom?” Some heard the ghost say, “That’s me.”
“Do you want us to leave?” Some heard the ghost say, “Yes.”
The size of the group made it difficult for many to get close enough in order to hear the ghost box.
As we moved on to the next site, the group began to speak with each other, exchanging reactions to what they just experienced. Opinions varied. Some spoke of being excited to be in the park on such a beautiful night. Others had a different take. “I wish this was bit more serious,” said a figure a few feet away.
We stayed for two more murder investigations and then headed out for the night. There was admittedly less tension in the second “investigation.” One volunteer spoke into the ghost box and asked, “Are there any spirits that want to party with us?” Some of the boo-zers laughed, but a few quietly groaned that “come on, let’s take this a bit more seriously” groan.
The BPS has certainly attracted attention. And there could be a lot of momentum. Long explained that he would be having a meeting with Megalomedia to discuss a potential t.v. series. Megalomedia is a production company which has created shows such as My 600-lb Life and Texas Car Wars.
For now, you can join BPS on Saturday, October 10 at 11am when they “investigate” Green-Wood Cemetery. Long writes that Green-Wood Cemetery has “600,000 bodies [which] give us approximately a 5,445% higher chance of finding spirits than our trip to Fort Greene Park. Now I’m not particularly a gambling man, but I like those numbers.”
It should be interesting to see which direction the society will move towards. Will it delve deeper into the particulars of the paranormal process, or will it focus on a lighter “party-with-the-ghosts” atmosphere? In our age of rampant irony, is the exploration of the world’s mysteries best done with one’s tongue in one’s cheek? Or not?
Which spirits are more intriguing?