2011 ended on a sad note. The latest incarnation of the Ohio Paranormal Investigation Network was disbanded due to a number of decisions. One of these deciding factors was based on the direction of the group seemingly going backwards from what I had hoped around 16 years prior. I had come to the realization that much of the foundation I had put in place had been slowly and silently eroded and I was left standing in two places at the same time. One foot was firmly planted in my beliefs; paranormal investigators were doing most of their things wrong and that while science alone isn’t the only answer there needs to be many changes in this field in order for it to be taken seriously or is able to convert evidence into reliable information. The second foot stood in the loose dirt that is the latest blend of ghost hunting and paranormal investigation. The premise that science is being done due to pseudoscientific beliefs such as radio sweepers and lockdowns in large abandoned buildings had enveloped the group and had cast its shadow on myself as well since the team itself was a reflection of me. I felt as though I was leading a double life and was losing my ability to have firm arguments against ghost hunting as I had become what I despised. My teammates sensed I was unhappy with direction and knew I was only gathering ammunition and not anecdotal evidence. In my pursuit of helping the culture of the ghost investigation field into the light of change I began to feel as though I was chasing shadows and had lost my way.
No one looks forward to change that will force a disruption of comfortable surroundings, but this was one that I knew I had complete control of and I was left with little choice as the evolution of the face of the team had permanently changed. I began to put the pieces together of what I had left behind and new pieces I had gathered over the last few years, but was unable to convince the group en mass to put these changes into effect in the overall group direction. Now, cast off alone in the fall of 2011 I was able to focus on my research and pour over case studies and put together what would become the E4 Method.
This methodology was designed from many determining factors of cases I had performed over the years as well as something that any group could pick up and imitate. The focus is not on the subjective experience which currently dominates investigations and instead uses the client and environment to help create triggers to spontaneous interactions. I had planned on spending time alone conducting research into this method and publishing my ideas sometime in the future, but on February 4th, 2012, I was asked to speak at the First Forensic Ghost Excavation Congress Convention in Brunswick, Maryland, on June 24th which was a convention thrown by the “Ghost Excavator” John Sabol. I knew this was the proper place to debut my new work as John had been an influence in breaking the mold as well as his method of “Ghost Excavation”.
While the convention was a small affair I took it very seriously and still felt as though I was putting my name on the line as I shared my research. I knew John Sabol trusted my work, but I feared what he would think of my interpretation and use of his work. I was also intimidated by another face in the crowd; George P. Hansen. While not a household name in the paranormal field I recognized his name when he was put on the speakers list. A short search through my library of Parapsychology Journals revealed his work. George was a researcher who spent eight years in Parapsychology labs. I stood on stage and discussed the shortcomings of Parapsychology along with my new methodology and all the while was trying to gauge his reaction. Every now and again I saw him move his head up and down in agreement many times with his fingers on his chin and even more inspiring was him putting his head down and writing in his note pad. After my presentation he pulled me aside and let me know he sincerely felt I was on the right track and that my work reminded him of better times in the ghost field. John was also impressed and supportive and I knew my decision to go it alone had been further approved by my colleagues.
It was also a great feeling to be instantly booked for podcasts and other events due to my new work. I am slowly feeling the realization of helping be a part of change and the dynamic of breaking the mold of paranormal investigation.
I also had the opportunity to speak about cryptozoology at the North Royalton, Ohio Public Library. It had been over three years since I had been invited to speak on the subject and it was a lot of fun to step out of the ghost shoes to speak about my other passions. I have had a book in the works that is an introductory book into the field that I hoped to debut at this event, but it is still in the works.
Later in October I spoke back-to-back nights in the Columbus, Ohio (first time in Sunbury and my fourth consecutive year in Westerville) area to nice crowds despite the remnants of Hurricane Sandy passing through the area. I am always inspired when I am able to speak in front of those who are getting their first taste of “behind the scenes” with those of us who deal with the paranormal. Having the responsibility of being a spokesperson for the anomalous fields is not something I take lightly and educating and sharing information is something I love to do.
The fall of 2011 gave me the time to begin to create the “E4” Method and 2012 was not only the time to talk about it but put the theory into practice. I did conduct a small handful of investigations using this new method and have slowly begun to build a new team around the methodology. This year was also a time of personal growth as I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Metaphysics from the Institute of Metaphysical Humanistic Science. Many suspect me to be a skeptic as my roots are planted in science, but I still have a fertile open mind that feels that science still does not have all of the answers.
2012 had also been a year of personal growth. I had wanted to play baseball for many years although I settled for various forms of softball over the years mostly due to time constraints. Now, at age 38 I signed up for an adult hardball league and spent many Saturdays playing the mental and physical game that I enjoyed watching and had eagerly wanted to play on a more full time basis. A bad day at the ballpark is far better than a good day at work. Although I struggled more than anything it was still a personal victory, source of confidence, and I look forward to a 2013 season.
I may not have stomped the grounds at famous abandoned prisons, hotels, or other para-drama television hot spots, but my 2012 was very fulfilling. It was a big time for personal growth and development of my new methodology and a new beginning for me spiritually in the broadest sense of the term.
(Top photo: Me and my wife Amy standing with Mary Becker and John Sabol, hosts of the First Forensic Ghost Excavation Congress Convention)
(Middle right photo: A photo from my upcoming book "Handbook for the Amateur Cryptozoologist", which demonstrates how a regular sized footprint in snow can become much larger when it melts. I also used this photo during my presentation in North Royalton, Ohio.)
(Lower left photo: The title slides from my two Columbus, Ohio presentations. Both dove into the belief aspect of the paranormal and exposed many of the lies that perpetrate the culture of the field. I was highly excited to meet a ParaNexus member at the Westerville event!)