Saturday, March 18, 2023

I was invited to go on a paranormal investigation at the Beattie Mansion - The House on the Hill - in St. Joseph, Missouri. I haven't been anywhere like this before with a reputation for being haunted or with this much history. The house was built in 1854 and was the home of the mayor for many years, and in years after, a home for the homeless, those struggling with mental illness or substance abuse. There have been reports of shadowy figures, apparitions, voices laughing or yelling, objects moving, and all the other creepy things you'd expect in a house that looks like that. Don't worry, local psychics say they're not evil. Super.

So here's where I'm at with this. I'm not a big believer in ghosts, as in the souls of the deceased wandering around halls. I don't get it. Doesn't make sense according to my worldview. I have seen some things I couldn’t explain and heard stories from people I know, but I'm just a bit of a skeptic, I guess. I do believe in a spiritual side, but I also think a lot of things can be explained rationally. It would take some strong evidence to prove to me that this type of paranormal phenomenon is more than our minds creating the experiencing that we expect to have. That's essentially the lens I was viewing everything through.

The other aspect that draws me in, as usual, is the human side of it. The living ones. I could spend the entire night snapping photos trying to capture a "ghost" image, but there is a whole story playing out with the live crowd that can be shared. What viewpoints are they coming into this with? What motivates them to investigate? Have they seen things I haven't? And for the uninitiated, what does a paranormal investigation even look like? There's my role: An observer of the observers.

To be honest, I don't think we made any concrete contact. There were a few things that were a little coincidental that made me curious. Again, my brain needs that proof beyond a shadow of a doubt. For instance, we would have a person listening to an app using headphones that quickly scans through radio stations and pulls out words or chains of words and amplifies them. Potentially, if a spirit chose to, they could use those frequencies to communicate. The listener can't hear us or the questions that are asked, but can only call out the words they hear. Sometimes they made sense, sometimes they didn't. Little things like that. I can't say one way or the other. One thing I will say is that being in a group in a house like that is entirely different than being by yourself, isolated. I wouldn't do it. Nope. No thank you. The anticipation grows in your nerves and your mind starts playing tricks on you. If you've ever seen a horror movie, you're trained to expect the jump scare. That anxiety is a little too much for me without someone there to witness it, too. If I were to be alone, and I thought I saw something move or heard a noise, I'd analyze it over and over and never be able to come to a conclusion. It would be in the corner of my mind forever. Ultimately, do I want to be proven wrong, or experience something beyond what‘s explainable? Hard hitting questions, but this time I made it through without having to face the answer. Up next: the Villisca Axe Murder House?