GOOD thing I’m not particularly sensitive to paranormal phenomena or Saturday night could have been a reasonably uncomfortable if not frightening experience.
Venturing into Epping Forest for my first ghost hunt at the weekend, I was oblivious to most of the action that was happening around me.
Talking afterwards to Barbara Lowe who led the White Light Paranormal investigation, I have just found out that we came head to head with a shape-shifting demon and for most of the night were surrounded by spirits with evil intentions!
For me the night had been like taking a museum tour without the headphones. I had to keep asking everyone around me what was happening. But despite that, it was a night worth remembering and I am fortunate to have gone.
I had interviewed Barbara a couple of weeks ago about her adventures as a psychic medium (see Ghostly Encounters of a Nocturnal Kind and Interview with a Psychic Medium) and she was keen for me to experience a ghost hunt myself with White Light Paranormal.
Brooke, also a ghost hunt newbie, joined me with Barbara and her crew on the investigation of the High Beach area of Epping Forest on Saturday night and agreed it was a memorable experience.
Epping Forest is chosen by ghost hunters because it has a long and dark history or murder and crime: Dick Turpin had a hideout there, a mental asylum was nearby, gangsters like The Krays used it for a body dumping ground and there were suicides and witchcraft aplenty.
And at night it is pitch black, so it is a very dark and miserable place – perfectly spooky.
(Amusingly, Epping Forest is where the TV show Most Haunted got lost while filming about 2003. They needed to get a ranger to get them out. While that is funny it happened to a TV show, it is pretty understandable. The place is so dark and thick with trees, it wouldn’t have taken much for me to go missing. One of the reasons I guess why gangsters use the place to dump bodies.)
We arrived at High Beach about 7.30pm and met with those joining us on the hunt.
The team included leader Barbara, her sister Mary and nephew James, as well as Peter and Pam, who were relatively new to paranormal investigations. The night was arranged as a training exercise.
We were given our safety instructions about not wandering off and being careful of the rugged and uneven ground. And then we were off!
Firstly, we started on “the flat area”, which in my mind was rather hilly. The weather was reasonably mild and it wasn’t unpleasant. But wandering around a forest in darkness certainly isn’t “a walk in the park” and I was nervous about falling over in the wet clay. To be honest, the most abnormal event of that stage was that I didn’t fall on my backside in the mud.
Throughout that part of the evening, Barbara told us she sensed there was something funny going on. There was a lot of confusion from the spirits, making her think they were the spirits of children who did not understand where they were. We were only in the flat area – which they call Elizabeth’s area for a lonely female spirit searching for her soldier lover – for short time.
As I said, I paid more attention to not falling over in the mud than trying to sense spirits. Every now and then there would be some commotion with fellow investigators calling “come here!” – “quick!” – “something’s happening!” but most of the time I was literally and figuratively in the dark.
We weren’t in Elizabeth’s area for a long time because Barbara was keen to go into “Hell area” across the road, where she had experienced spirit action in the past.
Deep in the “Hell” area, Barbara set up her Ouija table to communicate with the spirits. We stood there with our hands on the table waiting for movement. To cut a long story short, “Rachel” a bad spirit, who had had a run in with Barbara before, was refusing to speak. Barbara was convinced Rachel was playing games, and trying to keep us there for some other purpose.
A spirit, known as The Man in the Black Cape, is supposedly one of Dick Turpins henchmen, who Barbara has met before. She felt Rachel was working in cahoots with him and waiting for him to arrive. The Man in the Black Cape does not arrive. But that doesn’t stop Rachel from mischief.
“Rachel just screamed ‘get out’ at me!” Barbara said, which spooked me a bit.
At one point, Barbara tells us she feels like she is being strangled. Pam also feels pains in her chest.
Her guide had told her to go no further into the forest.
“When they tell you not to go somewhere, you don’t go there” Barbara explained.
“Annie (Barbara’s guide) is being careful. That’s why she said go no further. She feels we are walking into a trap – this is not normal blackness. Do you notice the blackness from the Lake? Something’s up.”
Peter, a policeman, was the most sceptical of the group. He was gobsmacked, however, by the energy spike noted by the EMF meter, used for detecting electro-magnetic fields. As I stood next to him, we tried to work out if it was my mobile phone or camera creating the interference. But no, there was definitely something else playing with the energy. There was no electricity lines around that we could see. I really don’t know what was going on.
“That’s the first time the EMF has done that and the way,” Barbara said afterwards. “The way (the spirits) were acting was not normal,” Barbara said.
“We have had a team meeting and we think they were planning something – I think they were either trying to scare us or trying to hurt us.”
“Did you feel uncomfortable?” Barbara asks me.
“Not really, I was more worried about falling over in the mud,” I responded. “I’m obviously not as sensitive to these things as you are.”
We waited around for a bit as the crew took photos and tried to communicate with the other side, but soon Barbara sensed a “shape shifter” and said it was time to go.
“The shape shifters are evil – they were never human and I won’t risk it. Rachel has a very sick sense of humour and she doesn’t like us there.
“She broke the table and she shoved people hard last time. She’s not very nice.”
But nothing much happened this time. Barbara and Mary’s guides were blocking the bad spirits from making contact. Even so, Barbara was quick to move out of the forest to the safety of the road.
“I have to protect you all. I have to keep you safe – that’s my job and I have dealt with them before and they are very dangerous – they’re demons. It is black magic, satanic! They were summoned.”
Brooke, who liked me was taking in the fabulous paranormal experience the best she could, mentioned afterwards she thought that Barbara was “a great host always letting us know what was happening and explaining the equipment”.
“The supernatural activity on the night was quite good for newbies as it wasn’t too frightening or too much to cope with,” Brooke said. “The EMF machine going off the charts was quite novel and I hope they are able to get an answer on what caused it.”
Brooke said she was glad that The Man in the Black Cape didn’t turn up!
Close to the end of our investigation, we stood at the gate leading into the “Hell” area and snapped photos of the darkness with the hope something might show up later.
Not sure how the others went, but my photos were black and revealed nothing.
White Light Paranormal has invited me to go again but I am not so sure. I think I would rather investigate less muddy areas. Maybe a nice, warm inside of a haunted pub.
Barbara has no qualms about returning to Epping Forest with a bigger team: “I wanna go back and kick ass” the feisty medium says.
AFTERTHOUGHT: I’m just looking at pics of High Beach on Wikipedia here. The hamlet is a much different looking place during the day than night. At night it is almost pitch black.