Delightfully Weird

I am a weird person. If you really get to know someone, you’ll realize we all have weird traits and habits. I can name something really weird about almost everyone I know. My best friend must always have the volume at a number that ends in a zero or a five. My husband likes to mix mustard and A1 and dip his fries in it. I’ve spent too much of my life denying my love for weirdness, and now here I am at 32, seemingly going through an early mid-life crisis as I dive head first into the occult–specifically paranormal investigation and divination techniques. 

I investigated my first real haunted house four years ago when I visited the Whispers Estate in Mitchell, Indiana. After that I was hooked. I’ve been there at least four or five times now, and each time something new and unexplainable happened. My husband has always encouraged this interest despite his fears at the beginning. Now he is what I call a ghost whisperer as he is the one who tells me what he hears on the ghost box.

Ghostboxing is when a radio transmitter is used as a way to communicate with spirits. The idea is that spirits will choose words that come across radio waves and put them together in a way that answers questions one might ask. When we ghost box, my husband will plug his headphones into the transmitter, don noise cancelling earphones, and turn the volume up so that my questions don’t influence his interpretation. 

You might be thinking this is insane, but humor me. The first law of thermodynamics says energy is neither created nor destroyed—it just changes form. Our spirit is energy, so it stands to reason that we can change form from the physical to the incorporeal when we pass. Even the Bible mentions spirits and ghosts in Matthew 14:26 when the disciples think the resurrected Jesus is a ghost. Jesus then replies, in Luke 24:39: “Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” It gives me pause that Jesus says he’s not a ghost instead of laughing at them and calling their belief in ghosts ridiculous. 

No matter how you slice it, this appeals to me in a way that few other ideas do. It is the unknown, the hidden, the place beyond the veil that draws me to explore. Too many people are uncomfortable where mystery is concerned, but I revel in not knowing how this works. In a life full of facts, statistics, and headlines, it’s a relief to know that you can’t know everything.

How much research we do on where to ghost box varies, but the agreed upon theme is liminal spaces–areas of life where people transition frequently. My favorite place is the Hannah Mansion, just south of downtown Indianapolis off of busy Madison Avenue. This house is a fixture of the city’s history, having been owned and built by Alexander Hannah, an Indiana State Legislator who also used the home as a stop on the Underground Railroad.  

The most recent visit is on a sunny and mild evening right around dusk with the sinking sun shimmering through the trees and onto the front porch. The house is closed to the public now, so when we arrive, we park the car across the street in the corner of a tiny strip mall and face the front of the house. Most of the view is obstructed by trees, but the lawn is well kept and the place is far from crumbling despite the fallen picket fence around parts of the border. 

From the passenger’s seat, I could just see the front porch, built in the grade Italianate style with columns and railing. Houses aren’t built like this anymore, and it’s a shame. I wouldn’t classify the Hannah Mansion as creepy or foreboding. It’s more grand and regal than ominous. 

I start the recording as excitement builds. What will find this time around? Who will come through on the box? My husband plugged in, placed his ear phones over them, and asked, “Ready?”

He can’t hear me, so I give him a thumbs up. And he begins. Sometimes he will get words right away, such as, “Hey, hello, hi!” or “Who’s there?” Sometimes I have to initiate before anything comes through.

I start with introductions to be polite. “Hi. My name is Paige and this is my husband Jordan. We come with good intentions. We want to talk to you and ask you some questions. Is that OK?”

Sometimes the reply is “yes” or “speak.” Sometimes I am told to leave. We ignored warnings to leave once before, and we paid for it with something screaming in my husband’s ears. So now we listen when we are told to go. But the spirits at the Hannah House never ask us to leave. They are almost always eager to chat and invite us inside (an invitation I always politely decline). This time they welcome me with, “Look who’s back.” They know us well.

I ask the standard, “Who is this? Can you give me a name?” and rarely get a direct answer, although lately the most common response is “Smith.” We theorize that this is because names have power in the paranormal world, and spirits are hesitant to give them so freely. I experiment by asking, “Can you see me?” and usually the spirit will confirm that they can see me. I then hold up two or three fingers and ask, “How many fingers am I holding up?” Only once has a spirit guessed correctly, but sometimes they will delight and say, “Oh, this is a game. I want to play!” and will guess numbers until we stop. 

It’s easy to tell when different spirits come through the box and take a turn. One of my favorites goes by the name Love, and she lives at Hannah House. She is kind, always helpful, and seems to enjoy talking to us. Once, in a graveyard, we had a fellow named Jack come through. He told us, “I’d love to help!” when we asked someone to talk to us, and then said goodbye with, “Have a fine evening!” 

One common thing that always happens in nearly every ghost box session is the spirit telling us to “see it” or “see me.” They are always trying to get us to look at them. Some of them will tell me where to look. To the right, by the door, under the tree, or simply, “up.” I follow their directions but have only seen something once–a figure sitting on the porch at the Hannah House. I’ve heard footsteps before as well, but rarely have I seen them appear.

When the spirits get tired, the conversation tapers, or something malicious comes through, I end the session by tapping my husband on the shoulder. He opens his eyes, turns off the box, and asks if we got anything.

We review the recording as we both explain what happened on each side–him listening and me asking and watching. Sometimes we get nothing, but more often we get a story, or a bit of information we missed or misinterpreted before that can only be sussed out after listening to the entire conversation together.

There’s something about experiencing the unexplainable that bonds people in ways they never bonded before. In a COVID world where date night options are limited, it’s the shared experience of the unknown that delights me. My husband and I have found a way to communicate with something we can’t explain, and while that might discomfort some, it gives me satisfaction knowing that not everything has to be quantified and qualified. Sometimes it’s OK to look at each other and say, “Well, that was weird.” Maybe there are explanations out there for what we’ve heard and seen, but honestly I’m not looking for a naysayer to put the kibosh on something they haven’t experienced for themselves. Believing in the paranormal is much more fun. That probably makes me weird, and so be it. I’m comfortable being weird. Delightfully weird.

To check out recordings of these investigations, click here.

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