August 19, 2013
Was it Paranormal -- Or Just Me?By Rev. Sherrie James
Most of the time, I just love being a Christian pastor that helps people with their paranormal issues. At other times, however, I just want to quit and walk away from all of this paranormal negativity, complexity, ambiguity, and subjective speculation. Unfortunately for me -- or perhaps fortunately for me -- I took those formal vows during my ordination agreeing to act as a healer and as an exorcist before my God and that makes the option to quit or walk away from the paranormal an impossibility. Thus, I periodically have to deal with unexplainable things that sometimes challenge, overwhelm and exhaust me and at other times excite and invigorate me. Like many others, what bothers me the most, however, are those frustrating times when I cannot honestly answer whether something was actually paranormal or not. For instance, I am sitting here trying to understand why I was up half-the-night last night. Was it due to something paranormal? Or was it due to a series of subjective occurrences all with perhaps plausible explanations simply being viewed through the lens of my past paranormal experiences?
Used BooksEverything began with me stopping by a used bookstore yesterday afternoon after having lunch with a parishioner. I purchased four used books on the paranormal. One book was on angels, two were on demons written from very different perspectives, and one was a copy of Jeff Belanger's (Yes, the same Jeff that owns this website) book about communicating with the dead. Now, I am not stupid about such purchases. Before those books ever entered my home, I anointed each one with Holy Oil and prayed that any attachments or any spiritual doorways or any connections with any former owners are severed. I typically do this with any used item I bring into my home. I also refused any spells associated with any of the books or any attachments or connections intentionally placed on any of the books. Being a pastor, everything was done, "In the Name of Jesus," of course.
For ProtectionAs I prepared to go to sleep, I next did what I always do. I prayed a prayer that has kept the nightmares away for years now. I literally can count the nightmares I have had in the last 15 years on both hands. I also suggest this prayer to my clients that are experiencing bad dreams. My bedtime prayers always include the following: "Lord, please send your angels to guard the entrances of my mind, soul, body and spirit. Let me dream only what You would have me dream and let me remember my dreams upon waking if You need me to do so. In the Name of Jesus. Amen."
I could not get comfortable. I drifted off to sleep and awoke about an hour later for some unknown reason. Glancing at the clock, I finally got up, did the bathroom thing, and went back to bed again. I just did not feel quite right physically though. I felt very hot, even though the temp was around 70 degrees. My head especially felt dull.
The DreamWhen I finally went back to sleep, I dreamt. In my dream, 'something' was trying to communicate with me. I was upstairs in some house I did not recognize and I remember that I could not figure out what was going on. I felt mildly frightened and concerned but was more disconcerted because I knew something was wrong or off. I could not figure out exactly what was happening in my dream, but I knew it was paranormal in nature.
I woke with a start. I glanced at the clock. For the second time, I had been asleep just about an hour.
What exactly was going on? Or was nothing going on and it was only just a dream? Something felt kind of off in my bedroom. Or was that just my imagination due to my dream?
Now, I have been doing this paranormal stuff for years now. I know enough to pay attention to a dream like that. I knew I had to question whether or not someone or something was trying to communicate with me in my sleep. Had someone unseen been trying to get my attention while I slept? Or was my dream perhaps a warning to me that something or someone was present in my home? Did I maybe unintentionally pick up ?someone? when I was at the bookstore? What did my dream really mean, if anything?
But let's think logically. Wasn't the dream most likely just due to me buying those books and having them and their content on my mind before I fell asleep? Or perhaps it was something directly that had to do with one of the books? Or hey, it probably was just a dream. Duh! I prayed some more. I tried to remember the dream in detail searching for clues from my subconscious that might be trying to tell me something. As I lay there, I finally gave up trying to figure it out. I eventually drifted back to sleep.
The First CrashThat nap too lasted about an hour until I was awoken by a loud crash in my bedroom. Well, the noise sounded like it had been in my bedroom and it was loud enough to have woken me up with a start. More annoyed than frightened, I surveyed my surroundings. Seeing nothing amiss and sensing nothing, I finally got out of bed again. Hey, I do not deal with well with being awoken repeatedly. I was determined to find out what caused the noise. I looked around. What had fallen? I saw nothing out of place.
Was it my cat that had caused the noise? I found him asleep in the living room.
I also rationalized that if the cat was still asleep that either the sound had not been as loud as it had seemed to me or else maybe the sound had been solely in my mind and had never actually happened. Maybe the crash too had been just a dream. But I honestly did not believe that for a second! And hey, I have seen my cat sleep through all kinds of noise or raise his head and then go right back to sleep after realizing that what was happening had nothing to do with him. So maybe the crash had happened. I went back into my bedroom. Being a paranormal investigator as well as a pastor, I did the typical thing. I asked whoever might be present to make another noise to let me know it was there. I waited but there was no response.
Dang! It was after 2:00 a.m.! I should be sleeping!
SearchingRather annoyed by now and with the continuation of my dull headache, I thought that the only things that had changed in my home were those books. So I grabbed them all and took them into the bathroom where there was the most light, and because I had to go again. (Hey, my bladder reacts when I get annoyed, nervous and startled!) I was planning on searching the pages in the books to see if anyone had left anything among the pages and to see if any of the books had hand-drawn images, written messages, spells or incantations, etc. As I was thumbing through and searching one of the books, what looked like a small white piece of paper with a bar code on it fell out. I thought at first that someone probably had placed it in the book as a cheap bookmarker or that it was placed there by the bookstore for some reason. Then I noticed that this simple bar code had only 9s and 7s on it. What kind of bar code has only 9s and 7s?!
I had no idea, but I broke out the Holy Oil and anointed the heck out of it anyway.
That barcode was the only thing that had not been originally anointed prior to being brought into my home from the bookstore. I also knew that sometimes not-nice people used such simple and innocuous items for less-than-pleasant purposes. After praying over it to negate whatever may have been associated with it, I set the bar code aside. I found nothing else among the books. So was that it? Would everything now be over since the barcode was anointed? Could I finally could go back and get a restful night's sleep?
Yeah, not happening.
Crash Number TwoWithin less than an hour of when I laid down, yet again I was awoken by yet another loud, unexplained and unidentified noise that startled me from my sleep. My feeling that someone/something might be present in the room intensified. This time, however, I was truly miffed! (Actually, at that point, it would be more accurate to use a "p" and "s"s for how I was feeling but I am trying to sound more pastoral here.) I probably should have broken out the K-II or my recorder at this point to try to get some proof of something actually being there, but I just wasn't in the mood.
I admit that I was not actually feeling overly predisposed to try to help whoever might be present by that time. I was tired. I was cranky. It was after 3 a.m. My head was hurting. All I really just wanted was to get some comfortable and much-needed sleep.
Para or Not?It also dawned on me around then that a dull headache is not always just a dull headache. I knew from painful experience that sometimes when a ghost or spirit or even a living person is trying to make contact or else is trying to get inside a person for less innocent purposes that such contact often begins with a dull, persistent or even painful headache. Was someone trying to make contact and was that why I was feeling so lousy and my head had that dull hurt? Or was it more likely due to the fact that I kept being woke up every hour?! I am not prone to headaches though. So was my headache normal or paranormal?
And why could I not sleep for much longer than an hour? Why did I keep getting awaken roughly every forty-five minutes to an hour? Was something needing time to regain its energy and that was why it was taking that amount of time between events or attempts to communicate? Or did the timing logically have to do with my dreaming stages instead? Or was it all coincidence? Trying to debunk, I knew that forty-five minutes to an hour seemed well past the time frame for night terrors to begin.
I also experienced no paralysis and no pressure on my chest. Also, I was never truly frightened.
Hypnopompic hallucinations during my sleep were a genuine possibility though. But who hallucinates two similar hallucinations roughly an hour apart that startles the person awake from what seemed like it had been a comfortable sleep?! Still, hypnopompic hallucinations that occur during sleep and sometimes at the point between sleep and awakening were plausible explanations for the crashes that had no observable evidence of having happened. Even as I attempted to rationalize and process all of this, however, I had to be honest. I had to admit to myself that I truly felt like someone was actually messing with me at that point. And I was not happy about it!
I did not feel it was demonic in nature though. My home has been well-blessed against anything negative. When I get home from a case, the last thing I want is something negative coming in to mess with me. If a ghost was there last night, I admit that I was more annoyed than anything. Normally, I would have had more compassion on a possible human spirit but I was exhausted and if someone really was there, they were an uninvited guest in my home and was keeping me awake. (This was definitely not my most superlative moment as a caring pastor or as a paranormal investigator.) Yes, the energy might have been just trying to get my attention to communicate. Still, I did not get the sense that whatever actually wanted my help. I still felt like it was messing with me. But then, maybe I was wrong. Maybe someone was reaching out to me -- well, if anyone even was there at all!
So I did the pastor thing. I verbally told whoever that might be there unseen to ask Jesus for forgiveness and then transition on to be with Him in heaven. I said the typical stuff I say from a Christian perspective when I am inviting someone to transition. I firmly believe in human free will though. So I also made it clear that if that particular choice was not going to happen, I told whatever was there that they needed to leave. I also again prayed to close any open spiritual doorways again, just in case whatever was possibly present was there due to some connection to those books or the barcode.
I finally went to sleep again after that and awoke around 9:00 in the morning. My dull headache, however, persisted the next day along with the questions that lingered from the previous night.
I know that potentially completely logical explanations exist for almost everything that happened that night. Then again, maybe it was paranormal. I honestly just do not know. As happens far too many times when dealing with the paranormal, I simply was left with more questions than answers the morning after. And as I sit here writing and thinking back over last night?s events, I find myself wondering just how often similar things happen to others within our paranormal community. How often are we all left wondering if what we experienced was actually paranormal or not?
At around 13 years-of-age, Rev. Sherrie James accepted Jesus as her Lord and savior, and about that same time, she also began a life-long study of parapsychology and the paranormal. Rev. Sherrie is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), where she took additional formal vows during her ordination agreeing to act as an exorcist and healer when needed. (She may be the only minister within her denomination with its over a million members ever to have taken such formal vows.) She is a graduate of Duke Divinity School and is the pastor of Rhett Avenue Christian Church (DOC), North Charleston, South Carolina. Rev. Sherrie speaks on Internet Radio shows, at paranormal or church conferences, to clergy groups, and to church and youth groups about the positive and the negative impact of the paranormal upon individuals and today's society or about ways to help those who are experiencing negative paranormal events. Rev. Sherrie also edits and writes professionally, and her first book is due out in late summer. Click here
to visit her website.