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The Ghosts of the California Missions by Richard SenateThe Ghosts of the California Missions
By Richard Senate
Publisher: Del Sol Publications (October 2006)
Pages: 98 – Price: $9.95 author interview

Richard Senate has been a ghost hunter for many years. He’s been studying and chronicling the phenomena in many parts of the Western United States. Senate is also a regular contributor to so we were thrilled to catch up with him to talk about his latest book, The Ghosts of the California Missions.

What makes California missions so haunted?

Richard Senate: Because so many of the native peoples died in them. Thousands died young. They were the scenes of battles as well. So much struggle and pain in them has left a psychic scar. When you visit some of the old missions, you can feel the heavy weight of the past lingering in these old buildings. Maybe its all the history they have witnessed or the layers of psychic energy they hold. They are really mysterious. Every one of the missions in California and the west has at least one ghost, many have more.

Did any of the missions you investigate in your book have a La Llorona legend attached to it?

Yes. But most didn’t. The story of the crying lady is a common Latino tale and oddly enough, though the missions have their share of LIW (Ladies in White) they do not fit the pattern of La Llorona as they have a face (they are not faceless as La Llorona is). Most of the mission ghosts are phantom padres with only a handful of Native Americans. Could it be that guilt is the reason the monks return to these places? Perhaps.

How do ethnic and religious influences on these locations affect the phenomena? For example, there’s obviously a significant Spanish and Christian influence there. Does that have an affect on the ghosts or the witnesses?

Yes. The Spanish influence is strong. The goals of the missions were not, as some Yankees believe, to make slaves out of the Native People. They wanted to bring them into the Spanish system and religion. They wanted to turn them into a good, exploitable work force. Reduce them to a kind of peasantry. In this they were a success. The gave them Spanish names and introduced them to Spanish ideas and foods and music. They also brought their beliefs in such things as vampires and demons. 

Did you experience any mission ghosts first-hand? If so, can you tell us about one of them?

I have at three Missions. At San Antonio I saw my first ghost. A phantom monk in the courtyard. It was late at night and It looked very real until it vanished into thin air. This was my first ghost sighting and really an accident. I wasn’t planning on seeing anything. At La Purisima I saw a ghost dog (a lean Greyhound) and at San Buenaventura something grabbed me around the waste — something I could not see and something that was ice cold. I have gotten EVP at the missions and lots of orbs. Some of the EVP I’ve recorded include: “Covet each day," “La Luz," “I am here for you, my son," “It is for Love," and “We are here.” 

Does California have a most haunted mission? If so, which one?

La Purisima near Lompoc. Nine ghosts at least. I have been there at night and it’s spooky. I spent most of one night here doing a TV show. Lots of things went on from doors opening to shadows moving. Lots of music — like flutes and Latin chanting.

What was your greatest challenge in writing The Ghosts of the California Missions?

Getting all the data — some Missions were helpful and others were not. I visited each one personally and spoke with informants. Lots of people, including non-Catholics. They (the missions) continue to spawn new stories of the paranormal. I believe the future will see more ghosts at the old missions. They seem to have new stories all the time.

What future book projects are you working on?

How To Hunt Ghosts and The Ghosts Of The Wild West. I have many more ideas in mind. One is a novel about a ghost hunter and a psychic investigation of a haunted in located at a seaside California community. 

You can visit Richard Senate’s Web site at:

Click here to buy this book now.

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