Over the last ten years, I’ve had the opportunity to meet with many paranormal research groups, to attend quite a few conferences, and to exchange emails and phone calls with hundreds of people regarding paranormal research. One fact has become abundantly clear — though there seem to be more women than men interested in the topic (our own membership list can attest to this), there are very few women in leadership roles within the paranormal community. Only a handful of groups are run by women, and for the most part, the glass ceiling has been firmly in place in ghost research from the beginning. That’s not to say there aren’t exceptions, and considering the women I’ve been corresponding with over the last month, there are certainly some long-overdue cracks showing in that glass ceiling.
In the coming month, Ghostvillage.com is going to do its part to put some more cracks in that glass ceiling. Through a series of articles and interviews, we’re going to meet some of the women who are in the field of paranormal research. To get things started, I wanted to speak with a woman I’ve known since I was 12 years old; a woman who played a role in inspiring me to pursue the paranormal for myself. Considering this woman has been in the field longer than any other out there right now, it’s fitting that we start with Lorraine Warren.
Lorraine Rita Moran was born on January 31, 1927 in Bridgeport, Connecticut, to parents James and Georgiana Moran. From a young age, Lorraine recalls being different than other kids. By age 9, she was seeing “lights” around people. She would later learn that these were auras. At age 16, at a movie theater in Bridgeport, she met a slender young man named Ed Warren. That night she wrote in her diary, “I will spend the rest of my life with him.” This may have been the first of many psychic impressions to come for Lorraine.
Ed Warren grew up in a haunted house in Bridgeport. He saw faces in glowing balls of light moving around his bedroom. When Ed and Lorraine met, it was destiny that the two would spend their lives seeking out things that go bump in the night. In 1952, they founded the New England Society for Psychic Research, and have been venturing into the unexplained ever since. Lorraine and Ed have explored many haunting cases over their more than five-decade career, they’ve authored nine books, and they’ve lectured around the world on their findings.
In August of 2006, Ed Warren passed away, but Lorraine has continued the work the two started all those years ago. At 81 years old, Lorraine still shows no sign of stopping. Recently, she began appearing on episodes of A&E’s Paranormal State television show. She calls everyone “honey.” When you speak with her, she instantly transforms into your grandmother… your grandmother who has been studying the supernatural for a very long time.
“At 81, do you think you’ll ever retire from this work?” I asked.
“Well I certainly am busy, honey,” Lorraine said. “There’s an awful lot going on. I’m constantly involved with cases, and I’m working with Paranormal State doing filming.”
We talked about the role women have played in the field since she and her husband began the New England Society for Psychic Research in 1952. “When I first started to see women in the field, they were usually women who were into just the psychic aspect, not so much the research,” Lorraine said. But over time, some of these women made the move from psychic intuitive to paranormal researcher. One can lead to the other, she said.
Lorraine has observed how many women have gotten involved with research groups, but in recent years some have left to form their own. She’s even seen some all-female groups form, but fears that may also be missing the point considering both men and women bring different abilities to the research. “People can help on more than one level,” she said.
So is there an equal footing for men and women in paranormal research?
“No, oh my God, no, honey,” Lorraine said. “There’s far from an equal footing. Most of the women groups are sticking with the women. They really are. That’s not true of me. All I am doing is continuing work that Ed and I were doing for more than 50 years. I’m going with it.”
Lorraine says she’s willing to help any group that needs her expertise. “I do find an openness in that area,” she said. “Because I have so much experience, but I’m not connected with any one group. The only ones I have connected with is the group at State College. And this was before the A&E program. When I got involved with Ryan Buell and his group, I told him if I was involved he would have to do things the way Ed and I did things, and that’s to bring closure to cases. This is what is missing with so many groups is closure.
“That’s what takes time, that’s what takes effort, that’s what takes knowledge.”
Closure is a topic that Lorraine focuses on quite a bit. She feels that too many groups today focus on investigations and trying to prove a location is haunted, but that doesn’t necessarily help a family in need. The closure aspect of her research is something at which she feels women are naturally more adept.
Women’s intuition and closure are one thing, but Lorraine also emphasizes the importance of religious faith in the paranormal research. “It doesn’t require strength, only strength of spirit,” she said. “I’ll tell you one thing, if women think they can go in there with no faith and think that they’re into so-called white witchcraft, and think they can do this or do that, they’re going to be very short-lived in this work.”
After a lifetime of doing this, Lorraine still loves the field she’s in. Her perspective is unique, and whether you agree or disagree with her methodology or research, there’s no denying her longevity. Just a few decades ago, calling oneself a paranormal researcher was a good way to subject yourself to ridicule at best, and prosecution at the worst. Today, it’s almost become en vogue to call yourself a ghost hunter. That’s, in part, because of the work Lorraine Warren and other pioneers like her did all those years ago.
You can visit Lorraine Warren’s Web site at: www.warrens.net.