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Ghosts & Hauntings

Beyond Death

By John Blake, CNN

Some people not only share their life but their moment of death with loved ones. Are these ‘shared-death experiences’ real or a mirage?

William Peters was working as a volunteer in a hospice when he had a strange encounter with a dying man that changed his life.

The man’s name was Ron, and he was a former Merchant Marine who was afflicted with stomach cancer. Peters says he would spend up to three hours a day at Ron’s bedside, talking to and reading adventure stories to him because few family or friends visited.

When Peters plopped by Ron’s beside around lunch one day, the frail man was semi-conscious. Peters read passages from Jack London’s “Call of the Wild” as the frail man struggled to hang on. What happened next, Peters says, was inexplicable.

Peters says he felt a force jerk his spirit upward, out of his body. He floated above Ron’s bedside, looking down at the dying man. Then he glanced next to him to discover Ron floating alongside him, looking at the same scene below.

“He looked at me and he gave me this happy, contented look as if he was telling me, ‘Check this out. Here we are,’ ’’ Peters says.

Peters says he then felt his spirit drop into his body again. The experience was over in a flash. Ron died soon afterward, but Peters’ questions about that day lingered. He didn’t know what to call that moment but he eventually learned that it wasn’t unique. Peters had a “shared-death experience.”

Most of us have heard of near-death experiences. The stories of people who died and returned to life with tales of floating through a tunnel to a distant light have become a part of popular culture. Yet there is another category of near-death experiences that are, in some ways, even more puzzling.

Stories about shared-death experiences have been circulating since the late 19th century, say those who study the phenomenon. The twist in shared-death stories is that it’s not just the people at the edge of death that get a glimpse of the afterlife. Those near them, either physically or emotionally, also experience the sensations of dying.

These shared-death accounts come from assorted sources: soldiers watching comrades die on the battlefield, hospice nurses, people holding death vigils at the bedside of their loved ones. All tell similar stories with the same message: People don’t die alone. Some somehow find a way to share their passage to the other side.

Raymond Moody coined the concept, “shared-death experiences” after spending over 20 years collecting stories about the afterlife.

Raymond Moody introduced the concept of the shared-death experience in his 2009 book “Glimpses of Eternity.” He first started collecting stories of people who died and returned to life while he was in medical school. Skeptics have dismissed tales of the afterlife as hallucinations triggered by anesthesia or “anoxia,” a loss of oxygen to the brain that some people experience when they’re near death.

But Moody says you can’t explain away shared-death experiences by citing anoxia or anesthesia.

“We don’t have that option in shared-death experiences because the bystanders aren’t ill or injured, and yet they experience the same kind of things,” Moody says.

Skeptics, though, say people reporting shared-death experiences are not impartial observers. Their perceptions are distorted by grief. Joe Nickell, a noted investigator into the paranormal, says people who’ve watched others die sometimes experience their own form of trauma.

They don’t intend to, but some reinvent the moment of their loss to make it more acceptable.

“If you’re having a death vigil and your loved one dies, wouldn’t it be great to have a great story to tell that would make everyone happy and tell them that ‘Uncle John’ went to heaven, and I saw his soul leave and I saw him smile,” says Nickell, who is also an investigative writer for the journal Skeptical Inquirer, which offers scientific evaluations of extraordinary claims.

Nickell says shared-death experiences are not proof of an afterlife, but of a psychological truism.

“If you’re looking for something hard enough you’ll find it,” Nickell says. “This is well known to any psychologist or psychiatrist.”

Symptoms of a near-death experience

The term shared-death experience may be new, but it went by different names centuries ago. The Society for Psychical Research in London documented shared-death experiences in the late 1800s, dubbing them “death-bed visions” or “death-bed coincidences,” researchers say.

One of the first shared-death experiences to gain attention came during World War I from Karl Skala, a German poet. Skala was a soldier huddled in a foxhole with his best friend when an artillery shell exploded, killing his comrade. He felt his friend slump into his arms and die, according to one early book on shared-death experiences.

In the book, “Parting Visions,” the author Melvin Morse described what happened next to Skala, who had somehow escaped injury:

“He felt himself being drawn up with his friend, above their bodies and then above the battlefield. Skala could look down and see himself holding his friend. Then he looked up and saw a bright light and felt himself going toward it with his friend. Then he stopped and returned to his body. He was uninjured except for a hearing loss that resulted from the artillery blast.”

Moody, who coined the term shared-death experience, has arguably done more than any contemporary figure to rekindle secular interest in the afterlife. He’s been dubbed “the father of near-death experiences.“ He introduced the concept of the near-death experience in his popular 1975 book “Life after Life.”

He says he kept hearing stories about shared-death experiences during his research for “Life after Life.” A genial, chatty man, Moody says he revealed these stories in books and lectures but shared-death experiences don’t get the attention that near-death experiences get because they are more disturbing.

Few people want to think about what it’s like to die; a shared-death experience forces them to do so, he says.

“[Sigmund] Freud made the statement that we can’t imagine our own deaths,” Moody says. “In the case of a near-death experience, that happens to someone else. That is somehow more comfortable to think about.”

He says people who claim to have a shared-death experience tell similar stories. They recount the sensation of their consciousness being pulled upward out of their body, seeing beings of light, co-living a life review of the dying person, and seeing dead relatives of the dying person.

Some health care workers at the bedside of dying patients report seeing a light exit from the top of a person’s body at the moment of death and other surreal effects, Moody says.

“They say it’s like the room changes dimensions. It’s like a port opens up to some other framework of reality.”

Penny Sartori, who was a nurse for 21 years, says she had a deathbed vision that left her shaken. One night, she was preparing to give a bath to a dying patient who was hooked up to a ventilator and other life-prolonging equipment. She says she touched the man’s bed, and “everything around us stopped.”

She says her surroundings disappeared and “it was almost like I swapped places with him.” She says she could suddenly understand everything the man was going through, including feeling his pain. He couldn’t talk but she says she could somehow hear him convey a heart-wrenching message: “Leave me alone. Let me die in peace…just let me die.”

That shared-death experience spurred her to conduct a five-year investigation into such stories and publish them in her book “The Wisdom of Near-Death Experiences.” But even before that experience, she says she and other hospital workers had other eerie portents that a patient was about to die.

There would be a sudden drop in temperature at the bedside of a dying patient, or a light would surround the body just before death, she says.

“It’s very common for a clock to stop at the moment of death,” Sartori says. “I’ve seen light bulbs flicker or blow at the moment of death.”

A mother says goodbye?

One of the oddest shared-death experiences comes from a woman who says she felt the death throes of her mother even though she was thousands of miles away.

Annie Cap, as a girl, with her mother, Betty. Cap says she was close to her mom in life, and at the moment of death.
Courtesy of Annie Cap

Annie Cap was born in the United States but eventually moved to England where she worked for a telecommunications company. On the day after Christmas in 2004, she says her mother, Betty, suddenly fell ill at her home in Portland, Oregon. She was hospitalized and over the next few days all of her major organs began to shut down. Cap, however, says she didn’t know her mother was dying.

Yet in a strange way she says she did.

Cap learned that her mother was ill but says she couldn’t get a flight during the holiday season so all she could do was wait. She was in her London office with a client one day when she started to gag, struggling to breathe. She was mystified because she says she was in good health. She struggled for air for about 25 minutes, and with a growing sense of dread regarding her mother.

“I felt and heard this strange gurgling in my throat,” she says. “I started coughing and gagging. And I had this deep, growing sadness. I quickly rescheduled my client and once they had left, I ran as fast as I could to my house and called my mom’s hospital room.”

That’s when she learned that her mother was gasping for air, on the verge of death, Cap says.

While Cap was on the phone, she says, her mother died. She’s convinced that she somehow shared her mother’s death throes, but she kept denying it because she was an agnostic at the time who didn’t believe in the afterlife.

Now she says she does. Today Cap is a therapist in London, and the author of, “Beyond Goodbye: An Extraordinary True Story of a Shared Death Experience.”

“It wasn’t a blissful experience,” she says of that day after Christmas. “I was suffocating.”

The last photo taken of Annie Cap, left, and her mother, Betty.
Courtesy of Annie Cap

Skeptics question the claims

However dramatic shared-death experiences may be, they offer no more proof of an afterlife than near-death experiences, skeptics say.

Sean Carroll is a physicist who has participated in public debates about the afterlife with Moody and Eben Alexander, a neurosurgeon and author of The New York Times best-seller “Proof of Heaven.”

Life after death is dramatically incompatible with everything we know about modern science, says Carroll, author of “The Particle at the End of the Universe.” He says people who claim that a soul persists after death would have to answer other questions: What particles make up the soul, what holds them together, and how does it interact with ordinary matter?

In an essay entitled “Physics and the Immortality of the Soul,” Carroll says the only evidence of afterlife experiences is “a few legends and sketchy claims from unreliable witnesses … plus a bucket load of wishful thinking.”

“We are made of atoms,” he says. “When you die, it’s like a candle being put out or turning off a laptop. There’s no substance that leaves the body. That’s a process that stops. That’s how the laws of physics describe life.”

Nickell, the paranormal skeptic, says stories of shared-death experiences also rest on a flimsy foundation.

“That’s the problem with all of them – they’re all anecdotal evidence and science doesn’t deal with anecdotal evidence,” Nickell says.

Peters, the former hospice worker who says he had such an experience, is convinced they’re real. His encounter altered the course of his life. He eventually founded the Shared Crossing Project, a group based in Santa Barbara, California, which offers counseling, research and classes to educate people about afterlife experiences.

When asked if he could have imagined his experience with Ron, the merchant seaman, Peters says “absolutely not.”

“I had no idea that was even possible,” he says. For him, “shared-death experiences didn’t even exist.”

It wasn’t until Peters heard Moody give a lecture eight years after his encounter with Ron that Peters first heard the term.

He doesn’t think his encounter with Ron was an accident. He believes Ron was trying to return the comfort he had given to him.

“I think what he was saying to me was, ‘Don’t despair. Life goes on. Look how awesome it is,’ ’’ Peters says. “It was a true gift of love on his part.”

Or, as the skeptics would say, perhaps it was just Peters rewriting the moment to help himself accept a difficult loss. Peters has considered that possibility but says he saw something else that convinced him Ron knew he was there.

He says that when he plopped back into his body after hovering over Ron’s bed, Ron made no gesture. His eyes stayed closed and his body remained still.

But Peters looked closer at Ron and says he noticed something else:

A tear was running down his cheek.


Ghosts & Hauntings

The Mirror Lake Michigan Hauntings

Ideally, institutions of higher learning are environments where young people who are first stepping out on their own are encouraged to become independent thinkers and dynamic individuals.

In the face of so much newness, university and college culture often develops systems of ritual and ceremony which provide a contrast to this independence as well as comfort and structure to students as they transition into adulthood.

This week is, typically, when many students at The Ohio State University would be participating in one of it’s best known rituals: jumping into a freezing Mirror Lake prior to a football game with it’s biggest rival, The University of Michigan.

Why jump in an ice cold lake in support of your school football team? The tradition seems to have it’s origins in a turn of the century hazing practice where upperclassmen would assert their dominance by tossing freshmen into the lake.

This became a common occurrence during “May Week”, an annual demonstration of school spirit. As the rivalry between Ohio State And Michigan State grew, May Week activities slowly shifted to the increasingly popular “Beat Michigan Week” and the tradition of voluntarily throwing oneself into the lake was born.

The idea of young people being cast into a lake before an important event has been around for centuries. The Aztec, Mayan, Celt and early Nordic cultures all participated in this practice as an offering to their gods during significant times of the year, and although the young people they hurled into the water were victims of human sacrifice, the Mirror Lake Jump certainly invokes thoughts of these ancient rituals.

In fact, it was the tragic death of a 22 year old Dayton man during the 2015 jump that caused the University to put a stop to the practice once and for all. My heartfelt condolences go out to the family of this young man.

Mirror Lake

According to the campus rumor mill, this wasn’t the only time this type of tragedy has occurred. Stories persist of a member of the Alpha Omicron Pi sorority that broke her neck during a Mirror Lake jump in the 1980s.

The legend states that her fellow sorority sisters carried the body back to the house and hid her to avoid the repercussions of underage drinking gone horribly wrong. Ever since, many have claimed to hear screaming and splashing in the waters of the lake only to see it’s surface mirror smooth when they turn to find the source of the commotion.

Another tale tells of a jogger that was killed near the lake during a mugging. This young man is said to be seen running by the lake, looking over his shoulder, before vanishing into thin air.

The most commonly spotted and well-established ghost of OSU goes by the name Lady of the Lake. Since the 1920s people have witnessed the apparition of a woman in turn of the century clothing glide across Mirror Lake on cold, wintry nights and mornings.

Some believe her to be a mysterious ice skater, but most know her as the wife of Frederick Converse Clarke.

Clarke was a professor of economics and sociology that lost all his money when he invested in a Georgia Gold Mine project that failed miserably. Aside from the obvious blow to his credentials as a professor of economics, the financial ruin left Clarke despondent and suicidal.

After airing his feelings to Dr. Oxley Thompson and getting no sympathy, the depressed professor took his own life on September 21st, 1903 in a garden overlooking Mirror Lake.

Clarke’s wife blamed the university’s insensitivity to her husband’s plight as the cause of his death and vowed to haunt the grounds after her passing.

In 1922 the university built Pomerene Hall on the site of Clarke’s suicide garden and it appears that the spirit of Mrs.Clarke decided it would be a fine building to inhabit when not gliding across the lake.

It is here that she is thought to be responsible for doors that lock and unlock of their own accord, the sound of footsteps across empty rooms and the manipulation of computer voice software, occasionally causing machines that aren’t even turned on to greet the living with a dull, electronic “hello”.

For reasons unknown she is most fond of room 213, where she is seen in a pink antebellum dress moving across to a window that overlooks the very lake that her husband last gazed upon before taking his life more than 100 years ago.

Today, Mirror Lake sits drained and fenced off awaiting a 6 million dollar renovation that will give it a “more natural appearance”. In an effort to end the tradition of the lake jump, the timing of this renovation was no accident, but some defiant students are vowing to leap into some body of water, even if it is the Olentangy River.

Source: Booze & Boos

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Ghosts & Hauntings

The German Navy’s Cursed and Haunted Submarine

From the time she was being constructed, in 1916, there was something sinister and evil about the German submarine UB-65.

Before she was even launched, an accident in the Hamburg shipyard occurred, where a steel girder broke from a crane, crushing a ship builder to death. A second worker was also badly injured.

Investigators could find no reason for the accident, and within a few months, the submarine had put to sea, undergoing trials. Three engineers, testing the ship’s batteries, were overcome with deadly fumes. Again, an inquiry was launched, but failed to determine the cause of their deaths.

Despite her early record of tragedy, the submarine was commissioned, and placed under the command of Kapitanleutenant Martin Schelle, a 29-year-old veteran of the Kaiser’s Navy.

She soon put to sea in an operational capacity, and found herself in the middle of a fierce storm. Captain Schelle used this opportunity to test his boat’s ability to surface in rough seas, and upon breaking the surface, a sailor was washed overboard to his death.

German U-boat

Unexplained Malfunctions Aboard UB-65

Soon after, ballast tanks sprung a leak, and the submarine plunged to the bottom of the sea. Seawater rushing inside caused the dry cell batteries to leak the same toxic fumes that had earlier killed the engineers.

This time, however, the crew was fortunate and suffered no fatalities. UB-65 remained on the bottom of the ocean for 12 long hours, before she was finally able to surface.

Returning to harbour, engineers could again find no explanation for the malfunctions. The crew were beginning to feel their ship was cursed, and many no longer wanted to serve on UB-65. She had soon earned the nickname “The Iron Coffin” within the U-boat fleet.

After leaving port, another tragedy occurred. An exploding torpedo killed the second officer, and wounded several others. Schelle returned to port, the officer was buried, and things started to get really eerie.

Ghost of the Second Officer Appears

While still docked, shortly after the funeral, a seaman claimed to watch the dead officer walk up the gangplank, towards the bow of the ship, and disappear before his very eyes.

More sightings were soon being reported. A lookout claimed to have seen the dead officer standing on the deck of the ship, in rough seas. At first, the commander dismissed the ghost stories, but then he reportedly came face to face with the dead man himself. Whether he admitted it or not, Captain Schelle was now a believer.

The high command finally agreed to have a priest bless the ship, a feat almost unheard of in the no nonsense German Navy. She docked in a port in Belgium, where the ritual was carried out.

After the ceremony was completed, the crew was broken up, and assigned to other ships in the fleet. A new crew was assigned to UB-65, and the captain demanded there was to be no further talk of ghosts.

The change of crew seemed to have no effect. The ghost of the officer was reported on several more occasions, once walking through a steel bulkhead. A torpedoman, terrified by the spirit, jumped to his death in the sea.

The Strange End to UB-65

In July of 1918, off the south coast of Ireland, a U.S. submarine sighted UB-65. Before the American crew could take any action, the German boat mysteriously exploded, seemingly on its own.

UB-65 took her entire crew to the bottom of the ocean, leaving only a patch of oil, some debris, and mystery behind.

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Ghosts & Hauntings

The most haunted house in England ‘The Cage’ has finally sold after 12 years

Vanessa Mitchell has owned a two-bedroom house ‘The Cage since 2004 and often reported seeing ghosts and other spirits. The ghost and spirits would regularly disturb and scared the woman.

The owner insisted she had to leave the house after the horrific incident happened when the ghosts physically attacked her at home. Years Later, it was revealed that the house was used to hold prisoners accused of Blackmagic and witchcraft in the 16th century.

She states she was walking over the stairs and suddenly got pushed over while pregnant and saw mysterious blood spatterings appear.’

Electric gadgets have also turned themselves on, and doors started slamming while walls inexplicably were covered in blood.

After this horrific incident, she decided to move out in 2008 – just four years after purchasing it – buyers were wary and doubtful of taking the house.

Now the haunted house The Cage, in St Osyth, Essex, has finally sold, subject to deal, after nearly a dozen years on the market.

Guests often reported hearing women’s voices and cries from the storeroom even though no one was there when they checked for it.

The claims led to paranormal detectives who regularly came to the haunted house, and it was also a matter of many documentaries.

A plaque on the rear of the house depicts the plight of Ursula Kemp, who was jailed in The Cage on doubt of witchcraft before being hanged in Chelmsford in 1582.

Source: The Digital Wise

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