Tripping on Legends

Standing at the Crossroads…

Why I’m Tripping on Legends

For a person who had lived in the Crossroads, I had stayed too far from the path.  I’m looking to find it again.

In January of 1994, after years of watching scary movies and going blind reading any book I could get on the subject, I began to formally interview people who were having paranormal experiences.  That’s probably an exaggeration.  I began  paying more attention to the stories going around my dorm in the haunted Charlesgate Hotel in Boston.  They would drop a few details that helped to add to the lore, and then go on to talk about their aunt’s house or some legend from their hometown.  Most people would move on to the next topic.  I didn’t.  There was something in those stories, more than just fright or attraction.  I knew then, and the two decades since have done nothing to change my mind, that these tales were our time’s version of
mythology.

People have tried separating the strains of spaghetti to clearly define the difference in terms like folklore, mythology, legend, and urban legends, and smarter people than me have come to agreements.  In today’s world, it’s not as easy or academic.  The folklore that exists, whether it exists as background or as the finished product of the paranormal, takes on a deeper, more meaningful existence today, mainly due to how quickly a local ghost story can spread.  These stories, these hauntings, create a baseline of a religious-like belief system while living so close to religion in its explanations.

In short, I knew there was something more to these ghost stories than just stories.  They said something more about the people who told them and the environments that fostered them than they did about ghosts.

In 2001, after years of following up on cases from around the state and conducting informal paranormal investigations of many of the locations, I launched Massachusetts Paranormal Crossroads with the intent of sharing these stories and my commentary with the people of that state.  I was looking for something to keep my hands and mind busy while I decided what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I was unprepared for what would happen next and the shift ghost stories would take.

In 2005, just months after the television show Ghost Hunters changed the way people looked at and for ghosts, I was approached to write two books, only one of which came to be published.  Dark Woods: Cults, Crime and the Paranormal in the Freetown State Forest was my attempt to document a small town which played a major role in the Bridgewater Triangle while connecting the idea of the unknown to crime and attraction.  Two more books came out documenting the paranormal and strange folklore.  But changes were happening faster than I could tell, and the reason I was being published was the market’s attempt to capitalize on that trend.

In 2008, I was asked to write Picture Yourself Ghost Hunting, a Dummy Guide-like book about how to be a successful ghost hunter.  It did well, and I was proud of it, but I could see myself moving away from where I had started.  It was now about evidence and groups and media.  I could myself talking more about how to find a ghost than the meaning of these stories.  I was in demand, but I wasn’t sure how I had gotten there.

By 2011 I had regained my equilibrium, and found that no one cared.  The things I was talking about were not what people were buying, so I took down the site, literally packed up my research into boxes and file cabinets, and moved on.

But still the itch was there.  I was standing in the Crossroads without the Crossroads.

Now I’ve decided to come back on my terms and devote myself to the spirit with which I began.  Low key, sporadic due to major lifestyle changes, but genuine.

For too long the idea of experiencing the paranormal as an experience unto itself has had a negative connotation.  Too many people believe if you are not taking it seriously, not out there with a case manager and a logo and equipment you are not doing it right.  There is no right.  The paranormal lives within all the moments that make it up, not just those that can be captured by technology and measured.

This is my flag in the ground.

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