Thursday, July 9, 2015

Interview with Alyson Ford of Paranormal and Supernatural Team Saskatchewan by Dave Wolff

Interview with Alyson Ford of Paranormal and Supernatural Team Sasakatchewan 

How long have you been interested in paranormal activity? Were there books you read and researched on the subject? How about programs airing on television? In what ways did they spark your interest in learning more about it?
My earliest recollection of interest in the paranormal would be around the age of eight. I can't pin down a specific incident but I know my father was a big influence on my fascination with the paranormal, as well as a close friend’s mother. My father was interested in all things paranormal. He would tell me local ghost stories and mysteries and introduced me to the author Von Daniken and ancient alien theories. He would even jokingly tell me I was half alien and I loved every minute of it. I remember when the first ghost hunter shows started airing on TV and how much we anticipated each episode.
My friend’s mom was also a big influence on my interest in the paranormal. She was a Reiki Master and into a lot of 'new age' interests. I spent many weekends out at their farm listening to stories and reading the latest books she had acquired. I have very fond memories of their friend Buddy Winn, a parapsychologist who lectured at the local university. He would tell us REAL ghost stories before we went to bed, and of course sleeping in a hundred year old farm house your imagination was running wild.
I have watched many paranormal programs over the years but the programs I enjoy the most involve history and people who are respectful of the paranormal as well as wanting to further the field of paranormal research. It was actually from watching these programs and talking with other investigators that sparked the idea for my invention, Ghost Amp.

Do you recall the ghost tales told to you by your father when you were young? What most fascinated you about them?
My favourite story he told me was when he (my father) was a kid about twelve years old. My Great Grandma had told him about a tragic story that took place outside of our small town on a farm. The family was quite well to do and had a beautiful house and farm. The father must have been suffering from mental illness and first shot himself and then hung from a rope in his barn. When he failed to come in for supper his wife had discovered the body. She returned to the house, packed a suitcase and grabbed her two boys. She locked the door behind her and told the boys to never return to the house again. As a result the house became a time capsule, everything left untouched for over fifty years. My father and his friends decided to go into the house one evening and just see for themselves. He told me he felt many 'cold spots' and a feeling of being watched. At one point he opened the lid of an old record player and it spontaneously began to play. They left shortly after that being quite rattled. Over the years there were rumours of the man that killed himself to be haunting the farm. Year after year at Halloween my father would take my brother and I out to the farm and tell us the story.

In what area is this farm near you located? How widespread is this urban legend to your knowledge?

The farm is located about five minutes south east of the town I live in in Southern Saskatchewan. Anyone who grew up around here is aware of the legend. There are various theories about why the farmer committed suicide. But the one that my father believed and found evidence of was the most intriguing. When he and his friends were in the basement of the farm house they found scientific equipment. I can't confirm it, but the story goes is that he was also a highly intelligent scientist who worked on the atomic bomb that was eventually dropped in WWII. Some say he was devastated by his involvement with so many lives lost that he couldn't live with it anymore. It sounds crazy, but I couldn't even make a story up like that! 

What sort of alien theories did your father know of? Were those legends told to him or were they from books he read?
Like many people he believed that various government institutions around the world were trying to cover up the fact that we are not alone. Also he had expressed to me that he felt that humans could be an alien science experiment and that the visitations we receive are the alien researchers coming back to watch us. Also I know one of his favourite authors was Von Daniken. So naturally I read those books and my imagination was sparked!

Who was Von Daniken, what subject matter did he write about and when was his work published? How many of his publications have you owned since your father introduced you to him?
Von Daniken published his first book Chariots Of The Gods in 1968, a book using ancient archeology to support the theory of ancient aliens and their interaction and influence on early human life throughout history. His work exposed me to these ancient alien theories but I also enjoyed works by Carl Sagan.

I heard of Chariots Of The Gods but haven’t had a chance to read it. Which parts of that book most strongly support the ancient alien theory and that extraterrestrials interacted with humans in ancient times?
The book uses the evidence of art, artifacts, architecture and writing in ancient times to support the theory that extraterrestrials have always been an integral part of human existence, if not the reason for human existence. It's a strong theory and I feel really strongly that it's true.

Has Von Daniken written more than one publication on the subject of alien theories, Chariots Of The Gods being the most well-known? How many books of Carl Sagan’s have you read to date?
Von Daniken's Chariots of the Gods I would say would be his most well-known book. I think he followed it with over eighteen other publications. He has based his whole career around the ancient alien theory, but there are others out there with the same ideas and theories. He has also gained notoriety lately for being on the new TV programs for example 'Ancient Aliens'. So I wouldn't say he was a revolutionary with his publications, just that he has had a great deal of publicity. It has been awhile since I read anything by Carl Sagan, but Cosmos and Contact were the ones that stand out for me. Cosmos being more of a documentary (I think the book came after the TV series) and Contact was fiction. I know he has published many works, mostly scientific papers, and I will have to make an effort to read more.

Tell the readers of this ghost hunter program you and your father watched and the information each episode presented.

My father died soon after the first TV programs were coming out so there were not too many programs we got to watch together. There were several documentary type shows that stood out to me: Weird Travels, Mysterious Journeys and Haunted History. Ghost Hunters I found was the first show to really get me into the investigative side of the paranormal. I found it so awesome that 'plumbers' became supernatural seekers by night. I enjoyed the background stories and facts they would collect about the location. Also the technology they were using to try and gather evidence. I guess I thought to myself, yep, I could do that, I want to do that! A lot of the evidence they gathered confirmed ideas I had about the afterlife. As well it opened my eyes to new ideas and new possibilities to gather evidence of the paranormal. As the years progressed the popularity in paranormal program increased and I kept watching Ghost Hunters as well as Paranormal State, Ghost Adventures and Fact Or Faked.

All those programs you mentioned, were they airing on national or cable TV? If any of them still air today, where can they be watched? How would you rate the information they cover?
Because I lived and continue to live in a very rural area we only had satellite TV. Because of the popularity of these programs there are lots of reruns, but a few programs are still going strong, and many new programs have popped up. I personally enjoy SyFy, Detour, T&E, History and Discovery. Personally I think the content of most of the programs can be quite informative, but like all media it shouldn't be taken as 100% fact. It should be a way to spark the imagination and to seek out your own information... Test your own theories. Dealing with the paranormal almost all of the information given is personal opinion. The information I have gathered over the years from TV has inspired me to find my own answers and make my own theories and to invent new ghost hunting equipment. Unfortunately there is a trend on these reality programs to push the idea that most hauntings are demonic in nature. This is misleading as it is very rare to encounter such a haunting and putting religious ideas aside these entities are being misinterpreted. So knowing what I know and continue to explore in the way of the paranormal and supernatural these programs should really be looked upon as entertainment for the most part.

Do you think those shows portraying these entities as demonic are more concerned with sensationalism and/or ratings? How would you produce a TV program differently?
I think the demonic portrayal of entities on these programs are for ratings. It's really a pet peeve of mine. Entities perceived as 'dark' or demonic are not that common. In reality they are few and far between to encounter while in the field. Also it is the responsibility of the investigator in my opinion to look at all the evidence and try not to label these entities as 'dark' or 'light' as who are we to judge them as such? For example what an investigator might perceive as a menacing growl may be a completely harmless entity trying to communicate, but the sound was distorted to the investigator. A program that I would produce wouldn't be as exciting when it came to the whole good versus evil concept that is currently popular. I would like to explore all avenues of the paranormal without the labels 'dark' and 'light'. Bringing my personal theories into play I would explore both sides as well as twilight, the middle path which in my opinion should be the ultimate goal. Living in balance spiritually.

Is the whole “good vs evil” theme brought into paranormal programs so as not to offend the religious right? Which of your personal theories would you bring into your own show?
I'm not sure if this theme was brought into the programs for religious reasons, but thinking on that I would have to agree to some extent. I would think the religion of most of the people watching these programs would be Christian and "good vs evil" would appeal to this demographic. It also makes for “good” TV. In my own show I wouldn't go with this theme. I don't buy into the idea of a grand struggle between good and evil. However I would like to try and challenge people’s perceptions of good and evil. So I guess my theory would be let us (as investigators) put aside our labelling of entities and experience the paranormal without judgement using our personal beliefs. If you don't fully understand something how can it be labeled?

How long had Buddy Winn been lecturing when you knew him and at which university was he working? What ghost and haunting legends do you remember him telling you?
I don't know how long Professor Winn had been lecturing at the University of Regina in Saskatchewan. But today he is in his eighties and still researches the paranormal as well as will be assisting my team on cases as well as a possible TV program of our own in the works! I don't remember many of the stories except for one where he was saying a woman was getting grabbed inappropriately by an unseen ghost and I guess that stood out because I thought wow, they (spirits) can touch you? And to follow up on that I was touched by an entity on the shoulder and I was thrilled, intrigued and a bit caught off guard all at the same time.

Do you remember a program that aired in the 70s called In Search Of? Which paranormal themed programs did you watch as you researched the subject and which do you watch these days?
I haven't seen that program. I was born in 1977, but I'm sure I should be able to find it online. Looking back on the books being published and programs there seemed to be a trend for the paranormal at that time just like today. I pretty much watch any program dealing with the paranormal, Ancient Aliens, Ghost Adventures, Ghost Hunters, Haunted Australia, and various documentaries and web series when I have a chance.

Which programs about the paranormal do you watch on the net? On Youtube for example I watch programs on UFO TV.
I am part of many Facebook groups that produce Youtube videos, so I try and watch as many as time allows to keep up with new techniques and new equipment. My favourite informative web programs are by Michelle Bellanger.

Who is Michelle Bellanger and what programs is she currently hosting on the web? What topics are covered on her show and how much research goes into it? Where can her show be viewed?
Michelle Bellanger is a prominent figure in the world of the paranormal. She is an amazing author and occultist and founder of House Kheperu. She has been featured on many paranormal programs such as ghost hunting TV programs and documentaries. Her current web series 'My Haunted Life' covers various topics on the occult, magic, and even reincarnation. I have a lot of respect for her work as not only do I think that she does a tremendous amount of research but is also willing to share this knowledge with anyone with an open mind. I watch the episodes on YouTube.

What books penned by Bellanger have you read and gotten the most out of, and how would you rate her program My Haunted Life?
The works I have read by her so far were what I had come across with her co-authoring. Her insights and knowledge on a given subject featured in books as a reference or a preface essay. I have yet to read 'The Ghost Hunters Survival Guide' but it is definitely on my list. The episodes I have watch so far of 'My Haunted Life' have been good. There is good information in there for people starting in the paranormal as well as veterans. So if I had to rate it, it would be 4 out of 5 stars.

Are there any specific episodes of My Haunted Life you particularly remember?
My favourite episode was 'My Haunted Life: Reincarnation and Past Lives'. I have always strongly believed in reincarnation and this video reinforced my ideas on the subject. I highly recommend it.

Explain how you got started becoming a ghost hunter: how you went about forming a team, the equipment you chose to start with, the subjects you researched and so on.
The first team I was involved with was back in 2004. We only did a couple of investigations. It wasn't until recently over a year ago when I was looking for a team to test my Ghost Amp invention. I researched the teams that were around and approached a few with the idea. The P.A.S.T. Saskatchewan team was the most active and were the most excited about trying out Ghost Amp. A few months ago the team asked me to join as a full investigator and I was honoured!
The team already had the basic equipment, full spectrum cameras, K2's, MEL meters, ghost boxes, EVP recorders. I gifted the team a Ghost Amp and also bring a few extra on investigation.
Prior to most investigations we try and gather as much information on the property as possible. So this would dictate the type of research needed. History, location, stories, interviews and articles are utilized. I like to come into each investigation with as much information about the property as well as the experiences being had there paranormal or not. This can determine sometimes if it is an intelligent haunting by an entity or entities or a residual haunting, like a video being played over and over.
YouTube videos can be a great resource as well. I am always interested in what other teams are using for equipment.

From watching videos on Youtube, what information are you gathering on equipment used by other ghost hunting teams? Does any of this information gathering prove helpful?
For business reasons I am interested in other tech coming out on the market, as well as keeping an eye out to see if Ghost Amp is being used or copied. For the investigation side of things I like to see what tech other investigators are using and how they are using it. From watching these videos I have sometimes repeated certain techniques on investigation. It also in my opinion keeps supporting the idea of getting away from pumping large amounts of EMF into the environment.

How did you design and construct the Ghost Amp, and what are its functions? How well does it help your investigations?
I actually came up with idea of Ghost Amp while watching one of many ghost hunting TV shows and using what was occurring while in the field. I noticed that on investigation our equipment batteries would suddenly drain, and shortly after there would be an increase in paranormal activity. For example increased EVP (electronic voice phenomena), entities captured on video or camera, and even physical touches. I went to a friend of mine who was an electronics engineer and asked if he could create a device that gave off a huge amount of DC current that was replenish-able for entities to utilize or 'feed' from. There are other 'ghost feeders' on the market that use EMF to hopefully give energy to entities, but Ghost Amp is different as it emits DC current. In my opinion using EMF pumps in an investigation can be potentially dangerous as it is proven that EMF is large amounts can cause nausea, headaches and even hallucinations, and ultimately this could cause contaminated evidence. I and the P.A.S.T team have been using Ghost Amp and attributing an increase in paranormal activity to the device while on investigation. Which is why I thought getting Ghost Amp out there would be the first step, increase the activity so we can have more to investigate!

What differences have you seen in your investigations from using the Ghost Amp? How does it compare to traditional instruments overall?
We (P.A.S.T) have revisited locations we have investigated before where Ghost Amp was not used.  Using Ghost Amp in the investigation the second or third time we noticed an increase in paranormal activity as compared to the previous time(s) we were there. Ghost Amp is revolutionary to the field of paranormal investigation as it is DC current based and all other devices are based on EMF.

In addition to Youtube, where do you research information on places you visit? How much background do you usually gather before heading to a location?
It depends on the time we have to research before we go to a location. Sometimes it's an emergency situation so not much research is done. Other times we can gather information from the internet, land titles and interviews. Also if we have an idea of what kinds of entities we might be encountering we can consult experts that we have on different avenues of the paranormal to assist us. We have utilized psychics, parapsychologists, witches and occultists.

From 2004 until today you and the P.A.S.T Saskatchewan team must have had many experiences worth discussing. Can you relate some of your most memorable visits?
I have only been working with the P.A.S.T team for a little over a year and a half. But yes we have had many intriguing moments. The first one I would like to share happened at The Q Bar in Regina. We were doing a group Ouija board session and after one of the investigators expressed that we didn't want to invite any negative spirits a disembodied voice was heard by all of us as well as captured on camera. It stated "but you are". This bit of evidence is available to view on our YouTube channel P.A.S.T Sask. It was also an inspiration for a PsiVamp song entitled Voices In The Dark which is the first song of its kind, merging EVP and electronic music. It's available for free download on .One of my most memorable personal moments was at the youth hostel in Regina. I was seated with the manager of the hostel doing a pendulum session and was physically touched on the shoulder. It was the first time I was touched by an entity so it was exhilarating and intriguing all at the same time.

Does Regina have many paranormal experiences like those you discussed experiencing?
Regina I don't think has higher paranormal activity compared to other cities. Just like other cities we have our famous locations that most locals would be able to point you to. As our team is getting more well-known and respected in the community it is opening the doors to these famous locations. Recently we have been approached by Casino Regina to do an investigation of their facility. This is a great honour as other groups have tried to get in there to investigate. The location is a turn of the century train station. Apparently there has been and continues to be quite a bit of reoccurring activity. We are very much looking forward to doing this investigation as it will be high profile. We will definitely have to be on our game for that one!

What information have you uncovered about the Regina train station so far?
The Train station was built in 1912 and was actually Regina's third train station. The building is a historic site and was converted into the Casino Regina after years of sitting empty. The building was extensively renovated and while renovating the property they came across old railway police jail cells in the basement that were used for transporting prisoners as well as tunnels. There are a system of underground passages under the building that extended into the downtown part of the city, but some are collapsed and some are not safe, but we hope to get into some of them. There are many stories about the Casino being haunted. Most of the accounts so far point to a haunting by those who worked at the location while it was a station. They said that you can hear voices when no one is around or you can see doors open that required key cards. These instances are also said to be caught on camera. So I'm thinking there could be residual activity as well as maybe an intelligent energy present. Can't wait to interview the employees who have had experiences!

Have you traveled often across the U.S. researching the paranormal and would you consider visiting overseas countries in the future?

I have travelled extensively in the U.S. But have only really done research on the paranormal in New Orleans, outside and in Las Vegas, as well as South Dakota specifically DeadWood. I do however tend to pick up stories and legends from people wherever I travel. Everyone has a story about the paranormal whether they experienced it themselves or through someone else's experience. Of course I have many overseas countries locations that I would love to investigate. My personal wish list would include England, Ireland and Egypt.

Of the psychics, parapsychologists, witches and occultists you have been working with, who do you and the team get the most favorable results with?
Honestly all of these experts have equally helped us learn and grow as a team. We are a very open minded group and strive to learn and further the field of paranormal investigation. We have the utmost respect for all of our experts.

If you had the time and the resources, would you consider hosting a regular series on the internet or cable television?

I don't think at this point in my career that I would like to host a show of any kind. I do however like to be interviewed on internet radio as well as local radio stations. I enjoy participating in our web episodes. Just recently my team has been approached to do a history/reality show by a large production company which we are currently waiting to hear back if it's a go. If it is a go it will be aired nationally and even internationally. So fingers crossed! I'm not looking for fame, but having our team much more recognized opens doors to more investigations. Especially at locations that would otherwise would be hard to get into.

How many interviews have you done on internet radio and traditional radio to date? Which of your web episodes has received the biggest response?

Since launching Ghost Amp not quite a year ago I have done a couple of internet shows, and been a repeat guest on a local radio paranormal program. It's hard to gauge the largest response to which show, but I definitely get an increase in traffic to my website and likes to my FB page. So that being said I am open to do any programs on any media as it tends to get the word out about Ghost Amp and also gives me the opportunity to express my ideas about the paranormal. 

Is there anything you can reveal about the history/reality show you’ve been approached about?
At this point I am only able to say that the production company that approached us were looking for a team to make a series about the paranormal with an emphasis on Saskatchewan history. The network asked the production company to put together a 'sizzle' sort of like a trailer to see if they want to pursue with the funding of the series and that it was what they were looking for. We have finished the sizzle and are waiting to hear back from the network at this time. Sorry I can't give out any more detail than that. All I know at this time is that the sizzle looks really awesome and I wish I could share it. It will be a tremendous amount of work but I know we are up for the challenge!

Do you have any other plans for the future of P.A.S.T you would want to let the readers know of?
Of course our hope is to have the TV series become a reality so we are working with the production company doing everything we can to do this project. We have also done a few 'paranormal sleep overs'. This was where we have teamed up with a local hotel owner whose location we have investigated multiple times and had a group come in. We schooled them on what we do and the equipment we use and then do a full investigation. They are then invited to stay the night, funny we have only had two people stay the entire night. We would like to continue with this project as well we are looking into graveyard investigation tours. Our team enjoys educating and working with the public. Of course there are a few locations we would like to gain access to so we will continue to work with integrity and build our reputation and maybe the doors will open. We have also thrown around the idea of travelling to New Orleans to work with a group there investigating as well. I have been to Nola many times and would like to do an investigation with some of the talented people I know down there.

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-Dave Wolff