Thursday, June 18, 2009
I’ve down a lot of things in my life. I’ve bungee jumped, conquered mountain tops and even sat front seat on the world’s tallest and fastest roller coasters. But never did I think I’d go ghost hunting. Ever.
On Saturday, Cliveden, one of 14 historical sites in Germantown, hosted its first ever ghost hunting event entitled, “Ghost Hunting 101”. The historical organization partnered with a locally based supernatural group called the Free Spirit Paranormal Investigators. This ghost hunting troupe searches for signs of spirits at cultural and historical centers across the region.
Like many historical centers, Cliveden is battling recent budget cuts from the state that used to fund it. In an effort to attract visitors and generate revenue, Cliveden is seeking innovative ways to draw people in. And it’s following the trend of many museums and historical organizations across the nation.
So with all that being said, I decided to give this ghost hunting thing a try. At first, I was apprehensive. I met with a paranormal investigator named Julie who walked me throughout the Chew House, one of the main houses at Cliveden, and showed me the most “active” or spirit filled corridors and rooms in the hosue. I was with a group of 8 or so people. And out of everyone, I was the least prepared. They were all equipped with spirit detecting rods and motion sensors and digital voice recorders and cameras. All I had was my fear and my camera.
Julie told me that the attic which was located on the third floor was buzzing with paranormal activity. We crawled up the snug spiral staircases and the only guide we had to see was small flickers of light from flashlights and cameras. Rain pattered on the window pane, thunder shook the foundation of the home and lighting illuminated the sky. I could feel my breath become tighter and my heart began to flutter. All I could do is pray softly to myself. “Oh God, please help me.”
We were upstairs in the attic and I could feel the loose floorboards shake quiver underneath my feet. Julie and the rest of us stood in a circle. She pulled out two metallic rods and explained that we were now going to try and contact the spirits who were dwelling in the room.
She explained that we could only as yes or no questions and if the spirit chose to answer yes to question, the rods would gravitate closer together like magnets.
“Are there any spirits in here?”Julie asked first.
The rods quickly gravitated together. My heart dropped.
“Did you live here?”
The rods came together again.
“Are you a male?”
No response from the rods.
She’s a female, we all whispered to one another.
“Were you a member of the Chew family?”
No movement, no response.
“Were you a slave?” I asked.
The rods reluctantly moved together.
And in that instant, as I saw the rods move close together, I couldn’t stop thinking about the fact that there’s a spirit of a slave girl in the same room as me. I was the only African American in there. I then stumbled across another startling truth. Her name, slave girl. I pictured her scrubbing the floors. I pictured her wiping the tears from her eyes. And I pictured her missing her homeland, the West African coast. I had all these unexplainable emotions flood into my mind. I thought about how we referenced her as a slave girl gave her no sort of identity. And sadly, I thought it was probably the same identity she had over 300 years ago. The Chew House was one of the largest slaveholders in Pennsylvania. Dozens of enslaved Africans crossed the Atlantic and were sold to work and clean the very floors I was standing on.
I didn’t question if this was real or not. I didn’t think if it was all a hoax. All I could think about is if she’s really real and if she can see me, what did she think, what did she feel when she saw me?
Posted by Sydni at 10:29 AM