August 15, 2008
GHI: Predjama Castle
With 1,000 years of history behind it, this castle-in-a-cave-under-a-cliff can only be summed up properly with one word: Looming. It looms. Predjama Castle in Slovenia isn't the largest structure, but it's one of the most imposing I've ever seen. During the Dark Ages people took up residence in the large cave that penetrates the cliffside, and apparently a significant portion of the structure is built within the cave. The newer portion sits out front and looks somewhat normal, if not for the cliffs above and the sheer drop-off below.
Yes, yes, Ghost Hunters International: Now with more Europe! Well, I'm not that displeased; eastern Europe is culturally very different and I feel that offers a richer backdrop than venturing all over the glove to disparate places that all speak English. Not that I won't get excited for GHI: McMurdo Station, but these old European castles are colorful places difficult to compete with.
For instance, apparently some prisoners in Predjama Castle were sealed in small chambers and walled up, ala Poe's tale, "The Cask of Amontillado". Perhaps more interesting, aside from an apparently genuine torture chamber the "courtroom" of this castle also has an adjoining door which leads to a 63-meter deep vertical cave, at the bottom of which still lie human remains because — well, it's just too difficult to go down there and bring them up for burial, I guess. No word on which door the people found "innocent" walked through.
The reports of paranormal activity in the castle seemed fairly consistent, not just throughout the various rooms but also with the staff: Primarily footsteps and occasionally voices. Down to the investigation, then!
Robb, for whatever reason, decided that when he did the EVP session in the courtroom he was trying to contact a judge. I would have thought victim — err, excuse me, peasant — I mean criminal, but apparently even the judges are hanging out there because Robb asked which door they would send him through if he was on trial and they (not we) heard a noise from the torture chamber, which Robb took to be a reply.
BrAndy, meanwhile, were investigating back in the cave where Andy Andrews, Amateur Geologist Extroardinaire, made a number of keen observations about the composition of the rock. He even licked one in order to confirm the presence of salt. They urged any spirits present to "make a noise". When a noise presented itself, Andy did his best to track it down, but to no avail. He did, however, discover what he believed to be a deposit of quartz. This was the final puzzle piece that wrapped everything up in a nice little package for him:
The cave was a battery. It had a strong electro-magnetic field, which he believed to be emanating from a natural battery comprised of salt, water, limestone, iron and using quartz crystals as the "memory bank". This could explain a "residual" haunting, as the system might have "recorded" past events and be "playing them back" over and over"; like footsteps, for instance. Or voices.
Of course, the completely speculative nature of these conclusions was overshadowed by the fact that Robb, Barry and Dustin believed they were interacting with an intelligent spirit that was responding to them, but GHI never led little contradictions like this get in the way of their wildly unscientific conclusions.
In the torture chamber Dustin was on the lower level saying things like, "You don't have to stay here anymore" when Robb thought he heard a voice say (in English), "I know". After asking the alleged spirit if it was comfortable here, Dustin thought he heard someone say, "Yeah".
As for the actual recordings, I must say the evidence recorded at this location sounds very clearly like voices to me; much moreso than the vast majority of EVP recordings. I'm just not convinced the voices aren't members of the team or crew. One EVP is recorded with Barry & Brandy in the room and there seems to be a woman's voice saying something. Interestingly, Robb & Co. had no guesses as to what the voice was saying, nor did their host, who speculated it could be an older variant language from 1,000 years ago that's no longer used.
Another EVP sounded like a male voice. This one GHI's host seemed to understand (although he offered no translation) and he said it sounded like a soldier issuing a command. A third EVP simply seemed to say, "Look". I had been wondering if perhaps there was a word in the local language that coincidentally had the same pronunciation but then their host guilelessly asked the team how it's possible for an ancient Slovenian ghost to understand English. Robb gave him some vague explanation and said they sometimes ask in English and get answers in the local language, which has indeed occasionally seemed to happen. Regardless, I still prefer they make some small effort to go native.
The final piece of evidence was a series of still photos from Barry's full-spectrum camera that seemed to show a black mist coalescing near Dustin, and then suddenly vanishing when Dustin turned around (after Barry made him aware of it). Interesting. I'd suggest it might have been some trick of the lighting, but I suppose it could have been something else.
Of course, with this abundance of evidence and Andy's battery they labeled the place definitively haunted. I hate to make fun of Andy, but then again I hate to see Andy so strongly behind a kooky theory. The battery idea is fine in-and-of-itself as a hypothesis but then the next step would be testing. It would seem to be easy enough to set up a fairly controlled experiment: If we're talking about some sort of natural recording that is looped then you can expect it to perform on demand and over time such an experiment should expect to see repeatable results: such as footsteps and voices recorded when no people are present.
I'll get excited when I see someone set up an experiment like that, regardless of the results. Settling on that explanation without testing, though — especially since it's pretty much one of the only "paranormal" theories that should be easily testable? I'm going to have to be a little bit skeptical.
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