Articles

A collection of articles written by Nicole Strickland – writer and correspondent to Paranormal Underground Magazine

Former Heaven's Gate Mansion

Heaven’s Gate: 25 Years Later and the Allure Still Exists

Background of Heaven’s Gate

The date was March 26, 1997.  For my fellow University of San Diego High School classmates and me, it was a time when we were eagerly preparing for high school commencement: a monumental milestone that paves the way for soon-to-be adulthood.  However, this particular day went down in the history books for something bigger, an event almost unforeseen even for those directly involved.  You see, this was the day when the upscale, sleepy San Diego community of Rancho Santa Fe lost its innocence and became the culprit of a mass media storm.

It was on this day when an anonymous tip to local police suggested that 39 men and women committed mass suicide at 18241 Colina Norte, a 9,000-plus square-foot home, which housed the cult known as Heaven’s Gate.  It’s one of those peculiar situations, albeit 25 years later, that begs us to examine how peoples’ lives can be so dichotomously different, even if they’re just a few miles apart.  People, from all walks of life, engaging in their daily routines of work, school, and family amidst a fanatical group who believed that suicide would grant them entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven.

The members of Heaven’s Gate eagerly looked up to their leaders, Bonnie Lu Trousdale Nettles and Marshall Herff Applewhite.  The two went by Ti and Do, respectively.  A self-proclaimed prophet who felt he was the second coming of Jesus Christ, Applewhite, in his earlier years, proved to be a man of normal means. He attended various universities and served in the United States Army.  The son of a Presbyterian minister, he had musical talent and enrolled in the University of St. Thomas, initially pursuing a degree in education.  However, in 1970, Applewhite left the institution due to emotional turmoil.  He was dismissed from his teaching position at a university in Alabama for having a sexual affair with a male student.  Then came the dissolution of his marriage in 1972, prompting voluntary admittance to a psychiatric facility in Houston.  It was here when he met Bonnie and the rest is history, as they say.

Bonnie was a registered nurse who was also dealing with marital issues.  Soon, both she and Applewhite would form a close friendship, sharing a mutual interest in theosophy and mysticism.  Believing that they both possessed divine talents, they eventually left to commence their study group and bookstore, known as the Christian Arts Center.  Their unique philosophy mirrored the Bible and the musings of theosophy founder Helena Blavatsky.  Mixed in was an amalgamation of ufology, astrology, and science fiction.  In 1973, Applewhite and Nettles began to travel around the United States to spread their viewpoints.  A hiccup occurred in 1975 when Applewhite was jailed due to failure to return a rental car.  Ample time was granted while incarcerated and he further developed his theological beliefs. 

After his stint in jail, he and Nettles traveled to California and Oregon to spread their philosophy.  While traveling, the pair had little money and often resorted to selling their blood or working odd jobs.  Due to low funds, they camped out and often subsisted on bread.  In a megalomaniac fashion, Do and Ti felt that they were granted higher-level minds and had been chosen to fulfill biblical prophecies.  They concluded that they would be murdered, then return to life and beamed up in a spaceship.  The pair told their followers that the only path for eventual salvation was to go with them and abandon everything associated with their earthly lives.  They also convinced their students that they were the ultimate source of truth and to obey them at all times.  Being the charming and charismatic person that he was, Applewhite was hardly seen as dictatorial.

Do and Ti’s teachings centered on the idea that followers could travel to Heaven after transforming into immortal alien species by discarding their human elements.  They ascribed to the belief that they were sent from beyond to fulfill the same mission as Jesus.  The pair felt that they were very old ETs who reincarnated in human bodies as a way to “harvest souls” to help fulfill their warped undertaking.  Do and Ti referred to themselves as “The Two” based on the two witnesses in the Book of Revelations who were slain and ascended to heaven.  It’s as if they blended the essentials of science fiction, New Age theories, and biblical scriptures and mixed them all together with an added dose of distorted imagination.  Those that chose to follow in their path were obsessed with escaping the reality of human life so much so that it ultimately camouflaged any rational ability to discern mental illness or psychosis in their leaders. 

According to Nettles, her meeting with Applewhite was foretold to her by ETs, ultimately convincing the latter that he was among the divine.  By 1975, the pair adopted the names Bo and Peep and had around 70 followers.  In addition to abandoning friends, family, and sexuality, followers were given biblical names ending in “ody.”  By 1976, Applewhite and Nettles chose the names, Do and Ti and split their members into small groups known as “Star Clusters.”  From 1976 to 1979, the cult resided in campgrounds in various areas, such as the Rocky Mountains and Texas.

Tragedy struck the cult in 1985 when Nettles succumbed to brain cancer.  Two years prior, she had one of her eyes surgically removed due to that diagnosis.  Applewhite failed to inform her children that she passed away alone until many months later.   Sadly, her daughter was located just a few hours away from her and felt ripped to shreds when she found out about her mother’s demise. Do descended into a big depression after her passing and felt that he was left behind because he had more to learn.  He taught his followers to believe that Nettles’ spirit ascended to a spaceship and received a new body and that they, too, would follow in her path.  It seems as though her untimely death was the catalyst for introducing tight regimented schedules for his students.  They were soon taught to dissociate from anything on the outside of their mission. 

Applewhite felt that heaven was a planet inhabited by highly intelligent beings and that physical bodies were mandated to reside there.  Furthermore, he concluded that evolution on other planets would evolve once they reached the Next Level.  He instilled in his pupils that Jesus was an extraterrestrial and boarded a spaceship after he rose from the dead.  Applewhite believed that “every two millennia”, humans were granted an opportunity to reach the Next Level.  The early 90s would be the first time for this opportune chance to reach the Kingdom of Heaven since the time of Jesus.

In the early 90s, the group made nearly $400,000 per year, enabling them to recruit more members and publish an advertisement in USA Today and other newspapers.  Do convinced his members that for them to reach the “Evolutionary Level Above Human,” they must abandon their bodies or “vehicles” and board an alien spacecraft that would arrive as a comet would make its way across Earth’s horizon in 1997.  Once they boarded this eventual spaceship, the group would inhabit other bodies.  Essentially, they were all higher beings who took control of an earthly body as a way to educate humanity and spread their principles.  Applewhite eventually became paranoid, fearing a conspiracy against Heaven’s Gate.  He strongly believed that malevolent aliens known as Luciferians desired to destroy him and his mission.  During this time he discussed how the Earth was an overgrown garden and would soon recycle as a result of an Apocalypse.

The Heaven’s Gate Mass Suicide

The remaining cult members rented a large Rancho Santa Fe mansion in October 1996, the same year that brought about the Hale Bopp Comet, one of the most beautiful celestial showcases in the twentieth century.  Named after Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp, the sky’s event was detectable in the Northern Hemisphere the subsequent year.  During this time frame, Heaven’s Gate members recorded two video messages to let viewers know that this was the “last chance to evacuate Earth.”  Adding fanatical pollution to this natural event, shoddy astronomer Chuck Shramek, went on the Art Bell radio show to discuss how he identified a massive object moving in unison with the comet as it approached Earth’s horizon.  As if this wasn’t enough, a remote viewer named Courtney Brown along with Prudence Calabrese confirmed that a UFO was trailing the comet.  This was done in an attempt to gain notoriety and undoubtedly fueled the belief systems of Heaven’s Gate.

As a way to engage the news reports of the cult, Applewhite chose to announce the group’s coming exodus from the mortal realm:

Whether Hale-Bopp has a ‘companion’ or not is irrelevant from our perspective.  However, its arrival is joyously very significant to us at ‘Heaven’s Gate.’ The joy is that our Older Member in the Evolutionary Level Above Human (the ‘Kingdom of Heaven’) has made it clear to us that Hale-Bopp’s approach is the ‘marker’ we’ve been waiting for – the time for the arrival of the spacecraft from the Level Above Human to take us home to ‘Their World’ – in the literal Heavens.  Our 22 years of classroom here on planet Earth is finally coming to conclusion – the ‘graduation’ from the Human Evolutionary Level.  We are happily prepared to leave ‘this world’ and go with Ti’s crew.

The mass media labeled Heaven’s Gate a “UFO cult.”  Like a flock of vultures, heavy coverage of the group existed before the collective suicide but proliferated after their deaths.  At the time, the story was the primary interest of San Diego news stations.  Even today, some 25 years since the tragedy, you can find various stories, interviews, and opinions about Heaven’s Gate.  The group’s website is still active at http://www.heavensgate.com

Each member recorded exit statements designed to give the public a glimpse into why they chose this path and what it meant to them.  When tuning into these recordings, it is highly likely that they were the victims of mind control and tried so hard to convince themselves of the validity of Ti and Do’s teachings.  Here are just a few quotes from some of these students during their exit statements, to demonstrate this probability.  These examples are offered not to criticize or judge the members, but to showcase the various reasons as to why people join cults.

SRRODY:  “Just about anything that would be of significance to you is already on Heaven’s Gate.” Although he mentioned that it’s “silly”, he urged viewers to read or watch anything related to the cult.  You’ll notice that he tried to convince himself of what he was saying and even questioned at one point if it was okay that he mentioned it.

YRSODY: “What we’re about to do is nothing to think negatively about. We’re all choosing of our own free will to go to the Next Level with Ti and Do.”  Did she voluntarily believe that this was free will? Or, was she coerced into believing that?  Of course, she was referring to the chosen paths of suicide.  This alone demonstrated how she was victimized by Do’s principles.  Throughout her interview, she pledged allegiance to her leaders and placed them on pedestals.

DSTODY: “Suffice to say, when I heard the information, I was overwhelmed.”  He goes on to relay that the information provided by Ti and Do’s teachings resonated with him on a spiritual level.  When listening to his exit statement, you can tell that he was searching for a greater dose of spirituality and the meaning of life.  Hence, he expressed vulnerability.  He even questioned what he did to deserve admittance into Heaven’s Gate.  He described it as an “opportunity” and a “gift.”

MLLODY: In her interview, she describes exactly what a cult is; however, expressed that Heaven’s Gate was anything but that.  She said, “I think everyone in this class wanted something more than what the world could offer.  They were seeking some type of rightness or some type of goodness that they did not feel in this world.”  This aligns with the common denominator of not being content with one’s life and striving for something greater.  In actuality, this is something we all experience and desire at times.

OLLODY: Throughout his statement, you can tell that he’s separated himself from what he once was.  He referred to his body as a “vehicle” and said, “This vehicle knew that it didn’t fit in this world.”  The theme of vulnerability surfaces again.  OLLODY talks about his childhood beliefs in little people (aliens) and his desire to find the meaning of those beliefs even as an adult.  He then found Heaven’s Gate as the perfect means to seek the answers to his convictions.  He said, “The little people I had been looking for had come to take me home.”

TDDODY: “I’m no longer satisfied or fulfilled by any human pursuit, indulgence, or activity. I’ve tried it all and there’s nothing on this planet that is worthwhile or of any interest to me.”  One can argue that he may have been dealing with some depression and yearning to escape reality.  Once again, susceptibility is showcased here.

On March 21st, the Heaven’s Gate clan ate their last meal at a Marie Callender’s restaurant, located at 5980 Avenida Encinas, off the 5 near Palomar Airport Road. They rejoiced and regaled as they consumed salad, turkey pot pie, blueberry cheesecake, and iced tea.  Between March 22nd and 24th, the group helped each other die in shifts.  Applewhite was the last person to pass, obviously making sure that no one chickened out at the last minute. 

After the anonymous tip of mass suicide was provided to the police on March 26th, the first officers on the scene immediately knew that they were contending with death due to the pungent odor of decomposition permeating the sprawling mansion.  Upon entrance, they soon found the entire home neat and orderly, except for the lifeless bodies arranged peculiarly on cots and bunk bed mattresses.  Immediately depicted on televisions across the nation were the scenes of deceased cult members taken out of the Rancho Santa Fe mansion.  These are images seared into the memories of many San Diegans and those across the United States.  

Each person was wearing a matching black uniform with a badge that said, “Heaven’s Gate Away Team.”  Each lifeless body was adorned in black and white Nike shoes with purple shrouds and plastic bags covering their torsos and heads.  It was soon discovered that they died after consuming a lethal concoction of applesauce and phenobarbital chased by vodka.  They all had a passport secured in one hand along with $5.75 in the other. As a result, the Nike slogan of “Just Do It” took on a whole new meaning.  Applewhite chose these particular black shoes with the recognizable white swoosh because he liked their look and was able to get a deal when buying them in bulk.

Now, you may be wondering why they needed passports and this exact amount of change.  According to the book, Weird California: Your Travel Guide to California’s Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets, the answer may lie in a 1907 story, called “Extract from Captain Stormfield’s Trip to Heaven” by the legendary Mark Twain.  The protagonist in this story departs for “an extended excursion among the heavenly bodies” on the rear of a comet, taking with him a passport and $5.75 in cash.

Ironically, Heaven’s Gate posted an article on its website discussing its stance against suicide.  However, one can’t argue that they chose to commit just that.  They held the conviction that it would be suicide to not go on to the Next Level.  They relayed, “The true meaning of ‘suicide’ is to turn against the Next Level when it is being offered.  These days, we are focused on two primary tasks: one – of making a last attempt at telling the truth about how the Next Level may be entered (our last effort at offering to individuals of this civilization the way to avoid ‘suicide’); and two – taking advantage of the rare opportunity we have each day – to work individually on our personal overcoming and change, in preparation for entering the Kingdom of Heaven.”

The Rancho Santa Fe mansion housing the Heaven’s Gate Away Team eventually sold for less than half its original value.  In an attempt to thwart “lookie-loos” and secure privacy, the new owner changed the address and street name to 18239 Paseo Victoria.  For those that are interested in driving by, be rest assured that the home is safely guarded by a security gate. 

Why Are We Still So Fascinated by Heaven’s Gate?

The allure of these mass-scale cults exists because we yearn to understand the psychology behind them.  We strive to make sense of why a group of seemingly normal and educated individuals would make the conscious (or perhaps, brainwashed) decision to strip everything they had to seek spiritual enlightenment.  We desire to understand the “why” and “how” even though we may never quite unlock all the secrets.  The Heaven’s Gate cult is no exception.  Most will arrive at the consensus that the individuals duped by Ti and Do’s mentality had an insatiable thirst for belonging and togetherness.  Each member most likely found some innate connection to the Heaven’s Gate doctrine. 

When you think about it, aspects of cult mentality mirror that of outside, regular life.  We all desire to belong and have solid relationships.  We have to follow certain rules in our professional lives.  From our infancy, we learn to deal with peer pressure from others.  We learn at a young age that hard work and dedication lead to various levels of success.  The familiarity with these common themes could be one reason why certain people get suckered into these extremist groups. 

According to psychologist Steve Eichel, cults typically look for individuals who possess idealistic and optimistic traits.  These are passionate people who desire to self-improve and live a more fulfilling life.  These are common themes running through all of us.  Intriguingly, a 2017 study of former cult followers discovered that 61% had more than 12 years of education.  When reading about Heaven’s Gate, you will find out that many of its members were highly educated and experienced in their chosen career paths.  Many of them were imaginative dreamers and attracted to spirituality. 

Many radical sects seem attractive and welcoming on the surface but hidden deep within are sinister motives.  Their leaders emphasize an initial sense of community while eventually inclining toward peer pressure.  They aim to force members to separate themselves from society and maintain strict adherence to rules and policies governed by the cult.  These groups discourage any critical thinking, especially if it falls out of the four corners of their forerunner’s mentality.  Yet, they don’t discriminate based on the type of person you are on the outside; their main requirement is for newly indoctrinated members to pledge allegiance to what that group is all about.  Victims that are besieged by its doctrines will not realize their eventual decrease in emotional, psychological, and spiritual growth. 

Hank Hanegraaf of the Christian Research Institute felt that Applewhite was the quintessential spiritual con artist.  According to him, “So often, they follow a leader who is presenting them the skin of the truth stuffed with a deadly lie.  I don’t think that there is a more classic, current case of that than Herff Applewhite.  When he told them that they had been impregnated with an alien spirit and that’s why his message resonated with them, they were immediately willing to follow the seductive siren call of the cult leader.  In this case, follow it right to their deaths.”

Pervading interest in rebellious mentality exists because we crave to understand what propels people from sound minds to become so deceived by zealous creeds.  We desire to scrutinize the exact moment(s) when these victims become so faithful to that, which is duping them.  To comprehend the reasons for this, we must analyze the aspects of these individuals’ emotional and mental statuses, relationships with others, and life’s many challenges.  In doing so, people may be better equipped to save friends or family from joining something that could ultimately destroy them. 

For whatever reason(s), cult victims want security and the desire to make better sense out of their lives.  Perhaps, the standard familial way of living is failing these individuals and they seek a way out.  Maybe their current belief systems aren’t as attractive any longer.  Typically, low self-esteem, depression, and a  perceived lacking in life are underliers for those who find cults appealing.  Those in extremely vulnerable states may find these sorts of groups beneficial.  Whether due to the longing for escapism, the craving for deeper connections, or the aspirations to achieve greater spiritual ascension, the reasons why people join cults are as multifaceted as the groups, themselves.

Some psychologists easily dismiss the idea of cult brainwashing.  Instead, they suggest that group members become dependent on their leaders because they can’t survive without them.  They maintain that followers became enthralled with Applewhite’s narratives as opposed to him psychologically manipulating them.  In this book, The Devil at Heaven’s Gate: Rethinking the Study of Religion in the Age of Cyber-Space, author Hugh Urban asserts that Applewhite’s life exhibited “the intense ambivalence and alienation shared by many individuals lost in the late 20th-century capitalist society” (Urban 268-302). His students shared similar nihilistic views, which further mesmerized them.

Additionally, one can argue that his students also became magnetized by his charismatic and charming nature.  He was an engaging and articulate speaker, possessing the ability to draw people into his convictions.  One ex-follower described feeling a sense of “fear and awe” upon meeting Do for the first time.  As is the case with the majority of cult leaders, Applewhite was instantly seen as a prophet and all-knowing individual.  Take Jim Jones of the Jonestown People’s Temple or David Koresh of the Branch Davidians: they had the innate aptitudes of captivating people from all walks of life.

In April 1997, People published an article about Heaven’s Gate and featured segments on each cult member.  When reading about them, it’s astonishing but not surprising to learn that they were normal individuals with loving families, close friends, and secure jobs.  However, two common themes existed in each of their biographic accounts:  the need for belonging and the desire to engage their spiritual beliefs.  Still, after all these years, we need to look beyond the curtain and dissect the often-obscure reasons for why these individuals adhered to extreme belief systems.  This is the main impetus for why our ongoing fascination with cults remains in the depths of society. 

Amidst the craziness of cults and their uncanny ability at brainwashing mind control, we do need to remind ourselves that the victims of these so-called groups were human beings tricked into something they felt was beneficial.  The Heaven’s Gate crew all believed in a superior way of life beyond the stars. We can’t fault them for that. They were decent people beloved by their family and friends.  As a communal society, we can try to fathom their principles without dismissing them.  Perhaps, their deaths have given us a deeper glimpse into their lives and a deeper awareness of their motivations.  Maybe that’s their collective legacy, a timeless existence that lets humanity unlock the psychological secrets of cult temperament. Let’s hope that they’ve all found eternal peace and the answers that they were striving for in life on Earth.

Written by Nicole Strickland

References

Bishop, G., Oesterle, J., & Marinacci, M. Weird California: Your Travel Guide to California’s Local

     Legends and Best Kept Secrets. New York: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. 2006

Chryssides, G, D. “ ‘Come On Up and I Will Show Thee’: Heaven’s Gate as a Postmodern Group.”

     England: Oxford University Press. 2005.           

Documentary Central. “Heaven’s Gate: Full UFO Cult Documentary,” YouTube Video, March 24,

     2022, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9wLAJD_RYI

Gurgel, Barbara. “How Do Normal, Successful, and Smart People End Up Joining a Cult?” Daily

     Beast, May 12, 2021. Accessed March 24, 2022. https://www.thedailybeast.com/why-do-people-

     join-cults

“Our Position Against Suicide,” Heaven’s Gate, accessed March 24, 2022,

https://heavensgate.com/misc/letter.htm

Urban, Hugh. “The Devil at Heaven’s Gate: Rethinking the Study of Religion in the Age of Cyber-

     Space.” California: University of California Press. 2000. 3 (2): 268-302

Must-Do’s When Writing a Book

Writing my very first non-fiction book was one of the most exciting endeavors I have accomplished in my 39 years.  Ten years later, I am proud to say that I have published six non-fiction works with future ones in development. Each phase of the book writing process can seem daunting and tedious; however, once you develop a seamless system that works well, you will be on your way to smooth sailing. 

It’s important to stay true to who you are as a person and author and realize that you can create something entirely original for your audience.  After writing six manuscripts, I can now better recognize my own unique “voice.”  Once you recognize yours, you will find the entire research, development and writing process to be more fun and enjoyable.  Remember that you, the writer, are the best advocate for your book. 

Get Rid of Procrastination

Get Rid of Procrastination:  Clearly set attainable goals.  For example, you can notate on your calendar that you will write 500 words per day or write one chapter per week.  Create a healthy writing space with minimal interruption and while there, study your creative patterns.  Are you more creative in the morning or at night?  Do you write better with some calming music or in complete silence?  Discover what little idiosyncrasies work for you and implement them in your writing repertoire.

An Outline is Your Friend

This is a very important step.  While you don’t need a completed table of contents; having an organized outline is crucial as it will help keep your thoughts / sections of the book more organized.  It’s also beneficial for timeline purposes as well.  For example, you can designate to work on two or more sections of your outline each day.  An outline or table of contents will help you to remain authoritative and in command as well.

Understand the Book Proposal Process

The book proposal process is as equally important to the entire project.  It gives you a front row seat as to why your book stands out among the rest of the competition.  A properly constructed proposal can give you many more choices among publishers.  Research and understand all the components of each publisher’s book proposal process.  There are many sections that are universal across the board, such as 1) table of contents or outline, 2) target audience, 3) about the author, 4) a list of competing titles, 5) content overview, etc.  However, one publisher may require something in its proposal that another doesn’t require, so it’s up to you to understand the process for each publisher you submit to.  Perhaps, the most important step in writing a book proposal is to explain why your book is relevant in today’s competing marketplace.  Even if there are many titles similar to what you are developing, be creative in explaining why yours stands out.

Just Write

While it’s nice to have an outline or developed table of contents, please don’t feel restricted to write in the exact order of your outline or table of contents.  Write what comes up at that very moment as you can always go back later on and developmentally edit the content.  Some of my best writing occurs when I get that sudden “urge” to write.  Whether it is at 8:00 a.m. or midnight, if your creative juices are flowing, it’s best to open up your laptop and type away.  Don’t worry about flow or substantive editing as that can come later.   After you are finished, save your work and come back to it the next day.  You may be surprised at what else you think of to add or change.  Furthermore, make sure to save your written material in a variety of ways.

Be Critical

Place yourself in the shoes of your audience.  Ask yourself what you look for in successful non-fiction writers. Re-read your manuscript several times.  Have other trusted individuals read your book and take notice to their constructive feedback.  Read a lot of non-fiction books.  In doing so, you will discover and take note of the many reasons you prefer one book over the other.  Humans love to hear and share memorable stories, so be creative in how you relay your narrative.  Implement strategies in your writing that will appeal to the emotions of your readers.  They will continue to turn page after page if they discover that your unique author “voice” and style of writing appeals to their everyday life.

Love Your Editor

Always remember that your editor is there to help your book reach success.  Thus, don’t get all twisted and bent out of shape if he or she offers suggestions.  You may not agree with advised changes that need to be made, but at least listen to what your editor suggests because, like you, he or she is also an advocate for your book.  I see too many authors arguing with their editors over petty things – this tense energy will ultimately translate to the page, causing some readers to turn away.  Your editor is there to make your book shine.

Research Publishers

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.  Take the time to research various publishers.  At first glance, you may find a publisher that seems perfect for your book; however, after exhausting other outlets, you may discover that others may better suit your manuscript.  Talk to other colleagues and acquire their particular publisher recommendations and the specific reasons why they chose to sign with a particular company.  You can devise a pros and cons list for various publishers, which can make the selection process a little easier.  Once you have definitively decided to go with a particular choice, please make sure that you understand every component of your author contract.  I cannot express how vitally important this is.  Don’t ever be afraid to approach your publisher with questions about your contract. 

I accomplished one of my life’s goals by writing my non-fiction books.  If I can do it, you can, too.  If you have a particular idea for an intriguing book concept, then shoot for the stars.  Don’t let anyone interfere or try to stop you.  As always, my best wishes for you as an author.  I look forward to seeing your book(s) on the shelves one day.

How I Write: Tips for New Writers

Every writer has his or her own unique style.  There really isn’t any one magical way to approach the writing process.  It all depends on the individual and what he or she is actually writing – i.e., fiction, memoir, children’s books or nonfiction, etc.  Some people choose to write first thing in the morning; others, late at night.  Some prefer solitude and quiet when writing; others choose to have music or television on in the background.  Always select one or two places that will allow you to create your best work. 

I have often been told that my writing is very heartfelt and sincere.  Reflecting on that, I will say that I do “write from my heart.”  It’s hard to definitively explain what that means.  I guess I would define it as not writing through my ego.  Rather, I listen to my inner intuition and allow it to guide me through the process.  I focus on topics that I am extremely passionate about and those that I feel can make a positive difference in humanity. 

Tips for New Writers

For those new to the writing process, my predominant tip is to “just do it.”  In the beginning, don’t worry about the editing, organization or formatting process as that comes later.  Just let your “writing muse” flow and write down what comes forward.  Once you get started, you may find that all of a sudden, the words start to flood the page.  It’s a beautiful thing when this happens.

Don’t compare yourself to others.  Even if you develop a concept for a book that’s already been published, utilize your creative vision to make yours unique.  Writing a book is a big deal; it’s not as easy as it may sound as there are so many facets to the overall process.  You have to WANT it.  If writing isn’t your jam, you may find it hard to finish the product. 

Here are some writing tips that I utilize.  I hope they can be of benefit to you as well. 

  • Keep a notebook or journal near you so you can mark down those amazing ideas that seemingly come out of nowhere. 
  • Engage in creative inspiration, whatever it may be. 
  • Planning is so imperative to the entire manuscript.  Establishing an outline or rough table of contents helps me with organizing the book. 
  • Make sure you do your research.  Cross-reference source material to make sure you have accurate facts and statistics. 
  • When creating an idea for a book, I ask myself, “How would I describe this proposed book to its core audience in one or two concise sentences?” Then, I build upon the main idea(s). 
  • Keep a dictionary, thesaurus and source referencing material handy.  Many publishers use the Chicago Manual of Style. 
  • Remember that procrastination is not your friend.  Make a writing schedule and stick to it. 
  • You don’t have to write the book sequentially.  I tend to write the body of my book first and save the introduction and epilogue for last, for example. 
  • Proofread, proofread, proofread – at least three times.  Have a trusted colleague, friend or relative read your manuscript as well. 
  • Invest in editing resources, such as Grammarly, MasterWriter or SmartEdit in addition to having a professional editor read / critique your work. 
  • Talk and engage with other writers.  Shared learning leads to brightened horizons. 
  • Don’t put too much emphasis on agents and publishers at the beginning.  Just write.
  • Listen to your editor.  He or she is there to help make your book better.  Be open to his or her critiques and constructive criticism. 
  • Take some intriguing writing courses.  There is always something else to learn. 
  • Be motivated. Be courageous.  Be YOU!

Writing is a life-long process.  You’d be surprised at the inspiration you receive each day the sun rises.  Make sure to take note of those sources of inspiration.  Create a vision board for your proposed projects.  Do not let the word “rejection” stop you from moving forward.  Always remember, “when one door closes, another one opens.”  Some of the most renowned authors have been told “no” several times. 

Bereavement Hallucinations

Bereavement Hallucinations: Visits and Messages from the Dearly Departed

Those who’ve transitioned to the ethers remain with us. Although not physically, the dearly departed are with us energetically with the beat of their soul dancing right along to ours. Every day. Every night. Those who have journeyed to the stars linger in our hearts, our minds and in each of our senses. Mourning is an intense emotional state. As such, it’s highly possible that the griever via a hallucinatory condition, sees, feels or hears the individual(s) who’ve passed on. When this happens, the mourner constantly senses the person he or she has lost. Typically, these illusions are comforting and make the living feel as though they haven’t endured any loss.

According to Ronald Pies, M.D., in his article Hallucinations of Loss, Visions of Grief, post-bereavement hallucinations could be considered a disordered grieving process called “complicated or pathological grief” (Pies 2018). This has even been recommended as a new diagnostic classification in psychiatry’s DSM-5 diagnostic guidebook. In addition to a single person experiencing these mourning mirages, groups of individuals have collectively experienced these hallucinations, typically following a very traumatic occurrence. For example, Singapore General Hospital reported the many ghost sighting accounts from survivors and rescuers after the highly catastrophic 2004 Thailand tsunami that claimed the lives of over 200,000 individuals. In fact, some people were so terrified at these visual perceptions, which caused them to quit their supportive aid.

Culturally, the faith of the Thailand people holds that the spirits of the deceased can be pacified only through relatives at the scene of the tragedy. What’s interesting is whether these hallucinations have any paranormal and/or spiritual origin. Are these illusions simply holograms of people no longer living in the physical world? Or, does our immense sadness act as a capacitor, allowing the ethereal energy of the deceased to come to us? Do living individuals produce these hallucinations out of intense grief or do the spirits of our dearly departed sense our sadness and as a result, manifest to our senses? It may be a combination of both and definitely a topic that warrants further researching. 

Neuroscientists have examined the underlying brain compositions and operations that may shed a light onto the reasons for these grief hallucinations. There is still a lot to be uncovered, however. Scientists and medical personnel are exploring a condition known as Charles Bonnet Syndrome (CBS), where an individual witnesses vivid visual hallucinations that are not linked to delusions or psychological problems. Typically afflicting older people, CBS could be caused by eye damage or destruction of the visual cortex.

Nowadays, there is more acceptance and discussion of spiritual happenings, which projects out into the general cosmos. Spiritual beings may then feel more comfortable and willing to commune with the living, especially after a premature and/or tragic death. Then again, we need to realize the cultural implications as well as how these so-called grief mirages may have different opinions and explanations across various cultures. Anthropologists have discussed how the beliefs and death ritual ceremonies vary across the globe but there isn’t as much known as to how differing ethnicities experience the deceased. As with many other facets of supernatural phenomena, there needs to be more exploration into the causes of and experiences with grief hallucinations.

These hallucinations are very real and quite heartbreaking. Vaughan Bell, author of the article Ghost Stories: Visits from the Deceased, discusses a 2002 case report by German researchers who examined a mother’s experiences after the tragic death of her daughter. While intensely grieving her daughter’s untimely death from a heroin overdose, a mom regularly witnessed her child and occasionally heard her say, “Mamma, Mamma!” and “It’s so cold” (Bell 2008). One Swedish study examined the prevalence of hallucinations among elderly widows and widowers within the first twelve months after the spouse’s demise. Half of the participants occasionally felt the presence of their beloved. Approximately one-third documented seeing, hearing and conversing with the departed. We have to acknowledge how the yearning for the presence of someone we love is so engrained in our every-day fabric. When that person is no longer present, our unconscious fervently desires to fill the void by bringing our dearly departed back into our present. In a way, bereavement hallucinations may be a willing act of compensation to cope with the newly found sense of loss. Furthermore, many people can find healing solace while encountering the presence of someone no longer with them.

References:

Bell, Vaughn. “Ghost Stories: Visits from the Deceased.” Scientific American, accessed April 3, 2020 at https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/ghost-stories-visits-from-the-deceased/

Pies, Ronald. “Hallucinations of Loss, Visions of Grief,” PsychCentral, accessed May 19, 2020 at https://psychcentral.com/blog/hallucinations-of-loss-visions-of-grief/

Photo designed by Karina Cubillo from Pixabay

Does The Soul Continue On After Death?

By Nicole Strickland

According to many scientists who’ve studied the concepts of life after death, there is substantial evidence that the soul continues on a quantum level. Quantum physics claims that our lives continue on in a parallel universe regardless of what happens to us in our current plane of existence. The laws of quantum physics convey that life is not comprised of matter but of vibrations that break away from time and space.

Munich’s Max Planck Institute for physics proclaims that the physical universe that we reside in is only our perception and an infinite beyond exists once our bodies cease to function. Many experts now claim that there is no death of human consciousness only death of the body, the shell that houses the true essence of a person. According to renowned researchers, quantum mechanics permits consciousness to live on after the brain ceases to function.

Stuart Hameroff of the University of Arizona along with British physicist, Sir Roger Penrose, assert that our consciousness is merely information deposited at a quantum level. The pair describes this process as “Orchestrated Objective Reduction” (Orch-OR), merely confirming data that protein-based microtubules or a structural constituent of human cells hold quantum information that is housed at a sub-atomic level. This material within the microtubules cannot be destroyed once someone is beyond the threshold of death; instead, it dispenses out to the universe.

“If the patient is resuscitated, revived, this quantum information can go back into the microtubules and the patient says, ‘I had a near-death experience,’” Dr. Hameroff goes on to say. He further mentions, “If they’re not revived, and the patient dies, it’s possible that this quantum information can exist outside the body, perhaps indefinitely, as a soul” (Hameroff 2016). Based on its unearthing research, the Max Planck Institute considers that this world or our present day comprises just the understandable material level; however, there is a much larger scale infinite reality that our world is embedded in. This allows our lives in this plane of reality to be surrounded by a spirit realm. Thus, an ethereal quantum field lives on despite the death of the human body.

Renowned scientist, Robert Lanza’s concept of biocentrism is another intriguing theory that builds upon the ideals of quantum physics. Theoretical evidence suggests that physical death is a concept that our consciousness makes up. Lanza asserts that death cannot exist as there is no marginal way to define it. Biocentrism’s main distinction is that life creates the universe as opposed to the latter creating life. It claims that life and biology is the integral duo for being, reality and cosmos. Biocentrism also proposes the revitalizing idea that life is immortal. Lanza eloquently mentions that when our bodies physically die, our lives then become a “perennial flower that returns to bloom in the multiverse” (Lanza 2010). We are taught from an early age that our bodies eventually die. We know they die since we are connected to our bodies while living in earth’s realm. In essence, biocentrism supports the notion that when we die, our energy lives on and travels to another universe or dimension. It maintains that the consciousness exists in the energy housed in our bodies and is released once death comes knocking at the door.

Indeed, studies are revealing a lot about the mysticism surrounding the human soul, but will science ever be able to unearth all of the reasons why – or how – the human soul survives physical death?

References:

Hameroff, Stuart & Roger Penrose. “Consciousness in the Universe: A Review of the ‘Orch OR’ Theory,” Physics of Life Reviews, accessed May 19, 2020 at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1571064513001188

Lanza, Robert. Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe. Texas: BenBella Books, 2010.

Hotel Del Coronado

Hotel Del Coronado and the Beautiful Stranger

General History of “The Del”

 People from all over the United States have heard of the Hotel Del Coronado.  A historic gem by the sea, the renowned hotel is located in the picturesque City of Coronado and a short distance from San Diego, California.  As one of the last remaining luxurious seaside resorts, the Hotel Del Coronado continues to serve as the epitome of nostalgia.  Back in 1846, the Coronado peninsula was a barren land as opposed to what it has become today: an exquisite village with million-dollar mansions, delectable eateries, vintage shops and of course, it’s iconic Victorian hotel. 

When California became a part of the United States, the Coronado terrain was sold for $1,000 in 1849; once the Civil War came to a halt it was later purchased for $10,000. Elisha Babcock Jr., a railroad executive, arrived to San Diego from Evansville, Indiana in 1884. Along with his friend, H.L. Story, he envisioned how the stretch of land and climate could attract people from all walks of life.  As such, a syndicate called the Coronado Beach Company was developed to purchase the peninsula and commence a thriving city.  It was in 1885 when Babcock and Story bought the Coronado land for $110,000.

Promotional events took place with the aim of advertising San Diego as one of the most attractive places in the nation.  Babcock envisioned building a resort that would be adequately known as the “talk of the Western world.” It was on Independence Day in 1886 when a community picnic celebration took place, signaling the start of an annual tradition that still exists today. 

The Reid Brothers were the chosen architects for the construction of the hotel and resort.  For the ensuing 40 years, local pioneers worked together to establish a modern city.  The arrival of John D. Spreckels brought further fascination into the City of Coronado and its prized hotel icon. Babcock then persuaded Spreckels to financially subsidize the Coronado Beach Company.  The latter managed the corporation and hotel via his San Francisco residence.

The Hotel Del Coronado underwent further renovations from June through December of 1902.  This dawned a new era for the city with the arrival of Tent City along the Silver Strand. The mission of Tent City was to provide a social arena for Coronado’s residents, which included boating ventures, concerts, plays and vaudeville shows; however, 1939 brought an end to this era of vacation mindset.  The hotel eventually went up for sale after the dissolution of World War II.  Sadly, at this point, “The Del” was not the epitome of opulence it once portrayed.

The passing of time brought about new owners to the premises, including Kansas City hotel mogul Barney Goodman.  Goodman instituted further renovations to the edifice, such as a fifth floor and the addition of fifty rooms.  Upon his death, local entrepreneur, John S. Alessio, assumed ownership of the hotel in 1961.  Alessio’s refurbishment contributions included the improvement of public areas and guest rooms.  The original windows inside the iconic Crown and Coronet rooms were detached and replaced with massive plate glass varieties that are still present today.

The Hotel Del Coronado Corporation purchased the structure from Alessio. As the board’s chairmen, M. Larry Lawrence became the hotel’s sixth owner.  It was his design proposal that brought about the structure’s Victorian grandeur.  Lawrence constructed the Grande Hall, big enough to accommodate 1,500 people.  The number of guest rooms went from 399 to 689 due to the building of the Ocean Towers and further pool side development.  Between 1963 and 1983, $40 million was allocated for restoration, repairs and the replacement of defunct machinery.

Today, people flock from all over the world to visit and/or stay at the Hotel Del Coronado.  Guests and locals can choose from many activities, whether it be a relaxing walk along the beach, lunch or dinner at one of its prized restaurants and shopping in the many boutique stores.  It’s always an impressive site as you drive down Orange Avenue and see the hotel’s red-roofed turrets as you inch closer to the grand edifice.

In addition to the beauty that older hotels bring, there’s typically a ghost story or two surrounding their historical charm.  The Hotel Del Coronado is certainly no exception as many people, including myself, have encountered either apparitional sightings, eerie cold spots and disembodied vocalizations.  As you might have guessed, the legendary hotel is listed as one of San Diego’s most haunted abodes, mainly due to one ghostly account:  the story of Kate Morgan, also known as the “Beautiful Stranger” of the Hotel Del Coronado.

The Story of Kate Morgan aka “The Beautiful Stranger”

Provided as an excerpt from my book, San Diego’s Most Haunted-The Historical Legacy and Paranormal Marvels of America’s Finest City, here is the tale of Kate Morgan:

The story of Kate Morgan is perhaps the most popular spirited tale associated with the edifice.  Kate Kathleen Farmer was born in Iowa on September 23, 1865, to George W. Farmer, an affluent miller and his wife, Elizabeth, who passed away shortly after giving birth.  Having no surviving brothers or sisters, Kate was then primarily brought up by the males in her life, and it has been suggested that as a result, she turned out to be rambunctious and uncontrollable.  In her late teens, Kate wed Tom Morgan on December 30, 1885, and the couple had one child by the name of Thomas who passed away just two days after his birth.

In 1892, on Thanksgiving Day, the young and beautiful Mrs. Morgan checked into the Del under the alias “Lottie A. Bernard.”  She was alone and despondent when she arrived, having waited five lonesome days, possibly for her husband Tom Morgan. Sadly, just five days later, Kate was found lifeless on one of the exterior staircases leading to the beach.  She was found to have a single gunshot wound to the temple, and it was later ruled that she committed suicide.  The news of her demise became a national sensation, as her description and circumstances were telegraphed to police personnel around the nation.  Tom sent a letter to the San Diego coroner identifying Lottie A. Bernard as Kate Morgan.  The letter mentioned that her Iowa-based grandfather was Joe W. Chandler, and that he should be the one to receive her remains.

The situation surrounding Kate Morgan’s short stay at the Hotel Del Coronado continues to remain quite ambiguous to this day.  Thus, the events preceding her tragic demise are not entirely based in fact, leading people to infer and formulate their own conclusions as to what transpired.  The coroner’s inquest took place on November 30th, just one day after her youthful body was found.  Witness testimonies have provided in-depth information about her actions and behavior during her sojourn at the Hotel Del Coronado.  At the time of her stay, Kate seemed ill and depressed, and told hotel staff she was suffering from stomach cancer, possibly concealing the fact that she may have been pregnant.  Oddly, she told employees to not worry about her condition, as her brother, who happened to be a doctor, was soon to arrive to help her.  Kate even approached the front desk several times asking about her brother and when he was to arrive.  As it turns out, this young, beautiful woman never had a brother; thus, most people feel that the man she was anxiously waiting was in fact her husband Tom.

It was determined that Kate Morgan resided in and worked at the Los Angeles home of L.A. Grant, where she went by the alias “Katie Logan.” She was reported to be a sufficient employee, always tending to her assigned duties.  Her husband was known to be a gambler, a fact that concerned her at times.  Another oddity is evident, in that she left for San Diego without her personal belongings, therefore suggesting she would soon return to Los Angeles.

As she traveled by train to San Diego, witness accounts disclosed that a woman matching her physical description quarreled with a man who left her en route.  One of these eye-witnesses was a man named Joseph E. Jones, who documented that Kate and a man had a significant altercation.  The man got off the train in Orange County, whereas Kate continued south toward San Diego.

Many rumors have circulated around Kate’s tragic death and still do so to this day.  Almost immediately people wondered why she traveled to the ornate hotel alone, something that women of her time period rarely did.  Some say she wanted to divorce Tom, especially since witnesses declared that she wanted to get some papers signed.  It has been speculated that she committed suicide; however, others feel that she was the victim of a senseless crime. 

Mrs. Morgan visited a gun shop in San Diego and purchased a .44 Bulldog.  She may have arrived back at the Del between 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. later that night.  A witness spotted her standing on her room’s veranda as she gazed toward the stormy Pacific Ocean.  Perhaps her husband finally arrived at the hotel, where the couple further argued; however, the condition of her hotel room did not indicate a struggle of any kind.  If Tom and Kate did argue, maybe he fired his gun at her head, ultimately ending her life.  This scenario seems quite plausible.

The medical examiner testified that the bullet found lodged in Kate’s forehead came from a .38 or .40 caliber weapon, a bullet commonly associated with the Derringer gun that Tom carried on his person. Additionally, Kate was found to have been shot in the temple at an upward angle, indicating that  she was standing a couple stairs above her assailant.  Also, the positioning of her body on the staircase was not indicative of a self-inflicted wound. Her pistol was oxidized the following day, suggesting that her attacker washed his bloody hands in the saltwater ocean, then came back and strategically placed the gun underneath her hand so it looked like she committed the act.

Personally, I believe she was tragically murdered.  Perhaps, her earthbound spirit remains at the hotel as a way to tell her story.  I have talked to Kate many times, letting her know that there’s a better place for her, one with eternal love and peace.  I hope she has heard me and understands that when she’s ready, she can move on to that beautiful place.  Maybe she already has.  Kate Morgan’s legacy is an everlasting part of the Hotel Del Coronado.  What better place than, “The Del”?

Many people have documented strange accounts in her room on the third floor, which was numbered 302.  Today, it’s 3327. The bed in the room sometimes shows a body imprint.  The television has turned on and off seemingly by itself. Pillows have been neatly stacked and guests encounter bed sheets being ripped off them.  Guests have experienced flickering lights, cold spots, phantom scents, disembodied voices and footsteps, the opening and closing of doors and belongings moved around.  Individuals have even seen Kate’s full-bodied apparition adorned in a dark dress in various parts of the hotel, on the beach and on the stairs where her physical body was found. 

I have had odd experiences in the hotel.  I often experience the sense of being watched along with extreme nausea.  This could be due to a high EMF (electromagnetic field energy), which can cause these symptoms.  A couple of years ago, my friends Jim and Karen Frazier came down to Southern California for a visit.  Their first stop was San Diego and a memorable stay at “The Del.”  One evening on the way down for some cocktails, Karen and I noticed a white mist in the hallway where their room was located.  It formed into a humanoid shape then vanished before our eyes.  We both felt female energy.  Did we encounter Kate in ethereal form? 

 Other Ghost Stories Associated with “The Del”

 Other ghosts adorned in vintage attire have been spotted throughout the hotel, including phantoms clad in suits.  In the gift stores, employees have documented items flying off the shelves.  Concierge staff have heard disembodied whispered conversations.  The ghosts of a little boy and girl have been seen peeking out from behind window curtains.  Some paranormal activity is residual in nature and some intelligent. So, as the saying goes, some people have checked into this lavish hotel but haven’t checked out.  In all honesty, if someone chooses to linger around, what better place than the Hotel Del Coronado?

By Nicole Strickland

Published in Paranormal Underground Magazine’s West Coast Ghosts column

Children And The Paranormal

Children and the Paranormal

Written by Nicole Strickland

Paranormal Researcher, Author, Lecturer

Paranormal research is an ever-evolving field with new developed theories, tested methodologies, technological developments and further understanding of what constitutes life after death.  The interest in this field is not limited to the adult population; we are seeing an influx of children of all ages commencing an intrigue in ghosts, spirits, hauntings and the afterlife.  This is important not only for the future of supernatural research but for how our future generations examine and study the field at large.  

The lingering question is how we go about educating our youth as many aspects of the paranormal are not considered age appropriate.  There are various debates among today’s paranormal researchers on whether we should even attempt to educate young children on ghosts, spirits and hauntings.  In my opinion, I don’t recommend investigative practice until a child reaches the age of maturity or 18-years-old by society’s standards, unless, of course, it is during an adult-monitored educational course.  However, I do think it’s useful to educate boys and girls about general paranormal research practices, classifications of ghosts and hauntings, spiritual protection, etc., especially if that particular child expresses a substantially consistent intrigue in the realm.  Furthermore, this is especially imperative for those with innately intrinsic psychic / empathic abilities as they move through life with the capacity to communicate with the dearly departed.  It’s how we construct and go about educating that truly matters as successful teaching methods will positively reach our future paranormal investigators. 

There are many supernatural researchers, including myself, who offer age friendly classes for kids who want to learn more about what goes bump in the night.  One such course is taught by Oregon Ghost Conference President Rocky Smith and Aaron Collins, lead investigator of NW Paranormal Investigative Team based out of the Portland, Oregon area.  One of the purposes of their class is to educate kids about the paranormal, including various tools of the trade utilized in research practices.  Aaron actually shows his young course attendees how to properly use various gadgets and provides them hands-on training.  After that, both Rocky and Aaron take the children to a certain conference location known to have spiritual activity and assist them in conducting an investigation.  Of course, they invite parents to come along, too.  

“Sometimes, we actually make contact with spirits with our equipment and the kids get very excited along with their parents,” Aaron goes on to say.  He further echoes that, “children are more susceptible to seeing and experiencing spirit activity than adults at times, as their minds are pure and untainted.”  If I may personally elaborate, kids lack the heavy ego that often pollutes the field of supernatural research. 

After the investigation is completed, the children regroup back in the classroom to discuss their findings and past experiences.  Aaron and Rocky have found that even the boys and girls who are very shy tend to open up and share their past encounters with the paranormal.  One of the take-away points of their popular course is to warn kids to never conduct an investigation on their own and always have a well-trained investigator on hand.  The feedback from the children and parents has been phenomenal; thus, why Aaron and Rocky continue to offer this class each year. 

“If I can help just one child, then I feel that I have done my job,” Aaron relays. 

Some boys and girls have an innate interest in the afterlife from birth whereas others develop an intrigue later in life. Some of our youth are born with inherent intuitive abilities often classifying them among the Crystal, Indigo or Rainbow Children, which you will read about in later paragraphs.  Of course, an understanding of overall child cognitive and psychosocial development is crucial in order to successfully support a child’s overall intrigue in the supernatural.  Adequately fostering children’s growth through these stages is not only beneficial for social, emotional and intellectual development but for the spiritual maturity of each child as he or she moves through life. 

Colleges and universities educate about both Jean Piaget’s theories of child cognitive development and Erik Erikson’s beliefs regarding the psychological development of human beings.  If boys and girls successfully graduate through each stage, they will be more prepared to face and seamlessly transition through the others. Let’s delve deeper into these phases and examine how a child might perceive, understand and/or react to paranormal and spirit phenomena.  Note that it is imperative that adults understand the learning implications of these phases so they can be better adept at nurturing a child’s growth though them.  In other words, success or failure at each stage will directly affect the next.  With healthy developments in intellectual, social, emotional and spiritual growth, a child will, of course, be more grounded when working with ethereal energy. 

Jean Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development 

1. Sensorimotor Stage (0-2 years): During this phase, infants primarily focus on what is immediately in front of them.  They concentrate on what they are visually seeing and interacting with.  Object permanence develops around seven to nine months, which is a sure sign of memory growth.  This can positively affect their ability to experience psychical / spiritual phenomena as the experiences can be stored in their brain, which further affects how they will perceive these encounters at later developmental stages. 

2. Preoperational Stage (toddler – 7 years): During this stage, children further develop language, memory and imagination.  While they can’t yet differentiate between cause and effect, they will perceive fantasy as real.  Therefore, in their minds, any perception of paranormal events will be real. Proper fostering of grammar will enable kids to better express the world around them.  Natural intuition is strong and based on thinking so children in this phase may not be able to logically explain ghostly experiences. 

3. Concrete Operational Stage (7-11 years): During this phase, children develop concrete, logical thinking with the ability to distinguish between reality and fantasy; thus, boys and girls can initiate understanding of paranormal events.  Kids develop their understanding of the external environment and can comprehend that one’s own thoughts and feelings may differ from that of others.  Additionally, they can start to examine their past ghostly experiences from a cause and effect standpoint.      

4. Formal Operational Stage (11 years plus): Children can now start to think abstractly and form hypotheses; they can examine their surrounding environment in hypothetical ways.  In regards to paranormal research, they can postulate new theories and attempt to test existing ones.  Furthermore, children can initiate their own individual studies of the paranormal realm with the ability to comprehend various concepts. 

Erik Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development

1. Trust vs. Mistrust (0-1.5 years):  When parental guardians provide reliable and trusting care, babies will start to have trust in their caregivers.  Conversely, if they don’t receive adequate care and affection, they will learn to mistrust others and their environment.  This will result in self-concept and self-esteem issues down the road.  In order to function and succeed in today’s society, a person should feel confident in his or her abilities. 

2. Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt (1.5 – 3 years): With the development of new skills and abilities, children start to acquire a sense of autonomy and independence. If they are encouraged to develop these traits, boys and girls will become more confident and secure in contributing to society as older children and adults.  

3. Initiative vs. Guilt (3-5 years): During this stage, children foster their interpersonal skills.  If they are supported in their attempts to lead and make decisions, boys and girls will become more confident to do so as an adult.  Conversely, if adults do not support a child’s initiative during these years, he or she will develop guilt and a lack of resourcefulness. 

4. Industry vs. Inferiority (5-12 years): Children start to feel proud of their accomplishments. He or she desires to win approval by showcasing certain competencies valued by society.  If boys and girls aren’t supported during this phase, they will doubt their abilities, lack confidence to achieve goals and therefore not reach their full potential during adulthood. 

5. Identity vs. Role Confusion (12-18 years): An adolescent stage of development, teens foster a sense of self, personal beliefs, values and goals, the learning of roles they may participate in as adults, committing one’s self to others, and accepting others for their own individual beliefs.  Without exploration of possibilities, teens will not learn how to fit in with society. 

6. Intimacy vs. Isolation (18-40 years): Adults at this phase want to have a sense of commitment, care and happiness in a relationship. Avoiding this can lead to despair, isolation and depression.  In regards to paranormal research, a person has to be mentally, emotionally and spiritually stable.  Significant depression can cause an individual to be more vulnerable to the spiritual realm and even lower level entities.

7. Generativity vs. Stagnation (40-65 years): Adults start to develop their sense of self in the big picture (career, family, etc.) and give back by contributing to society. By failing to do this, people can feel stagnate and unproductive.  Studying the supernatural realm, as with other fields, is a way to learn more about our world and galaxies beyond by contributing to society. 

8. Ego Integrity vs. Despair (65 years plus): This is a recollective phase as adults look back on their lives and contributions or lack thereof to society.  Despair and hopelessness may occur if they don’t feel like they have led a successful life.  The goal is to have a sense of closure and completeness and accept death without fear.  People at this stage may even start to become more interested in the paranormal as they contemplate their own mortality. 

The take-away point for each of Piaget and Erikson’s stages is that development or lack thereof at each stage directly affects the next.  Thus, there should be successful growth at each phase in order to fully develop one’s own cognitive, emotional, social and spiritual growth.

Perhaps, by a cosmic shift, there is an ever-increasing interest in the study of paranormal phenomena in today’s world; as we know, this intrigue is not just limited to the adult population.  Children and teens are showcasing a desire to learn more about the supernatural realm and what constitutes life after death.  Both adults and children are now made more aware of ghosts, spirits and hauntings whether it’s due to mainstream media’s focus, talk amongst peers or an innate interest.  In regards to our youth, parents should be made aware of the key signs that their child is communicating with the spirit realm.  Some of the prevailing indications include:

  • Withdrawal from family / peers 
  • Changes in academics / activities
  • Sleep disturbances / lucid dreaming / not wanting to sleep in a certain room
  • Drawing unusual and/or unique pictures of people
  • Preoccupation / spending time alone
  • Sudden change of routine / wanting to go out at night with friends
  • Sudden fear of a location
  • Talking or gesturing with unseen forces
  • Recalling information from deceased relatives or friends
  • Big interest in studying the paranormal 
  • Extreme perception / sensitivity; signs of psychic ability
  • Frequent illness / diagnosis of depression or anxiety

As parents, it is important to keep a positive attitude by keeping an open and healthy dialogue with your children in regards to their interest in or possible encounters with the other side.  Provide a safe place when having a discussion and try not to lead the child; in other words, let him or her naturally talk and describe what he or she is experiencing. Never ridicule a child for his or her intrigue in the paranormal nor make he or she feel inferior or weird because of his or her encounters.  

Parents of intuitive and psychically inclined children should aptly learn about the innate traits of Crystal, Indigo and Rainbow Children.  Sadly, it is often that these types of kids are mislabeled and diagnosed with mental disabilities or emotional disturbances. For this very reason, teachers and support staff should be educated on these psychic traits and how they can look similar to or replicate a medical diagnosis, such as Attention Deficit Disorder or Autism.  When psychically inclined children are put in a situation where they either don’t understand their natural gifts and/or can’t healthfully express them, they often act out in various ways, thus causing a parental guardian or teacher to assume something is “wrong.” What’s sad in this case is that a child’s gifts are labeled as negative due to complete misunderstanding when all along they should be looked at as innately beautiful. 

Nancy Ann Tappe is widely known for her studies of Indigo children. After 1980, she found that 80% of children were born with indigo-colored eyes, similar to the third eye chakra responsible for regulating clairvoyance or the ability to see ghosts and spirits.  Kids with Indigo traits are often labeled as aggressive, hyperactive, possessing the “warrior persona” with the intent to break down old systems and bring restorative integrity to the world.  Boys and girls in this category are extremely perceptive, telepathic with natural leadership abilities.  They have both right and left-brain alignment with sensitivity and psychic aptitudes.  They are often categorized as “old souls” as they possess wisdom beyond their years.  Sadly, these boys and girls are often diagnosed with ADD, ADHD, emotional disturbance, oppositional defiant disorder or even Autism.  In fact, to combat this, Nancy came up with the term “awe-tistic” and ADHD acronym “Attention Dialed into a Higher Dimension.” 

Blue-Ray children are the forerunners of the crystal kids.  They usually evolve very early and are often seen teaching other youths at a very young age.  With extreme telekinetic powers, they are quite aware of their mission on earth.  Some of their traits include stubbornness, a unique love of language and travel and vivid imagination / dreaming.  Determined souls, these boys and girls are exceptionally drawn to water and have a thriving love for animals. 

The crystal kids are the newest generation of Rainbow Children who are typically labeled as having Autism and don’t communicate with the outer world according to society’s standards.  But, communicate they do, just not according to what society deems “appropriate.”  They are often labeled as having speech disturbances and delays, lack of physical abilities, and hypersensitivity to their surroundings.  These children are known for their natural healing qualities, clairsentience (empathy) skills and compassion, who prefer to communicate via music, sound and/or sign language.

In a world of their own, these boys and girls are too often labeled as having Autism.  In my opinion, Autistic traits should never be regarded as being weird or unusual; rather, with proper understanding of Crystal children, people will start to realize that these boys and girls offer something quite beautiful to the world.  Once educational systems and parental guardians start to realize that Autism is a cosmic gift, only then will these children be allowed to develop, flourish and successfully complete their mission. 

Savant Syndrome is a rare and extraordinary condition where people who are deemed to have mental or physical disabilities can showcase a certain level of genius in particular areas.  Linked to having a massive memory, approximately 10% of Autistic-labeled children have this astonishing gift.  Kim Peek is perhaps, America’s most famous Savant.  The movie, Rainman, is based off Peek, which highlights his extreme memory capacity.  At the ripe age of just 16-months-old, he started memorizing various books and vast amounts of information relating to history, literature, geography, statistics, etc.  With the rare aptitude of being able to recall almost every detail he read, Peek was born with macrocephaly, or a condition with an abnormally enlarged head, cerebellum damage and agenesis of the corpus callosum or the absence of the nerve bundle that connects the two brain hemispheres. 

Adults should develop awareness of various psychic abilities, such as clairvoyance, clairaudience and clairsentience, among others, as they will be better adept at recognizing these gifts in their offspring.  Perhaps, find a local, reputable support group for other kids who possess intuitive abilities.  Is there a well-respected paranormal investigation group that offers education for children? Some schools are even offering “paranormal clubs” for those who are interested in the supernatural. As always, boys and girls should be positively encouraged to grow their instinctive abilities and not be chastised for possessing their unique skills.  

At a young age, boys and girls should be taught how to get in touch with their feelings and spiritual self through energy work, reiki or chakra cleansing.  Just as with adults, they should learn about spiritual protection, meditation, grounding and centering techniques.  When studying the paranormal, kids can learn about the classifications of ethereal entities and hauntings.  They can befriend others or find a trusted mentor who possesses similar intuitive skills as this will naturally enable awareness and self-acceptance of their abilities.  As always, it’s imperative that the child’s environment is conducive to his or her unique aptitudes – restful sleep, proper nutrition, elimination of toxins and/or added stress, etc.    Remember that children can learn to understand, cope and utilize their gifts. 

After reading all of this, it may come as no surprise to you that many paranormal research teams are seeing an influx of cases involving children.  These cases may entail an active private residence where children are experiencing anomalies or they may be about educating parents and children about psychic gifts and how to recognize, cope and utilize them.  Either way, there are various tips and suggestions for handling cases concerning youth.  Here are some questions investigators can ask when taking on any such situation:

  • Is the child’s experience innate or learned?  Learned meaning that the child has heard parental guardians or other adults talking with each other about their odd encounters.
  • Is the experience stemming from the child’s personal or external environment or another area of the home?  If it is a child’s bedroom or playroom, first examine the space to determine if something natural to the location is causing concern.  Do events happen only at night?  Perhaps, it’s a case of “monster-under-the-bed” or fear of the dark.  If a child is having experiences only outside of the home, perhaps there may be some form of anxiety or fear of school or social situations.  Or, perhaps, the external location may be paranormally active.
  • Are the child’s encounters backed up and supported by other witnesses?  If so, this may suggest an authentic haunting of some sort. 
  • Are there any biological factors causing a child’s experiences? (medications, change of routines, changes in environment, stress, sleep disorders, puberty, excessive stimulation prior to bedtime, etc.)  If so, first rule any one of these out as the cause prior to deeming a child’s encounters as paranormal. 
  • Children need daily routines and if any one of their routines is altered, it may cause significant stress, perhaps, making them more vulnerable to anxiety and heightened imaginations. 

Again, never judge or ridicule a child for his or her alleged paranormal encounters and/or psychic skills.  With parental guardian verbal and written consent, an investigator can interview a child regarding his or her experiences.  If a very young boy or girl is involved, picture drawing may be the most beneficial. Once the picture is completed, you can ask the child questions about it, making sure to focus on the “what, when and where,” not necessarily the “why and how” as younger children won’t be able to understand.  If you are dealing with a teenager, you can sit them down and interview them.  Make sure to establish a safe and honest place for them so they can feel comfortable in openly sharing their experiences.  

In closing, there are various ways we can help psychically inclined children to reach their full potential.  Let’s start by getting rid of societal and/or medical labels.  Start realizing that these kids are exhibiting a brand-new communication and social structure.  We should stop medicating these children as it will only stagnate their intuitive growth and understanding.  Remember that pharmaceutical treatments are more for an adult’s convenience, not necessarily for the child’s, especially when it concerns the fostering of spiritual growth.  Children need to be taught how to successfully channel and utilize their amazing gifts, not be ostracized for them.  We need to learn how to accommodate our newer generations and the natural evolution of human species.  Remember that these groups of psychically inclined youth are here to spread peace, honesty and integrity throughout the world.  Once we allow them to do so, we will undoubtedly see more infiltrated love, increased humility, cures for diseases, dissolution of animal extinction and world peace. 

Written by Nicole Strickland

Paranormal Researcher, Author, Speaker

PSA Flight 182

This is It, Baby!

Reflections on Pacific Southwest Airlines Flight 182


“This is it, baby! Brace yourself! Mom, I love you!” – the last physical set of words echoed by captain James McFeron and first officer Robert E. Fox of Pacific Southwest Airlines (PSA) Flight 182 on its final descent into San Diego on an unusually warm Monday morning of September 25, 1978.   At 9:02:07 a.m., America’s Finest City changed forever as the jet liner N533PS with a smile across its face met its untimely fate in the quiet suburb of North Park at the intersection of Dwight and Nile Streets.  

About nine minutes prior, the PSA Boeing 727-214 airplane entered San Diego’s skyline with 135 passengers and crew aboard when the unspeakable occurred after a customary scheduled flight from Sacramento to San Diego via Los Angeles.  Thirty-seven passengers on this particular flight were regular PSA employees who were flying for free.  Many of them were either San Diego or Los Angeles residents who were traveling to Lindbergh Field to attend an operations training colloquium.  

Established in 1972, PSA, or the “World’s Friendliest Airline” worked to mimic the “swinging 60s” and had recently expanded to offer services throughout the state of California.  With the “Catch our Smile” theme, its planes showcased the epitome of bold colors, consisting of fuchsia, orange, red and white stripes along with confident PSA logos, a black-button nose and smile.  

On the hot, Santa Ana morning of September 25th, as one of the proud “Grinningbirds” of the PSA line made its final approach toward Lindbergh Field just 4,000 feet above, a Gibbs Flight Center Cessna N7711G, rapidly ascended at 120 mph, approximately 1,300 feet below when it struck and was taken down by the larger jet.  Just a couple of agonizing seconds ensued when McFeron uttered the heart-wrenching, poised words, “Tower, we’re going down; this is PSA.”  

Inside the small Cessna cockpit sat 35-year-old United States Marine gunnery sergeant David Lee Boswell and Martin Kazy, who was the proud owner of a commercial pilot license with years of certified flight instructor experience.  The former was learning the components of the ILS or Instrument Landing System.  A little known fact held that Lindbergh Field was the only airport in the city’s vicinity equipped for ILS certification training.  Thus, the Cessna was coerced to contend with the Boeing aircraft for air space above the airport.  On-board transponders signaling both planes’ headings, altitudes and glide paths were connected to dashboard-supported ILS instrument gauges.  However, even with these technological aides, the eventual outcomes for each proved to be tragically futile. 

The course of events to happen just moments after impact left a permanent mark on the souls of all San Diegans and those across the United States as the happy, smiling PSA aircraft violently crashed nose-first, just 80 feet northeast at the crossroads of Dwight and Nile Streets.  The reverberating impact and towering inferno as a result subsequently took the lives of seven on the ground and was forcibly albeit reluctantly witnessed by many.  The sheer magnitude of this collision along with the thousands of gallons of jet fuel initiated an imposing shock wave on the San Diego Museum of Natural History’s seismograph. 

After colliding with the PSA jet, the little Cessna and its two souls aboard rapidly fell toward earth as the 110-ton plane impacted and flipped the 2,100-pound Cessna upside down right into the PSA aircraft’s right wing.  What ensued after collision tore the latter in half, resulting in the rupturing of one of its internal fuel tanks along the PSA jet’s right wing.  Captain, first officer and flight engineer Martin Wahne grappled with the doomed airliner. 

A sequence of ill-fated events occurred in the moments preceding disaster. In a way, we must thank both the Cessna and PSA jet as new and improved safety procedures and regulations arose out of this catastrophic misfortune.  At 8:59:30 NAS Miramar duly informed Flight 182 of “traffic at twelve o’clock, one mile, northbound” to which McFeron replied, “We’re looking.”  Further conversations moments after revealed that there were two smaller vehicles (both Cessnas) flying in front of and below the larger jet.  McFeron was then mandated to “maintain visual separation” from any incoming aircrafts and to inform Lindbergh of his final approach.  This meant that PSA flight crew had to maintain a visual on the Cessnas at all times without impacting them.  

Flight 182’s descent was aided by Lindbergh Field whereas NAS Miramar was in charge of the Cessna’s (N7711G) approach.  Just thirty seconds after 9:00 a.m., Boswell was notified of and acknowledged that “traffic at six o’clock [directly behind them], two miles, eastbound; a PSA jet inbound to Lindbergh Field, out of 3,200 [feet altitude that], has you in sight.”  Just eight seconds later, Lindbergh updated McFeron that there was “traffic, twelve o’clock, one mile, a Cessna.”  A quick exchange between McFeron and Fox revealed that “I think he’s pass[ed] off to our right,” or “I think he’s passing off to our right.”  Air traffic controller statements suggested that he thought he heard McFeron say “passing,” which implied that PSA crew visualized the Cessna passing to its right.  

As a result, Lindbergh control did not convey any additional information to PSA Flight 182.  

Just before 9:01 a.m., further conversation between the PSA crew indicated their assumptions of the Cessna being out of sight; additionally, it was unclear whether their assumptions were regarding the Cessna 401 or the Cessna N7711G.  Furthermore, the latter Cessna changed its course from 70 degrees to 90 degrees without letting Miramar know.  This decision placed it in the direct path of the larger jetliner.  Additionally, Boswell and Kazy did not have admittance to Lindbergh Field’s radio transmissions; perhaps, if they had, they would have probably been able to pinpoint their location relative to Flight 182.  Thus, as you can glean, visibility was the core issue for both aircrafts.  

Twenty-eight seconds past 9:01 a.m., Miramar was alerted of an imminent collision between the Cessna and PSA jet.  It was revealed that Miramar chose to only notify the Cessna of “traffic in your vicinity, a PSA jet has you in sight, he’s descending for Lindbergh.”  This transmission remained unacknowledged by both Boswell and Kazy.  In utter amazement, PSA 182 and Lindbergh Field were not notified about Miramar’s radar-activated conflict alert warning, thus, contributing to the concluding destiny of both aircrafts. 

Within minutes of the unbelievable impact, San Diego emergency crews rushed to the scene; a prospect surely mimicking the sights and sounds of war.  In fact, there were hundreds of individuals who landed upon the location to offer whatever assistance they could.  What they and North Park residents were coerced to see in the aftermath would soften the toughest of individuals.  A quiet, tree-lined street with chirping birds and quaint houses just moments before turned into a scene of sheer disaster with towering flames, shattered pieces of jetliner and lifeless bodies.  Years after this indescribable event, first responders, residents and fellow Southern Californians suffered with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and with good reason.  Even in the present day, many individuals cannot go a day without being reminded of PSA Flight 182. 

As a paranormal researcher and historian, I am drawn to locations that have witnessed utter tragedy and heartache.  The intersection of Dwight and Nile Streets is one such site that I have visited on numerous occasions.  On different days and evenings, I have spent considerable time here trying to offer consolation to the passengers and crew of flight 182, the two souls aboard the Cessna and those on the ground.  It has been my personal mission to let them know that they are free from any pain and suffering associated with their last seconds in the physical.  I have openly talked with each and every one of them; in my heart, I know they have heard me.  

As Paranormal Underground Magazine has a supernatural theme, I will share that I have experienced some profound spiritual encounters at the crossroads of Dwight and Nile Streets.  Some of the occurrences are so powerful and I keep them private in order to hold their respect and reverence.  However, I will share one particular event that struck my very center: one morning, as I pulled up along the east side of Nile Street and parked my car, I noticed movement out of my right peripheral vision.  When I glanced over in that direction, I saw a beautiful young stewardess adorned in her colorful PSA uniform.  She appeared as she would have looked when boarding the flight as opposed to her eventual exodus; in other words, she materialized as whole without a scratch or bruise.  Perhaps, the inherent message in appearing before my eyes was her way of letting me know that she’s “okay” and “at peace.” It is my sincere hope that all those who perished have or will soon be reunited with loved ones in the “light” and have found eternal love and solace.  On one of my recent visits to this location, I sensed an overwhelming feeling of peace unlike that of other times.  

I am sensitive to any tragedy; however, I have been exceptionally rocked and saddened by the crash of PSA Flight 182. Perhaps, there are elusive reasons as to why, those that I don’t really need to know or understand.  Interestingly, my mom was pregnant with me by one month at the time of this disaster.  Several of my maternal relatives resided just a few blocks south of the impact.  When I was in my primary years, I flew Pacific Southwest Airlines on a couple of occasions.  I distinctly remember choosing to sit in the red, flower-adorned seats and looked forward to receiving my little PSA wings pin from one of the stewardesses.  As with many others, I have fond memories with this airline as a young child. So, for these aforementioned reasons and those beyond, the story of flight 182 really hits home. 

It’s entirely possible that what those souls felt in their last breathing moments on the planes was unlike what those felt on the ground. I would like to think that their fear was overshadowed by hope; by the many prayers and by the conviction that they might make it.  I imagine the feeling was, perhaps, similar to driving up Santo Road in my mom’s neighborhood of Tierrasanta, San Diego in the wake of the 2003 wildfires, not knowing whether I would see her house or a pile of ruins. I held onto hope. 

In their final physical moments, they, too, held onto hope at the same time as feeling a sense of surrender – surrender to the free fall, to saying goodbye to the physical world.  They held hands, they prayed, they cried, and they loved each other during those last few moments of their lives.  I would like to think that their souls left their physical bodies before impact and peacefully passed and landed in the arms of God. 

James McFeron and his flight crew were unwavering heroes in their last seconds on earth; their courageous and calm composition in the face of impending disaster is nothing short of pure admiration.  Every soul that sadly departed the physical world on that fateful day in 1978 lives on in our hearts, memories and every jetliner that flies among the skies.  Their accomplishments and devotion to their family, friends and work will always be remembered with high esteem.  Even though I am just one person among many, this article is my way of honoring their legacies. 

A memorial ceremony is held every year on September 25th for those who tragically slipped the surly bonds of earth at 9:02 a.m. in 1978.  It’s a time for family, friends and fellow San Diegans to come together and commemorate all those who were lost but not forgotten.  A memorial plaque showcasing the names of the departed sits underneath a tree in front of the North Park Library, a tangible reminder to hold them close in our hearts for eternity.  Let’s remember that the 135 souls aboard, including the two in the Cessna and the few on the ground, flew with a set of wings and departed with a set of wings and it is my hope that they are soaring high among heaven’s pastures. 

PSA Flight 182 – Always in our hearts!

Written by Nicole Strickland

Paranormal Researcher, Author, Lecturer

Reference:  Bevil, Alexander D. “Memories That Will Never Go Away – The Crash of Flight 182 and its Aftermath.” The Journal of San Diego History 63, no. 3+4 (2017)

Glen Tavern Inn

Glen Tavern Inn Article

Written by Nicole Strickland

Paranormal Researcher, Author and Lecturer

Known as the “Citrus Capital of the World,” Santa Paula is a city in Southern California’s Ventura County.  It is named after Catholic Saint Paula.  Located along the Santa Clara River Valley, the area’s first inhabitants were the Chumash Native Americans.  In 1769, when Gaspar de Portola and his Spanish expedition set foot on California territory, they migrated through the area, setting up camp on August 12th.  With the founding of the San Buenaventura Mission, Portola’s Franciscan missionaries became quite active in the region, founding an Asistencia.

Many consider Nathan Weston Blanchard to be the founder of Santa Paula as in 1872 he purchased 2,700 acres for his new town.  The Union Oil Company commenced in 1890 after the unification of various small oil companies led by Thomas R. Bard, Wallace Hardison and Lyman Stewart.  In the early 1900s, Hollywood found the area to be quite conducive to filming with Gaston Melles relocating his Texas-based Star Film Company to the region in 1911.  Iconic actors, such as John Wayne, Carol Lombard and Steve McQueen sojourned at the inn.  It has also been suggested that famed magician, Harry Houdini, spent the night at the location while traveling.  

In addition to these noted facts relating to the city, the building of the Glen Tavern Inn is still considered the most iconic piece of history relating to Santa Paula.  In fact, the building is aptly situated on various Chumash villages and campsites that lie adjacent to the creek and above the Santa Clara River.  Due to the rapidly increasing oil industry and need for accommodations, the Bungalow / Craftsmen / Tudor-style Glen Tavern Inn was constructed in 1911 by Crookshank & Summers, Hunt and Burns, a firm quite well-known for its monumental properties throughout coastal California. Known as “The Little Potter,” visitors were able to seek and find first-class lodging, delectable food and adequately equipped, hospitable treatment.  Having survived both the good and bad, the historic structure is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

One of the early Glen Tavern Inn brochures specified that the three-story edifice consisted of 44 rooms, a bar, dining facility; pool and spa rooms.  J.N. Crane was the proprietor of the structure by 1917. With the advent of WWI draftees in Ventura County, a special banquet took place with dancing located in the large, decorated lobby.  Just two years later, the region was plagued by a potent influenza, which caused all hotels and restaurants to temporarily shut down.  It was during 1919, when Mr. and Mrs. Charles D. Estep bought the property; in 1921, world-renowned composer and pianist, Ignace Jan Pederewski checked into the inn.  

In March of 1928, Santa Paula was the victim of ferocious flooding as the St. Francis Dam malfunctioned.  As a result, the Glen Tavern Inn was temporarily utilized as a possible morgue for the deceased and provisional shelter for displaced individuals.  Furthermore, this historic abode has survived fires, other floods, murders and even suicides – events all culminating into a deeply historic tapestry. 

History and the paranormal are so intrinsically intertwined; as a result, it is no wonder that the Glen Tavern Inn is one of California’s most haunted abodes. These historic occurrences have, in a way, left a psychic imprint of times gone by on the property and in part, is why the structure is so well known to paranormal researchers.  Intriguingly, the property’s third floor is rumored to have consisted of a gambling parlor and house of ill-repute.  The legends attached to the third floor include that of a beheaded prostitute and a cowboy named Calvin. According to many, various ghostly activities at the inn come from various historical time periods allowing the living to tap into a past event in history. 

Rob Wlodarski, the founder and director of the International Paranormal Research Organization (IPRO), is a noted author, archaeologist and historian, having worked on various cultural resource projects in Santa Paula since 1972.  As a cultural resource consultant for the City of Santa Paula, Rob and his team have conducted fifty-plus paranormal investigations inside the historic edifice, having permitted access to several buildings and other locations within the city.  

In regards to the paranormal, Wlodarski states, “Over the years, I have documented shadowy figures, a screaming woman, phantom children playing on the stairs, doors that will suddenly slam shut, door knobs that will jiggle when no one is occupying the room and strange gusts of cold air.”  Phantom smells have been documented, such as the aroma of alcohol and tobacco.   Upon the varnishing of the second floor landing, phantom imprints of a small left foot would appear without a beginning or ending and would continue to do so after each coat of varnish. 

With rooms 201 – 208 undergoing restoration after a fire, the IPRO concentrated on the second floor during a paranormal research project.  It was during this time that team members heard a loud disembodied female scream, which was also captured on an analog tape recorder.  The team was not able to come up with a logical explanation of the ghostly scream.  It was relayed to IPRO that a woman committed suicide at the end of the hall.

Brandon Alvis, talented filmmaker and founder of the American Paranormal Research Association (APRA), feels that there is a specific type of energy on the property that attracts certain people.  He feels that the location’s energy seems to influence those who are enduring a rough period in their lives.  In fact, upon moving there, he was told that the inn will “make you or break you,” a sentiment he has come to truly believe.  Sadly, some individuals that took up residence at the Glen Tavern Inn never made it out. 

Brandon has spent many years researching the iconic property.  In fact, after residing at the Glen Tavern Inn for over two years, he shares one common supernatural experience: the disembodied voices of children.  On numerous occasions, Brandon has heard the voices of a young boy and girl in the lobby; second and third floors. Rob even relayed that he, too, has heard the spiritual giggles of a young male and female child on the second floor. 

After several years of supernatural investigations on the property, it is theorized that at least 15 spirited entities reside at the inn.  Rob mentions witnessing a man in period attire walk between rooms 306 and 307 before vanishing through the locked exit door.  Another investigator reported seeing an apparition in what appeared to be a chef’s hat with arms folded across its chest.  He further discusses how the sense of being watched by unseen eyes is so strong as well as water and shower faucets turning on of their own volition.  In regards to the locale’s paranormal hot spots, Brandon feels that the second floor and the lobby have the most disturbances; however, activity is known to take place at anytime and anywhere within its confines. 

Brandon further echoes that, “From my years of living within the walls of the Glen Tavern Inn, I can tell you that there is a specific type of energy that attracts certain people.  Over that span of two years, I am aware of two deaths that took place in the building – two deaths that seem to be a familiar trend of those living at the inn.”  Various individuals have documented and continue to document photographic and light anomalies; apparitional sightings; mists; temperature drops; environmental meter spikes; both disembodied vocalizations and captured electronic voice phenomena.  In fact, some of the audio captures suggest the presence of at least three ethereal children and various male and female ghosts. 

In regards to approaching a paranormal research project at the Glen Tavern Inn, Brandon feels that the location is an interesting locale for the fact that not one particular methodology seems to work best.  He believes that the inn and its ghostly residents appear to work on their own time; allowing their ethereal forms to be heard and seen with the living individuals they choose to interact with.  He shares that APRA has conducted multiple experiments on the second and third floors to no avail.

“I would describe the Glen Tavern Inn as a charming place that will make you feel welcome with open arms.  It’s not until you settle down as time passes that you will see the true colors of this strange location,” Brandon goes on to say.  One day, he hopes that he and his team will be able to tell the true story of what it’s like to “…live in the walls of such a strange and ugly place.”

Written by Nicole Strickland

Paranormal Researcher, Author, Speaker