8
Sep

Convention Review: Parafest 2013

   Posted by: David   in Uncategorized

 

Convention Review: Parafest 2013

Only two weeks ago I was searching the internet for paranormal meet-ups, gatherings, and conventions. There were a few in the autumn as you might imagine but Parafest stood out to me because Grant Wilson, Robert Murch, and Rosemary Ellen Guiley were scheduled to attend.

I have been looking for an opportunity to meet Grant Wilson for many years. For those of you who may not know, Grant is the co-founder (with Jason Hawes) of The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS), based in Warwick, Rhode Island, and co-star and co-producer of the Sci-Fi Channel’s Ghost Hunters, which premiered in 2004.

Jason and Grant wanted the show to be called “Paranormal Investigators.” They objected to the title “Ghost Hunters,” because, according to Grant, they don’t hunt for ghosts. Instead they investigate paranormal activity in an attempt to ascertain the truth behind the activity.

Grant says he is never disappointed when he doesn’t encounter genuine paranormal activity because he isn’t necessarily looking for it. He wants to help families, especially families with children, find the causal factors behind the disturbances and resolve the problems.

Originally the show was supposed to be a drama based on the life and investigations of Jason and
Grant with actors playing the parts of Jason and Grant but the producers opted for a reality show instead and, in my opinion, Ghost Hunters brought paranormal studies to mainstream culture. The only other period in history I know of in which the study of the paranormal was mainstream, was during the Victorian era and even then the investigation of the paranormal was looked upon with suspicion.

If you are comfortable socially and professionally as a student of the paranormal you have Jason and Grant to thank for it. Not only did they succeed at bringing paranormal studies to the mainstream, they also made it popular. But, for me, there is more to Grant than his historic significance or even his significance to the field of paranormal research. If you have ever watched the show then you know this man’s character. I wanted to meet Grant because I admire Grant. He is a definite role model for me.

I booked a hotel room for two nights and bought tickets to the event hoping I might get to see Grant present in a lecture hall. I never expected to have the opportunity to meet and chat with him personally but on Friday night, September 6, 2013, that is exactly what happened.

I was browsing the vendor area, chatting with a number of authors and bloggers in the paranormal field when I noticed Grant standing at a vendor table with very few people around him. I made my way over and found him to be warm, friendly, kind, and very personable.

I was delighted when he agreed to pose for the image below:

Parafest 2013 001

And in case you can’t read what he wrote on the next photo, it says, “Scare ‘em back!”
Our generation is truly blessed to have men like Grant in the paranormal field and in the public eye as role models of what good people can be.

Grant

For your convenience I am posting 4 pages from the program below. These pages really do tell the full story of the event. I was obviously not able to attend every session but those I did attend were excellent.

1 ParafestCover

1 seminars

2 vendors

1 autograph alley

On Friday night I attended History of the Ouija Board with Robert Murch and Brandon Hodge.

Robert Murch 

Brandon Hodge

Robert is the world’s foremost collector, historian, and expert on Ouija. I have an extensive Ouija collection but Robert’s makes mine look sad by comparison.

Brandon is a planchette expert. The planchette of course is one of the forerunners to the spirit board.

Parafest 2013 006

Robert and Brandon’s work is on-going and it is always good to catch up on the latest research in the area of talking board history. Robert believes that a company in the Boston area mass produced a talking board they called a Witch board years before Ouija was born in Baltimore. There is no doubt the board was in use throughout the nation prior to the Baltimore patents.

Another interesting piece of information that came out of this seminar was the naming of the board. Robert believes the board named itself in a session but one of the sitters had a locket on which was written the name of then celebrity Ouida. The D of Ouida was written with a downward D that made the D look like a J.

On Saturday morning I attended the demonology panel.
Pictured below from left to right is Corvis Nocturnum (Satanist/skeptic), Bill Bean (Christian exorcist), Michelle Belanger (pagan), Rosemary Ellen Guiley (Christian-esk according to her own confession), and hosting the event was Jeff Belanger, no relation to Michelle.

Parafest 2013 024

I only mentioned their ideological affiliation above because it was the first question that Jeff asked. As it turned out the panel’s diversity made for some very interesting discussion. Every panelist had a different idea of what a demon is, how it operates, and what can be done to get rid of it.

The next event I attended was a panel discussion on paranormal investigations.
In the first photo from left to right are Mark and Debbie Constantino and Jay Wasley.

Parafest 2013 032a

In the second photo are Jay Wasley, Jeff Belanger, and Dave Schrader.

Parafest 2013 032b

The best story of that panel was one that Debbie told. They went into a haunted area to record EVPs (electronic voice phenomenon). When they played the recording back they heard one spirit telling another to “be quiet because they are trying to record us.” That was a laugh out loud moment for me.

I am pictured below with Robert Murch. I spoke with briefly about the new book I am working on about the Ouija board. I asked if he might be willing to participate and he seemed agreeable so I will be maintaining contact as that project develops. At the moment I am still assembling the first draft. As I am seeking primary sources I am spending a good deal of time in research. I hope to have the book available for purchase after the first of the year.

Parafest 2013 036

I am pictured below with Rosemary Ellen Guiley. She is a prolific author. She recently published a book of her own on Ouija called Ouija Gone Wild. The book is mostly a collection of Ouija related personal and news stories.

Parafest 2013 037

The next seminar I attended was Rosemary’s called, “Solutions for Negative Hauntings.” The general consensus seems to be that the solution to a particular negative haunting depends very much on the ideology and faith of the people being haunted and most importantly their willingness to be delivered. Those that want to be free usually are. Those that do not want to be free may endanger themselves and everyone trying to help them.

Parafest 2013 041

The final seminar of the event for me was the Ghost Hunters panel.
Pictured from left to right are Jason Gates, Brian Cano, Bruce Tango, Dave Tango, Steve Gonsalves, Grant Wilson, and the MC for the panel, a person I believe to be Aaron Sagers but I am sorry to say I am not absolutely certain of the identity of the MC.

Parafest 2013 047

The panel was mostly Q&A. People lined up down the center isle to ask questions. The conference area, by the way, was standing room only and it was the only seminar I attended that had a line waiting at the door before the doors opened.

Grant was asked if he might return to Ghost Hunters. He told the audience he would if the demands of the production did not interfere with his family life. Grant didn’t see much chance of that happening. Again I had to admire the man for putting his family’s needs above the needs of the show.

Conferences give us all a chance to gather, meet, and learn from each other. I am an avid conference attender. I have produced two conferences myself, and I will be vending at a few in the near future.

I will do my best to keep you informed of the latest and greatest paranormal events.

Much love,
David

This entry was posted on Sunday, September 8th, 2013 at 7:14 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

2 comments so far

 1 

this is great blog, I will certainly be back.

October 2nd, 2013 at 12:26 am
David
 2 

Thank you so much

October 2nd, 2013 at 12:36 am