Last night I took a step into the paranormal world. No, I did not see a ghost nor get probed by aliens from another dimension. I stepped into the shop Circles of Wisdom in Andover, Massachusetts and attended the Paranormal Research Group meeting held there monthly by Mr. Ron Kolek of the New England Ghost Project. The store is quite nice and centrally located right on Main Street in Andover, so if new age books and gifts are your bag, you should check them out.
Being my first visit, I was not sure what to expect. I had located the meet-up by Googling "Massachusetts paranormal groups" or something similar, and up came the listing for Mr. Kolek's monthly study group in Andover. I had heard of Ron Kolek before: he's authored a couple of books on ghostly subjects and has been featured on podcasts. From this outsider newbie's perspective looking in, from what I can tell, Mr. Kolek is a fairly well-known figure in this field, especially in New England. So I was looking forward to meeting up with Ron and his research group.
The meeting was scheduled for 7 to 9 p.m. and there was a $15 fee to attend. The gathering itself occurred in a tidy little room in the back of the shop. All told there were fifteen of us in attendance, including Mr. Kolek. It was a comfortable group of "average folks," varying in age from mid-twenties to early sixties, with most folks solidly into their forties. Introductions were made all around; about three-quarters of the group were returnees, with maybe three or four of us being first-timers. A few people in the group claimed to have psychic abilities, psychic sensitivities, and/or had brushes with the paranormal. I am solidly not in this category, being a self-described "open minded skeptic." I've never knowingly had any paranormal encounters or psychic experiences, although I've been curious about such things since childhood. Ron introduced himself as an avowed believer in the paranormal since having a near-death experience some years ago. Today he conducts a number of his investigations with professed psychic Maureen Woods. Together they have authored a couple of books on the paranormal.
After introductions, Ron handed around a silver finger ring, asking each person to focus on the object for a few moments and jot down on paper any impressions that might come to mind. The ring was passed around while the meeting continued. Next up we listened to a couple of EVP recordings and watched a few YouTube videos, including one video of Ron and Maureen investigating the so-called "Bridgewater Triangle" - and what appears to be Maureen being temporarily possessed by an evil spirit lurking in the forest. Group discussion followed the media presentation.
Several members of the group had brought a number of paranormal investigation tools to the meeting, from high-tech EMF detectors and shack-hack radios to a low-tech Ouija board. After a couple of prayers for protection addressed to whatever benign spiritual energy might be listening, folks took turns with the Ouija board. At the same time, others were keeping an eye on their EMF detectors and listening in for any meaningful messages on the shack-hack radios. To my awareness, there were no observable messages from the "other side."
The "ring game" did not produce anything definitive. Those claiming psychic abilities in the room could not produce an accurate reading on the ring, which, as it turned out, is a ring belonging to Ron's son. We also did a second psychic experiment, with everyone present attempting to discern the identity of a concealed object that Ron had placed in a cardboard box. Again, nobody in the room came up with an accurate description. Finally Ron asked folks to guess the shape of the object. I was the first to offer up "rectangle," so I managed to score a $10 gift card to Dunkin Donuts (thanks Ron!).
The two hours went by swiftly. At a few minutes after nine o'clock, the meeting broke up and folks went home. I enjoyed myself. Even though I felt that I was more on the skeptical side of the spectrum than most folks in the room, everyone was respectful and friendly and eager to discuss all matters ghostly. The group is definitely focused on ghosts and psychic abilities; such subjects as UFOs and cryptozoology did not come up in the course of our two hours. Still, I found it to be a nice group of people who are very sincere in their desire to understand more of our mysterious universe.