ISSUE 22_STONE TAPE _BY DAN CATO _SUBJECTS_ #HAUNTED #OIJEABOARD DEAR ARCHITECTURE SCHOOL... _I've recently changed my mind about ghosts. A conversation with my sister at the beginning of 2015 ignited the inquiry into the entire belief structure surrounding my precious inner Reason. It began as an interruption to some other small conversation – a sudden list of symptoms from the Oijea board (1). Impossible sounds coming from brick walls, doors unlocking themselves, animals getting edgy - it is so easy to pass off these mediums as unofficial, a foundless ilk. Not the case when it comes from such earnest conviction from a loved one. Her conviction disturbed me. I was hooked on the possibilities of the truth in the mystery.Around a month later, the subject still on my mind, a friend and I were hitch hiking in Tasmania. In an old colonial town we stumbled into a second hand store.There, by pure chance, I came across the book “Will Storr VS The Supernatural” that promised an investigative journalism that made sense of the insensible. After a chilling experience in America he traveled the world interviewing mystics, ghost hunters, mediums and the Vatican’s Chief Exorcist, Gabriele Amorth (2). Will Storr’s combined experiences and transparent dissection of the paranormal left me reeling, raring to do my own form of investigation.I borrowed a friend’s VHS camcorder equipped with night-vision and boarded a train heading towards Beechworth, Victoria. I had heard from my sister there is an old mental asylum that has had international attention for its paranormal activity.On the train heading out a man sat down in my carriage carrying a skull staff and top hat. I took this as a sign that he would either offer me a contract before the journey ended or that he would know a surprising, though not unexpected amount about the supernatural. I approached him to find that it was a fortunate day for stereotypes.Over the following three hours together he answered some of my questions I had about what sort of energy, ghosts and spirits I may be about to encounter.He told me about the “Min Min lights”, which have been witnessed by many, especially in the Northern Territory. This is the unsolved mystery of light following travelers and sometimes approaching, sometimes disappearing (when shot at) and reappearing. If you see one they are commonly described as fuzzy disc shaped lights hovering above the horizon, changing colour, sometimes bright and sometimes dim. The sightings of these have increased with the ingression of Europeans into the outback, a will-o’-the-wisp (3) that would make you disappear if you caught the light. Or maybe its Fata Morgana (4).Skull Man had whetted my appetite for the opinions and speculations of strangers. When we parted ways at Beechworth I spoke to some Tradies, but the general consensus was “Nah, don’t believe in ghosts. Cos I never seen one”. Others around the town were more open – there would be a trigger event, like working in a cemetery that converted them from proud skeptics to … confused.That night I booked a ghost tour around the asylum. We pulled up to a whitewashed stone and brick complex in the midnight hours. Sectioned off into wings, the outsides of these buildings were pretty and prettified, trimmed with bluestone and painted white and a dark green. These are Ha-Ha Walls (5). A slope, leads down to the base of the wall so that from ground level the walls do not communicate imprisonment to the patients.Inside, ready with our ‘ghost detecting gear’, the tall ceilings and narrow corridors were uncomfortable. The first room our guide took us to are called the “Wet Rooms”, where difficult and violent patients were stripped down and locked up. They subsisted on bread soaked in tea and were hosed down every so often. There was some activity on our detecting devices, then we moved on. I returned with my camera on my own. I felt the uneasiness of wondering whether nothingness could interact with the lens, and of being alone in the dark, in a feared space. Nothing happened. For 30 seconds, nothing happened. I moved to ask something else to that room when a huge sense of pressure enveloped me, everything became awful. It was a simulated drowning in the chest cavity, for not being alone anymore, for being in trouble for something. I got out of that Place and caught up with the tour group, rushing out the words to our guide of What Had Happened. He said it was the room he hated most. There is a theory, Stone Tape Theory, to explain these phenomena. Parapsychologist Thomas Charles Lethbridge proposed that ghosts are not conscious spirits but non interactive tape recordings. This posits that the electrical mental impressions released during traumatic events can be stored in rocks, trees and buildings and replayed under certain conditions as though the stone or the fabric of a building has the properties of a piece of video tape. The documentary is still in production. I haven’t seen any of the concrete evidence that denies existence the supernatural. But I am also… confused. And the unshakable belief I felt before is even more an encroaching lunacy... . . . 1. Ouija Board – a Ouija Board is a flat board marked with the numbers 0-9, the words “yes”, “no” and occassionally “hello” and “goodbye”, along with various symbols and graphics. A small heart-shaped piece of wood or plastic called a planchette is used as a movable indicator to signal the spirits message by spelling it out on the boards during a séance. Participants in the séance place their fingers on the planchette and it is moved about the board to spell out words. “Ouija” is a trademark of Habro, Inc., but is commonly used to refer to these talking boards or spirit boards. Hasbro Inc. is an American multinational toy and board game company founded in 1923 and had its first hit toy in Mr. Potato Head which became a huge success in 1954. 2. Gabriel Amorth – is an Italian Roman Catholic priest and an exorcist of the Diocese of Rome who is reputed to have cleansed tens of thousands of demonic via msn. He has been an outspoken critic of magic, Eastern religions and new age spiritualism, “all eastern religions are based on a false belief in reincarnation” and “practicing yoga is satanic, it leads to evil just like reading Harry Potter”. 3. Will-o’ the Wisp is a ghost light resembling a flickering lamp. It is seen by travellers at night and is said to recede if approached drawing travelers away from the path. In English and European folklore the phenomenon is known by a variety of names, including jack-o-lantern, friar’s lantern, hinkypunk, and hobby lantern. 4. Fata Morgana is an unusual form of ‘superior mirage’ that is seen in a narrow band right above the horizon. It is the Italian name for the Arthurian sorceress Morgan le Fay, from a belief that these mirages were fairy castles in the air or false land created by her witchcraft to lure sailors to their deaths. 5. Ha-ha Wall . . .