By Sarah Champagne, Managing Editor
SOUTHBRIDGE – Have you ever wondered about ghosts and spirits or watched a ghost hunter show on television with fascination? Surely those programs are made for entertainment and “production value,” but the topic fascinates many people anyway.
Just in time for Halloween, there will be an opportunity to hear from a “ghost hunter” or paranormal investigator at Jacob Edwards Library Monday, Oct. 29, at 6:30 p.m. Rob Goff, Sr. of Agawam Paranormal will provide information from his training program, Ghostology 101: A General Study in the Paranormal. The program, which he uses to train people interested in joining him in paranormal investigations, offers clarification on terminology (do you know the difference between a “ghost” and a “spirit”?) as well as the equipment, technology and the “do’s and don’ts” of paranormal investigation.
Ghostology 101 is sometimes followed by Ghostology 201, which is a more in-depth course that Goff uses to train paranormal investigators in his group. The “101” or introductory program is one that he presents at libraries throughout Massachusetts for audiences of the skeptical, curious or generally intrigued. Goff likes library audiences in particular, because of a protective instinct he has for the value of public libraries.
“When I was growing up, you’d have to go to the library to research for school. If you were lucky, there was a copy machine,” Goff reflects. “One of my fears is that libraries are going to become passé. That’s why the public will never be able to watch my presentations online, only in public libraries.”
Goff has worked with 47 libraries in Massachusetts. Each presentation of Ghostology 101 is one of a kind because he shares the stories of three previous investigations at each event. These three stories are chosen by the local librarian from a long list of historical or well-known investigation sites, creating a curated or custom experience for each audience.
Although ghost hunting may be a fascinating topic for some, Goff says that actual investigations are far less exciting than television shows might lead you to believe, describing those shows as “edited for drama.”
“98 percent of the time, you are in the dark, waiting for something to happen,” Goff says. “I liken it to the sport of golf. You may play a bad game, but that one shot is what makes you come back for more. All of a sudden, all of that waiting time is worth it.”
Ghostology 101 is open to all ages. Goff says that he hasn’t come across negative or angry “spirits” or had any threatening experiences, despite common fears that spirits might reveal a more aggressive streak.
“You are more likely to hit the lottery two weeks in a row than to come across anything demonic,” Goff comments.
The one possible exception that Goff can remember is an investigation in which the deceased former owner of a house had lived alone and disliked other people. The family that was living in the house was a loud, lively group with children, and so Goff’s team concluded that the spirit causing paranormal activity wanted them gone. Instead, Goff says that a religious blessing was performed on the house when the resident family demonstrated that there was ghost activity to the satisfaction of a local priest.
The Agawam Paranormal team approaches its investigations with “respect” for any spirit or ghost that it may detect. Goff says that his team would not attempt to taunt or provoke a spirit for a reaction, as some ghost hunters in television shows do.
“My people are trained to approach as if they are talking to someone’s grandmother, the level of inherent respect that goes into that,” Goff says.
Goff says of the comparison between ghost hunters and psychics that the two can play a complementary role, but that they are different skill sets.
“I’m as psychic as a stone. I don’t profess any ability,” he says, adding that he works with thee psychics whose ability to provide verifiable information “creeps me out.”
Ghostology 101: A General Study of the Paranormal will be presented at Jacob Edwards Library, 236 Main Street, Southbridge, Monday, Oct. 28, from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The program is presented by the Friends of the Jacob Edwards Library, and light refreshments will be served.