Breaking news!!! The Highgate Vampire Symposium 2015 are delighted to announce that we have a thirteenth speaker confirmed, who is coming all the way from Los Angeles, California to speak on the big day! Gareth Davies is the founder of Mind Set Central, one of the largest and most respected radio stations in America to focus solely upon matters paranormal, unexplained and conspiratorial. With decades of experience investigating and probing supernatural experiences, including those pertaining to the Highgate case which remains one of Gareth’s personal favourites, we are very excited that he will be speaking as part of The Big Ghost Debate.
As Symposium co-ordinator I caught up with Gareth via Skype to find out more about his views on the paranormal and just what about the weird world of Highgate continues to fascinate him.
GARETH, YOU GREW UP IN A HAUNTED HOUSE IN SOUTH WALES. COULD YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR EARLY ENCOUNTERS WITH THE SUPERNATURAL, AND THE EFFECT THESE HAD ON YOU AS A YOUNG MAN?
I credit my childhood experiences as being the catalyst in making me a free thinker. Exposure to phenomena that we are consistently told should not happen, pushed me to question reality. The events themselves where fleeting; there were long periods of inactivity, and then when one would least expect it, strange things would happen.
These events ranged from a musty dirty smell that appeared to have a life of its own, and would travel throughout the house, to the disappearance and or movement of objects, to apparitions. Over time my childhood terror was replaced with curiosity, and I begin almost to invite the phenomena to appear. It never did appear on command, unfortunately…
YOUR SHOW PARA TALK OFTEN FOCUSES ON BRITISH TALES OF THE UNEXPLAINED. DO YOU NOTICE ANY SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCES OR SIMILARITIES IN REPORTS OF UNCANNY EXPERIENCES FROM EACH SIDE OF THE POND?
While reported paranormal phenomena share many commonalities, the differences in the way the people are experiencing these events and their perception of what may be behind the phenomena seems to be very different. For example, The United States is a very religious country, so the instances of evil spirits and demons being reported seem to overshadow the typical narrative of ghosts being the spirits of the dead.
I HAVE HEARD YOU ADVISE YOUR LISTENERS AGAINST OVER-EXPOSURE TO TV. WHAT DANGERS DO YOU THINK LURK IN MAINSTREAM MEDIA?
Television is a control mechanism; it controls perception and creates a world view based on an authoritative design. It takes the thinking out of exploring reality, and force feeds us a narrative about how reality functions. Stopping or limiting your consumption of television, will drastically improve your cognitive abilities, and you’ll feel better, you really will!
YOU MENTION COGNITIVE ABILITIES. IN YOUR OPINION, COULD REGULAR IMMERSION IN THE MANMADE WORLD OF TV AND VIDEO GAMES ALSO INHIBIT ONE’S PSYCHIC ABILITIES, IF INDEED HUMANS POSSESS SUCH A FACULTY?
Yes. Main stream media constricts a person’s view of what may or may not be. Therefore the existence of the external becomes the basis of what you believe, and the external is a narrative derived from your culture and the main stream media.
IN RELATION TO THE PROLIFERANCE OF PARANORMAL PROGRAMMES ON SATELLITE TV TODAY, HOW SIGNIFICANTLY COULD OR DO SHOWS SUCH AS T.A.P.S., MY GHOST STORY AND MOST HAUNTED (WHICH HAS BEEN RECENTLY REVIVED WITH A NEW SERIES DEBUTING THIS MONTH) INFLUENCE PEOPLE’S PERCEPTION OF THE WORLD AROUND THEM? DO THEY ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO SEE GHOSTS WHERE NONE EXIST, AS A KIND OF WISH-FULFILMENT? OR DO THEY OPEN PEOPLE’S MINDS TO ALTERNATIVE EXPLANATIONS FOR STRANGE EVENTS OR EXPERIENCES?
Paranormal phenomena are very real, but it is also very rare and fleeting. It has its own schedule, which plays into the adage that it’ll happen “when you least expect it”. The simple fact that these shows depict phenomena on a weekly basis, is cause for wishful thinking and or outright fakery on the part of the participants and makers of these shows. While these types of shows are very entertaining, they do also offer paranormal exposure to the masses, and who knows, it might just wake up a few viewers to its reality.
DO YOU SEE ANY DICHOTOMY IN THE MILLIONS OF REPORTS OF ALLEGED PARANORMAL EXPERIENCES WHICH ABOUND THE WORLD OVER, AND THE MEDIA’S DOWNPLAYING OF THESE AS VALID, OR DARE I SAY, NORMAL? IF THE POWERS THAT BE CAN LAUNCH SPACE PROGRAMMES SURELY THEY WERE ABLE TO ESTABLISH THE REALITY (OR LACK THEREOF) OF THE PARANORMAL A LONG TIME AGO?
There is a huge amount of evidence for the existence of the paranormal, but no proof. At least publicly there appears to be none. Keeping paranormal reality under wraps, keeps mankind limited and small. A trite manageable reality is far easier for the masses to consume, than say a complex, conscious reality where individuals are aware and empowered.
YOU HAVE SPOKEN WITH HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE OVER THE YEARS WHO ALLEGE TO HAVE HAD PARANORMAL EXPERIENCES, OR SPOKEN OF THEIR RESEARCH INTO UNEXPLAINED PHENOMENA. DO ANY CASES STAND OUT IN PARTICULAR?
The Ghost Writer case from the early 1990s has always fascinated me. The case presented apparent spirit communication using Polaroid film. The case had a brief bout of publicity at the time then promptly vanished, and concerned a very typical haunting of a Los Angeles home. What made this case so unusual was that the home owners discovered that by asking random questions into “thin air” and then snapping a photograph with a Polaroid instant camera, the answer to the asked question would appear on the film! An Intriguing case.
YOU HAVE BEEN RESEARCHING SIGHTINGS OF APPARITIONS IN HIGHGATE FOR AROUND 15 YEARS, BUT YOUR INTEREST GOES BACK FURTHER. WHEN DID YOU FIRST HEAR ABOUT THE STRANGE GOINGS ON IN LONDON, N6?
I have a vague childhood memory of seeing a newspaper article concerning the Highgate ‘vampire’, which must have been in the late 1970s, and I remember wanting to collect the newspaper clipping, but my parents were not in agreement, and that ended my initial interest in the case. Years later my interest was rekindled by seeing Sean Manchester on television, which prompted my remembering of the newspaper article I had seen as child, and so began my fascination with the case.
YOU WERE INFLUENTIAL IN BRINGING THE CASE OF THE HIGHGATE ENTITY – OR ‘VAMPIRE’ – TO INTERNATIONAL ATTENTION WAY BACK IN THE INFANCY OF THE INTERNET. HOW ARE THE PHENOMENA ASSOCIATED WITH THE CASE VIEWED IN ‘THE LAND OF THE FREE’?
Most U.S. researchers as far as I can tell, are unaware of the case or at least its specifics, and mainly consider it a curiosity from across the pond. When I first published details of the case online in the mid-1990s, the gothic subculture was the main group of people interested in the case and fascinated by the “vampire” angle, and I tend to think that this has probably not changed very much.
LASTLY, GARETH, DO YOU HAVE ANY PERSONAL OPINIONS AS TO WHAT HAPPENED, OR CONTINUES TO HAPPEN, IN HIGHGATE? DOES IT HAVE ANY SUPERNATURAL OR INTER-DIMENSIONAL COMPONENTS? OR IS IT A FIRESIDE GHOST STORY WHICH GOT OUT OF HAND?
I think that both explanations are accurate. To me it is clear that there was and probably still is some kind of paranormal aspect to the Highgate case. But I can’t deny the cultural relevance of fiction, that has heavily impacted the case. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the influence of gothic horror, and most notably Hammer horror films (which were hugely popular at the time) played into the Highgate narrative in a very big way.
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR ANSWERING MY QUESTIONS GARETH, AND GIVING SYMPOSIUM ATTENDEES A GLIMPSE INTO THE CONCLUSIONS YOU HAVE REACHED ABOUT REALITY (OR ‘PARA-REALITY’ ?!). WE ARE REALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO HEARING MORE OF YOUR THOUGHTS, VIEWS AND INTERPRETATIONS ON THE DAY.
Great to hear from you Della, and I’m also really looking forward to the event! And thank you so much for this opportunity!