North Adams Transcript Article
Rising Spirits - Ghost Hunters Converge on Masonic Temple - By Jennifer Huberdeau, North Adams
Transcript - Tuesday 09-26-06
NORTH ADAMS — The small wooden table began to shake and slowly rise from the floor as the chanting of
"lift, lift, lift," filled the darkened hall of the Masonic Temple on Church Street during the final hours of Saturday night.
"I need everyone to focus their energy on those surrounding the table," psychic medium Maureen Wood said.
As the voices rose and the rhythmic chant rang out, the four people — who were touching the table's edges with
just the tips of their fingers — began to run across as the "flying" table jerked its way around the room.
a member of the New England Ghost Project, was leading the "table-tipping" exercise, as part of the second night of "Contact
II." The three-day conference, held at the former Houghton Mansion, was the second installment of the Berkshire Paranormal
Conference, which began as a collaboration of the Ghost Project and local ghost hunters the Berkshire Paranormal Group.
in the day, Steve Wilson, a certified shaman in Mayan and Tibetan traditions and American Indian, took about 30 conference
participants on a vision quest to find their totem animals. "Animals come to us to remind us who we are. We need to reconnect
to the animal kingdom, the tree kingdom, the rock kingdom, so we can balance our lives and remember our beginnings. Animals
are not afraid of death — it's part of the eternal circle," Wilson said. "We are the ones who are afraid of death and
can not accept it."
As the room was slowly engulfed with the aroma of sage, Wilson called on
the "Creator" and great eagle to guide the participants in their journeys. "It's a big evolution to be here today —
25 years ago you wouldn't be sitting here talking about things like ghosts," he said. "I believe we're being driven toward
finding higher states of love. You don't know how thankful nature is when we connect. We have forgotten the old ways and the
Earth is not happy."
As the vision quest came to a close, Wilson reminded the group that not everyone would see their
totem animals. Then he asked if anyone wanted to share.
Immediately a woman in a white sweater shot her hand into
"I saw a moose. It was really big. It showed me water," she said. A majority of the group came in contact with
their totem animals, or animal guides who will help them with specific problems in their lives. Other animals included a turtle,
a raccoon, a bear, a fox, a crow and a deer. "The deer came very close to my face. It was right here," one man said as he
held his palm close to his face. "It's a message of self-sacrifice," Wilson said. "We connect with the animals because our
souls are in need. They want those pieces back, so they can be whole."
Electronic voice phenomena expert Karen Mossey
explained the art of capturing messages from the spirit world in white noise Saturday night. "I like the cheaper digital recorders.
They have plenty of static and noise to help capture the EVPs. The messages are usually short in duration — the longest
one I have is one minute and 44 seconds," she said. "When you listen to a tape, you'll unusually hear some precursor sounds
before the EVP. You start to hear clicks and pops. We believe those are breaks in the dimension — which they need electrostatic
energy to communicate."
Mossey, whose work has appeared in the movie "White Noise" and the television series "Ghost
Whisperer," played EVP samples. One clip included a man calling her crazy.
"It's very important to remember you're dealing
with the afterlife. You're dealing with people and their personalities don't change when the go to the other side," she said.
"People are people. For us, they're validating the continuance of life after death." However, Mossey said not all EVP transmissions
are the dead trying to communicate. "There are imprints of words and feelings that are left behind. You have to realize that
everything you say is out there."
A part of the proceeds from the conference go toward the Masons' restoration efforts
at the former mansion that once belonged to the city's first mayor, A.C. Houghton.
Masons Nicholas and Joshua Mantello,
who founded Berkshire Paranormal, believe the spirits of Houghton and his daughter, Mary, and family chauffeur John Widders,
still roam the halls of the mansion. The three are linked to a tragic 1914 accident, in which Mary was killed. "In 1914, the
Houghtons purchased a Pierce Arrow touring car. It sat nine passengers," local historian Paul Marino said. "On Aug. 1, 1914,
Mr. Houghton decided to take a pleasure drive to Bennington. Mr. Houghton and Mary were joined by Dr. and Mrs. Hutton of New
He said the party left the city at about 9 a.m. that morning and by 9:30 had reached
Oak Hill Road in Pownal. "One of the written accounts refers to it as the daunting Oak Hill Road, when actually it's a gentle
grade about a 1/2 mile from Pownal Center. But as the story goes, the car came to a point where the road was being worked
on. On the right side of the road, a team of horses was approaching," Marino said.
Apparently, Widders was traveling
12 miles per hour when he overcompensated and gave the horse team room to pass. Coming too close to the road's left shoulder,
he could not navigate the upcoming corner and rolled the car down an embankment three times. "All of the men escaped with
minor injuries. Sibyl Hutton was killed instantly when the car rolled on her. Mary, the only one not ejected from the car,
was taken to North Adams Regional Hospital," Marino said. Mary died later that day. Widders, overcome with grief, would commit
suicide several days later. Mary's father, seemingly giving up, died Aug. 11.
Conference participants also had a chance
to roam the mansion over the weekend.