Rev. McMillan's career extends to ghost hunting
Marlborough – Rev. Nancy McMillan has made a career out of determining whether or not your fear is justified.
“I think of myself first and foremost as a minister, counselor, healer and teacher,” she said. “Being a ghost hunter is another aspect of what I do. However, it seems to be the most interesting to others.”
She, along with other investigators from the Central Massachusetts Paranormal Society (CMPS), works with people who feel they are experiencing paranormal activity in their residences. Their aim is not to unearth groundbreaking evidence, but rather to explain and alleviate a disturbance.
“Our group is focused on helping those who believe their home or place of business is haunted, not on how much evidence of paranormal activity we can collect, how many public investigations we conduct or how much publicity we can obtain,” McMillan said.
While much of the investigation centers around the physical and visual experience of the investigators, there is also science behind the process.
“After interviewing a client,” McMillan said, “we then take baseline readings of each room at the location. Baseline readings focus on the temperature in each area of the room and the electromagnetic field (EMF) output.”
Investigators take electrical appliances and other variables into account as they measure fluctuations in temperature.
“Significant and unexplained drops in temperature may indicate the presence of a ghost,” McMillan said. “It is also believed that in order for ghosts to manifest, they need energy, so if there are unexplained energy spikes on the EMF reader, it also may indicate the presence of a ghost.”
This is not always true, however, as a high EMF reading can cause illness or discomfort that might be mistakenly categorized as paranormal activity. McMillan estimates that 98 percent of reports can be explained as normal occurrences and that paranormal findings are rare.
These investigations can include up to 10 investigators if the project is large enough, but always requires at least three – one to monitor base camp and two to investigate.
“We always operate in teams, both for the sake of safety and to have an investigator who may either share an experience of their team member or help to debunk it,” McMillan said.
In addition to EMF readings, digital voice recorders can also be used to pick up Electronic Voice Phenomena.
“We have picked up quite a few interesting words and voices that cannot be explained in our investigations,” McMillan said.
Privacy concerns are understandable, but what about the validity of these public findings?
“It is unusual to actually capture an apparition on film, but it has happened,” McMillan said. “We have an excellent example of such a picture on our website. The investigator was alone at the foot of the stairs, thought she heard a voice, turned and snapped a picture. There is clearly a face wearing a hat and no one has been able to debunk the picture.
As far as more public locations known to be haunted, there is the Fort Meadow Reservoir in Marlborough, the Wayside Inn in Sudbury, the Colonial Inn in Concord and the John Stone Inn in Ashland. Her team has also investigated quite a number of local Marlborough ‘haunts.’
During a presentation at the Shrewsbury Public Library in December 2010, McMillan addressed many of these same issues and answered questions from an eager young audience.
“I invite people to think differently about the paranormal than what they’ve grown up believing, McMillan said. “ Many young people have numerous questions about the paranormal and investigations based on what they see on television. I address their questions honestly and hopefully am able to set their minds at ease about paranormal experiences.”
As a reverend, McMillan finds no disconnect between her two spiritual vocations.
“I don’t feel that my ministerial work conflicts with my work with the paranormal. It seems a natural extension of my ministry. I help the living and I try to help the dead. It’s a natural progression.”
CMPS offers aid to all ages. Young people with an interest in the paranormal are invited to join the CMPS Junior Investigators and work their way up to formal training at the age of 18. Adults with questions or concerns about possible paranormal activity can obtain additional information about the society’s service on its website www.cmpsonline.net, or by calling 888-228-5889.
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