I pounced on Amanda at the fair and asked if she would be interested to come to the Gaol and do an Author's talk. She agreed and so finally the night arrived last Saturday.
Amanda has written 18 books, and has another another heap on the boi,l and she is totally fascinating to listen to.
The backdrop of the Gaol and the history of the inmates there was a perfect place to allow our minds to enter, for just a moment, into that of the criminals Amanda has interviewed over the years during her periods of research.
One thing that struck me is that this amazing lady, who has such a very interesting yet very creepy career, can still be so very down to earth and a totally charming person!
I guess one would expect that all of that brutality and coldness that she sees at such a close perspective might leave an indelible mark on her soul - but her outward connectivity to people is gentle, open and caring.
Maybe I am just seeing one side of her - I would be thinking that having contact with murderers, serial killers, cannibals, psychopaths and assorted other variables of just plain crazy people would leave me rather mistrusting of everyone in general and have me forever looking over my shoulder.
Amanda is a huggy, laughing soul filled with brightness - not one iota of dark anywhere to be found.
With all of that gruesome information about some of the worst criminals in Australia and abroad floating in our minds and creating our very own horror stories in our imaginations we had a bit of a break to get some fresh air and a walk. Everyone was very excited.
We offered tea and coffee and Amanda was inundated with people purchasing her books. A long line of people wanting to chat more, ask questions and read all her books made this evening a moment when Amanda collected quite a few more Facebook likers and opened her up to more dedicated true crime followers.
Our next part of the evening started with Anne and Roman Rzechowicz, owners of OZ PARA TECH, their ghost hunting equipment on line shop ( go here https://ozparatech.com ) and a tech talk.
Anne and Roman chatted about some of the newest equipment being used in investigations and also participated in the evening by showing the Kinect and Portal in action in situ.
We gave the entire group a very quick walk through of the site, and shared some brief history and some stories as we journeyed through the wings.
Not only did the Gaol hold criminals who had perpetrated despicable acts on other human beings, but we have to remember that these were very different times when the Gaol originally opened in 1848 and its history also held stories of women and children being housed in sections of the prison and debtors, vagrants, drunks and for issues that would nowadays seem quite ludicrous.
We did not want to totally make the evening structured to the very end so we then allowed people to wander and engage in different experiences. They could check out new technology with Oz Para Tech or watch some old fashioned spirit connection with table tipping and glass dowsing.
On debriefing we found that both methods engaged our participants (both present and past!)
I was part of the table tipping experiment and even though we are well aware that nothing is guaranteed, frustration began to build as we sat hoping for some movement.
The Glass dowsing experiment got a reaction much more quickly and we could hear the glass scratching along the surface of the table as we madly thought 'come on, come on - let's get started'.
Both experiments where happening across from each other.
But these things cannot be rushed and one thing that you do learn is patience with a giant P!
We ended up probably waiting a good 20 minutes before we got some movement on the table, also after changing some sitters around, and finally a very strong and forceful energy began to gently lift and drop the table, slowly, steadily, time and time again.
What effect did this had on the sitters and observers?
Maybe some believed what was happening came from spirit?
Maybe some didnt - and thought it was one of us moving the table?
I always come back to the fact that if someone was really lifting the table, even subconsciously, it would be much harder to bring it down as gently as it always does as the table drops back to the ground. Our experience this night was of the table definitely lowering at the same gentle pace as it rose.
Amanda joined us for our walk, as she had never been at the Goal before, and also watched some of the experiments, but, she faced a 3 hour trip home I farewelled her at the gate and wished her safe travels home. She is amazing - buy her books!!! They are well worth the read.
At the end of the evening I was exhausted.
Worry that all will go well and that our participants will feel that they get their money's worth is always something that plays on my mind. I want my paying customers to have a good time and get something out of an evening with Newcastle Ghost Tours.
The next day was mired with brain fog - the usual post investigation/ event status that I succumb to which can be only dealt with by massive amounts of coffee and indulgent food - something my body seems to need to ground and start behaving normally.
I did, very unusually, have some very profound experiences myself during the event.
Normally, with my event manager hat on, I am just there to make sure everyone else is having the experiences, but this time because of that intense sitting at the table, I was very much overcome by energies that were pushy with one rather big shove at one point as if to push me out of the way.
But more than anything, curiously, what I felt was an exploration from the spirits - as if they had to spend time learning to understand and master OUR methods and attempts of communication with them.
They were trying to reach me, yes - and often, not knowing how, or doing it and failing.
Or not going far enough...or testing me.
These experiences take time - and I now strongly believe...on BOTH sides.
This was the most personally profound thing that I take away from this weekend.
So my level of patience has to be even more conscious now. I have to be clearer in my messages.
Not always will connections be made quickly.
Not always will they be clear.
And maybe we have to be more precise with what what we are trying to achieve and explain it more?
Anyway - its ALWAYS a learning experience.
And I personally am only starting.
If you wish to join me on one of our Ghost Hunting 101 nights at the Gaol call directly to Maitland Gaol to find out more.
These are two our experiences where you will be introduced to parts of the Gaol and given an opportunity to investigate - find out more at their website at Maitland Gaol.