Reality Checking with Brent Raynes


Discover the connection between UFO visitors and shamanic lore! Brent Raynes' stunning book—intro. by Brad Steiger.

Visitors from Hidden Realms: The Origin and Destiny of Humanity As Told by Star Elders, Shamen, and UFO Visitors

Hauntings, “John Keel” EVPs, and a Horn Blowing Mannequin:

Encounters with Spirits and Tricksters in Tennessee!

It was late afternoon, Saturday, May 22, 2010. We were on the outskirts of Clifton, Tennessee, a sleepy little river town located on the shores of the Tennessee River. We were investigating a couple of small houses that were just a short distance from each other. Apparent paranormal activity had been reported at both homes.

I had noticed that my daughter Chandra was still hovering close to the living room door, at the front entrance of this old wood frame house that we were visiting. I looked back at her through the open doorway of the next room with a questioning look. I thought that she had smiled an odd, nervous kind of smile, but there seemed no obvious problem and reason for concern, so I proceeded to follow my wife Joan into the next room, which was the kitchen. In a few moments, Chandra bounded into the kitchen and explained to us that something hadn’t felt right to her, but then she decided to go ahead and come into the rest of the house anyway.

Later, down the road at the small three bedroom brick dwelling that had been our main objective, where five different people described to us personal experiences (i.e., ranging from bodiless voices, unexplained knocking sounds, a bedroom door knob twisting back and forth without anyone visibly touching it, and a lamp that would come on by itself),

Gina and Bret Oldham of Halo Paranormal Investigations of Lebanon, Tennessee, were setting up what they call the ghost box, which is a device utilized for attempting electronic voice communications with spirits. A male relative who had recently moved into the house with the intention of remodeling it (it had been sitting vacant for about two years) suddenly expressed concern about what we were about to do, explaining that this had better not be anything like an Ouija board because he didn’t want anything to do with such a thing if it was. He then proceeded to explain that while cleaning up at the house we had just been at up the road, as a relative who had lived there had passed away a little over a month earlier (1), he stated that he had come upon an Ouija board in the front bedroom just off from the livingroom. Chandra’s ears perked up, as she had already asked one of the family members if there had been an Ouija board in the house (she was trying to understand her odd feelings) and that person didn’t know of any.

Later Bret and Gina, upon playing back their digital recorders, would isolate several apparent EVPs. (For those of you who don’t know what that is, an EVP means electronic voice phenomenon, believed by many to be voices produced by spirits, registered and recorded in some electronic fashion) Chandra found afterwards that she had several anomalous audio recordings as well. In fact, most of those recordings were made at the house where Chandra had had her uneasy feeling and the Ouija board had been discovered.

Chandra had (I think) one of the more spectacular and clearer EVPs. Chandra was talking with family about how the inside of the house reminded her of a house she had formerly lived in. It’s at this point that you suddenly hear what clearly sounds like a small child’s voice saying “Chan, Chan.” For years, “Chan” has been a nickname that we’ve used for Chandra. A child’s voice recorded at this time is very odd since the youngest person present was a man aged 27. [Note: some of the EVP files can be found here.]

Nearby was a black cemetery. “I think we did get the spirits of some black people coming through,” Bret stated. “I know for sure on one of the regular EVPs I asked if they were a slave and the woman said ‘yes,’ and then inside the house it sounded like a black man saying something about the trunk Sandy and I were talking about.”

Later during the ghost box session Bret inquired about the spirits of the black people buried nearby, and got an apparent response that he recorded that sounded like “they haunted her,” soon followed by the word “haunted” again. It should be noted that we were told by the family about any elderly woman who had lived in this house and described seeing black people’s faces in the windows, along with a small child. “We often hear a ‘double answer’ on the spirit box,” Bret explained. “We’re not sure if the frequency sweep causes that or it’s simply two different spirits providing the same answer. Or, as you said, they repeat themselves, which would be cool because that would mean they understand the radio sweeps and know that there is a chance they will miss the frequency so they repeat it a few times to better the chances.”

For readers who have never experienced the ghost box, I asked Bret to explain the concept and process involved. “The Ghost Box is set to constantly sweep through the radio bandwidths,” he noted. “Either forward from top to bottom or in reverse. We use AM because there is less interference from radio stations. The spirits are able to use certain frequencies as the band sweep is going on. They catch that frequency or the frequency catches them and in the white noise you can hear them. Depending on when they speak and where the radio sweep is will determine how much you will hear of what they are telling us. Sometimes it’s just a word or two and sometimes it’s an entire sentence. We will tape every session we do and play it back through audio software to clean it up and sometimes slow it down. We have found that the sweep is so fast that we are missing some things that are being said if we don’t slow down the clip.”

“Skeptics will say that we’re just hearing the radio when in fact we hear very little radio. The radio will not answer your questions at the time you are asking them. We’ve heard words that are banned by the FCC to say on the radio from what seem to be angry spirits. We’ve got very personal things told to us that no one would have any way of knowing. So much so that we tell anyone we are doing a session for or with that if they have any secrets then they probably shouldn’t participate! We’ve had warnings, predictions and such that have all come true. We have found the Ghost Box to be a very useful tool in communicating and learning about the other side.”

Back during my first ghost box experience with Bret and Gina (described briefly in my last column) I was mentally trying to think of someone I could reach out to on the “other side” to establish contact with, someone who I had known in this lifetime, and who had shared a similar interest in UFOs as I had. During the session, I mentally thought of John Keel (whom I had corresponded some going back to 1969, until his passing last July 3rd), and tried to think of anyone else, but I never did verbalize my intention to the group. Later when Bret sent out the audio clips he had retrieved from that session, he asked all of us who had participated if anything like the name “Joan Howard” meant anything to anyone. I immediately listened to the audio clip, and indeed that was what it sounded like to me. It dawned on me that Joan Howard would certainly have been an ideal selection as she had been a Canadian channeler/contactee, one of the first contactees I had ever met and interviewed. This was way back in 1971. She was on up there in years at the time, and I felt it likely that she had indeed passed over.

It seemed logical that perhaps the best choice for contacting anyone on “the other side” would be someone who had been a channeler. I conferred about this with Bret and Gina and they agreed that the next time we did a ghost box session that we should pursue this angle.

In Clifton that’s what we did. But when I asked about Joan Howard the response seemed to be that she was not available. Then Bret gave me a startled look, stating that he had just heard the name “John Keel” come through the speakers. Thus we began asking questions of Mr. Keel. “John, what’s making the chopping sound?” Bret asked. Recently, and going back to 1965, residents there have heard a sound similar to someone hitting a tree with a stick several times in a row. As a local 27-year-old present in our group had described seeing some years ago something that resembled Bigfoot in a field down by the nearby Tennessee River, and Bigfoots are alleged to presumably communicate by striking a tree with a stick, Bret was thinking that there might be a Bigfoot in the area. A male voice came back from the speakers with “A monster.” I pointed out (as Bret wasn’t that familiar with Keel) that Keel often referred to Bigfoots as simply “monsters” and proved this later when I dug out of my files the very first letter that Keel had personally written me back on October 28, 1969, in which he wrote: “Operation Trojan Horse is still not scheduled and is not likely to appear until the fall of 1970. I have written another book, an encyclopedia of ‘monsters,’ which will appear in paperback next spring. It touches upon UFOs and the MIB and includes some material I had to delete from OTH.” Keel, as was his style, covered the gamut of weird beasties, and while lots of the cases in his book (later published under the title of Strange Creatures From Time and Space) were about Bigfoot, there were also lake serpents like Nessie, Mothman and other flying man-like beings, MIBs, etc. In fact, the word monster even pops up in the very first sentence of chapter 1, where Keel wrote: “No matter where you live on this planet, someone within two hundred miles of your home has had a direct confrontation with a frightening apparition or inexplicable ‘monster.’”

During the ghost box session Keel was asked about Mothman, and the words “spirit source” came through. The word before spirit sounded to me like it could have been “access.” When I pointed that out to Bret later, he replied: “That’s the frustrating part of this. When you can almost get exactly what they are telling you but not quite.” As for “spirit source,” in chapter 9 of The Mothman Prophecies, Keel noted how not long after Mothman’s first appearance in November 1966 in the TNT complex, police had found the completely charred remains of a dog (nothing in the surrounding area had been burned). Keel even pondered: “I wondered if it might not have been sacrificed in some secret magical ritual by some unknown local warlock: a ritual that brought Mothman into being?”

While we were trying to converse with Keel we got “too much beer.” We came to suspect that the man who expressed concerns about the Ouija board had already had a drink or two, and then after the ghost box session and we were leaving several of his drinking buddies were coming in the door with alcohol. We asked Keel how he was doing and got that he was “happy.” When we initially asked if Keel was there we got “I’m here.” The MIB (men in black) may not have been far away, as “Kill Bret” even came over the speakers! I asked Bret about that later and he said, “Not sure what the hell that was all about but no worries. I’ve got more friends over there than enemies!”

I pointed out to Bret that one of the portions of audio where we got the words “John Keel,” that the first name sounded to me like it was spoken by a different voice than the last name. “The two different voices thing happens often,” he replied. “I think it’s due to the radio sweeps into a different band and it makes the tone of the voice change. Just sounds different to us but is the same person.”

“We got ‘John Keel’ 2 or 3 times for sure and got answers from him too,” Bret added. “It’s all fascinating and we continue to be blown away by some of the intelligent responses we got.”

Indeed the “voices” seemed very interactive and intelligent many times. For example, Sandy Nichols was saying that he heard someone yell out the number 30 again on the ghost box, at which point an unidentified male voice clearly yelled out from the speakers “40”! Sandy thought that we might be communicating with a spirit from the Civil War era and asked if he was with the Rebels or the Yankees, and the word “Yank” came through. Sandy had been sitting on the floor, then stood up and asked the ghost box what he was doing, and about three times a voice explained that he was standing up! There was also an odd conversation that came over the speakers where one voice said “sit” (sounded mechanical like) and a man’s voice said “I don’t want to sit.” When I mentioned this to Bret, he replied: “The two people carrying on a dialogue has happened several times before. We’ve even heard them ask each other questions about what we asked them!”

To date, I have participated in a total of three ghost box sessions. My wife and daughter have attended four. We can verify how in each session Bret and Gina’s guide, identifying himself as “Bishop,” comes over the speakers, how they’ll speak to him and at the conclusion of the session they’ll ask him when to terminate the ghost box session, and he’ll respond (or somebody does)! Bret explains: “We learned early on that using a Ghost Box is dangerous and we learned how to protect ourselves from any ‘dark entities’ that may use this and come through. Part of that was to find a guide or some call them technicians. When we first started we kept hearing a man named Steve say his name. We asked him if he wanted to be our guide and work with us to keep us safe and help with the spirits on that side. He stayed around for about the first three weeks and then we didn’t hear him anymore. We immediately started asking if there was another spirit who would like to be our guide. Every session we would do this and after another couple of sessions we started getting the name Bishop all the time. Bishop has been with us ever since and has been very helpful. We’ve only had to shut the Ghost Box down two times due to bad spirits coming around. He warned us both times. Bishop has told us he was killed in a jet in Laos when he was 26. He was from Texas. We feel most of the spirits are more than willing to help but there are lots of times they ask us for help. We don’t want any spirits attaching themselves to us so we always tell them they have to stay on that side and before we shut the Ghost Box off we ask Bishop to tell us when it’s clear to do so. That way we know that all the spirits are where they are supposed to be and clear. He will always tell us when it’s safe or clear to shut down.”

In Dr. Konstantin Raudive’s 1971 book Breakthrough: An Amazing Experiment in Electronic Communications with the Dead, he described how experimenters back then were aided too it seemed by a guide on the other side whom they called a “mediator.” Though they didn’t have ghost boxes back then, they did use radio frequencies. Dr. Raudive wrote: “If one is relying on the help of the ‘mediator,’ one glides slowly from one end of the wavelength-scale to the other and listens carefully for a voice that will hiss ‘Now’, or ‘Make recording!’, or some such hint. At that precise moment one switches on the tape recorder…”

Twice now we have secured permission to conduct paranormal investigations at a large three story medical hospital in Fayetteville, Tennessee, a facility that had closed its doors the day before 2001’s infamous 9/11. In the company of several former staff (nurses and respiratory therapists) we’ve gone in and taken hundreds of photographs, and hours of digital recordings and video on the Saturday nights of May 8th and June 5th. As a result, we have several dozen EVP-type audio anomalies (i.e., odd whispers, some full voice EVPs, adult and child-like voices, many seemed to be responding to our conversations and questions, hissing type sound, etc.), as well as a few unusual photographic images (i.e., strange shadows, a ball of light, and what looks almost like a partial image of a person around a nurse’s station). On the second night we did another ghost box session which again resulted in some pretty dramatic, emotional and evidential moments for one participant in particular, a nurse who had lost her father about 16 years earlier and wanted to see if she could make contact with him. “It was amazing that it came up with her dad’s real name,” stated Mark Kelso, a respiratory therapist, director of the Arts Center, and a good friend of this nurse. “There are very few people who know his real name. It was plain as day, and then to come through with her sister’s name and also her sister’s son’s middle name.”

“We got several full sentences,” Bret pointed out, referring again to the regular EVPs. “Some friendly and some who absolutely didn’t want us there.” As examples, in one instance a female voice was recorded saying “Go away,” while in Room 310 a male sounding voice was recorded saying, “Get out of here,” and in surgery on the second floor a female voice uttering “Get out” was also recorded. Sometimes there was an element of humor, as when Bret asked “Is anybody in here?” and then the recorder picked up a faint “no.” Another time Bret was talking about having just seen a strange shadow figure and there was a faint whisper saying “No one here.” Other times it seemed that a spirit was genuinely wanting to reach out to us, as in Chandra’s recording on the third floor when a whispering voice saying “help me” was recorded, a few minutes before Bret’s K2 meter lit up in the stair way. “Some were in conjunction with K2 hits as well as like in the ER room and coming down the stairs by the snack bar,” Bret added. “It’s always good to get a second validation of a presence. A few of the ladies reported feeling like someone touched them. I know Gina felt that once. On the second investigation (name withheld) reported that something had grabbed her leg and she jumped when it happened.”

In addition to what our cameras and recorders could pick up and document, indeed a number of us had our own direct, deeply personal and of course totally and wonderfully subjective experiences with the unknown. On our first investigation, it was just my daughter and I in one hallway when Chandra heard a hiss like sound (which she also recorded) and then just moments later an apparent EVP. Mark Kelso found this incident quite interesting as he had heard an unexplained “hissing in the stair well” nearby the Wednesday before during a brief daytime visit.

“When talking to the owner he told me that a couple of years ago that sound chased two of our local police out of the building when one of them dropped their flashlight and the other one quit working,” Mark explained. “They had seen lights on in the building and were investigating. First one cop, then the second arrived. Both saw the lights, but after they ran out the lights were off. They waited until the next day to go back and retrieve their flashlights.”

The second investigation didn’t produce nearly as many audible or clearly discernible EVPs as the first one. This was largely due to the fact that just before our investigation a large number of young people had been in the hospital firing air ball guns at each other and those little crunchy air pellets left behind on the floors made it very difficult to obtain quality low noise background recordings as we walked though different rooms and hallways trying to observe and document anything paranormal. In addition to the pellets, young people could be heard talking and yelling out in the parking lot (or from somewhere nearby) for a pretty good while after the air gun people had vacated the building. (I should point out that young people had also been in the building the time before with their air ball guns, but these problems didn’t seem as bad that time) Nonetheless, despite the investigative obstacles and shortcomings, our group was definitely having some very interesting first-hand experiences, and thanks to the tireless efforts of Mark more and more intriguing details of the history of this hospital’s haunting events were coming to light.

For example, Mark had spoken with a nurse who described how “her husband and son (husband is a Sheriff’s Deputy) was cutting through the hospital grounds one night on their way to return a video. When they came around a woman in white with red hair crossed the road in front of them and walked through the brick wall into the hospital.” Mark also added, “She also got a call one night of a lady in white (white hair this time) going by the Nursing Unit on 3 West and entering the elevator without opening the door.”

Bret found this quite interesting as on the second investigation we had broken up into two different groups when something really strange took place. “My group was sitting on the desk of one of the nursing units doing some EVP work,” Bret remembered. “Several of us saw a baseball sized, very bright orb like light in front of the hall doors east of us. It happened several times. Chandra was picking up on a presence and during all of this I was sitting right by the elevator doors. I did see a whitish misty looking form pass by me and appear to go right into the closed elevator doors. I said something to everyone in our group at the time. It wasn’t a full body apparition but it was something. I jumped up and felt the air around there and it did feel colder for a bit. Not sure if it’s related to this story about the lady in white but an odd coincidence nonetheless.”

My wife Joan was in that group and recalled this event. “We were sitting at the nurse’s station, like Bret said,” she told me. “I looked down the hall and I saw the white light and it was moving. When I first saw it it was moving right to left, and as best as I can remember it was moving back and forth for a few seconds. It appeared to be just on the other side of the broken glass in the door. I really had the uneasy feeling that there was someone or something behind the door thinking about coming through. Chandra was getting the impression of someone named Sareena and she asked what it was like where Sareena was and Chandra had the impression that it was cold. I asked, ‘How old are you Sareena?’ There were immediately four loud bangs, like something hit the wall.” Those sounds were picked up on digital recorder and were never satisfactorily explained. Joan said that the light she saw indeed looked like it could have been baseball sized.

Several people, just through word of mouth, have been coming forward in Fayetteville wanting us to investigate their haunted homes. “That’s one haunted little town!” Bret exclaimed. “I am drug free and drama free!” noted an OR nurse who joined us on this second hospital investigation. She said that though she had only worked in this hospital for a short time, she “always felt spirits there.” She described how on a number of occasions, just after getting into bed, she would experience a strange presence. “The minute I feel the overwhelming presence of someone being in the room, it’s on top of me,” she noted. “I can’t move or turn. It’s like hugging me or squeezing the breath out of me. Couple times my pillow has moved! …several times have been pulled and tugged on while in bed, like it’s trying to get me up!” She didn’t see anything any of these times as the lights were switched off, but added that she was “not asleep” and had “just laid down.” “I have high pitched sounds that occur. Sounds like two crystal glasses clinging together. It happens in different areas of my house. My kids have also heard this many times!” She also has heard it in a hotel bathroom in New Orleans and in a bathroom in Nashville, so it’s not just exclusive to her Fayetteville residence.

Here’s the odd tale that really gave me goose bumps. “I have a mannequin in my dining room with party attire on, and she has a party horn in her right hand. A couple of months ago, around 11 p.m., the house was silent. Six times I walked into my bedroom and the horn blew. Finally I burned some white sage, walked back into my bedroom. It happened again. I took the horn out of her hand and hid it behind a bunch of baskets, behind a door in an antique ice box. I walked back into my bedroom. It blew again, but the sound was very muffled, low pitched! Never told anyone. This was on Thursday. The following Saturday I was sitting at the diningroom table, looked over and the horn was back in her hand.”

There’s certainly much more to tell yet, and thought-provoking new developments continue to happen all of the time, but for now this will have to suffice. This article is about the size that it needs to be now.

I will add one more paragraph, however. I was reviewing with Bret what I had written in this feature and he had something that he thought that should be pointed out regarding the so-called ghost box. “The more we used it and understood the proper use of it we decided that calling it a ‘ghost box’ was inappropriate and we started referring to it as a ‘spirit box,’” he explained. “We feel we are communicating with spirits in a different plane of existence and not what one would normally think of as a ghost, even though that has happened. We have had ghosts that are residing in a location use the spirit box to communicate with us but the majority are spirits on the other side of the veil so we now call it a ‘spirit box’ as we respect and appreciate what they do for us.”


1. The man who had recently passed away in this house had been something of an international sensation back in 1969. In fact, none other than John Keel’s very dear former friend and colleague Ivan T. Sanderson wrote about this man (W.J. Baker, 40 at the time) and how he had been severely burned by a mysterious underground fire at the Perry Davis farm in Clifton. (An article by Sanderson was published on this and other odd and unexplained fiery events in FATE magazine’s January 1978 edition). Some years back (1992) I spoke with Flora Mae Davis, a former columnist for the local Wayne County News, who broke the first story on this incident in that newspaper back on August 1, 1969. It later went all over the world, carried by UPI, appeared in the Stars and Stripes, and in foreign newspapers. The ground had simply collapsed underneath Baker and he was very badly burned as he sank down almost to his knees. Ms. Davis told me, “When he returned [home] he took off his shoes and socks and the skin came off his feet with them. He had scalded his feet.” He was immediately hospitalized and almost lost one of his legs.

The story caused quite a bit of excitement. Ms. Davis said that some people thought it was a sign from hell! One lady wrote a letter with Bible passages. “And some people thought, even some people around here, said ‘Oh, that thing didn’t land on the moon. It landed right out there on the Davis farm.’ There was all kinds of speculation.”

Some people wrote constructive and reasonable letters describing how soft coal at strip mining sites had been known to burn underground in a similar way. Incredibly Ms. Davis told me that the fire burned for about seven years! “Now this is my theory,” she said. “The year before, I think it was in August, there was a minor earthquake in this area. Our farm is around this area where this thing caught on fire. There are wet water springs and they’d seep this oily stuff and I’ve had this idea that there’s some type of oil or something. I’ve got this idea that this minor quake shifted the rocks. There’s an open fault through here and it created the bend in the river.”

She said she had read a lot of literature on the subject, and added that she had talked her theory over with geologists who she said might be correct. Ms. Davis pointed out that across the river from her farm, between World War I and II, there was a lot of oil prospecting going on. So there was oil, but they didn’t feel it would profit them enough to go further with it.

Ms. Davis added that there was an old iron furnace on this farm that had been destroyed at the beginning of the Civil War when Union gun boats shelled this site and others while cruising down the Tennessee River. She said that back during the Mexican War this furnace had been used to make cannon balls. Back in those days the property had been owned by one Solomon H. Baker who Ms. Davis described as having had about 100 slaves, a brick kiln, iron furnace, and a tannery. She believed that he used charcoal to fire the furnace. She said that they used to cut hardwood logs and stacked them upright in deep ditches or against a bank and then piled dirt around them and set them on fire and they then burned them underground. She said they had controlled burning that produced the charcoal. “There was enough charcoal out there to have furnished all of the charcoal grills in the country for years if we had realized it,” Ms. Davis stated. “This charcoal was what burned.”

“There was no smoke,” she added. “That was the weirdest thing.” She described how most of the time you wouldn’t see it, that you’d have to stand back and look at it and then, like seeing heat waves over a paved highway on a hot summer day, that’s what it resembled. “It looked like that,” she said. “Occasionally you’d see a blue flame.”

“The heat was so intense. You’d go out there one day and there would be this big tree maybe. The leaves would all be wilted. You’d go out there two or three days later and the tree would be laid down. It would have fallen. The roots would have been burned out from under it. …Then you’d go out there and finally after maybe a week or two there would just be a hole. You could just see the ash where that tree had burned.” She said the area was about an acre in size, and appeared to be pretty much a circular area in shape.

Contact Information:

Mark Kelso

President Fayetteville-Lincoln County Arts Center

303 Main Ave. So.

Fayetteville, TN 37334


Gina and Bret Oldham


Phone: 1 (615) 557-2455


Sandy Nichols: