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Oct-27-2010 12:13printcomments

Creating A Ghost: Going Beyond the Case Study

Researchers looking for answers from "the other side" take a new approach.

sketching hand
Philip Aylesford was a figment of their imaginations, but did they bring him to life?

(SALEM, Ore.) - In the year 1972, members from the Toronto Society for Psychical Research (TSPR), directed by Dr. A.R.G. Owen, conducted an experiment to see if they could create a ghost.

They did this by first creating a fictional character, which they named Philip Aylesford. They then created a background story for their ghost, they fashioned him an English Aristocrat who lived in Europe during the late Renaissance period, here is a sample of what they came up with:

Philip was an aristocratic Englishman, living in the middle 1600s at the time of Oliver Cromwell. He had been a supporter of the King, and was a Catholic. He was married to a beautiful but cold and frigid wife, Dorothea, the daughter of a neighboring nobleman.

One day when out riding on the boundaries of his estates Philip came across a gypsy encampment and saw there a beautiful dark-eyed girl raven-haired gypsy girl, Margo, and fell instantly in love with her. He brought her back secretly to live in the gatehouse, near the stables of Diddington Manor - his family home.

For some time he kept his love-nest secret, but eventually Dorothea, realizing he was keeping someone else there, found Margo, and accused her of witchcraft and stealing her husband.

Philip was too scared of losing his reputation and his possessions to protest at the trial of Margo, and she was convicted of witchcraft and burned at the stake.

Philip was subsequently stricken with remorse that he had not tried to defend Margo and used to pace the battlements of Diddington in despair. Finally, one morning his body was found at the bottom of the battlements, whence he had cast himself in a fit of agony and remorse.

The group of researchers then came up with a portrait or likeness for Philip to help make him seem even more authentic to them, bringing him to life in a sense...

So with a background story in place and a portrait of him the experiment could begin.

"Philip Aylesford"

In September 1972 the group began to hold informal sittings or meetings in which they would concentrate on Philip and discuss his life to try to expand on his story and add details to his early life, making him seem as real as possible in their minds.

They practiced visualizing him, holding their sittings in fully lit rooms, this went on for a time with no real or measurable results so the group decided to change their technique and incorporate metaphysical or spiritualist elements to the experiments.

The sittings began to resemble séances by candlelight, they sat around the table and surrounded themselves with pictures of the type of castle they imagined Philip would have lived in and items from the time period they imagined he would have lived in with the hopes of soliciting some effect.

Not long afterwards, during one evening session the group received its very first communication from Phillip in the form of a distinct rap on the table.

Before long the group was asking questions and receiving answers using the basic, one rap for yes, two for no format. They received positive responses from Philip after the group asked if it was him who was with them at this time.

The sessions really picked up from that point on, through the table rapping method the group learned more about Philip, finding out more about his life, his likes and dislikes and his views and preferences. The table even moved on some occasions sliding from side to side, and even dancing on one leg even on a thick carpet and the table was even reported to have chased someone across the room all the while the groups hands were clear of the table when this occurred.

Although Philip could accurately answer questions about events and people from his time period, it did not seem that he presented any information that at least one member of the group was already aware of. Philip's responses seemed to come from their own subconscious minds collectively.

Bernard Powell is a local author and independent publisher; a devout student of religion, mysticism and the language of occult symbolism. He has had a life-long interest in all branches of the paranormal; and is also the founding member of a Salem-based paranormal research society called OPHIR (Occult & Paranormal House of Investigational Research).

You can visit their site at or you can contact him directly at:

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