With Halloween just around the corner, The Escape Home reached out to longtime medium Bonnie Vent to chat about psychic abilities, ghosts and what to do if you think your house is haunted.
EH: How did you find yourself in this business?
Vent: Well, it’s more of a calling than a business. I come from a family of people who have a psychic kind of ability. My grandmother, who was from England, read tea leaves. So I grew up in that kind of environment where it was totally accepted and explored.
Pretty much everybody has a certain amount of intuition about something like, ‘should I take this job or not take this job?’ But if you come down from a lineage where it’s accepted it’s easier. A lot of times little kids will come up with, ‘I was somebody in a past life’ or something like that, and the adults will make them shut that ability down, it’s not accepted. Or if the family has a very strong religious belief, they may feel like you’re talking to demons or certainly something that is not acceptable in their religion. So for a lot of children who have that ability, it gets stunted by the adults who think it’s not acceptable.
EH: Let’s talk ghosts — a classic Halloween costume, but what are they really?
Vent: That’s a very generic term and it means different things to different people. One thing is an energy imprint that a person is able to sense, even if it’s not interacting with them. Usually those come from a very high energy event that happened, like on the battlefields in Gettysburg. A lot of people died and they died instantly. There is this huge energy that’s coming out of that very terrified person as they’re leaving their body, and that imprint can still be there even though they’re not. A spirit person is actually someone from the past who is able to communicate.
EH: Ok, so they’re not monsters per se, they’re all people who were once alive?
Vent: Yeah. Most of the time it’s a loving family member trying to get back in touch. Sometimes it can also be the person’s own guidance, trying to get in touch with them and give them guidance on something.
EH: Do you think that anybody who passes away has the ability to come back and communicate?
Vent: I don’t think so. I think it’s very much like it is in the living world. There are a few of us who are willing and able to communicate in another dimension. And I think the same is true when they pass. It is much more likely that they will get a message through right after they pass. It’s very often reported that people will see a family member at the foot of their bed and then they get a phone call and they find out that that family member has crossed.
EH: How would one tap into their psychic abilities?
Vent: It’s really a matter of being open to it. You’ve got to put your fear aside, because there’s so much in our culture, especially with the paranormal TV shows and all that, that tells you to be afraid. Every horror movie. So you have to push all that out and not be afraid and just be open to the experience.
EH: Speaking of being afraid, what are some signs that your house might be haunted?
Vent: Usually what happens is that people start to notice things that they can’t explain. They hear strange noises, the classic bumps in the night, that kind of thing. And most people ignore it until it gets to a certain point, and then they realize there’s really something going on and it starts to get unnerving. The lights are going off and on. They see things out of the corner of their eye. They feel like they’re being watched.
EH: Ok, so you think your house might be haunted … what’s the next step?
Vent: First I take people through all the logical explanations. If you’re hearing banging in the wall, it could be your pipes that need to be reseeded, that’s very common. Same thing with electrical. And some things can just be weird — you could have ants that crawl into a light socket and make the electric short. So all the logical explanations have to be exercised first, and that usually takes care of most of it.
EH: And if there isn’t a logical explanation?
Vent: You have to start digging a little deeper and document things. You can do that with audio and video and then also keep written logs. You also have to look at the land and the house and who else has lived there. Was your home built on a cemetery? In some states, the law as far as building on a cemetery is that if it’s 100 years past the last person buried there, they can do that. They can purchase the land and just remove the markers and build.
EH: And if you do all of this and feel certain there’s something?
Vent: Then you have someone who’s trying to communicate. So even if you’re not someone who’s capable of doing communication, you can learn and you can have an openness and say, ‘hey, I want to have a conversation with this.’
EH: Do you find that most people are open to that?
Vent: I run into people who are very happy to have this person in their house and consider them to be another family member. So there’s that side of it. And then, you know, a lot of the television shows have made everybody be really afraid. And so sometimes people want to just get rid of them. And well, that’s not how it works. You have to establish communication. You have to find out why they’re there. And then from that conversation maybe you can get them to transition or go elsewhere or quiet down or whatever you want to negotiate. It’s kind of like having a roommate, you know? And if you have a roommate that’s disturbing you, you need to have a conversation with them, right?
EH: Is there a type of home that tends to be haunted more than others?
Vent: Victorian homes tend to have more paranormal activity than others. There’s a couple of reasons why. One is the influence of the spiritualist movement at the time they were built. Plus with normal Victorian architecture you can’t see one room from another room and so it adds a mystery to it in and of itself because then the design is not open. And then also I think the culture at the time, everything was pretty repressed. And so you have that energy that’s kind of building up over time and the homes use a lot of hardwood and glass, which I think stores energy, even if unintended. Now we just have plasterboard.
EH: Is there a market for haunted houses?
Vent: Yes, there are a few instances where a house being haunted is a value add. Actually, I found, like, two where it’s value add to seek out a haunted house. People will actively seek out a haunted location to turn it into a haunted bed and breakfast. There is also the haunted house attraction industry. Someone also may seek out a house known to be haunted because they want a really good deal. Because it’s stigmatized it’s going to sell for less than it would normally.