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Ramsland Brings Supernatural to DeSales

By Pete Paavola
The Minstrel

Professor Ramsland has a few published works on the supernatural. She holds a copy of her book “Ghost” published in 2001. She also has written books about vampire culture in America.
Beware of ghosts, ghouls, goblins, and other things that go bump in the night, for Halloween is quickly approaching. For generation after generation, October 31 has been designated as a day dedicated solely to our fascination with the grotesque, supernatural, and all else make-believe.

For children, it has come to represent a night of endless candy collecting. However, while the autumn holiday is widely known for being a fun occasion, there is some seriousness behind the notions of ghosts, vampires, and werewolves.

Most view All Hallows’ Eve as an opportunity to dress up and visit with friends, but for some the yearly event hits close to home in an entirely realistic manner.

Associate professor and chair of the social sciences department Katherine Ramsland, Ph.D. deals with the supernatural, not just during Halloween, but throughout the rest of the year as well. While primarily known for her renowned role within the field of forensic psychology, she has also written numerous books on ghosts and vampires, including “Ghost” and “Piercing the Darkness.” A frequent paranormal investigator, several years ago Ramsland even coined the term ghosting, which pertains to any abnormal activity surrounding the idea of ghosts and the overall desire to explore the topic in a serious sense.

“I’ve always been fascinated with all things paranormal-- even since I was a child,” she says. “I used to hope a lost spirit would befriend me like out of a children’s story, but I’d always be scared stiff later on at the thought of a ghost visiting me alone at night!”

Ramsland’s involvement with ghosts came as a result of her previous investigation into the modern vampire world. In 1996, after the mysterious disappearance of Susan Walsh, a reporter exploring the underground vampire scene in New York City, she immersed herself in the study of vampires for two reasons. Her primary aim was to learn the missing woman’s whereabouts, but she also wanted to gain a better understanding of the unique sub-culture. Picking up where Walsh left off, Ramsland adopted her own make-believe identity and spent nearly two years living as an undercover vampire, traveling all over America as well as venturing to other countries.

“A vampire is an entity with a hunger so compelling that it will feed off the resources of others for its own benefit,” she says. “There are many different beliefs regarding whether or not vampires are preternatural, and they vary depending on which cultural interpretation you study.”

Although Ramsland was never able to uncover Walsh’s fate, she is happy to have walked away with a better understanding of the modern vampire scene. She still keeps in touch with some of the people she met during her investigation, and the experience eventually lead her to publish several other vampire-based works including “The Blood Hunters,” “The Science of Vampires,” and “The Heat Seekers.”

Ramsland’s interest shifted from vampires to ghosts during her two-year investigation when she happened upon a ring formerly belonging to a vampire named Christian. Shortly after acquiring the ring, she experienced strange dreams so life-like that she decided to contact a psychic who inadvertently inspired her to delve into various supernatural mediums like ghost hunting. Initially, Ramsland’s goal was to discover whether or not the ring was haunted; she had no idea where it would take her next.

“My experience within the vampire scene was exciting, but ghosts—they scare me,” she says. “I knew little about ghost hunting when I first became involved with the field, but I was fortunate to meet a lot of helpful people who made it possible for me to eventually write books on the topic of ghosts.”

Ramsland’s first book about the topic, “Ghost,” was published in 2001 and chronicles her introduction to the world of ghost hunting and her initial experiences within the field of parapsychology. Throughout the book, she shares stories that some would consider tangible evidence for the existence of ghosts.

However, make no mistake: Ramsland adamantly states that this is a study possessing no certainty whatsoever. With the recent increase of paranormal and ghost hunting shows on networks like the History Channel, people are now cashing in on the trend more than ever, meaning more and more faux ghost encounters are being produced. At the end of the day, though, it all comes down to personal beliefs, regardless of whether or not documented paranormal activity is genuine.

“Despite what some might claim, no one can guarantee a ghost will present itself,” says Ramsland. “I want to believe in ghosts, but I still consider myself to be like Fox Mulder of ‘The X-Files;’ I have never truly felt the presence an entity, so part of me is still always trying to disprove the existence of ghosts through logical explanation.”

No one may ever be able to establish that ghosts do in fact exist, but they, along with vampires, attract extensive interest and research. For a fun Halloween read, check out any of Ramsland’s books. With the exception of “Piercing the Darkness,” which can only be purchased directly through her, all are available in the Trexlar Library or online.

While celebrating All Hallows’ Eve this year, remember the haunting realities behind our favorite supernatural characters and that---as Ramsland herself puts it—something is out there.

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