Reiki masters, psychic mediums and essential oil sellers crowded into the Bundy Museum of History and Art on Oct. 26 for “An Evening of Eccentricities,” the museum’s second-annual Halloween season exhibition that offers a crash course in paranormal phenomena.
The eccentricities were spread throughout all three floors of the historic building, with experiences ranging from a ghost investigation on the ground floor to a demonstration of the potential mystic powers of dowsing rods in the third-floor art gallery. Attendees were free to roam the hallways of the museum while waiting for presentations to start, and check out the various vendors stationed in the museum’s annex.
The evening’s activities had a local focus, building off of the rich and spooky history of the Binghamton area. The annex contained a “Rod Serling Room,” which screened Twilight Zone episodes created by the longtime Binghamton resident. A reading of ghost stories on the third floor told tales of hauntings throughout the Southern Tier.
While some of the event’s volunteers and presenters were affiliated with the Bundy Museum, many volunteers came from the Unity of Light Spiritual Center, a Vestal-based religious center that describes itself as a “Christian spiritualist church,” including Lorie Jarrold, a Vestal resident who came to the Bundy Museum to read local ghost stories.
“It’s a great place because there’s people there with the same frame of attitude that I have,” Jarrold said. “If I walk in there and say, ‘Hey, I bet you that happened in another lifetime,’ they sit there and go, ‘Yep, got it. I understand what you’re talking about.’”
Jarrold’s attitude toward the paranormal comes from her own life, and she discussed her own experiences with ghosts and hauntings in vivid detail. She pushed back against the idea of spirits as a scary phenomenon, a misconception she believes has been spread by popular media. For Jarrold, hauntings are meant to be heartwarming — a connection with the friends and family you have lost.
“They want you to know that you’re still loved by them, that you’re important to them, you’re important to be here on this earth touching other people’s souls,” Jarrold said.
One of the more interesting demonstrations came from Jarrold and Don Truesdale, an Owego resident who specializes in the use of dowsing or divining rods to predict the future and clear negative energy from individuals. He said the rods told him six months before the 2016 election that Donald Trump would win the presidency and never strayed from their conviction, despite his hopes they would change their mind.
“I hunt low entities in homes and I drive them out,” Truesdale said. “If you have an attachment to you or a lot of negativity, I can clear it off with the rods. They answer yes or no questions, I can find out a lot of things and I always ask God’s good spirit world to work with me and through the rods.”
While his claims may sound outlandish to those who consider themselves skeptics, Truesdale is sincere in his beliefs. He said he is simply allowing the spirits to do what they may.
“The thing I tell them is, ‘If I thought I was influencing them I’d throw them away,’ because I’m not that kind of person,” Truesdale said.
Author AmarA sat on the first floor near the doorway, selling copies of her new book “AWAKE: A Vampire Tale.” She said she admires the museum, which has been beneficial to her as an artist.
“The Bundy Museum is really an amazing resource in the community for artists, art lovers, history lovers [and] photographers,” AmarA said. “They do so much here, and they’re so supportive of the people who work with them that it makes it easier to be an artist.”