Greg Pocha believes the truth is out there.
He’s just not sure where.
The paranormal investigator, who teaches ballroom and Latin dance in Beaumont when he’s not chasing spirits, has been searching Alberta’s nooks and crannies for signs of paranormal activity for more than 15 years.
Just don’t call him a ghost hunter. Rather, he seeks to ‘help’ ghosts instead.
“I hate the term ghost hunter,” Pocha said. “People treat ghosts as if they’re some kind of animal to catch with butterfly nets — but they’ve forgotten we’re dealing with human beings.”
Pocha, director of the paranormal investigation team Eidolon Project Canada, is based in Edmonton and has investigated several barns and acreages in the Beaumont area. His team works pro bono and has never charged a client.
Pocha believes spirits are just people who died and were not able to make it to the afterlife for whatever reason. They are essentially lost and end up residing in, or “haunting” their former homes.
“They’re there because something has kept them from moving on,” Pocha said.
That may have been the case for Pocha’s grandmother. He traces his first paranormal experience back to when he was a kid, when he remembers seeing his grandmother on the eve’ of her burial.
“It was clear as day, I wasn’t sleepy or anything,” he said. “It wasn’t until years later that I realized it was a ghost I had seen.”
That sparked an interest in exploring the unexplained that has not abated. As a kid, he had already been interested in ancient cultures and thought he might turn out to be an archeologist.
Today he’s still dedicated to digging up proof of the truth, although in a different capacity.
“I’ve always been interested in exploring … And this is kind of like an unexplored field,” he said.
But apart from helping lost spirits find their way (and to stop bothering people in their former abodes), Pocha’s ultimate goal is to acquire knowledge.
In particular, he seeks proof that there is in fact a life after death.
“What we’re doing is we’re trying to find truths, whether it’s pro-ghost or anti-ghost,” he said. “What is it causing this phenomena people are seeing?”
He compares his team’s approach to investigating paranormal activity to the way a doctor assesses a patient.
They first eliminate any possible logical explanation for strange phenomena – a common one is seeing a floating orb in the background of a photo, which often turns out to just be the flash of a camera reflecting off a speck of dust.
Due to the proliferation of ghost-hunting and paranormal shows on television, Pocha says people are more open to the possibility of spirits existing. But they’re also more gullible.
“It’s amazing that 50 years ago, if people saw spots in their vision, they’d go to a doctor before they go to a paranormal investigator,” he said. “But now they hear about orbs and such on television and call us.”
In some instances, clients will be desperate for affirmation on what they believe to be a ghost.
“No matter how much you explain to them that it’s not a ghost they won’t believe it,” Pocha said. “Because they’re not looking for an explanation, they’re looking for validation.”
There’s also the opposite side of the spectrum, where skeptics will say there’s always an explanation for paranormal phenomena.
While there usually is, Pocha says it’s “very rare” for him to come across paranormal activity with no logical or scientific explanation. But it has happened.
In one instance, Pocha and his team were investigating a home near Beaumont where the owners had witnessed strange activity, such as strange noises and cups moving on their own. The previous owners of the home had practised the occult.
Pocha said things like cups moving on their own can be explained by simple physics – imagine a wet glass very slowly sliding across a bar, undetected by the human eye. It’s called super-lubricity.
But Pocha has no explanation for when he saw a latched door fly open at the Beaumont home.
“The door just opened up – it unlatched and we know no one else was around because it was on an acreage,” he said. “There was no explanation for that.”
At the same property, they attempted to speak with the spirit. Pocha said it started obeying their requests.
“This is something a little bit beyond coincidence when it starts happening,” he said. “We’d ask it to turn off just the first two lights, and it would flicker between two and three – it was as if was actually trying to do what we were asking.”
Pocha’s team uses a variety of high-tech equipment to investigate the phenomena, ranging from cameras and recorders to more obscure technology such as electro-magnetic field readers. They place cameras all over the property and monitor them to make sure no one is pulling their leg.
There was one memorable situation where Pocha recalls being overwhelmed by a feeling of electricity, like static, coming over him. At the same time, his colleague Czar Briones recorded the temperature dropping by several degrees steadily.
Another time, he recorded a little girl’s voice in a room full of adults, which is on their YouTube channel.
But Pocha is discouraged by the field of paranormal phenomena being used as a form of entertainment, which is why his team is very careful about what videos they put on YouTube.
“We can’t just put crap up there, because it’s not adding or contributing to the field of parapsychology or paranormal study,” he said. “What it does is it makes it a joke.”
He’s also been approached by television producers asking if he’s interested in taking part in a show.
“I won’t do it,” Pocha said. “Because you kind of have to do it their way, and a lot of the time they sort of embellish.”
The Eidolon Project is entirely self funded – Pocha has sunk a lot of his own cash, time and energy into the project. In some situations, such as when they acquire definitive proof of unexplainable phenomenon, there is a sense of fulfilment.
“It’s a feeling that maybe we’re actually picking up something we can contribute to further the field,” he said.
But despite all his investigations, Pocha has still not unravelled the answers he seeks. And he plans to keep digging at the undiscovered until he does.
“I’m not totally confident (spirits) do exist, but I can’t say they don’t,” Pocha said.
“I don’t have enough empirical evidence to say this is absolute proof. On the other hand, I have enough data to show that there’s something that doesn’t make sense here when I’m recording voices on three different recorders in an empty room.”