BY LAUREN MESSERVEY
I was arrogant. I can admit that. The Rue Crew raised a glass to our night at the Beverley Street Séance together nearly an hour before we met with our guide, and I was confident that I could take it. I was nervous, yes, but I’d been through a lot of spooky experiences in my life, both of the normal and paranormal variety. This was only a “haunted attraction” and with my acute powers of horror discernment, it would be easy to figure out who was pulling the strings.
Three and a half hours later, I was alone in my Uber and I couldn’t shake the feeling of being watched. Despite my more practical mind begging me to return to reality, I kept going through the experience in my head, replaying every moment from that night. Those last twenty minutes, in particular, were like a decrepit, haunted song that was exhumed from the depths of my memory. Whatever had happened, it felt real — and that was the point.
Jaymes White, creator of the Beverley Street Séance, isn’t a conjurer, per se. He’s been called a “witch” by some who have attended his previous séances, but according to him, he’s merely a mentalist with an innate ability to get under his audience’s skin.
“It a hundred percent depends on the group,” says Jaymes. “It’s totally different. What happened tonight won’t happen tomorrow night and even if the same person comes again, the experience won’t be the same. That’s the thing — I’m here to guide people through it, but it’s the audience that really brings the horror to life.”
“I’m here to guide people through it, but it’s the audience that really brings the horror to life.”
He said this to me as I sat across the dining room table of one of the rooms in the house. To our group, this area had been the center for a lot of paranormal activity. This was where things really started to get creepy for our group and although it was considered a highly “haunted” hotspot, Jaymes says that the bulk of the activity, and its location, depends on the group as well.
“For some people, it’s in the upstairs, while for you guys, it was down here in the dining room. It’s interesting. People hear and see different things in various rooms of the house, so I sort of cater the experience to what they’re feeling, to what they’re sensing. And I’m not making this up, I sometimes hear it too. It starts off small, but sometimes I hear footsteps too.”
That’s how it begins. It’s very subtle: one person notices one thing, then someone else notices the same. As we walked through the house, the experiences built up more and more until it reached a pitch, crescendoing into a paranormal symphony that no one, not even the skeptics, could deny. It might have been for that reason that as I walked back in the house to speak to Jaymes, I was suddenly very aware that I could no longer identify what was real and what wasn’t.
“I wanted to come up with something that was so psychological, so messed-up, that you begin to question your own reality,” said Jaymes. “A lot of the other haunted attractions, they’re just not scary. I actually got the original idea for the séance from the movie IT. A lot of that book is about kids confronting their own demons and I thought, ‘how can I put this into the experience of a séance?’ It’s more intimate this way, I think, when you’re confronting your own mind.”
I considered that for a while after the interview. Jaymes trains law enforcement for a living and has a background in studying serial killers, so he clearly knows about the dynamics of the human mind. In only two hours, he was able to transform an entire group of people who one might call “experts” in the study of being scared into terrified believers or, at the very least, into people who were questioning their own reality. It’s a rare thing, that kind of power, and it’s something that a lot of the Beverley Street Séance participants aren’t quick to forget anytime soon.
“It’s the kind of ‘in your head’ scare I’m into, because that stays with you forever,” says Jaymes. “You may have to sleep with the lights on in a couple days, which a lot of the people who have attended my séances have had to do. I get messages every day from people who say that they’ve needed to sleep with the lights on or with the TV on, and it’s such a cool feeling because it’s so unique in a group setting like this. You don’t get that feeling anywhere else.”
As I’m writing this, I’m thinking back on everything that happened in that house. I’m thinking about the fear that crept up slowly, bit by bit, like those eerie footsteps up an abandoned hallway that grew louder and louder with every approaching step. I’m thinking about the way my stomach started to churn and the sweat that broke out over my brow. Most of all, I’m thinking of how in the final moments of the séance — I actually had a moment when I thought I needed to leave. I don’t think I’ve ever heard my own heart thud in my ears until that night and although I’m happy that I didn’t leave, I’ve never been brought to that point before.
Is it real? Ultimately, whether or not you’re a skeptic doesn’t seem to matter. In fact, skeptics can be an asset to the experience. “Skeptics are the best, because they’re the ones who want to believe the most,” says Jaymes. “I’m a skeptic myself, but I’ve had a lot of weird things happen during these séances. I don’t care as much about the results; I care about the participants. I want you guys to be safe and to enjoy the experience together. That’s my main concern. The rest is up to you.”
If there’s one thing I could take away from my experience at the Beverley Street Séance, it’s that reality is highly subjective. I felt some things during those two hours that I can’t define; what I thought or saw, or what I thought I saw, takes a backseat to the experience itself. The only facts that I, a horror fanatic and firm believer of the paranormal, can ascertain is that I was genuinely terrified during that séance — and I have never had more fun being scared in my life.
The Beverley Street Séance is open until November 30th at the famously haunted George Brown House. You can buy your tickets online at www.jaymeswhite.com – premium tickets are available. Go today – you don’t want to miss out.