Motivating Spirits"Motivating Spirits," with Dustin Pari and John E.L. Tenney, will start at 6 p.m. Nov. 2 at The Holiday Inn Historic Gateway, 333 Front Royal Pike, Winchester. Doors open at 4 p.m. Complimentary coffee and water will be available. The cost is $55. For more information, call 540-336-4530. Clay Smith's book will be available at the event and on Amazon.com beginning Nov. 2.
Well known TV personalities to speak at event where book will debut next Saturday
By Josette Keelor
WINCHESTER -- When it comes to experiencing the paranormal, Clay Smith of Winchester recommends accepting the unexpected.
In the book he'll debut in Winchester on Nov. 2 with the help of Dustin Pari, formerly of SyFy's "Ghost Hunter's International," Smith is writing to everyone: non-believers, believers and "over-believers" who see the paranormal even where it isn't.
"Everybody's got a story but they're afraid to say it because people think they're crazy," Smith said.
"In movies they want to scare everyone," he said. "Everything is demonic or Satan or the devil."
"Those are some of the myths I'm trying to put to rest here," he said. His book is titled "All You Know is What You Think You Know: One person's journey into the spirit world and other alternate realities ... so far."
"[It's] common sense," he said, "but also things happen that we just don't, we can't explain."
Smith, who owns Harvest Moon Natural Foods in Kernstown, has been a member of the Spirit Watch paranormal investigation group for five years and said he's traveled as far away as Wisconsin to investigate claims of paranormal activity, for no cost.
One of the stories he tells in his book happened at a restaurant in Hagerstown where his recording picked up a voice.
An investigator running a camera said, "I really do not need this," and another voice said, "Sorry, I'm so sorry."
"That 'sorry,' nobody there is saying that," Smith said. "I mean it's a young girl."
In the same building, which was being renovated, "all of a sudden we hear this big huge clang," he said. "We go up, the wrenches hadn't moved, but that was where the sound came from."
Smith said he started researching the paranormal eight years ago after his heart stopped for 20 seconds while he was having medical tests done. He looked into already-established paranormal groups and found Spirit Watch, which now has five members -- two in West Virginia, two in Maryland and Smith in Winchester.
From what he's noticed, people feeling great emotions are more likely to experience unexplained phenomena.
Like when his daughter brought his grandchild to visit for the first time, and the whole family smelled a strong odor of cigarette smoke even though in the 10 years he's lived there, no one has ever smoked in his house.
But what "ripped me off my feet" happened in Middletown in a building where he was told an unseen man would travel through the room smoking a cigar while the wife's spirit followed behind him spraying perfume.
Smith said when he noticed the smell, "It was like someone had poured a bucket of lilacs on my head. ... It made me feel real good."
Smith will debut his book at a motivational/inspirational talk by "Paranormal Rock Star" Pari and John Tenney from A&E's "Paranormal State, The New Class," at the Holiday Inn Historic Gateway hotel at 333 Front Royal Pike, Winchester.
"They're very much into acceptance and fairness of people toward other people," Smith said of the two well-known paranormal investigators.
Other authors Mike Ricksecker, Rob Gutro, Joy Andreasen and Rosalyn Bown also plan to be there.
Smith said he and Pari met and became friends a couple years ago while investigating the Wayside Inn in Middletown and have wanted to organize a talk like this ever since.
In eight years of investigating, Smith said there were only two times he's seen anything strange -- a photo he took of a spirit through a window and a reflection on a staircase. Everything else has been touches, sounds and smells, and most of his experiences have been good ones.
At worst, he said, people might feel scratches from a frustrated spirit.
"It's not a demon scratching you, it's someone trying to get your attention," he said. "Could be, who knows?" he said. "I mean all this is theory."
"I'm not trying to convince anybody of anything. I'm not trying to change the way they think," Smith said.
He doesn't use terms like "Christian" to define his beliefs, "'Cause when you say you're something, you're saying you're not something else." Religions have their own beliefs about the afterlife, he said, and "This is kind of a scientific way of looking at those things."
"We talk about energy that's left behind," Smith said, recalling a couple who heard pounding in their house and later discovered a boarded up closet behind a wall where a girl who used to live there had scratched her name into the door.
But to those who have experienced something, he said, "Realize that you're actually witnessing something happening in a different dimension that you can't see, feel or hear. That should be a big thing for you. That should be a life changer," he said. Instead, he's found most people just tell a friend about their crazy, otherworldly experience and move on. "Really," he said, "they need to check that information and do something with it."
Contact Community Engagement Editor Josette Keelor at 540-465-513, ext. 176, or firstname.lastname@example.org