LENOX — Robert Oakes has been main ghost excursions at The Mount, Edith Wharton’s former residence, since 2010.
An English main in faculty, Oakes had learn Wharton earlier than. However he stated his curiosity in ghost tales within the Berkshires started to develop when he found Wharton’s fascination with the paranormal.
“I by no means knew that Wharton was a author of ghost tales and had some fairly deep and darkish fears about ghosts and ghost tales,” he stated. “And I by no means knew that The Mount had this paranormal historical past — a lot of it — till I began working there.”
His work at The Mount led to the chance to write down “Ghosts of the Berkshires,” launched in September of 2020. Now, Oakes is engaged on one other ebook of ghost tales, this one about his hometown in New Jersey.
Alongside along with his common ghost excursions at The Mount each Friday evening, Oakes will lead a restricted variety of excursions for kids within the late summer time and fall. He can even lead tours at Ventfort Hall and is sharing cemetery tales at Church on the Hill in Lenox, 5 p.m., July 24; Aug. 21, Sept. 11 and Oct. 2, 16 and 30. For info and pricing, go to robertoakes.net
Not too long ago, Oakes took the time to reply just a few of our questions.
1. Have you ever all the time been within the paranormal?
For me, in all probability the larger curiosity was in spirituality on the whole. A way of the mysterious, the unseen has fed its method into a whole lot of my writings, whether or not it is songwriting or story writing. I’ve all the time felt a sure sense of presence of unseen forces at work on the planet after which been fascinated by it. I do not know that I essentially all the time check with it as ghosts. However to me, there’s a whole lot of overlap between what I am speaking about and ghosts.
2. You say in “Ghosts of the Berkshires” that the Berkshires is a hotspot for ghost tales. Why is that?
I do not know if I do know what it’s precisely. It is mysterious. However I really feel like you’ll be able to really feel it. Like, once I’m away for some time and go someplace else, after which come again, there’s one thing that, as I drive up, say, from New York, it appears nearly such as you move by means of this type of forcefield. As you reenter this place, the vitality shifts, and there is only a totally different sort of resonance, and you’ll really feel it grasp you. I believe that typically what we expertise as ghosts is a few manifestation of that presence, after which we inform a narrative about it.
3. What are your ideas on perception and skepticism with regards to the paranormal?
In my life, there have been instances once I’ve believed very strongly. After which there are occasions once I’ve been very skeptical… One of many explanation why The Mount spoke to me a lot was due to Wharton’s personal concepts about ghosts and ghost tales. One of many issues that she wrote about in her preface to her ebook of ghost tales was this concept that, with the intention to be affected by these tales, we have to sort of step down from our rational mind.
4. The place are you on the spectrum between believing and skeptical proper now?
I’m in a perception place — let’s put it that method. It is so tough to reply. It is a laborious factor to pinpoint as a result of some issues elevate your skeptical thoughts a bit of bit extra as a result of they simply are not actual. After which [for] different issues, there simply appears to be a mysterious presence at work there that’s actually laborious to disclaim… My sense is that we do not get to be one with out the opposite. We come at the whole lot — or at the very least I really feel like I do — with each of those eyes open. And there is a form of attention-grabbing rigidity that varieties while you apply each of them.
5. What’s an instance of a time while you encountered the paranormal?
I used to be giving a tour to a gaggle of paranormal investigators, researchers and psychics, and sooner or later, they began to do what’s often known as EVP [electronic voice phenomena] work the place you employ an audio recorder to document the room … One of many questions I requested was, “have you learnt my identify?” Now, we heard nothing within the room on the time. However afterward, after we went again downstairs, we performed again the audio, and certain sufficient, after I requested the query, “have you learnt my identify?” you’ll be able to hear this gravelly voice. It sounded prefer it stated, “Robert.”
Now, I do know that there could be unusual distortions in audio units. I do know that there is a little little bit of, “do I need to hear my identify?” Possibly it was just a few sound that I interpreted as my identify… [But] it felt very actual to me in that second. I felt like I had acquired a solution.