Alternate Perceptions Magazine, February 2020
The Orbs of Stepney Cemetery
by: Barbara Mango, Ph.D.
During daylight hours, Stepney Cemetery*, (located in Monroe, CT.) looks idyllic. Dating back to the 1700’s, it, like most of New England, is historic, beautiful, and serene - surrounded by a rural and picturesque New England Green, white clapboard churches, and gentle, rolling hills. Yet, this infamous ‘last resting place’ is considered to be one of the most haunted and terrifying cemeteries in the United States.
The creepy, hair on your neck raising activity begins here at nightfall. This is when the strange and inexplicable begins; disembodied footsteps pace, spirit incarnations manifest, malevolent energy threatens, and ectoplasmic blobs (commonly referred to as orbs) appear.
It is widely believed that Stepney Cemetery is “doubly” haunted - sharing apparitional occurrences with its nearby ‘sister’ graveyard - Union Cemetery**, Easton, CT. Many report identical phenomena travelling between the two, including the infamous “White Lady,” an ethereal female spirit. She manifests with long, black hair, wearing a white, diaphanous gown, ‘floating’ back and forth from Union to Stepney Cemeteries. Many believe the White Lady is either the spirit of a woman who was murdered in the 1940s, after she killed her husband; while others contend she died in the 1700’s during childbirth, and travels between both cemeteries searching for her lost child. Paranormal investigations in both Stepney and Union Cemeteries consistently report unexplained fog, cold spots, spirit-type mists, ‘ghost globules’, disembodied footsteps, and glowing orbs.
Stepney Cemetery is also the final resting place of both the late Ed Warren (world-renowned paranormal investigator, demonologist, author, and lecturer), and his wife Lorraine (paranormal investigator, clairvoyant, and light trance medium). Although the Warrens were prolific investigators, The Amityville NY investigation, and subsequent book and movie (The Amityville Horror), was their most prominent case.
The Warren’s often held dinners at local restaurants. Following the meal, guests were invited to their nearby home, to tour the Occult Museum (their large, creepy basement/artifact room displaying supposedly haunted or demonic items collected from their various investigations). Afterwards, videos from their private investigation collection were shown. These included disturbing images such as levitating chairs, furniture moving on its own accord, and menacing, disembodied voices.
On a fall evening in 1999, a group of 25 paranormal “thrill seekers” (myself and friend included) joined the Warrens and their son-in-law, Tony Spera (currently head of the New England Society of Psychic Research), for an evening of food and high-strangeness. Following the dinner/museum tour/discussion/videos, the Warren’s jam-packed evenings usually came to a close. Yet… on this particular foggy and storm-threatening night, they didn’t. Tony stood up and announced: “Due to this evening’s particularly conducive atmospheric conditions, any of you brave enough and willing to do so, are welcome to join me for a ‘field trip’ to Stepney Cemetery!”
Why is inclement weather ‘favorable’ for paranormal activity? During thunderstorms, the air is super-charged with heightened electrical and electromagnetic energy. In addition, increased humidity in the atmosphere, wind, and the sudden drop in barometric pressure heightens energetic conditions. Assuming that ghostly entities need a source of energy to manifest, thunderstorms could provide apparitions with an added electro-magnetic ‘turbo-boost’ to physically appear.
After Tony’s announcement, the majority of our group looked aghast and hastily departed. The remaining eight of us discussed our two options; give in to our terror, jump in our cars, and leave immediately (after all, this is one of the nation’s most haunted graveyards!), or let our insatiable curiosity overcome our fear and anxiety. We chose the latter, albeit with much trepidation. Off we drove to Stepney Cemetery, arriving at 11pm. As Tony led our anxious party through the entry, he announced, “Ok guys, we are not staying together as a group. I will assign each of you a position in which you have to remain until midnight. Not what you were expecting, right?” We looked at one another, stunned, and scared witless. Standing alone, in isolated, ‘designated areas’ in an extremely haunted cemetery, near midnight, during an approaching thunderstorm? Were we crazy?? Or just crazy inquisitive?
It must be noted that the cemetery is off a main road. There are no streetlights. At night it is a pitch-black, an ominous ink-dark kind of black. Tony assigned our ‘positions.’ Mine was in the furthest back corner, next to the original, crumbling stone wall surrounding the cemetery. I stood alone in total darkness. No matter how hard I squinted or stared, I could see no one else. Very scary. Very unsettling. Then I heard a distinct ‘pacing’ sound. The sound of boots walking back and forth across the stone wall. I stared at the wall. Nothing was there-at least not to the naked eye. I absolutely dreaded standing alone in the presence of invisible, ghostly footsteps. I quickly moved away from my designated ‘spot.’ Far enough, so that I could no longer hear the relentless pacing.
Thankfully, after 60 very long and anxiety-provoking minutes, Tony called out, “Ok everyone, we have to leave now. The town gave us a permit to stay here only until midnight”. Whew, was I relieved. Yet, at the same time, what exactly had I experienced? Hearing disembodied footsteps? I was hoping for something more tangible. More concrete. More extraordinary.
I slowly and carefully (no one wants to trip over an ancient, crumbling headstone at midnight!) made my way out of the cemetery. And that’s when it happened. A visible manifestation! Three spherical, glowing blue orbs of varying sizes appeared instantaneously; hovering mid-air, approximately 100 yards away.
Before I continue, it’s important to examine and understand the Orb Phenomena. What do they look like? What are they, exactly? Why do they frequently appear during heightened paranormal activity? Orbs are commonly defined as round globes of light. They seem to float in mid-air, yet can ‘move’ or ‘glide’ extremely quickly. Orbs appear in a variety of colors; white, green, red, blue, transparent, and translucent. Orbs are widely believed to be the manifestation of discarnate spirits, Native spirit-energy, soul/consciousness energy, energy fields, thought forms, or inter-dimensional beings. Perhaps orbs are a form in which spirit is best able to travel. They may be as small as coin or several feet across.
Orbs are most commonly observed in sacred sites, cemeteries, or historic locations. Indeed, there may be a direct correlation between the Stepney Cemetery orbs and the Revolutionary War. French General Comte de Rochambeau played an instrumental role in enabling the Colonists victory over the British. From June 29th-July 1st, 1781, Rochambeau’s troops camped near the cemetery on their way to Yorktown, Virginia, the last major battle of the American Revolution.
The vast majority of orbs are not visible to the naked eye and are only captured via photographs, most especially in flash photography. Thus, ‘orb skeptics’ abound, attributing the phenomena to nothing more than spots on a camera lens. As Fuji Film explains:
"Floating dust particles may cause white spots appearing at different positions on pictures taken by a digital camera using a flash. Dust in front of a subject reflects the flash light and the image of the dust is captured out of focus. Dust, snow, rain, pollen, condensation, or any small airborne particles may cause the same problem. The particle will appear light and big because it is out of focus; it may assume a shape similar to the aperture of the camera, usually round."
Let’s now backtrack to Stepney Cemetery and my first experience with orbs. At midnight Tony led our group out of the cemetery. I had been ‘assigned’ to farthest corner, thus, I the last to leave. As I neared the exit gate (my friend patiently waiting for me), I gasped. Three blue luminescent orbs of varying sizes instantaneously appeared 100 yards away. The largest orb was approximately five feet in diameter, the smallest, 18 inches. I was grasping a small flash camera (which I had never before used and was unfamiliar with), yet, I was too overcome with emotion to use it. Thus, and quite unfortunately, I have no photographs of this spectacular sighting. Today, I would take video (or 2 or 3) of this spectacular phenomena. However, iphones, which are literally glued to our hands and faces, did not exist in 1999. Apple released the first iphone in June, 2007.
I am often asked if, at that moment, I was afraid. Of course I was. I was terrified. Yet, at the same time, I was utterly mesmerized. The orbs were a beautiful and shimmering shade of blue. Incandescent. Many believe that blue orbs symbolize calming and healing energy. They certainly appeared to be benevolent.
The orbs slowly moved towards me in a spectacular manner. They weren’t just moving, they were dancing - weaving and bobbing, floating upwards, downwards, diving into the ground and back out. Merging into one another, and then separating, as they slowly approached me - as a moth to a flame.
I sensed they possessed an innate, deep intelligence - a conscious and spiritual energy. They were moving towards me with purpose and intention. I had the distinct impression they were attracted to my energy, my being, and my ability to perceive them. I stood perfectly still, barely breathing nor blinking - never taking my eyes off of this magnificent phenomena. I eagerly awaited their approach and possible communication. I felt personal contact was imminent.
Other-worldly entities are believed to vibrate at a higher energetic rate than human beings. I came into this world ‘wired’ differently than most - more attuned to higher energetic frequencies and vibrational levels than others. I believe I can see and communicate with ‘spirit energy/orbs’ because we are a close vibrational ‘match.’ Think about it. If orbs are indeed conscious beings, we are not separate from them; they merely reside in a different frequency. If we can dial into this frequency, communication is possible.
At that moment, I felt personal contact and communication with the orbs was imminent.
Yet, to my enormous dismay, I heard Tony’s voice in the distance, yelling loudly. “Barbara, you have to leave now - I have to lock the gate”!
To say the least, I was disappointed, and extremely frustrated. Leave now? Are you kidding me? I had witnessed an aspect of consciousness, unbounded by space and time - materializing in non-human form. It was then, and still remains, one of the most awe-inspiring experiences of my life.
Stepney Cemetery is indeed spooky. Inexplicably eerie things go bump in the night. As aforementioned, I heard disembodied footsteps pacing the perimeter wall-perhaps a ‘wandering’ soldier from Rochembeau’s troops? Or maybe it was Nathaniel Knapp, Revolutionary War Private, and the first person to be buried there, in 1787. He is believed to haunt the grounds.
Many friends have asked me, “Why on earth would you want to pay to be scared out of your mind?” “Was the evening even worth it?” My answer is a resounding yes. Sure, it was scary. Terrifying at times. Yet, it was also transcendent. Awe-inspiring. I was convinced then, and remain to this day, that I witnessed a physical manifestation of human consciousness.
Orbs exhibit consciousness and can respond to requests by appearing in meaningful places at meaningful times. A growing number of people are experiencing the orb phenomena as a spiritual, transcendental, or other-worldly event. Orbs have been sighted during out-of-body experiences, near-death experiences, Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon sightings, and Past-Life Regression Therapy sessions.
As Virginia Hummel, an acquaintance of mine, and Chairman of ORB Encounters at ETERNA (The Convergence of Science and Spirituality for Personal and Global Transformation) states:
Currently, there are two different scientific theories as to the physical makeup of orbs; subtle energy i.e. Chi, Prana and Life Force, or plasma.
Orbs are a beautiful demonstration of manifesting physical reality through consciousness. They are the most readily available proof of the existence of life beyond our third dimension. As the veil thins between worlds, we are afforded the opportunity to connect with the magic and beauty of spirit. We have been given a window to the divine. Thanks to the digital camera, we now have a visual experience that quite possibly validates for the first time what mystics, spiritual leaders, and religious doctrine have expressed for millennia: that we truly are eternal beings.
*Stepney Cemetery is located off Route 25, adjacent to the Stepney Green, Monroe, CT. Open 24 hours.
**Union Cemetery is located at the junction of Routes 59 and, CT-136, Easton, CT. No visitors are permitted after dark. This is strictly enforced by the Easton Police Department.