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Hey. My name is Caden and I'm from the Chicagoland area.  I'm currently going into my 3rd year at NMU.  I'm a multimedia production major with a double minor in journalism and criminal justice. For as...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas Wiertella April 30, 2024

Demonologist John Zaffis, dubbed “Godfather of Ghost Hunting,” visits Northern on April 9

NMU students who are sick of studying the basics — biology, anthropology, ecology and psychology — will have the opportunity next week to take a crash course in a subject not part of NMU’s curriculum: demonology.

John Zaffis, known as the “Godfather of Ghost Hunting,” describes demonology as the study of fallen angels and deities as they relate to different religions. The 53-year-old Zaffis has over 30 years of ghost hunting experience and will bring his expertise to NMU on Wednesday, April 9 in Jamrich 102. His visit to NMU is sponsored by NMU’s Paranormal Research Team (NMUPRT).

Zaffis is the founder of the Paranormal Research Society of New England and got his start in paranormal investigating and later demonology after an unusual encounter during his adolescence.

“I was about 15 or 16 years old and I had a sighting of my [deceased] grandfather at the foot of my bed,” he said. “At that point, I said, ‘OK, there is something to all this’ and started poking around and really started getting involved with it and reading everything I could get my hands on.”

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Then, Zaffis said he took it a step further and started visiting haunted locations and started doing investigations. About 20 years ago, he started studying demonology and possession. Although his career might sound unconventional to some, the ghost hunter said his work has taken him all around the globe.

“Today I work all over the world with clergy and paranormal groups and still do all kind of crazy things,” he said.

Zaffis said he employs many techniques in order to determine if a specific location is haunted, adding that he likes to familiarize himself with the area as much as possible.

“One of the key things is listening to people,” he said. “The next step is to always go out and do a full investigation and try to spend the night in these places hoping to get some video, EVPs (electronic voice phenomena) or psychic photography. The next thing would be to research and try to find out why these things might be occurring.”

While everyone isn’t a believer of what Zaffis has chosen to dedicate his life studying and exploring, he said the amount of paranormal proof that actually exists all depends on an individual’s opinion.

“To the believer, we have an overabundance of proof that these things do exist,” he said. “To the non-believer or skeptic, we’re never going to have enough evidence.”

After over three decades of experience, Zaffis admitted that he still finds himself frightened in certain situations, something he deems necessary for his field of work.

“You have to remember that there are a lot of things out there that none of us understand,” he said.

“But we proceed with caution and you never know what’s going to happen. When you get involved with things out there, investigating or dealing with something that might be paranormal or the person is schizophrenic or bipolar, you have to keep your guard up. My whole philosophy is when the day comes and I’m no longer afraid of anything out there, it’s time for me to get out of the work,” he said.

Lillian Konwinski, a senior human geography major and chair of NMUPRT, said she and the rest of the group members decided to bring Zaffis to campus because of his notable reputation.

“John is very well known and respected in the field,” she said. “He has influenced the now widespread interest in the paranormal. He really is one of the best.”

Konwinski said Zaffis’ visit will include a lecture, question and answer period and live recording of an actual demon possession.

“One of the most exciting points of his presentation is an actual recording of the possession of Anneliese Michel, the case on which the film ‘The Exorcism of Emily Rose’ is based upon,” she said.

Afterwards, the group will hold a by-donation raffle that will give someone the chance to join Zaffis and the members of NMUPRT on a paranormal investigation Wednesday night.

The event begins at 6 p.m. and is free to NMU students and $2 for non-students.

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