Monday, December 19, 2016

Repelling & Trapping Spirits

Here's a post I've been working on for a while, guess it's a bit overdue. . .

Previously I've posted about exorcisms, cleansing, and blessings. But that's not the only potential way to deal with spirits.

There's been an increase in attempts to trap spirits on ghost hunting shows, often using a specially made box, such as the Devil's Toybox (a mirror lined box), a Faraday Box (metal), the Inferno Cage Trap (a Faraday Box with cameras and charms), and the Wraith Web Trap (an electrified cube dreamcatcher with a crystal ball in the center).

It harkens back to the Dybbuk Box (a wine box supposedly containing a powerful Demon, one which was even blamed for the holocaust), and Middle Eastern tales of Djinn in bottles and other objects (where the nature of the spirit wasn't always as cheerful as kid's movies might have you believe. . . by the way, Aladdin doesn't take place in the Middle East, it takes place to the east of the Middle East, so, probably in China. But the point of the comment was that often they were so angry from their imprisonment that they punished or killed the person that freed them).

Logically, it's really a questionable pursuit. First off, paranormal investigators aren't even on the same page concerning the existence and composition of spirits. Then there's the fact that it's often 'evil' spirits they're trying to trap, even though there's rarely any collaborating reports of 'evil' paranormal activity in the area. Plus, on occasion, they've claimed to be successful in blowing up trapped ghosts with dynamite, which creates a lot more questions then it answers (assuming you don't subscribe to Scientology, wherein spirits need a physical body to protect them). 

It also directly conflicts with the concept of NOT destroying possessed objects, because the evil is released and free to find a new home.

Another method of dealing with spirits is simply to repel or otherwise block their attacks. Such efforts date back well into ancient times, with ceremonial bowls being buried under houses, and magical talisman being kept in the house. The ancient Egyptians are said to have used honey to repel evil spirits. More recently in the USA, people would put a baby shoe inside or near a wall (since babies are often considered more at risk, I'm not really sure what this is supposed to do to repel evil, maybe it's just to confuse spirits).

Water mixed with herbs, and sprinkled around, or brushed on mirrors is said to be effective as well. Not to mention mirrors themselves, placed in windows, are supposed to ward off spirits.

Salt has long been used to ward off demons and witchcraft. The whole activity of throwing a pinch of salt over you shoulder to ward off bad luck after you've spilled some, is actually a Christian ritual intended to keep the Devil from sneaking up on you because you wasted such a precious resource (mind you, salt is not as hard to get a hold of as it once was).

Garlic may also be used to ward off demons, of which vampires are sometimes considered a 'sub-species'. Garlic salt seems like it should be a particularly useful tool. Other countermeasures often involve the corpse of the suspected vampire itself; such as pulling out all their teeth, tying them up, nailing the coffin shut (which is still done today), staking the corpse, wedging a brick in their mouth, or carving out their heart, burning it and drinking water mixed with the ashes. Delicious.

The dwelling itself can even be designed to repel evil. In China roofs are curved to deflect evil spirits, which are said to fly quickly in straight lines. So if one hits your roof, the arc will throw it back into the air.

And if all else fails, or you just want to be left alone without bothering the spirits, the TAPS book Seeking Spirits claims that green olives will simply dampen your ability to perceive spirits. But you may need to eat a lot of them to get this benefit, like a jar.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The haunted Lotus Cafe (Portland, Oregon) is to be demolished

Where do ghost go when the building they haunt is demolished? I don't know. Some people say that spirits haunt the land, which means they don't go anywhere, they haunt the new building. Others believe only objects can be haunted, and that once you remove the haunted object from the property, the haunting ends. John Zaffis comes to mind. There's other theories and combinations of the two theories, but I could get sidetracked discussing irrelevant theories. After all, scientifically, you have to prove there even are ghost before you assert that anything might happen to them.

Point is, sometimes haunted places get demolished, and paranormal investigators are left with questions. Which is exactly what's happening to the Lotus Cafe and Cardroom, which is being leveled for make room for a high rise hotel:

I saw the boarded up building for myself last week, and again this week:

I like to think that people would have tried harder to save a historic building, a haunted landmark, or at least a favorite hangout. But this is real life, the building is pretty worn down, business might not have been great, and a hotel really would be good for other businesses in the area.

So what will happen with the haunting? I've heard stories go both ways. Sometimes the property continues to be haunted when a new building is put up, such as the private home that was built on a site where a rectory had burned years before. Other times the haunting goes away, as was the case when another home owner tore down his porch to get rid of the residual haunting that keeping him up at night.

At the very least it'll be something interesting to keep an eye on if possible.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Flat Earth & Hollow Earth

I've posted previously on the group still convinced the Sun revolves around the Earth, and as I prepared to write up a bit on those who still think the Earth is Hollow, I found I never actually posted about the next interesting topic in this category, people who believe the Earth is Flat.

Yep, you read that right, it's 2016 and there are people that still believe the Earth is Flat, people that still believe it's Hollow, and people still convinced the Universe revolves around the Earth. And I'm sure there's a lot more fringe groups with similar beliefs, but we can worry about those later.

(Trekky0623's depiction of Flat Earth, 2008.)

You can visit the Flat Earth Society’s website for yourself:

And if you're into physics, go to their FAQs and scroll down to the bit about gravity, because it's hilarious and totally inconsistent with their answers to other questions:

That probably sounds disrespectful. I suppose it is, but they believe in something and they're sticking to their guns, trying to prove it. If nothing else that shows loyalty and conviction. So, that deserves some respect.

And they do have a point on the Moon landing conspiracy. If a flat Earth were possible with the currently understood laws of gravity, then a spaceship would be unable to orbit the earth because there is no curvature, thus falling back and crashing, so we likely would not be able to reach the Moon. But since Flat Earth doesn't make sense with our current laws of gravity, that doesn't seem likely, it seems more likely that if things 'just fall' the Moon would fall into the Earth. But I'm sure one of them has worked out why that doesn’t happen.

(Map of interior world of a Hollow Earth, from "The Goddess of Atvatabar" by William Bradshaw, 1892)

The Hollow Earth camp seems to be less organized, but they also have websites:
- This is more of a book advertisement then a Society or Network to be fair.
- And wow, I can't even. Just take a look at all that, skim some of it maybe. . . and you'll know what I mean. I wasn't sure if the authors of The Rough Guild to Unexplained Phenomenon were serious about Hollow Earth or not when I was reading their chapter on it, but the sheer amount of content on this site and the fact that it's still being updated suggests the site's authors are serious. And it appears that the Hollow Earth crowd are generally more likely to be religious fanatics then the Flat Earth groupies. Mind blowing.

I think I'm going to need to see if I can set-up some interviews, because honestly the whole thing is fascinating, even if it is hard to swallow.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Death of the Sunday Update

There's not a lot to tell here. They're making me work Sundays, which means no Sunday updates because there just isn't the time. I don't know if I'll pick another day of the week for updates, but I certainly will keep posting in general.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Double Week Update 2016/05/23 - 2016/06/05

I keep missing updating alternate weeks, so I'm not sure the Sunday update plan is working quite as I intend. Sometimes I'm just busy, you know?

I finished that book on reincarnation. It got a little new age-y and psychedelic at the end, though I think the author may have mentioned something about not being new age. . . I'm not sure, I fell asleep a couple times (which is not a comment on the quality of writing). I'm thinking I might be done with book reviews, I'm not sure if they're doing me or anyone else any good. I'm still going to read them, and I'll still be adding books to the alphabetized list as sources to find out more info on subjects, but I'm not sure rewriting my notes is helping me, nor am I sure they're being read much by others.

Speaking of which, while I still have a lot to add to the list, I think I'll go update it, because I've already added a lot.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Deep Dream

If you haven't heard of it yet, Google developed this computer vision AI program, Deep Dream (aka: DeepDream, Inception) which tries to interpret the images it's seeing based on images it's already seen. But it gets things wrong. A lot. It's still learning, you know.

Anyways sometime around July 2015, the team figured this could be used to make surreal art by filtering the images as it tried to interpret them:
(Images from Google, @brdskggs/Twitter, & Kyle McDonald/Flickr, via The Telegraph)

It really seems to like dogs, bugs, eyes, arches, cars, and pagodas. And the more times you run a picture, the creepier it gets.
(I'm not sure where this image came from, but it's just as creepy after I had Deep Dream filter it, especially if you click to view the larger version.)

You can try it for yourself, either downloading and setting up the open source software, or just using one of the easy access sites where you upload an image, like this one:

Here's what happened when I ran one of my cosplay picture through once (yeah, I probably haven't mentioned here that I cosplay before, I'm the one on the right):

Time to play spot the difference; the other girl's hand got turned into a dog, there's a ghost above her spear, I seem to have some extra eyes in odd places, the overhang behind me seems to have become a fish, and the girl  in the black dress behind me appears to have grown a demon monkey head, among other things.

You're welcome for the nightmares!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Weekly Update 2016/05/16 - 2016/05/22

I posted on the value of skeptisim. With that in mind I replace one of my normal research periods with some perusing of skeptical articles. You know, like a purge day for my mind, except I like reading both types of opinions and theories. Anyways, according to an article in the May/June Skeptical Inquirer, there's some study that suggests people with sub-clinical (I think that's fancy talk for not bad enough to medicate) disassociation are more likely to interpret images as having paranormal sources (which they then interpreted as belief/interest in the paranormal). Additionally, people with mild ADHD are more likely to believe in Bigfoot, aliens, and cryptids, 'because they're cool'.

Which naturally brings me to all the reasons I don't believe in Bigfoot, cool as they may be. Of all the tracks I've seen in woods of Bigfoot country; deer, elk, bears, dogs, birds, rabbits, feral goats, horses, humans, I've yet to see a Bigfoot track. Granted, there are supposed casts, but we all know this kind of thing can be faked. And the list of animals I've seen on the side of the road and trails is even longer; deer, elk, rabbits, horses, dogs, coyote, fox, beaver, otter, nutria, opossum, mice, rats, shrew, weasels, cats, raccoons, goats. . . and that's just the mammals, but it does not include Bigfoot. But just because I haven't see it, doesn't mean it isn't real right? Of course. But almost all the evidence presented turns out to be known animals or too contaminated to be useful. There's been a real boom in sightings lately, but historically, there's not enough to suggest a breed-able population of Bigfoot.  

It's not evidence I don't have ADHD, but that's not the point of my rant anyways. I just feel like I would have seen it by now, even if it is rare. Hey, but maybe I'm wrong. How long has it been since Gravity Falls ended? Because I feel like someone's more likely to stumble upon that supposed statue than Bigfoot.