Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Goodbye 2013

Well, since it’s my last chance to post for 2013, I figured I might as well take it. I’d like to promise that I’ll get in more Case Files, Field Guides, and actual Investigations. I’d like to, but I don’t know what this year holds, so I’m not going to. However there are couple things to expect; I plan to continue my research into the Rendlesham Forest Incident, so I’ll likely be posting about that. And I’ve been researching Water Monsters as well. I’ll probably post multiple Field Guides on that, just due to the sheer number of Water Monsters. I’ve also got a couple ideas and theories rattling around in my head that I’ll be sharing once I get my thoughts together.

It’s been a pretty good year for the paranormal as far as news goes as well; plenty of Ghost, Angel, UFO, and Chupacabra sightings, the real causes of Underwater Crop Circles and other phenomenon were discovered, ancient site including ‘Vampire’ Graves were discovered, and the continuing story of the Amityville Horror house. There were some hoaxes too though, like the Bristol USO. And there’s a good chance the crop circle discovered in California yesterday was a hoax too:
http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/12/30/22114928-alien-or-youtubian-intricate-crop-circle-appears-in-california

Thanks for reading, and Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Kasai rex

There’s actually a lots of reports of dinosaur-like cryptids in Africa. You may or may not have heard about a T-Rex like dinosaur supposedly living in the Kasai Valley, Kasai Rex. A friend of mine mentioned it, and I wanted to be sure I was thinking of the right thing so I thought I'd check Wikipedia, but someone on Wikipedia apparently does not want you to know about it:

At first the reasoning seems simple enough, it should be Kasai rex, not Kasai Rex and the page redirected:

But the page Kasai rex, does not exist:

Backtracking, I reread the notice, which is in reverse chronological order from what I assumed, and find the final excuse claims copyright issues, issues that apparently were not an issue earlier “(G12)”:

This is starting to seem a little fishy… after-all, they've no problem with an article on Slenderman, whose copyright isn’t theirs either:

I’m not claiming Kasai rex exists, both known photographs are hoaxes, but I wonder if there’s some personal vendetta going on here… after all, even hoaxes have Wikipedia pages devoted to them.

--- I’d like to note that I actually quite like Wikipedia, it’s a good starting place, though you should always research further than an encyclopedia (internet based or not) if you want to really know about a subject.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Rendlesham Forest Incident

Having watch two specials on the Rendlesham Forest Incident in 24 hours, I had to admit it was quite an interesting event, that I wanted to learn more about. There’s a summery of the events in my Paranormal Phenomenon list, but basically US airmen stationed at a base in Suffolk, England, witness UFOs in Rendlesham Forest multiple times. Unfortunately  there’s some major discrepancies between the two accounts presented, and I feel that knowing more myself is the only way to clearly understand the timeline of events.

So, I first checked Highlights Guide for the UK NA’s release of MoD UFO files (you may remember this from my previous post). Which yielded this:

(This is a screenshot of the Highlights Guide PDF, available at: http://ufos.nationalarchives.gov.uk/ )

However, downloads of the files now cost about three and half pounds, which does not seem worth if for what appears to be nothing more than notes explaining that the MoD no longer finds these events relevant. So, onto the next source!

My next stop was Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rendlesham_Forest_incident

Which includes a copy of the Halt Memo:


From there I followed the links to the transcripts, analysis, and MP3 of the Halt Tapes:
http://www.ianridpath.com/ufo/halttape.htm

This will be enough to keep me busy for a while on it’s own, and there’s at least 66 other sources to check out!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Mythical Creature Article - Types of Zombies

Zombies are probably the most common monster we encounter in modern media. Modern depiction of zombies show them in various ways. They may be created by viruses, biological warfare, radiation, or magic. And their attributes are just as varied, sometimes they’re slow and stupid, and other times they’re fast, and possibly even intelligent. But the key trait is always that they desire to consume human flesh, or at least brains.

Zombies play on some of the most basic human fears. Realistic fears that have existed since the dawn of humans; illness, war, terrorists, mobs/hordes, psychopaths, cannibals, and death.

Even ancient texts play on these fears in the form of zombies. Ishtar, in The Epic of Gilgamesh, declares that he, “will raise up the dead and they will eat the living. And the Dead will outnumber the living.”

Many precautions were taken throughout history to prevent the dead from returning. Some cultures took measures to confuse the dead, such as taking the body out feet first so it can’t look at the house, as well as changing the location of the door, so it can’t find it’s way back inside. While other cultures attempted to disable the bodies by removing organs, or at least their teeth. The ancient Greeks even had a word for mutilating a body to keep it from coming back to life, Maschalismos. Still others cultures bound the bodies to prevent them from getting up, or stuffed brick wedges in their mouths to prevent them from biting. Even now, in the United States, we STILL bolted the coffin lids shut, an act intend to keep the dead in.


Zombie Myths Worldwide:
(Zombie types are labeled by location, culture, and/or religion)

Draugr (Norse, Scandinavia) - Viking warriors who return from the dead as killing machines, and can only be stopped by being convinced to return to the ground. To avoid draugr attacks, bodies would be removed from the house feet first, and the door would be moved to prevent the corpse from finding it’s way back into the house it came from. When Europeans colonized the Americas, the practice of carrying corpses out feet first, was still in use and came with them.

Revenant (Europe) - William of Newburg, a 12th century cleric, is considered to be the world’s first zombie hunter. He supposedly pursued spirits/corpses that rose from the graves to feed on living humans, which the Christian community called revenants. He believed there was sufficient evidence of revenants, “One would not easily believe that corpses come out of their graves unless there were many cases supported by ample testimony.”

Ghouls (Arabic) - People, usually demon, who are punished after death by being transformed into female demons. Ghouls are siren-like, and will lure desert travelers to them before revealing their true form and eating them.

Jiang Shi, Jiangshi (Chinese) - Also know as Hopping Corpses, these are people which return from the dead to punish the living for an improper burial. Bound by funeral clothes, they hop from place to place, thus the name Hopping Corpses. Unlike modern zombies they don’t have to bite you to change you, they only have to touch you. Many Chinese ritualistically bind bodies to prevent them from leaving their coffins as Hopping Corpses, and some remove their teeth.


Related Creatures:
(Creatures are labeled by location, culture, and/or religion)

Wendigo (Native American) - A possessing spirit which causes humans to have the continued desire to engage in cannibalism after consuming human flesh, usually that of a fallen enemy in order to gain their power.

Strigoi, Nosferatu, and other Early Vampires (Romania, Europe) - In the long history of vampires, some creatures resemble zombies more than others. In fact, vampire originally meant anyone you have a reason to be afraid of. Early blood sucking vampires, Strigoi and Nosferatu, were not the sophisticated social vampires of today’s fiction, these creatures had no conscious, but were simply corpses that rose from the dead to feed on the blood of the living. They were usually sinners cursed for their immoral lives, or innocents buried outside the churchyard who want revenge for improper burial. Some stories even tell that witches and werewolves would become vampires when they died.

Golem (Jewish) - The golem clay creature brought to life by an amulet or a magic word written on it’s forehead. Originally intended to protect people, it started to kill indiscriminately, so the Golem’s creator was forced to kill the creature, either by removing the amulet or changing the word on it’s forehead.

Yuurei (Japan) - Yuurei are hungry ghosts, which rise from their graves to punish humans for mistreatment they endured during their lives. One famous Yuurei is Okiku, a maid murdered and dropped down an old well by her samurai master, for either breaking a priceless dish, or refusing to sleep with him.

Tek Tek, Teke Teke, Bata Bata (Japan) - Tek Tek is a legless ghoul first formed when a beaten girl was run over by a train and lost her legs (Tek Tek, Teke Teke, or Bata Bata, is the sound of crawling on ones elbows). If a person runs or can’t answer Tek Tek’s questions, she’ll cut off their legs, making them a elbow walker too. BTW, you might want to go look up the answers to her questions now, because they say she’ll appear to you within a month of first hearing about her.

Click Clack (USA) - Two dead children and a woman’s legs are found in the wreckage of a car hit by a train, the woman’s upper body is never found. She comes out after 6 pm, her long fingernails clicking and clacking on the pavement as she drags herself along. Like Tek Tek, she tears people in half if she catches them, but the only way to escape her is to run.

(It’s useful to note here that there are many other ghoul legends similar to Teke Teke and Click Clack, but to avoid this becoming an article about them instead of zombies, I’ve decided to stop at two.)

Vetala (Hindu) - A ghost-like spirit capable of inhabiting the bodies of the dead, as well as haunting charnel grounds (places where bodies are intentionally left to rot above ground). Vetala may come and go freely from such bodies, and are generally carnivorous like modern zombies or vampires. They are sometimes depicted with tattered wings.


Real Zombies:
(Zombie types are labeled by location, culture, and/or religion)

Cotard delusion, Cotard's Syndrome, Walking Corpse Syndrome, Negation Delirium (Global) - Contard’s Syndrome is a mental disorder in which the sufferer believes they are dead, decaying, missing organs/blood, immortal, or simply do not exist. Sufferers often neglect their hygiene and may refuse to eat, the first described patient starved to death. Today, it is a chronic, but often treatable condition.

Parasitic Zombies (Global) - Several parasites are known to cause zombie-like symptoms in animals. Ants infected with certain fungal infections will abandon the nest and climb trees, where the fungus can spread it’s spores over a large area, or cause them to be eaten by birds. Bees infected with caterpillars, and caterpillars infected with wasp larvae, will lie motionless while they are eaten alive from the inside.

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) Deficiency - Salmon and Alligators have both been known to act zombie-like as a result of brain anomalies caused by lowered levels of B1, or the introduction of chemicals that inhibit the absorption of B1. 

Voodoo Zombies, Vodou Zombies, Zombi, Zonbi (Africa, Haiti) - Haitian bokors (or witch doctors), have been known to make a poison that limits bodily function to give the appearance of death. After their victim proclaimed dead and buried, they retrieve and revive them, using the person (who now has brain damage from lack of oxygen in the tomb), as a slave. Fear of loved ones becoming such zombies has led many Haitians to stake their dead. Since voodoo and tales of zombies came to Haiti from Africa, it’s possible some version of the zombie potion recipe is known there as well.


Resources and Further Reading/Viewing:

Newsburgler, On Zombie Alligators, Global Warming and Occam’s Razor
http://newsburglar.com/2007/10/11/on-global-warming/
Date Uncertain, sometime prior to June 22, 2008.

Rosen, Brenda. The Mythical Creatures Bible. New York: Sterling, 2008.

Scary For Kids, Click Clack
http://www.scaryforkids.com/click-clack/
Date Uncertain, sometime prior to 13 July 2013.

Scary For Kids, Tek Tek
http://www.scaryforkids.com/tek-tek/
Date Uncertain, sometime prior to 8 June 2009.

The Demon Hunter’s Compendium, Click Clack
http://demonhunterscompendium.blogspot.com/2013/05/click-clack.html
Posted on 15 May 2013 at 12:16.
(Respecting the warning on his site, I have chosen not to include any information that I’ve not previously found on other sites, but I still feel it’s a resource that may interest you given the level of detail of his posts.)

Wikipedia, Contard delusion
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cotard_delusion
This page was last modified on 30 November 2013 at 00:43.

Wikipedia, Strigoi
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strigoi
This page was last modified on 28 November 2013 at 13:07.

Wikipedia, Teke Teke
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teke_Teke
This page was last modified on 29 July 2013 at 12:48.

Wikipedia, Vetala
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vetala
This page was last modified on 28 September 2013 at 21:40.

Wikipedia, Zombie
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zombie
This page was last modified on 4 December 2013 at 19:44.

Zombies: A Living History
TV Special, History Channel 2, 2011/10/25

Monday, December 9, 2013

Doppelgangers

(Spoiler Alert: This post contains spoilers for the ‘Through the Wormhole’ episode, Parallel Universes.)

Czasoprzestrzen - It’s Polish for Time-space. I picked up this information watching “Through the Wormhole”.  But, how is that to relevant the paranormal or mythical?

The episode was about information, specifically information in parallel universes, possibly created by tears in space-time, aka wormholes. At the end of the show, Morgan Freeman leaves the audience with a final thought, while there may be a parallel universe where another you is living out your dream life, you may also be living out the dream life of another you in parallel universe.

I never thought terribly hard about it before, but that sounds an awful lot like Doppelgangers to me. Doppelganger or doppelgänger, is a word taken from German, and literally means ‘double goer/walker’. It refers to duplicate of a person; which can literally be a duplicate of them, their future self, an evil spirit in their form, or the ghost of a living person who may or may not be in peril. (In contemporary English it’s also used to describe similarities, physical or psychological, between two people.)

Could it be that doppelgangers are actually the result of where two universes are touching? Some paranormal investigators have proposed that ghosts are the same person still alive in another universe, so conceivably it would be possible to see the ghost of someone who is currently alive, if they are also alive in another universe. One could possibly even see their own ghost.

It’s possible that we, or the inhabitants of an alternate universe can pass into and out of other universes without even registering the change. Similar to rooms in the same hotel, there would be minor differences between the universes, but not enough to be consciously registered without thorough examination, which would require more time than the typical doppelganger experience.

Of course, some real world stories of doppelgangers in which the two people were rejoined, would imply that there is a shared memory or consciousness between people in different universes.

I once read a story written young man, who while writing a term paper, realized he needed another book for reference. He got up and went to get the book, but when he returned he saw himself still there, studying. And he said at that moment, they became one again.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Blackbeard

Focusing so much on legendary creatures and monsters, I sometimes forget about the other types of legends, such as legends around historical figures. As mentioned in previous posts, sometimes the legends take on a life of their own, to where figures like Blood Mary no longer resemble the person the name was originally attributed to. But others have a story that seems perfectly plausible up until the very end. Take the story of Edward Teach, otherwise known as Blackbeard, for example:

Larger than life, he went into battle with something like six pistols, a sword, and a dagger, while having flaming wicks stuffed under his cap. During his final battle, with Maynard and his crew, Blackbeard continued to fight until he collapsed from blood loss. They cut of his head, and threw the body overboard. But, before sinking his body swam around the boat three times.

We all know it’s not possible, the body was already dead before they threw it in the ocean, yet that part of the story constantly gets repeated.

What does it get us? Does it make the story more amusing? Does it symbolize Blackbeard’s willpower, his drive to survive? Or perhaps it highlights his seemingly evil nature?

Furthermore, we have Blackbeard’s castle.

 (Image used under Creative Commons, as uploaded to wikipedia by Niceley)

This fort, also called Skytsborg Tower, is located on St. Tomas USVI, and was a Danish lookout to keep watch for attacking ships. While tales exist that Blackbeard used this tower as well, it is not very likely...

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Some Serious Warnings

I gather paranormal/mythical news to post on SPCS’s news section, but I don’t tend to double post them here the way some bloggers post every vaguely related new story. But this story has really caught my attention:

(Image is a WDSU screenshot previously posted on LifeScience, full article linked below.)

Seven self-proclaimed ghost hunters, decided to light a fire inside a historic building and destroyed it!
http://www.livescience.com/41571-ghost-hunters-burn-historic-mansion.html

There are several things I always recommend when talking to people about Paranormal Investigation. Among them are these:
* Use common sense. It you don’t have any, bring someone who does.
* Always make sure you are legally allowed to be where you are! This goes for urban spelunking too.
* Do not panic, freak-out, or run. Far more people have been hurt running away than have been hurt by activity itself.

So, let’s add to that:
* Do not try to intimidate ghosts with fire! They are incorporeal, fire does not beat ghosts!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Evolution of Monsters

I’ve anyways been quite enamored with monsters, my dad would come into the living room in the morning and tell me to turn off Beetlejuice (animated series) because he thought it would give me nightmares. To be fair, I did have nightmares (like most kids), but they had nothing to do with cartoons (like with many kids).
- On a side note; I tried unsuccessfully every Halloween for years to watch the whole live-action movie, but always got interrupted or came in late, only to realize how stupid the whole thing was once I got to see it in it’s full chronological glory. Stupid, but extremely entertaining.

I don’t know if kids today will ever appreciate monsters the same way. Sure we already had sympathetic monsters (like Angel and Edward Scissorfingers), and monster school series (all of which got canceled quickly, causing me to now be absolutely confused about how well Monster High is doing), but the level of monster sympathy really seems to be spiking. With this comes a dulling down of the monsters though; vampires lack fangs and sparkle in the sunlight, werewolves have a conscious in wolf form, and zombies fall in love.

Why do I care? Why does this matter? Well, monsters, in yesteryear were used in cautionary tales. Vampires and Sirens taught us to be ware of strangers no matter how sexy they were, and Werewolves taught us to beware of people we knew no matter how good they seemed in public. Stories like Frankenstein’s monster taught us there were consequences to playing god, while creatures like Ammut were intended to put the fear of god(s) in you. These tales had the benefit of being longer and more interesting than a simple comment to stay away from strangers is, and we know how well that worked out for Little Red Riding Hood (by the way, the original tale does not end happily).

So in a world where monsters are friendly, where do you get the sort of warnings that really make an impression?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Halloween in the USA

I’ll openly admit I’ve had a bit of writer’s block this past month. It’s not that I haven’t had any ideas for posts, it’s that I’ve had trouble completing them enough to want to post them. However, with Halloween nearly upon us, and several non-US readers, this seems like a good opportunity to discuss Halloween in the USA.

Halloween (also known as All Hallow’s Eve and All Saints Eve) is actually the first day of a three-day holiday called Hallowmas, (All Hallow’s Eve, All Saint’s Day, All Soul’s Day). However many households in the US only celebrate this first day, and almost entirely without celebrating the lives of dead family members. Death, is in fact, is petty much taboo in the US. You don’t talk about it, you don’t celebrate it.

 (A three-day Christian holiday is also called a Triduum, by the way, in reference to the Holy Trinity.)

Now, don’t misunderstand; there are certain cultural and religious groups within US communities may go on to celebrate the second and even third day. Many Latino families will celebrate a version of All Saint’s Day called the Day of the Dead, in which offerings are made to dead loved ones. (In some parts of Central and South America, the Day of the Dead will be celebrated for several days, and even weeks.) But for many US citizens, death is simply something they deny.

A growing trend with young adults however is, Death Parties, where over dinner, they simply discuss what would happen if they, or some else died. No doubt many of these adults were children/teens in the late 80s and early 90s, when Goths wore black and talked about death and monsters, rather than wearing pink and talking about drugs and cartoons. But I’m getting off track… back to Halloween.

So if US citizens don’t celebrate the dead, what do they do?

In modern times, Halloween has become a night for kids to dress up and travel door to door asking for handout of treats (despite all the warnings not to take candy from strangers the rest of the year), called Trick-or-Treating, and people of all ages attend parties. Many adults regard Halloween as kid’s holiday and don’t bother to celebrate at all apart from possibly handing over obligatory treats so their houses don’t get egged. At some point prior to Halloween most families with kids, and some without, carve pumpkins into Jack-O’-Lanterns.

Both Trick-or-Treat and Jack-O’-Lanterns hail back to the traditions of ghosts and by proxy, evil spirits, entering the world at midnight when All Saints Day begins. Jack-O’-Lanterns, an originally Irish tradition with an interesting story attached about a drunkard named Jack (though I like the Dutch version better, where Jack isn't drunk, but so Evil that even the devil doesn’t like him). Jack-O’-Lanterns were originally carved from turnips, but pumpkins have become the vegetable of choice in a land that once had no turnips, because they are big, easier to cut, and almost hallow.

Trick-or-Treat on the other hand evolved from young adults dressing up to snatch treats that were left out to distract ghosts and ghouls, and playing pranks on neighbors. I have seen one older photograph where pranksters managed to move a farmer’s car onto his roof. Some disassembly is suspected, of course, this was back when anyone could disassemble and reassemble a car, now computerized components and special tools would make this very difficult.

Halloween parties were also, originally an adult event.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Legend Tripping

Along the same lines as Paranormal Investigation and trolling e-Bay for Possessed Items, there’s a little activity called Legend Tripping. Now, it’s nowhere near as scientific as Paranormal Investigation, and it’s not as safe as viewing pictures of items and locations from your computer, but for those (usually teenagers) interested in the paranormal, it’s a world of fun (or terror) all it’s own.

After receiving information on a local legend, usually accompanied by a dare, participants will travel (usually at night) to a location indicated by the legend and attempt to fulfill the conditions of the legend and/or dare. Common legends involve graveyards where interaction with certain graves/crypts will trigger activity, and railroad crossings where ghost children will push your car across the tracks if you stop on them. These in turn have led to cautionary tales that basically warn against Legend Tripping, such as the one about a young woman who dies of fright after driving a knife into a serial killer’s grave, because she believes he has grabbed her jacket.

Legend Tripping is most common among teenagers, sometimes as right of passage, who may perform illegal activity during the evening to heighten the experience or fulfill the dare. Which of course only puts them, and Legend Tripping in general, at further odds with real Paranormal Investigation and local Conservatives. To help lessen this, some reference sites give specific instructions for Respect when Legend Tripping.

Despite this tension, it’s probably not going to go away anytime soon, and in fact, has a long history, with similar incidents taking place in several classic books. 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Paranormal Objects on eBay

I may have found a new hobby…

A friend recently commented on the entertainment value of browsing through eBay’s Paranormal section in search of haunted objects. Not to bid on said items, but for the entertainment value of seeing what people are trying to sell, and if people are actually willing to bid on it, “Please pay to take my ghost problem.”

Some items and stories seem to be of decent quality, like this recently sold item supposedly contains the spirit of a little boy. The old owner claims the doll needs attention or the attached ghost will start misbehaving:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/PARANORMAL-HAUNTED-DOLL-POSSESSED-BY-9-YR-OLD-BOY-MICHAEL-/231063914110?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item35cc7b867e#ht_310wt_1200 


Supposedly haunted dolls seem to be a popular listing (some of which are clearly not as old as the current owner claims them to be, do some research when buying antiques, haunted or otherwise), as does tacking the phrase ‘witch owned’ onto such dolls. There’s apparently a Wicca belief that dolls can contain protective spirits, but how many of these dolls are just labeled this way to boost sales? It might seem like a lot of work, but if a super short story could get you another ten bucks, would you write it?

Some people just tack Haunted and other Tags onto their items to get as many hits as possible. This doll was also listed as Steampunk, and I assure you, it’s not:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Antique-Doll-Head-Creepy-Gothic-Haunted-Halloween-Steampunk-Zombie-Torso-/300977569489?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item4613a93ed1#ht_101wt_1170

Some items seem to hold legal problems, such as the supposed human remains contained in this item. Depending on circumstance selling human remains may be illegal. Were the police ever notified that these remains were found?
http://www.ebay.com/itm/GHOST-BOX-CONTAINING-BONES-AND-DOLL-FROM-STANLEY-HOTEL-SITE-OF-THE-SHINING-/161115395054?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item258339d3ee#ht_326wt_1170

And some seem just to be for giggles. Like these paper boxes the poster claims contain ghosts with 2-dimesional personalities, as indicated by the ribbons on the boxes:
 http://www.ebay.com/itm/The-Ghost-Box-Own-your-own-ghost-/121172825396?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item1c36769534#ht_994wt_1170 

Others are hilariously dubious, like these cheap mass-produced earrings that the poster claims will allow you to see ghosts:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Haunted-10kt-Gold-Stud-Earrings-/181229333220?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2a321c2ae4#ht_158wt_1170

Of course I caution anyone greatly if they are considering an item that may be possessed or cursed:
1) Obviously, first off, there’s a lot of scams, people selling cheap replicas of antiques with a creepy story tacked on to boost sales.
2) If it is real, the current owners are trying to get rid of it for a reason. You don’t really know what you’re trying to bring into your home.
3) If you live with other people, it’s not fair to them to bring a possessed/cursed item into your home, even if you think you can handle it.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Unlucky and Cursed Numbers

Magical numbers, divine numbers, unlucky numbers, cursed numbers, most every culture and religion has numbers that they believe to have power. And many people even have numbers that they believe to be lucky or unlucky for themselves.

Here’s some of the most unlucky and cursed numbers:

In western culture the number 13 has long been considered unlucky, and buildings are still being built ‘without’ a 13th floor:
MSN Real Estate News: http://realestate.msn.com/blogs/post--buildings-still-cater-to-the-superstitious-by-skipping-the-13th-floor

BTW, the floor is still there, they just call it the 14th floor. It gets funnier, no, really, it does:

"…a 2007 Gallup poll found that 13 percent of Americans would be bothered by staying on the 13th floor of a hotel…"
- Stuart Vyse, professor of psychology at Connecticut College.
LiveScience: http://www.livescience.com/39566-friday-the-13th-superstitions.html

Additionally Friday is considered unlucky in Christianity, as the day of the week Christ died, so Friday the 13th is considered particularly unlucky.

Other cultures have selected different unlucky numbers. In some parts of Africa 12 is particularly unlucky. A old folktale tells of a man with 12 sons. One day, while measuring out a portion of grain for each of them, a lion leapt out of the bush and killed the 12th son.

In China 4 is unlucky because it sounds like Death (0, 5, 6 are also unlucky, but not to the same degree). And in Japan both 4 and 9 are unlucky because they sound like Death and Suffering. By the way, 4 + 9 = 13, so while 13 isn’t strictly unlucky, it’s sometimes considered unlucky by proxy.

Furthermore, some numbers are believed to be cursed! In Christianity, there’s the infamous mark of the beast, the dreaded triple 6s. A section of highway running between Colorado and New Mexico, now renamed Route 191, once bore this number and is still believed to be cursed, earning the nickname The Devil’s Highway.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Ghost Animals

I’ve heard a few accounts of people encountering ghosts of pets and other domesticated animals, as well as wild animals or animals that may never have been animals to start with, including some tales of family guardians/totems.

Sometimes these stories get debunked as with the woman who thought her cat had returned, because sand being dragged in from a nearby lot where her cat had liked to go, but found it was only falling of her granddaughter’s stuffed toy.

For myself, I’ve had a possible experience with ghost animals. This happened sometime between 1999 and 2003. I was staying the night at a friend’s house, and they had two dogs; a corgi with a cropped tail, and a lab. The corgi slept with my friend and the lab slept with the parents.

During the night, curled up in my sleeping bag, I felt a dog step over me and it’s tail smacking me. I figured it was the lab (since the corgi had very little tail) and just went back to sleep whenever it happened. I looked around once, but didn’t see anything, so I assumed the dog had gone back downstairs. In the morning I told my friend the lab had been coming up and bugging me. The parents however kept the door closed (as they later confirmed), therefore lab couldn’t have left their room.

However, my friend then explained to me that the room we’d been sleeping in had once been used to breed dogs. The former owner apparently was not very good about this, and several of the dogs had died in that room. So obviously, my friend figured, it may have been the spirit of one of these dogs that I’d encountered. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Lightning

We’ve had a lot of thunder storms lately. Some people claim natural phenomenon, like extreme weather such as lightning, and geological formations such as quartz in the bedrock, can give strength to spiritual activity.

Some even claim that ball lightning may be manifestation of spirits. These spheres pop in and out of existence as quickly as ghost orbs. Of course the vast majority of recorded ghost orbs appear to be dust, but that’s not so say all orbs are.

Last night was exceptionally fascinating, with sideways cloud to cloud lightning. Normally all we get here is thin single vertical bolts. It’s funny how different locations seem to get different types of lightning. The lightning I saw in Montana was really thick, and the lightning I saw in Florida (accompanied by 15 minutes of rain each time) was the beautiful upside-down tree shaped sort of lightning. 

So far I haven’t experienced anything particularly paranormal in relation to lightning, but that probably okay.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Chupacabra

There’s a new paranormal relevant show on Discovery, ‘The Unexplained Files’, and so far it seems a bit more objective than a lot of the shows out there, by which I mean the narration isn’t necessarily on anyone’s side. The first episode featured some so called Blue-Eyed Dogs found  in Texas, which reportedly mutilate livestock. Some believe them to be dogs with mange, and others believe they’re chupacabra or similar creatures.

For more on Blue-Eyed Dogs you can visit this site:
http://news.discovery.com/animals/mysterious-blue-dog-in-texas-claimed-to-be-chupacabra-130829.htm 

Comes right after my speculation on cultural relevance how supposedly mutilated livestock is interpreted. Personally I’m skeptical, the model of the dog shown on the show appeared to be a mangy greyhound with blocked scent glands.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Chupacabra vs. Satanic Sacrifices

So, since I regularly browse the news to find paranormal articles (because I like to read them and I post them for our club), they rise to the top when I look at news. Websites are designed to spy on your interests and supply what they think you’ll like best. Anyways, because of this, one of the first new stories I saw today was about a dead pony in the UK that had been assumed to be the victim of a Satanic Sacrifice.

Article:
http://www.livescience.com/39121-real-cause-of-satanic-sacrifice-pony-found.html

Why? Because it was missing it’s ears, nose, and internal organs. Well, to me, that sounds more like Chupacabra! Apparently the interpretation of what was actually a perfectly natural death by predator, is effected by local legend and lore. In England that was Satanists performing dark rituals, and in the US flesh eating Demon-Beasts.  

Of course, in reality, it was predators and corpse eating bugs.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Evil…?

There’s been some disturbing new stories lately. Sometimes I wonder if some people are just evil. 

It’s a question that has plagued man for centuries. Is it possible that man is inherently good, or evil? Are some people just born evil? Recent statistics suggest that one 1 in every 25 people is a sociopath. It’s a subtler form of evil than being an outright psychopath, but is it any less evil? Is it evil at all?

It’s a question of the very nature of evil. Evil, as defined by the dictionary, is an act which causes deliberate harm or pain. This is not the same as sin which is a deliberate disobedience of whatever deity you believe in. So, you could in fact be evil without sinning, and be sinning without being evil. If you’re having trouble with that concept, don’t worry, a lot of people do.

There have been several studies into whether or not people are inherently good or evil. In one such experiment participants were asked to shock a subject (actually an actor) when they answered questions wrong. The subject would scream and complain of sharp pains and a history of heart problems, yet the participants would continue to shock them simply because the doctor (also an actor) told them the test must go on.

Some ‘scientific’ or ‘medical’ studies seem to have been deliberate evil in themselves, such as the activities of Nazi doctors and Unit 731. Such study’s activities included testing to see in if twins would react to the other being killed, or if body parts amputated and then sewn onto another part of the body would survive.

Even unrelated studies have revealed disturbing facts about human nature. Nathan Weaver, a student trying to find a way to help turtles cross the road in a safer manner, placed a realistic rubber turtle on the road. He watched for an hour and found something disturbing, several drivers were deliberately swerving to hit the faux animal.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

In Awl My Dreams

I had a strange dream the other night, in which a middle-aged vampire threatened me with woodworking tools she called ‘nails fashioned after those from the cross’. There’s a hell of a lot of psychology going on here, including being a destructive vampire myself, within the dream. The vampire is a sign of one’s violent/destructive side according my dream book. I’ve basically been told the book is evil though, and that I should get rid of it. I’m pretty sure that means to burn or trash it, both of which go against my cursed item policy as you may know, and against my love/respect of books.

But the tools are what stands out now, as I’ve been making some journals by hand lately, and decided last night (the second night after the dream) to look online and see if there was a better way of pre-making the holes for the thread than using a thumbtack. A couple of tutorials suggested using an awl. So I did an image search on awls… it was EXACTLY the tools I’d been threatened with in my dream. Now, I’m sure I’ve seen woodworking awls before in toolboxes, hobby shops, craft stores, and hardware stores, but I didn’t know they came in a slender bookbinding size!

Now I know I need a bookbinder’s awl. And apparently my silent self already knew.

It’s not the first strangely coincidental or seemingly prophetic dream I’ve had, I used to have a lot of them in High School. Once, I dreamed I was buying a Game Boy color (in specific colors) and a game, then the next day found that my friend had bought that and the same game. Another time I awoke knowing only that I dreamed something about the meat being bad, and that afternoon several girls had to go home because they’d eaten bologna that had sat out, and got food poisoning. Yep, the meat (and I use that term loosely) was bad.

I’ve read lots of accounts of prophetic and symbolic dreams too, including one from a study where they’d wake people up during REM and ask them what they were dreaming about. One guy they woke up twice, and each time he only gave them a single word, CAP, and TEN. A few years later he became a Captain. Prophesy, coincidence, or artificial connections?

In Freudian terms, we get the explanation that we’re either making artificial connections after the fact, or that we actually had the dream later and our brains edited things so that we feel like we had a prophetic dream. Yeah, the first one is possible for this dream, but the second one I can rule out because I occasionally journal, and I wrote down my dream in my journal because it was so full of symbolism.

Speaking of symbolism, I often see a crooked apple tree at the beginning of such dreams, though I didn’t in this last dream, I have no idea what it means. Should I check my dream reference book?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Journals and Spellbooks

I watched a couple of episodes of ‘Gravity Falls’ the other day, I’m an animator and illustrator, so watching cartoons might not be quite as immature as it sounds, but honestly I really like this show. Aside from having a silly paranormal twist in every episode, there’s hidden messages everywhere, codes for watchers to break (though the codes can be really hard because they’re usually really short. That is, provided you don’t already know which three common ciphers are being used), and some pretty cool books.


(This image is a scaled-down screenshot from ‘Gravity Falls’ a series owned and produced by Disney, it is used as an example of the books in the series only, and does not represent any agreement or arrangement with Disney.)

These books, and the scrapbook like spellbook from ‘Practical Magic’ look far more like what I’d expect a spellbook or home-made version of a witch’s hammer to look like (The Witch’s Hammer is an archaic book once used to identify and persecute witches and creatures such as werewolves. The books in ‘Gravity Falls’ are basically used the same way… most of the time).

They’ve got wear and tear, personal notes, inserts from other sources, and most of all, mystery. The big leather tomes you see in most movies and series usually look more like pre-Gutenberg bibles or mass produced text books. Don’t get me wrong, the Hogwarts library is a wondrous place, and the one-of-a-kind spellbook made for ‘Sabrina’ was pretty cool, and I know a lot of work went into making it, but neither look like generations of knowledge passed down through a witching family.

The books I’m talking about are very scrapbook/smashbook/journal like, which looks cool, and means anyone can make their own version filled with what interests them for fairly cheap. My travel journals and pocket notebooks often end up looking kind of like this, as I take notes at whatever angle is convenient (sometimes in whatever language or code I like) and paste in mementos. 

You can view some pictures of the original Practical Magic spellbook on the current owner’s blog (as well as some spell book and scrapbook making tips):  
http://octoberfarm.blogspot.com/2010/09/otiginal-practical-magic-spellbook.html

You can even venture into the realm of making your own notebooks if you feel adventurous (you should be able to find binding instructions online), though the less crafty may wish to purchase one from a local artist in order to avoid the difficulty and still have a unique tome.

Another reason I like ‘Gravity Falls’ is that Dipper kind of reminds me of my childhood. Not that I lived in some crazy place, but when the other kids got scared, they sent me in to investigate. Because I was the brave one.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Water Demons

Got myself really thinking about lake monsters yesterday. Possible plesiosaurs like Nessie and Champ aren’t the only kind of lake monster.

There’s also demons like Japan’s kappa, a humanoid turtle-like creatures that can only survive on land by storing water in a hollow on top their heads. Kappa behavior towards humans generally includes pranks, drowning, and molestation, but a few tales of friendly kappa exist.

Similar European monsters to kappa, include the grindylow, small green humanoids that will drown children, and water hags like Jenny Greenteeth and Peg Powler who also drown children, as well as the elderly.

Salvic mythology tells of the vodyanoy, a race of frog-men that breaks dams, and (you guessed it) drowns swimmers.

Do you feel like there’s a theme here yet?

Mexican tales describe a ghostly woman called La Llorona who drowns (or spirits away) children that go out at night, especially if they’re near the river. And Aboriginal tales describe a chimerical monster that eats people who venture to close to the water in which it lives, the bunyip. 

Such tales are probably warnings to be careful near the water, though some experts suggest that some of these tales may also be throwbacks to a time when there was human sacrifice in those areas.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Mokèlé-mbèmbé

We had to take a detour today, and ended up passing where someone had cut away their grass and dug down about six inches, to create rounded three-toed dinosaur footprints (it’s also possible that this was a misguided attempt at Bigfoot, or a an attempt to emulate the Dunwich Horror, but I like to believe they were supposed to be dinosaurs).

Why am I telling you this? How is this paranormal? Well... it’s not paranormal itself, but have you ever heard of a creature called Mokèlé-mbèmbé?

Congo River folklore tells of "one who stops the flow of rivers" a large creature that in many accounts greatly resembles a sauropod dinosaur. Rhinoceros and elephant have been suggested (and occasionally identified by villagers) as the Mokèlé-mbèmbé, but neither has the long neck described in many accounts.

Several expeditions have venture into the Congo looking for evidence of the Mokèlé-mbèmbé, but while they have reported encounters and even attributed deaths to the creature, no hard evidence has yet been presented. There’s a few blurry pictures, and one expedition claims to have returned with a cast of it’s footprint, though I can’t seem to locate a picture of that, which makes me doubtful of it’s existence (if anyone can point me to a legit picture of the cast, or it’s physical location, that’s be awesome... and maybe I’ll draw you something). 

There are several other lesser known reports of dinosaurs surviving into modern times as well; Emela-ntouka which has been suggested to be a ceratopsian, Mbielu Mbielu Mbielu which are claimed to be stegosaurs, and Ngoubou a possible stryracosuarus.

These creatures aren’t  alone either. Likely you’ve heard of Loch Ness Monster, Nahuelito the Lake Monster, Ogopogo the demon of Okanagan Lake, or Champ of Lake Champlain. These creatures are also believed to be ancient holdovers from the time of the dinosaurs; plesiosuars. While dinosaurs ruled the land, plesiosuars ruled the seas. Common theories about how they came to be isolated in lakes include falling sea levels, underwater caves, and glacial dams.

There’s even a Global Lake Monster Database:
http://lakedragons.livingdinos.com/

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Spiritual Population

When I found it was addressed in H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine, it was not the first time I heard or pondered about the increasing population of the spirit world. Basically, having seen what might be a ghost in the future, the Time Traveler wondered how numerous they would have to be after countless generations.

Assuming spirits exist, how many spirits are there? And how crowded could the Earth get with ghosts? Do ghosts eventually dissipate as some mystics suggest?

These are things we just can’t know.

In Shinto there is a saying that there are eight million spirits (or alternatively eight hundred and eighty), but this is not a literal eight million, because in Japanese, eight million can also mean; too many to count! Well, it makes since really, if there’s currently around 6.5 billion people on the planet and countless generations before, how do you figure out how many of them became ghosts, added to the various non-human spirits of Shinto belief?

Of course some religions limit the number of spirits much more. Some cult-like Southern US churches claim that the only spirits that exist are God, x-number of angels, and x-number of demons, never increasing. Honestly, I don’t know what bible they’re reading from, because there are clearly human ghosts and spirits described in the Holy Bible. But they still don’t have, to the best of my knowledge, a head count for the number of spirits.

As far as paranormal investigation goes, an increasing number of spirits could be an exciting prospect. In just the past couple weeks I got two new leads without even looking for leads, both an office building and a church, which may have paranormal activity.

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Mythology of Four-Leaf Clovers

I found a four-leaf clover today, gave it to my mom, and immediately got asked if I could find another. I’d found it within a half-minute of casually looking at a small clover patch, I used to look for them methodically as a kid, and there was even a whole patch of white clovers with mostly four leaves in our yard at one point (I haven’t been able to find it in a while, so it may have died off)... so I figured this wouldn’t be too hard. Of course, the second one was way harder to find, taking several minutes.

So, why are four-leaf clovers lucky?

Clovers can have up to 56 leaves, so apparently it isn’t that more is better. There are even some variety of clover (mostly cultivated) that exclusively have four leaves.

In Christianity, three-leaf clovers and shamrocks have been used to represent the three aspects of God; father, son, and holy ghost. Some say the fourth leaf causes the clover to represent the cross, while other say it represents the grace of God. It may also represent the second coming of Christ.

Medieval myth claimed carrying a four-leaf clover could allow you to see fairies! Druids on the other hand, believed it could allow you to see evil spirits and protect you from them.

Some say Abraham Lincoln carried a four-leaf clover, almost everyday except the day he was shot. I’m not sure about the validity of this claim, but it does make you wonder.

Some variations on the myth:
* It’s bad luck to pick a three leafed clover.
* It’s bad luck to pick any odd numbered leaf clover, but all even number leaved clovers are good luck.
* Five leaf clovers are bad luck, or according to some people even luckier. (These are also called rose clovers.)
* It’s very bad luck to pick any clover with five or more leaves!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

San Gervasio

The day before many claimed the world would end according to the Mayan Calendar (that’s Dec 20th 2012 in case you‘re unfamiliar with the myth, in reality the Mayan Calendar just starts over), I had the pleasure of visiting some Mayan ruins. Not the famous pyramids that everybody visits, but a smaller site dedicated to the Mayan goddess Ix Chel.



This site has ancient highways, houses, a plaza, tombs, alters, cenotes (well/refrigerator) and The Arch or The Arch of Fertility. (Ix Chel was their goddess of fertility and childbirth, as well as medicine, the moon, and weaving.) The story I was told was that young couples would pass through the arch on their way to the shore, in belief that this would make them more fruitful.


Monday, July 22, 2013

The Flagpole

I walked past the demolition site of what used to a grade school yesterday. Many haunting accounts describe activity starting up or becoming worse when the owners try to renovate or restore their building. It made me wonder if demolition brought out the same sort of activity, and that maybe I should come by sometime and take some pictures. After all, I’ve heard accounts of property that was still haunted after one building was destroyed and a new one was erected. And schools tend to be haunted.

It was about that time, just after I passed the platform that used to support the flagpole (outside the protective fence), that I heard three steady clanks. The sort of clanks that the metal fastener bits on a flag line make when the wind blows causing them to knock against the pole. Probably, it was just a bird taking off from the fence I decided, but the timing of the sound was great.

Today I drove past this same site. There’s a flagpole inside the fence, no flag, but it has a flag line with metal fasteners. The human mind had this amazing ability to be blind to things that aren’t currently important. I didn’t notice the flagpole before I got to the old platform, so it was behind me by the time I heard the sound.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Sleep Paralysis

When I discuss with people their paranormal experiences, my mind is already trying to separate what can be rationally explained from what can’t. Often when discussing a haunting or alien encounter, people will describe an event that fits the profile of a scientifically explained phenomenon, Sleep Paralysis (aka. Bound in Metal).

They’ll be lying in bed. They may have just gone to bed, or it may be later on in the night and they will experience the inability to move. Then often, they will realize there is a presence in the room with them, a ghost, hag, alien, or demon. This creature may be stating at them, sitting on them, holding them down, harming them, and/or molesting them.

It’s a horrifying experience, then the victim wakes and the entity is gone, along with any evidence they were there. Because for all practical purposes, they weren’t. The victim has just experienced a level of semi-consciousness in which they were partially awake, but still dreaming and still paralyzed by the chemicals that keep us from acting out our dreams and hurting ourselves.

While it’s possible that the stress, and consequent sleep deprivation, from a haunting or encounter may have brought on the sleep paralysis, most people are comforted to know that it is not actually part of the haunting (or a true alien encounter).

Sleep Paralysis experiences often seem to linked to local culture. In Japan, ghosts are most commonly blamed, while people in most of the USA are more likely to experiences encounters with aliens. Europeans and people in the South Eastern USA are more likely to experience witches or hags. Some cultures are more likely to experience demons, such as that of Turkey.

(Incubus, 1870)

Demons, specifically Incubus and Succubus were the commonly blamed for Sleep Paralysis in medieval times... as well as any nighttime lusting.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Ammut

I tried to impress upon a couple of kids today that Ammut (aka: Ammt, Ammit and Ahemait) was one of the scariest monsters in Eygptian mythology.


I don’t feel like I was successful in the slightest. Sure they got that she was a chimera demon composed of Crocodile head, Lion front body, and Hippo rear body. But I don’t think at all that they appreciated that these were the three largest dangerous creatures known to Ancient Egyptians, who believed Hippos would in fact eat men (not just kill them). And sure, they got that she would eat the hearts or souls of deceased sinners (depending on the version). But I don’t think they appreciated how game over having your soul eaten is. That’s it, there’s no more, no afterlife for you sir (of course, this is pretty much what atheist believe, minus the she-demon, so there may be a cultural gap there). And even if it wasn’t soul death, having your heart eaten, leaving you wandering the earth as tormented and restless soul (similar to the Japanese yuurei, or hungry ghost) is hardly something to look forward too.

This should be horrifying! It eats souls! But I’ve heard it over and over again, kids (and adults) are totally desensitized nowadays. And nobody meditates on anything anymore either, smartphones and microwaves have made us impatient, and you have to think about it long enough to realize why it’s scary.

Maybe I think too much...

* (The image above created by Jeff Dahl, and obtained via wikipedia)

Monday, July 15, 2013

Dancing Chair

This is probably my most reliable paranormal story. It doesn’t involve having just woken up to a silvery figure or sleep paralysis, nor shadows seen from the corners of eyes, nor creepy feelings, nor UFOs to far away to properly identify.

No, this happened right in front of me! Very close to me… Unfortunately, I don’t have an exact date or any sort of evidence.

It was morning, somewhere in the neighborhood of 6 am. I was a little tired, I’m not a morning person, but wide awake. I’d been awake for over an hour. I was making a sandwich for my lunch. I was in high school at the time and didn’t care for the hot lunches the cafeteria-less school sold.

Standing in the kitchen, I was facing the dinning room and could see the top 2/3 of the chairs and table. Suddenly, the chair at the end of the table (the one directly in front of me), started rocking around.

 It felt like a long time, but it was probably really less than a second, and then it stopped.

I stopped making my sandwich and went to look and see if one of the cats had jumped from the chair. Both our cats were in the chairs to either side of it, fast asleep.

Guess what I did then? Did I freak out? Did I run screaming from the house? Did I call my mom, crying? Did I try to exorcise the chair? Nope. I shrugged and went back to making my sandwich, only later realizing how significant of activity that was. Many paranormal investigators would give a limb to get that on camera.

Which I didn’t.
(Get it on camera, that is... I've never given a limb either, but that's another subject.)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Do Ghosts Really Prefer the Dark?

Sometimes, it seems like darkness is something of a necessity for ghosts. I read a book or article sometime ago, where the author stated something to the effect that they, did not believe in ghosts on sunny days, but on stormy nights it was hard not to believe in ghosts (if you think you know what book/article that was from, let me know… there’s probably more than one that says this). While some Paranormal Investigators believe ghosts are more active at certain times, 12:00am, 3:00am, 3:33am, etc (this used to be called the witching hour, some now refer to it as quite time), they generally all seem to agree that you’re more likely to encounter something at night. 

Furthermore, most of the locations where ghosts can be found seem to be dark, abandon, old, and/or rundown. Do these locations have ghosts by virtue of time, or does the deviated environment invite the spirits of the departed to linger? Or do these locations only seem haunted to their dilapidated condition? Old buildings creak and settle, have drafts and noisier heating systems, out of date wiring and rundown appliances, as well as history.

But do ghost actually prefer these conditions? Or is this just when and where we go looking for them? (Assuming of course, they exist.)

Several ghost photos at the Myrtle Plantation seem to have been taken during the day, such as the famous Chloe image, where the sky is light:
http://www.angelsghosts.com/famous_myrtles_plantation_ghost_picture.html

Or this figure captured at Gettysburg:
http://ghostsnghouls.com/2012/08/14/gettysburg-ghost-photo/

And there are several more examples of ghostly images taken during the day. So, what if paranormal investigators are missing out on some great activity by only doing their investigations at night?

If you’re at a supposedly haunted location during the day, go ahead and snap some pictures anyways. You just might catch something.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Paranormal Documentary/Docudrama TV Shows

When I stop to think about it, there’s actually a surprising number of paranormal documentary/docudrama shows on TV, which I watch upon occasion as you may have guessed. Quality, methodology, and believability vary greatly between these shows, and there doesn’t seem to be one that has it just right yet.

As far as providing relevant information, doing research, and following the scientific method goes, Ghost Hunters has been one of the better documentaries. However I’ve noticed a bit of a decline in science and skepticism with the departure of co-founder Grant. The official statement was that he was leaving for personal reasons, but the fact that what used to be called ‘definite paranormal activity’ is now ‘there are spirits here’ kind of makes me wonder.

The downside of this show is that they show you 15 minutes of investigation to every 5 minutes of evidence or lack of evidence. So the most exciting parts are the end of each investigation where they let you know if they found anything. Occasionally, there’s some debunking or questioning during the investigation, though that was more common in the older episodes. Ghost Hunters International seems to lean even further the scientific method.

Haunted Highways would also be high on my list as far as information and science are concerned, and it actually tends to be pretty entertaining, though some of the evidence they encounter is a little dubious.

Fact or Faked is another of the more scientific paranormal documentaries. Sometimes they don’t take their tests as far as I would like, but I get that they have a budget.

Going down the list we come to the in-between shows like Paranormal State and My Ghost Story: Caught on Camera. These shows present some science and so-called evidence, but lack information (or in the case of Caught on Camera move to fast for the viewer to follow the information). I’m mentioned before that I find Paranormal State to be rather basis and dramatic, but they do at least do some research.

After that, I’d class most the rest of the paranormal shows I’ve seen as simply docudramas, only rarely presenting evidence or information that would lead you to a possible haunted location. Obviously it’s important not to have amateur paranormal investigators flocking to residential areas, but it does little to aid in confirmation. Some shows in this category would include, My Celebrity Ghost Story, My Haunted House, A Haunting, and Paranormal Witness.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Blog Updates

I’ve made a couple of pages, the first for my Case Files, a simple alphabetical list to make them easy to find. The second is a longer list of Paranormal Phenomenon as found in popular culture and the media.

Hopefully the links at the top of the page are working right now.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Alchemy, or Don’t Try This at Home

I’ve long been fascinated with the concept and history of alchemy. For most people idea that you could turn scrap metal into valuable metal, like gold (chrysopoeia), is an alluring one, and the variations that include immortality are easily all the more desirable. For those that pretended to be capable of alchemy, it was a get rich quick scheme, and for those that believed they might actually be able to do it, it was get rich and live forever dream, that never panned out. Today we know how to turn lead into gold through nuclear fission, but the monetary costs are way beyond what the gold itself would be worth.

Did you know that Isaac Newton was an alchemist? The famous physicist that everybody learns about in grade school, yep, him. Even Pope Innocent VIII, who blamed ‘The Little Ice Age’ on witches was involved in this pseudo-science, which some believe to be derived from earlier magic  practices (have I mentioned that I love wikipedia yet today? I always find wonderful tidbits of information while fact checking... of course wikipedia isn’t perfect as many of it’s articles are open source, so feel free to double-check this).

Of course, anyone who knows anything about alchemy knows that the ultimate icon of alchemy is the creation of a Philosopher’s Stone (that’s the Sorcerer’s Stone for all you American Harry Potter Fans). In historical and modern works, the stone’s appearance varies greatly. It may be red, white, black, orange, or a transparent reddish-purple. It maybe also be solid, powder, or liquid.

And as for what it’s made of, that’s even harder to answer. Often the process of creation calls for refinement after refinement, each resulting in a new color and chemical state, but lacks the ingredients to be refined. Suggested ingredients range from harmless salts, to poisonous substances like mercury, and more sinister components like human blood.

So far, nothing is known to have worked, either in turning lead to gold or in making the alchemist immortal. On the contrary at least one person may have died from drinking his own variation of the Elixir of Life, Johann Conrad Dippel, who was a possible source of inspiration for the novel Frankenstein.

In short, Alchemy is a hazardous occupation that no one should engage in, but it makes for a great story.

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Roswell UFO - 66 Years Later

It’s hard to believe it’s been 66 years since the most famous UFO events in US History.

For those of you that don’t know (if you exist), on July 7th in 1947, a mysterious object crashed down on a ranch near the towns of Corona and Roswell, New Mexico. Official sources announced that this object was a weather balloon, but several witnesses claim to have examined bizarre metals that could not be attributed to a weather balloon, as well as having seen bodies that were either alien or badly mutilated humans.

But what’s the truth of it? Only 7 out of 300 witness interviews seemed to believe the debris was otherworldly. And though alien autopsy videos were released in 1995, they have been pretty much debunked.

Still, the incident has inspired several books, TV specials, and movies. It’s also boosted the town’s tourism industry, with several businesses taking up a UFO or Alien theme, there was also plans to build a theme park around the subject. The city’s seal even features a green man looking down on a ranch.

Cui Bono?

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Paranormanimals (Guest Article)

The following article was written by a friend of mine for the same newsletter as my last post, who has given me permission to post it.

Paranormanimals

Author - ELB

Animals are known for their amazing senses. Dogs have great hearing. Cats can see in the dark. Elephants can smell for miles, and whales can talk with echolocation. But how far can these senses peer into the dark side of humanity? Stories abound of animals sensing ghosts or spirits. Is there any proof to these myths?

There are many reports of animals having senses that go far beyond human interpretation. For example, in 2004, a series of Tsunami’s hit India and the surrounding islands. Thousands were killed and many more were made homeless. But very few animal carcasses were found. In fact, there are dozens of reports of animals, like dogs, oxen, donkeys, sheep, goats, cats, monkeys, birds and reptiles, running inland and to high ground. Faithful pets ran away from home. And one animal in particular may have made a difference.

People taking tours of the town on elephant back were shocked and terrified when all the areas, elephants stampeded to high ground, ignoring their mahouts (masters). These people were lucky. By staying on the elephants back, they were hoisted to safety.

These reports support animals having the ability to percept vibrations, not ghosts. But it does support the basic idea that animals have abilities that can come to light in strange ways.

Other stories are much more common. Stories of animals sensing their owner about to die and reacting. Some pets run away to find help, others stay and comfort their owners. In fact, one specific hospital has a dog that can apparently sense incoming death. They use the dog to indicate who might die. He hasn’t been wrong yet.

While being able to sense vibrations from earthquakes; which cause tsunamis, is easily explainable, sensing death is a very different thing. Pets have been reported sensing death from cancer, seizures, heart problems, asphyxiation and burning, drowning, choking, and even battery. All these forms of death are very different, and pets ranging from dogs, cats, horses, parrots, and even a story of a ferret. It seems impossible to pin down a certain give that these animals can detect.

So the main question here, ignoring that obvious “Do ghosts exist?” question, is can animals sense ghosts?

We know humans can’t detect ghosts without expensive equipment. Things like heat detectors and self-made detectors. So why can’t we detect ghosts, but animals can?

We know animals have amazing senses. But what sense lets them detect paranormal activity? Let’s start with the obvious. Sight. Birds of prey have some of the best sight in the entire animal kingdom, with vision comparable to the highest powered binoculars. Hawks and eagles rule in daytime vision, while owls rule the night. In fact, Kestrels, a type of falcon, can see ultraviolet light. Cats are another animal with great night vision, able to see several times better than humans.

But humans can’t see ghosts at all, not even a bit. So maybe there’s something else to it. Smell, perhaps. Dogs can track humans over miles, so perhaps they can detect a ghost’s scent. Elephants and pigs have comparable, if not better smell than dogs. Turkey vultures have the best sense of smell in the animal kingdom, and use it find carrion dozens, if not hundreds of miles away. Underwater, sharks can detect a drop of fish blood in 100 gallons of water, and can track wounded prey over long distances.

Though as with sight, most human/ghost interactions don’t involve any sort of smell. Maybe hearing has something to do with it. Sometimes ghosts interfere with radio signals, so maybe they produce a sound. Dogs and elephants, as well as having good smelling powers, also have incredible hearing. And owls, known for night vision, have the best sense of hearing in the animal kingdom.

If smell doesn’t work, what else is there? Taste is out, and with it touch, as ghosts being intangible makes them immune to both in all cases. That’s all the senses, so let’s… wait, what? There are more?!?

Sixth senses, as they are so affectionately called, are common in the animal kingdom. Let’s start with the most well-known, echolocation. Echolocation is similar to human made sonar and radar. Sound waves, or clicks, are sent from an object, and the time it takes to hear the echo measures how far away the object it bounced off of is. Dolphins, whales, and bats all possess this ability.



Another sixth sense is electromagnetism, and is a power owned by a single family of animals. Sharks and rays. Nodes on and in their snouts allow them to sense the electromagnetic signal that the heartbeat creates, allowing them to know the location of these animals. Ghosts are said to mess with compasses, which have magnets.

Temperature sensing seems farfetched, but there are two animals that excel at it. Ladybugs are famous for their uncanny ability to predict the weather. Unlike there mythical equal, the groundhog, ladybugs have been 90% accurate when predicting how soon winter will come, always ready to hibernate. The other, more useful temperature sensing animal is the snake, specifically, the rattlesnake. Rattlesnakes are called pit vipers, because of the small pits on their head. It has been tested, quite recently even, that rattlesnakes and their relatives can see heat, even in complete darkness.

So with these senses, can animals detect ghosts? An experiment would have to take place.

Firstly, the location. A haunted house with lots of non-human caused paranormal activity, perhaps tested by one of those SyFy ghost hunters. For the purposes of this experiment, a haunted shipwreck would also be required.

Now the hard part. What animals should be used for the experiment? Here is a list of some of the best mentioned candidates.

Great Horned Owl: Chosen for it’s incredible night vision and possibly the best sense of hearing on the planet.

Turkey Vulture: Known for having the best sense of smell in the animal kingdom. Also has decent vision.

American kestrel: Good sight and hearing, along with being able to see ultraviolet light.

Asian/African Elephant: Both species have both great hearing and an impeccable sense of smell. Both are also very intelligent.

Domestic Pig: Has a better sense of smell than a dog, and is a farily intelligent animal.

Domestic Dog: Great senses of smell and hearing, and is closer to humans than any other animal. Dogs have been known to sense ghosts for centuries.

Domestic Cat: Excellent sense of night vision and hearing. Cats are also close to humans. Their whiskers also can sense objects when very close.

Scalloped Hammerhead Shark: A common shark at aquariums, this species of hammerhead has the ability of electromagnetism.

Bottlenose Dolphin: The most intelligent non-human animal, bottlenose dolphins also have echolocation.

Little Brown Bat: Bats have average sight, good hearing, and are the only land animal that has echolocation

Ladybug: Ladybugs can predict weather fairly accurately. This may not help, but it is a unique ability.

Diamondback Rattlesnake: Along with all pit vipers and most snakes, rattlesnakes can sense heat quite accurately, even using it to navigate in complete darkness.

All these animals have a trait or multiple traits that may let them detect ghosts. Note that specific species were used. Other species or subspecies would most likely work, but these are the examples of the best. Obviously, some animals would be hard to get access to, and even harder to get to a known haunted location. Large cages or tanks would be needed to contain the animal in the specific location. Easier said than done with some of these critters.

Also, note if there are any animals living in the haunted location. They may be able to shed light of the subject these animals can’t.

Other things would need to be proven and taken into consideration first. Do ghosts exist? Can ghosts possess animals? (That one would make using the elephant and ocean animals very dangerous). If the animals do sense the ghosts, how will they react? How will the ghosts react? Will they be able to communicate?

As with all questions, the answer to this one just makes more. But if ghosts did exist, animals may be our key to learning their secrets.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Mythical Creature Article: Species of Unicorn

One of the most enduring mythical creatures (and particularly popular with young girls) is the unicorn. However aside from being a hoofed quadruped with a single horn protruding from it’s forehead there’s actually a wide variety of unicorns described in classical sources.

Many historical figures have claimed to have seen unicorns, including Marco Polo:
"scarcely smaller than elephants. They have the hair of a buffalo and feet like an elephant's. They have a single large black horn in the middle of the forehead... They have a head like a wild boar's… They spend their time by preference wallowing in mud and slime. They are very ugly brutes to look at. They are not at all such as we describe them when we relate that they let themselves be captured by virgins, but clean contrary to our notions." But just what sort of unicorn did Marco Polo see?


Mythical Unicorns:


Greek Unicorns - Unicorns were first described by Ctesias, a Greek physician and historian (4th century BC). He described them as quick creatures with the body of a wild donkey, that possessed a 27 inch horn colored white, black, and red. Unicorn horn was believed to capable of purify liquids, therefore drinking from a cup made of this sort of unicorn’s horn was believed to prevent poisoning.


Roman Unicorns - The Roman view of the unicorn was slightly different. Pliny the Elder, a Natural Historian, described unicorns as having a horse’s body, a stag’s head, elephant feet, and a boar’s tail. It was believed to have made a deep bellowing call. Note the exceptionally long black horn at 36 inches. 
 
Ethiopian Unicorns - Cosmas Indicopleustes, a merchant traveling from Alexandria to India describes the unicorns he learned about in Ethiopia as a ferocious beast that could not possibly be taken alive. It’s horn was supposed to be incredibly strong, used both for fighting and to absorb the shock of landing when it jumped from cliffs.

Re'em (Biblical Unicorns) - Unicorns are briefly mentioned in some translations of the bible, though many modern translations replace this phrase with wild ox, it was more likely an extinct breed of wild cattle, the auroch. It is said to be a strong beast, too wild to be tamed.

Tahash (Kosher Unicorns) - Sometimes described as being the same beast as Re’em, the Tahash is a multicolored unicorn that conforms to the Jewish standards of clean (eatable, touchable) animals. It is believed to have appeared to assist in the rebuilding of the temple.

Medieval Unicorns - Probably best known is the unicorn mythology of the middle ages, the shy innocent creatures that could only be caught by using a virgin as bait. These are undoubtedly the horse-like unicorns we see in British and Scottish Heraldry, though often they are also depicted as goat-like, with a lion tail, and a spiraled horn.


In Heraldry the collared unicorn can represents courage, strength, virtue, harmony, or understanding, while an un-collared unicorn represents an unrecoverable loss of such traits.

Shadhavar
- The Shadhavar is a cruel carnivorous creature of Persian fokelore. Physically it resembles a one horned gazelle with the cheetah’s tear-like markings on it’s face.


It is said to lure prey in by allowing wind to whistle through it’s horn creating a siren-like melody.


Related Creatures:

Quẻ Ly (Vietnamese Unicorns) - Often mistaken for unicorns, the Quẻ Ly is supposed to bring happiness, wealth, prosperity

Ch’I Lin/Qilin (Chinese Unicorn) - Ch’I Lin is a chimerical creature of Chinese mythology whose appearance varies greatly, sometimes looking like a tiger or a giraffe, and at others looking like a dragon. It is it’s gentle and righteous nature however, that links it to the western ideals of the unicorn.

Kirin/Sin-you ( Japanese Unicorn) - The Japanese Kirin probably has it’s roots in the Chinese Ch’I Lin. It is usually depicted as being more deer like, though sometimes it takes on giraffe or even western unicorn-like features.


Pegasus
- These mythical winged horse of ancient Greece, are commonly associate with unicorns nowadays. Unlike the only known flying mammals, bats, Pegasus have feathers like a bird.

Unipegasus - Sometimes called Alicorns by MLP fans (though Alicorn is actually the mythical red substance that’s supposedly give the unicorn’s horn it’s power) are just what they sound like, horse-like unicorns with wings.


Real Animals:

Rhinoceros - Did you guess it? The one horned quadruped that Marco Polo observed was in fact a rhinoceros.



There’s also conjecture that the Greek unicorn is actually an extinct species of hairy dwarf rhinoceros.

Narwhal
- The unicorn of the sea, yes! Though it’s horn is actually tooth, it was good enough to fooled the royals of Denmark who built their throne of these supposed unicorn horns.

Oryx - A pale antelope with dark marks on it’s face and legs, oryxes and other antelope are also a possible source of unicorn fables. They have long, slightly curves horns which can appear as one when viewed from the side.

Natural Oddities - Occasionally a one horned or antlered animal will appear in nature among animals that normally have two. Recently, in 2008, a one antlered roe deer was discovered on an Italian nature preserve, unfortunately the creature is rather shy and there are very few pictures of it.

Manmade Oddities - Occasional experiments and sideshows are created by fusing the horn buds of calves and kids. Such unicorns are considered animal cruelty by many, though they usual show no signs of discomfort or distress outside recovering from the surgery. While there have been reports of such unicorns being temperamental, there are also reports of them being extra gentle.


Additional Reading & Resources:

Rosen, Brenda.
The Mythical Creatures Bible.
New York: Sterling, 2008.

Wikipedia, Oryx
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oryx
This page was last modified on 1 October 2012 at 18:55

Wikipedia, Qilin
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qilin
This page was last modified on 6 January 2013 at 04:22

Wikipedia, Shadhavar
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shadhavar
This page was last modified on 1 December 2012 at 14:39

Wikipedia, Unicorn
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unicorn
This page was last modified on 1 December 2011 at 17:31.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Barebones Ghost Hunting

A common question when pursuing a new hobby is “How do I do this without spending a fortune?” Like most hobbies, Paranormal Investigation has a cheap route and an expensive route.

A while back I visited the TAPS Forum. There was a list of suggested (and expensive) equipment, under which it was stated that if you couldn’t afford this much ‘you should find a cheaper hobby’ [1]. That was profoundly disappointing coming from a site connected to such a popular show, as it suggested that this was solely a rich person’s hobby. Fascination with the paranormal knows no economic class, therefore I say, start with what you have and work your way up to the full kit as your budget allows.

A Cheap/Starter Paranormal Investigation Kit:


* Camera - Digital or film is fine, a disposable camera or cell phone camera works if it’s all you can afford. A cell phone is a good thing to have on you anyways, just incase there is an emergency.

* Notebook - With writing utensil. Taking notes is important; interview witnesses and record any unusual occurrences.

* Flashlight - Because you’ll probably need it wandering around in the dark. It’d be pretty sad to not bring the expensive equipment because you can’t afford it yet, and end up tripping over a low-lying tombstone, resulting in a hospital bill for twice as much.

* Compass - To look for EMF changes. It won’t give you a measurement, but the needle will stray away from north if there’s significant electro-magnetic fields.

[1]
- I was going to check and see if this was still on there (and if it came from one of the cast), but both the
TAPS site and the forums were down while I was writing this.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Case File: Crystal Ballroom in Portland

The following case was originally posed on the Portland Paradex Website (R.I.P.) and the Portland Paradex Forums, by myself and Mudfish.

First Visit:

Time: Midday

Date: 08/18/08

Place: Outside the Crystal Ballroom

Witnesses: VPM

What happened:
I walked through the Crystal Ballroom, taking pictures of both the ballroom and elevator. It is a
beautiful building. I noticed during my walk that the floating floor made footstep like noises.

Notes & Evidence:
Some tiny bright blue orbs showed up these original pictures, but they turned out to be a camera malfunction. Images below:





Second Visit:
Time: Early Afternoon

Date: 07/07/08

Place: Outside the Crystal Ballroom

Witnesses: BatMaster and Mudfish

What happened:
I was showing Mudfish some Paranormal Investigation basics so we walked by the Crystal Ball Room and took pictures (with a different camera) showing the tree reflections, which can be mistaken for figures (especially on cloudy days), as well as the McMenamins below.

Cui Bono, who benefits from this supposed haunting? McMenamins of course. Many (almost all, I think) of the buildings owned with McMenamins are supposedly haunted.

Notes & Evidence:
Images of the reflections and store front below.