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


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:

Or this figure captured at Gettysburg:

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.


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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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
This page was last modified on 1 October 2012 at 18:55

Wikipedia, Qilin
This page was last modified on 6 January 2013 at 04:22

Wikipedia, Shadhavar
This page was last modified on 1 December 2012 at 14:39

Wikipedia, 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.

- 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.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Case File: Hoyt Arboretum Orbs

This case file was originally featured on the Portland Paradex site (R.I.P.). It was submitted by my friend (who decided to go by Ghosthunter D) and highlights a very common occurrence:

unknown, daytime

Date: unknown, sometime in or prior to 2007

Place: Hoyt Arboretum (or close to it), in Oregon

Witnesses: Ghosthunter D and a Friend

What happened:
Ghosthunter D and a friend were hiking through Hoyt Arboretum (Arboretum means Tree Museum by the way, basically it’s a partially man-made forest), towards Pittock Mansion. At some point they stopped to rest and snap a few pictures of the forest around them. A few of these pictures contained orbs, as seen in the picture below:

(This is the photo as I received it, unaltered, expect possibly for size.)

Notes & Evidence:
The picture above is pretty typical of the sort of dust reflection images that are often mistaken for ghosts orbs (this isn’t to say all orb images are dust, but a good number are).
The Hoyt Arboretum is an outdoors location that can get rather dusty, particularly in the summer. Other dusty locations where dust orb images are common include; old houses, crypts, and museums.

Below is a image I took in a dusty museum setting (somewhere in Alaska) which demonstrates another type of eerie image you can get from dust, glowing squiggly lines (right side, on the polar bear’s belly):

Monday, July 1, 2013

Possessed Objects

Many believe that objects can sometime be possessed by spirits. There’s a whole category of haunting activity that is attributed to a single possessed or emotionally charged objects.

The following paragraph contains spoilers for Paranormal State:
Episode 15 of Paranormal State (a show which is admittedly bias and overly dramatic) chronicles the team’s experience with a possibly Haunted Piano. In this episode the State team interviews Paranormal Investigators Lorraine Warren and Tony Spera to gather information on what they believe should be done with possessed objects. They assert to get rid of possessed objects, they should be exposed to a binding ceremony, broken up, and buried. Then the ground should be consecrated. They also cite a case where a woman burning an Ouija Board suddenly felt like she was on fire herself, claiming that burning objects can increase or pass on the problem.

However they don’t seem to take the stand that all possessed items need to be destroyed, as Lorraine herself runs museum in Connecticut where a collection of possessed artifacts are housed.

The show Haunted Collector goes even further, claiming that nearly all haunting are caused by a possessed or negatively charged object. John Zaffis also keeps the possessed items he collects from cases in a museum (which is also in Connecticut). 

(Note: If you follow the link to his site and click on FAQ, you’ll find that he also does not advocate burning/destroying possessed/cursed items, stating that it can be dangerous for the person destroying it.)

One particularly famous possessed item, is Robert the Doll:

Activity reported by witnesses ranges strange from footsteps and laughter, eerie and bad feelings, to expression changes in the doll, including it supposedly blinking on film, (it doesn’t really look like a blink to me, but to be fair, it was not the highest quality device for watching videos either).

(The above image of Robert was made available for use via Flicker by LongLiveRock)

As far as possessed toys go, I may have one of my own:

L. E. De Font, as we call him, came to us when I was a baby or toddler. My parents and uncle originally made a game of moving him and then pretending he’d moved on his own, until one day when they realized none of them had moved him. I seem to recall him not always being where I left him when I was a child either, but I can’t say for sure that those are real memories, and not me having imagined he moved because of the story my parents had told me.

Even if he can move on his own, it’s not really that scary is it? I don’t get some horrible feeling around him either, if anything I’m happy to see him. We played with him when I was a little girl, which why he sits rather than stands now.

Can items have positive or neutral possession as well as negative ones? Western culture tends not to have may references to positive and neutral possessions.