11/29/15

Visions and Voices – Paranormal or Psychotic?

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by Michael J. Baker

A belief in the existence of paranormal phenomena is quite common these days. It’s certainly not difficult to find television shows, movies or books touting some sort of paranormal theme nor is it hard to find alleged witnesses to these strange  occurrences. However some paranormal beliefs share a distinct similarity to symptoms of psychosis. For example, mediumistic communication with the dead is starkly similar to hallucinatory symptoms found in patients with acute Schizophrenia. For those experiencing this psychosis, communication with beings not seen by their peers  can be a common occurrence. These beings can appear as one personality or many. They may appear intermittently or continuous. They may manifest as a constant whispering or they may converse directly. All of these traits have not only been historically described by patients suffering from Schizophrenia, but also by mediums in their descriptions of their esoteric communications. This begs the question; Are paranormal witnesses simply suffering from some form of psychosis? or is there an element that adequately differentiates the mediumistic experience from the psychotic?

In the public eye, religious or non religious, there seems to be a greater tendency  to process fortean claims without an implied psychological label. A larger segment of the population  in general has historically been more accepting of astonishing claims when presented in a spiritual context as opposed to secular. But why?  What separates the hallucination and delusions of a psychotic experience from the visions and experiences that are described by those claiming to witness paranormal phenomena; and are the two related?

A 2012 study published in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry suggested that paranormal believers may not only have cognitive biases similar to those observed in psychotic patients but also problems related to thinking clarity (Lawrence & Peters, 2004; Yorulmaz, Inozu, & Gültepe, 2011). Reasoning abnormalities appear to play a causal role in the formation of unusual beliefs. Additionally cognitive bias, which is our tendency to deviate from rational thinking in support of our beliefs, may represent soft signs of a neurological defect known as the schizoid taxon (Meehl, 1962, 1989) and those biases may in-fact be preliminary indicators of a psychotic risk.  While these findings may outwardly suggest that a paranormal experience is an early indicator of a potential psychosis it should be noted that some authors are suggesting that the mere presence of paranormal belief should not be considered a reliable indicator. In other words, having a paranormal experience doesn’t “necessarily” imply an underlying psychosis.

Dr. J.T. Wigman from the Department of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences at the University of Utrecht, believes that claims of paranormal experiences are typically associated with much lower levels of psychological distress and may be independent of psychosis. (Wigman et al., 2011)   He suggests that a possible way to improve the predictive value of unusual beliefs and experiences for psychosis risk may involve the consideration of associated cognitive features, idiosyncratic thinking styles, the role of belief appraisal, and the associated distress  (Cella, Cooper, Dymond, & Reed, 2008; Garety & Hemsley, 1994; Preti & Cella, 2010 a).

While a definitive causal link between psychosis and claims of paranormal phenomena may remain elusive it’s important to understand that the sources of anomalous phenomena may still potentially be psychological in nature.  Numerous cognitive biases can have adverse effects on how the human mind processes experiences and these “thinking errors” can prevent individuals from accurately understanding reality even when presented with sufficient data and evidence to form an accurate view. Various mood disorders and medications can also affect our interpretation of the outside world and unfortunately, just knowing about these obstacles doesn’t necessarily free us from their effects.

Sources

Lawrence, E., & Peters, E. R. (2004). Reasoning in believers in the paranormal. Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease, 192, 727 e 733

Yorulmaz, O., Inozu, M., & Gültepe, B. (2011). The role of magical thinking in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder symptoms and cognitions in an analogue sample. Journal of Behavioural Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 42,198 e 203

Meehl, P. E. (1962). Schizotaxia, schizotypy, schizophrenia. American Psychologist, 17, 827 e 838.

Wigman, J. T., Vollebergh, W. A., Raaijmakers, Q. A., Iedema, J., van Dorsselaer, S., Ormel, J., et al. (2011). The structure of the extended psychosis phenotype in early adolescence d A cross-sample replication.

Schizophrenia Bullettin, 37, 850 e 860

Cella, M., Cooper, A., Dymond, S. O., & Reed, P. (2008). The relationship between dysphoria and proneness to hallucination and delusions among young adults. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 49,544 e 550

Garety, P. A., & Hemsley, D. R. (1994). Delusions: Investigations into the psychology of delusional reasoning. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Preti, A., & Cella, M. (2010b). Randomized controlled trials in people at ultra high risk of psychosis: a review of treatment effectiveness. Schizophrenia Research, 123,30 e 36

(n.d.). Symptoms of schizophrenia. Retrieved from Living with Schizophrenia website:http://www.livingwithschizophreniauk.org/symptoms-of-schizophrenia/

10/13/15

Medium Can Equal a Large problem

As investigators of the paranormal we look for answers to the causes of claims of activity. We receive calls from people with claims that range from strange noises and feelings of being watched to full blown claims of demonic spirits that mean to do harm. We’ve developed various techniques for proving or debunking claims by looking for patterns. For instance in many cases where people claim to have visitations in their sleep (also known as “The Old Hag Syndrome”) it can be a simple case of Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity. I can’t count the number of times we have found extremely high EMF in a clients bedroom, which has been know to cause people to have horrific nightmares with waking dreams that appear to be extremely real. The reason for this article is that there is a pattern that is appearing in more and more cases. As you have deduced from the title of this article this pattern has to do with mediums and the children of clients. First thing that I would like to make clear is that I do believe there are mediums with abilities and that there are people who do not, but I don’t want to stray too far into that topic right now. What we have found popping up in several of our recent cases is children who are afraid of being in their homes. In each of these cases the client has had another group into their home with someone claiming to be a medium. The mediums all made claims that there were several spirits in each home. The interesting thing is that in every home there was an evil entity that the medium claims to clear out of the home. Isn’t it strange how every home had an evil entity and they were able to clear them? But the issues of claims persist, especially with the children. The children’s ages ranged from 12-22 years old and in every case the children were present during the investigation and witnessed the mediums and their claims. I am not writing this to judge the mediums or their techniques or to judge the parents. I am writing this with the hope that people will realize that children can be horribly affected by things like hearing that there are evil spirits in their homes. Most children aren’t comfortable with the thoughts of any spirit in their home. In my opinion it is one of the worst things that can happen when a child is afraid to be in their own home. Isn’t your home supposed to be your safe haven? I think we all need to remember to be careful around kids and remember that their feelings should be of the utmost importance.

06/28/14

Why People Believe Weird Things

Why do people see the Virgin Mary on a cheese sandwich or hear demonic lyrics in “Stairway to Heaven”? Using video and music, skeptic Michael Shermer shows how we convince ourselves to believe — and overlook the facts. Michael Shermer debunks myths, superstitions and urban legends — and explains why we believe them. Along with publishing Skeptic Magazine, he’s author of Why People Believe Weird Things and The Mind of the Market.

Here he gives (what I think) is a great presentation on why people believe strange things.  Our minds are truly the center of our experiences. Understanding our own behavior and fallibility will help us understand what’s real. We can also learn how not to contaminate our own memories and experience.  The real search begins inside. Understand yourself and your world before trying to understand an experience that is so far out of the ordinary. You may be surprised.

 

05/31/14

Eastern State Penitentiary … Is Al Capone still serving time?

The other day I was talking with a friend about our investigation of Eastern State Penitentiary and they asked if I thought Al Capone’s ghost actually haunted his old cell. After I thought about it a minute I had to tell them I didn’t think so. Its funny there are rumors that his ghost haunts Eastern State and Alcatraz. My wife and I have investigated both prisons and have seen both of the cells where he was supposed to have been locked up and we never got any evidence or even the slightest impression his spirit was still there. This got me to thinking that I didn’t know that much about Capone.

 

Like me, most people probably don’t know how Capone ended up In Eastern State. On February 14 in 1929, in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, Capone’s men carried out a hit on seven of rival gangster Bugs Moran’s men. It was dubbed the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre. The plan was that Capone’s men were to lure Bugs and his lieutenants to a garage and kill them all. Bugs was running late and saw Capone’s men who were dressed as police show up, so he and another member of his gang turned around and left. After the dust settled and Capone found out that his men had not gotten Moran and fearing retaliation, he thought it would be a good time to get out of town for a while. Capone and one of his men took a road trip into Pennsylvania. The problem was they somehow got caught on a weapons charge and sentenced to eight months in Eastern State Penitentiary. While there Capone’s money and reputation got him celebrity status and  insured that his time at Eastern States was anything but hard time, or so he thought.

This is Capone’s cell today.

It was during Capone’s stay that reports started to surface of him, alone in his cell terrified, weeping and begging “Jimmy” to leave him alone. It was assumed that Jimmy was the spirit of James Clark, who was killed in the massacre. Clark was also Moran’s brother in law and his second in command. It was of course never proved or documented that it was Jimmy Clark, but guards and other inmates reported seeing Clark’s ghost standing outside of Capone’s cell while he begged for mercy. Capone is said to have even called in a medium named Alice Britt in 1931 to try to find out what Clark wanted. Apparently, Britt was unsuccessful, and Jimmy continued to follow Capone through his trial for income tax evasion, through his eleven-year sentence at the federal penitentiary in Atlanta, and then, in 1934, to the Rock–Alcatraz, where Capone did three turns in “the hole” for rules infractions. Paroled in 1939, Capone left Alcatraz a broken man. Back in Chicago the mob had moved on; new leaders had taken his place and even those loyal to him realized once they saw him, that Capone would never control the mob again. Capone died in his bed, of cardiac arrest following a stroke and a bout of pneumonia in 1947. The ghost of James Clark, it is said, was with him till the end. After Capone’s death, no one reported an encounter with James Clark’s spirit again. There is speculation that Capone was suffering from Syphilis and was loosing his mind. The thought was that Jimmy was a hallucination that was a result of Capone’s guilty conscience, but that doesn’t explain the reports from the guards and other inmates, plus I find it hard to believe Capone had a conscience at all.

So is Al Capone’s spirit haunting Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia PA? I would say probably no, but keep and eye out for Jimmy. Who knows?

This is a cool little video from the The Travel Channel that will give you a look into Capone’s cell and a little view of Eastern State as well.

05/24/14

Stargate Project…. “Men Who Stare at Goats ?”

Imagine being able to receive information psychically that was valuable to public safety, public protection, military security and with ability to spy on enemies .  All done in a remote place.  The personnel would be trainable, experiments repeatable and accurate.

The Stargate Project A code name for projects initiated by US Defense Intelligence Agency investigating psychic phenomena for the military or domestic applications.  Viewing or to “psychically see”  events, sites or sense unknown information, to detect current events for domestic or military intelligence.  the viewer would attempt to predict things to happen in the future by precognition.

Precognition is future sight or second sight, extrasensory perception.  This information cannot be deduced by present available knowledge.

Russia was already seriously researching  ways to explore psychic functioning .  A book was published Psychic Discoveries from Behind the Iron Curtain, causing great interest in this area.  1972 Stanford Research Institute (SRI) began to research ways to experiment psychic techniques that were repeatable, that could be teachable and used for intelligence purposes. Russel Targ and Harold Puthoff, the team at SRI, worked on expanding remote viewing techniques over vast distances and trained American Military in 1985.  Their early results were impressive.  Ingo Swann accurately described a uniquely designed magnetometer buried in six feet of concrete.   Hella Hammid was able to accurately describe five out of nine target sites.  Ingo Swann became bored with the repetition of these experiments and stated he could time travel psychically to any place on the planet.  He(Swann) and Pat Price, a police officer in Burbank CA, were provided with geographic longitude and latitude coordinates and was said to give a “remarkably accurate view” of the stated location.  Swann’s tests were so amazing that he convinced SRI of his abilities.  Swann believed that any one could be taught this technique and these persons did not have to be psychic.  Swann’s best Remote Viewing trip was the planet Jupiter done at SRI in 1973.  In 1977 Targ and Puthoff published his findings in a book Mind-Reach.

Unfortunately Swann and Pat Price did not get along and “psychic contests raged” out of control.  Swann’s  contract ended in early 1973 and he left SRI.  Pat Price left SRI late 1974 going to work for the CIA.  He was well know for his map photos claiming to retrieve information from behind Soviet lines.  His sketches appeared to confirm intelligence photographs at that time.  The two reunited and eventually worked together creating techniques for  Controlled Remote Viewing (CRV) that could be teachable with 5 step protocol.  Project research included  clairvoyance and out-of-body experiences.  The described Remote Viewing as a more structured approach to clairvoyance.  The “viewer” would receive a mission only after all other intelligence was exhausted.  Using over 22 active military and domestic viewers to provide data.  In 1995 three viewers remained in the program, one using tarot cards readings.

1995 this project was then transferred to CIA control the panel appointed Jessica Utts and Ray Hyman.  Mr. Hyman stated test results were “nothing striking or surprising….reported matching reports, data generated by viewers is general and vague and way off target“.   With recommendation of tighter control of projects with more critical research.  CIA terminated the $20million dollar project in 1995 secondary to lack of evidence.

 

 

 

05/7/14

The Challenge is prove it……3 Envelopes….One Million Dollars….The Envelope Please

Not too long ago, in the month of May 2009……..10 volunteers entered the room dressed in an odd array of clothing:

  •  a ski mask,
  • large dark glasses,
  • a large black graduation type gown
  • white socks

These ten volunteers took their seats facing the back wall of the room.  They were to sit and do nothing for 15-20 minutes.  Mrs. Patricia Putt enters the room, sits at a table 12′ away from the volunteers and begins the reading.  The seated volunteers were asked to read out loud pre-specified short passages.  Putt stated this “helps the spirit to enter and make contact by hearing the sitters voices“. All of the readings were written down and given to the volunteers , they exited the room, changed clothing and came back in, for their results.

This experiment is was conducted by the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) Mrs. Putt, a Psychic featured in newspapers and magazine articles and on several TV shows, accepted this challenge in hopes of collecting a $1million prize.  The only stipulation for collecting was to “prove and demonstrate paranormal powers under a controlled environment”.  All testers agree to stipulations prior to testing and sign a waiver stating that test are conducted fairly.  Preliminary tests are conducted prior to the final experiment.  Preliminary tests included were a double blind testing of dowsers featured in Enemies of Reason hosted by Richard Dawson; Derek Ogilvies reading minds of babies and animals in Extraordinary People on Five.  Both tests offered no definitive proof of paranormal evidence.  Mrs. Putt was the first person to pass this first round of preliminary testing.

Professor James Randi, a magician and debunker, offered $1000 of his own money in 1964, to anyone who could prove paranormal claims under a controlled experiment.  Many claim to have this power, very few came forward to accept this challenge.  Many cite that the experiment is fixed by Randi and cannot be won.

The Test…..

10 readings, each written specifically for one of the 10 volunteers, all volunteers dressed in the same attire, sitting with their backs to the tester, had never met or spoken to Mrs. Putt.  After the Readings were completed, each individual got a complete set of all the readings, presented in random order, volunteers were to pick out a reading most applicable to themselves.

The test would be deemed successful if, 5 of the 10 volunteers selected the reading written specifically for them.  Mrs. Patricia Putt felt completely confident that she would be issued the $1million dollar prize.

The Result…..

All 10 volunteers selected a reading that was not written for them.  Putt made no excuses, was kind and professional accepting the final outcome.  One day later, Putt decided that the protocol she had agreed to prior to the test was too difficult, laden with many barriers preventing her to exhibit her psychic abilities.  “volunteers being bound head to foot like black mummies felt tied so were not free to link to spirit, making my work a great deal more difficult“.

The prize is still there waiting for you, (IS) the proof  is out there?!

05/6/14

“Vultures Who Prey on the Bereaved.”

I have always been fascinated by Ehrich Weisz. Who you ask? The Great Harry Houdini that’s who! We all know the name and it instantly conjures visions of straight jackets, hand cuffs, or of the Milk Can Escape also known as the “Chinese Water Torture” trick. There are numerous articles, books and even movies that taut his magic acts and abilities, but what I think of when I hear the name Harry Houdini is Spiritualism.
The 1920’s in America is often thought of as “The Roaring 20’s” and of us think of jazz music, prohibition, speak easys, and gangsters, but what about the Spiritualist Movement? People from around the world were reeling from losing an estimated 15 million people in the World War One and 21 million more to the Spanish-flu pandemic and they were searching for ways to connect with the dead. It was in this era that so called “Spirit Guides” emerged to help the bereaved contact their loved ones who had passed. The media of the time wrote glowing reviews and highly dramatized accounts of communication with people’s departed loved ones, and the people believed! If it was written in news papers it had to be real! It seemed as though the more famous they were, the more they charged. (Sound Familiar?)
In 1913 Houdini’s mother Cecilia, passed on and Harry was so distraught that he hadn’t been there at the end, that he consulted spiritualists in an attempt to communicate with her spirit. Harry soon realized that these so-called spiritualists were con-artists. While traveling the country and the world for that matter, Houdini met scores of mediums and witnessed 100’s of seances only to come away upset at what he knew was fraud. Houdini at one point even proclaimed that these people were “Vultures Who Prey on the Bereaved!”
With Harry’s back ground in illusions, he set out to figure out how the Mediums and Psychics tricked the public, which he did. Houdini then aligned himself with O.D. Munn, editor of Scientific American. Scientific American offered $2,500 to anyone who could prove that they had psychic powers. In the summer of 1924, Houdini targeted Mina Crandon of Boston. Followers called her “Margery”, non believers knew her as the ” Blonde Witch of Lime Street”. She was renowned for conjuring the voice of her dead brother, Walter, whose spirit rapped out messages, tipped tables, and even sounded trumpets. Walter was unfriendly, answering questions and quoting scripture in a gruff disembodied voice. Margery, by contrast, was charming and attractive—at least when she wasn’t showing off her most convincing psychic talent: extruding a slithery, viscous substance called “ectoplasm” from her orifices. Photos show this otherworldly substance flowing from her nose and ears, but mostly it emerged from beneath a sheer kimono like a string of entrails—an “ectomorphic hand” that Walter used to carry out his commands.
A panel from Scientific America visited Margery and was all but convinced that she was the real deal . When Houdini learned the committee was prepared to endorse Margery, he was outraged. Having already exposed the tricks of other celebrity mediums, Houdini was sure the committee was about to be fooled, so he canceled his shows and headed for Boston.
Margery met with Houdini and the panel from Scientific American for a séance and she took her seat infront of a three-sided Chinese screen. Soon the lights dimmed and an eerie whistling filled the room. Then the spirit of Walter whispered his arrival, even touching Houdini on the inside of his right leg. After a break, Houdini ordered an electric bell enclosed in a wooden box brought to his feet. Then Walter levitated a megaphone and boomed: “Have Houdini tell me where to throw it”.“Toward me,” Houdini said, and the megaphone flew through the air and landed in front of him. That was just the beginning. Throughout the evening, Walter produced a sequence of spectacles, ringing the bell box on command and tipping over the wooden screen. Houdini had done his homework. He knew that Dr. Le Roi Crandon, Margery’s husband, always sat on her right. He was a Harvard-educated surgeon and her promoter. Houdini also guessed correctly that he would be seated on her left in the circle, with hands joined, feet and legs touching. In anticipation to the séance, Houdini wore a tight bandage under his right knee the entire day leading up to the show. It had been so tight and was so painful that it made his skin tender to even the slightest touch. The sensitivity paid off. He could feel Margery twist and flex in the dark as she moved her left ankle slightly to get to the bell box under the table. Later, he felt her shift again to tip the Chinese screen with her foot. The flying megaphone stumped Houdini for a few hours, but he eventually figured out that Margery had placed it on her head, dunce-cap-style, with a momentarily free hand. She then jerked her head in his direction to send it crashing to the floor.“I’ve got her,” he said when the evening was over. “All fraud. Every bit of it. One more sitting and I will be ready to expose everything.”
A second séance at a Boston hotel featured a levitating table. Houdini reached out in the dark and found Margery’s head lifting the table from beneath. He again felt her legs move as she reached to ring the bell box. “The slickest ruse I ever detected,” Houdini said later, in something close to admiration. But when he announced his findings to the committee, he was asked to hold off on a public denunciation. The committee was conflicted. When it refused to award the prize after several additional séances, the Spiritualists became enraged—as did the spirit. “Houdini, you goddamned son of a bitch,” Walter roared. “I put a curse on you now that will follow you every day for the rest of your short life.” No Matter what Houdini said 1/2 of the panel was still firmly under Margery’s seductive spell and continued to report that she had supernatural powers. In October, Scientific American published an article that described the committee as hopelessly divided.
The dithering angered Houdini. In November, he published a pamphlet called Houdini Exposes the Tricks Used by the Boston Medium “Margery,” complete with drawings of how she produced her manifestations. “She certainly was clever in her maneuvering to pull the wool over the eyes of the committeemen,” he said, admitting the ingenuity of her techniques as he debunked her show. Houdini’s pamphlet humiliated Margery, but he wasn’t done yet: The “scourge of Spiritualism” wanted to make the religion disappear. But the spiritualist caught on and eventually banned Houdini from their shows. Imagine that?

04/17/14

Rocks Will Remember….

A term heard often in paranormal field is The Stone Tape Theory.  Term was first coined in a BBC film of the same name. What is this theory, is there anything to it? I am Researching this because the inquiring mind wants to know.  This theory was first proposed in the 1970’s.  Hypothesis was, that in times of high stress or high emotions could somehow help transfer memory to an inanimate object, and actual recording of the event.  This energy would playback in a non-interactive way (a residual haunting).

Researcher Eleanor Mildred Sidgwick claimed objects could retain, record or absorb the “psychic energy” of a tragic event.

William G Roll, Parapsychologist and Professor at State University of West Georgia, agreed with this stone tape theory.  Believing the mind can create apparitions from “psychic traces of the past”   by their “psi field”.  psi field is defined as subtle energy that unites the mind and body, a universal life force running between all things.  Energy in Chinese medicine– Qi;  in Indian Yoga–Prana or Kundalini  energy is also described as an aura, rays, field, audible or tactile vibrations.

Barrett stated that certain cases were imprints or “echoes”somehow become “perceptible to those living”.  He became interested in the paranormal in the 1860’s after an experience with Mesmerism (hypnosis).  He hypothesized these echoes were thought transferences or“place memories”.  Suggesting that hauntings are memories “lost” from an individuals mind, attaching itself to the environment, showing up and replaying back as hallucinations in sensitive people.

Barrett was a member of the Spiritualist movement and was said to be duped by a medium.  later founding The Society of Psychical Research in 1882.

I have not found a reasonable explanation for this theory of stone taping.  Some claim it is geological,  iron oxide, or rust particles, with electromagnetic fields acting as a recording device changing a persons perception of what is seen.  Others refer to the water memory theory (see Water, a Ghost Essential Element) and plate tectonics, an electromagnetic charge caused by quartz in earth that carries  an electric charge from movement of a fault lines.  Fascinating tales of phantoms, echoes and spirits all on the rocks. Cheers !

04/8/14

14 Degrees – A Paranormal Documentary

In 2007 myself and two great friends (then known as New Gravity Media) released our first full length documentary “14 Degrees”. The film which took two years to complete involved nearly 6000 miles of travel and investigations with dozens of teams across the northeastern U.S. This film, which now tops out at a whopping 2 hours and 16 minutes was intended to be a short film no longer than 15 minutes. However, after receiving interest from so many teams, we just couldn’t stop. Because of the overwhelming response the project was produced “backwards”. Instead of having a plan for a beginning, middle and end, we instead simply filmed everything and put the pieces together into a documentary format. The raw footage features over 275 hours of film footage and took 6 months in post production. Some popular names appear in the film such as John Zaffis, Steve Gonsalves and Keith Johnson. It was a first attempt that won us the 2008 Aegis film award. That film in it’s entirety is now available to the public for the low price of FREE. I hope you enjoy!

03/29/14

A Witches Creed

Merry meet again, its me Patricia..I would like to share something that means alot to pagans…its a story about the past.. written by Doreen Valiente in 1978…called the Witches Creed :

Hear now the words of the witches, the secrets we hid in the night, when dark was our destiny’s pathway, which now we bring forth into light. Mysterious water and fire, the earth and the wide-ranging air, by hidden quintessence we know them, and will keep silent and dare. The birth and re-birth of all nature, the passing of winter and spring, we share with the life universal, rejoice in the magickal ring. Four times in the year the Great Sabbat returns, and the witches are seen at Lammas and Candlemas, dancing on May eve and old Halloween…

When daytime and nightime are equal, when sun is at greastest and least, the four Lesser Sabbats are summoned, again witches gather in feast. Thirteen silver moons in a year are, thirteen is the covens array, thirteen times at esbat merry, for each golden year and a day.The power has passed down the ages, each time between women and man, each century unto the other, err time and the ages began.When drawn is the magickal circle, by sword or athame of power, it’s compass between the two world lies, in the land of the shades for that hour.This world has no right then to know it, and the world of beyond will tell naught, the Oldest of Gods are invoked there the great work of magick is wrought.

For two are the mystical pillars, that stand at the gate of the shrine, and two are the powers of nature the form and the forces divine.The dark and the light in seccession, the oppsites each unto each. Shown forth as a God and a Goddess, of this did our ancesters teach.By night he’s the wild wind rider, the Horned One the Lord of the shades. By day he’s the King of the woodlands. The dweller in green forest glades.She is youthful or old as she pleases, she sails the torn clouds in Her barque, the bright silver Lady of mid-night, the crone who weaves spells in the dark.

The Master and Mistress of magick, they dwell in the deeps of the mind, immortal and ever-renewing, with power to free or to bind.So drink the good wine to the Old Gods, and dance and make love in their praise, till Elphame’s fair land shall recive us, in peace at the end of our days.And do what you will be the challange, so be it in love that harms none, for this is our only commandment….by magick of old be it done.

I hope u enjoy this story of our past …Merry part till we Merry meet again

03/28/14

The Misconception of Witches


Several years ago I had the great pleasure of interviewing a witches coven from upstate NY.  The sincerity and good hearted nature of the coven told me right away that unlike some of the “posers” that go around claiming to be witches, these folks are the real deal and on a path that spreads an interesting and positive message.

I was very impressed with how embedded their beliefs were into their psyche and how knowledgeable they were with all aspects of their religion and way of life.  Their purpose was to teach about the popular misconception of witches. To spread the word that they stand for harmony with the Earth and all of her creatures. Their sincerity impressed me so much I made a short film to let them say their piece.  Patricia Gardner (the coven’s high priestess) is now one of our contributing writers, still spreading knowledge and the good message of peace and just like the fascinating coven I met back in 2005, the message she sends is still something I can stand behind.

I’m not a witch and I’m not a religious person, but the belief that life should be lived in peace and respectful of life and the Earth is certainly one that inspires me.

03/27/14

The Magick Moon

Merry meet again, its me Patricia, I would like to talk about the moon phases and the kind of magick done on each one. There are four phases of the moon, and each one corresponds with an aspect of the Goddess, a season, element, and direction.

The first phase is the Waxing moon. The aspect of the Goddess is the Maiden,the season is spring,the element is air, and the direction is east. The magick done at this time is for new beginnings, such as new job, new home, new love, and new adventure etc. The candles on the alter and for that type of magick are white or yellow.

The second phase is the Full moon. The Goddess aspect is the Mother, the season is summer,the element is fire, and the direction is south. This phase is for any and all forms of magick and the color is red on the altar. What kind of magick will depend on what color you use..but add a red one for power.

The third phase is the Waning moon. The Goddess aspect is the Crone, the season is Fall, the element is water, and the direction is west, and the color is blue. The magick done on this phase is for endings…ending bad habits, relationships etc. This is also the direction of the Summerlands where spirit goes to cross-over, so communication with them is done in this direction.

The fourth phase, and the one most misunderstood. Called new moon/dark moon/ no moon. At this time the moon is veiled from view. The Goddess aspect is the Dark Crone, the season is Winter, the element is earth, and the direction is north. This is the time to go within for answers you need, introspection, and contemplation. The only magick done on this phase is defensive magick…any other kind usually back-fires or just doesn’t work…the candles for this corner on the altar are green, brown, or black.

I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did writing it ..until next time Merry part till we Merry meet again..

03/25/14

Beltane – The Festival of Fire & Fertility

Merry meet! I’m Patricia Gardner, High Priestess of the Dragon Warriors of Isis and I would like to share some information about pagan/wiccan beliefs.

Let me tell you about Beltane:

Beltane / May day is the 1st and 2nd of May. Known as a Greater Sabbat/holiday. It is a fire and fertility festival. Back in the day, ( though some covens still do ) they would dance around the Maypole. Its a fertility rite for life and crops. To us it is also known as The Great Rite, or the marriage of the Goddess and God. So, from vernal/spring equinox till the end of April, some of us talk to the plants and trees to wake them up so they will be dressed in all their glory for the marriage.

From midnight the night before until after ritual we fast to purify ourselves before entering circle.unless you have a medical reason or are to young to fast.This Sabbat is to celebrate new life, and to bless the land for the crops that year. We try to have it outside so we can have a bonfire. It is also to celebrate the marriage and new life to come from that union. During ritual we also have whats called libation. This is usually bread dipped in herbs and oil and sparkling cider.though some covens use wine or mead.

The ritual consists of thanking the Goddess and God for our bounty and blessing received, and those to come. Our rituals are to celebrate life and the turning of the wheel, also called the wheel of the year.which means the changing of the seasons.

Next month I will tell you about Summer Solstice. So..until then …Merry part til we Merry meet again.

03/12/14

Nothing To Fear But The Living – Munchhausen By Proxy

On December 16, 2010 I was contacted about activity that was purported to be occurring at the home of a family in Whitman, Massachusetts. The woman who called me (a friend of the family) mentioned that the activity in the home had increased in recent days and was mainly focused around The mom who and her two daughters. Although the father and other occupants in the home have also had various experiences.

The caller mentioned that she is a medium with psychic ability and has been in contact with the entities that she says inhabit the family’s home. According to her she has identified three entities named Benjamin Jackson (or Smith), Tyler (no last name) and Beverly (no last name). One or more of these beings are alleged to be “attacking” the mom through the evocation of serious effects on her health.  The caller has also mentioned that the attacks and activity continue in spite of her multiple attempts at clearing the home. At the time of the reporting phone call she mentioned the spirits would simply “push her aside” following any attempt to keep them in order or remove them.

She has contacted us out of concern for the families well being and safety.  In response to the initial report we phoned the family to follow up and arrange for a preliminary meeting/interview as well as schedule a subsequent investigation of the home and activity.

According to the family, the activity truly started to manifest following the additional “awareness” brought by the family friends psychic communication with the spirits alleged to occupy the home. The eldest daughter is believed to have been channeling the spirits through various automatic writing sessions. As of Dec 16th 2010 she has channeled the spirits three times.  (See sample of writing below). In addition to the psychic communication, the family also claims to have experienced the gamut of paranormal activity ranging from moving objects, footsteps and voices to shadow figures and full bodied apparitions.

All of the  family along with their visitors claim to feel a very heavy presence in the home and many claims of headaches and chest pains.

Prior to the full investigation of the family’s claims, we conducted preliminary research in the hopes of qualifying some of the factual data presented during the initial interview.  We researched the names “Benjamin”, “Smith”, “Tyler” and “Beverly”and other details given by the family in the hopes validating some of their claims. We were not successful.

The following images represent visual input from the family’s children.

1 This image shows a drawing made by the youngest daughter.  It shows a general representation of how she sees these entities.
2    This image shows a drawing made by the eldest daughter.  It shows her interpretation of Beverly. Note the apron on the figure suggesting that she was a cleaning woman or servant of some kind.
3 This image is a sample of an automatic writing session conducted by The eldest daughter.  (See notes below)
 4 This image is a restatement of the automatic writing session in  eldest daughter’s own hand for comparison. (See notes below)

 The automatic writing sample provided by  eldest daughter contains various statements and information segments acquired by her during her session.  Our first step in this analysis was to verify the integrity of the writing. To do this we had her write a sample of the same statement in her own hand, while not in a meditative state.

Graphology analysis was done to compare slant, size and pressure in both the upper, middle and lower zones of the sample. We have found definite similarities between the two samples and have concluded there is very little difference between the two writings.  To further analyze this sample we have checked the structure and patterns between other automatic writing samples presented over the years and found several concerning discrepancies with this sample:

1.)    Misspelled names:  In a traditional automatic writing session, the spirit is said to channel their energy through the subject’s body and write the dialogue themselves.  The person doing the channeling becomes only a tool for the encompassing entity. In many historical recorded sessions the channeling individuals have been known to write in foreign languages typically the style and handwriting of the spirit they are channeling. While the channeling entity may misspell various words in the channeling session, it is unlikely they would misspell their own name, in the sample provided here, the name Benjamin is misspelled as “Benjamine”.

2.)    Modern Terms: This sample contains many modern terms such as “Awesome” and “On-line” (referring to internet usage). Since channeling spirits are typically known to communicate in the “language of their era” this presentation does not fit the traditional criteria.

3.)    Writing Fluidity:  In traditional writing samples the pen or pencil movement is fluid and swift and typically done with the hand least used by the medium. This sample shows slow, choppy pen movements and “normal hand” penmanship.

These issues present problems with the validity of the sample and therefore cannot be considered with any other evidence of paranormal activity that may be found in this case.

Our Investigation: 

The team arrived at the home at approximately 7:00PM on January 15, 2011. Upon our arrival we were greeted by the father.  The team proceeded to load in our equipment, introduced each investigator to the clients and began our camera setup.

One notable and concerning aspect of this investigation was discovered during the preliminary walkthrough conducted on December 29, 2010 and involves highly excessive levels of electric and electro-magnetic fields. These fields are strong and present throughout various areas of the home reaching levels in excess of 325mg in multiple locations.

Many of these affected “high energy” locations are in common areas of the home or places where the family members and guests might spend extended periods of time (i.e. near beds, chairs, etc.)  Upon further investigation our team discovered that these high energy fields are caused by a large assortment of devices within the home including but not limited to the following:  Fans, Heaters, Air Purifiers, Alarm Clocks, Lamps and Decorative String Lighting.

Although these devices are used for functional and decorative purposes we feel the side effects of their high EMF output can (in some cases) be dangerous and damaging to the occupant’s physical and mental health.

The World Health Organization warns that electro-magnetic fields in excess of 20 milligauss can have adverse health effects with prolonged exposure. The levels measured in this home are twelve times higher than the world health organization’s recommended limit.  This coupled with the families constant occupancy of the home for extended periods of time raises concerns about their overall health.  Even members of our team became sick during the investigation.  Sick to the point of vomiting.

None of the 13 team members personally experienced or recorded anything beyond the excessive and heavy man-made energy levels within the home, but based on our four independent preliminary interviews with members of the family we have found that due to the family’s firm belief and interest in the activity and causes presented by the family friend and parents, there is some evidence of possible coequal testimonial influence as well as Munchhausen by proxy.

Several of our investigators have noticed key changes to the younger daughters testimony in the light of evidence or testimony presented by other family members. For example on one occasion when asked if she had heard Benjamin speak, she firmly replied “no”, however after hearing her older sister  talk about hearing Benjamin’s voice, her testimony changed and she began telling of her experiences hearing his voice. This form of testimony change occurred several times within the interview process. She and her older sister were also inclined to change their claims in accordance with their mothers testimony.

We have also found that this family has been encouraged to identify their experiences with sources of a paranormal nature all with little or no research to support the assumption.  The eldest daughter has been told by the family friend she is a crystal child and possesses the ability to channel the spirits which allegedly reside in the home. However, there is no empirical evidence to support the claims of this child’s abilities and the child herself was unaware of these abilities before being told she had them.

However, she is still encouraged to develop her abilities, and assured by her mother that her results are valid. Again, this assurance is from unsubstantiated sources. We do feel as though outside influences and sympathetic behaviors are influencing the families overall viewpoint and experiences with regards to the environment in their home.

The sad ending to this story is that during this investigation and our individual, private interviews with the family member we had discovered several signs of child abuse which manifested in several recorded claims made by the children in the home.  The oldest daughter had made a list of the hurtful things her mother had done and said to her and her sister on a repeated basis. She had even written it down. The specific details of this aspect of the case must remain private but following our research we felt it necessary to report these issues to the Department of Social Services to ensure the children’s safety.

Call it Munchhausen by proxy, call it misinterpretation of natural influences or call it demonic possession.  At the end of the day it was still the case of a family so desperately in need of help and one we couldn’t ignore.  Maybe we cleansed the home of one kind of demon after all.

 

03/11/14

Psychics: Helpful or Harmful?

If you are a paranormal investigator, or you are interested in the paranormal, do you think a psychic should be used or consulted with?

Many claim to be psychic and really there is no way to prove or disprove if they are or are not. Claiming to be psychic is often a fast way to gain popularity, respect and sometimes money. I’ve been on investigations before with a self-proclaimed psychic who got the details of the case confused. She said she was doing an on-going communication session with the spirit of someone she referred to by name and that she was asking specific questions of this spirits and she was “receiving specific answers”. She even claimed to cross over the spirit. The problem was that she confused the details of two cases and was supposedly communicating with spirit A but was doing so in location B.

I would very much like to know what you think of psychics and what your experience has been.