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

Show Me The Money !

I’ve thought a lot about the paranormal world lately. It makes me sad and sometimes angry to see all the scams that are going on.  Are we our own worst enemy? Have we allowed ourselves to be sucked in to the hype? TV shows tell us that there is activity everywhere and that you too could be experiencing phenomena. Gee, isn’t it funny how a certain paranormal TV show used to air episodes where they would debunk the claims and rarely find anything worth mentioning in their first season, but now they find multiple pieces of evidence every episode. Would it have anything to do with ratings (which equates to money), Hmm???  Or how about psychic’s? They are telling anyone who is willing to buy what they are selling, that they can communicate with late Aunt Pearl, all for the measly sum of $200.00 an hour. Its no wonder that a certain psychic who has a popular TV show, lives on Long Island and drives a Land Rover, Hmm? Or how about the  guy and his wife who bought a money pit of an old Victorian mansion in central MA and  charge admission to investigate their home. People line up with money in hand, waiting to get in and snap their very own picture of a full body apparition. Well at least that’s what the last TV show they were on said. Funny how that TV show was shot in Canada and not MA, Hmm??? Or how about the Hotel on the Cape that claims to have activity in a certain guest room. The story has it that the original owner was a sea captain. One day he sailed off only to never return and his wife’s ghost waits for him in that room to this day. Funny how that room number changes every time you call for a reservation.

I find it amazing that the haunted room is always available! It’s really nice that they quote you a special discounted rate too, funny how its $10.00 more than the sign in the lobby says, Hmm???  My favorite of all is the multi-million dollar Ghost Hunting Equipment Industry. There’s a multitude of boxes sold today that use electronics to allow a ghost or spirit to communicate with you. Funny how a spirit that passed away 50 years ago can manipulate today’s electronics. I’d be surprised if they could even turn on a TV.

Technology and science are advancing at a tremendous rate.  We are living in a society that is highly educated, but we are ALL susceptible to being scammed. I suppose if we want to believe bad enough, the wool can be pulled over our eyes. I must admit, I have been scammed! I believed! I spent my hard earned money! But hopefully I have learned something along the way. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, I’ve got a box full of old ghost hunting equipment for sale, if you know anybody?

My real reason for writing this is to challenge everyone to be skeptical, and have fun with your paranormal research. That’s what Ghost Hunting really should be,  FUN! I do believe there is something to all of this, and hopefully someday, someone will figure it out!

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..

03/11/14

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.