Thursday, April 30, 2009

Obscure Horror Movie Review - "And Soon the Darkness"

This 1970 movie ended up in my collection by serendipity. I’ve kept it because it satisfies a certain need depending on my mood. I bought it without having seen it because it was a British 1970 film with Pamela Franklin (did some classic 70s horror movies like “Legend of Hell House.” and “Satan’s School For Girls”).

This is not your usual horror movie, more of a suspense thriller. Two nurses from England decide to go on a bicycling tour of France. It’s very pastoral and beautiful in the setting and the characters show an adequate amount of vulnerability as they ride the rural backroads of France alone.

This it not a high action, fast-paced film, but because it does sort of stroll along with undertones of creepiness, it’s very atmospheric. The girls get into an argument, one of them goes missing, and while the other tries to find her, she herself becomes vulnerable to whatever might have taken her friend. The characters she encounters are odd and suspicious. It’s a good cat-and-mouse kind of plot and you certainly suspect everyone you see in the film.

I probably keep this in my collection mostly because I love that era of British films, the scenery, and the quirkiness that only a foreign film can give. It’s all done in English which, of course, makes it much easier to follow, but it definitely feels like a European film.

It has a twist ending that surprises and it’s definitely worth a first-time see if you happen across it. I keep it for when I’m in the mood for something with a dated foreign feel without being translated and that has reasonable suspense to keep me interested.

I’d be more likely to suggest this film if you liked any of these; “Psycho,” “Turn of the Screw” (“The Innocents”), or “Let’s Scare Jessica to Death.”

Recent Phoenix Lights?

A good friend who is a great witness saw the Phoenix Lights phenomenon a couple days ago on April 28, 2009 in the South Mountain area again. It was around 10-11 pm. It's ironic because, I live behind South Mountain and for some absolutely bizarre reason, I went outside at 8:30 to look in that direction because I had a weird eerie feeling that the lights were going to be there. They weren't and I felt jipped. I don't EVER go outside looking for the lights, this was the first time. I about went white as a sheet when at a dinner party last night my friend was telling me how he was driving through The Valley and looked in that direction where he saw one bright light and then others in formation with it in that same area as the originally famous Phoenix Lights. I asked him what time and he said between 10-11 and I was like, "Oh man!" My senses were telling me to be on the lookout and after one peep outside at 8:30, I forgot to go back and out check again, got too distracted. Just wondering if anyone else saw them.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Chariots of the Gods?

If you were a child of the 70s, there’s no way you bypassed that period of time without hearing references to "Chariots of the Gods?" book by Erich Von Daniken (published in American in 1970). There was a TV documentary based on it called “In Search of Ancient Astronauts” which was wildly popular at the time.

This is what happens when you follow your passion and aren’t scared to travel the world and seek knowledge. Von Daniken began as a study of ancient holy writings and, although like most of us was forced to work in the “real world,” he continued to study things of interest to an obsessive level. He found a theme in archaeological artwork which created his hypothesis; perhaps the earth was visited by aliens in ancient times.

I have a personal respect for anyone who’s willing to create conjecture that rocks the majority’s world and makes us question just how much knowledge we have accrued and if perhaps we’ve accrued knowledge in the wrong areas for healthy growth.

In his book, he points out how ancient art drawn on cave walls and on desert rock outcroppings have shown amazing images of flying machines and references to beings that appear to be in space protective clothing and helmets. The knowledge of ancients to build pyramids, to postulate the stars and their movement, to build Easter Island’s statues, and to plot out the lines of Nazca of Peru, seemed to indicate influence from an outside source.

Von Daniken also brings into question the knowledge with which the prophet Edgar Cayce was able to do his clairvoyant readings. In Cayce’s readings, he could sit with a patient and detect illnesses in their bodies while he went into a meditative state in which he said his brain could ask their brain about issues, resulting in Cayce being “part of all brains.” This is a talent Von Daniken believed to be originated in other worlds by higher beings. This also expands into the concept of psychic abilities and how we can enter other energy pathways and gather information.

On the point that we can tap into other energy and gain information is one that I completely accept, having been able to do this my entire lifetime. I can’t tell you how, I can’t tell you why, but I do know that it’s possible to jump into a stream of information and sift through it like a radio sifting through radio waves for the right station. It might have been a vital attribute in early pre-language times, I don’t know. I only know it’s an ability we all possess and often use without being conscious of it. It's really all in our priorities and focus as to whether this talent develops or not.

I’m sure you’re probably wondering where I stand on the concept of Earth being seeded by aliens. I grew up in deep fascination with this book and the theories. To me they seemed to be grounded in fact, some kind of new discovery in the science world. Now, of course, I’m older and more logic-minded and skeptical, so when I re-read his book again with a fresh mind, I do find some discrepancies and I have better questions to ask about the correlations.

Von Daniken’s referenced the great flood of the Bible and assumed it was a plan by an alien god to obliterate "bad stock” and begin again with mankind. This is an example of his limited view at the time. Man has since discovered there was absolutely no way such a flood could have existed, even if it involved all the water in the oceans and in the earth combined. So, some of his postulating was with limited knowledge of the time period, giving that particular hypothesis a death sentence. He tied part of his theory to something that wasn't factual but was storytelling and folklore, so that would make perhaps other parts of his theories no longer valid either, given our present-day knowledge.

However, it’s understandable that the images he references (such as the one above) do seem out of place with the time period and the knowledge of the people. However, I am certain that anyone of an ancient time period would have devised a god based on things he was most dependent upon, such as sun, rain, earth, and seasons. Some of the images were surely otherworldly for the fact that a god of the sun or weather might be something we haven’t seen, something unusual or hybridized. It wasn’t until man became less dependent upon growing his own food and stalking his own meat, that a father-figure god came into the collective consciousness when a need for someone with wisdom and knowledge. This sort of almighty judge of character, was a more fitting deity to civilized man.

When I was younger, the correlation between these astronaut-like images and the cave drawings seemed like a direct hit, but now that I’m older and a debunker, I have to admit that the chances of a civilization existing, one with knowledge to travel and visit and influence us, who happens to use similar space suits and possess the same body type seems rather farfetched. The other option here is that man develops a way to time travel and influences his own ancestors. Even that seems unlikely, as I doubt by the time we possess time travel skills we’ll still be zipping ourselves into classic 1960s Apollo jumpsuits. At the time Von Daniken made these theories, they fit the knowledge of his time period.

I will admit that man seemed to have more knowledge than we gave him credit for. I believe that pyramids existing in continents separated by a vast ocean were not a complication for ancient man. I do think it was possible he circumvented the globe, although I’m certain it was a rare and special event, as surely the majority never made it. That ancient man wasn’t designing super computers and radios says something about his priorities. Early man would have had a very hard lot in life and survival would have been what he considered 24/7. When you are helpless to the elements, designing gods to protect and developing a deep spirituality would have been urgent. If man was advanced back then, more than likely it was of a psychic and spiritual nature more than it was a technology rush. Even today, we’re finding some ancient knowledge of leylines and crystal powers might have some actual basis in a geomagnetic intelligence we’ve lost along the way. A sort of personal compass with Mother Earth that ancients used to make important decisions.

Yes, man is an exceptional creature when you consider all the possibilities along the way. That life found a way to exist and evolve and become intelligent beings above the other creatures is so unbelievably rare and that I doubt it could be calculated. Anywhere along the line, we could have developed flat ears and inability to hear, one sex and inability to procreate, hearts that had too few chambers to allow us to move large bodies. If you were to ask me about how we came to be, I’d have to say there is something in nature that is intelligent and that is programmed to survive at all costs. That alone is quite remarkable.

Were we created by aliens? I seriously doubt it.

Were we seeded by a meteor from another planet that contained important amino acids for the beginnings of life? Most surely.

Is there anything we can take away from Von Daniken’s theories? Yes!

Ancient man was leaps and bounds beyond what we ever assumed about him. There is knowledge that has always been out there and depending on where man is in his priorities, we either bury it (such as psychic skills) or we accelerate (such as multitasking).

The biggest question in the world right now, when faced with potential changes in the way we’re used to living is, what will be man’s next big priority? Will he continue to consume and dominate and disregard human connections or will he evolve into something that President Obama has been hinting at, a man who values everything he has, saves, reuses, finds ways to make excess power without pollution, enough to power his neighbor? To use science and natural resources that are renewable?

What will tomorrow’s man carve into his cave paintings if he did so? I would guess it would have images of self-sufficient communities and a newfound love of Earth, sky, and water.

Perhaps man went to one end of the pendulum and is now swinging back to ancient knowledge, earth-based wisdom. We can certainly hope so as his priorities thus far have shown a disregard for the very planet that he must subsist upon. Just like the big 80s look is cropping back up in our fashion world and the free-child earth-based living of the 70s turned into the excess and money-making preoccupation of the 80s, man lives on a pendulum. Some day, perhaps, he will accrue enough foreknowledge to stay centered, but for now it takes great adversity for change to occur.

Man may not be alien-based, but he is spiritually based and that makes him an exceptionally unique creature capable of doing anything he dreams up. When I see the cave drawings with suited creatures and flying objects in the sky, I think of man as having pre-knowledge. A strong use of his spirituality and psychic abilities. He could envision. If you think of it, Gene Roddenberry was one such man, imaging transporters and fazers. Occasionally we get great visionaries such as Da Vinci who draw up helicopters long before man has taken flight. That's pre-knowledge. And, I think that's what Von Daniken was tracking.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Abandoned Places

I’m absolutely consumed with abandoned sites and junkyards and anywhere else that humans were, but no longer exist. Something about what they left behind, the weather-worn pages of magazines, the rusted hinges, broken windows…is absolutely fascinating to me. Like an interesting crime scene mystery.

I decided recently to combine my love of ghost hunting and abandoned sites by making beautiful objects from finds at cemeteries and abandoned sites. They will possess the untouched memories of where they came from and have the decidedly “grandmother’s attic” feel that will spook folks out. I began collecting things at these sites and storing them outdoors so they can age even more. When I begin to sell these crafts online, they’ll be called “Abandoned.” My son is working on the logo right now. I can really get into this because certain objects to me, as someone who reads them, have a combination that when put together can give people the unconscious feelings of what the objects contain. If I want people to feel very isolated and alone, I can make an object of items that will give them that emotion when they touch it. Another object might give off the sense of darkness and doom. Some objects, however, will give a sentimental unconditionally loved sensation. I can hardly wait to send them out into the world.

There are some good guidelines for searching abandoned sites. Never under any circumstance go alone or unprotected. Most abandoned sites have squatters. It’s good to let them know you’re coming ahead of time with plenty of sound. It gives them a chance to dart away in fear you’re the owners or to come out and confront you outdoors while you have a good chance of escape. I’m not kidding. Some squatters can be quite indignant. It helps to case the place first to be certain no one’s coming and going. Abandoned sites may not have people living on them, but the property is owned by someone. I wouldn’t suggest trespassing. If there’s a “for sale” sign, contact the realtor, mention you want to walk around and look at the property. Usually in a place that’s unfit to live, they don’t mind you casing the property, there’s not much they can show you that isn’t already obvious. You must always be careful of the weak structure itself. Many are not fit at all to go inside of, but photos taken from the broken windows and open doorways are really more stunning than taken inside in the dark.

If for some reason you do find yourself being discovered on a property by an owner or the police, it’s always good to hold up your camera and mention that you saw it from the roadway and wanted a few pictures because it was so pretty. You can even flick through some of the pic's to show them your artistry. Admittedly, if you’re in your middle years, they’ll let you go easily. If you’re younger, they might worry you were up to something, whether it’s lighting candles, making out, or tagging the place, so be prepared to do some explaining about your love of photography and weather worn sites.

A little research ahead of time is good too. There’s a lot of sites online dedicated to abandoned sites. It’s the new urban favorite pastime. Sometimes, a good place to practice ghost hunting, as well.

I love taking beautiful pictures of these sites. There’s something about the crumbling post WWII Baby Boomer’s infrastructure that fascinates me to no end. I love finding rusted, worn, beaten items. What is forgotten to me is the biggest treasure, not what’s in a case in someone’s house with a light on it. It’s that moment in time sealed into an object when it’s left on the ground, picked up by the rains, stomped on by a javelina… So cool!

Here are some awesome sites that will inspire. This one if you scroll down in the blue box they have abandoned cities and structures. This one has lots of foreign cities and buildings. And, this one is kind of the hub for all the urban explorers

If you find any cool abandoned sites in AZ, please let me know. I’m always keeping a watch for new ones.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Sleep Disorders and Paranormal Encounters

As someone who has had all sorts of different sleep disorders my entire life, I can definitely empathize with folks who have them more regularly. I’m lucky that mine are fairly few and far between nowadays, but in my youth they were a constant battle.

Sleep disorders can run the gamut from common insomnia (in which one has difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep), night terrors (in which the person is inconsolable and appears to be awake but is not actually fully awake and may be hallucinating and unable to hear you), sleep walking, sleep paralysis, also known as hypnagogia, (in which the mind is awake but the body cannot move). There are lots of variations of these issues including chronic nightmares and repeat nightmares. I’ve had one repeat dream about a tornado chasing me. When I finally figured out what it meant, I quit having it. The tornado to me represented something I didn’t want to face or deal with in my current life. I watched my reaction in the dreams, sometimes I’d panic and scream and put my hands over my ears, close my eyes, wishing it away. Those dreams said a lot about how I felt about myself at the time. Eventually, I recognized the tornado, wasn’t afraid of it, and lifted a manhole cover and gathered neighbors and hid down below with a great deal of calm. It showed a definite evolution in my maturity and how I handle situations and what I truly believe about my abilities at the time. There are a lot of universal repeat nightmares such as your teeth falling out (I usually have that one after the loss of a loved one because I realize my adult teeth cannot be replaced and the loss is permanent), being naked in public, taking a test in school without studying, forgetting your locker number…

My night terrors are always the same one. I see a gray face right up against mine as if someone is leaning over me and they’re only inches away and I begin thrashing, screaming hysterically, and generally freaking out. The screaming wakes me up and my heart is pounding harder than any workout and I’m trembling. The feeling is as if you’ve faced the very worst threat imaginable. This is a positively primeval state, far beyond fear and fright.

I once had an episode of hypnagogia that was really disturbing. I fell asleep in front of the TV while I had a head cold. I was laying on the floor in the living room, propped up against pillows watching a show and nodded off. During the sleep event, my eyes opened and I saw the scrolling on the TV (the credits after a show) and in my dream state, it was a warning about nuclear attack and the credits were the places we were supposed to go, the shelter listings. I couldn’t move my arms or legs and barely was able to lift my head a bit. I couldn’t open my mouth to call out and in my dream state I attributed it to fallout. I thought I had been irradiated. It was horrifying to not be able to get help or move and see the centers scrolling on the screen but not see my town listed. Somehow, I fell back into a deeper level of sleep, but the memory of those moments of feeling helpless but awake were horrifying.

I mention these kinds of sleep disturbances because as a paranormal investigator, I do often hear people reiterate stories of things that occurred in the bedroom or while going to sleep or getting up. It’s nearly impossible to sort out the genuine phenomena from the brain-induced phenomena in this setting. Sleep disorders can be so extremely real that they become part of your memories. The nuclear fallout dream/hypnagogia was so real that I feel as if I am a recovered victim from it, as if it genuinely happened. Upon occasion, I can open my eyes before I’m fully awake and see thousands of giant spiders crawling up the walls and across the ceiling. That doesn’t mean it truly happened. It means the mind is an amazing thing. Just think of how real some of your dreams are.

That being said, I also know that in the alpha state as you are drifting off to sleep, you can be extremely receptive to psychic information. You can also perhaps be in a state of mind that makes communication with the spirit world easier. So, how does one know if they’ve had a genuine encounter or something of the bedtime variety of disorder?

Welcome to my world.

As an investigator, it’s important to probe for details. Had he been asleep? Was he just nodding off? Had he awakened but laid back down again for just a few minutes before the alarm goes off?

Sometimes timing is everything. I awakened one night when my father was in the hospital to see his outline at the end of my bed, wiggling my toe as he always did when he left on a business trip or returned. It was kind of his way of checking in. Soon after, the phone rang and the hospital reported that father had passed on. This could have easily been a hypnogogic hallucination, except that I sat up in bed and was able to move. The fact that it occurred when my father died made it something more than coincidence. My eyes were open and I was able to see the levels of light in the room, feel the toe being wiggled, see the very clear black outline of my father, and could sit up in bed. That was highly unusual and more significant of an encounter, showing both correlation to an event and my ability to be awake and cognizant. I did lie back down and go to sleep when I recognized it was my father, but as I was nodding off, I did remember he was in the hospital and so I looked back up again and sat up only to find him gone. When I lied back down again and turned over, the phone rang with the news. There was a great deal of physical and mental work going on for my part, as far as reasoning, recognizing, and moving around.

How many times have you had a head cold and while you sleep you plug up and have a nightmare you’re drowning? Or you get gas pains and you dream someone is stabbing you in the abdomen? These bodily symptoms have a way of making it into dreams. Outside factors such as thunderstorms can become a battlefield in your dream state. An icy bedroom can become a trip to Alaskan tundra. The common belief that a hag could sit on your chest and suck your breath out is a classic sleep apnea (brief moments of stopping breathing) sign. The sound of your own snore can become a growling animal. Restless leg syndrome can cause unexplained bed shaking. All of these options need to be taken into consideration including whether you went to sleep having had drinks, medication, or were sickly.

In the context of researching a client’s complaints, it’s important to differentiate what parts of the house have phenomena. If things are only witnessed in the bedroom during sleep time, that’s a huge red flag. If there are other issues in the house that occasionally show themselves in the bedroom, further questioning about the consciousness of those in the bedroom is warranted. If a couple is sitting up in bed watching TV or reading books, that’s obviously a more impressive situation than if one of them is nodding off and experiences a voice in his ear. Your instincts can often tell you when to dismiss a claim and when to give it more consideration. Having a very alert and conscious witness to a phenomenon is much different than a drowsy or impaired one. It should be a part of any investigator’s tools to ask the questions when anything occurs in the bedroom or during a nap on a sofa.

If you find that a person’s experiences are relegated to bedtime, it’s a delicate situation and one that should be handled with finesse. You never want to tell a client that they might be imaging things. You do, however, want to find out if they’ve ever had sleep issues before. Educate them about sleep conditions. Folks often times don’t know others have experienced something similar. I admit that I’ve had a few nightmares involving alien grays carrying me off. I certainly don’t believe I’ve been abducted, but I know that something popular culture has infiltrated my dream state and upon occasion caused such distress when I’m overly tired that I have a night terror about it. When I went online and found others who had these experiences, I also realized that they dreamed of being naked in public, forgetting their phone number when they need to call for help, losing their teeth, et cetera. These are universal themes. A client can be comforted to know that people have been reporting them for centuries. You might help them gently to discover that if the only phenomenon is occurring at bedtime, they might not actually be haunted. That’s quite a relief for many folks to know that sleep is their issue and not something otherworldly. Sometimes, the dream themes can disappear once the person realizes why they’re having them and they no longer become a good avenue to release stress or fear or worry.

Our dream states are a blessing and a curse. They let off stream and work our demons. They inform us of how we view ourselves in relation to the world and what is going on at present, but they also make it hard to differentiate between awake and alert compared to asleep and dreaming or somewhere murky in between. Stay cautiously alert when listening to stories of hauntings and you just might be able to take a home from haunted to inhabited by regular folks with extraordinary sleep states.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Cemetery Crawl

The yearly "Cemetery Crawl" event went off without much of a hitch, except perhaps some car troubles for one team. The two-day road rally based on "The Amazing Race" sent contestant teams through western Arizona to every small cemetery and interesting weird road stop possible. They did fantastic and I don't believe there was one speeding ticket (a first, I think!) The winners came in pretty far ahead of the pack, the Catacomb Crawlers were the winners and they seemed to have a fantastic time following crazy rhyming clues, doing weird deeds, and collecting fake money along the way. At the end, they came to Double Buttes Cemetery in Tempe where they had to find a veteran's grave and leave a flag. Then, they were off to the labyrinth which is the crematory. They had to follow the weaving path to the center where they were given their prizes.

Obscure Horror Movie Review – “The Sentinel”

If you fell in love with horror during the 70s, there was a steady and promising banquet to feed upon. If you enjoyed the feel of “Rosemary’s Baby,” “Burnt Offerings,” “Watcher in the Woods,” and “The Reincarnation of Peter Proud,” this 1977 film will satisfy.

“The Sentinel” stars some big-time names like Chris Sarandon, John Carradine, Ava Gardner, Martin Balsam, Burgess Meredith, and Beverly DeAngelo (yeah, as in National Lampoon Vacation movies). With this cast, it has a decidedly “Ghost Story” feel to it. This one isn’t for kids, as there is admittedly some nude shots involving Beverly DeAngelo (which I suppose for some male fans of the Vacation series this might be a selling point).

A model finds a room in an odd boarding house. The people living there are quirky and her encounters with them mystifying. The plot keeps you wondering and the house is so creepy and the occupants so fascinating, that you wonder where this movie is going. It does have a twist ending that creeps you out. Totally. Warning: You’ll probably want to see it a second time soon after just to watch for clues…

I liked this film a lot and keep it in my collection. I keep notes about what mood I might be in and what movie would satisfy that craving. This movie is kept under the categories of “70s feel,” “good acting,” “insanity,” and “twist ending.” This one is a real classic with mood and pacing, acting and dialogue, and was really well plotted out. Definitely worth a look-see and perhaps even a purchase, as it is worth seeing many times.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Bigfoot: Analyzing the Patterson Film

Even though I consider myself a ghost hunter, I’m interested in all areas of the unexplained and my second favorite subject is Bigfoot. This North American Great Ape as some would call him, is a puzzling creature. Although for centuries Native Americans have reported such a hairy man of the mountains, it was until the October 20, 1967 Patterson film taken in the Six Rivers National Forest in Northern California, that people began to openly debate the existence of this cryptozoological creature. The film can be viewed here.

The skeptic in me has to debunk before I can move on and say something is extraordinary. I’ve seen this film nearly all my life, but never stopped to really analyze it. I simply dismissed it because of the context in which it was taken. I tended to dismiss this film because these two men went into the woods to find Bigfoot with a camera. The setting in which this occurred to me was always suspect. Had they just happened upon him while filming a fishing trip, I admittedly would have reviewed the film much more hopefully.

That being said, I’ve had enough time and maturity and basic knowledge in debunking now to review the film again with a clearly open mind and trying not to put it in the context of two men happening up the very creature they were hunting. When I see the film on its own as a piece of hard evidence without any personal stories by witnesses, I have to admit to being strangely unsettled.

Here are just some of my questions:

Where is the profit? Had other men made a movie about a Bigfoot for attention or notoriety, they would have likely made a huge business out of it like you see Tom Biscardi (refrigerator Bigfoot fame) as if it were a three-ring circus. I didn’t see that kind of authority and leadership from these two men. They didn’t seem to want to be famous, just to be believed. That they didn’t become the leaders in Bigfoot research is worth noting. These shy men really didn’t rush to go before cameras or talk about what they saw. They had the potential to lead the way in research and yet they backed off. I am also impressed that the film did run out and that showed a certain shock at running into the Bigfoot when they did. They were at the end of a reel and didn’t realize they might actually run into this thing. Had they planned it, the film might have been performed at the beginning of the reel or the middle, certainly not at the end when they ran out during filming her leave the area.

Why take on such detail? Other men would have given less full-frontal Bigfoot, fearing that the suit could be identified. They would have captured him walking between trees. They also would have filmed him with a steady hand, not the shaking hand of a man who stumbled from his upset horse. They also would have portrayed him as sexless. The fact that this Bigfoot obviously has breasts is quite astounding, as well as their natural pendulous shape and hair covering like an ape. This was the 1960s and hardly primitive times and yet man hadn’t been having the decades’ long debate about the fine details of Bigfoot’s feeding, movement, and attributes. To have realized the details such as the swaying hair covered breasts and the interesting half human/half ape face was unbelievably brilliant.

Why did she react that way? When I saw the film in review, I couldn’t help being caught up in the setting. This Bigfoot was near a creek, a likely hang out. She was in a location others had recently seen prints which is why Patterson and Gimlin went there. She didn’t react as I would expect someone portraying a Bigfoot would. There was no racing off and out of the scene in a hurry, afraid of men on horses. She seemed cautious, but in no real hurry to run. She felt no imminent threat, which is astonishing considering she probably had never seen a man nor horse before. This female knows she’s high up on the food chain. She paced herself to leave the site, but continued to make eye contact. There was something very natural about that response. I would have assumed she would have gone on the attack or ran away. Obviously, she’s been up against bears in the woods and perhaps deer and elk and the sight of man and horse was surprising, but rather more creatures she must endure sharing the woods with.

Why does she move that way? The biomechanics of the way the Bigfoot in this film moves have been analyzed to death with folks in costumes and others measuring each frame and reenacting it. It is nearly impossible to move in just the same easy and casual way with the posture the same as the creature, its proportions so off of human’s. The way it moves its shoulders and head as a unit shows its lack of neck length that is closer to an ape than human. The movement of muscles under the fur is something that I would only be able to guess, but in 1967 they certainly had nothing like that in the movies of the time or they would have had a blockbuster on their hands. The size of the leg muscles is perfectly in keeping with propelling such a heavy beast on two legs.

As you can see, it’s easy to go on forever with questions and find three or four varying answers. Depending on what you want Bigfoot to be or not to be, you can adjust your answers. If I had to decide on Bigfoot’s existence based on the film alone and not all the thousands of reported sightings and foot castings and other photographs, I’d probably say I refuse to decide. One film can’t make a case. But, when added with other evidence, it seems to be that a large ape-like man does wander North America and is occasionally seen. That he is seen rarely shows a level of intelligence and perhaps a need like man has to dominate the far reaches of the woods where he can be king.

How will we go about finding Bigfoot? I doubt it’ll be two redneck hunters with a refrigerator for storage. Nope. It’ll more than likely be how we view bears nowadays, wandering into a neighbor’s pool for a drink when the drought becomes unbearable. I don’t think we’ll go find him. I think he’ll stumble upon us when we encroach even closer to his territory.

Although I readily admit I do believe in the existence of Bigfoot, as far as the Patterson-Gimlin film is concerned, it is becoming more and more likely to me that this was film of something extraordinary. As a story goes, the plot was too perfect with them entering the woods to look for the creature, but the timing of finding it, with Patterson falling off his horse and having a shaky camera, being at the end of the film, finding the creature near a creek, and the fact that for a few seconds the creature is very clearly visible for review, I find something very genuine about the whole thing. I’ve never let myself connect with just the creature in the film and see if it rang true as a real creature of a man in a costume, but after watching it dozens and dozens of times recently, I feel as if I am looking at something not man. Not ape. Something extraordinary. And not because I want this film to be real (I always assumed it wasn’t), but because the creature itself is compelling enough to not seem fashioned by man but nature.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Phoenix Lights -- Looking at all the Angles

History: March 13, 1997: Lights in a formation that appears to be V-shaped are seen from Nevada, traveling southeasterly over the State of Arizona and into Mexico. The bulk of the sightings were reported during a three-hour time period by thousands of witnesses.

First sighting: 7:55 p.m. Henderson NV
Second major sighting: Prescott 8:17 p.m. (only 22 minutes later traveling 170 miles).
Third major sighting: At 10 p.m. it was viewed over the Valley of the Sun (123 miles from Prescott in just under two hours’ time).

Fact: Something was obviously seen by thousands of people over hundreds of miles on the same evening. There was something in the sky. Something with lights. Something unconventional to those viewing it. We can say with definite assurance there was something in the air. It was photographed by many, as well. Some were directly under it, some saw it in the distance. They all saw it within the same time period. They all agreed there was something lit up in the sky in a formation that was unfamiliar to them.

Going with the absolute knowledge that something was in the air that night. Let’s look at possible explanations and run the logic.

Military? This object was first seen in Nevada and traveled southerly from there. The area it originated from (Nevada) seems to be most suspicious for military craft. However, playing the devil’s advocate, why would the military fly over heavily populated areas and hover with such a remarkable craft? Wouldn’t the vast barren deserts of Nevada be more appropriate than downtown Phoenix?

Alien? If one were to consider this as an alien spacecraft, wouldn’t it be an obvious invitation of some sort? After all, they were hovering over a populated area. Not to be down on Arizona, but why this state? If you want to make a show to a population, why not LA or New York? Why not stop and say hello? Why be seen but then leave? What is the purpose of this? Could it be considered a first contact meant to have us talk about it and see how we react to such a connection with another life form? Preparing us in gradual steps?

Flares? At first the military had no comment on the event, then suddenly decided there were flares dropped in the Barry Goldwater Range that evening south of Phoenix. The flares hardly accounted for the formation of lights, the V-shaped craft some folks sighted from beneath, or the fact that it was seen traveling the entire length of the State of Arizona.

Time Travelers? It has been suggested this is our future visiting us, and quite honestly, as a die-hard skeptic about most matters, this actually seems most feasible if we’re talking about something not of our present-day world. It could even account for why there would be a silent visitation without contact. Would you want to contaminate your past? But, would you possibly like to show them that there is more than what we think we know right now? Help us to prepare for a future that is beyond our present imagination? To perhaps change a course we’re set upon? The event of seeing such a craft would aid us in getting a perspective and becoming more future-oriented. We are not alone. That could be the message, but not from aliens, but from our own kind. Perhaps more advanced. Perhaps evolved into something short and weak-limbed with a large head who’s interested in our own DNA? Their historic DNA?

What I personally conclude from what I know of the event (unfortunately, I live right under where it passed, but didn’t go outside that night), I can make a few assumptions. Something with a formation of lights was in the sky that night, witnessed by thousands over the state, as well as Nevada and Mexico. These lights were in the sky and photographed as well. It affected enough people that they activated the 9-1-1 system. This event did happen. There is no denying that.

But, as a paranormal investigator, I realize that debunking is necessary. I also know that if someone is upset in an historic house, I’m not going to jump to the conclusion that they’re possessed. I’m going to look for logical explanations. Those who jump to the alien answer are foregoing some important steps that are actually much more likely, such as this is one of our own crafts, some sort of natural occurring phenomenon, or it was a prank of some type. Until those can be absolutely ruled out, we can’t carry on a healthy conversation about what occurred and what it means to our future.

I must admit, it would absolutely change our world to know that there’s someone bigger and stronger on the block and yet they don’t have to exert their power over others as man on earth tends to do when he gains technology. If this was a message from an outside civilization, it was a subtle one. One I hope everyone gets.

And, then, maybe it’s just that we are so unthreatening that it doesn’t matter if we see them or not.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Obscure Movie Review - "Alone in the Dark"

The 1980s heralded the turn in horror movies from gothic suspense to slasher. Some movies contained both characteristics during this time of change. The movie “Alone in the Dark” is one of those movies. And don't worry, the gore is very minimal.

Made in 1982, this movie has an impressive cast including Donald Pleasance, Jack Palance, and Martin Landau. Yeah, a horror movie with all three bigshots!

The premise is simple. A new psychiatrist comes to work at a mental hospital. The old psychiatrist he’s replacing moved on to greener pastures, but the patients who adored him come to believe psychotically that the new doc killed the old one and took his place. Now, they want revenge.

And they break out of their hospital to find his home and his family and trap them in there for a real suspenseful standoff.

The mental patients are fantastically developed into all your greatest fears of meeting on the street. That this innocent family has to deal with their wrath is terrifying. This was well acted, well planned out, and had a lot to say about psychosis and what is real and what isn’t.

It has a decidedly early 80s feel to it, kind of reminds me of the feel of “The Fog.” This is one in my collection I won’t part with. Occasionally, I’m in the mood for a stand-off movie with good acting and mental folks who make Jason and Michael seem like gifted children.

Give it a watch if you see it on the shelf. It’s definitely worth a look-see and perhaps even a purchase. P.S. Don’t mix this one up with the Christian Slater movie made in 2005 of the same name—that one stunk!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

70s British Horror

It’s hard not to write horror manuscripts and make spooky arts and crafts and hunt ghosts without wanting to watch horror in your down time. That’s me. I adore horror. I especially love supernatural themes and atmospheric British 1970s horror.

One of the most popular horror makers in Britain in the 70s was Hammer Films. They produced movies from the 50s to the 70s that were part of regular viewing for lucky Brit’s. A slew of films came from it including lots of Dracula and Frankenstein, but also a TV series called “Hammer House of Horror.” This was somewhat akin to the series “Night Gallery” and “Kolchak: The Night Stalker” that were showing in America at the time. It begins with creepy music and spooky settings and moves into what feels much like a play. Some of the episodes included “The House That Bled to Death,” “Children of the Full Moon,” and “The Mark of Satan.” These episodes are actually very riveting once you get over the time period campiness of the mod short skirts and frosted lipstick and move onto the story at hand. Hammer films were all formulaic and they worked. Much of what we consider to be classic horror came from these vaults.

Another popular series in that time period was “Thriller.” Many “movie episodes” were made off of this weekly series such as “Someone At the Top of the Stairs,” which started Donna Mills and Judy Carne. A lot of top stars from America at the time vied for a place in this weekly series. The filming of “Thriller” was very much like “Dark Shadows” with creaking floorboards and ambient room sounds coming across the poor audio, and a stage-like feel to it and scripting. The episodes are filled with quirky couples and eerie settings and can be genuinely chilling and inventive.

Aside from TV, Brit’s really got into the gothic feel of the 70s from influences of castles and history, paganism and free sexuality. America became known for slashers in the 80s, but 70s in Britain was the motherland for goth folks and horror buffs.

Some of my favorites I have in my collection include the two TV series listed above. I also have some favorite movies of that era and hope to continue the collection including “The Legend of Hell House,” “And Now the Screaming Starts,” “The Wicker Man,” “The Haunting” (1963), “Blood on Satan’s Claw.” This was such an influential time in horror movie making that there are loads of sites online that cover it. Here’s the British Horror Timeline. Some of these titles will be familiar, others you'll want to investigate.

For those who love or would like to learn about the heydays of British Horror, check out This site. What is so compelling about 70s British horror is that they truly understand atmosphere is 95% of a horror movie, the characters are perhaps 3% and the story is 2%. What is creepy about horror is a combination of isolated setting, frightened fragile characters, and a fantastically creepy score.

Well, you know what they say, “once you go British horror, you never go back.”

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Paranormal State of Panic

I don’t have a lot of expectations for ghost hunting shows since the advent of “Ghost Hunters.” It’s probably because, even though I think TAPS is a bit half hazard at doing real research to better the field, they’re pretty good at debunking and they certainly can filter their clients to get reasonable folks whose homes show promise of paranormal activity without having fractured emotional states.

While watching “Paranormal State” (purely for the entertainment and mood it provides) it dawned on me that of the ghost hunting shows, this is kind of the Jerry Springer version.

The team is compromised of a leader who pretty much tells the group what things are and what they should do. The humble followers nod their heads a lot and do his bidding, but this is really all about Ryan and his belief system and what he wants the paranormal world to be comprised of. None of the members seem to offer any knowledge or insight, except for the Pagan who has some knowledge of spirituality (other than Catholicism). I won’t even comment on his use of a priest or Lorraine Warren (part of the old turn-of-the-century ghost hunting methodology which includes nearly everything being demons). Including the emotional owners on their journey into entertainment, they're doing more harm than good.

Coincidences on this show abound to the point that it’s extremely hard to believe if the clients aren’t part of an attention-getting moment-on-tv scenario. Every clue lines up for them in those “aha” moments that are pure entertainment and mood and sometimes little shivers down the spine. The clients are often times emotional and distraught (almost always at their wits end) by the time the team comes. Magically, after a couple nights at their home, they leave them feeling hope after a prayer and some holy water.

It’s impossible to gauge whether the burying of coins on a property or the blessing of a home actually have any efficacy. The problem here is that all of this ritual involves emotionally upset clients and the truth is that if the mind decides to believe something, it works. If they tell the clients this prayer will clear their house, they suddenly feel relief. It’s impossible to weigh and measure these kind of hocus pocus methods.

I would be very concerned if folks think that “Paranormal State” is any indicator of where paranormal research is headed. This is like having your barber remove your teeth nowadays. It’s a step back to the old-fashioned methods of hunting and dealing with ghostly activity. It’s steeped in religious practice and “good” and “evil” concepts. It has the shy and often times humble fear of anything that may be a demon or capable of possession.

Over many decades of observing this phenomenon, I truly believe there is no such thing as good and evil, demons and possession as actuality. What there is, is the very human reactions to the unexplained. Depending on the state of mind of that person, they may experience stress in many ways. Depending on their belief system, they might become “possessed” which is not a genuine occupation by an evil demon, but it is the psychiatric outcome of that person’s belief system, stressors, and coping methods mixed with the attention of outsiders encouraging such reactions. Each person experiences the paranormal and stressors in different ways. Some folks become workaholics, others agoraphobics. This is very much like the Catholic’s sightings of the Virgin Mary on cardboard boxes and windowpanes. Because of their religious practices and their customs, that is their explanation for what is a naturally-occurring staining on a surface. The same holds true of those who are “haunted.” Depending on their background and mental state, they will experience it in a huge variety of ways.

If you don’t think folks handle hauntings differently, just look at the clients on “Ghost Hunting” versus the clients on “Paranormal State.” It is obvious the kinds of fragile and attention-seeking folks “Paranormal State” chooses for clients and the ones that TAPS screens extensively.

I don’t mind watching “Paranormal State” but I also know it’s purely entertainment. I don’t expect to leave with any real compelling proof of hauntings or evidence, but I do enjoy a half hour of moody music, narration, and a good deal of hysteria. So long as folks know that when they watch the show and don’t judge the field by Ryan’s methods, I’m very pleased to continue to help their ratings.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Cemetery Crawl

It's that time of year again when Debe Branning from MVD Ghostchasers and I are working on the upcoming Cemetery Crawl event. It's based on "The Amazing Race" as a kind of road rally that has teams traveling the backroads of Arizona and visiting dozens of cemeteries and learning about history and ghost hunting while competing for prizes.

Debe wrote a fantastic article about our very first one that started the whole yearly event. You can find it here.

Obscure Horror Movie Review - "The Incubus"

This movie from 1981 is a forgotten gem. It stars John Cassavetes and is based on a book written by Ray Russell (the book is very good). I admit to being nostalgic for the old-time 70s feel of movies and this one certainly gives you a good dose of bad hair, clothes, and boxy cars. It’s very New England feeling and the score is really moody and appropriate.

The story is of a New England town in which young women are being brutally raped. The question is, by whom? Or what? The local doctor is baffled and at the same time trying to protect his teenaged daughter from a young man he is suspicious of.

The strong points of the movie are its nostalgic feel, the mystery surrounding the perpetrator, the acting is fairly good, and it keeps you wondering until the end. I like this movie because I’m fascinated with the concept of an incubus (a demon trying to impregnate women). The book was very well written and the author helped to write the movie, as well, which made it a much better storyline than it might have been if a stranger butchered the concepts.

It’s definitely worth seeing once. It’s just different than most horror movies made during the early 80s. There’s plenty of suspense and, as I mentioned, the score really makes it even more dramatic.

If you see it on the shelf, check it out.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Feng Shui a Ghost Away?

I look for consistencies in hauntings. As I often tell people, I’m a Virgo and logic-minded. It doesn’t mean there isn’t unexplainable stuff out there, it’s just that we haven’t figured out how to capture it and give it a name. None of this will be done until folks doing the research start taking note of commonalities.

Some of the commonalities I’ve witnessed are that ghost activity picks up when folks move into a place and move out of a place, renovate a place, take in a new member of the family, or lose one member of the family, or if they have young children. If they collect antiques, if they live in clutter, darkness, and loads of chatchki’s, they are also more apt to have issues. In fact, walking into a place to run a study, I can usually tell where the activity is occurring just by the way the house is laid out and even decorated.

It makes one wonder if ghosts are armchair decorators.

The principles of Feng Shui are that energy or “chi” moves throughout our environment, but depending on what’s in our environment, it can become very strong, very weak, or very stagnant. Different quadrants of a building represent different areas of our lives such as the northern part of the building represents career success and whatever you do with that room should attract and create success in your career.

I became intrigued by Feng Shui when I noted these things about hauntings that seem to be common issues. It had me wondering how it might apply to my psychometry abilities. If I have an easier time reading an object that is more dense, could it be that an environment that is very dense with objects might hold more energy there and create a situation that makes for haunting characteristics? If one believes in the concept of a ghost as a trapped soul, is this trapping the entity?

On my own, I’ve read up on it. A great book that I found is “Confessions of a Feng Shui Ghost-Buster” by Anna Maria Prezio. This has been extremely helpful for me. I have to admit, that on testing things in my own home, I’ve found many of the principles before I even got the book and learned there was a philosophy about those rules. That reinforced for me that Feng Shui is a significant study.

Have you ever seen TAPS go into someone’s home and it’s ultra modern, sleek, clean, neat, and without “do-dads?” Nope. The closest I recall them coming to a home like that was the Mansion Murders hillside home, but we’re talking about a strangely built home into a rock hillside, so that sort of cancels the whole decorating pro’s with that big Feng Shui no-no. Basements and attics are often big issues for folks. I don’t think that’s just by mistake. Have you ever seen an unfinished basement that’s neat? An attic that’s without stuff? Hmm…

According to Feng Shui, you want to avoid a house filled with yin energy which attracts ghosts. Yin is female energy (yes, ancients really did fear us mysterious females). Yin energy is dark and still, quiet and damp. Houses with yin are usually located near a cemetery or church, places where people experience pain, near or close to a burial site, houses where people died, where there are weeping willow trees or banana trees, too dark inside from trees or lack of sunlight, not enough windows, decaying houses, houses with windchimes inside, ones built into the side of a mountain, and ones where there were past owners very attached to the home. Energy passes in straight lines and does not like bends and curves. This also explains to me why I’ve noticed that hauntings occur often in roadways, paths, and hallways. I had wondered about that, as there is no logic for why they would be hampered by bends and walls. It also explains the constantly reported haunted lighthouses and their cylindrical shapes that would hold chi and have it running swirling patterns.

If we take this study one step further, is trapped chi attractive to ghosts or does it set up an environment where they can show themselves?

I have tested many of these principles in my own bedroom at night to see if my sleep changes. I have noticed differences in the quality of my dreams and my sleep. With a bit of tweaking, I’ve found ways to make an ideal sleep for me by changing my environment. That alone to me is a testament to the efficacy of considering the configuration of an environment and its contribution to hauntings.

If you want an ideal living environment, you’re going to have to some serious organizing and cleaning up. Keep pathways open, areas well lit, clutter to a minimum. I suggest you walk around your home and see how open your own pathways are. Check where it’s dark and where the mirrors are placed. Mirrors bounce back chi, and you want to keep yourself from trying to sleep in a place where chi might come in a window, hit a mirror and bounce back in a continuum over top of where you try to sleep or rest. So, basically, don’t face mirrors towards windows if you can help it, unless it's a work station or workout room where being alert and edgy helps. If you find issues in parts of your house with strange occurrences, try picking up the things around that area and leaving it clear. Play with it. Test and see what configurations work and what don’t.

If you have an adopted objects from deceased relatives, it’s always a good thing to showcase them and not store them away in a closet. If you decide to line them up together on a shelf, keep the area well lit and I’d suggest putting a plant or a desk fountain there as well. I’ve found that combination helps you to sense the love and remembrance of them more readily in your day to day life and not the loss and grief associated with the objects. They can actually nourish the living in the household.

The side benefit of all of this, of course, is that the living humans in the house will feel more at peace and relaxed, as well. Having a clear environment with no “to do” things lying around and darkening and cluttering your world allows you to rest without guilt and constantly living with a nagging voice reminding you to finish what you started.

Apparently Feng Shui is not just for the living, the dead seem to appreciate a home that is not a jail, as well.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Object Attachment

One of thousands of unanswered questions in the field of paranormal research is whether or not a ghost can be attached to an object and continue to “haunt” a favorite chair or bed or other possession.

This is obviously impossible to prove, but there does definitely seem be an association with objects, their location, and activity. People who have recently inherited belongings from deceased relatives often report suddenly having footsteps, sounds, cold spots, and a sense of being watched; all signs of paranormal activity. Under this same cloak of phenomenon, the renovation of a house and changing of its walls and coverings can also seem to release activity.

The question can be broken down even further by asking;

Does a person’s soul attach to an object and continue to stay with it?

Does his lifetime interaction with that object continue to replay somehow?

Does a person's interaction with an object continue, even when they are no longer touching it?

Does a person who has handled an object leave some kind of physical “film” or “imprint” on the object so that their feelings/memories are contained within it?

Does an object in some way pick up the event in an environment and replay it like it is believed certain kinds of stones/geology can hold and replay events?

As someone who does read objects, I know what I receive is a kind of history lesson of people who have used and handled this object, some of them only as briefly as a day. I narrow in not so much on their interaction with the object, but where they are in life when they use the object; ongoing drama, relationships, et cetera. So, as far as my abilities go, I know that objects can carry the “essence” of a person and his/her situation.

The physics of how an object can hold information is elusive. I don’t imagine there are many scientists who wish to risk their research careers studying such things, but I would suppose someone who specializes in quantam physics may be more intrigued by this phenomenon.

I’ve looked closer at objects I’ve read and I must admit that metals/stones/jewelry are easier to read, things like paper, cloth, and wood are tough to read but not impossible. So, all objects apparently have the capacity to record, but some are much more efficient at it. The only commonality I have found thus far is their density. The more dense, the easier to read. I could make a layman's assumption that perhaps if information is contained in the partical material, the more dense it is, the more information it renders.

I don’t think we can conclude anything from my observations so far, but I hope to continue to learn more about the properties of objects and where things might be held and how. Can they be washed away? Can they be worn off? Can they be altered if the object is say a wooden toy whittled down to a toothpick?

I’d love to hear anyone’s input on this subject. It will definitely be in my ongoing research.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Obscure Movie Review "Pin"

I saw this movie on Netflix’s “Watch Instantly” recently and was surprisingly riveted to watch the entire thing. This isn’t my usual mode. I have a low tolerance for new horror in general and usually become distracted within minutes. This time, I settled in with no distractions and watched it without pause.

The film was made in 1988, so I’ll give it credit for that. (It was some time in the 90s when horror went seriously downhill). This one had some originality and forethought. It was very well acted and very well filmed. I was surprised by the quality of it because I had never heard of this film before and I usually follow the progression of any new horror movie.

It takes place in small town in what appears to be the 70s/80s time period. A father is a doctor and has a life-sized doll used for medical education. It sits in his family clinic and he does a ventriloquist voice for the doll named “Pin.” His son and daughter come to think of Pin as a family member. The son, however, truly believes him to be a family member. With an obsessive-compulsive cold mother and an emotionally detached and rigid father, the children don’t have a chance of a normal upbringing. When the parents pass on, the son moves Pin into their mansion and the disturbing changes begin.

This was original and fresh and I really liked that you just wonder if Pin is alive or not. It’s disturbing and strangely nostalgic with the old-fashioned home and the old-fashioned upbringing of the children. It’s suspenseful enough to keep you going and you feel like you spent over an hour peeking into someone’s window in Middle America where all the weird sh@# goes down!

p.s. If you like this movie, I’d suggest “Psycho,” “Dead Silence,” and “Magic.” They have a similar feel and theme.

Funny or Die

I thought I'd give everyone a shiver and a smile today. This comes from Funny or Die website. What if Willy Wonka was a horror movie trailer?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Obscure Movie Review "Deathwatch"

I like to search for obscure horror movies. Admittedly, I’m obsessed with anything from the 50s to 80s, but I’m equal opportunity. Occasionally, a more modern one comes out that’s not too bad. The movie “Deathwatch” is one of those films. It’s also one you might have passed by in the video store and didn’t stop to check it out.

I'm encouraging you -- stop and check it out.

Made in 2002, “Deathwatch” is set in 1917 WWI. Hey, I’m not a war movie type at all. In fact, if it’s a war movie, I won’t watch it, but somehow I stumbled onto this one and after a few minutes, I was hooked.

Imagine a fog-shrouded field and British soldiers moving in on the Germans. The Brit’s find a German trench and take it over for shelter. In the mists they find out they aren’t fighting the Germans anymore. They’re fighting something unseen. The trench is possessed with evil and they begin to turn on each other and freakish things happen to the men.

The film was beautifully made and I’m crazy about anything with lots of atmosphere. The fog and the bluish lighting and the colorless setting were as bleak as the war. The characters are well defined, well cast, and well acted, and create a great mutiny amongst themselves when they discover it’s just as unsafe past the trench hideout as it is in the trench hideout. Trapped, they come to horrible fates with their greatest fears.

If I recommend a movie, it’s a real honor because I usually watch horror movies for one of a few reasons:

1. I want atmosphere. I just pop in a movie to give me a creepy feeling in the background while I’m editing my novel or doing some other project. For a time, I feel as if I’m in a cold wet forest at night or being stalked by a vampire in Romania.
2. I want to be creeped out. I want to pull the covers up and get so immersed that I don’t multitask. I actually sit through the entire movie. For me to sit through an entire horror movie is a good testament to its quality because I become frustrated easily if the first 15 minutes don’t have me.
3. I’m seeking a scary movie from childhood that creeped me out and for a time I just want that feeling of authentic horror again for nostalgia.

I can say that this movie was definitely #2. If I put this movie in, I know I’m sitting through the whole thing and not doing some other task while I watch it. That’s a high recommendation from a chronic multitasker.

If you want a super creepy atmosphere, great characters, intense suspense, and a feeling like you were actually in the trenches in WWI, this is a really good movie. They did a very good job of capturing a time and a period and a creepy purgatory that's haunting.

p.s. When I like one film, I rush to find others with the same feel. I'll take the guess work out of it for you. If you liked this film, you'll almost surely like "Ravenous," a 1999 film that was of equal quality and feel. The two films remind me of each other a lot. This one takes place in America back in the time of Indian Forts and has to do with a ravenous windigo creature amongst the men who wants to devour flesh.

Woman With Phantom Arm

This article really struck me as having some components that might explain hauntings. Is it at all possible that the human body can create a phantom self? Would this contain the soul? That this woman can actually relieve an itch with a third arm that does not to the eye exist, is intriguing. If you look at humans, we can imagine picking a lemon, feeling the waxy texture, and biting into it, and we will actually salivate. We are not actually biting a lemon--but our mind does not know the difference. I'd love to hear from ya'all about what you think of this phenomenon and how it might integrate into hauntings.

Emotions and Trauma Leaving Imprints; The Creation of a Haunted Site

It’s probably not any wonder that when we ask people “what places do you think are haunted?” they will likely list places like; hospitals, battlefields, prisons, bars, and mental institutions. You don’t hear peoples list off; Disneyland, water parks, or malls.

Why do you suppose that is?

Hauntings are notoriously tied to emotional upset and tragedy. That somehow in that moment of death under great duress, a being is able to cling to that location and haunt it endlessly.

What if when a person passes on he simply goes to his final destination, whether that is eternal sleep or heaven? What if, however, the moment of great anguish did imprint itself on the environment and is contained therein, ready to be released under the right conditions?

This is the theory behind residual hauntings.

Of course, all of ghost hunting is under the umbrella of “pseudoscience” until something tangible is discovered and recognized by science. I like to knock around some of my own theories and ones that are circulating, trying to find commonalities.

In this early period of research into the paranormal, some look to “old knowledge” for guidance. The assumption is that if early people could do amazing things like build pyramids, they might have contained some knowledge that made them more superior at understanding the earth. One of those ways the ancients excelled was in the use of gems and crystals for their power. It was believed that quartz held the life force of the earth as it formed and can readily hold and release energy. Healers often use crystals. They follow this by rinsing the stone pointed downwards for one minute under cold running water to “erase” the memories it contains. They believe that if you inherit a ring from a great aunt you didn’t particularly think was a happy woman, you might cleanse the ring in this manner. By wearing it, you create a new body of “knowledge” in that object, hopefully happy experiences.

Whether or not one believes in old knowledge, this explanation helps us to understand the belief system behind geology affecting hauntings. The right rocks, the right emotional situation, and – boom! A traumatic memory is recorded. If you follow this line of belief, a blissfully happy memory should also be contained within the right site. Serendipitous moments when you feel a sudden onset of an emotion out of place with what’s going on, could be the moment you just stepped into the “memory soup” and felt what was felt in that place in the past.

I like to use the Lincoln Memorial as an example. This magnificent memorial is made from marble. Marble is made from limestone and dolomite crystallized, compressed by heat, liquid, pressure, and chemical action. This is intriguing because limestone is considered to be on of the best “haunting site” contents, along with granite and quartz. The theory would be that marble is made under great pressure in the earth and sandstone is made from sand-sized mineral or rock grains in a sedimentary bed. The connections with the earth, pressure, and moving water are thought to make them ideal to hold and release events like a recording device.

When I stand before the Lincoln Memorial, I feel a great deal of things. It is huge. I am an American. I respect what he stood for. I feel comforted that he was one of our forefathers. I, however, feel emotions that are immensely out of proportion to viewing the statue. I grew up near DC and saw the monument many times. Still, each time it made me want to cry. Usually, I did cry. Sometimes, I rushed away. I couldn’t understand the feelings that erupted. I had seen the King Tut exhibit,gone inside the White House, stood atop of the Empire State Building, but this monument made me feel like I was visiting a newly deceased relative. Was it possible that this monument where millions of people every year stand and admire and read the words of Lincoln might feel immense pride and strength? Could their combined energy over time in a marble monument have recorded a huge range of emotions?

I know from reading objects that newer owners of the object do overlay memories on it that are sometimes stronger than past ones, but not always. There is usually a predominant owner that is easier to read, but the freshest owner (most recent wearer of the item) can be exceedingly easy to read, even if they only wore the item one time. What does this mean for an environment that is haunted? Over time, it can become unhaunted. Yes,I do believe this. I think with enough newer families living in a place, old memories are less accessible. Renovation sometimes releases old memories, but once the family settles into their new environment, they begin to lay down a track of memories. My family was perhaps the second or third family to live in Aspen Grove since the Civil War and we had a great deal of haunting activity. The people who bought it from us had a good deal, as well. Further down the line (many owners since) there have been less and less reported incidents.

I believe that any spot in a house that seems to have activity can be changed by several manners. One is to study practices of feng shui and keep it clear of clutter and darkness, which combined make an ideal setting for things to be trapped. Another is to give the area new memories. One person had issues with their children’s closet. It was a connecting closet between two bedrooms shared by two siblings. Nightly, the girls heard something thumping around in it and scratching. We opened the closet doors and set up the Barbie playhouse inside and the dolls. I had the parents keep the windows open for lots of sunshine. The girls played in there every day, giggling and having a good time. Mother would come and serve them tea sandwiches like they were on a special vacation. When fall came, the parents reported they closed the closet back up again because the girls didn’t have time to play, but the sounds they heard previously were completely gone. It’s been several years and the issue hasn’t come back again. That’s another indicator that it is possible to re-train an area of the house by using it for a good purpose, an altar, meditation spot, place to read to children.

The question becomes whether the environment itself contains the residual memory of an emotion or event or if emotions somehow leave a residue that can be imprinted anywhere. Do we as humans sort of “mark” our territory by our range of emotional outbursts? You can see how so many theories abound on this subject. It will take a good deal of research to tie hauntings into a common thread that tells us just how residuals occur and how they are released.

A theory written about this online that is worth investigating is here. It has some very good points, but for me doesn’t cover how residual hauntings can occur when no one is there to activate them, such as footsteps in another part of the house. Still, there are definitely some strong concepts in this article worth noting.

I will continue knocking around theories and hopefully gathering more info on the subject to make more specific theories, but for now I enjoy the open-minded part of research where I explore and find commonalities. I hope to follow this up later on with more examples I've gathered over time.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Geology of Hauntings

I’m living in a state (Arizona) that is geologically intriguing. We have the Grand Canyon, but also many mining towns. Not surprisingly, the heavy haunting activity and the mining towns match up perfectly. Towns such as Bisbee, Tombstone, Globe, Jerome, Vulture mine, and numerous other mining hubs have reported ghostly activity even back to when mining began in those areas. Sedona is yet another geological wonder that reports a very high incidence of all kinds of paranormal activity from UFO sightings to healing energy to vortices and heightened extrasensory perception skills.

There are a lot of theories on why geology is important to hauntings or especially residual hauntings (when an event seems to be recorded by the environment and played back continually). These theories include the conductivity of certain kinds of minerals for spirit energy and perhaps the qualities in them that make it possible to record events, to geomagnetic activity, tectonic strain, geological faults, radon gas, and magnetism.

Now, with all the current geological activity going on around the world from earthquakes to volcanoes, what would this mean for imprinting memory? Would a town crumbled by an earthquake be more haunted than a town say washed away by a flood? Local legends support that, although it's hard to be objective since the stories were often started by the survivors who had to live amongst the crumbling ruins with visions of their loved ones trapped inside.

Many investigators are now focusing on fault lines as possible pathways for residual hauntings. Locally, we’ve long known about things like ancient waterways, moving water, railroad tracks, and geology as potentially hot spots for hauntings.

In determining a haunted site, there should be some criteria that’s met beforehand to avoid going to a site that might not provide you with good possibilities of phenomenon. You’ll want to check the local geological maps, fault lines, railroad markings, waterways, and of course the history of the building itself—if it has anything particularly traumatic that occurred.

Some day, perhaps we’ll come up with a formula for an ideal haunting location. I’d like to see that happen. For now, it’s a helpful tool for deciding on activity and sites to study. If you add on top of that finding a day of the week when geomagnetic activity is up, you have the perfect “haunting” storm.

Here is a good source for maps of Arizona’s geology.
Here is a fantastic article about geology and hauntings and the theories behind them.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

People and Photographic Anomalies

When I inherited the family photos and information (my role as the baby of the family is the historian), I also inherited a new insight into my mother. When I was growing up, mom hated to be photographed. So did my hippie sister, but I think she believed that photos were a way Middle America made folks appear what they weren’t (this from a young woman whose favorite color was “clear”). That being said, my assumption for my mother, who was overly concerned about her appearance, was that she didn’t want documentation of her aging. Still, watching her dive into the photos when they came back from the processor, searching quickly without doing the usual vain womanly preoccupation of picking apart your chin line or your smile, I realized she was looking for something. Something quickly recognizable.

When I inherited the photos, I found out what that was.

As you can see above by the collage, mother had dozens and dozens of such photos with what looked like light refractions on them. They never appeared on other family members. The same camera being used in some of them with other members, even at the same time. It always appeared for her. Not them.

There are a lot of theories about folks who tend to have these anomalies. I’m more impressed when someone gets them with different cameras, different photographers, different locations, and especially if they’re the only one in the photo affected. The explanations run the gamut from these people having spirits around them to these people affecting cameras and other devices. Admittedly, my mother did have a full visual sighting of a person who passed on when we didn’t yet have news of his passing (she said he was in ¾ size too which is pretty spooky). Still, she wasn’t one to say she was seeing dead people.

To look at her skills, I looked at my own. The wearing of watches and passing through security screens have always been hard for me. I kill watches very quickly and I tend to set off alarms on particularly sensitive days. One time, in the mall, I went through four stores setting off each alarm (with no purse or tag). They never set off when I walked out, only when I first walked in alone. I gave up and went to the pet store where upon walking through the threshold the fire alarm system went off. Later that day, I proceeded to have my computer go down immediately when I sat down in front of it and my TV to turn off when I got near it. It was one of those rare days.

When I ghost hunt, upon occasion I’ll ask my partner to take pictures of me when I tell her to shoot. I watch and wait for something I sense nearby and I stare right at it and have her take the picture. Every single time, something shows up (like above). In that case, I sensed something to my right coming up and over me and I told her to take the shot as it came above me while I stared where I knew it was. It’s a hard thing to describe except that it’s a sense of something heavy and dense near you, blocking light and sound. Sort of like being in a store and you sense someone’s standing right behind you. When you get that sensation of something dense blocking air movement near you, it’s time to take a shot.

So, what was haunting mother in her pictures? It’s impossible to tell. My mother was a mountain woman from the Depression era in West Virginia. I think she’d tell you it was her 3-year-old sister who died of whooping cough, perhaps attaching to her as she died in the house where she slept nearby. It could also be that mother had an ability to project her psychic strength in an outward way that showed on photographs. The anomalies that show up in my shots that I’m looking at, I have no way to prove whether they’re ghosts or my own psychic ability being projected out and displaying itself, caught on film.

Perhaps on a particularly good day, mother’s emotions projected onto the film or perhaps on particularly restless days she affected the camera’s abilities. Of course, it’s entirely possible that she had a bad photographer, but it doesn’t explain the consecutive shots of others in the same setting that had none of those qualities.

I like to keep that explanation open for now. Without my mother around to prove it one way or another or to interview her about her moods on those days, it’s impossible to draw any conclusions. Like the boy in “Sixth Sense,” my mother was haunted by her own photographs, cringing and awaiting some fuzzy blob to show itself. Perhaps to her it meant a curse.

I like to think of it as a blessing.

I’ve had lots of aura photos over the years and I think of the hazy patch much like the spirit energy that shows in white on Kirlian photography. A sort of spirit guide or visitation from a loved one. Something positive. It would take a powerful person to be able to help it show itself. I’d take that as a compliment. Having taken tons of photos when I used to model and do pageants, I never found anything odd on my pictures. My ability seems to be to know when to take the picture to capture something happening.

So, sift through the old family photos and see what you can find. You might be quite surprised that someone you suspected of being sensitive truly was.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Legends of Aspen Grove; Flashlight Tag

Imagine living on an estate with two enormous boxwood mazes. Then, imagine having five kids in the family and parents who, no matter how well they were doing financially, didn’t buy their kids toys. They wanted them to be creative and resourceful. The land and its outbuildings alone had more than enough to work with, from building tree forts to using leftover furniture in the barn to turn it into a playhouse. One of our favorite activities was flashlight tag. It was especially fun on a hot Virginia summer’s night with lightning bugs competing for attention.

The back boxwood maze was more mature in height and an ideal place for a great game of flashlight tag. The ancient birdbath with the naked cherub statue in the center was our starting point. Usually my brother wanted to manage (or is that micromanage?) the game, so he would begin by being “it.” The rest of us would scatter like buckshot throughout the winding maze of English boxwoods to find the perfect strategic point to make our way towards the birdbath without being seen.

It was just after a particularly violent late afternoon thunderstorm that we played this one night. I was perhaps 10 at the time. I always did great at the game because I was able to hide behind most of the boxwoods with my short height and not be seen. Plus, my brother was more threatened by my two sisters who were one and two years older than him, so he’d be dogging them the entire time.

This night, however, the boxwoods were a wet mess and I opted to go hide in the hickory tree grove nearby. Between the maze and the hickory trees was a huge rectangle of about a half an acre or an acre of land that we used as the family football field on Sunday afternoons. Darting from tree to tree in the perfectly straight stand, I giggled as I saw the light click on and off and my sisters yelling at my brother and instigating his assault on them in the darkness.

Besides the buzz of mosquitoes, the hickory stand was pretty lonely and extremely dark. It lined up against the woods of an estate beside ours called “Tallwood” owned by George Mason University and left unruly and natural. The land there always bothered me and, in fact, I usually avoided the hickory stand all together because it felt like someone was at my back the whole time.

This night would prove why I instinctive avoided the grove.

The lightning bugs around me were intense since I was bottled in between the trees and the fence line where the raspberry bushes grew. Their sluggish light soothed me and made me feel sort of trance-like. I leaned against the tree, knowing I should make my run for the birdbath, but hoping he’d take out my sisters first. I had a tendency to end up in the crosshairs. Not this time. I was determined to win again.

Hushed voices sounded a few trees up from me. I leaned back and studied the line of gray tree trunks. Nothing. I looked over to the boxwood maze, the light blinking on and off. My sisters together darted through what I called “the great hall” because it was the biggest empty “room” in the maze.

Murmuring voices continued to talk. I stormed up the tree line, studying it carefully. It wasn’t unusual for local kids from the surrounding suburbs to try and sneak into the yard and play. I usually didn’t mind. It got lonely there when my siblings usually avoided me. They let me play the game along with them mostly because as the baby of the family I’d stomp and cry and get attention, so I found myself playing alone a lot. There were, however, a few unsavory neighborhood kids I didn’t want to enjoy my personal haven, so I came to a stop between the trees and waited. Scott got my sister, Kathy out and she took over the flashlight. Scott took the game like a tactile engineer so my chances of winning were looking pretty miserable. In my mind, I begged out of the game, more interested in who was in my yard.

The voices sounded again. This time they were where I had originally been standing. I rushed over fast and came to a halt. There was no one there. They sounded again like quick hushed whispers behind the berry vines. I turned and studied the darkness, unable to see anything but the pulsing of the lightning bugs.

A sense of movement behind me made me turn and study the long line of trees. I peered out from behind one, almost afraid at this point. I’d heard these hushed whispers in our house, but never on the property. A dark shadow stepped out from behind a tree about five trees up from me. Just the long length of half a body coming out from behind the tree and then—whoosh! It was gone.

Still imaging Kurt or one of the other pranksters in the neighborhood, I stomped over to the tree and looked. No one. Of course. I rolled my eyes and leaned back against the tree waiting for Scott to hopefully become “it” again so I could maybe rejoin the game. I looked down the row of trees and watched as something tall and dark stepped out from behind the tree and started a slow cruise along the tree line away from me.

Kathy? Tina? Could it be one of my sisters? No, probably Scott!

I ran towards it, feeling myself gain on it when it just vanished. It didn’t step behind anything. It didn’t run. It just suddenly wasn’t there. Winded and confused, I looked up at the cloudy sky. No moonlight. I waved my arms. No shadow. The murmuring voices started again in the raspberry bushes not far from me.

I didn’t even look this time. My mind immediately focused on reports that college people made when they rented our cottages on the property. Shadowy figures peering into windows, taking off through fields, riding horses, disappearing without notice, and murmuring voices.

As I high-tailed it towards the house, the flashlight’s beam hit me and I stopped.

“You’re it.” My sister said.

“I’m done.” I looked back at the tree line.

She looked there too.

“We don’t play outside of the boxwoods. You disqualified yourself, She-She.”

“Yeah, well I’m done.”

“I don’t go there at night.” She told me in a hushed voice.

“Why?” I looked up at her wide-eyed.

“That’s where he walks.”


“Don’t know.” She shrugged. “I think he’s having a meeting with someone. Did you see him?”

I nodded dumbly.

To Tina, none of this was unusual. She took it as part of nature. No threat to herself.

“I think he’d rather be alone, so I just give him a wide berth.” She sighed. “Take off now, I’ll tell them you were sick. I know how you hate for Scott to beat you.” She ruffled my tangled hair and I rushed off towards the relative safety of the house.

The spirits in the main house I could take.