Paranormal Blasphemy

A spirit is supposed to be a soul that has moved along – gone toward the light, just like in the movies. Of course, that’s an over-simplification, but it’s close enough for horseshoes. This means that a ghost has decided, or has been forced, to stick around; has not been enticed by that pesky light – possibly the result of some unfinished business, confusion, or fear. There are a bunch more reasons that traditionally account for the presence of a ghost (more expedient simplifications), but the bottom line is that nobody can prove what happens when we die.

That said, it seems logical to me that most of us will also enter the next stage of our own existence considerably full of unfinished business, incredibly confused, and absolutely fearful. Being a somewhat religious person, I expect God to have that all taken care of, frankly. I can’t think of a single reason why He would allow us to wander aimlessly, lost and bewildered, without some kind of contingency plan. I mean, how would we even have a clue what to do – this whole death thing isn’t our idea, and instructions don’t come in “the box.” Logically, there must be some kind of orientation program already in place, right? A room with tables and pamphlets; some kind of tour, perhaps; a nice dinner with a dais of distinguished speakers – something. You don’t just throw the baby into the lake and hope he learns to swim before it’s too late.

I guess it’s possible that some of us are just too heinous and contrary to follow directions, but I honestly expect the creator of everything to have a plan for that too – one look at the universe convinces me He’s not sloppy about His business. Saying “no way, Lord” might fly here on earth, but that’s a far cry from acceptable when the disposition of eternal souls is at stake. So, maybe it’s some kind of punishment for the really nasty ones – a taste of Hell, possibly – let’s call it pre-damnation. 

But what about all those poor souls who are reluctantly lingering behind, yet do not seem deserving of eternal suffering? Held back by their despicable tormentors and forced to endure never-ending misery, are they then simply to be abandoned? Does God forsake them, adding to the despair and injustice they endured in life? Are they just stuck in-between – right next to those who cursed them in life? I’m not buying it. Life’s tough enough in the big city, and I’m counting on there being some relief in the hereafter. That’s not too much to ask or expect. If some miscreant is going to violate me, murder me, chop me up into little pieces, and feed what’s left of me to sea lions, I gotta think there’s some peace a comin’ when it’s finally over.

Even if you don’t believe in God, you have to admit there’s enough consistency and balance in the universe to call into question this notion of misguided souls wandering around haphazardly with no aim or end in sight. It seems like a flaw of monumental proportions – a flaw unbefitting a spectacle as grand and as finely tuned as our cosmos. Where’s the order and symmetry we take for granted? Where’s the universal justice – so perfect and complete that it allows for every probability and each eventuality? Except for this one? Nah.

“But you’re a paranormal investigator! This is paranormal blasphemy, son.” Nonsense. Paranormal researchers know better than anyone that there aren’t yet any answers. Our souls could become cream cheese or sand mites – we don’t know. Sure, we hear and see unexplainable things and we have tons of theories, not to mention the plethora of stories and tall tales we’ve contributed to the culture. There’s still more than enough to keep us interested. But this spiritual mayhem is beneath even us, so good luck if you think either your deity or nature itself is unable to come up with anything better than this kind of clumsy chaos. The reality may be a very hard truth to grasp, but whatever it is, there’s probably beauty and dignity involved – not this random desolation we champion so easily. We probably need to rethink some of this.

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Voices From Forever by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/ZBBmj Available on Amazon

There Is No Silence by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/U6KY7 Available on Amazon

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When it Happens…

So, seen any ghosts lately? Do apparitions seek you out like a Jehovah’s Witness on a road trip? Or are you honestly more like the rest of us, because the dead do not usually line up single file waiting to make an appearance. In fact, I don’t need a hand on which to count the number of verifiable full-bodied apparitions I’ve seen, because I’ve never seen one.

I can’t even guess how many bonafide paranormal investigations I’ve participated in – there have been more than enough opportunities, and fortunately, I’ve witnessed all kinds of crazy stuff. There have been a bunch of black shadows, and even a couple of free-floating, light emitting orbs. I don’t usually even believe in orbs, but there they were. I’ve seen rods, light anomalies, mists, and God knows what else, but never anything that even resembled a human form. Well, We recorded something on video once, but that’s just not the same as an honest to goodness face-to-face, right? It’s great evidence, but it really doesn’t count if you’re not in the same room sharing some eye contact.

Don’t get me wrong. I totally believe those of you who lay claim to such “full-bodied” encounters. If you’re one of those (and I will know if you’re lying), you have my undivided attention – you’ve witnessed the paranormal holy grail. And I recognize that these things happen often enough to warrant investigation, which is why I happily hook up so many cameras, meters, and other recording devices in people’s houses and businesses. Infrared, full-spectrum, thermal – I’ll look with my eyes closed if it will work. I’ll do hand stands if that’s what it takes. I’ll shiver alone in cold, total darkness and talk out loud like an idiot to who or whatever will listen. I’ll beg to be touched; I’ll ask the absolute dumbest questions; I’ll suggest they roll a ball, spin a pinwheel, or suck the energy out of every battery I have. Once, I even promised to do a tap dance routine if someone would appear before me. It’s probably best for all concerned that they didn’t.

I’ve done all of this and more, and yet, no other-worldly specter has ever assembled into human form before me. It’s a very rare event, you know. It’s so rare, that barely a hand-full of such encounters can actually be verified. When you consider the number of people who are out there looking, it’s pretty amazing we haven’t seen more of them. I mean, we can hear them fairly easily; record them in a variety of shapes and dispositions; interact with them in a dozen different ways, but to actually see a for real ghost is spectacularly and extraordinarily uncommon. It is therefore, highly unlikely.

Spirits just don’t parade through thin air. I’m sure they have other, more important stuff to do. What makes us think grandma is going to get all gussied up and make an appearance at the family Christmas party? Why should the burn victim appear at the site of the accident? Do we really think good King Whatshisname is still rumbling through the castle moaning over the loss of his beautiful wife Gwendolyn? Aren’t they reunited by now?

And yet… When it happens, there’s no mistaking it, is there? Because sometimes it does happen, and then everything changes. Suddenly, there’s a new outlook on life and death; questions are answered with heavy authority; doubts are erased, and common sense goes out the window. When it happens, there is nothing more important for awhile, and your priorities change a bit – maybe a lot. When it happens, your soul is touched, your psyche is forever altered, and you know without a doubt it was real – regardless of anything anyone else will say. You feel privy to a kind of eternal understanding that few humans ever experience. When it happens, it feels like divine information; like a peek through the most exclusive keyhole ever.

Pretty heady stuff, eh? But if you don’t feel any part of the above, then I should probably ask you again – seen any ghosts lately? Don’t worry, you’ll know.

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Voices From Forever by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/ZBBmj Available on Amazon

There Is No Silence by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/U6KY7 Available on Amazon

Enough Already!

I recently read an article about EVP on a website called Academia. I won’t mention any of the pertinent details because I can not justify providing even a smidgen of free publicity. Suffice it to say, while steeply couched in faux scientific reasoning, the theme of the article was to deny the existence of true EVP as paranormal artifacts. All the usual reasons were presented – rogue transmissions, misinterpreted sounds; even audio matrixing. And certainly, these are the usual suspects when researchers try to uncover the truth about a questionable EVP, but the article went two steps beyond the normal skeptic’s approach.

First, it “proved” that some investigators were hearing their own voices, and being so hellbent to hear from the dead, were unable to discern the truth of who was speaking. And second, the author used a very small sampling of paranormal teams in an anecdotal way to advance a poorly devised experiment upon which he would base all of his conclusions. He claimed to have reached out to each of the country’s almost 2,000 paranormal teams. Really? He found a national registry online (as if), and even though I have never heard of such a list, he stated that less than fifty teams professed interest in participating in his experiment. Regrettably, only four of them actually showed up for the festivities. However, in his mind, they were among the cream of the crop – highly respected and greatly proficient, so he was able to proceed. Of course, they were not the cream of any crop.

His experiment focused on mistakes and evidentiary disagreements between the four teams, and then pointed out how silly and hyper-suggestive they were when it came to analysis. He seemed to take great satisfaction from this and gloated quite a bit between the lines until, of course, he felt completely justified to declare the study of EVP as a waste of foolish time. Sources were listed, bibliographics noted – his “white paper” on the irrationality of people like me was all tied up with a confident bow.

Surprise surprise, he was writing on behalf of a national magazine for skeptics, although the article’s appearance on a site named Academia through me for a bit of a loop, but I guess his point of view was to be expected. I was still greatly disturbed by it. I was deeply bothered reading his unfair comments about my brothers and sisters in the field. No one knows any better than I about how abysmal a bad paranormal team can truly be – I have taken my fair share of potshots at them from my own bully pulpit, and probably will again. But I’ve always considered paranormal investigators the same as plumbers or doctors or whatever – some are great, most are okay, and some are God awful. Paranormal teams run the same gamut.

But it seemed personal with this writer, even though his vitriol was hidden between the scientific buzzwords and an air of superior mental acuity. At first, you weren’t sure where he would fall on the subject, but then… Slowly, and with the steady hand of a surgeon, he began to cut as deep as he could, resulting in the successful removal of EVP as a topic even worthy of discussion. In his mind, he had delivered the death blow – his logic unchallengeable, his clever manipulation of the subject quite superb, and his laser-like dissection of the field flawless and clean.

Now, if you’re still reading, you may know that I can be very hard on skeptics for their larceny of science and their fascistic attitudes toward the paranormal. But I don’t actually object to hearing skeptical opinions when good, solid scientific method rules the day. What I fail to understand is this “by any means necessary” approach applied to the task of discrediting any and all things paranormal.

Is it really necessary to resort to the extremes of lying and name calling? Must they question the sanity and intelligence of those who would disagree with them? And why publish a bogus paper in a site named Academia? Such a lofty name – I wonder what sort of credentials accompany such a high and mighty moniker.

I don’t really know where to go from here. Maybe I’m hurt – no one likes to feel that others see them as delusional – or worse. Maybe I’m outright insulted because the intensity of the hypocrisy was based on lies in order to accuse us of fakery and malpractice. Maybe I’m sad because it weakens my desire to share results and findings. Pearls before swine, ya know?. But I think I’m just tired of it. Enough already! They don’t appreciate our work. They attempt to despoil our credibility incessantly and refuse to view our evidence objectively. I’m tired of it! Not angry tired – I’m just over it. No more for me. You can color me gone from these kinds of people, and that’s a shame. We could have learned from one another – I always thought we would; that’s how it was explained to me in the beginning. We were all wrong though, weren’t we? That’s our biggest failure; our most significant mistake of all – thinking we all just wanted the truth.

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Voices From Forever by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/ZBBmj Available on Amazon

There Is No Silence by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/U6KY7 Available on Amazon.

Dead Departed Deceased

Last couple of months have been tough! I’ve been surrounded by death itself or impending death. Half a dozen good friends have passed – two folks I knew from school, a couple of old work buddies, and two ladies in the neighborhood. Add to this 4 co-workers of my wife’s, and it’s been a rather serious autumn. My mother is hanging on for dear life at 97, I have a very sick aunt, and we know of two terminal cancer victims. But I’m not finished yet. Several friends have lost parents, a couple of businesses have failed, old people I know keep falling, and a car accident did some unfortunate damage to three friends of the family. There. That’s it. But what’s next?

Frankly, I haven’t felt much like writing or even talking about the paranormal because so much of it is centered around death, and I’ve had my fill! I just want all this doom and gloom to pass and stay as far away from me as possible. It kinda feels like I could be next, ya know? I’m not immune. I’m already older than several of the recently departed, and I don’t like the odds. Normally I wouldn’t worry about such things but today could be “the” day, ya know? My standard outlook on life isn’t typically dark and gray; I’m not afraid ghouls will take over my brain or that zombies will eat it, but there are no guarantees. There have been 199 Friday 13th’s since I was born, so what might number 200 have in store? A marauding bus on the rampage? An escaped convict with a 38? I could get food poisoning at my local fast food giant – it happens. Anything can happen for that matter, and you know I’m right!

Luckily, it hasn’t yet. I’m still well, and I promise to never leave the house without a month’s supply of nitro pills. But even though life’s good fortune is still with me, I’d be less than honest if I didn’t admit that it’s been remarkably depressing. I don’t even like watching the news. Last week, a one year old boy was killed by some idiot crashing into a cop car (which, in turn, hit the boy). He’d just learned how to walk. And this whole ISIS thing doesn’t improve my desire to leave the house any time soon. Republicans don’t seem to be getting any better with important facts, and my recently merged bank has cost me around 500 big ones.

So who cares about ghosts and specters and aliens and furry creatures that look like blood sucking dogs and Bigfoot tracks in the garden? Truth is, no one has the inclination to care about such things when real life is so scary, but I’m trying to get my priorities back in whack. Maybe Thanksgiving will help. Christmas cheer might possibly do the trick. A few hot toddies never hurt a playa…

But all this death and stuff happens to everyone at some point in life, so why should I escape unscathed? We all lose loved ones and close friends, and we all know people going through the same thing. The number of people in my mother’s life who have died is staggering – there’s literally almost no one left. It is the way things happen; part of the cost of a long and healthy life is to watch everything around you become deceased.

In her life, she’s witnessed 24 presidential elections and 48 blue moons. It is estimated she has laughed over 600,000 times during that time, and had approximately 200,000 different dreams. There have been in excess of 305 billion lightning strikes since the day she was born and every one of them missed her, while over 4.5 trillion chickens have been killed in the name of dinner. The actuarial table of her estimated life expectancy bottomed out quite some time ago – it currently predicts her death will occur “today.” So what the heck do I have to complain about? I’ve still got 944 Saturdays left, or so they say. We’ll see, of course, but there’s plenty of time for the paranormal. Or maybe it just doesn’t matter all that much.
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Voices From Forever by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/ZBBmj Available on Amazon

There Is No Silence by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/U6KY7 Available on Amazon.

Dear Brunhilda

“Oh my God! Where have you been? Don’t tell me you’ve stopped writing in The Voices Blog!” No,
Brunhilda (a fan, no doubt) I’ve just been very busy. “Busy? Surely there’s time to scribble a few lines once in awhile.” Alas, no! Since my last entry here, I’ve been on vacation, increased the time with my 96 year-old mother, entered into a numbingly rigorous physical therapy regime, and been saddled with an entire renovation of the second floor. Of course, there have been quite a few investigations as well, which means endless hours of boring black and white infrared video to watch. Plus, I’m old now – very very old, so be gentle, whippersnapper!

There just hasn’t been very much of a paranormal nature to write about, but as I settled in for today’s 4-minute nap, I realized I’ve actually had a lot to say – I just haven’t said it. I might have forgotten there even was a blog; it may have escaped my addled mind completely for some awful reason. Can’t blame it on the heat. We conveyed the grass-cutting duties to someone named Buzz. War hasn’t devastated the community. There’s been no alien abductions in the family, and I’m fairly certain I still possess the necessary faculties to actually make a blog entry.

Then perhaps my brain has gone soggy watching all that mindless video. Even though I’ve been spreading it out to avoid the creation of a permanent blank stare, there could be other effects I’m unaware of – colorless eyes, black and white nightmares, attempting to pause and rewind life itself… Viewing investigation footage is more of a commitment than most people realize, and more demanding than a family ever is. I mean, you can’t imagine how many tons of dust I’ve watched fly through the air, or the insane amount of bugs that live in people’s homes. Infrared cameras don’t miss much, and after awhile, I just wanna clean stuff. I can’t see all the nastiness with my eyes, but I know it’s there.

Of course, even though watching investigation footage is like waiting for bark to dance, there’s always the spectacular possibility that you’ll see something unimaginable along the way. Some other-worldly event; an apparition, perhaps – something totally unexplainable and completely not relatable to anything human. And it’s like a drug, kinda, because once you’ve witnessed something, the possibility is always there with each new investigation. I’ve been blessed to have seen something a few times, so I’m irreparably hooked.

So, what have the infrared gods shown me this summer? What have I discovered that was worth the sacrifice of all my free time, sleep time, 4-minute nap time, and quality time with my long-suffering family? Well, nothing really. “Oh come on. Surely you’ve seen something – some anomalous blob or maybe just a little mist. An orb!” Nope. I’ve got something really “cool” on the thermal imager and loads of EVP, but nothing on infrared, full spectrum, or visible light video. It’s been rather unrewarding but also quite exciting in a bizarre sort of way. The Law of Averages being what it is, I’m due to see something again soon, and the suspense is killing me.

I mean, that’s how it goes, right? Results just pop out of nowhere. You’ve been staring at the same ugly carpet and antiquated furniture for hours and all of a sudden, there it is – the holy grail of paranormal evidence. A few, brief seconds of something no one could ever explain, and then it’s gone forever – you’re back to staring at the same atrocious carpet and furniture. But, for those few moments of glory… God forgive me if I ever look away and miss it. 

So, sorry Brunhilda. I meant to tell you all about it, but trust me – my number is due and I can just feel it. I’ll have something to write about real soon, assuming I can stay awake. Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to throw some Prussian Blue at a wall.

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Voices From Forever by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/ZBBmj Available on Amazon

There Is No Silence by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/U6KY7 Available on Amazon.

“Nothing Here”

I am always amazed when we walk away from an investigation under the opinion that there’s “nothing here.” It’s pretty rare to arrive at such a conclusion so early in the process, but sometimes you can’t help it. The house is neat and tidy, the family is close, there are no unusual noises, bumps, footsteps or bangs. The location seems to be a well balanced, peaceful place. “Nothing out of the ordinary here. This house is clean.”

Still, I always handle a paranormal investigation as a total believer – every one of the client’s claims are true for me, and with good reason, I think. First, by automatically accepting spirit to be present, I have a better chance of actually hearing or seeing one. Second, without evidence one way or the other, a client feels better thinking you are a total supporter. After the data has been gathered, the experiences logged, and analysis completed, there is plenty of time to decide whether spirits were present or not. Unfortunately, more often than not, we come up empty.

But what does that say about the client? Are they simply mistaken? Stupid or crazy? Surely, most people are smart enough to know that ice machines make a racket; that an AC unit is noisy throughout the day. They even realize that sometimes people think they’re hearing voices when in fact, they aren’t. There are house noises, creaky floorboards, and faulty wiring. Most of the clients I’ve dealt with are just normal people who have long ago eliminated these “easy explanations,” and they’re not overly imaginative or prone to outlandish exaggeration. Most clients are honest, concerned people who truly think something is wrong with their life or their space, and they’ve asked us for help.

They open their homes to us; extend hospitality – trust us alone with their worldly goods. They put their fears and sleepless nights – their faith – into what they hope are “professional,” capable hands. In other words, they give us the total respect they deserve in return. Sometimes the stories they tell are just horrific – the children are being bothered by a shadow man every night; someone has tried to push mom down the stairs; you can hear footsteps walking the halls… Sometimes it’s even worse, and they don’t know where to turn.

So how do we tell them that the evidence doesn’t support a single claim? Obviously, there are ways to guild the Lily well enough to soften the blow, and honestly, just because nothing happened while we were there doesn’t mean it never has, but is that salvo enough to actually help? Probably not. They hope for definitive answers; an end to their personal horror. Maybe they just need to verify things for no other reason than to assure themselves of their own sanity. Sometimes knowing you’re right gives you the strength to live with the paranormal.

It must be difficult to hear “we found nothing while we were here.” That’s a truth we have to tell, but the hard reality of such a statement doesn’t absolve us of our duty to believe them. Paranormal things do not parse well with actual science, so our observations and data analysis seem rather hollow when the children are still being frightened by the man with the mean face in their closet. We may not have found him, but it seems completely reasonable for him to hide from us. The question becomes “what other approaches can we take?”

We have to keep in mind that our empirical findings, or the lack thereof, are not the end all and be all. Evidence isn’t proof of spirit anyway, and the lack of it doesn’t prove the client is wrong. Our efforts to help them do not end when we come up empty-handed – instead, that’s when they begin. And just because there’s “nothing here” doesn’t mean there isn’t.

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Voices From Forever by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/ZBBmj Available on Amazon

There Is No Silence by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/U6KY7 Available on Amazon.

That Just Stinks

I need a break – from life in general, actually. It’s getting tough out there! You know what I mean, and I bet I’m not the only one who feels this way from time to time. “But a break from life? Isn’t that a little overly dramatic?” Well yes, but occasionally it feels as if something better change soon or I’ll awaken one day buried up to my receding hairline in the psychic debris modern existence keeps creating.

Of course, I’ll get through it. Like almost everyone else, I’ll pull my beleaguered brain out of the permafrost of life and back to normalcy before I become just another senseless victim. (Yes, the drama continues.) But I ask you, haven’t we all been here at least once? For instance, there’s never enough money and always too many expenses. Sound familiar? The cost of bare essentials rises faster than the Atlantic Ocean on a global warming binge. I used to think I was one of “the smart ones,” believe it or not – that just maybe I could rely on intelligence and accumulated knowledge to get me through this slag heap of a life I’m mired in. Okay, I’m exaggerating as well as over-dramatizing, but that’s how it feels sometimes, right? You’ve been there, so don’t even try to deny it.

Do you smell a list coming? I haven’t done one in awhile, but this one contains no complaints about the blight of existence; no cutesy attempts at humor. This is just a list of random “stuff” I learned this week – diversions from reality; things that don’t do anyone any good, have no real value, and make no promises to alter existence one iota. I mean, who doesn’t want to know that there are more dogs in Paris than people? Or that the average elephant weighs less than the tongue of a blue whale? 

This may not be important stuff, but it’s still cool. This list of useless facts is a guaranteed diversion from the quagmire you’ve created for yourself as well as the long-suffering folks who love you. It’s a public service! Oh who am I kidding? I found this stuff in a book and it made me smile for a few lousy minutes, so here are ten things you never thought about before (for obvious reasons) and will probably want to share with others. Did you know that…

1. Like plants, children grow faster during spring than any other season.

2. A typical toilet flushes in the key of E flat.

3. The square most commonly landed on in the game of Monopoly is Illinois Avenue. (“Go” ranks second.)

4. The first stolen car was reported in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1905.

5. The king of diamonds in a standard card deck is designed after Julius Cesar. The king of spades is for King David; clubs for Alexander the great; and hearts for Charlemagne.

6. At any time, 0.7% of the world’s population is drunk.

7. When the first McDonald’s opened in 1955, a hamburger sold for 15 cents.

8. Brussels sprouts are the most hated vegetable in America.

9. The fastest nonstorm related wind ever recorded was 231 mph at Mount Washington, New Hampshire, in April 1934.

10. Breast reduction is the fifth most popular plastic surgery procedure for men.

Now maybe you already knew a couple of these, but admit it – you’re sorry there aren’t more of them, right? I promise to share more the next time I’m on the verge of going stark, raving mad. But here’s something to think about until then – National Bathroom Reading Week is always the second week in June. Missed it again, didn’t you? Well, that just stinks.

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Voices From Forever by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/ZBBmj Available on Amazon

There Is No Silence by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/U6KY7 Available on Amazon.