Uninformed and Misled

This week I read a very thought provoking blog post on The Big Seance entitled “How Does the Skeptic View Paranormal Folk?” It features a stunning video from a young lady which everyone in the paranormal field should see. Truthfully, I found most of what she said to be mildly offensive, and I thought she exhibited a surprising and willing lack of intellectual faculty concerning the paranormal field. However, I won’t dwell on her unfavorable opinions of us. She is well within her rights to speak her mind, and I would never object to her expression of those ideas, but I found it eye-opening. I recommend you read this blog entry and see the video – you can draw your own conclusions.

However, even though I won’t concern myself with the negativity, I’d like to focus instead on the one area in which she and I agree. I even recorded an entire podcast episode about the same subject entitled “No Scientists.” It centers on what I feel is a fact – paranormal investigators are not scientists. That shouldn’t be a shocking revelation. I do believe we have fiercely stepped into a gaping void we call “paranormal studies,” but we’ve done so out of love for the subject, passion for the possibilities, reverence for the unknown, and because the scientific community has almost to a man, ignored it. Regardless, we’re not scientists – not by determination or default.

We don’t do things scientifically, carry out our work according to any accepted scientific methods, record and store our data in any reasonable scientific manner, or draw conclusions in an organized and sensible fashion. If we’re being honest, almost nothing about what we do is definitively scientific.

But all is not lost. There’s nothing wrong with observing accurately and reporting what we observe? That’s actually what we do. We’re reporters. That’s how I see it – we’re like this strange new kind of guerrilla journalist. A journalist, by definition, is “anyone who keeps a journal, diary, or any other record of events.” Likewise, a reporter is “anyone who reports”. Well, that’s us! We might also be able to call ourselves researchers since the dictionary states that research involves a “diligent, systematic, and often extensive inquiry or investigation into a subject in order to discover or revise facts, theories, applications, etc.” That fits like a glove, no?

We shouldn’t even hint that we do science (and you know, a lot of us do) because that would be truly inaccurate, but also because scientists are forced to deal only with facts and unquestionable truths. As paranormal investigators (reporters; researchers), we deal with the exact opposite. We may believe our paranormal realities are facts, and they may indeed be quite true, but there really is no proof. Not yet. That’s what we’re looking for, right? The data we gather is incredibly, and singularly important to that end, and some day, science may find that data to be priceless in determining heretofore elusive facts and truths. One day, they may move forward into the unknown on the back of our data. An unknown, we already know exists.

You know, the scientific community has a history of ridiculing those who don’t quite meet their standards and criteria. Today’s breed might deny that, of course, but it’s on the record – the facts don’t lie. Some scientists spend considerable time attempting to invalidate and dismiss us all as uninformed hobbyists or unfortunately misled souls. That time would be better spent looking at our data with the unbiased eye they so humbly claim to possess, but I don’t see that happening any time soon. Partly because they’re very good at missing the forest for the trees; partly because (if the aforementioned video is any indication) they just don’t want anything to do with us. Well, it doesn’t matter. We’re not scientists anyway, so they’ll do their thing and we’ll do ours. Much respect to everyone, but I’m not sure I want to enter a pitch black abandoned mental institution with a scientist by my side anyway. I prefer my “uninformed and misled” brothers and sisters. Peace!
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Temporal Therapy

We’ve been anxious about the afterlife from our beginning. For thousands of years we’ve entertained a constantly evolving and intense curiosity centered around our own demise. What happens when we die? Where do we go? What about our soul? Can we come back? We seem plagued by so many questions that appear to have no definite answers.

Some of our inquiries find religious solutions or resolve themselves within the science of “the times.” These offer mechanisms of faith and knowledge that appear to provide both rejoinder and life-affirming action, but they have proven to be temporary, and over time, return for another generation’s consideration. In short, over the millennia we’ve come to very few correct conclusions, which is why we still spend so much time on the same old issues.

Today’s paranormal investigator seems to focus mainly on spirit communication. Of course that’s over simplifying a bit for the sake of brevity, but what used to be ancestor worship seems to have evolved into proving the afterlife through contact. Many of us might deny that is our signature interest, but in some form or iteration, that which follows life is at our core. Today’s paranormal is all about the afterlife. We don’t seem to mind not understanding the particle accelerator, but we are frantic to know exactly what happens when we die. If you think about it, that’s pretty significant. It truly helps to define us, and therefore, should lead us to a better understanding of our human condition. A worthy end indeed, and a valuable contribution to society, right?

But I think we get confused into believing that every problem actually has a solution, and that all we need to do is find the right one. There are so many theories, and many of them “feel” so right… Certainly one must be accurate, even though history has shown that incontestable truths become old-time foolishness soon enough. Our modern ideas fall by the wayside in the wake of new and better discoveries. We proclaim that our experience teaches us reality, that our careful research offers insight, and that spiritual understanding provides “the way.” But we’re not so bright. Even though we sputter and bluster and pontificate about thus and such, we still know nothing about the afterlife for certain.

I recently found myself trying to ease the very worried and heavy heart of a 94 year-old woman, as she pondered the uncertainty of what awaits her. And I lied. I told her all about the wonders and joy of a rich hereafter; about an eternal existence free from bodily failure and mental degradation. I told her how she and her lost loved ones would meander through time in peaceful bliss – without a care or worry; without so much as a single fly in the ointment of everlasting nirvana. I told her my favorite theories – those that spoke to me. I told her as if I knew them to be true, and they seemed to soothe her restless imagination. But I was wrong, and I knew it.

Words are usually only temporal therapy, but what’s so wrong about taking our death with a dose of the inevitably fabulous? Are the facts so sacrosanct that our only final certainty must be that we haven’t a clue? Isn’t it better to believe there will be a new, exquisite life emerge through that final exhale?

I don’t know. I think there are no honest answers – just more questions, but there comes a time when all we really care about is finding a calm and peaceful now, even if that “now” is no more than the final second of our final breath. It should be sufficient to know that whatever awaits us is worth waiting for, but can that be enough? Will that satisfy the itch? I doubt it, because this is not about who we are. It’s about who we will be and our instinctive need to move forward.
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Also visit Voices Unplugged at http://voicesblogunplugged.wordpress.com/

Is That All There Is?

Let me just say that nothing in my life can ever communicate the adoration that comes with knowing my children, and that the impact their very existence has made can never be equalled. That said, I’ve been blessed to have done a great many other things during my time on this planet and plane. I’ve been a rose-grower, janitor, art director, web designer, a professional photographer, and even a musician – briefly. These are the tip of the iceberg. I was once fired from a detective agency because my voice wasn’t “sweet enough” when I answered the phone. I wrote a song that was stolen by a famous artist (don’t ask – I won’t tell).

I demonstrated for civil rights and against the Vietnam War, was hired to film Richard Nixon at a funeral, and saw both The Beatles and The Rolling Stones live. Janis Joplin and Ravi Shankaar as well. I actually had a “real” ticket to Woodstock, which I gave away. I helped occupy my college administration building in 1969, have been robbed at gunpoint twice, been punched in the face for looking “Jewish,” and I legally challenged and beat the draft. I was offered the job of lead sound engineer on a tour with Sly and the Family Stone, which I turned down. I put everything I owned in a VW microbus and moved to LA. Six months later, tail between my legs, I drove back in a first generation, 2-cylinder Honda car.

I have six fantastic children, six grandchildren, and my parents turned out to be right on most things. I play guitar, some keyboard, harmonica, and (shudder) accordion. I believe in both God and Jesus, but can not over-emphasize the intense spiritual catharsis I experienced reading the Bagivad Gita and The Upanishads. And still, we’re only touching the surface. All of these things are just what came to mind, and don’t even begin to indicate what a full and diverse life I feel I’ve had. I’m not finished yet – there’s still much more to experience. I see what comes my way as gifts, and I do not intend to waste them.

Outside of the personal relationships, none of this has come close to the life affirming revelation of hearing from the afterlife through EVP. Things paranormal seem to have somehow touched every sub-atomic spec of reality within me; taught me how to begin filling the gaps in living; allowed me to intellectually fathom the potential in eternity. Something just happened to me the day I truly realized that EVP was like hearing from the hereafter. It was as though nothing else could ever matter quite as much. Since then, for me, nothing else has so completely articulated the essence of humanity.

One single voice from beyond trumps every experience in a heartbeat. It teaches us that life is forever, and that the diversity of it proves every second of effort to be of tremendous value. Knowing that life continues ought to enhance our souls, and for me, it bestows new and significant ambition to the concept of our time on earth. A true believer in Chaos Theory, I am convinced that everything we do simply leads to the next, and that an eternity of living promises is nothing less than spectacular. A little melodramatic? Arrogant? Too much over too little? An EVP-crazed lunatic? Probably, but like I said at the beginning, I feel blessed, so a little passion seems in order. For those who live life and wonder “if that’s all there is,” my answer is always a resounding “Hell no!” You’ve only just started. All we have to do is listen.
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Respect for the Medium

I’m just a weekend away from my reading with a medium. I’ve been looking forward to this for quite a while, and if you are a listener of The Voices Podcast, then this is not news. Regardless of how excited I am about it, there is still a great learning experience to be had, even though I hold a life-long mistrust of mediums that has only recently softened. 
 
Lately, I’ve had some positive first-hand experiences, so now seems like the perfect time for both the reading itself and for whatever leap of faith I’ll have to take. I attended one of these things with my daughter some time ago, and I was remarkably impressed by the medium’s accuracy, even though she didn’t hit every nail on the head. Nobody’s perfect, but none of the usual stereotypes proved true either, so I decided that day that I wanted to record a personal reading for the podcast. This has been in the works for many moons.
 
I’ve been extended a number of free mini-sessions over the past few years – impromptu, short ventures of five minutes or less – probably offered because of what I do with EVP. But these have always seemed somewhat preposterous – full of Native American spirit guides, wolves that travel by my side, and old crone-like women protecting me. I don’t know what to make of this stuff, but an full-length reading should be more conclusive. The medium I have chosen is someone I know, but she is clueless about my personal history or that of my family, so if the other side chooses to communicate, almost anything they say will be unknown to her ahead of time – I’ve told her nothing. We haven’t discussed my goals or intentions, my attitude, or what I would like to hear. This is going to be a pretty cold reading, and a fair test of her gift – she’ll be completely on her own. Whatever happens, will happen – accurate or not.
 
Believe it or not, I have an odd history of skepticism, and nothing has tested it more than mediumship, but that’s primarily because you so rarely are able to prove the findings as right or wrong. Either way, my intentions are not to judge her accuracy. Her contribution to the paranormal is an important and significant aspect of the field, insofar as mediums speak to the heart and soul of the deceased. EVP seem primitive and incomplete when compared to her work, and yet they receive more universal credibility. That seems unfair to me since the medium is the ultimate conduit in spirit communication. If Dad can’t speak the language, he’ll need an interpreter; if Aunt Sue is lost, she’ll need more than my audio recorder or IR cameras. 
 
So, it seems that mediums operate completely in the realm of unbelievability. It is difficult enough for me to deal with a mouthy skeptic – I can image the flack a medium has to dodge. Therefore, my hopes are for a good reading, and even though I can promise you everything will be taken with a grain of salt, I intend to view the situation as an experience well worth both the money and the effort – no matter what. Voices Podcast listeners will get to go along for the ride, so I recommend the rest of you tag along just this once – maybe we’ll all learn something, and generate a new and much deserved respect for the medium.
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Also visit Voices Unplugged at http://voicesblogunplugged.wordpress.com/

 

Beside Us

The lady misplaced her jacket, and they spent a portion of three months searching for it. She remembers hanging it on a hook in the hall closet, so they were certain it was not lost, but after a while, they forgot about it, and no longer cared. It would show up eventually, no doubt.

Lately, they’ve been experiencing loud, unexplainable banging sounds, and their three year old frequently complains about a strange man in his room. So, yesterday, when the jacket was found hanging on the railing, in plain sight, they were understandably disturbed. The long forgotten jacket appeared on the end piece of the railing at the bottom of the most noticeable place in the living room. Something paranormal was possibly afoot.

But here’s the interesting part, because a story about a missing jacket doesn’t typically qualify as a legitimate “paranormal” event – she found her car keys in the jacket pocket. Car keys that she has used every day while the jacket was on sabbatical. The Mister said she turned a whiter shade of pale and muttered something about seeing the “ghost hunter” down the street. That would be me, and just so we understand each other, I absolutely believe their story.

Now, I’m not saying I think their house is haunted, but I know these people, and inventing this tale would not be their kind of thing. I like to think I have a pretty good BS detector, and everything about them screams “the truth.” Regardless, I volunteered to look into it, if they wanted – they did not. I offered to provide some equipment they could use on their own, if they felt it might help – they thanked me and said no. All I had left to offer were words of comfort, but it seems they really just wanted to talk about it; they’d be fine.

Well, I was glad I could help in some way. More often than not, it’s enough to just lend an understanding ear. People often feel better by getting it off their chest, and the simple act of saying everything out loud becomes a cleansing measure. Besides, I think there are too many people conducting investigations at the drop of a hat these days – investigations that may not be warranted or result in positive experiences for the so-called victims.

Not every odd occurrence should become part of the paranormal laboratory, you know – sometimes acceptance is the better path. On rare occasions, we miraculously realize that learning to deal with life as it is presented is the true test of who we are, and that sometimes, spirit life is permanently and intricately intertwined with our own. Sometimes, we come to the understanding that sharing our existence with what we cannot comprehend is only normal, and that truly, if we want to be left alone, we must find the will to reciprocate. Not all ghosts need to go away; some spirits belong beside us.

It’s difficult to think of such things this way, because we seem geared against coexistence, and our fear is so easily justified by peers and society. Fortunately, every now and then, one of us (perhaps even a small family) rises above the dread and apprehension in order to willingly share life’s tranquility. Peace is always more easily found when all involved are allowed to partake.
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A Little Paradise

I have had enough! I need a vacation. Respite. An intermission from life; adult recess. A reprieve, man! Now, if only all I have to do is wait until August! Well, I like the summer – 100 degree days and all, but I love the ocean. That includes the bathing suit sand, the nagging seagulls and the incessant jelly fish. Bring ’em on – they can even sting me, as long as I’m nowhere near here when they do.

I want to enjoy peaceful, lazy palms on white sands. I want to live a Corona commercial. I want my most complex decision to be whether to shoot at 1/1000 of a second or go for low depth-of-field. I want to play dominoes often enough to actually win once – maybe twice. I want to watch “The Wild Bunch” on my iPad in a beach chair under an umbrella, and not have to explain why I like it. I want the sound of crashing waves to lull me to sleep late at night and wake me very early every morning. I want to pick up stupid seashells and convince myself how totally enthralling I find them. I want to tell myself that one day I’ll move there permanently, play guitar outside without an audience, and stare aimlessly at a very blue horizon.

I don’t want to watch children, make meals, Swiffer the floors, or solve problems. I don’t want to offer words of wisdom or comfort to people who think I’m stupid, read 300 emails a day, or “go off” about how idiotic my daughter’s softball coach is. I am through with ignorant drivers, crazy religious freaks, political pundits, lazy store clerks, and all but the most basic decision-making. I don’t even want to finish this sentence – that’s how “over” things I am right now. And I deserve a vacation! Not because I work so hard, or because my boss is a fool (I’m retired), or even because my life is oppressive. It’s just time! Ya know? It is finally time to pack as much stuff as we can, get on an airplane, and breathe in a little paradise.

Below is a photo of where we are going. I understand the tv reception is pretty awful, and the Internet is hit and miss. How glorious! It’s an eight hour flight too, but I can’t wait – it’s only four months away. Four months? Good grief, that’s 1/3 of the year – over 120 days! But I can make it, and I know it’ll be worth the wait. If your vacation is going to be better than our’s, don’t tell me. I don’t need to know. It’s not about that anyway, but I know me, and if I start thinking about your lobster omelets, cracked crab for lunch, and daily full body massages, it will just fester.

I’m kidding, of course – sorta… But I do hope all of us have the chance to wind down, recharge, and basically just relax. Vacations are very important to our well-being – mental and physical, so I wish everyone as many days of sheer heavenly bliss as you can afford. So, St. Croix, here we come. Thirty feet from the Caribbean, and many hundreds of miles from home. Just look at the picture! Well, I know it’s not exactly the Taj Mahal, but it sure won’t suck.

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18 Hours Earlier…

A few days ago, I wrote about something I saw (re: “Description of an Apparition”), and I eluded to the fact that this was the second of two paranormal occurrences within 18 hours. Well, before I touch on what came first, let me just thank those of you who felt compelled to send me personal emails concerning the state of my sanity and (regrettably) my honesty. We have the mechanism in place here to comment and reply – why not use it as others do? Question my veracity publicly! Why not? I’d prefer it, and I’m certain others would love to see your comments. I mean, you might be right! Keep it clean, of course, but consider taking a more forthright approach and lay it out there – I can respect that.

Now on to business. I’ve stated many times that I plan on attempting to contact my deceased sister via EVP, but until the other day, there was precious little to report. A garbled word here, a low whisper there… I’ve been able to capture some references to her, and some interesting, but inconclusive comments that exhibit her personality. There seems to be a new spirit available on most sessions I’ve conducted, but there’s been nothing specific to allege, and I don’t enjoy making claims.

The other day, I decided to take a rather vexing problem directly to her. I talked to her about one of my children – just the way I would have before her death. I was stumped. You can imagine my surprise during playback, as each response seemed more lucid and apropos than the one before. It began with an announcement of her name. Not Margo (her given name), as I always referred to her, but Mimi – the nickname she gave herself. She also mentioned my child by name, something I had not done, and in two subsequent comments, told me exactly what she recommended I do to solve the situation.

I can’t tell you what she said, because it would embarrass my child – there was nothing generic about the situation I brought to her, and mentioning the specifics would violate a family trust. This was quite an explicit problem, and the responses I received were unmistakably fitting. With each response, I became increasingly aware that not only was I getting good advice from beyond the veil, but that there was a very good chance that I knew who was giving it.

I hate it when someone in my position makes all sorts of unsubstantiated claims about the arguable identity of an EVP voice. I cringe every time I find myself even tempted to do it. So much so, that even now I will stop short of making that claim. But I want to. Not only do I feel that my sister was the spirit responsible for the interaction, it was typically good advice! It sounded like her, used words the way she might, identified itself by name… What else do I need to label this as a conversation with Margo? Well, evidence I guess. Indisputable, unequivocal, undeniable, completely verifiable evidence!

All I know for certain is that there was an unexplainable voice that seemed to answer a set of questions. But deep down inside? Well, that’s another story, isn’t it? I was floored, and I’m fighting off the goosebumps still. I guess ya had to be there, ya know – how do you top that? Eighteen hours later, an partition appeared on my bed! Geez! What a day!