Etheric Exploration: Wisconsin Drowning Mystery

I had just finished writing a piece in which I suggested that I might like to do an etheric projection on a fresh case and a case popped up for me to look at. Before I go into the projection proper, let me say that I do not think that my results represent the be all and end all solution to this mystery. As with all enigmas, I suspect that a variety of factors contribute to these tragedies and that some, but not all, of those factors are included in this blog post.

A quick word on etheric projection. As I have said on a number of occasions, the etheric realm is that “layer” of the Otherworld that is closest to the physical world in which we (usually) live. The etheric realm is the most ‘dense’ of the realms of the Otherworld and those who travel in it can actually take harm from hostile entities there so etheric projection is not a skill lightly taught in the occult, nor lightly used. The technique does, however, sometimes yield startling results as I mentioned in my previous post.

To the results of this projection . . . Riverside Park in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, had been listed as one of the places where a drowning occurred so I took that site as the locus of my investigation. After entering the necessary trance state, I moved my etheric self from my home to Riverside Park and, after taking a moment to get oriented, began to collect my impressions.

First impression: I had the impression of a river monster of some kind in the depths of the river. I could not see this beast clearly but it gave the impression of being long and eel-like although, when it became aware of my attention, it seemed to project the classic long necked plesiosaur image (ala Loch Ness). I do not think that this creature, if it lives in our reality at all, has anything to do with the drownings, but I include this to give readers an idea of the nature of the projection experience. You never really know what you will encounter until you “get out”.

Second impression: there were a large number of shadow beings in the park. I was a little worried since some of these beings can be hostile to humans and especially to humans who can interact in their realm. I stood very still and was prepared to take off but none of these beings seemed to notice me, even when they bumped into me.

Third impression: As I watched these shadow beings I felt that I was not seeing the whole picture so I took to the air (yes, one can fly in the etheric). At that point, I felt I had a better understanding of what was happening. The beings were issuing from a ‘portal’ and moving into the water. In essence, they were a part of a moving current of energy that was flowing into the water.

There were portals like this sporadically up and down the river as far as I could see (some several miles) and I had the feeling that they might have derived from much earlier times.


1) My theory about these tragedies centers around these ‘currents’ of energy that I noted from the air. I am given to understand from the news pieces I read that the young men who drowned tended to be inebriated. In my opinion, these energy currents were quite strong enough to draw someone who had had too much to drink to the river and even into the river. It is also my opinion that, unless the individual happened to be a very strong swimmer, once that person was entangled in one of these energetic currents, it would be very difficult to escape.

2) One of the writers asked why it only seemed to be young white men who were subject to these drownings. I can not propose a solid answer to that question except to note that I did see shadow beings as a part of these currents of energy. As I mentioned above, these beings can be actively hostile and I adopted a very quiet approach to avoid any conflict. If, for whatever reason, these beings were manifestations of energy that “had it in” for young white males, this might account for the victim selection.

3) I can not state with certainty that my theory is correct. One of the limitations to etheric projection is that it happens to be a very “real time” phenomenon. To ‘prove’ my theory, I would actually have to see one of these drownings taking place. Fortunately, this was not the case since I would have been forced to try to intervene if such a thing were occurring. Given the overwhelming number of these shadow beings present in the energy current, I suspect that things could have gotten quite nasty if I had tried to turn them from their purpose – whatever that was. I only present these observations as a possibility in this case.

Further information is needed so I will attempt a shamanic voyage to this location in the near future (time permitting, of course) to gather further information and see if I can make contact with some of the spirits of the place. More as it develops . . .

Getting out of the Box

I recently encountered this interesting addendum to a classic “UFO” case while perusing my news feeds. I found myself wondering why the site, which has a resident wizard who writes a column there, did not turn to that person when this information came up.

I have a great deal of admiration for Fortean and Paranormal field investigators. These folks spend their leisure time and hard earned money to seek out witnesses and try to document high strangeness in whatever way they can. They write up notes, record witness interviews, take videographic and photographic evidence, cast any prints etc. so that they are left with a mass of data about a sighting at the end of their field experience. If they collate enough of this data and find it unique, they will write an article or even a book and, at some point in their writing, speculate about the cause of the high strangeness they are documenting.


What puzzles me, given the strangeness that they work with regularly, is the unwillingness of most investigators to think a little outside the box in terms of determining causation. How many times have you heard of an investigator hooking up with someone who has experience and credentials in remote viewing, for example, to get their view on a case? I, as someone who thinks that boxes are for packing household goods, would be most interested in hearing what such a person had to say. Obviously, this information might be apropos or it might be way off base but it would be something additional for the investigator to think about.

While some investigators do not consult with remote viewers or other practitioners of ‘occult’ arts’ because they feel they already know the answers (Sasquatch are unknown bipedal apes, UFO’s are the vehicles of extraterrestrials), I believe that most investigators simply never think of such things. Despite their continued exposure to high strangeness, I feel that a lot of investigators have a subconscious (or perhaps fully conscious) desire to bring some ‘legitimacy’ to their field. As a result, these investigators tend to approach their cases using mundane tools and scientific instruments and avoid any hint of the ‘woo’ (psychics, magicians, witches, medicine people, etc). Basically, they are trying to document phenomenon that tend to be ethereal and hard to pin down using the tools of scientific materialism.

While the good old who, what, where, when, why and maybe how approach is certainly a good basis for beginning an investigation and documenting people’s perception of what happened, using some of the other tools in the arcane arsenal can and should be a recourse for the investigator who finds him or herself looking at something that does not appear to be a hoax, misidentification or hysterical incident. I will give an example from my own experience.

I had an opportunity, about three years ago, to work with a paranormal investigator who also happened to be a very “out of the box” thinker. As an experiment he asked me to do a series of etheric projections to sites that he gave me and to write up reports on what I saw while I was there.

Etheric projection is somewhat like the more familiar astral projection except that it operates in the “layer” of reality that immediately overlays the physical. It is more risky than astral projection since the etheric body is more “solid” than the astral and can bring damage back to the physical if the practitioner encounters something hostile. Also, the etheric projector, in order to maintain a cohesive projection has to move somewhat like a person in the physical world. Unlike astral projection, the traveller can not simply think of a place and be there but has to actually make his or her way there. I use Google Earth and a good map program to home in on the coordinates when I do this (although I can ‘fly’ in the etheric body which makes things a little easier).

On my first projection in this series, I followed the directions to a forested hill in the midst of flat farmland. Immediately upon arriving, I felt uncomfortable and kept looking at the sky. This discomfort was such that I actually took cover under the tree canopy. As I made my way into the denser brush, I had a feeling that I had disturbed something and caught a glimpse of what I took to be a Sasquatch making its way quickly away from me and then disappearing. I stayed in the cover of the trees for a period of time, aware of nature spirits around me wondering what the heck I was doing there, and waited to see if anything further would happen. Time passed and eventually I decided to return to my body as nothing else developed. I documented my findings and sent them to the investigator, wondering what that was all about.

The investigator in question got back to me shortly thereafter. It turns out that the coordinate area was known for UFO sightings (thus the discomfort from above). The area was also known for several hairy hominid sightings so the information about the Sasquatch did not surprise him either. Interestingly, he had not received any reports from the area in some time so the information I got came from an old trail.

I would be very interested in trying a projection into a fresh investigation site. I think it would be quite interesting to drop into the middle of a fresh Missing 411 case or something like the incident described in the case that I led off with. There are no certainties in this sort of work (I have had instance where I went to a place and got very little, almost as if they were blocked off) but I suspect that, given a chance to check out a site that had received a recent incursion, I might see/encounter all sorts of interesting things. Such a project though would definitely require an investigator who was willing to think outside the box and take whatever I could produce as just another piece of the puzzle.

Book Review: Alien Animals

Alien Animals
Authors: Janet & Colin Bord
Stackpole Books, 1981

I just had the pleasure of re-reading this classic book in the field of cryptozoology. Unfortunately, this is not a tome that one will find on Kindle and I actually had to order a used paper copy for some research that I am doing. Do not be confused by the title, this book is about alien animals in the sense of a creature that is strange or out of place, not one that fell out of a spacecraft (although the authors do discuss the relationship between these sightings and UFO’s).

While this book tends to be on the encyclopedic side (how many sighting reports can we fit in one chapter), I still found the text to be engaging and quite informative. I would guess that my last reading of the book was over 15 years ago and, despite the time frame and the age of many of the reports, this is still a book that is relevant to our time. In fact, I feel that this book should be required reading for all persons getting into the investigation of Fortean phenomenon of all kinds. The Bords do not take a hard and fast stance on any of the phenomenon they discuss but allow room for many different theories to surface – such a mind set would be a nice change of pace in today’s “I have my theory and everyone else is wrong” world.

One thing that I absolutely loved about the book was Appendix 1 – A Few Hints for Monster Watchers. The appendix begins with the words “What to do when you see a . . .” and then gives instructions for encounters with water monsters, alien big cats, Phantom Black Dogs, Winged Things and BHM’s (big hairy monsters – e.g. Sasquatch). The instructions not only make a lot of sense, they are geared toward keeping the observer safe. I can think of worse guidelines to follow when faced with an ‘alien animal’. Here’s an example quote from the book:

On sighting a BHM (note from Storm: Big Hairy Monster – e.g. Sasquatch), if it has not seen you, freeze and observe its behaviour, making photographs if possible. If it has seen you, act according to its behaviour. That is, if it approaches aggressively, make your escape. If it approaches timidly, appearing curious, stay where you are and try to establish a friendly relationship (if you have the nerve!) and speak calmly to it, keeping your camera out of sight (it might annoy the BHM). Do not fire guns at it or otherwise attack it, unless absolutely necessary to preserve your life. The same applies to all alien animals.

If you happen to wander across this book in a library reference section and can not check it out, the one chapter of the book that is essential reading is Chapter 6 – Animals That Aren’t: Following Where The Evidence Leads. The Bords have done a spectacular job, in this one chapter, of summing up a host of theories about ‘alien animals’, how they manifest, why they manifest in the places that they do, where they draw energy from and more. They even discuss the seemingly taboo (except to me, of course) subject of these animals being the result of magical conjuration. While I understand that the book was intended as a semi-encyclopedic treatment of some of the world’s weirdness, I think that, with all the information packed into this one chapter, this duo could easily have written another book.

As I mentioned, these two authors were not gun shy about mentioning magic in their book. The link between Aleister Crowley and the Loch Ness Monster is mentioned and the exorcism performed at Loch Ness is referenced. The Bords talk about the efforts of some of Cornwall’s witches to summon the monster known as Morgawr and their apparent success. There is even a photo of a sky clad (sans clothes) trio of witches doing an apparent ceremony. That is something that you are almost guaranteed you will not see in a modern Fortean book! In addition, the authors seem to have had some contact with Doc Shiels, a colorful character from that period who claimed to be a wizard and who also claimed success at monster conjuration both on the Cornwall coast and at Loch Ness.

The one area where I do not agree with the Bords; however, is in the insinuation in Chapter 6 that these creatures are the result of ‘black magic’ rituals. While some of the creature encounters certainly seem to be on the hostile side and could be the result of summoning a disharmonic entity, many of these creatures seem relatively harmless (lake monsters, for example, seldom seem to do anything but disappear when they notice people). As I have noted throughout this blog, some of these beings may simply be slipping through to our world as the result of poor magical practice or due to weakening of the veil from repeated magical practice in a certain area.

Other than this small quibble, though, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it to both novices in the field as well as those with more experience.

Native Land and “Window” Areas

I have just finished reading Ryan Skinner’s book Skinwalker Ranch: No Trespassing. I am not really going to review the book; it is a collection of stories and reports put together in book form that outlines some of the activity on and around the area now known as the Skinwalker Ranch. While I would have appreciated a little heavier editorial hand, the reports speak for themselves and the reader can choose to believe what he or she reads or not. For those interested in this specific area, the book is not expensive and does contain some food for thought.


I have given my thoughts on why the Four Corners area is the site of so much high strangeness. As I noted in the referenced blog post, the Dine’ (Navajo) have a long tradition of ceremonies in that area but, reading through Mr. Skinner’s book, I was reminded that the Dine’ are not the only indigenous tribe in the area. There are also the deeply secretive Hopi as well as the Ute and Paiute. Each of these tribes has their own medicine ways and those ways have been enacted on this land for centuries. As I said before, no matter how good the magical hygiene of a group is, repeated magical working in a single place or places will tend to thin the veil between the worlds and produce episodes of high strangeness, especially amongst people who are already sensitive to the ‘vibration’ of that magic e.g. the tribal people who have come forward to report some of the events in Mr. Skinner’s book.

I theorize, too, based on my own experiences, that tribal lands serve as refuges for the creatures of the Otherworld. While modern America wallows in its soup of materialism and lack of belief in anything beyond the senses, the traditional indigenous folks of this land learn early on that there is more to be seen than what can be seen with the physical eyes alone. These peoples attempt to live and work in harmony with the spirits of their land rather than ignoring them. Even those native people who are not raised in the traditional manner are often exposed to the stories of their people at some point in growing up. It is no wonder then that the native lands are host to all manner of beings – both ‘good’ and disharmonic.

I have already talked about the presence of ‘interesting’ areas in the Superstition Mountains, a site that is holy to the Apache of that area. When I was younger and working for a non-profit health organization, I was asked to come speak to a group on one of the reservations in the Phoenix, AZ metro area. Quite frankly, I felt the energy shift as soon as I drove onto reservation land. I found my speaking site and gave my presentation then started the drive home. By this time, night had fallen and as I made my way carefully down the road, I spotted a small creature hopping along the side of the road. At first, I thought this was a rabbit but, as I got closer, I realized that I was looking at a miniature version of the Kokopelli image so popular in Arizona. To this day, I can not tell you whether I was seeing this being with my physical eyes or the eyes of spirit but, as I watched, it disappeared by simply fading from my view.

I have also had the privilege of living right on the border of one of the Seneca reservations in Western New York. We often bought gas for our vehicles on ‘the rez’ and, again, I noted a subtle change in the energy around me as I moved onto reservation land. During the great Celtic feast of Samhain, when the veil between the worlds is traditionally quite thin, I would sometimes drive through the forest of the area and look into the woods, just to see the variety of beings slipping through those trees, careful not to reveal too much of themselves but nonetheless there. While these experiences were noted more with spiritual senses, I still felt certain that, given the right circumstances, these beings might just pop up in front of someone with eyes to see.

Granted, my experiences do not a fact make. As the saying goes, your mileage may vary. In my mind and my experience, however, native lands will always equate to areas where the veil between the worlds is, perhaps, just a little thinner than it is in other places. Given their long tradition of medicine workings and the belief that traditional native people place in those workings, I do not think this is surprising at all.

Magical Protections

Many moons ago, when this blog was just beginning, I wrote a post called Grays – Part 3 (Defenses) in which I espoused the idea that defense against the Intruders was based on a triad: Prevent, Repel and Disperse. I set forward some easy to use ideas for utilizing the triad in your own defense or the defense of another should the need arise.

In the last couple of posts, I’ve talked about a new manwolf sighting in Wisconsin and discussed a strange effect that magic seems to have in my life. I concluded that last post, on The Dresden Effect, with these thoughts from a spirit I have had contact with recently:

This spirit . . . also shook his head at the ‘scientific’ ghost and monster hunters who refuse to take even the most elementary magical precautions before going into the site of a paranormal event. He stressed to me the importance of learning to shield oneself, ground out any energies that one may encounter and cleanse after leaving the site and before going elsewhere. Often, what some perceive as taking entities home with them is simply the result of their energies interacting with energy of the portal area and producing effects on the perception. These effects can certainly feel as real as an actual haunting and may even be perceived by others in the person’s household.

So, let’s take a look at this new triad of shielding, grounding and cleansing/banishing. Each of these topics could be the subject of a post of its own but I have been instructed to leave space open for upcoming ‘news’ (no idea what that might be at this time but life has been interesting of late).


When we speak of shielding, we are speaking of the human energy field. Basically the idea here is that you can make the field more ‘dense’ and therefore less permeable to damaging or disharmonic energies. Think of it like the deflector shields in the Star Trek world only you are turning aside energies that are inimical to you instead of phasers and photon torpedoes.

One can do a temporary shield with visualization and intent and this will work fine in most situations; but, for the monster and ghost hunters out there who need something more permanent the shield needs to be anchored into something physical – usually a piece of jewelry that can be worn unobtrusively. I recommend amber, which hardens the aura but has the disadvantage of needing to be ‘cleaned’ regularly, or black tourmaline as bases for a wearable shield.

Basically, find a shield visual that works for you (a bubble of white light, whirling knives, a pyramid), sit with the jewelry in your right hand and bring that visual to life. See, smell, taste, touch, hear, if you can. Make it real and then give it an intention. Remember to include your power source (gods, guardians, angels, totem animals etc) for the shield and what it is supposed to do exactly. Finally, see the shield being connected to and arising from that piece of jewelry. Wear the piece regularly (but not all the time) and remember to feed the shield some energy at least weekly to keep it strong and attuned to your vibration.

Grounding is essentially the process of taking energies you do not want and composting them – that is feeding them into the earth which, because it is intimately involved in the processes of life, death and rebirth, knows exactly how to handle the energies and render them useful again. Grounding can be as simple as paying attention to where your feet touch the ground to as complex as visualizing yourself as a tree, bringing energy up from the earth to wash out the energies you are carrying, push them through your leaves and back out into the earth. Not only does grounding help you to clear your energy field; it also helps to settle you when you are feeling disjointed or “out of whack”.

Banishing or Cleansing
I’ve already spoken of the cleansing and repellent properties of certain plants, such as sage. When feeling that you have been exposed to energies that you do not wish to take on, you can do worse than to begin any aftercare with a good solid smudging with white sage. This, along with your grounding exercise, will help clear your field of all but the most stubborn energies and the sage works actively to prevent any etheric manifestation.

Once you have done the smudging though, you may be aware that some energies have been removed and that others seen to be hovering around your ‘perimeter’ waiting to get back in. This is when a good banishing ceremony will work wonders for getting rid of the hoverers.

Now, the banishing that most people with any exposure to the occult will recognize is the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagrams, a Golden Dawn ritual that has been in existence for some time. The LBRP might be a good place to start if you are fond of angels and respond well to Hebrew god names but, for those of us with a more pagan bent, it is quite useful to develop our own form of banishing.

The sky is the limit here but the basic form that I have developed and that you can add into looks something like this. Stand tall and imagine yourself at the center of the Universe, with the Four Directions radiating out from you – Before, Behind, Right and Left. Now, focus your intention beneath your feet and draw the energy of the earth and the Lower World up through your central channel (I see it as red) and into the sky. Do this for 3 breaths then look to the sky and see the energy of the Upper World (white) cascading down through you. The first energy empowers you; the second energy cleanses you. Imagine the two energies meeting in your chest and forming a grey ball of light. This light increases in strength as you breathe the energies into you (Jason Miller recommends clutching a lightly clenched fist over your chest to give the feeling of something there). Once you feel that the energy is strong and powerful release your hold on it (open the fist) and allow it to expand into a sphere of dove gray light that carries all nastiness away from you.

This is a basic banishing to which you can add prayers, meaningful symbols etc. to make it more effective for you.

“The Dresden Effect”


I am a huge fan of the Jim Butcher series, the Dresden Files.  I got hooked on the very first book, Storm Front, and have followed Harry Dresden through his adventures right up to the current book.

What, you may ask, does this have to do with the topics we discuss here?  Well, one of the tell tale signs of a wizard’s presence in Butcher’s world is the failure of electronics around that magic worker.  When Dresden goes to visit friends, they are forced to unplug their computers and power down their cell phones to save those devices from the ill effects of Dresden’s power.

Interestingly, we see much the same effect in real world paranormal phenomenon.  (Perhaps Butcher got the idea from reading up on high strangeness events?)

Probably the best known example of this in the paranormal world is the consistent reports of UFO witnesses that testify to cars stopping, stereos going off, TV’s quitting and other electronic gadgets going on the fritz in the presence of a UFO, only to recover completely once the ‘craft’ is gone.

Read any book on ghost hunting and one of the things that you will be told is that, when going into an allegedly haunted site, you need to bring plenty of batteries for your recorders, flashlights and other equipment.  One of the common problems that arises in ghost hunts is the sudden failure of equipment due to battery drain.

Skepdebunkers often trumpet the fact that there are very few clear pictures of paranormal phenomenon.  This has become a running joke in Sasquatch hunting circles; the ‘Blobsqatch’ is a well known photographic subject.  Think about how many of those pictures, taken these days, come from cell phones and digital cameras.  One would think that at least one photographer would have steady hands and a cool nerve and manage a good shot.  This happens very seldom and, when it does, the various kinds of hunters, as well as the skepdebunkers are very cautious.  A clear photo is often seen as a sign of a hoax!

I sometimes have experience with what I have jokingly named The Dresden Effect.  Two weeks ago Friday, I had a day where no electronic device would cooperate with me, without resort to a call to a help desk, a complete re-boot, simply doing things manually or asking my spouse to use her own gear.

The first time this happened to me, I wondered, for a while, if I had been cursed.  Shortly thereafter, though, I had a major breakthrough in some magical work I had been doing.  I wondered if there was a correlation but did not have enough data to make a conclusion.

I can say now, after having this happen several times, and seeing breakthroughs happen in magic shortly thereafter, that I am working with the hypothesis that magical breakthroughs will equal a day or so of electronic interference.  Fortunately, this interference seems to be like that of the UFO passing overhead, things work fine afterward, but it is damned pesky when it happens.

In this case, Friday, The Dresden Effect heralded the interest of and subsequent conversation with a powerful chthonic spirit.  We are in negotiations to see how we can help each other but I thought I would ask him about The Dresden Effect.

Basically, the spirit laughed. He showed me a vision of a ‘portal’ opening to allow him into this world and the energy that preceded and accompanied that portal.  I understood that he was simplifying things so that my non-physics brain could wrap around the concept but the essential point is that the energy that accompanies these portals has a strongly deleterious effect on electronics and an unpredictable effect on the human bio-electric field.   Thus we have reports of everything from dizziness and nausea to actual burns in association with some of these phenomenon.  This does not even take into account the effect these energies can have on perception.  And recall, this is just the result of contact with the portal field and does not take into account the actual spiritual presences that may have come through.

This spirit – and, no, I am not giving out a name – also shook his head at the ‘scientific’ ghost and monster hunters who refuse to take even the most elementary magical precautions before going into the site of a paranormal event.  He stressed to me the importance of learning to shield oneself, ground out any energies that one may encounter and cleanse after leaving the site and before going elsewhere.  Often, what some perceive as taking entities home with them is simply the result of their energies interacting with energy of the portal area and producing effects on the perception.  These effects can certainly feel as real as an actual haunting and may even be perceived by others in the person’s household.

In my view, then, The Dresden Effect is part of what makes it so difficult to document paranormal phenomenon and can have a profound effect on the investigator if he or she chooses to ignore the very simple rituals and visualizations that can help mitigate this effect.  I realize that many investigators want to see themselves as scientific and hard nosed skeptics but, in my view, refusing to use these tools in the magical arsenal is somewhat equivalent to having unprotected sex and hoping everything will be alright later.  Chances are, you will be okay but why take the chance?



Ebola Outbreak

I recently caught this article regarding the Ebola outbreak in Africa on Lon Strickler’s Phantoms and Monsters. This piece is sad on so many levels that I felt the need to address it.

Before I say anything else, however, I want to take a moment to encourage anyone who reads this blog post to do whatever you do to send positive healing energies to this part of the world. Visualization, prayer, magic, work with the dead or dying . . . whatever work you can do, in addition to whatever financial outlay you might make can have an effect in this terrible situation. I am not overly sentimental and I understand that there are forces of tearing down as well as forces of building up, but such a plague surely deserves our attention and compassion.

BarbSprayedWBleach-flex Image from CDC Website.

The sub text that I read in this article is that these people are poor, ignorant, superstitious villagers who need to be pulled from their unenlightened state by the science of the West. Now, I will be the first to say that the belief system in some parts of Africa can be hard to take. As in medieval Europe, it is all too easy for someone to point at another villager, cry witch and set off a series of events that can lead to the witch’s death. I do not for a moment condone this sort of behavior and I certainly want to see the West African people get all the medical assistance they need in order to break this plague.

However, I want you to place yourself in these villagers’ shoes for a few moments. Many, if not most, of these folks live at a subsistence level with minimal access to even the most basic health care and education. While we may not understand them, many of these villagers also have a very clear set of spiritual beliefs and have very likely felt the presence of the spirits in their lives. The much maligned ‘traditional medicine’ has been the only medicine many of them have ever known and, contrary to what we may believe, that medicine has sometimes worked for them.

In other words, these folks are people who are living in a world that most of us can not even begin to understand. When was the last time you had to slaughter an animal or hunt in order to eat? How many times have you had to find an herbal remedy to treat a raging fever? It is an entirely different world from the one that most of us live in and, before we criticize the ‘ignorant savages’ who will not allow doctors and medics into their villages, we have to look at things from their perspective.

The villagers have been living a normal life – getting by day to day, keeping food in their stomachs and, perhaps, if they are lucky putting a little aside for things they consider luxury items. One of them comes down sick with a fever, muscle aches and headache. This individual feels so weak he or she can hardly get to the toilet and their bowels are loose when they do manage it. The person refuses food and, within a week, despite the efforts of the village healer, that person dies. And, then, the people who had contact with the sick one become ill as well . . . some of them even worse, evincing bleeding, red eyes, difficulty breathing and more. Panic begins to spread in the village, the spirits do not seem to be able to conquer this awful disease and the rumor begins to spread that the village or, at least, those who are sick have been cursed.

In these people’s view, a curse is a very real thing (and, from a magical perspective, a curse is also very real, although it does not usually bring symptoms of a hemorrhagic fever). Suddenly, these outsiders appear, with their strange suits and their refusal to show their faces, and say that they know how to treat the illness. Even if the villagers allow this, the mortality rate for this awful disease is still anywhere from 50 to 90 percent. Word travels fast in a crisis, the telephone effect occurs as word spreads from one person to another and it is not long before those who are trying to help are suspected of actually causing the curse.

In these people’s world view, their belief is entirely justified and their banning of doctors from their village is logical to them. They are trying to protect themselves while faced with something new, completely different and terrifying. Like their ancestors before them, they feel that they have to deal with this plague by trial and error, finding ways to avoid it or cure it using the technology available to them since it is obvious to them that the strangers are not having any luck with this disease either! Once you contract this bleeding sickness, chances are high that you will die.

It seems to me that, rather than shaking our heads at the ignorance of these people, we need to meet them in their own mindset. Some of the Western treatments for Ebola do increase the patients likelihood for survival (things like fluid replacement and supplemental oxygen) but it is Western isolation procedures that will be most useful in stemming the tide of this viral outbreak. To get villagers to go along with these strange procedures, I think that we have to move past the ‘medical deity (MD)’ model to a model where procedures are explained to the people by someone they can identify with – a fellow villager or better yet a native healer who has been given some understanding of the disease and can explain it to others in terms they will accept. For example, if the villagers believe that Ebola is a curse, then they should understand that the suits and gloves and other isolation procedures are magical techniques for blocking off the curse and preventing it from spreading.

In essence, my feeling is that, to minimize the suffering of these people, we have to view the situation like we would being in a land where we did not speak the language. We either have to learn the language or, in the case of an emergency, we need a translator.

May the spirits who walk with these people bring forth those translators quickly and effectively so that this plague can be stemmed before it spreads further.


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