New Orleans Voodoo Spiritual Temple

Legba

I do not typically espouse causes on this blog but, in this case, I feel an inner need to put the energy out to assist this organization.  Those of you who have been to New Orleans understand that their interpretation of African spiritual traditions is a vein that runs deep in the soul of the city.  The Voodoo Spiritual Temple is a deep part of this soul and they have recently undergone a terrible setback – a fire that destroyed the cultural center attached to the temple and damaged the temple itself.

New Orleans is a special place.  I had a chance to prowl the French Quarter on foot for a week, a couple of years back, and other than the ancient temples I visited in Japan, I have never stepped foot in a more magical place.  Voodoo is a part of that magic and the Temple is a strong part of the Voodoo of New Orleans.  Please go to the Temple’s website to learn more about what they do and how you can support them in the their re-building efforts.


Some Thoughts on Manwolf Reports in PA

dogman

If you happen to be a follower of Lon Strickler’s famed Phantoms and Monsters blog, you have no doubt noted that there has been a distinct uptick in sighting of upright bi-pedal canids in Pennsylvania in recent months.  I have a weakness for all things werewolf /  shapeshifter so it seems fitting that my first post back address this phenomenon.

First of all, I had a chance to listen to Mr. Strickler and his colleague, Butch Witkowski, discussing these cases on Beyond the Edge Radio the other day.  Mr. Witkowski noted that he had been in contact with First Nation elders of the Tsalagi (Cherokee) nation and that they had told him, without reservation, that he was tracking a skinwalker.  I believe that they might have mentioned to him that he was crazy for doing such a thing.

Perhaps it was simply my perception but Mr. Witkowski seemed a little dismissive of this warning in the interview.  I would encourage him not to be and I will explain more about that in a moment.  Suffice to say, that if a medicine person tells you something is dangerous, you can bet your ass that he or she is correct.  While I am not certain that these beings are skinwalkers as I know them (I am more familiar with the skinwalker of the desert Southwest), I am sure that this elder was trying to drive home to Mr. Witkowski the seriousness of his warning.  The being that we think of as a manwolf or dogman can be a dangerous creature to pursue.  I would strongly advise Mr. Witkowski to wear the protective amulet given to him by the People, and, should he come into contact with one of these beings, to keep a respectful distance.

Here’s why.

I had been considering the manwolf ‘uprising’ in Pennsylvania for several days and, as often happens when I have something percolating, I found an answer in meditation.  This morning (Friday 29 January), as I allowed myself to sink into the quiet, I became aware of spirits around me, specifically those of my ancestors.  For some reason, when the ancestors come to play, it is almost always my First Nations ancestors who appear.  I do not have a lot of Native blood but apparently there is enough for ‘them’ to pay attention to me.

As I said, I felt the ancestors come in and then one of the guardian spirits that I work with came and dragged me off to show me something.  In this case, I was given to understand that this related directly to the manwolf epidemic in PA.  I was shown an “Indian Mound” in vision and then a hole in the side of that mound with a shovel sticking in the dirt.  The message was plain: someone had opened one of these mounds and released the spirits that guard it.

I agree with one of Linda Godfrey’s theories; some of the manwolves are ancient guardians bound to these mounds and assigned to protect them.  These beings are fierce and, depending on the amount of energy they have accrued to themselves, I think it highly likely that they could manifest physically, even if only for short periods of time.  This being (or beings) is not pleased with what has been done and will not rest until it either sees the mound sealed in a sacred manner or it runs out of energy to manifest.  It may be appearing to people to scare them and feed on that energy.

My advice to the investigators of this case: tread softly, especially if you see a manwolf, and see if you can find the source of the creatures disturbance.  As with certain hauntings which are exacerbated by renovation in the home, this creature has had its ‘nest’ kicked over and is not at all happy about it.


Return From the Grave

I had, honestly, thought that I was done with blogging several months ago but I have found, as time has gone by, that my reasons for leaving have lost much of their force.  I find it very amusing, in fact, to note that the site got more hits while I was gone than it did while I was blogging actively.  Oh well, all those folks that have been referencing the site while I was not flinging words about will have to deal with some new content.

I could give a lot of reasons for returning to this site but suffice to say that I have had cause to do some serious introspection in the past months and have determined that I need to do more things that I am truly passionate about.  If there is one thing that sits constantly close to my heart, it is the paranormal / Fortean / magical.  I find that I have a real need to discuss these things and, since I do not want to fill anyone’s in box with my ramblings, it seems best to bring back the blog.

As before, I shall try to provide something new each week.  I may or may not have time to write as extensively as I did before (which some of you may find a blessing) but I will try to jump back in and offer some thoughts from my ‘interesting’ perspective.

There has been one blip on my screen that I wanted to mention and urge any readers towards.  Shannon LeGro has recently launched a new podcast called Into the Fray that I listen to regularly and have found to be quite interesting and, dare I say it, fun.  Ms. LeGro and her co-hosts Ryan Sprague and Sam Shearon offer some news of the week and have had some excellent guest interviews.  I recommend the ‘cast to those who want to listen to discussion on a wide range of paranormal / Fortean topics.

The other thing that I would like to put out there is that I have, after many deep breaths, finished edits on my first fiction novel and have begun shopping it out to see if I can get it published.  Wish me luck!

Blessings to all as the festival of Imbolc approaches.  I will be back to my regularly scheduled format shortly.


Hellhounds of Meridean Island

It seems that Wisconsin, Manwolf hunter Linda Godfrey’s home state, is just rife with mysterious canids. Monsters and Mysteries in America, Season 3, Episode 6, aired on 25 February 2015 and included a fascinating piece on the ‘hellhounds’ of Meridean Island in Wisconsin. I’ve done significant research on the Phantom Black Dog most commonly seen in Great Britain and found this segment, which begins around 29:00, quite fascinating.

Black Dog

I am not entirely happy with Monsters and Mysteries – too much effort, in my opinion, to overstate the case for the phenomenon that they cover and to be ‘spooky’– but the show has done a good job of trying to find fresh stories that may not have seen coverage in other paranormal shows. This hellhound case in Wisconsin is a good example. It seems to me that I might have run across it in some of my digging (I would have to go back and look through notes) but it is certainly not a site that I am familiar with.

The hellhound segment of the show featured two sets of witnesses: a couple, Shelly Touchstone and Chris Wiener, who were reportedly just looking for a secluded spot for some time away from the kids, and two young paranormal enthusiasts, Mike Bagozzi and Jeremy Stark, who actually went to check out the purported sightings at the boat landing on Meridean Island. Of course, we have no way of really evaluating these witnesses but, in the show, they appeared sincere and I found it telling that their stories had some striking resemblances: the fog, anxiety and the limits of the chase.

Both sets of witnesses stated that, before there was any manifestation of the devil dogs, a dense, cold fog enveloped them. I find this quite telling since fog and other suddenly occurring weather disturbances can be a signal that a door to the Otherworld has opened. I have personally stood on a hilltop while a puja (Buddhist offering rite) was in progress and watched storm clouds ‘bend’ around the area where the rite was occurring, leaving a rain free hole right above the area where we stood. In addition, I have seen fog and mist form, seemingly out of nowhere, during the invocation of certain deities and in the presence of what we might term the Faery. A cold, dense fog might certainly form naturally in the vicinity of a river but the timing of these fog event seems a little suspect given the subsequent events.

I also noted something that I have written about in another blog post – that feeling that something is amiss. I have stated before that often a gut feeling that something is wrong is a good sign that it is time to vacate the premises or, at least, be prepared for a paranormal action. In this case, both sets of witnesses had some intimation that all was not well before their encounter. The young couple, distracted as they might have been by having some alone time together, still alerted at some point before the event and began to feel anxious. Mike Bagozzi, one of the young would-be investigators, stated that he actually became anxious five miles before he and his team mate got to the boat landing. His anxiety was such that, according to him, he refused to turn their vehicle off, left the vehicle in drive and had cut the wheels so that they could make a hasty getaway if needed. Intuition is a tool that is much needed but often discounted in today’s paranormal investigation scene.

While Touchstone and Wiener never actually saw anything, only hearing the phenomenon, Bagozzi and Stark reported seeing an apparition of Mary Dean (the ghost who supposedly haunts the isle) as well as a ragged looking black dog with glowing red eyes that then gave chase. In both incidents, however, the human response was clear; both pairs of witnesses fled for their lives. Interestingly, once the witnesses had driven at ridiculous speeds up the dirt road that led to the boat landing and gotten back onto the paved road, the pursuit ceased as suddenly as it had begun. This seeming limitation on the hellhound’s range is something that we see repeatedly in the English stories of the Phantom Black Dogs (PBD) where the creature will materialize and walk alongside a wagon or vehicle from point A to a clearly defined point B, where it turns aside or simply vanishes.

The hellhounds of Meridean Island bear a strong resemblance to the classic PBD of English lore. Those who have seen them describe them as being “big as a bear” with glowing red eyes while the English stories tend to describe the PBD as the size of a calf, again, with glowing red or yellow eyes the size of saucers. Extensive folkloric examinations of the PBD have shown them to often be associated with water, such as the Chippewa River where Meridean Island is located. In addition, the lore of the PBD associates these interlopers from the Otherworld with death and the dead, a theme we see with the story of Mary Dean and reported hauntings throughout the Carysville, WI, area.

While Monsters and Mysteries in America would have us believe that the hapless witnesses would have been snacks for the terrible beasts if the humans had not gotten to their cars quickly enough, I doubt that this would have been the case. Even in cases where the PBD has caused harm, such as the incident at Bungay, it did not do so by eating its prey. The PBD, in those rare cases where it was the proximate cause of death, seems to just strike its victims dead and leave them. In most of the lore, however, the PBD is simply a spooky reminder that the Otherworld is only a coursing black dog away and, in some of the more sinister stories, may be a harbinger of death in the family of the percipient.


Short Follow Up: Alert – Cryptid Roaming Denver Suburbs

I caught this report on Phantoms and Monsters this morning after my own blog posted. The being described in this post sounds very similar to the thing that I saw snatching people off of pathways in the vision reported in my blog this morning. I think that this percipient is quite lucky that he did not become one of the missing and I will be interested to see the witness’ sketch.

In my own psychic impressions, I thought this being might be some predator out of the Faery realm (as I have often mentioned, the Faery can be entities of great power and not all of them take kindly to humans) but, in some ways, the speed and ‘shiftiness’ of the being remind me of the many skinwalker reports from the desert Southwest. The short black fur over black skin reminded me of the manwolf reports specific to people seeing the beings in their homes (this would be the ‘Anubis’ sort of manwolf).

In any event, I would not assume that this being and entities like it are harmless. Remember that some astral entities have the ability to wrap themselves in etheric substance as they come through and are therefore able to cause real physical harm. If you see something like the being described in the Phantoms and Monsters post, do exactly as this witness did, do not run (may invoke the predatory response) but move carefully and quickly away from the entity and out of its sight. Only try to record the event if you can do so safely. A spectacular video is not worth your safety.


Spirit Talk: Missing 411

Readers who have been following my blog for a while know that I have a serious interest in the Missing 411 outlined by David Paulides in his several books.

Map

Briefly, Mr. Paulides proposes that people have been going missing in U.S. national wilderness areas (and he is now getting cases from other countries) under very mysterious circumstances. Common aspects of these cases, other than people simply vanishing never to be heard from again, include:

*Victims with disabilities or very high intellects

*Canines
– the victim disappears with a dog
– dogs can’t or won’t track the victim

*Those that are found are often found near water/creeks/rivers and the missing tend to go missing in those locations

*Geographic clusters : mountains and water (see the map from Mr. Paulides’ web site above)

* Victims were often picking berries esp. huckleberries

* Victims often disappear or are found in swamps

* The missing who are found can not remember time away

* Those who are found are semi-conscious / unconscious
– missing clothes / shoes

* Victims are often found in locations previously searched on multiple occasions and “impossibly” far from where they disappeared

* Bad weather is often associated with disappearances

* The cause of death is often undetermined or head/facial trauma

Mr. Paulides details stories of people going missing from the end of climbing ropes and vanishing within a matter of seconds, with witnesses only losing sight of the victim for a moment. There are many podcast and Youtube interviews on this subject and I encourage my readers to look one up and listen to what this individual has to say. In the end, it may end up saving you from a lot of heart ache.

I worked as a volunteer in wilderness search and rescue and have a good idea of the things that can go wrong out the bush. I know that lack of preparedness and sometimes just plain bad luck can kill people in the wild but I also know that people who meet such misfortune do not simply vanish. There are traces left behind and those traces can be followed by a skilled tracker and/or tracking dogs. In these cases, it is as though the person stepped into the void, never to be seen again, and that the National Park Service, for reasons of its own, has decided that missing persons cases do not merit tracking.

Today (19 March) as I sat to meditate, I became aware of the presence of one of my spirit helpers. I had recently finished another book on missing persons (review soon to follow) and must have had the plight of these people stirring in the back of my mind. I asked the spirit to take me shamanically into one of the cluster areas described in Mr. Paulides’ work and was told in no uncertain terms that this would not happen since I was not “dressed for battle”. Given some of my experiences while “out”, in dreams and vision, I thought it best to take the spirit’s word.

Nevertheless, this helper was more than willing to discuss this phenomenon. He showed me, in a sort of mini-vision, a wooded area and then, in rapid succession, a series of events that could befall someone and make them disappear. Honestly, the “download” came so fast that I could not keep up but here are but a few of the things that could have befallen the missing. This list is not, by any means, exhaustive.

* It is well documented in Faery lore that there are entrances to the Otherworld on the face of this planet, most often located in wilderness areas. Some of the missing could have wandered through one of these portals, which are notoriously hard to see and then to escape from, and been lost to the Otherside. In some cases, victims may find their way out (or be ejected) some time later and such persons would certainly be confused and unable to recall exactly what happened to them, just as a person may lose the memory of a dream or vision.

* I was very clearly shown one of the Intruders, moving from the astral, through the etheric, gathering form and seizing someone from a trail and pulling them back to the Otherside. While the being I was looking at had a specific form, I was given to understand that, just as in our world, there are ambush predators of varying sorts that have the ability to enter our world when circumstances are right.

* The spirit tells me that some of these disappearance are human in origin. He would not say much about this other than to point out a strange dream I had a while back about secret government bases in the forest. I am not a big conspiracy buff but we can not ignore the fact that governments sometimes prey on their own people and that there are camouflage and cloaking techniques available that make people able to walk in the forest in near invisibility . . . and that is just the tech that we know about.

* Finally, I was reminded that, not only do the woods house humans who have gone feral, so to speak, but that there are human predators out there (serial killers) who are very crafty, very careful and quite willing to steal people when they can get away with it.

Mr. Paulides, in his various appearances, has recommended that people not hike alone, that they carry an emergency transponder and that they actually arm themselves before going into the woods. I think that this is all fairly good advice, though I have reservations about the use of firearms. I think it is important to note something here though.

If you are taking some or all of these precautions then you have established a mindset. You are not going into the woods unaware but are cognizant of the fact that there might be things, both Otherworldly and human, that could harm you. That awareness and your preparations take you out of any sort of unaware or victim mental status and, in my view, go a long way toward preventing an incident. All of the predators above, human or otherwise, seek to work in stealth. Your focused awareness makes you less susceptible to interference as well as increasing your enjoyment of the outdoors.


Book Review: Drawing Down The Spirits

Filan, Kenaz; Kaldera, Raven
Drawing Down the Spirits: The Traditions and Techniques of Spirit Possession
Inner Traditions/Bear & Company. Kindle Edition.
Link to Amazon Kindle version

Drawing

Drawing Down the Spirits is a fascinating book written by two practitioners of a rarely practiced art – actual possession by the deities and spirits to which they give worth. This book is not a “how to” manual; rather, it is a fairly in-depth study of the phenomenon of possession as it is manifesting in neo-pagan circles today. One of the authors is an initiated houngan (priest) of Haitian Vodou while the other is a shamanic practitioner of Norse polytheistic paganism. Both of the writers have extensive experience with possessory work in their respective traditions and they continuously cite the experience of other spirit workers who work with possession as well. Some of the referenced spirit workers are well known in pagan circles and others are not.

As someone who has experienced what the authors refer to as aspecting (having an awareness of a deity or spirit without losing control of one’s body or having missing time experience), I found the writers’ in-depth analysis of what constitutes possession quite interesting. In their view, and I would tend to agree, a trance possession occurs when an individual is overtaken by a god or spirit to such a point that that being has complete control of their body and that the person has little to no memory of the event. Such possessions are seen commonly in the Afro-Caribbean traditions, such as Filan’s Vodou, but are a relatively new phenomenon in neo-pagan circles.

Drawing Down The Spirits is, in my view, the authors’ attempt to establish that possession is actually happening in the neo-pagan world and to establish some sort of frame work in which this practice can be safely performed. The authors make the case that, even though faith is an often derided concept in neo-pagan thought, the direct contact with the gods afforded by the possessory experience can and does have a powerful effect on those who are ready for it and open to the possibility. Imagine, for just a moment, what it might be like to encounter the Norse god Odin or the Greek goddess Athena in the flesh. If you were prepared, such an encounter could literally be life changing.

The authors of this book do not pull any punches. Filan and Kaldera both acknowledge that mistakes have been made (calling a goddess known for modesty into a naked priestess, for example, or the disruption of an event at a pagan festival by a drunken lout) and this work provides a nice framework for doing a possessory ritual in public in the index. One of the things that made me quite happy was that the authors did not succumb to the often seen habit of books in the neo-pagan realm to try to cast everything in the most positive light. Both writers stress that they are working with powerful spirits who have powerful personalities and who can very clearly be angered if they are not accorded the respect that they should receive.

Filan tells the story of a disastrous public ritual in which he and a partner called the spirits of Vodou (called lwa or loa). Both he and his partner were experienced solo practitioners but had no experience doing a fet (a Vodou service to the lwa). Things went well until they called forth Damballah, the serpent lwa of creation. I will let you read the painful tale yourselves but suffice to say that the event did not go according to plan and injuries, both physical and psychic, were sustained in the process.

In addition, I was pleased to see that Filan and Kaldera did not sugar coat the actual possessory experience and made a strong case for avoiding it altogether unless one is really called to it. This practice is not something that “would be cool to do” at the next full moon ritual. As I mentioned, I have aspected deities (somewhat akin to having a back seat driver) and this experience was trying enough. A full on possession is something that should only be undertaken after skilled training and, as the authors recommend, only at the specific calling of the gods. In indigenous cultures, individuals called to shamanic work are really not given a choice and will often try hard to avoid the call until the classic shamanic illness comes on them. This attitude should be echoed in anyone who is considering being a “horse” to the gods and the authors provide extensive first hand commentary about why this should be the case.

I strongly recommend this book to both my pagan and non-pagan readers. My non-pagan readers might ask why this book would be of any interest to them. Very simple. As, I have pointed out over the course of this blog, those who are interested in the paranormal and Fortean are often amazingly blase’ about spirits. This book brings home, in a powerful way, the reality and power of the beings that some call gods and also of the lwa and other spirits. The people in this work are not doing what they do because they think that the energy of an archetype is going to come through them. Rather, they know, in the depths of their being, that these spirits are real, sentient, present beings.

You may not share their belief but, after reading this book, it is my hope that you might gain a new respect for the power of the spirit based belief system and come to the understanding that something is effecting the changes in the physical, psychic and spiritual world of these people and that the something could also be a part of a lot of the phenomenon that we study at this blog.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 107 other followers