I talked a little bit about cryptozoology in my last post so I wanted to flip over to the more paranormal side of the house in this installment. When you start exploring the world of the paranormal, you very quickly discover that paranormal investigators seem to have almost as many different types of “spirits” to chase as the cryptozoologists have cryptids to catalog. What I find interesting about paranormal folk though is that they seem to have a desire to shove spirits into a group, almost as if they are trying to establish a universal field theory of the paranormal. This is especially the case when investigators are confronted with “entities” that seem hostile.
Rosemary Ellen Guiley, in a recent book titled The Vengeful Djinn: Unveiling the Hidden Agenda of Genies, appears to posit that many hostile paranormal encounters come about as the result of what Islamic myths call jinn, a group of spirits that are mentioned in the Quran as beings that are spirits of pure flame, neither angel nor demon, and possessed, like humans, with free will. Some of these spirits choose to convert to Islam or other religions and behave themselves while others seek to make our lives miserable. Guiley and her co-author, Philip J Imbrogno, make the case that jinn can cover everything in the paranormal world from hostile hauntings to alien abduction and even appear to draw the conclusion that Celtic tales of the faery relate to the jinn as well.
Now, I will freely admit that I have not read this book but I have read interviews with the author(s) and reviews of the work so I believe that I am representing it fairly. I’ve read some of Ms. Guiley’s other work and I am sure that this book is well presented and engagingly written. However, I don’t think that we can ascribe every thing the “goes bump in the night” to the jinn. I think that we have to look deeper than that.
John Keel, in his Our Haunted Planet, The Mothman Prophecies and others of his books, drives home the idea that a phenomenon has existed, throughout recorded history, that engages humankind, sometimes to our benefit but often to our detriment. This phenomenon, in his view, “shape shifts” to match itself to the expectations of humans as we evolve. If I am reading Keel right, he would argue that the faery stories of the Celtic races, the jinn stories of the Middle East, the stories of gray aliens abducting people in the night, all derive from a common source – the mysterious phenomenon.
I would tend to agree with Keel’s assessment. First though, a disclaimer. The vast majority of “hauntings”, in my view, are caused by either the etheric “recording” of a traumatic event which “replays” for certain people or some part of the human soul complex that has not passed over into the afterlife. Such hauntings may be creepy to those involved but only because of the reactions of the humans in physical bodies, not because the disembodied human is any threat.
When we start talking about the more aggressive and hostile entities, what Christians might label demons, Muslims might call evil jinn and an ancient Celt might have called a faery of the Unseelie Court, we are then discussing something altogether different. Even occultists have different names for the beings that are inimical to the human race and the esoteric schools have their labels for these beings and sometimes disagree vehemently with each other when they discuss these things. I do not pretend to represent everyone in the occult movement. After being exposed to a number of different philosophies, my understanding is this: that there are “beings” (either personified spirits or ‘knots” of cohesive energy, however you want to view them) in the Otherworld that maintain their existence by feeding off of human beings. These entities can range from low level, barely intelligent parasites to very high order “spirits” with a plan.
I am not sure what you would see if you could get a look at these critters in their true form. They are very good at hiding and they are very good at the strategies that they employ for feeding. Since the human emotional response is laden with energy, those beings smart enough to employ strategy will often present themselves in a way calculated to invoke maximum terror. So, if you are a Christian convinced of the existence of Satan and the demonic horde, guess how the beings will manifest for you? If you are a stone materialist who could care less about religion, you might end up in an “alien spacecraft”. All you have to do is read alien abduction accounts to realize that the whole experience is calculated to scare the crap out of the victim and make them feel completely helpless and powerless.
Again, I do not see this as a Universal Field Theory of the paranormal nor am I seeking to make anyone paranoid. Encounters with nasties are pretty rare and I know that there are higher “spirits” who seem to have the best interests of humans in mind. What I would like to convey here is that there are risks in paranormal investigation and the people doing these investigations should be aware of them and prepared to deal with them when they arise. I will talk more about preparation in other posts.