Monthly Archives: June 2013

Book Review: Operation Trojan Horse by John Keel

I noted recently that there is a new edition of Operation Trojan Horse by John Keel available from Anomalist books. Many people are familiar with John Keel through his most famous work, The Mothman Prophecies. I’ve given that book two readings since it is one of the classics of paranormal/cryptozoological lore and because I rather liked the flowing narrative style. I wish that I could say that I enjoyed Project Trojan Horse as much but such a statement would be untrue. Frankly, I found this book to be a mish mash; it seems to me that the author fell prey to the same sort of mental confusion that he so often ascribes to UFO contactees. This tome wanders like a drunk on a bender and the ideas in it, that appeal to so many paranormal authors, such as the concepts of “windows” and “ultra-terrestrials”, are derived from folkloric and/or magical sources that are available to any thinking person.

Now, I have to be honest and put forth this caveat: I am not a UFO researcher and, while I have some interest in the topic, it is not A List material for me. Keel is approaching his subject from a background of extensive research on UFO sightings and the people that UFO’s have contacted and I found the endless sighting and contact reports in the book tedious. My basic attitude was: alright, you have posited that X is the case and you have told me about Y person or persons to illustrate the point – move along. Unfortunately, Keel does not move along but, instead drags us through endless sighting reports of various UFO flaps throughout history. Historians of the UFO phenomenon might find this quite interesting but I did not.

Admittedly, Keel states early on that he is trying to take the broad view of the UFO phenomenon in order to make a strong argument for his hypothesis that UFO’s are not the craft of visitors from another planet. I normally admire this sort of wide spectrum approach but Keel fails to perform one vital function early in the book, he fails to tell us, in his introductory remarks, just what theory he is espousing. If this had been an academic paper, it would have been sent back to him for revision. It is not until almost the middle of the book that Keel finally posits the existence of so-called ultra-terrestrials, beings from an overlapping dimension or dimensions that are capable of interacting with our material world.

I think that with Operation Trojan Horse, Keel was trying to create a universal field theory for the paranormal. In my view, as I have said over and over in these pages, that is just not possible due to the diversity of beings on the Other Side. Keel prides himself, throughout the book, on being the hard nosed, skeptical reporter. That is fine; the paranormal can always use people who are willing to look at a thing from all sides. Unfortunately, once Keel had developed his theory of the ultra-terrestrials manipulating human history for mysterious reasons all their own, he went all in. Every single type of entity listed throughout folklore was an ultra-terrestrial. Angels, demons, the fey, everything – and they were all part of some grand plot that Keel posited came from “the source” (whatever that might be). Some of the entities were trying to educate human kind and others were trying to knock us off the path. Just as I stated regarding Rosemary Ellen Guiley’s, theory of the Djinn, this is a woefully simplistic view of what I refer to as the Other Side.

Technically, yes, all the beings that Keel refers to could fit into his definition of an ultra-terrestrial but any folklorist or magician will tell you that throwing all these beings into the same pot is like saying that all the people who live in my home town are guided by the mayor of that town and are conforming to his/her master plan. Anyone who has really studied these beings, either in the lore or by communicating with them, knows that each type of “ultra-terrestrial” is a very different critter and is interested in very different types of relationships with the human race. Some of the Other Side view humans as prey while others really are interested in the evolution of our species or in enhancing our connection to aspects of the natural world. As with most things, the beings of the Other Side range across a continuum from those who are inimical to humans to those who work actively with them.

Keel makes a great deal out of the fact that UFO contactees and mediums/channelers get similar types of information in their sessions. Of course they do. Keel obviously did not get to the parts in the Bible, which he quotes when it suits him, that speak of testing the spirits. He also did not do enough research into the “occult” to realize that magicians have known for a long time that there is a lot of “trash” out there on the astral and that, if you want to tune to a specific frequency, you have to send a specific signal and then test the spirit you have called to be certain it is what it says it is. In other words, proper spirit communication needs to happen after a zone ritual to protect space and with an invocation/evocation designed to attract a specific type of being. Even then, the magician is cautioned not to take the spirit’s words as law but to continually test what is given.

Looking at the contactees in Keel’s book, there is precious little testing of anything. All through Keel’s book, there is an undertone of paranoia. There are forces out there beyond our comprehension that are playing with us. They are extremely adaptable and tailor their presentation to suit their audience. They get people to buy into their rhetoric by making predictions that come true and having knowledge of their target and then setting the people up to look ridiculous or suggest to them schemes that make them cross the line into lawlessness. These beings seem to be able to produce either the illusion of solidity or to actually be able to manifest physically under certain conditions.

Yes, there are spirits “out there” that are quite capable of doing the sorts of things listed above. They feed on the fear, confusion and other afflictive emotions that they provoke in humans as well as the feelings of awe and near worship that they provoke in the uninformed. They are, however, only a small part of the vast population of the Other Side and, rather than provoking yet more fear, human beings need to realize that they do not have to have truck with these spirits if they do not want to. No is a powerful word and one that needs to be used more in spirit communication.

Where’s The Energy Coming From?

While I do not watch the paranormal shows on television with the hope of having anything proven to me, I do enjoy them for their entertainment value and as occasional fodder for this blog. I was recently watching some episodes of Ghost Lab on Netflix and thought I would comment on an idea that seems to come up a lot on this show and others that I have watched: the idea that paranormal occurrences need an energy source.

This concept made me scratch my head a little at first since it is so self-evident but, thinking further on the idea, it is wise to consider what fuels a paranormal event. Even in the mechanistic world of Newtonian physics, a worldview that is least conducive to anything smacking of the paranormal, actions do not occur without energy being utilized in some way. When one moves into the mind boggling world of quantum mechanics, I am not sure that we can say the same thing since everything seems to be about probabilities and observation. Someone with more math/physics savvy than I would need to address that issue.

I can speak though for the world of magical practitioners. It is a common saying amongst those who delve into the Ars Magica that one does not get something for nothing. Whether we are talking about an act of high magical invocation, a sorcerous evocation or a simple spell to get rid of warts, it is widely recognized amongst the magically inclined that wand waving and word saying by themselves do not have much effect. Critical to any piece of magic is intent, the focused will of the mage moving toward a specific goal. In Newtonian terms, this would be the energy that powers a spell and I can say from experience that, if done correctly, magic can “take it out of you”.

If we extend this idea a bit, we come to the natural conclusion that, in order for a paranormal incident or incidents to occur, energy must be available from some place. Here are three examples off the top of my head:

* In the case of residual or imprint hauntings, for example, the energy source might be the extreme emotions that provoked the imprint in the first place fed by the fear or shock emotional reactions that are engendered by interaction with the “ghost”.

* Lightning has been named as an energy source in some paranormal cases, as in the Phantom of Black Dog event in Bungay, Suffolk, England in 1577 in which a PBD appeared in a church during a lightning storm and allegedly killed some of the parishioners.

* Poltergeist activity often seems to be linked to pre-pubescent children with emotional issues and the suspicion is that the phenomenon are either caused by “wild talent” psychokinesis (fueled by the teen’s angst) or by spirits attracted by same.

Where things get really interesting is when we begin to discuss things like “intelligent hauntings” where the spirits seem to have a life and will of their own. The popular explanation for these events is that some part of the soul complex of a human being or beings has remained in a particular place due to an attachment there. That is all well and good – I can see why Horace Grumpalot might choose to hang on to the old house where he fussed and fiddled for 50 years – but what I want to know is what is keeping Horace together? It seems to me that even ghosts have to “eat” in order to maintain some coherence and especially if they are (pardon the pun) ghosting around doing little things to make people aware of them. What is Horace’s energy source?

It’s always possible that Mr. Grumpalot’s home happens to sit on a conjunction of ley lines (energy meridians of the earth) or under a set of power lines that supply endless amounts of EMF. It is also quite likely that Horace is moving the kid’s toys around and scaring the bejabbers out of Mom when she goes into the basement after laundry in order to provoke emotional energy upon which he can feed. Hauntings often seem to “ramp up” – one experience causes a fear reaction and then more follow in an ascending spiral as more emotional energy is poured into the area. I would love to see what would happen in one of these hauntings if you took the entire family off to a Zen monastery for week, got them well schooled in meditation and then placed them back in the house with a commitment to meditate every day for 20 minutes. I rather suspect that the cycle would be broken and, while Horace might still mess about, he would not have near the power he had before.

Note that I am not talking about the Intruders in this piece. Those beings are able to use magic on their side of the veil in order to come through just as we use magic on this side to walk in their world and to call entities through. There is still energy involved but it is more a matter of opening a door than of keeping something coherent in this world.

Mirage Men

Amongst the many feeds I follow to keep my finger on the pulse of the paranormal community, The Daily Grail is consistently one of the most intelligent and thoughtful. Recently, they published an article entitled A Fractured Hall of Mirrors which caught my attention. The piece is an in depth review of the new documentary film Mirage Men. I have not seen the movie – apparently it is making the rounds of film festivals – but after viewing the trailer and reading TDG’s comments, I felt that I might interject something into the commentary.

Greg Taylor with The Daily Grail ends his review with this recap:

Mirage Men is necessary viewing for anybody with an interest in either the topic of UFOs, or the role of government agencies in spying on and/or deceiving their own citizens. The former may be a specialised group, but the latter should include everyone. A highly recommended documentary – if your eyes weren’t already open, they will be after watching this film.

As I have admitted before, UFO’s are not my primary area of interest, although with the increasing prevalence of stories of “grays” and other supposed aliens invading people’s homes I find myself being drawn increasingly into the stories of this new iteration of the Intruders. In my view, the UFO phenomenon is just the latest face on a long series of invasions into our physical world by beings that I call the Intruders – those residents of the astral who are able to project through the etheric and manifest on our plane. While I am not of the opinion that humanity simply serves as a food source for these beings, it is certainly the case, again, in my opinion, that the Intruders have developed a number of different scenarios to put humans in a condition where they can feed off their emotional energies.

The Intruders are nothing if not persistent but their presence is always given away by the predominant emotions of fear or terror. Referring back to Mirage Men, we see what appears to be an orchestrated campaign by the U.S. government to introduce disinformation of varying sorts into UFO investigations. The central character in this melange of confusion seems to be Air Force Office of Special Investigations agent Richard Doty. In fact, Doty apparently appears on camera and speaks freely about what he has done – a mystery that Mr. Taylor comments on: why would he be so free in his responses?.

According to Mr. Taylor, various theories are bandied about to explain the disinformation campaign:

Was the disinformation meant to distract investigators from secret government projects. If so, as Pilkington points out, why did they encourage Bennewitz when they could have just told him (as the patriotic citizen that he was) to cease and desist for the good of the country? Was it intended to discredit the investigators for some reason? Or perhaps it was a psychological study in how people react to certain information and events, perhaps it was intended originally for ‘real’ enemies like the Soviets during the Cold War, or maybe it was all an exercise in how supposedly secret information is transmitted and by whom.

Perhaps, though, it was none of the above. Let us suppose, for a moment, that we are in the top echelons of the government of the most powerful nation on earth. The United States of America is an economic powerhouse (especially during the time period in question) and has a huge standing military. Countries all over the world, even those that are ideologically opposed to the U.S., carefully monitor our domestic and foreign policy since decisions in those areas will have ramifications throughout the world. Those who run this country are acutely aware of all of the above and, in this era of the Cold War, are loathe to show any indecision or uncertainty that might be perceived as weakness. Remember, during the Cold War, our enemies were many and our perceived enemies or potential enemies were even more.

Now, introduce the wild card. The United States government becomes aware that this country and countries around the world are having unexplained visitations by aerial phenomenon that can not be identified. These “vehicles” seem to appear and disappear at will and easily evade even our most advanced fighter aircraft. To make matters worse, there are even reports of interaction between the “craft’s” occupants and human beings and the interactions seem to have a hostile character in many cases.

What do the government folk do? Go on the air and tell everyone that we have visitors but we do not know who they are, where they come from or what the hell they want? Such an action would be tantamount to the most powerful country in the world admitting that it was helpless to deal with these phenomenon and that was just not going to happen.

What to do then? Humans have a tendency toward bi-polar thinking, in my experience. If not this, then that. So, when the decision was made not to come forward and tell the public what was known, the opposite end of the spectrum was to muddy the waters with a disinformation campaign that not only befuddled those who were sincerely trying to investigate the phenomenon but also provided the public with some images that they could hang on to (little green men, basically). Humans have a tendency to denigrate and try to dis-empower that which they fear (see all the foofy angels and Tinker Bell fairies out there) so the little green men quickly became a way for people to laugh off the uneasiness that they felt when faced with witness statements on this phenomenon.

At the same time, of course, while one segment of the government was injecting these ideas about “aliens” into the public consciousness, the other section of this program was working hard to “debunk” UFO’s and their occupants in the holy name of Science. The net result? A smoke screen that persists to this day and that I feel the Intruders are using to good advantage to continue their predations on human kind.

Manwolf – Dominance Issues

I was recently re-reading Linda Godfrey’s wonderful The Michigan Dogman and one of the things that I noted, over and over through this book, was that many of the witness sightings seemed to be transient, roadside events. As with the Dallas Werewolf testimony, the percipient was driving along a quiet stretch of road when suddenly he or she saw the creature, either running along the side of the road, feasting on road kill or chasing prey across the road. The manwolf is there and then disappears into the dense undergrowth leaving the witness dumbfounded and, often, (I think justifiably) afraid.

As I have noted throughout these blog pages, I am convinced that many of the “monsters” that people report seeing are in actuality denizens of the Otherworld who have, in some way, extended through the etheric and manifested themselves in this world. Many of these manifestations (most famously Sasquatch) manifest in an extremely physical way and it seems to me that the manwolf falls firmly into this “hard” physical manifestation category unlike its cousin the Phantom Black Dog which often seems more spectral.

Its interesting to note that when people have had interaction with the manwolf in situations other than the “drive by” reports, the scenario changes and that the manwolf has very canid behavior patterns. The manwolf that is blundered upon in the woods can be quite aggressive, beginning with a level “I don’t care if you see me” stare and progressing to chasing people and even scratching them. Interestingly, though, there have been no reported bites despite the manwolf’s formidable dentition and almost supernatural speed. Those familiar with wolf social behavior will recognize this chasing behavior immediately.

Despite their fearsome reputation, wolves very seldom fight to the death in dominance or territorial disputes. Instead, the wolf will put on an escalating series of threat displays, running from hackles up, stiff legged circling and staring into the eyes of the opponent to bared fangs and chasing and/or shoulder butting a potential usurper or intruder. The interloper’s submissive or aggressive response to these behaviors determines whether the situation escalates into a fight where blood is drawn and more serious injury may occur.

Most humans, when confronted with a manwolf, have one thought apparently: run. It seems to me that some part of the human lower brain recognizes the difference between hunter and hunted and knows that the manwolf, in this case, is the hunter and that we are very likely to become prey. One might argue that fleeing should invoke a predator’s hunting response but I theorize that the manwolf may see a human in its territory as more of an intruder and less a prey animal. In a situation of dominance or territory, it is often the case that the challenged wolf will chase his or her opponent for a distance, causing them little harm, once the interloper has begun to retreat from the scene. It seems to me that we see precisely this behavior in the manwolf.

I have to wonder though, what might happen if some brazen individual stood his ground or decided to take a shot at a manwolf engaged in these threat displays. I am not an alarmist but I do know that people disappear in the wilderness all the time. Some of those disappeared may be people who were unlucky enough to tangle with a really aggressive manwolf or humans who tried to brazen out an encounter with one of these creatures. In addition, some of the disappeared might be folks who were unlucky enough to encounter a pack of these beings. When pack dynamics come into play the whole dominance issue takes on a completely different cast and an intruder is liable to be in for a bad time unless he or she can manage to exit the area very quickly.

Best advice: if you happen upon one or more of these creatures, keep your distance. This is not a creature you want to practice your martial arts skills on unless you have no other choice. If you are caught unawares, I still maintain that cold iron is your best defense since it will dissipate the physical manifestation but you have to get close enough to use it. Not a high percentage move – in this case, discretion really is the better part of valor.

Paranormal Book Rant

I recently finished reading a book on paranormal phenomenon that I had great hopes for. It seemed to me, looking at the synopsis and taking a glance at the foreword that the author might have some original ideas derived from years of experience in the field. I was crushingly disappointed and I am going to go into detail about why in this post. What I am not going to do is name the book or its author since I do not want to get into a flame war. Suffice to say that the author is fairly well known in paranormal circles and is the author of several previous books which I have not read.

In fairness to the author, let me say straightaway that the sections of the book which dealt with some of his personal investigative experiences were quite interesting. I am always interested to read new tales of high strangeness so this tome was not a complete loss for me. My issues with this book apply to more than one paranormal author that I have read so I am going to allow myself a little rant.

Rant the first. If you are going to write a book then have some idea what you are going to write about. If you did not pay attention in your English classes throughout school here is a helpful hint – every written work should have a thesis. For a book on Fortean phenomenon that seeks to bring forward a particular theory, that theory would be the thesis. You, as the author, have a responsibility to tell me, the reader, what your theory is and what evidence you intend to bring forward in the very first part of the book. I, the reader, should not be subjected to long, disconnected, rambling discourses about a theory that leave me wondering just what in the world the author is trying to prove.

Rant the second. Hire a copy editor, for the love of the gods. Almost every paranormal book I have read has been rife with spelling, punctuation, syntax and other errors that could easily have been avoided by some judicious editing. I understand that no one is perfect and that mistakes can get by the best editor but the reader should not have to stop, go back through a passage and try to piece together the meaning because words are missing or mis-arranged or because the writer did not understand the difference between there and their (as but one example). The reader’s job is to read the book, not decipher it.

Rant the third. The Internet is not a suitable bibliographic source unless the site is one attached to some academic endeavor or provides a link to an out of print book that the writer is referencing. Even then, it is the book that should be referenced as found on X web site (for example the Sacred Texts web site). Being of a magical bent and having a lot of experience with the modern neo-pagan movement, I am particularly incensed when a writer makes statements about magic or the beliefs of the modern pagan world and bases these references on sites written by people who have obviously never done anything but read about magic and neopaganism. If you can not be troubled to go out and find a genuine practitioner, then kindly do not include such claptrap in your book.

Rant the fourth. This person told me that another person told him that his third cousin twice removed once encountered the Bouncing Bat Beast of Bongo does not constitute evidence of any kind. If you can not trace the story back to its original witness or to historical documentation then it is suspect. You may mention it, perhaps as a lead in to providing evidence on a subject or as a way of prefacing your tale of the search for evidence but please do not submit such hearsay evidence to the thinking reader with any expectation that he or she is going to give it the least credence.

Rant the fifth. Name dropping is quite alright as long as it serves a purpose. If you once met Charles Fort and had a lively conversation with him as he riffled through reams of reports and shared them with you then, by all means, include that tale in your text . . . if there is some point to it. Name dropping is usually accomplished in paranormal books as follows: There I was, on the trail of Nessie, when I encountered Charles Fort on the shores of Loch Ness. We retired to the local pub for a pint, talked about all manner of things that have absolutely nothing to do with Nessie and then went our separate ways. Trying desperately to make this encounter fit into the book, I reach deep and pull out some small reference in the conversation that seems to have something to do with what I was talking about and then go forward, having written a couple more pages to fill in my book. This is the sort of maneuver that college professors expect in English papers and count off for, I see no reason to be more merciful to a “professional” writer.

End of rant. I understand that some, if not most, books on the strangeness out there are case study books. I love these sorts of books, books that provide me with lots of witness accounts with perhaps a little conjecture or speculation in them. If I am going to read a book that sets forth a particular theory and tries to provide evidence for it, however, I expect, perhaps unrealistically, that the book will be well written, well researched, well edited and cohesive. I do not think that is too much to ask, even if the author is not an academic. If I were going to advise someone attempting such a work, I would advise that at least one of the test readers be someone outside the field who has the background to look at the proposed book as an argument piece and can point out some of the glaring flaws above. If you want to see a book with a well put together set of arguments, check out Chris Carter’s Science and Psychic Phenomenon.

On Skeptics

Greg Newkirk, of the somewhat tongue in cheek blog Who Forted?, recently posted about the internet bullies who pass themselves off as skeptics. At the same time, I am reading Chris Carter’s Science and the Near Death Experience. Both of these pieces of media address the issue of skepticism and the fact that the so called skeptics raging (literally) through the Fortean community are, in fact, not skeptics at all. These “skeptics” are actually purveyors of the Western materialist mind set, as determined to evangelize for their belief system as fundamentalist religionists are and willing to stop at nothing to pull peoples thoughts away from the things that they think unseemly.

First of all, let’s be clear about something. I have absolutely no problems with real skeptics. The word skeptic derives from the Greek skeptikos which means simply to reflect on or consider. This is exactly the sort of attitude that we need to take into any reported episode of high strangeness – the attitude of a thinking person who considers all the possibilities in a situation. Note please: in its original sense, the word skeptic has nothing to do with doubt and debunking. It does have everything to do with keeping an open mind and looking at an incident without pre-formed opinions.

Now, realistically, it is very difficult to be a perfect skeptic. We all have our beliefs and those beliefs color our perceptions whether we want to admit it or not. I see the world through the lens of magic since that is my belief system and my experiences have borne out, time and again, the validity of those beliefs for me. If, however, a witness were to call me up and report seeing a monster on the side of the road, I would try to be a true skeptic in reviewing the case. In other words, I would work to set aside my belief system and investigate. I would want to see the exact site of the encounter, know about the lighting at the time of the incident, check on the witness’ visual acuity, make inquiries as to the witness’ reputation in the community, etc. I would be looking for sign at the site of the encounter, looking into local wildlife that might be responsible for a mis-identification and researching to see whether there had been other encounters of a similar nature in the area and what the disposition of those incidents happened to be (if any). Long story short, I would not assume that my witness had encountered a monster nor would I discount the idea completely.

I’ve criticized some in the parnormal/Fortean community for being too ready to make the jump to monsters and aliens at any scene but the same holds true of the so-called skeptics, only they jump in the opposite direction. Because their belief system says that such things can not exist, there is no amount of evidence that will make them consider the possibility that an episode of high strangeness occurred. I think one can safely say that this is quite the same as someone like myself going into an investigation with a belief that the encounter has to be true because I believe that there is magic in the world!

Chris Carter, in the aforementioned books, does a nice job of rooting out this “skeptical” viewpoint and tracing its roots to the Enlightenment, a period in history where the powerful influence of the Church was finally mitigated. Unfortunately, the pendulum then swung the other direction and a new philosophy arose to offset the centuries of religious oppression of any scientific discovery – the idea that there was nothing but the physical world that humans could discern with the senses or with their instruments. It is from this belief and the over-reliance on mechanistic Newtonian physics that the “skeptical” movement derives its near fanatical mind set. In their view, any belief in anything that is not readily provable by the senses or instruments, is a direct assault on science and is an affront to intelligent people everywhere since, in their paradigm, it could not exist.

I find it quite interesting that, while leading the charge in the name of science, these self-same skeptics ignore the fact that quantum physics has radically changed the world view of cutting edge science and that the world view they are defending belongs to the 18th and 19th centuries. In other words, these skeptics have become the champions of an antiquated that is daily being updated and overturned by the discoveries of scientists working on the frontiers of discovery today. I find this every bit as sad and deserving of pity as the complete reliance of some on an antiquated religious text for what passes for spiritual practice.

Nevertheless, I am quite willing to let people believe what they want to believe. If the “skeptics” are comfortable in their materialist world, then I have no problem with that just as I do not have a problem with the Baptists that surround me here in Georgia. There is an old saying in law, however, that I think applies here: your right to swing your arm ends at the tip of my nose. People are entitled to believe whatever they want to and to govern their lives according to those beliefs until they start trying to force those beliefs on others. This is exactly what the skeptics are trying to do with their bullying, rants against the “irrational” and what Greg Newkirk calls “sanctioned shaming”.

In my view, here is the true shame. There are a lot of really intelligent people in the “skeptical” community. I would venture to bet that a lot of them are smarter than I am. It is a shame that their beliefs have so warped their mind set that they can not see the wonders coming out of modern science, embrace those wonders and allow those wonders to turn them into true skeptics, those who consider and reflect.

Tulpas, Thought Forms and Monsters, Oh My!

I am an inveterate podcast listener. The job that puts bread on the table can, at times, be very repetitive, requiring little in the way of thought, so I often spice up my day by listening to one or the other of the paranormal podcasts on the Web. The other day I was listening to an interview with the noted paranormal author, Nick Redfern and the discussion turned to the place of tulpas in monster lore. I realized, as I listened to this show, that while I had referred to these beings obliquely in some of my posts, I have not dedicated a post to this subject.

First off, a point of definition. In my view a tulpa and a thought form are the same thing. The only difference is that the term tulpa originates with the Tibetan esoteric tradition while thought form is used in the Western traditions to describe the same process. You will also sometimes see Western magicians refer to a thought form as a servitor. While some people will quibble and say that each of these concepts is a slightly different thing, I am going to throw them all into the hash together and refer to them, from here on out, as thought forms.

So what is a thought form? Pared down to basics, a thought form is a being of desire, visualization and imagination (see Magical Use of Thought Forms: A Proven System of Mental & Spiritual Empowerment by Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki and J.H. Brennan). To create a thought form, the magician pulls an image from his or her inner storehouse of images (imagination), visualizes it powerfully and in Technicolor detail (visualization) and empowers it to perform a certain task or tasks according to his or her desire. Simple enough until one realizes how flabby human visualization skills have gotten since the advent of television and film. The other skill that the magician must master in order to work effectively with thought forms is the skill of placing limits on them and de-constructing them once their purpose is finished.

What can a thought form be used for? Almost anything. As I mentioned, some modern magicians refer to these creations as servitors because that is precisely what they are supposed to do – serve the will of the magician. Thought forms have been used for everything from helping a writer with inspiration for a project (no, I do not use thought forms for this purpose) to providing a soldier with actual physical protection in battle. In general, a thought form is not visible to the majority of people (some psychics can see them) but, if you read enough magical lore, you will find stories of magicians who created thought forms that were not only visible but were able to physically interact with this world. In chapter 3 of the excellent book I mentioned above, one finds the story of a Tibetan lama who, after considerable effort, managed to bring a yidam, a type of meditation deity, into physical manifestation as part of his movement toward enlightenment.

That chapter is instructive not only in telling the reader about the possibilities of thought form creation but also in bringing to the attention the knowledge that the process of thought form creation is not as easy as it sounds. In order to do this type of work, one really has to be able to make an image real in the mind and then be able to infuse it with all the force of desire, directed by magical means so that the being is limited in its scope. This is important since magical lore also tells us that a thought form created without proper limits can take on a sort of life of its own.

One of the best known stories in this regard also comes from Tibet. One of the early theosophists, Alexandra David Neel, journeyed to Tibet and, during her stay there, worked on the creation of a tulpa (thought form) in the image of a short, fat, jolly monk. After several months of meditation and practice, this tulpa manifested and was seen by David Neel and others. David Neel also reported physical contact from this thought form on a number of occasions. Eventually, though, the monk began to take on a darker aspect and David Neel was forced to learn how to take the thought form apart and re-absorb it. I suspect that this had to do with David Neel’s not having a clear desire for the thought form when she created it; the being was an experiment and so did not seem to have a distinct purpose other than to assuage her curiosity.

Now, how does the creation of these magical beings tie into the world of the paranormal? I think that an excellent example might be some of the Manwolf sightings around Native American mounds in the Wisconsin/Michigan area of the United States. Archeologists argue about what purpose the mounds served but they are agreed that these were sites of importance to the indigenous people of that period. I think it is entirely possible that some of the Manwolves reported in those areas are actually thought forms, created by ancient shaman as guardian spirits for the mounds. If such a thought form were created by a group of shaman, given the assignment to guard the mounds indefinitely and then turned loose to do that bidding, there would be no reason for the thought form to dissolve. Over time, it would take on a single minded life of its own and the only thing that would prevent it from doing its job would be a lack of energy. It would have gotten a powerful shot of energy in its creation and would have been “fed” periodically by its creators but when those people died or moved away, the thought form would have languished and dissolved unless it found alternate ways to feed itself – such as scaring the heck out of people and feeding off that energy.

As with all the theories I discuss on this blog, I do not think that thought forms constitute the universal field theory of the paranormal but, given what is known about them, they should certainly enter into the consideration of any paranormal investigator.

A “Psychic” Experiment

In the past few months, I have been doing some experiments in etheric projection. For those of you unfamiliar with this concept, here is a handy definition:

. . . etheric projection involves leaving your body, but instead of travelling to the astral plane, you remain focused in the physical, material plane. However, because your astral body vibrates at a higher frequency than its physical surroundings, you normally remain invisible to people who are in their bodies, and you also have the ability to float about and pass through solid objects.

Author Robert Bruce refers to this environment as ‘Real Time Zone’, and believes that this is the level of nonphysical existence in closest proximity to the physical. It basically occupies an intermediate place between the physical and astral realms. (Article Source:

I have done neo-shamanic journey work for some time but this type of work, where one seeks to move out of body, go to a specific site and report, is something altogether different. Make no mistake, the shamanic journey is a very valid and powerful method but etheric projection does wonders for the projector’s confidence since one has an opportunity to validate at least some aspects of the experience.

I do these projections blind. That is, before I make the “trip”, all I know about the area is a set of geographic coordinates. I use Google Earth to get an overhead view of the place so that I can orient myself better but I have no idea what the interior of structures might look like nor do I have a clue as to the history of the place. I first tried this technique with a local site that was alleged to be haunted (I had seen the outside but not the inside) and then turned my attention to several sites that a friend gave me that were complete blinds.

While I do not pretend to be an expert with this technique, I have consistently gotten very good results when I have checked in after a projection. I have been able to describe, in detail, the interior of structures and the descriptions have been validated by my friend. These descriptions are not perfect but they are good enough that I think they would convince most open minded people that I had been there in some way or another.

The really interesting thing with this technique though is that, as one experiences this sort of out of body experience, one is also able to discern interesting aspects of the energy of a place. For example, as I explored the allegedly haunted building I spoke of earlier, I found that the haunting was not so much a result of the incursion of a human soul part but of emotional impressions left in the atmosphere of the place that had taken on a “life” of their own (something like a thought form) and stagnant energy that had pooled in various places throughout the building.

Interestingly, when I was called on to explore a section of farmland in one of the Midwest states, I had the very peculiar vision of a set of earth energy meridians, ley lines, almost intersecting at this site and forming a sort of energy pocket that John Keel might have described as a window area. In addition, as I arrived at this site in my etheric form, I had a very clear sighting of a Sasquatch type creature vacating the area and a strong sense of reluctance to step out into open areas. I felt that there was some threat from above. The whole place just had that sort of high strangeness feeling to it. When I checked in on this site, it turned out that it was in a “hot zone” for Sasquatch sightings and that there were UFO sightings in the area as well.

Not everyone can jump in their Mystery Machine and take off for parts unknown to explore unexplained phenomenon but just about anyone can learn the techniques of astral/etheric projection and do some exploration on their own. Personally, I think it would be fascinating, to have a team where one or more people were able to project to a site, blind, but save their reports until after another group went to the site and did a more conventional investigation. Once both teams had concluded their work, the two sections could compare and contrast their findings.

I see a lot of advantages to this approach from an investigative standpoint but a very practical aspect of doing etheric projection to an investigation site prior to going there is early warning. The vast majority of hauntings and Otherside events are relatively harmless but, in the small percentage where a hostile entity is involved, an etheric projector can slip into the site, verify the nasty and slip out without getting into conflict with the hostile (once the projector has some experience). In that case, the projector or projection team would warn the physical exploration team that there was an issue and to take appropriate protective measures. And since a good paranormal investigation team will have a resident mage (correct?), the chances of injury will be greatly decreased and the chances of effectively dealing with the problem will be increased.

A final word on etheric projection. There are a lot of books out there that purport to tell the individual how to project. Before you even think about attempting any of these projection methods, take care of business in this world. Learn how to ground and center yourself, learn basic psychic shielding and learn how to banish before you try any projection work. Be safe.