Monthly Archives: October 2014

Samhain Greetings

I am being a bit lazy and re-blogging my post of 31 October 2013. It is a sentiment that I still share.

Happy Samhain to all my readers! I hope that, no matter how you celebrate the day, you do so safely and with great enjoyment.

Amongst modern neo-pagans and magical types, Samhain is one of the two great gates of the year, the other being the festival of Beltane in May. As you may know, in the Celtic lands in more ancient times, this is the time when livestock were slaughtered to provide meat for the coming winter and and when preparations for the cold season were in full swing. With the nights lengthening toward the Winter Solstice, shadows growing longer earlier and earlier each day and the energies of the earth sinking into dormancy, it was only natural that humans might also seek to turn within as well.

As with Beltane, Samhain was seen as a time when the veil between the worlds was thin and one might more easily commune with the beings of the Otherside. Amongst the Celts, at least, this communion seems to have taken the form of honoring the Ancestors and keeping up good relations with the Faerie. It was well understood that spirits of all kinds walked the night during this season and one had to be particularly careful if one had to be out and about but this was also a time when, for example, an extra place might be set at the table for visiting relatives who were no longer in their bodies.

As well, gifts of food and drink were left in a prominent place out doors for the Fair Ones as they made their rounds on Samhain. While offerings could be left for the Fair Folk at any time and, indeed, they often were, it was absolutely necessary to leave something (and do so generously) at Samhain to avoid any hostility on the part of “them ones”.

There is more than enough information on this feast out on the Net. Wiccans, in particular, love this time of year with all its witchy associations so feel free to check out some of their sites and have some fun, even if you are not of a neo-pagan bent.

Even if you are not inclined to believe in the Faery or other spirits that wander the night, each of us has Ancestors and, as I mentioned previously, Samhain was a time of honoring those ancestors and communing with them. In this day and age when we avoid death, hide our dying in hospitals and nursing homes and bury or cremate the dead as swiftly as can be arranged, we sometimes forget that, if it were not for the Ancestors, we would not be here. As many magical workers will tell you, we literally stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before and it is up to us to prepare the way for those who have yet to come.

I urge you, on this night when the veil is thinnest to do some honor for your Ancestors. It may be something as simple as lighting a candle for them and saying a small prayer, setting a place for them at your dinner table or putting out a good cigar for your Uncle Vinny who loved a good smoke. Or you may decide to do something as deep as going to visit the ancestors in meditation. I am going to provide a link at the end of the blog to a resource that can help with this if you have never tried anything of this nature before. Andrieh Vitimus is a well known magician and priest in the Haitian Vodou tradition who knows a great deal about contacting the ancestors.

I wish you blessings on this most holy night. May you walk in peace as the dark half of the year begins and as your energies turn within may you find new aspects of your self to bring forward when the sun returns to the earth.

A Terrific Link to an Online Service of Ancestral Communion

A Safe Method for Using the Ouija Board?


In the past two posts, I have focused on the phenomenon of spirit communication and some of the dangers inherent in opening to the Unseen without proper preparation and focus. In particular, I have been critical of the ouija board as a method of spirit communication and, just this morning, I happened to read the account of another young woman who felt that she had called something through that would not leave her be as the result of ‘playing around’ with a ouija board. In this post on Phantoms and Monsters, the writer states that, while in college, she and some dorm friends attempted spirit contact using a ouija board. Here is how they went about it:

We all placed our fingertips on the planchette while I asked if any spirit was with us, to let it’s presence be known to us. I continue this for another 15 minutes. Nothing happened.

As I have noted in my other posts, such actions are the equivalent to lighting a beacon on the astral and then waiting for something, anything to show up. Would you walk out into a city street and randomly hand out invitations to your home to perfect strangers? Why then, would you issue an open invite to any spirit that was around to come tromp around your house?

Given all the above, I have heard of ritual magicians using these boards with good success in evocation rites. As I have said, I have never tried this and really have no desire to since my own communications with the spirit world are far more personal. However, not everyone who assays the magical path has mediumistic tendencies and, for some mages, spirit communication is very hard work. If you read some of the texts from the Golden Dawn or Crowley, you will note that often a spirit evocation requires two people, the operator of the ritual and a sensitive or medium who actually does the spirit communication and relays that information to the operator. In some ritual magic texts, the magician is even encouraged to use a child for this purpose, the assumption being that children are more open to spirit presence than hardened, materialist adults.

Of course, the two person operation is the ideal. As you can imagine, given the native secrecy of most magicians, it is difficult to find people who are not only willing but able to participate in such rites. If the magician is forced to do an evocation on his or her own, then he or she has to either a) have some mediumistic talent of their own, b) use a tool such as a ouija board to aid the communication, or, c) be able to summon the spirit to physical appearance. Yes, it is possible to summon a spirit to physical appearance (or at least the perception of same) in order to have a chat.

If one is going to use a ouija board then I think that it is quite important, for safety’s sake, to follow the basic principles of evocation when doing so. By following those principles, the operator can save him or herself a lot of fussing around and interference from ‘trash’ spirits.

1) Know what you wish to evoke. No throwing the door open to the locals and hoping for the best. If you do not know who you wish to talk to then put the damned board away and wait until you do. Research the spirit, know what it likes and does not like, if possible. Find out if it has a symbol or sigil or mantra that it favors. If you are trying to contact a dead relative, then know as much about that person as you can.

2) Use of a specific magical system. If you are not conversant with magic, then take the time to do some research on how to effectively set up a protected space to work in. If you’re something of an anarchist, study Andrieh Vitimus’ Hands On Chaos Magic for loads of good ideas for learning how to do this.

3) Learn to enter what ritualist E A Koetting calls the Theta/Gamma sync. Koetting is known as a “dark” magician and is quite the salesman but he knows what he is talking about when it comes to evocation. Theta/Gamma is the brainwave state where, for example, one is dreaming but can move so you might think of it as the place you enter right before going into deep sleep.

4) Gather your contact material – symbols, mantras, sigils associated with a spirit or, if you are doing an ancestor, pictures, clothing, personal effects.

5) Set your ouija board up in the work area where it can be easily manipulated while you are in trance and use the ritual that you have learned in # 2 to open protected space and consecrate the board to your intended purpose. Use your magical system and the contact material to do an evocation of the spirit you are seeking and ask it to speak with you directly through the board.

6) Let yourself go into deep meditation as you perform your ritual and seek to communicate directly with that spirit by the medium of the board. Do not be discouraged if nothing happens the first few times you try this. It may take time to tune to that specific spirit’s frequency.

7) Once contact is established, ask questions and do not accept the answers at face value. Remember the concept of testing the spirits. Ask the being for proof that it is who it says it is. Using a protected space helps cut way down on trash but it may take time to get your tuning just right.

8) Keep initial sessions short – this work is a lot harder than it sounds and your body needs time to assimilate the energies it is being exposed to.

9) Thank the spirit for its aid, close out your ritual space as prescribed by your tradition and then eat something so that you can ground back into the physical world.

Does this sound like a huge amount of work just to play with a ouija board? You are correct; it is. But, if you are not willing to put in the time and effort to train yourself, at least somewhat, to communicate with spirits then you should leave the ouija board to those who are willing to do the training. Simply put, if you don’t want to put out this kind of effort, then cease your dabbling so that those of us who have put in the time do not have to spend our time rescuing you!

A Cautionary Tale: Know Who You are Talking To . . .

In my last blog post, I expounded on the difficulties entailed in Ouija board communication and spoke at some length about the danger of taking spirits at their word without, as even the Bible notes, testing those spirits. As I wrote that piece, I recalled a story which exactly illustrates this point.


Many long moons ago, when I still lived in Arizona, I had the pleasure of the friendship of a Wiccan lady of some years experience in her religion. Unlike some, who read a couple of books and then pronounce themselves high priestesses, this person had studied and was, at the time of this story, a second degree member of a British Traditional coven. I knew her to be of sound mind and deep perception so I have no reason to doubt the story which I am about to relate.

This woman offered psychic readings on occasion, supplementing her income and, she hoped, giving some needed guidance to the public. She normally worked out of a particular New Age bookstore in her area but, on this day, had accepted the invitation of a new store owner in Tempe to come to a small psychic fair being held at the new store. My friend had some trepidation about doing this fair, since she had heard conflicting assessments of the store owner, but she did not want to pass judgement without at least giving the store and its owner a chance.

The Wiccan lady arrived at the designated time on that Saturday and set up her table, noting, uncomfortably, that the space was going to be packed with readers. She had no difficulty with other readers but felt, looking around, that the store owner was, perhaps, being a little overzealous in recruiting psychics for the event. The space was not large and did not offer a chance to really be confidential with a client without resorting to whispering. Still, she was there and resolved to make the best of it.

As she set up the store owner stopped by to greet her and informed her, offhandedly, that she was reserving a large area toward the back of the store for the ‘main attraction’, a New Age author of channeled material who was coming in later to do readings of her own. My friend, really keying into the aura of the store owner, realized that it was all about the money for this person. She shrugged and, determined that she would never darken the door of the establishment again, turned away to make the best of the day.

Business was slow but steady through the morning and, when lunch time arrived, my friend went off to a local restaurant for lunch. When she returned to the store, for the afternoon session, the ‘star’ channeler was setting up. I’ve included a picture above of the type of structure that she was assembling, only the one that my friend saw sat on legs so that the person being read could sit underneath it. When the channeler finished the set up and ‘activated’ the crystal grid in and around the pyramid, my witch friend states that the energy in the store went completely dead, as though someone had turned on a vacuum cleaner and sucked the place dry.

The lady of the story walked quietly to a nearby display of crystals, items which she was extremely sensitive to, and picked one up. Nothing. She looked around at the confused faces of the other psychics and knew that she was not imagining things.

At this point, several of the psychics working the fair veritably stumbled out the door and my friend joined them. Cigarettes were lit with shaking hands by several of the group but no one spoke until one of the readers looked at my friend, well known for her skills, and asked her simply what the hell was going on in that store. The witch needed no further prodding but, using a quick method of trance induction, took a good hard look at the store and, particularly the channeler’s set up, with her other eyes.

What she saw horrified her. Basically, the pyramid was set up and energized as a portal through which the creature (my friend actually used the word demon to describe this git) at the other end fed. The channeler placed the client in the pyramid grid, the being accessed their energy and fed freely while providing the channeler with information that would keep the client sitting there, mesmerized (in more ways that one) by the information and the ‘energy’ of the reading. It was very evident that this channeler had not tested her spirit and that the spirit had manipulated her into providing food for it, on a regular basis, as well as addicting the channeler to the power of being ‘psychic’.

My friend went back into the store and quietly investigated further. She noted that the channeler, in addition to offering readings was selling channeled jewelry designs. Looking closely at the pieces (the only ‘live’ things in the store at this time), the witch quickly discerned that they were designed to open a hole in the aura of the wearer, making it easier for the spirit who channeled them to return for a snack later. With more than a touch of righteous indignation, my friend stepped out back of the store, called on her own helpers and essentially placed a cork in the portal feeding this entity. I know that this emergency magical patch was followed with some work by the entire coven later in the week. Interestingly, the channeler suddenly plead ill and took herself home shortly thereafter.

As I have said, I knew the witch in question well enough to trust her veracity and happened to have met the store owner a few times so that I knew my friend’s assessment of her was accurate. I’ve also seen these types of symbiotic feeding relationships in my own work. Suffice to say that I offer this little story as just one evidence of the absolute need to know your spirits and be able to test them before putting any great trust in communication. A spirit that is on the up and up will understand and a spirit that is trying to manipulate you will go on to easier prey.

Ouija Boards


Recently, one of my readers asked if I had heard of Tracy Twyman or the book she has been touting on podcasts, Clock Shavings. Honestly, I had not and I replied thusly but agreed to investigate a little. What I found, in the course of looking at Ms. Twyman’s blog and listening to one of her interviews, left me quite unsettled.

Listening to this interview, I heard the following declarations regarding her repeated communication with entities via the ouija board:

“I was way more impressed that it was just working . . .”

Ms. Twyman referred, on a couple of occasions to “dealing with evil . . .”

She stated at one point that she was “so busy talking to demons” that she did not have time for contact with other entities (even though she claims to have talked to Jesus once).

When discussing the suicide of her spouse (or ex-spouse, not certain from the context), Ms. Twyman was asked if she felt that her communications via the ouija board had anything to do with this man’s death. Her reply: “(it) went through my mind at the time . . .”

In addition, Ms. Twyman stated that she sometimes got contradictory information from the spirits that she communicated with. In addition to all this, my general impression of the entities that she was communicating with is that they presented themselves as sort of super-villains intent on toying with mankind.

Now, I have never used a ouija board and have no intention of ever doing so but I do know a thing or two about spirit communication, having some mediumistic tendencies, and evocation and this interview was, in my mind, a primer on how not to communicate with spirits.

One of my main concerns with the ouija board is not that people are talking to spirits. If you want to see if you can raise your dead grandfather or talk to a faery being that is your business. My concern is all those people out there who basically get onto the board, put out a call to anything in the vicinity and then wonder why they get chilling messages or even spirit interference in their lives. It is the equivalent of setting off up a beacon in the Otherworld and talking to whoever happens by. As I have noted repeatedly in this blog, most of the residents beyond the veil could care less about humans but those who are attracted to our energy can be quite beneficial, neutral, mischievous or downright malevolent.

If we look at this from the point of view of a medium, someone who is alleged to have concourse with spirits on a regular basis, basic training for this talent involves a stepped series of meditations that seek to introduce the medium to what some might call their gatekeeper. The gatekeeper is a spirit who, after long acquaintance and repeated testing, is entrusted with vetting the contacts that come to the medium and/or providing the medium with information about approaching spirits and warding off those that are not helpful.

In Harner style neo-shamanic training, one does not approach or deal with other spirits until one has developed a relationship with a power animal (Lower World) and a guiding being (Upper World) and one never travels shamanically without the accompaniment of an ally. The purpose, again, is to provide the shamanic practitioner with a vetting system for spirits and to get the practitioner to the spirits that he or she is seeking or may need for assistance.

Finally, a magician who is seeking to evoke a spirit works hard to make certain they get exactly the spirit that they are evoking. He or she will study the known characteristics of the spirit, try to find a sigil or other symbol that calls forth the presence of that spirit, make note of the sort of offering the spirit might accept and so forth. Once all the research is done, the magical worker puts together a ritual that puts out a call for that spirit, and that spirit alone unless he or she is seeking to summon forth more than one being – a tricksy proposition at most times.

The point of this rambling? In none of these traditions of spirit communication is it acceptable to simply throw the doors open and admit whoever or whatever shows up. Even in the possessory religions, since as Vodoun, where the spirits actually ‘ride’ their followers, there is a progressive induction of trance that is set in a strong cultural base that summons those spirits (the lwa) and those spirits alone and there are set methods for bringing the person out of trance if needed. The point is that the spirits do not control a spirit communication; the medium, shaman, magician etc is expected to know what they are about, to test any spirits they encounter and to be able to banish anything that does not belong. That seems a far cry from picking up the planchette and going to town, does it not?

Why is this important? Because, my good readers, like people, spirits lie. While there are many beneficial and powerful beings in the Otherworld, who are quite interested in assisting and informing humans, there are also any number of beings that hold humans in disdain or worse. Not all of these beings will resort to outright attack. Many of them will preen in the glow of the attention they are getting and will tell the person communicating with them anything to keep that person coming back. Spirits have access to knowledge that we do not and they can be quite good at pulling things out of a person’s consciousness stream, adding some information or pseudo-information and giving the person exactly what they want to hear in words that sound oh so reasonable and make the human feel just a little bit superior.

I am sure Ms. Twyman would disagree with me, vociferously, and that is her right. I am sure that she has had communications but I reserve the right to question the true nature of the spirits with which she has had concourse.

Can We Prove There Is An Afterlife?

My birthday passed recently. When I was younger, this occasion usually involved over-eating and, when I was much younger, over-indulgence in alcohol. I have mellowed considerably through the years and, rather the ‘celebrating’, I take my birthday off from work and spend some time doing things I enjoy (such as writing for this blog and catching up on paranormal media). I also spend some time reflecting and, as I get older, I confess that my thoughts sometimes veer toward what happens to us when we die.


Now, please don’t think that I sit around having morbid thoughts for my birthday. In my own belief system, death is not something to fear; it is simply a birth into another type of life. Neither I nor anyone can say with certainty what that life looks like but my experiences tell me that there is more to come after death.

Unfortunately, many of the skepdebunkers and members of the scientific community seem determined to paint those who believe in an afterlife as non-critical, non-scientific thinkers, at best, and raving loons, at worst. According to their viewpoint, human beings are their physical bodies and consciousness is simply an accidental byproduct of brain function. When the organism shuts down, we simply cease to exist and that is the end of it. Belief in an afterlife is the result of wooly headed silliness that we learned from religion and ought to be firmly set aside so that we can face the reality of our existence – that we have a certain span of time on this globe and then we are through. The part of the human being that will survive is whatever work they leave behind at death.

Obviously, I disagree with this assessment and my disagreement exists on a number of levels ranging from the materialist theory of consciousness to their complete and utter refusal to even consider the possibility of an afterlife. I’ve just finished reading Greg Taylor’s excellent book Stop Worrying! There Probably Is An Afterlife and I believe that Mr. Taylor makes a very good case for belief in something following death.

It is not my intentions to review the book; Mr. Taylor was obviously heavily influenced by Chris Carter’s work, Science and the Afterlife, but presents the arguments in a way that most laypeople can follow. While I admire Mr. Carter’s work, it is quite heavy reading that needs to be taken in doses.

Mr. Taylor shapes his argument around a number of different phenomenon including the so called Near Death Experiences, deathbed visions, reports of caregivers to the dying who have witnessed any number of paranormal events (lights appearing around the dying person etc), appearances of the recently deceased to their kin and friends, the extensive investigation of mediums by the Society for Psychical Research in the late 1880’s and into the 1900’s. If I do not have my books confused, I believe that Mr. Taylor also mentions the research of Dr. Ian Stevenson who has recorded and investigated many cases of apparent reincarnation.

If you are interested in any, or all, of these phenomenon then please read the book. Mr. Taylor has an engaging style that only occasionally gets bogged down (as when he gets into the discussion of quantum physics). The book contains good introductions to these topics and the notes section is extensive and will provide further reading on topics of interest.

So, can we prove that there is an afterlife? I fully agree with Mr. Taylor that, if we look at the phenomenon which he describes so meticulously throughout the book, one incident at at a time, then the skeptic might rightly be able to challenge a belief in the afterlife. If, however, we look at all of these phenomenon in toto, the sheer volume of evidence will make any reasonable person at least consider the possibility that human consciousness survives death. Again agreeing with the author, I do not think that we can make any definitive statement about what occurs after death but when:

1) more than 50% of caregivers who work with the dying report in a survey that they have witnessed paranormal events around dying patients (unexplained lights, apparitions of deceased relatives, etc);
2) patients who have been clinically dead return with stories that are remarkably similar, even across culture;
3) leading scientists of the late 19th and early 20th century conclude that communication with the dead via mediums is likely a real phenomenon and this research goes on to this day;
4) distinguished physicists, even skeptical ones, conclude that quantum physics allows for the survival of consciousness after death

then I believe that most rational people would at least be moved to continue investigation into these matters and, remember, that I have just touched the tip of the iceberg of data Mr. Taylor includes in his book.

I think the greater question might be why these matters are not taken more seriously in the scientific community. I can not, for the life of me, explain why anyone would be so dead set in their materialist and, often, atheist view of the world that they were completely dismissive of this evidence. Granted, many of these reports are anecdotal but, if biologists had not listened to anecdotal reports of the natives of Africa about a man-like being that lived in jungles, the gorilla would have remained a cryptid for much longer than it did.

In my modest opinion, scientists are not taking these reports and the in-depth research of their predecessors seriously because to do so would shake their world view – their beliefs – and cause them to have to re-think the way they view the universe. Oddly, it may well be the scientists who need a healthy dose of reality.