Category Archives: Hauntings

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 Paperback

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.

Advertisements

A Lesson In Manners

I have been reading Kenaz Filan and Raven Kaldera’s interesting book Drawing Down the Spirits: The Traditions and Techniques of Spirit Possession.

Drawing

I will likely write a full review of the book once I have finished it – it is quite interesting reading and does serve to set the modern spectator religion paradigm on its head – but, in the mean time, I was struck by this quote from the book:

Those of us who want to world-walk for real need to get over the idea that Otherworlds exist for our own edification and amusement. They do not, any more than the denizens of foreign cities exist to help you find your way around, teach you the native arts, let you invade their homes to gawk, and politely ignore your rude and crass ignorance of their manners and customs.

Now, I have, on a number of occasions in these pages, noted that spirits should be approached with at least the level of courtesy that one would use when approaching a stranger for the first time. I have argued that these Otherworldly beings are very real and that, if offended, some of them are quite able to do damage, either psychically, psychologically or even physically. The Golden Rule is not simply a Christian platitude; it is good advice to live by, especially if one finds oneself dealing with the denizens of the Otherworld.

The authors cited above, though, make an excellent point. The Otherworld is not some froo-froo place that one goes to in imagination that is full of rainbows and sunshine and Care Bears. The Otherworld is not there for the convenience of humans, it is not there for human learning and it is certainly not there to entertain the members of our species.

Whether one is looking at the various god myths of many cultures, the Middle Eastern stories of the djinn, Celtic stories of the faerie or Japanese stories of the kami, one thing should be immediately evident to anyone who looks at these stories as anything more than colorful tales. In all these stories, the denizens of the Otherworld are as real as we are, they live in a world that overlaps (for want of a better term) with our own, they have the ability to walk into our world under certain conditions and, most importantly, they operate by a set of rules that may be quite different from the ones humans attend to.

In addition, anyone with even a passing knowledge of these tales knows that residents of the Otherworld, even the gods, can be angered and will cause endless suffering to the people who tick them off. Filan and Kaldera tell the amusing (to me) story of a group of Wiccans who ‘drew down’ the goddess Athena. They did not, apparently, do their research or they would have known that this goddess is notoriously modest. Since this group worked skyclad (naked), when the Lady appeared and descended into the skyclad priestess, she was quite offended to find herself unclothed and departed in a huff.

I would be interested to know what sort of consequences this group faced as the result of their ill planned venture. I shudder to think what might have happened if they had done something to offend a being like the Norse Odhinn. I have heard stories of his followers going blind in one eye just from having contact with him. I shudder to think what might happen if a group angered the Old One.

Before we humans can effectively work in and with the Otherworld, we have to be able to set aside any preconceptions we have about “how things should be” in that realm. There are beings of great power and beauty in the Otherworld, beings who can and will take a human in hand and teach them but that is not going to happen if the human keeps trying to shove that being into a box that the human is carrying around in their head. I have seen this time and again in certain circles where people want to be associated with a certain god, as an example, simply because their conception is that this being is ‘cool’ or because they think that, since the god has association with something they do in their lives (art or music, say), then this must be the god for them.

Sometimes this kind of thinking works out, since the person is responding to an inner impulse toward that deity, but, often, the human ends up being either frustrated (why won’t this god respond to me – as though the gods and other denizens of the Otherworld have some compulsion to respond to anyone who calls on them), delusional (they convince themselves that the god has come through and loves all the things that they love) or fearful (the god really does come through and was absolutely not what they were expecting).

The Otherworld is not a playground. The sheer number of ‘monsters’ reported running around our realm should give us pause and make us wonder why people keep seeing impossible things walking calmly through our forests, along our roads and even, at times, in our homes. I am not asserting that every monster sighting is a result of an Otherworld incursion but, if even a fraction of them are, this should give us some indicator of the diversity of life on the Otherside.

I know that not all my readers are even interested in the Old Ways or in exploring the Otherworld. Many of you are more interested in the things that go bump in the night right here on this plane. Remember, though, that often you do not know what you are dealing with when you come across one of these beings – whether we are talking ghosts, Sasquatch or Black Dogs. My counsel is, as it has always been, that a little respect goes a long way.


The Possibility of Cloaking

I have been watching back videos of Micah Hanks and Jim Harold’s The Paranormal Report and came across this very interesting issue of the report. At the beginning of the show, Messrs. Hanks and Harold discuss a New Mexico ‘ghost’ sighting and Mr. Hanks brings up the subject of cloaking or invisibility technology as an “out of the box” explanation for the phenomenon they are discussing. Later in the show, at about the 26:00 mark, the duo carry a story on a cloaking technology experiment from the University of Rochester.

invisible

I was intrigued by this idea and especially by Mr. Hank’s allusion to metamaterials so I did a web scan and came across this eye opening article. In the article, the writer notes that the breakthrough he is discussing would make the manufacture of these metamaterials, which can basically bend light around an object, practical on a much larger scale than would have been practical before. It might be possible, in the very near future, to manufacture enough of this material to hide large objects (the example being a tank or aircraft).

Now, this is information in the public domain and readily available to anyone who goes looking for it. I have read, on more than one occassion and from more than one source, the idea that the governments of the world, and especially the US, with their vast resources and facilities, have tech that is at least 20 and sometimes 40 years from being ‘discovered’ in the public domain. For the oft cited reasons of national security, these technical advances are highly secret.

As my regular readers know, I am no conspiracy theorist. I do not believe in secret cabals running the world from the shadows and I find the idea that our Reptilian overlords are shape-shifting into world leaders so that they may more easily govern us laughable and paranoid. I am, however, convinced of Arthur C Clarke’s adage that any sufficiently advanced technology will appear to be magic to those who are not as technically advanced.

In the case of the New Mexico ‘ghost’, explored in the aforementioned TPR episode, police in New Mexico have a very compelling video of a figure making its way across a locked impound yard. The figure is definitely humanoid in appearance but translucent. Honestly, I am not sure what is on the video but I doubt that it is a person with some sort of cloaking tech engaged; the theory of invisibility tech is that one bends rays of light around the ‘cloaked’ object. The figure in the video appears to have light going right through it and it seems to move freely through locked fences and the like. A cloaked person would not be able to do that . . . the cloak is still covering a physical object that has to respond to the laws of physics.

While the New Mexico ‘ghost’ may not be a cloaked person, investigators of strange phenomenon are constantly running across stories where the witness encounters something but they can not see it. They have ‘the feeling’, they know that someone or something is there but their visual sense tells them nothing or, even more eery, gives them only the vague outline of what they are facing. I have even seen some reports where the witness described the entity as being like the scenes in the movie ‘Predator’ in which the alien hunter is cloaked and only slightly visible when it is moving.

Now, given my magical leanings, I freely admit that I lean toward the spirit hypothesis. I do not, for a moment, believe that every ghost hunter who feels a presence in a room is encountering a cloaked government agent playing tricks on him or her. I do, however, think that we need to slot this idea into our bag of hypotheses when looking at witness reports. I believe that it particularly behooves us to bring these ideas to the table when such reports occur out in open wild spaces, particularly if they are in proximity to military or government facilities/land. Think of all the supposed Sasquatch reports where the witness never actually sees the creature but instead has the feeling of being shadowed in the woods, for example. They do not see anything but they know something is following them. In addition, we can consider places like Skinwalker Ranch where Predator style ‘cloaked’ beings have been reported.

It is entirely possible that witnesses could be blundering into experimentation and testing of cloaking technologies or could actually be targets of such experimentation. We know from sad experience that very secretive operations sometimes operate according to their own set of ethics. Again, I am not proposing that all such witness reports can be explained by this type of technological advance but we do need to consider that, given what we already know about cloaking and understanding that high resource agencies like the US military have a vested interest in such technology, there is very real possibility that a form of invisibility technology may be available, at least in the prototype stages. We also have to consider that it would be in the developing agencies best interests not to share this secret since opposing forces would quickly begin to develop counter-measures if they knew for certain that cloaking was a threat.

I once asked a meditation teacher why Tibetan Buddhists had so many different visualizations and styles of meditation. He smiled and responded that each technique was an arrow in the quiver and that the more arrows one had, the greater the chance of reaching realization or enlightenment. I think that this idea of cloaking is yet another arrow in the quiver of the paranormal investigator.


More On The Ancestors

As sometimes happens when I write a blog, I opened a spiritual can of worms with my last post. In that post, I noted the presence of the ancestors of spirit as I work my way more deeply into a martial arts practice. Writing that post promptly got the Ancestors ‘on my case’ to do some research and to speak more about them.

I know that I am straying a bit from the discussion of the paranormal and cryptozoological but this topic really does relate tangentially to our main topic of discussion. Ancestors used to be physical people and, as such, they truly can get their feelings hurt. Imagine what might happen if some intrepid spiritual explorer went through an “ancestor phase” and then moved on to other things, promptly forgetting the attention and perhaps even service that he or she paid to the Ancestors for a time. Might not the Ancestors decide to get that person’s attention in a paranormal way?

Ask any practitioner of shamanism, Vodou or other practices that deal with the Ancestors what those spirits are capable of and you will hear stories of mischief and miracles. One of the things I would look at, in any haunting case and especially one with poltergeist occurrences, is the spiritual practices of the clients as well as previous owners of the haunted area.

cemetery

The paranormal aspect aside though, work with Ancestors is one of the basic spiritual practices in a number of faiths, ranging across the world, from Haitian Vodou to Japanese Shinto and into Chinese religious Taoism. I truly believe that a disconnect from our Ancestors is one of the leading causes of the spiritual disconnect so prevalent in our culture and that beginning to work with the Ancestors is a large first step toward beginning a healing process which will put people back in contact with the spiritual world and help them find their place in that world (my definition of spirituality).

In her excellent book, Serving the Spirits, Patricia Scheu (Mambo Vye Zo Komande LaMenfo), the Mambo (priestess) of a Haitian Vodou sosyete in Philadelphia, makes the point that “Vodou begins with your Ancestors”. She points out that:

Your ancestors wait with infinite patience for you to find your way to them. Didn’t like old wierd Uncle Al? That is ok. Where was Uncle Al from? Italy, Romania, China? Those are your Ancestors. Study their history, figure out what they ate, what music they listened to and what kind of clothes they wore. Then craft your Ancestor altar to that culture. Have family from Ireland? Then play Irish music, make an altar cloth with Celtic knots, bake some scones and serve them Irish Breakfast tea, and sit. And wait. Be patent. It is not a race, it is a marathon. Do this monthly and see if your Ancestors don’t come calling . . . Begin to do Vodou by learning about yourself, learning about your family and you can’t go wrong. That is because the Ancestors know what is needed . . . Your Ancestors are the living parts of your family tree who were strong enough to survive the plagues, infections and dangers of their time. They were healthy enough to have children, and wise enough to to learn how to raise them in an ever changing world. They have the tools you need to live your life here and now. So find time to talk to them. They just might surprise you . . .

While veneration and work with the Ancestors can certainly be made into an elaborate ritual like the Bon festivals of Japan, contact with those who have gone before you need not be complicated. My own Ancestor altar includes a white candle, a vessel for water, a holder for incense and a Tibetan singing bowl. In addition, I have included some items that remind me of the cultures in my “Heinz 57” make up. I would like to say that I commune with my Ancestors daily but that would be a fib. I try to stop in for a visit 3 or 4 times a week though.

When I do approach the altar, I make sure the water is refreshed and then I light the candle and incense. I take a few moments to settle myself and then take up the striker for the Tibetan bowl. On the first bell ring, I open the way for the Ancestors and let them know that I am offering cool clear water and sweet smells. On the second ring, I pray for the Ancestors, from that part of me that is Divine, that they may have all that they need in the Otherworld. On the third ring, I simply tell them that I honor them and thank them for their presence and guidance in my life while asking for their continued protection and guidance as I go about my day. If I have time, I sit quietly for a few minutes and see if they have anything they wish to share and then I close out the session and return to my regularly scheduled life.

See! Simple! Nothing earth shattering there but, as I have developed this practice and worked with it over the weeks and months since it was impressed on me that I needed to do this work, I have been increasingly aware of the presence of those spirits in my life. While much of what “Mambo Pat” says above seems to apply strictly to those members of your bloodline, I can assure you that, should you choose to begin to work with the Ancestors, you will have Ancestors of blood and spirit coming to work with you and your life will literally never be the same.


Discernment

I have spent a lot of time, in the past few posts, talking about the idea that not only do spirits lie at times but that they also can effect human perception such that the human believes that one thing is happening when, in fact, something completely different is going on. My discussion, up to this point, has been around the idea that spirit communication is something that should not be done willy nilly but that the would be spirit communicator should be well trained in basic magical practices, especially banishing and work designed to align the magician with his or her Hidden One, before attempting evocation – the calling forward of a specific and well-researched spirit for a specific purpose.

John_William_Waterhouse_-_Magic_Circle

With the best case scenario above, the magician has done the research on the spirit in question so that he or she can test that spirit and ensure that the being presenting itself is indeed the one the magic worker is looking for. No mage worth his or her salt will take any spirit at its word; their discernment process involves testing the spirit for responses in line with what is known about the spirit, their own native psychic impressions of the being they are dealing with and the input of the magician’s Hidden One (however you like to call that) and well-established spiritual allies. Evocation is not a process to be undertaken until the magician has at least managed to establish some contact with that Hidden One, has gained at least one good spiritual ally and has managed to settle their mind through meditation.

The above is the best case scenario. What we have with paranormal witnesses of all sorts, is the worst case scenario, an individual with little to no training encountering ‘something’ and having a perception of that ‘something’ which may be in real time or may be a wholly cast glamour. I am going to work with this idea from the assumption that the reader is the witness and walk you through the steps I might take to discern what it is I am actually seeing (or not seeing, as the case may be).

First of all, know that some things you will not be able to test. If you are walking in the woods, and you have a chance encounter with a Sasquatch, chances are good that the Big Fellow is not going to hang around long enough for you to do much more than point and exclaim and, even if it did, such encounters usually happen at a distance and are not typically interactive. The same thing can be said of most of the “monsters crossing the road” phenomenon that we see in paranormal reports. The witness sees what he or she sees and then it is gone. The creature might have been ‘real’ – in the sense that the witness saw an actual manifestation of something – or it could have been a glamour. Unfortunately, there is no way to tell.

Let’s say, though, that you find yourself in the midst of a full blown incident of some sort. Let’s use as an example one of the classics of paranormal literature, the black eyed kid. There are a number of theories about what these beings are ranging from children playing a hoax to alien hybrids and straight through to vampires. Their pattern is pretty similar, no matter what they are, the BEK (or BEK’s) approaches a person in a car and asks for a ride or knocks on the door of someone’s home and asks to come in.

You are home, alone, of an evening and a knock sounds on the door. You open the door and see a child, usually dressed in a hoodie, nondescript pants and shoes, standing on the doorstep. The child asks to come in to use the phone but something strikes you as “not right” and you hesitate.

Ding . . . spiritual discernment lesson number 1 – always listen to that inner voice. Whether it is the subconscious analyzing the situation and determining that there is danger or your Hidden One yelling at you to look out, if something seems ‘not right’ about a situation, I can assure you this is true. At some point in this scenario, you will realize that this creature has completely black eyes, including the irises. Take a psychological step back from the situation and use all your senses to determine what has cued up your defense systems.

I do mean all your senses, too. Look carefully at what is before you, listen to its voice and any other sounds it makes, scent the air around you and determine if it has a smell. Obviously, you are not going to taste it and I do not recommend touching such a being. Take a deep breath and try to center yourself. If you have a psychic bent, call upon whatever you hold sacred to allow you to see clearly what is before you and why you feel threatened. I recommend, too, invoking (calling into yourself) the Sacred since this provides protection as well as letting spirits know that they have been discovered. Facing off a BEK or other entity can be really scary, let that adrenaline wash through you but don’t let it rule you. Use the fear reaction to clear and sharpen your senses so that you can focus them. Used those focused senses to ‘look over’ whatever it is that is before you.

It is well known in faery and spirit lore that looking straight at a being does not yield the best results. Instead, regard the critter in your peripheral vision and chances are, with your focused senses and the protection of your invocation, you will get an idea of its true form. If this really is not a child playing a trick on you, it will become quite evident at this juncture. Everyone is different so I can not claim that you will get a crystal clear view of being but your perception will be clearer than it would have been if you had not taken steps to clear your sight and you should have a good notion of whether there is really something standing before you or if it is a projection coming from another source.


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.

Pyramid

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.


The Evocation of Anger

I had the misfortune recently to finally come down with some sort of upper respiratory plague. I do not get sick very often but, when I do, I do it well and I am not a believer in ‘toughing it out’ unless there is a compelling reason to do so. Instead, I took a couple of days off of work and watched some TV when I was not napping.

Of course, that television had to include some paranormal shows. I had the opportunity to watch several episodes of “Monster and Mysteries in America’ which I found campy and amusing and one of the ghost shows that I had not seen before. I am not going to name the show but, as with other paranormal investigation shows that I have watched, there was a whole lot of anger going on.

stressed-woman-10077787

Now, I have given my opinion of ‘provoking’ tactics in a number of other posts. My basic stance: don’t do it. If you have been called to someone’s home or business to investigate a possible haunting, it is downright idiotic to run around calling out spirits all night. If there are entities of one sort or the other in that space, how do you really suppose this is going to settle things down for the people who have invited you into their space? And, if you happen to be going into a place known for activity that happens to have been, say, a sanitarium or prison, do you really suppose that it is the height of intelligence to provoke the spirits in a place where killers and other bad actors once lived?

It might make the alleged investigator feel macho but I suspect that most of the people who use these tactics really have not thought through what they are doing. It seems to me that the only reason most of these ‘investigators’ come out more or less unscathed is that the more powerful spirits really do not want to waste the time and energy it would take to play a quick game of squash with these individual’s heads.

What I found interesting though was the number of times these tactics seemed to produce phenomenon. Setting aside my reservations about paranormal TV and faking evidence, this group seemed to be able to gather some decent EVP’s and other manifestations as they went stomping through their sites. If I were a spirit in their area. I would have ignored them or worse, given their rude tactics, but then it dawned on me the sort of ‘evidence’ they were getting. Almost all of the sound recordings and other supposed manifestations of spirit presence were as hostile as the investigators themselves were.

Now, let me digress for a moment. In magical work, when you want to call a spirit or spirits, there are a number of techniques you can use, from the fairly simple to the ritualistically complex. You have to know what you are calling, you have to have some association or connection to that spirit (usually a symbol or sigil) and you usually have to be working within a particular tradition that outlines the proper technique for evocation. When you take these three things and combine them with the magician’s ability to open portals and empower a rite, you will have a successful evocation. This branch of magic is not one that is learned in a day and it is one that requires lots of practice to be really good at it.

Evocation, however, is a technique that summons a specific spirit or class of spirits. Almost anyone, with a modicum of talent and energy can get a response from something if they have the necessary focus. Please witness all the people who have scared themselves witless using a Ouija board. Even an untrained person can send out a signal on the astral that attracts “astral trash” – parasites, low level spirits and even, in some cases, thought forms – that are looking for an energetic snack. These ‘trash’ energies will play along with people to get what they want . . . ingress to a person’s energy field. So, basically, what happens in provoking style investigations is that the person who is calling out the spirits is getting the type of spirit that likes to snack on the energy that he or she is putting out: anger. While it is possible that the investigator may get some real human spirits mixed in with the trash, it is almost impossible to tell one being from the other without scorecard.

This inability to discern the spirits is yet another reason why having an experienced magician (or a well trained and competent medium) on a paranormal investigation team is not just a convenience but a must. If you, as the investigator, can not sort the spirits and there is not some machine that will do it for you, then you have to rely on the technology that has been available in human culture for centuries. Otherwise, at best, you will tick off the local spirits and, at worst, you will actually attract the attention of new spirits who are motivated by a hunger for aggressive energy. That situation is surely not one that you want to leave your client in.