Tag Archives: Dresden Files

“The Dresden Effect”


I am a huge fan of the Jim Butcher series, the Dresden Files.  I got hooked on the very first book, Storm Front, and have followed Harry Dresden through his adventures right up to the current book.

What, you may ask, does this have to do with the topics we discuss here?  Well, one of the tell tale signs of a wizard’s presence in Butcher’s world is the failure of electronics around that magic worker.  When Dresden goes to visit friends, they are forced to unplug their computers and power down their cell phones to save those devices from the ill effects of Dresden’s power.

Interestingly, we see much the same effect in real world paranormal phenomenon.  (Perhaps Butcher got the idea from reading up on high strangeness events?)

Probably the best known example of this in the paranormal world is the consistent reports of UFO witnesses that testify to cars stopping, stereos going off, TV’s quitting and other electronic gadgets going on the fritz in the presence of a UFO, only to recover completely once the ‘craft’ is gone.

Read any book on ghost hunting and one of the things that you will be told is that, when going into an allegedly haunted site, you need to bring plenty of batteries for your recorders, flashlights and other equipment.  One of the common problems that arises in ghost hunts is the sudden failure of equipment due to battery drain.

Skepdebunkers often trumpet the fact that there are very few clear pictures of paranormal phenomenon.  This has become a running joke in Sasquatch hunting circles; the ‘Blobsqatch’ is a well known photographic subject.  Think about how many of those pictures, taken these days, come from cell phones and digital cameras.  One would think that at least one photographer would have steady hands and a cool nerve and manage a good shot.  This happens very seldom and, when it does, the various kinds of hunters, as well as the skepdebunkers are very cautious.  A clear photo is often seen as a sign of a hoax!

I sometimes have experience with what I have jokingly named The Dresden Effect.  Two weeks ago Friday, I had a day where no electronic device would cooperate with me, without resort to a call to a help desk, a complete re-boot, simply doing things manually or asking my spouse to use her own gear.

The first time this happened to me, I wondered, for a while, if I had been cursed.  Shortly thereafter, though, I had a major breakthrough in some magical work I had been doing.  I wondered if there was a correlation but did not have enough data to make a conclusion.

I can say now, after having this happen several times, and seeing breakthroughs happen in magic shortly thereafter, that I am working with the hypothesis that magical breakthroughs will equal a day or so of electronic interference.  Fortunately, this interference seems to be like that of the UFO passing overhead, things work fine afterward, but it is damned pesky when it happens.

In this case, Friday, The Dresden Effect heralded the interest of and subsequent conversation with a powerful chthonic spirit.  We are in negotiations to see how we can help each other but I thought I would ask him about The Dresden Effect.

Basically, the spirit laughed. He showed me a vision of a ‘portal’ opening to allow him into this world and the energy that preceded and accompanied that portal.  I understood that he was simplifying things so that my non-physics brain could wrap around the concept but the essential point is that the energy that accompanies these portals has a strongly deleterious effect on electronics and an unpredictable effect on the human bio-electric field.   Thus we have reports of everything from dizziness and nausea to actual burns in association with some of these phenomenon.  This does not even take into account the effect these energies can have on perception.  And recall, this is just the result of contact with the portal field and does not take into account the actual spiritual presences that may have come through.

This spirit – and, no, I am not giving out a name – also shook his head at the ‘scientific’ ghost and monster hunters who refuse to take even the most elementary magical precautions before going into the site of a paranormal event.  He stressed to me the importance of learning to shield oneself, ground out any energies that one may encounter and cleanse after leaving the site and before going elsewhere.  Often, what some perceive as taking entities home with them is simply the result of their energies interacting with energy of the portal area and producing effects on the perception.  These effects can certainly feel as real as an actual haunting and may even be perceived by others in the person’s household.

In my view, then, The Dresden Effect is part of what makes it so difficult to document paranormal phenomenon and can have a profound effect on the investigator if he or she chooses to ignore the very simple rituals and visualizations that can help mitigate this effect.  I realize that many investigators want to see themselves as scientific and hard nosed skeptics but, in my view, refusing to use these tools in the magical arsenal is somewhat equivalent to having unprotected sex and hoping everything will be alright later.  Chances are, you will be okay but why take the chance?