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This week Conspiracy Journal brings you such spooky stories as:
- Edward Snowden Searched CIA Database for Proof of Aliens -
- The Poltergeist in the Allotment Shed -
- Return to Sleepy Hollow -
- Electronic Communication with Spirits -
AND: Three Horror Movies Alleged to Be Cursed
All these exciting stories and MORE in this week's issue of
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- SEEKING A NEEDLE DEPARTMENT -
Edward Snowden Searched CIA Database for Proof of Aliens
By Josh Weiss
Edward Snowden said that he searched the depths of the US intelligence networks for any information concerning UFOs and other conspiracies.
As a former employee of the CIA and contractor for the National Security Agency, Snowden had access to some of the nation's most closely held secrets. And, like any curious mind with access to the CIA's version of Google might do, he went in search of answers to some of society's most pressing questions.
According to his recently-published memoir, "Permanent Record," As it turns out, the US government is not aware of any intelligent, extraterrestrial life, he says.
"For the record, as far as I could tell, aliens have never contacted Earth, or at least they haven't contacted U.S. intelligence," writes Snowden, who was forced to flee the country in 2013 after leaking sensitive revelations about top secret NSA surveillance programs to the American public. At the time, he had been serving as a contractor for the agency.
Edward later elaborated on his otherworldly findings during a guest appearance on a recent episode of the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, adding:
"I know, Joe, I know you want there to be aliens. I know Neil deGrasse Tyson badly wants there to be aliens. And there probably are, right? But the idea that we're hiding them — if we are hiding them — I had ridiculous access to the networks of the NSA, the CIA, the military, all these groups. I couldn't find anything. So if it's hidden, and it could be hidden, it's hidden really damn well, even from people who are on the inside."
Snowden's book also tackles the popular conspiracy theory that America faked the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969.
"In case you were wondering: Yes, man really did land on the moon. Climate change is real. Chemtrails are not a thing."
Now a wanted fugitive, Snowden currently resides in Moscow where the Russian government provides him asylum.
Source: Syfy Wire
- SEEKING AN AUDIENCE WITH THE DEAD DEPARTMENT -
Secret Séance Rituals of America’s largest Spiritualist Community
By Eric Spitznagel
Shannon Taggart was never a big believer in ghosts. But that changed in 2001, during one of her first visits to Lily Dale — a hamlet in southwestern New York state that’s home to the world’s largest spiritualist community.
The Brooklyn photojournalist was taken by surprise while watching a private reading with Gretchen Clark, a fifth-generation medium.
“All of a sudden, she started laughing at nothing,” Taggart tells The Post. “Apparently the spirit of her brother was in the room and told her a joke.”
“I told him not to interrupt me while I’m working,” Clark explained to her client and then turned to an empty spot and yelled, “Chapman, we’ve talked about this!”
She composed herself and returned to the reading and then just as quickly turned back to Taggart.
“Margaret’s here,” Clark announced.
“Margaret? I don’t know any Margaret,” Taggart insisted.
Clark closed her eyes and listened. “She says ‘Texas.’ What does ‘Texas’ mean?”
Taggart instantly knew. “My great aunt Margaret lived in Texas and she’d died a few months earlier,” Taggart says. “I’d totally forgotten. My whole body just tensed up. It was truly spooky.”
That encounter was just the beginning of a spiritual awakening for Taggart, who would spend the next 18 years documenting mediums in New York as well as Essex, England, and Antequera, Spain. More than 150 of her photographs, many never before seen, are published in her new book “Séance” (Fulgur Press).
Taggart didn’t set out to prove or disprove spiritualism. Rather, she says, she was driven by “a sinking feeling that these mediums knew something about life that I didn’t.”
When she first traveled to Lily Dale, it was out of curiosity.
Years earlier, her cousin had learned from a medium that their grandfather hadn’t died from heart disease — as Taggart had always believed — but by asphyxiation. She laughed off the story, until her parents confirmed it.
“Someone at the hospital put food into his mouth and left him alone,” her father had said, “and he choked.”
This story stayed with Taggart over the years, and she became consumed with “how a total stranger could have known the details of this tragedy.”
In 2001, at age 26, she decided to visit Lily Dale despite knowing nothing about the place except that it was a short drive from Buffalo, where she grew up, and the medium who revealed her grandfather’s secret had lived there.
The town was founded as a gated spiritualist summer retreat in 1879, and not much has changed since then. With a population of some 275 residents — many of whom are practicing mediums — it looks like a town frozen in the mid-19th century. Narrow roads are lined with old-fashioned houses, many adorned with signs announcing “the medium is in.” A rickety wooden auditorium in the center of town is typically “papered with flyers advertising trumpet séances, past-life regressions, astral-travel workshops, spoon-bending classes and circles to develop mediumship,” Taggart writes.
She arrived with no plan and was initially too nervous to do anything but drive around.
But Taggart eventually wrote a letter to the Lily Dale Assembly’s board of directors asking permission to take photos during what she first thought would be “one summer making a photo essay about this quirky little town.”
“I would just wander around and literally knock on people’s doors and say, ‘Would you talk to me? Would you teach me about spiritualism?’?” she recalled. “And they very graciously did.”
What she learned from them wasn’t necessarily how to communicate with ghosts. It was a peek into a shadowy subculture that “was once a seminal force in Western culture,” Taggart writes. “A legacy that was absent from every textbook I had ever studied, including my histories of photography.”
Spiritualism — a belief system based not just on the existence of spirits, but the idea that they want to stay in contact with the living — was once part of the mainstream. It was embraced by public figures like psychoanalyst Carl Jung, evolutionary biologist Alfred Russel Wallace, poet William Butler Yeats and even Abraham Lincoln. But today, it’s almost entirely hidden.
“It flourishes in fiction and entertainment but is marginalized by academia and the media,” Taggart writes. The contemporary Western worldview is that spiritualism is the stuff of fiction. But after what Taggart witnessed, and photographed, she wasn’t so sure.
As her exploration took her overseas, she learned that not all mediums started out wanting to be mediums.
Reverend Jane from Erie, Pa., found the calling at age 6, when “she saw a spirit standing inside her grandmother’s closet,” Taggart writes, and discovered she could make supermarket cans fly across shelves and candles do somersaults in the air.
Others came to it after being triggered by the grief of losing a loved one.
British medium Simone Key, a lifelong atheist, was drawn to spiritualism after her mother passed and she began getting messages, on her long-broken word processor, that read: “We must communicate.”
Annette Rodgers of Essex, England, felt the calling after her 16-year-old daughter, Lauren, died from a heroin overdose. Two years later, still deep in depression, Rodgers attended a spiritualist church “on a whim and immediately felt ‘Yes, this is what I need,’?” she told Taggart.
She now runs a spiritualist center in Spain and says her dead daughter visits regularly.
“I once saw Lauren turn Annette’s iPhone around on a table,” a fellow medium recounted to Taggart. “Her connection to her mother is that strong.”
But mediumship isn’t limited to communication with dead loved ones. Sometimes things get awkward.
Lily Dale medium Betty Schultz recalled a reading she had with a Catholic priest who was a regular client. “The spirits showed Betty a baby who had died and told her the priest was its father,” Taggart writes. Betty silently insisted to the spirits that there was no way she’d be sharing this information.
Without explaining why, she sent him to another medium — who later scolded Schultz: “Why didn’t you give that man the message from his baby?”
Taggart developed close friendships with some of her photo subjects, like Lauren Thibodeau, a longtime Lily Dale resident who found her way to spiritualism without any warning. She explained how she first went into a trance on New Year’s Eve 1989 in front of her husband and his friend, the best man from their wedding, “who never came to their home again,” writes Taggart.
Thibodeau shared one of the biggest headaches of spiritualism: uninvited famous people. Most mediums want nothing to do with celebrity ghosts — there’s no faster way to drive away an on-the-fence skeptic than “I have a message from Albert Einstein” — but Thibodeau says it’s sometimes unavoidable.
She remembers a session in which Elvis Presley’s ghost showed up unannounced.
“No!” Thibodeau shouted at the ghost. “I’m not doing this, get out of here!”
When the spirit refused to leave, Thibodeau apologized to her clients. “I’m sorry, I have Elvis here and I don’t know why,” she said. She then learned that the mother of the woman she was doing a reading for had been a housekeeper at Graceland.
For Thibodeau, it was a lesson in not being too quick to cast judgment. “Now, any time a spirit comes, regardless of who they are, I’ll give a message,” she told Taggart. “I don’t shoo them away. We communicate with dead people, and a dead celebrity is still dead.”
Even after almost two decades following mediums, Taggart isn’t sure she’d call herself a believer just yet. “I no longer subscribe to the popular belief that spiritualists are charlatans just trying to make money off of people,” Taggart says. “For the most part, I found them to be very sincere.”
But as for whether she believes in ghosts and life after death, the now 44-year-old is still on the fence. The closest she comes to sounding like a convert is when discussing an unsettling experience from 2013. It happened while she was visiting Sylvia and Chris Howarth, a married medium couple in England.
The morning after watching Sylvia do a séance in the dark — something the experienced spiritualist rarely did because “sometimes the phenomena continued into the next day” — Taggart was making tea in their kitchen and reached to open a cupboard.
“The ceramic knob exploded in my hands,” Taggart remembers. “Half of it shot into the air and crashed to the floor. The other half became razor-sharp and cut into my hand, and it started gushing blood.” Chris ran into the room, reached for the broken knob, and soon he was bleeding too.
“Just telling that story again, it gives me chills,” Taggart says.
So was it a paranormal encounter? She isn’t sure.
“All I know is, I still have a scar because of what happened that day,” she says. “And I still think about it all the time. So who knows?”
Source: NY Post
- THINGS THAT GO BUMP IN THE SHED DEPARTMENT -
The Poltergeist in the Allotment Shed
Generally speaking, poltergeists are the bratty kids of the paranormal world. They create a lot of noise, cause some damage, and make obnoxious spectacles of themselves, but they are, on the whole, seemingly helpless to do any real harm. Their antics are tiresome, rather than evil.
On occasion, however, polts exhibit threatening, even fiendish behavior. Reading these accounts, one understands why our ancestors attributed such sinister visitations as the work of the Devil. One of the more well-known cases of such malevolent hauntings took place in Bromley, England, in the early 1970s. It is also, fortunately for paranormal researchers, among the more well-documented poltergeist accounts.
Of all the places where you would expect hellish forces to erupt, an allotment shed probably rests at the bottom of the list. The Kentish Garden Guild of Bromley, England consisted of three pensioners, Alfred Taylor, Tony Elms, and Clifford Jewiss, who managed two sheds in the city's Grove Park allotments, which they used to sell gardening supplies to other allotment holders. It was a modest little enterprise, run by the retirees mainly as a way of keeping active.
It was on April 26, 1973, that these sheds began inspiring something considerably weirder than flowers or vegetables. The three men were in one of the sheds when some strange powder suddenly hit the ceiling. Before the trio had time to digest this occurrence, a small jug on a shelf abruptly flew across the room. Jewiss picked up the jug and placed it a covered box. Instantly, the jug was...somehow...back on the floor.
Flying jugs are quite bad enough. Ones that teleport themselves through solid matter are really too much.
That was just the beginning of any number of unexplainable and increasingly disruptive incidents. Fertilizer would shoot out from its bin, spraying anyone in the vicinity. A seven-pound weight sailed through the air, circling Taylor's head menacingly. Any and all items in the sheds would be seen, as Taylor put it, "going round the hut like skittles." Bottles would mysteriously become unscrewed, and their contents dumped on the floor. Large amounts of fertilizers would vanish from their storage containers. Once, when Elms was about to drink coffee, he noticed--fortunately, just in the nick of time--that its contents had been replaced with fertilizer. Half-ton bags of fertilizer would move on their own accord. At times, the sheds themselves would shake as though an earthquake had hit. Coins would fly throughout the rooms. One of their customers, George Bentley, summarized the situation quite nicely: "There were some right queer goings on."
The men were not only baffled by these events, but increasingly frightened. They sensed that whatever was causing these phenomena was not just mischievous, but hostile. Unsurprisingly, they lost customers--who wants to shop for a rake only to be hit in the head with a bag of fertilizer?--and the trio began to fear their personal safety was threatened.
Elms decided to try fighting occult with occult. One night, after consulting with a group of "white magicians," he performed an exorcism in one of the sheds. Those waiting outside heard chaos. The walls thudded loudly, and the heavy iron door repeatedly swung open. When Elms finally staggered out, he was bruised and bloody from a cut on the head.
Next morning, when the men returned to the shed, they saw what the entity thought of their spiritual efforts. As one of the men said, it looked "as if it had been hit by a bomb." Items which had been on the shelves were now circling in the air. Creepiest of all, the sign of the cross was painted or scratched everywhere inside the shed--on walls, on chairs, on bins...everywhere.
The Thing--whatever it could be called--was laughing at them.
The poltergeist began pursuing the men even when they were nowhere near the sheds. Taylor was--in the presence of witnesses--tormented by the entity in his own home. On another occasion, when he was in an office building, he felt invisible hands give him a strong shove. It seemed that there was no getting away from the harassment.
In September 1973, Taylor contacted the Society for Psychical Research. Perhaps professional assistance could finally rid them of this costly--and dangerous--pest. Two Society members, Pauline Runnells and Manfred Cassirer, made several visits to the sheds, and immediately saw that this was no hoax. The poltergeist treated its guests to its whole bag of diabolical tricks. Items flew about the room or were suspended in mid-air, or simply inexplicably disappeared. Security bolts on the windows vanished before their eyes. The buildings shook from the force of violent blows on the walls. They witnessed the entity ripping Elms' shirt and sticking a saw down his back. Later, a flower bulb was forced into Elms' mouth. (For whatever reason, Elms seemed to be a particular focus of the spirit's wrath.) During one visit, money belonging to Elms vanished. Runnells asked the entity to return his cash. Two coins suddenly appeared from nowhere, hitting her on the head.
The presence of the psychic detectives seemed to inspire the entity to new heights of High Strangeness. The number "1659" suddenly appeared on a wood panel. This was followed by more automatic writing: a question mark, various random letters, the name of one of Alfred Taylor's friends.
Perhaps the eeriest features of the entire haunting came next. On a shelf, the impression of a child's face began to appear. Then, a piece of brass with "MN" stamped on it suddenly dropped on the floor. Nobody present had ever seen such an object before. And what did "MN" mean?
That was for the poltergeist to know and none of them to find out.
Two chemicals stored in the shed, white sulphite and brown Maxicrop, were used by the entity to outline a skull on the counter. It appeared almost instantly, too fast for human hands to create it. Then, the sinister face gradually vanished.
The whole unnerving business kept going for nearly two years--an unusually long time for poltergeist visitations--until it suddenly stopped as unaccountably as it had begun. It was noted that the activity ceased when work on a nearby block of garages had finished, but it's anyone's guess if there was any possible connection.
Everyone who visited the allotment sheds during those two hectic years agreed that something very strange went on, something that was not capable of being created by any human trickery. But what did create it, and why?
We'll almost certainly never know while we're on this side of the grave.
Source: Strange Company
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- HUNTING THE HEADLESS HORSEMAN DEPARTMENT -
Return to Sleepy Hollow
By Timothy Green Beckley and Circe
Recently, we deployed our company ghoul and likeable horror movie host Mr Creepo (aka "Mr UFO" - Tim Beckley) along with sexy vamp hunter and Creepo henchwoman Circe (or is that wenchwoman?) to check out rumors of a revival of paranormal activity in the dreamy village of Sleepy Hollow, New York, and neighboring Tarrytown.
Though our budget was small, the researchers managed to drink and eat -- mainly drink -- themselves into a tizzy as if possessed by glutinous spirits. Very much, we fear, like the early farmers whose wives accused them of "tarrying" to long on market day at the local tavern, thus the name Tarrytown was born. In any respect we present their -- pardon the expression - "sobering" -- report.
The cool autumn air sits in just before twilight and a breeze starts to drift in from the Hudson River, just down the road a bit from where legend has it Ichabod Crane was chased by the headless horseman.
Indeed, the bridge and adjacent brook where Crane soiled his pants in an attempt to run for his life still stands, albeit part of the main drag that goes through town, a road now used by truckers, buses and SUV's coming up from Manhattan a scant 40-minute drive away.
Many commuters unwilling to drive in the midst of quite ghostly (I mean ghastly) traffic take to the rails, hopping onboard one of the numerous commuter trains that make the trip from the Big Apple all day and well into the evening hours.
Folding back the pages of the New York Post (we are much to blue collar to read the Times) and gazing out the window one would hardly guess that he area is particularly rich in paranormal lore. But as you pass White Plains and the office buildings start to diminish in height and number you can start to be thankful that Circe is your traveling companion as ghouls know well to leave her be. We figure it has to be the garlic in her bag, but she insists it is the lovely charms she makes and wears to ward off negativity and things that go bump in the night.
But, indeed the truth sometimes can be very strange. For it is along this very route to Sleepy Hollow back in 1982 that thousands craned their necks out of car windows to watch as a silent, giant, black-shaped triangle filled the sky, much like the cloak of the headless horseman is said to have done as the phantom glided through the thickets and glades of this same community in the early eighteen hundreds.
One of our first destinations was the Sleepy Hollow cemetery to visit some of the communities founding members. Circe (made infamous for her role of Muffy in my low budget vampire flix, The Curse of Ed Wood) was perched on a tombstone while I frolicked with the angels near the grave of Washington Irving.
Switching into a serious mode, I remarked how I could recall numerous conversations with fellow researcher Philip Imbrogno whose book Night Siege: The Hudson Valley UFO Sightings fairly well documents the numerous close encounters in the area. I told Circe how Phil, a teacher by profession (strange, wasn't Ichabod Crane also a teacher?) had started out as a conservative investigator of unexplainable aerial phenomena only to end up photographing ghost lights and confronting time distortions (to find out more order my book Our Alient Planet: This Eerie Earth in the Conspiracy Journal bookstore). All within a few square rural miles of where we were now standing.
During the course of our investigation in the area, we drove over into Connecticut to hunt down giant Jack 'O' Lanterns known to be harassing residents near an outdoor farmers market. This was pretty much the same trek truck drivers had been on that fright filled night in 1982 when they rubbed 18 wheelers with a "thing" the size of a 747 that tailed them at less than a thousand feet in the air. Around the same time the mysterious men in black showed up to persuade witnesses to back off from telling of their encounters with the unknown. Many similar tales exist from the time of Washington Irving who also spoke of nightmarish figures cloaked in black who staked those who dared discuss their own paranormal misadventures.
Those who have followed such matters will be able to confirm that often times places that have a reputation for being "haunted" have a long history of paranormal phenomenon.
Indeed, it was Circe that reminded me that Washington Irving had, himself, speculated on this very "coincidence" in his Legend of Sleepy Hollow tale. To prove her point, she cracked opened a copy of Irving's book just purchased at the Kyjuit gift shop on the Rockefeller Foundation estate, scene of the annual Halloween activities that tourists flock to this region along the Hudson every fall season.
To quote Irving: "A drowsy, dreamy influence seems to hang over the land, and to pervade the very atmosphere. Some say that the place was bewitched by a high German doctor during the early days of the settlement; others, that an old Indian chief, the prophet or wizard of his tribe, held his powwows there before the country was discovered by Master Hendrick Hudson. Certain it is, the place still continues under the sway of some witching power that holds a spell over the minds of the good people, causing them t walk in a continual reverie. They are given to all kinds of marvelous beliefs, are subject to trances and visions, an frequently see strange sights and hear music and voices in the air. The whole neighborhood abounds with local tales, haunted spots, and twilight superstitions; stars shoot and meteors glare oftener across the valley than in any other part of the country. . . "
One almost has to scratch their head in disbelief that this paragraph was written two hundred -- give or take -- years ago. It seems like something a contemporary ghost hunter like our pal Joshua Warren might write in one of his scripts for the Discovery Channel.
As we hunkered down for the evening -- after hours of paranormal musings -- we couldn't help but reflect on how the area seemingly abounds in the macabre. In fact, all around us were signs and symbols that a spooky October was in the works for the area just up the river from our vampiric crypts.
THE GREAT JACK 'O LANTERN BLAZE
Three thousand hand carved pumpkins are the decidedly spooky backdrop for a spine tingling event set on the grounds of the 18th Century Van Courtland Manor. You might be a bit too scared to nip away at those pumpkin cookies or sip down that warming cup of hot apple cider, as you experience the SCARECROW AVALANCHE and PUMPKIN PROMENADE.
THE HORSEMAN STILL RIDES!
Join Jonathan Kruk for a lively reading and reenactment of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow at the Philipsburg Manor. For Legend Weekend (October 28-30) there will be candle lanterns and bonfires, and a haunted landscape to set the mood. Say doesn't that fellow with the crooked nose over there look like??? Nah, it can't be!
Sponsored by the Historic Hudson Valley Society, more information can be found at: www.hudsonvalley.org or for ticket information call 9l4-631-8200.
WHERE TO STAY
Numerous bed and breakfasts dot the scenic area. The Doubletree right on the Hudson offers a breathtaking view, but we were stopped at the entrance by the burly ghoul in charge who informed us before we even had time to twist our heads around, that the palatial estate was being renovated and thus closed to all. So I guess even the Horseman won't be staying there on Ole Hallows Eve.
If your budget is up to it and you are looking for really lavish grounds, go ahead and plop yourself down on one of the beds at the Tarrytown House. The restaurant wasn't open when we where there so we had to venture out into the crisp autumn air. This slight incontinence was offset by the use of the heated indoor pool (just call me Creepo the prune) and the fact looking out the window at around 3 AM I thought I saw a specter under the flood lights in back of the complex where we should have been fast asleep and not watching the Sci Fi Channel.
WHERE TO EAT
For lunch there is the Horseman saloon and the Sleepy Hollow Cafe (service is fine but if your seated outside you notice the sidewalk slants more than it does in one of those mystery vortex spots).Happy Halloween from Mr Creepo, Circe, and the staff of the Conspiracy Journal.
For about the best meal ever in an absolutely superb setting stop by Harvest-on-the Hudson in Hasting on the Hudson. Its right on the Hudson (boy isn't that repetitive) and outdoor dinning for lunch will be a treat you won't forget for a long time. Lots of indoor seating as well, and a bar that goes on for miles (thank you, but we had our Bloody Mary's on the lawn).
Thus ended our little adventure...Being psycho -- I mean psychic -- I asked Circe about the vibes. She didn't appear to be scared out of her wits despite the traffic headed home, so I guess the spirits weren't as restless as they might have been.
So do we plan to return to Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown to search for more spirits? It could well be that sometime in the not to distant future we might set up shop to film our own version of Sleepy Hollow -- except it will called CREEPY HOLLOW.
- GHOSTLY TALES IN YOUR TOWN DEPARTMENT -
Spooky Sights, Sounds
Glenn Wershing says he believed his house in New Jersey was haunted the moment he moved in with his wife and three children in 1961.
"On the third floor, we would hear footsteps going from the back of the house to the front of the house, then a big thump," Mr. Wershing explains. "I think I must have run upstairs a hundred times with a flashlight to see who or what was there, but I never found anything."
Mr. Wershing, 76, and his wife, Jackie Wershing, 71, live in the Thomas P. Hunt house, a three-story farmhouse built in 1835 that runs along Bear Creek, which adjoins the property.
The couple has noted numerous incidents that suggest the lingering presence of a ghost or some unearthly being. One Christmas, for example, Mrs. Wershing took a photo of her three children around the living-room Christmas tree. When the photo was developed, it appeared that the dismal figures of three other children — in shadowy form — were present, as well.
The couple is among the 40 percent of Americans who believe that a place can be haunted. According to a Gallup poll in 2001, this percentage is up from about 29 percent 10 years earlier.
"You never know when these weird things will start happening, but the change in seasons is usually a good indication" Mrs. Wershing said. "It was bitter cold one night, and I awoke at about five in the morning. There, standing in front of Glenn's dresser was a lady with extremely long hair, wearing a nightgown of some sort. I just barely opened my eyelids, straining to try and see a face, but absolutely nothing was reflected in our bedroom mirror."
Mr. Wershing suggests that the people who lived in the house prior to them just weren't ready to go yet: "It wasn't like there was a murder here or anything like that. Years ago, it was commonplace for people to die in their homes. I've said I don't believe in ghosts, but something is happening in this house."
The Wershing household is one of dozens of eerie phenomena compiled in "Weird U.S.: Your Travel Guide to America's Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets." The new book collects tales of the unexplained from across the country — including such Washington-area legends as the Goatman and "Crybaby Bridge."
Joe Nickell, investigative columnist for the Skeptical Inquirer, says this belief in the paranormal taps into the hopes and fears of the American people.
"Psychic power lets us look into the future, aliens and UFOs reassure us that we are not alone in this universe, and ghosts give us the message that there's something to look forward to after death," Mr. Nickell said. "There's no objective or scientific evidence for ghosts. I've come to believe that it's not the places that are haunted. It's the minds of the people."
Haunted sites like the Martha Washington Inn in Abingdon, Va., however, continue to attract ghost-believing visitors each year, asking about the haunted history of the Inn, and the supposed ghost of a young nurse named Beth who haunts the Inn's premises. Pete Sheffey, a bellman at the inn, claims to have seen a lot of strange things throughout his 40 years of employment there.
"Our guests sometimes hear the sound of violins coming from the upper floors, but there is no one playing," said Mr. Sheffey, 63. "This is the ghost of Beth, who lived here during the Civil War, when the inn was a hospital. Last week, one guest saw [Beth's] feet moving down the hall ... then, they just vanished right in front of her. Some guests don't believe in the ghost stuff when they arrive, but by the time they leave, they do."
D.C. resident Steve Cupo, 50, said he had his own personal encounter with a ghost sighting. Mr. Cupo was a lead actor in "Give My Regards to Broadway" at the Circuit 21 Dinner Theatre in Rock Island, Ill., in 1981 when he saw the ghost of a deceased janitor sitting in the balcony.
"It was during rehearsal, and I had just run up to a very high platform on the stage," Mr. Cupo said. "We had to stop the performance for some reason, and as I was glancing around the auditorium, I saw a strange Portuguese man in overalls sitting in the balcony. I looked away for a minute, but as soon as I looked back, he was gone. One week later, people were talking about this ghost of a Portuguese janitor, who accidentally killed himself in the theatre in 1922, and now he haunts the place."
"Weird U.S." also highlights stories of "bizarre beasts," including the infamous Goatman of Prince George's County.
The Goatman is described as a half-man, half-goat creature, whom local lore blames for attacking cars left near the road and throwing dogs off Interstate 495 overpasses near secluded areas.
Since the late 1950s, the Goatman has left his mark on the front page of two issues of the Prince George's County News. The Nov. 10, 1971, edition carried a front-page banner declaring "Residents Fear Goatman Lives: Dog Found Decapitated in Old Bowie" with a photo of the remains of the mutilated pet. The canine victim's owners reportedly had heard strange noises and saw an "animal-like creature" moving in the dark right before the dog disappeared.
According to some area residents, the Goatman lives near a notorious Prince George's County site, Crybaby Bridge in Upper Marlboro.
At Crybaby Bridge, passing motorists say they have heard either the shrill cry of an infant ghost — local legend says it's the spirit of a baby who was thrown over the bridge by her ashamed, murderous mother — or the Goatman, stealthily awaiting his next victim.
Mark Moran, co-author of "Weird U.S.," said he and co-author Mark Sceurman took about a year to travel nationwide to investigate and research these, and many other, haunted places nationwide, many of which were "tips" from readers. After they published "Weird NJ" — a compilation of spooky tales from New Jersey — in 2003, the authors began receiving letters from across the country, telling them strange tales from their home states.
"What we do is listen to what people tell us is weird about their own hometown," Mr. Moran said. "I don't know if these stories are fact or fiction, but what I do believe is that the people who tell us their story truly believe it."
Source: The Washington Times
- THERE IS AN APP FOR THAT NOW DEPARTMENT -
Electronic Communications With The Spirits
Audio recorders are among the top electronic instruments brought by ghost hunters when investigating haunted locations. These devices are used in the hope of capturing EVPs, electronic voice phenomena, which are thought to be produced by the spectral entities haunting houses and building.
However, recorders have not been the only electronic source of alleged spirit communications. Radios, telephones, televisions, and even computers have also provided pathways between this world and the next.
In 1984, Ken Webster, claimed that a borrowed BBC microprocessor was typing out mysterious messages on its own. This was before the internet, so naturally Ken was shocked by the bizarre text.
"Ken, Debbie, Nic,/ True are the nightmares of a person that fears./ Safe are the bodies of the silent world./ Turn pretty flower turn towards the sun/ For you shall grow and sow/ But the flower reaches too high and withers in the burning light … ”
This strange poem was the first of what would become known in the paranormal community as the Dodleston Messages.
As time went by, the messages kept appearing on the computer. The sender revealed his name to be Lukas and said he lived in the same cottage as Ken and his roommates but in the year 1521. Lukas initially believed that Ken and his roommates were demons, or ghosts, citing paranormal activity that occurred in his home similar to what the roommates were experiencing in 1984-85. In short, each party thought the other was a ghost.
The Society for Psychical Research, a paranormal investigation agency in the United Kingdom, came to investigate Ken’s claims three times but found no evidence of spirit activity within the home.
Today, the Dodleston Messages continue to baffle paranormal investigators. Were they the result of a time slip, the work of a cunning poltergeist or simply one of the first examples of a computer hoax? According to Erik Davis, author of "TechGnosis: Myth, Magic, and Mysticism in the Age of Information," the Dodleston Messages continued an age-old trend.
“Modern communications technologies have always been haunted,” he says. “The spiritualists of the 19th century believed they had discovered an occult ‘telegraph’ that allowed them to talk to loved ones in the hereafter. So it shouldn’t be surprising that home computers were perceived as portals to other realms — especially early on when the emerging forms of communication and self-reflection were still novel and disruptive.”
The story got weirder. Ken told Lukas that he was from 1984 — confusing the “ghost,” who said he had assumed they were from the year 2109, like others who had visited. He spoke of (and, through the computer, allowed the trio to speak also) members of the 2109 collective, supposedly from the distant future, who had visited to set up a time link within the cottage.
Lukas continued his messages until March 21, 1985, when he claimed that the other citizens of Dodleston had accused him of witchcraft for his communications with the roommates. He planned to flee after receiving threats that the villagers planned to kill him and burn his house.
“It is good to know that all will change and there are true men to follow like Ken and Peter; though 400 years is a long time and there is much to happen to mankind.” Lukas wrote, “It is sad that men must learn righteousness from their ugly ways.” The roommates never heard from him or 2109 ever again.
Many believers in ghosts and hauntings point to anecdotal evidence and the popularity of television shows like “The Holzer Files” and “Ghost Hunters” as proof that their numbers are growing.
“Even Jay Leno is including afterlife jokes in his monologues,” said Mark Macy, a Colorado-based author, researcher and expert in ITC. “If Jay’s talking about it, you can be sure it’s on the minds of most Americans today.”
Macy operates the World ITC Association’s Web page (www.worlditc.org), which includes the history of ITC and how spirits supposedly communicate with the living using not only computers but also cameras, voice recorders, telephones and televisions.
ITC traces its roots to 1901, when a U.S. scientist made a recording of “conjured spirits” while visiting a shaman in Siberia. Since then, there have been hundreds, if not thousands, of instances where believers say contact has been made with the dead.
ITC believers say contacts are possible because teams of spirits are committed to opening channels of communication between both worlds. Such teams, they say, require harmony and cooperation among their living contacts for successful ITC to occur.
Macy said one form of computer-aided ITC involves spirit teams working closely with a living researcher who has “certain psychic qualities.” When successful, spirits are able to turn computers on and leave messages, even planting files on hard drives or floppy discs.
A second form uses the computer as an audio recorder. With background noise, such as a radio tuned between stations, a researcher records himself asking seven or eight questions spaced 30 seconds apart. The recording is then reviewed to see if it picked up spirit voices.
Macy said communication typically occurs on Windows machines, and has come in the form of simple text messages, Microsoft Word document files and a wide variety of digital image formats, including “.tif,” “.jpg” and “.gif.” With the popularity of the Web and e-mail, one might think that the spirits would use the Internet as a communication medium. But Macy said the Internet includes too many “troubled thoughtforms” that disrupt the harmony necessary for ITC contacts to occur.
“The Internet corrupts that harmony,” Macy said, “by distributing all facets of human thought, from the light and loving to the dark and dirty.”
Right now there are multiple apps available for cell phones that supposedly will allow the users to hunt and communicate with ghosts. Whether or not these apps actually work, it is up to the user to decide for themselves. Either way, as technology advances, the spirits may find it easier than ever before to communicate with the living.
The main question being...is this something that we really want?
- PRODUCTIONS FROM HELL DEPARTMENT -
Three Horror Movies Alleged to Be Cursed
Tragic deaths, strange coincidences and unnerving experiences surrounded these chilling horror classics.
Sometimes the most disturbing things about a movie happened off-screen rather than on camera.
Poltergeist I, II and III (1982-1988)
Directed by Tobe Hooper and produced by Stephen Spielberg, the original 'Poltergeist' told the terrifying tale of a family who became besieged by a malicious haunting that culminated in their youngest daughter being pulled through a portal to the 'other side'.
Tragedy would notoriously follow the cast and crew however with Dominique Dunne - who played Dana - being murdered by her abusive ex-boyfriend, Julian Beck - who played Kane - dying of stomach cancer, Will Sampson - who played Taylor - dying of surgery complications and perhaps most tragically of all, the film series' young protagonist Heather O'Rourke dying of septic shock.
The Exorcist (1973)
When it was released, the original Exorcist was so terrifying that some unsuspecting cinemagoers ended up passing out in the theater. Things didn't go much better behind the cameras either.
When shooting began in 1972, a fire tore through the set of Regan MacNiel's home, causing extensive damage. In a peculiar twist, the room used for the actual exorcism scenes escaped unscathed.
Actors Jack MacGowran and Vasiliki Maliaros both died shortly after filming had wrapped and both Linda Blair and Max von Sydow suffered the loss of close family members during shooting.
Jason Miller's son nearly died in a motorcycle accident and several actors were injured onset.
There is even the story of lightning striking a church opposite the cinema where the film was showing.
The Omen (1976)
Another supernatural horror classic, 'The Omen' followed the story of Damien - a seemingly innocuous young boy who just happened to be the son of Satan himself.
A mere two months before filming started, the son of actor Gregory Peck shot himself. Then when Peck was flying to London in September, his plane was struck by lightning.
The same thing happened to executive producer Mace Neufeld a few weeks later, then producer Harvey Bernhard narrowly avoided being struck by lightning while filming in Rome.
"The devil was at work and he didn't want that film made," he said.
An animal handler who worked on the 'crazy baboon' scene was mauled by a tiger shortly after filming wrapped and on Friday 13th, special effects artist John Richardson was involved in a car accident.
While he escaped with his life, his passenger - assistant Liz Moore - was decapitated in a manner very similar to a scene in the movie that Richardson himself had worked on.
To cap it all, a plane that was chartered by the film before being switched at the last minute went down a short time after taking off, resulting in the deaths of everyone on-board.
Source: Unexplained Mysteries
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