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Hovering high overhead, the UFO and its otherworldly occupants scan the Earths communications -- silently awaiting word that they have finally intercepted the secret information that has eluded them all week. Yes that's right! They are waiting for this weeks exciting issue of the newsletter of conspiracies, secrets, the paranormal and MORE - Conspiracy Journal is here once again to inflame your senses and question your beliefs.
This week Conspiracy Journal brings you such autumn-kissed stories as:
- Soviet Union Waged Cold War Conflict with UFOs -
- UFOs, Sex Slaves and the CIA -
- I Left the CIA to Become a Psychic Medium -
AND: The Evidence for Phantom Hitchhikers
All these exciting stories and MORE in this week's issue of
~ And Now, On With The Show! ~
Cryptid Creatures From Dark Domains
Dogmen, Devil Hounds, Phantom Canines And Real Werewolves
DISCOVER AMERICA'S MOST BIZARRE CRYPTID CREATURES!
Here Is Proof That These Strange Canines Exist And Could Be Hiding In Plain Sight In Your Neighborhood!
Read Case Histories Of Face-To-Face Confrontations With Anomalous "Monsters" And Incredible Beasts Who Spring Forth From The Backwoods, Other Realms And Far Flung Dimensions!
CRYPTID CREATURES FROM DARK DOMAINS: CONFRONT DIRECTLY SUCH DENIZENS AS THE DOGMEN, DEVIL HOUNDS, PHANTOM CANINES AND THE HORRIFIC WEREWOLVES OF FACT AND FOLKLORE.
Legends of black dogs and phantom hounds are widespread throughout the United States as well as in the United Kingdom. Though presented as a work of fiction, Sherlock Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle based his most popular detective thriller, "The Hound of the Baskervilles," on true accounts of a mysterious black beast with blazing red eyes who is said to have attacked those crossing the moors. Some victims were lucky to have gotten away with their lives. Perhaps there are others who disappeared and whose bodies were not accounted for. Today's top paranormal researchers delve into stories of the bloody beast, who comes in various sizes and apparently even has the ability to shape-shift into an even more hideous creature when cornered, as described by England's leading cryptozoologist Nick Redfern in this stunning new work.
There also is the latest research from Pennsylvania's foremost Dogmen researcher Butch Witkowski, who finds himself in the middle of an unprecedented wave of "bipedal canine" appearances to hunters and campers. These Dogmen are upright creatures, standing over seven-feet-tall and said to have a muscular physique similar to Arnold Schwarzenegger. The strange hairy frame is topped by the face of a hideous, snarling dog who breathes out dread and fear to all those who cross its path.
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Bargain Price of Only $18.95
So don't delay, order your copy of Cryptid Creatures From Dark Domains
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Check out Tim R. Swartz's recent appearance on Mysterious Radio -
Listen to the archive here.
- RUSSIA'S SECRET UFO FILES DEPARTMENT -
Soviet Union Waged Cold War Conflict with UFOs
During the 1940s and 1950s UFO-mania gripped the US as reports of flying saucers, men in black and alien abductions filled newspaper pages.
But as alien encounters became a sideshow in the states, their communist enemies were also being rocked by mysterious encounters with UFOs.
Around the same time the Soviets also began to have increasing contact with apparent aliens and growing reports of spacecraft entering airspace over Russia.
Soviet-born UFO researcher and author Paul Stonehill told Daily Star Online: “The Soviets were shocked so many UFOs could penetrate their borders and basically just do what they wanted without any control from the Kremlin.
“There were many more cases of direct encounters than in the United States, and anything which was flying over the Soviet Union was very interested in secret military installations.”
Throughout the Cold War and the space race Soviet forces frequently clashed with UFOs.
Mr Stonehill said: “The Kremlin was paranoid but they could not do anything about it.
“They tried on several occasions where orders were given out from on high to shoot down UFOs, or local commanders would take it upon themselves.
“However, it always ended badly for them.”
The researcher, whose articles have been published in 11 languages, unearthed a culture of total secrecy over the phenomena in the Soviet Union.
Kremlin bigwigs would pass off any public reports of the phenomena as a “hoax perpetrated by the Western powers”.
A secret research programme called SETKA was established in 1977 after the Petrozavodsk incident in which 48 UFOs appeared in the atmosphere across the Soviet Union.
The incident came to a head in the industrial city of Petrozavodsk when a huge glowing object appeared overhead – seemingly beaming shafts of light towards the Earth.
The aim of the programme was to work out what the UFOs were – with Soviet higher-ups acknowledging the craft could not be of Earth-bound origin.
Stonehill said much of the archives of the programme remain under lock and key, but he added it was passed down between the communist state’s top military minds and scientists.
Forms were also then handed to any soviet soldier, sailor or airmen who reported a UFO encounter for them to file fully detailed reports.
He said: “It was prolific enough to really make you wonder just how much the Soviets knew”.
A bloody encounter between an alien craft and Soviet forces occurred in 1953 shortly after the death of Joseph Stalin.
The large UFO, initially thought by witnesses to be a “blimp of dirigible”, appeared above the Taiga in Siberia.
Soviet military chiefs dispatched a military special detachment to the area.
When they attempted to engage the craft with aircraft the three Soviet planes just “burned away”, says Mr Stonehill.
A secret order was issued to Soviet forces during the mid-1960s giving Russian commanders strict instructions to “not shoot at UFOs, leave them alone”.
Mr Stonehill said: “The aliens would fight back and destroy whatever unit would shoot at them.
“They would disintegrate planes, and in some cases the UFOs also acted first.”
He added: “No government wants to be powerless in the face of a threat, and it got to the case of the Soviets being very scared.”
But despite these violent clashes, he says most Soviet encounters were characterised by alien craft simply “observing” activity.
He said: “It was as if they were under a microscope. There were reports of UFOs present at most, if not all, of the Soviet space launches.
“The craft seemed to know about the space ports and the secret facilities.”
However, he added the motivations of whoever is piloting the UFOs remains a mystery.
Mr Stonehill has spoken to former military intelligence personnel, government officials and Soviet scientists to reveal the depths of the Soviet UFO encounters.
He has had numerous books published on the subject such as Mysterious Sky: Soviet UFO Phenomenon, Soviet UFO Files and UFO Case Files of Russia.
His most recent publication deals with the related "USO encounters" in Soviet seas as the Russian navy encountered unexplained objects beneath the seas.
Source: Daily Star
- YOU ARE UNDER MY COMMAND DEPARTMENT -
UFOs, Sex Slaves and the CIA
By Sean Casteel
This past summer brought us yet another sex scandal involving a highly placed military personage, Army Major General David Haight. Haight was a decorated combat veteran and family man who held a key post at the U.S. European Command, the Pentagon’s frontline bulwark against Russia.
“He also led a double life,” reported “USA Today” journalist Tom Vanden Brook. “An 11-year affair and a ‘swinger lifestyle’ of swapping sexual partners that put him at risk of blackmail and espionage, according to interviews and documents. Jennifer Armstrong, 49, a government employee, said she and Haight had been involved in a torrid love affair that began more than ten years ago in Baghdad and ended this spring. Badly.”
Armstrong told USA Today that the relationship began with a “flirty email” and ended after assignations with multiple partners at swingers’ clubs, hotels and her home.
How Haight maintained his intimate secret is unclear, Brook’s report continued. His superiors promoted him three times since his affair with Armstrong began.
“Screeners of officials for security clearances,” writes Brook, “particularly those trusted with access to the nation’s most sensitive information, like Haight, scrutinize financial and family stability to guard against vulnerability to bribes or blackmail. If an adversary such as Russia had learned of Haight’s affair and sexual adventures, he would have been a prime target to blackmail, said four senior government officials who were not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.”
But perhaps there is something darker afoot here, something that goes beyond the sexual transgressions of a high-ranking military official and the subsequent negative publicity Haight received. One should perhaps view the story through the much-maligned prism of political analysis called Conspiracy Theory, which encompasses everything from the machinations of the UFO cover-up to tales of a secret government operating in close cooperation with the alien presence.
According to editor and publisher Timothy Green Beckley, the CIA has, from its inception, tried to manipulate public opinion on a variety of subjects, to include, of course, UFOs.
“They have often operated in an underhanded way without even a glimmer of full and public disclosure on the vital subject of UFOs,” Beckley said. “And even though the CIA is supposed to deal only with international espionage, it is no secret that they conduct domestic surveillance programs all the time – to the detriment of the American people.
“The CIA has even falsely claimed to be responsible for certain UFO sightings reports,” Beckley continued, “by ‘revealing’ that what people were seeing were actually the agency’s own drone aircraft sent up to gather various forms of intelligence, as well as the early rumblings of the Stealth bomber being pressed into early ‘practice runs.’ But their ‘spy-craft’ were operating at very high altitudes and had nothing to do with the multitude of sightings and landings that took place much lower in the atmosphere.”
As Beckley is quick to point out, many of the objects being encountered in the late 1940s, the 50s and early 60s were structured aircraft of various shapes and sizes and definitely not of the earthly variety.
“They had the earmarks of the Ultra-Terrestrial all over them,” he argued. “And, remember, we are also talking about face-to-face meetings and encounters with little men and humanoid creatures that ‘invaded’ Terra Firma on a global basis.
“Some conspiracy theorists,” Beckley continued, “also harbor suspicions that the CIA and other official agencies might have masqueraded as ETs in a sort of ‘pretend,’ perverted alien abduction scenario in order to point the finger – boney as it might be – away from their own misconduct. Some of the sexual contact – forced or ‘consensual’ – between supposed aliens and abducted earthlings could have been staged by CIA cohorts-in-crime as a means to disavow any involvement in rape and torture ‘experiments,’ if that’s what you wish to call them.”
It is sometimes even claimed that the alien abduction phenomenon is really a human-run program of mind control and genetic experimentation, which serves to explain why some abductees recall being forced into sex with complete strangers by their captors and witness people in military garb rather than the more typical gray aliens.
The admittedly “beyond controversial” subjects of mind control and sexual slavery are dealt with surprisingly rationally in a book from Beckley’s Global Communications. It’s been said that paranoia can be entertaining, but perhaps that is still inadequate to describe this particular tome, which pushes past some barriers in ways that the reader may have trouble dealing with.
The book is called “Mind Controlled Sex Slaves and the CIA: A Collection of Essays and Interviews about Project MONARCH.” Project MONARCH is an outgrowth of the better known MK-ULTRA program of mind control experiments begun during the early years of the Cold War and first brought to public awareness in the congressional hearings conducted by Senator Frank Church in the mid-1970s.
Through Church’s efforts, the stunned electorate learned, among other things, about CIA experiments that sought to discover whether LSD could be used to aid the interrogations process. The idea was that perhaps the anxiety of a “bad trip” could frighten even the most tightlipped subject into submission or induce such confusion of mind that it became impossible to keep a lie properly assembled for one’s interrogators.
In his introduction to “Mind Controlled Sex Slaves and the CIA,” well-known paranormal journalist Nick Redfern provides an excellent history of what is publicly known about the CIA’s mind control experimentation, and any reader unfamiliar with the subject can be quickly brought up to speed on the basics.
The real meat of the book, however, is in the interviews conducted by journalist and author Tracy Twyman about Project MONARCH, which she says is a super-secret program to kidnap and “brainwash” children for use as sexual slaves, both to service the politically elite and for various kinds of espionage.
Twyman says the program was initially imported from Nazi Germany as part of Operation Paperclip, in which President Harry Truman authorized the smuggling of such top Nazi scientists as Wernher von Braun into the U.S. to work for the military and intelligence community and, eventually, for NASA. The newly acquired knowledge of mind control techniques had come from experiments on prisoners in Nazi concentration camps. The Third Reich’s scientists had studied the effects of the calculated used of torture, drugs, hypnotism, electroshock and sleep deprivation on an individual personality.
The result they achieved was the fragmenting of the personality into separate components which are unaware of each other. This creates what is known today as “Multiple Personality Disorder,” or by the more recent, clinically accepted term, “Dissociative Identity Disorder.” Once separated from one another, the individual personality components could then be programmed to perform certain tasks, much like a computer.
Twyman quotes former FBI agent and mind control expert Ted Gunderson: “It’s a combination of torture, hypnosis and drugs. What happens is, they torture them so much that their personality splits in order to endure the pain and misery. When their personality splits, they become another person. It’s through this technique that they train them.”
According to Gunderson, such methods could create “Manchurian candidates,” unwitting agents of espionage who could courier sensitive messages and even commit assassinations against their will without any conscious recollection of those events.
“Although clearly unethical,” Twyman writes, “such practices were justified by the CIA under the belief that the Soviets, America’s new archenemy, already possessed such covert weaponry of the mind.”
Former CIA Director William Colby is alleged to have told former Nebraska state senator and author John DeCamp that, after the Korean War, the CIA and the U.S. government were “terrified” of the mind control abilities of China, Russia and North Korea. It was decided that the U.S. could not afford to be left behind and that for the very salvation of the country it was imperative to keep up. And so millions and billions were poured into these programs.
“But when all is said and done,” Colby added, “we were never behind and we aren’t today.”
Twyman writes that several self-proclaimed victims of mind control have stated that the U.S. is really AHEAD of the game and that the CIA’s motivation was never strictly “for the good of the country.” She cites the rumored existence of the aforementioned Project MONARCH, the alleged offshoot of MK-ULTRA, designed to create legions of so-called “mind-controlled sex slaves” for use by the rich and powerful.
“The value of a mind-controlled sex slave is multifaceted,” she explains. “For one thing, they can be used to satisfy the perversions of people in positions of power without jeopardizing that power, since a person under mind control is not likely to expose the event to public scrutiny. Furthermore, these encounters can be videotaped for the purpose of blackmailing public officials and businessmen should they at any time step out of line or do anything to endanger the intelligence community’s global plan. Some people who purport the existence of Project MONARCH might also believe that the CIA is under the control of the Illuminati ‘New World Order’ conspiracy of global domination.
“Then there is the financial aspect,” Twyman continues. “A sex slave can be prostituted from childhood on to wealthy individuals who will pay large sums of money for the experience. They can also be used in child pornography to be sold on the global market. Many MONARCH ‘survivors’ claim that unwanted, expendable sex slaves are picked to star in the most controversial pictures of all – snuff films, the existence of which has yet to be proven, according to the FBI. The slaves are also, say the stories, used as drug mules for the CIA’s secret trafficking of illegal substances.”
The money derived from these black market transactions of drugs and sex is used, according to Twyman’s sources, to fund the CIA’s many top secret and under-budgeted black projects, as well as simply to enrich the perpetrators.
Potential slaves are chosen for their genetic propensity for suggestibility, hypnotize-ability, dissociation and high intelligence. Over the past several years, a number of these so-called “survivors” have “recovered” their memories and gone public about their past abuse at the hands of the government. Twyman pays particular attention to a woman named Cathy O’Brien and O’Brien’s book “The TRANCE Formation of America.”
O’Brien’s “pedophile” father allegedly first began to train her sexually.
“Cathy claims to have come from a family of multigenerational incest perpetrators,” Twyman recounts, “where Daddy abused all of the kids and all of the kids abused each other. Growing up in Muskegon, Michigan, a ‘pedophile capital,’ according to Cathy, it wasn’t long before Cathy’s father was whoring her around for use in lucrative child pornography.”
In time, Mr. O’Brien was caught, but what happened next strains belief, even for die-hard conspiracy theorists. Instead of going to jail, he was visited, says Cathy, by a prominent politician whose name is better left to those who actually read Twyman’s book.
The politician made an offer that Mr. O’Brien couldn’t refuse: sell Cathy into the MONARCH program and receive immunity from prosecution. The CIA viewed Cathy as a prime candidate because they knew that any child who had been sexually abused to that extent would be suffering from the standard dissociative disorder that would make her a susceptible target for mind control.
Cathy said her father spent two weeks at Harvard University learning how to continue raising his daughter to serve as part of MONARCH.
At that point, Cathy claims to have been prostituted to a long list of high-ranking officials, to include prime ministers, U.S. senators and others whose names I won’t repeat here. Cathy further claims to have been forced to engage in strange perversions, which again are better left unnamed.
“One of the consistencies that runs through almost all of the personal testimonies of the self-proclaimed MONARCH victims,” Twyman writes, “is the use of the occult and Satanism as a ‘trauma base.’ Cathy O’Brien vividly describes the ‘Rite to Remain Silent’ she claims she endured at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Muskegon, a reversal of the Catholic mass in which she was allegedly doused in the blood of a freshly-slaughtered lamb and made to take an oath of secrecy. She also claims to have witnessed human sacrifices at Bohemian Grove retreat, an exclusive retreat for global movers and shakers who meet on a private island every year in secret. They dress up in bizarre costumes and indulge in their most extreme perversions with mind-controlled ‘Stepford whores,’ much like scenes from the Stanley Kubrick film ‘Eyes Wide Shut.’”
The claims of mind control and MONARCH programming are an extension of the tales told about Satanic Ritual Abuse that began to surface in the early 1980s, Twyman writes. The SRA phenomenon has largely been discredited by the mental health establishment but continues to be a strange kind of “urban myth” for many people.
“Many groups, several of them affiliated with Protestant churches,” she says, “believe in a large conspiracy of Satanists that spans the globe and which controls the drug and child pornography industry (i.e., the Mafia), as well as, to the view of many, the government (i.e., the Illuminati). They believe that these people engage in the large-scale abduction and abuse of thousands of children for use in their sick, sadistic, satanic sex rituals and the pornographic documentation thereof. When not from multigenerational satanic families, like O’Brien’s, where their parents willingly submit them to the MONARCH program, children are supposedly snatched off the streets – the familiar milk carton kids. According to the lore, the conspirators even infiltrate pre-schools and day care centers to access children there.”
Twyman quotes the aforementioned Gunderson thusly: “The satanic cult movement dovetails with U.S. intelligence. In addition to being involved in kidnapping, they were taking kids out of Boys Town and foster homes and orphanages and flying them to Washington, D.C., for sex orgy parties with congressmen and senators. We’re talking about a large-scale pedophile ring and a large-scale kidnapping ring known as ‘The Finders.’ It’s a CIA covert operation running out of Washington, D.C. That’s just a cover name for finding children.”
Several of Tywman’s sources claim that a former Green Beret officer and senior U.S. military intelligence officer, Lt. Col. Michael Aquino, was involved in their abuse. Aquino took an active part in several “PSY-OPS,” or psychological warfare operations, and publicly advocated the use of propaganda, subliminal messages, air ionization and ELF waves (i.e., putting low frequency signals in TV and radio broadcasts to induce specific states of mind) in times of war, both domestically and abroad, in order to manipulate public opinion.
“Another interesting fact about Michael Aquino,” Twyman writes, “is that he just happens to be the founder and leader of the Temple of Set, a splinter group of the Church of Satan, in which Aquino was once a high-ranking member. The Temple of Set now has a number of chapters that operate on military bases. This group’s rituals often involve Nazi symbols and rhetoric, and Aquino once performed a satanic ‘working’ at Heinrich Himmler’s castle in Wewelsburg while in Germany on ‘official NATO business.’”
In the late 1980s, an abuse scandal surfaced at a day care center on the Presidio military base in San Francisco, where Aquino was stationed. The children identified Aquino and claimed that the people who molested them were part of a “devil worship club.” They were able to describe the inside of Aquino’s home, where the abuse was said to have taken place. Aquino was also said to keep a ranch in Colorado that was a “safe house” for kidnapped children.
Twyman spoke to Aquino about the accusations.
“Throughout my entire career as an Army officer (1968-1994),” he said, “I never encountered any evidence of anything named or resembling ‘Project MONARCH,’ never participated in anything involving children or adult ‘sex slaves,’ never abused any children under any circumstances whatever, and never had contact with any of the cranks who’ve thrown my name around with ‘MONARCH.’”
Aquino’s use of the word “cranks” to describe his accusers illustrates one of the ironies of Project MONARCH and other mind control operations. Having had one’s mind toyed with over a period of several years understandably makes for disjointed, fragmentary testimony from victims. It’s easy to call such people crazy since they have in fact suffered years of personality-altering torture and sexual abuse. Also, given the fact that extremely high levels of government secrecy may be involved, there is no one who can come forward and validate the bizarre claims of the victims.
It goes without saying that Twyman provides only “anecdotal evidence,” simply retelling the various stories as they were told to her. But as the late alien abduction researcher, Budd Hopkins, once told me, anecdotal evidence is enough to convict someone in a court of law. Even when a DNA sample is used in evidence during a trial, the jury does not “see” the DNA testing results. They merely listen to a DNA expert TELL THEM A STORY about those results. The point being, one should not automatically dismiss anecdotal evidence as being unreliable.
In any case, Twyman has certainly done her homework in “Mind Controlled Sex Slaves and the CIA,” which is packed with her interviews with both victims of sexual slavery and experts in mind control and deprogramming. While she has not produced any sort of “smoking gun”-type documentation, the book is nevertheless an interesting read for those not too faint of heart to bear up under its shocking revelations about some of the famous names that are accused within its pages.
Source: Spectral Vision
- THE WEIRD WORLD OF THE MANDELA EFFECT DEPARTMENT -
Are We Living in Alternative Time-Lines?
Do you remember the Looney Toons? Many people will swear blind that it was always spelled "toons," as in cartoons. They can clearly visualise the logo with all those "o"s, and they are astonished if not completely disbelieving when confronted with the evidence that the animated series is and has always been called Looney Tunes.
But could that be proof of the Mandela Effect – the latest online conspiracy theory that argues we are living in an alternate reality?
The Mandela Effect was named by paranormal enthusiast Fiona Broome when she discovered she wasn’t the only one who wrongly believed Nelson Mandela died in prison in the 1980s.
It wasn’t one of those casual misconceptions that we all have that a certain person must be dead simply because we haven’t heard about them for years. Broome vividly recalled the media coverage of Mandela’s funeral and subsequent riots. And that was in 2010, when he was still alive, so it wasn’t that she remembered footage from 2013 and had simply mixed up the dates.
When Broome started mandelaeffect.com, she quickly discovered that there were groups of people who remembered other periods of history differently, such as insisting that the protester who defied the tanks in Tiananmen Square in 1989 was run over by them. Some claim they were taught that in school.
According to the theory, such memories are accounted for by something such as a time traveller (or, to blame those meddling scientists, a quantum ripple created by CERN’s Large Hedron Collider) changing history and creating sci-fi-style alternate realities. Moreover, that some of us have moved between those realities, hence remembering things that have been written out of our current timeline.
It sounds far-fetched, but it’s the claimed changes to small details, such as the spelling of well-remembered brand names and the subtle "altering" of familiar logos that has convinced believers history has been tampered with during our lifetimes.
Take a look at the Ford badge, for example. Do you remember it ever having that unusual little pigtail on the end of the bar that passes through the "F"? Despite the logo being one of the most recognised in the world, many will swear they’ve never seen that little loop before, and moreover that it just doesn’t look right. It’s not an updated logo, however – the loop’s been there since at least 1912, so throughout the entire lifetime of most who claim the bar never had a flourish on the end.
Some alleged examples of the Mandela Effect are easily debunked. If you grew up reciting a line in the Lord’s Prayer as “forgive us our trespasses,” you may be momentarily taken in by a YouTube conspiracy theorist’s claim that such a familiar text has changed overnight to “forgive us our debts.” Check with Wikipedia and – my god! – it is “debts” – how did that happen? Scroll down, though, and you’ll find there have always been different versions favoured by different denominations.
Similarly, there’s nothing wrong with the memories of those who say La-Z-Boy chairs used to be spelt Lay-Z-Boy. Whether misprints or otherwise, plenty of old adverts exist with the Lay-Z-Boy spelling.
The case that most excites believers, however, is that of the Berenstain Bears, a children’s book series that hundreds or even thousands of online commenters remember as the Berenstein Bears. According to Mike Berenstain, whose father Stan created the series, the spelling has always been "stain." And although there are old press clippings with the "stein" spelling – it’s an easy typing error – no misprinted versions of the books have surfaced to explain why so many people would be so convinced their treasured childhood reading once had Berenstein on the cover.
False memory experts explain the Mandela Effect as confabulation, where different memories get mixed together to create something that a person comes to believe is true. Berenstain would therefore be remembered as "stein" simply because readers have grown up seeing far more names ending in "stein," such as Einstein.
Psychology, meanwhile, offers a number of reasons why memes like the Mandela Effect can quickly gain a following.
The first is another ME – the Misinformation Effect. If someone tells you the Ford logo looks different to what it did, there’s a natural tendency to believe them if you’ve never looked closely at it before. That effect would be doubled if the theorist began – as they often do – by showing you a photoshopped version and fed you the suggestion that “this is what we all remember the Ford logo to look like, don’t we?”
If the doctored version looks plausible, because you have no firm memory to check it against, it’s a short step to accepting that the real badge is the impostor.
For those who have always misremembered a particular spelling, meanwhile, cognitive dissonance describes the difficulty of accepting evidence that contradicts a deeply held belief. Basically, we’re more likely to trust our fond (if faulty) memories of the Berenstein Bears and believe that Berenstain must be wrong.
Confirmation bias then plays its part: converts to a belief tend to seek out evidence that confirms their belief and disregard evidence to the contrary.
Of course, one reason conspiracy theories catch on may simply be that they’re fun. You don’t have to actually believe in the Mandela Effect to be entertained by the notion of how cool it would be if time travel and alternate universes were real. A hunger for the uncanny has always drawn an audience to science fiction, so why not to YouTube, where countless flat Earth proponents and ufologists are waiting to convince you that their far-fetched stories are true?
Then again, it could be that every Mandela Effect convert was once a sceptic, chuckling at those who believe in alternate universes, until they each had that sudden WTF moment when they came across an example like Looney Toons, which they personally knew with absolute certainly was never, ever Looney Tunes.
The Woman Who Lost Her WorldSource: Telegraph
One strange example of the "Mandela Effect" comes from a woman who woke up one morning to find that her entire time-line seemed to have been altered.
Lerina Garcia’s peculiar tale first surfaced in the comments section of a Spanish website called Tendencias21. It was there she claimed, with some reservations, that she had somehow “jumped” into another universe.
A universe similar, but not quite, to her own.
Sound strange? It is. It’s also impossible to verify. But that’s never stopped me before. “I think I jumped into a parallel universe…”
Lerina Garcia posted her comment on July 16, 2008, in response to an article about the possibility of multiple universes.
She said she was 41 years old, and had experienced something so bizarre, so inexplicable, that she worried others would think she was suffering from a psychotic break. And yet her story was so compelling, it became something of an urban legend.
Her claim was this: She had gone to sleep one night, and woke up the next day to find that the world around her had changed in the strangest, and subtlest, ways.
The first change was a very simple one. The sheets on her bed were different. This confused her, of course, but she didn’t give it much thought. Not in the beginning. It was another change, when she arrived at work later that day, that caused her to truly question her reality.
“Everything was different…”
The following quotes come from a roughly translated version of her original comment, which you can find (in Spanish) at Tendencias21. There’s also an archive available here for posterity (because these things sometimes disappear).
“…when I got to my office, it was not my office. It had names on the door, and mine was not. I thought I had the wrong floor, but no, it was mine. I got off at the wireless area of my office and I looked, still working here but it was in another department reporting to a director I didn’t know.”
Garcia told them she was sick and headed out, determined to understand why this was happening. She did what anyone would likely do in her situation: She visited a doctor, and later a psychiatrist. They did tests, but found nothing. She was clean, apparently, and everything was fine.
The psychiatrist suggested that, perhaps, she was suffering from stress and had hallucinated these inconsistencies. But no, she thought. The changes were too bizarre. Too real. It was the world – the world was the problem.
And it was only getting worse.
While the small things, like her ID and her house and even yesterday’s top news headlines, were the same, other personal details were not. For example, she remembered her sister having had surgery on her arm, but the rest of her family, including her sister, remembered no such thing.
Most shocking of all to Garcia was that she found herself still with her ex-boyfriend, who she remembered leaving many months before. Her new boyfriend was gone altogether.
“I left and started a relationship with a guy in my neighborhood. I know it perfectly. I’ve been with him four months and know his name, address, where he works…where he studied. Well that guy does not exist now. It seems that [he] existed before my ‘jump’ but now, no trace.”
She even went so far as to hire a detective, but he turned up nothing. Her new boyfriend never existed, not in this universe. And her ex, well, it was “as if nothing had happened.”
“I’ve done things I’m not aware of…”
Lerina Garcia ended her post with a simple plea for help. Had anyone else experienced anything similar? she wondered. She said it was as though she had simply dreamed the previous five months, “with the proviso that everyone remembers me at that time, and I’ve done things I’m not aware of having done.”
She searched the Internet for similar stories, and noticed other important events from the “missing” months that she didn’t remember. But mostly, she wrote, “the rest of the world seems to be the same.”
- TALKING TO SPOOKS DEPARTMENT -
I Left the CIA to Become a Psychic Medium
By Kristin McNamara
“I have a past life memory of being a psychic in the Roman government. My best friend from the CIA was a general who I worked for … and they used to parade us around the Colosseum.”
Jessica Brodkin used to be a CIA analyst. Tonight, she’s enthusing about the healing powers of crystals and divulging stories of her past lives, complete with run-ins with Saint Thomas Aquinas and interdimensional travel.
On the heels of her 35th birthday, she has an infectious laugh and the ability to, she claims, talk to spirits. She pays her bills by performing stand-up comedy and practicing as a Reiki healer — a practice in which she claims to enter people’s energy fields to transform negative feelings into healing ones. Her clients, the first of whom was “Million Dollar Matchmaker” Patti Stanger, are looking to get their chakras aligned, not necessarily hear about what their dead grandmother thinks of the new guy they’re seeing, so she tries to keep the beyond-the-grave chatter to a minimum unless they asked for it.
Brodkin hasn’t always been a professional psychic. She was recruited by the CIA as an undergrad at MIT, and hired as a weapons of mass destruction analyst shortly after the invasion of Iraq. She was totally fulfilled by her work at the beginning of her 11-year run. (The CIA declined to comment when asked by The Post about Brodkin’s status as an employee there.)
She and her co-workers had to keep even the most basic details about their jobs a secret from outsiders, so she describes the camaraderie as “intense.” The agency’s security was “terrifying,” Brodkin recalls. As she drove into work every day, she was surrounded by men in uniform carrying AK-47s, she said. “It’s hard. It’s hard on the brain.”
At work, she would read data and try to make sense of it. Her job was almost all research, information and trying to make sense of that information. As time went on, Brodkin began feeling “trapped.”
“I went to Starbucks a lot, I meditated in the library … I don’t know how I didn’t get fired,” she jokes. Beyond just disliking her job, Brodkin became “massively depressed” and had a full mental breakdown, after which she took medical leave from work.
She returned, but her passion for her work was gone, and Brodkin knew she had to find that happiness someplace else. She started frequenting stand-up comedy nights around Washington, DC, and realized she’d finally found something to keep her sanity intact. Around the same time, she says, she discovered that she could “channel spirit.”
Brodkin started becoming distracted at work by what she called “peaceful … massive downloads of information.” She would feign writing work reports, but would instead, she claims, be involuntarily contacted by spirits with something to say. You can imagine how telling her CIA co-workers she was hearing voices from the beyond went.
“It’s completely hated,” she says. “[Being intuitive] is kind of something you have to be ashamed of.”
As the information transfers started becoming more frequent, Brodkin began meditating in the woods surrounding Langley, the facility housing the CIA. “There was one time where I saw just a sea of spirits,” she says. “It was very interdimensional.”
It was there that she began communicating with two spirits whom she now refers to as her “guides”: St. Thomas Aquinas, and Nicodemus, a contemporary of Jesus.
In June 2014, Brodkin decided to leave the CIA for good and take her medium status large.
There’s no message too big or too small for a spirit. Brodkin says St. Thomas has told her to do things like check her bank balance (she was nearing overdraft), and also informed her that her beloved dog did not have cancer.
She’s heard from dead people she knew as well, but their advice isn’t quite as sage. “When human guides guide you, they don’t have as much information as the ascended masters,” such as St. Thomas and Nicodemus. “They are still their human selves.”
However, Brodkin’s deceased grandmother gave her perhaps the most poignant piece of advice she has received thus far: to leave her now-ex-husband.
Brodkin’s now-ex-husband married her while she was with the CIA. He didn’t sign up for all the “woo-woo,” she says. Raised in a Fundamentalist Christian home, she claims he said the Bible didn’t approve of psychics and that he was uncomfortable with Brodkin charging money for Reiki, even though it was the couple’s means of financial survival. Channeling spirit was the last straw.
“I was taking a bath in June of last year while we were still married and I actually had a vision that his father came to me and said, ‘I’m immobile. I can’t walk anymore. Please come heal me,’” she said.
Her husband, who was not speaking to his father, brushed off her pleas for him to get in touch. Two months later, they found out that her ex-husband’s father had become wheelchair-bound.
“I think when that happened, it really sealed it for [him] because he said, ‘I’m scared of you.’”
Spirituality and comedy have helped Brodkin through the heartbreak of her divorce. The latter of those brought her to the “yin-to-my-yang,” fellow comic and life coach Sara Armour. The women met after one of Armour’s shows in Washington, DC, when Brodkin insisted, “You don’t know me, but we’re from the same planet.”
When Armour left DC to pursue comedy in New York, Brodkin wasn’t far behind. The two ended up living down the street from each other in Park Slope and found themselves dumping their baggage on each other every month around the time of the full moon, which always aligned with both women’s “time of the month.” It was too much of a coincidence to ignore, they thought.
Armour describes the moon as a “divine, feminine” icon. It exists on a 28-day cycle, like a woman’s menstrual cycle. Plus, the moon controls the tides, and our bodies are 70 percent water.
Taking everything she had learned into account, it only made sense to Armour to make the women’s monthly relief sessions accessible to more people, and provide an audience with the very tools — including self-deprecation — that have helped Brodkin and Armour cope with all the hard stuff.
Hence “The Moonual,” a monthly comedy show and full-moon ritual at Caroline’s on Broadway, was born. Complete with a pre-show palm reader, Astro Tarot reader, madame of crystals and female comics, the show offers up some out-there “self-help” tools. For example, you can write down your insecurities on a worksheet (e.g., cellulite-y thighs, awkward work encounters, bad dates) and have them ritualistically “released” into the universe by Armour and Brodkin at the end of the show.
The night before a show, Brodkin wonders aloud, “Don’t you think we heal people by making them laugh?” Armour pauses, then responds.
“I think that humor and spirituality just both happen to be our tools,” she says. “You know, some people are great at doing hair. They help people feel beautiful. I definitely don’t make anyone feel beautiful, but hopefully I can make you laugh … I think it’s all different ways that you just learn how to cope.”
Source: NY Post
- THE TRIAL OF CAROLE COMPTON DEPARTMENT -
The Modern Day Witch Trial of a Scottish Nanny
By Dana Matthews
Everyone is familiar with the Salem Witch Trials, but unbeknownst to many, some witches are still being put on trial in the modern era. Carole Compton was one of these alleged witches who found herself at the center of a series of strange series of paranormal events during the winter of 1983. Locked up and labeled a sorceress, Compton’s bizarre case has long left supernatural sleuths scratching their heads.
In the Summer of 1982, Ayrshire, Scotland native Carole Compton met her dream man, an Italian military soldier who swept her off her feet. She’d fallen so hard for him that just a few short weeks after they met, Carole decided to pack up her entire life in order relocate closer to him. That decision would be the turning point that spun her entire life in a very strange direction.
Once she’d settled in nicely in Italy, Carol began looking for a job and landed a position as a live-in nanny for the Ricci family. While the work was mundane, it wasn’t long before strange occurrences began happening around the home. One afternoon, the family maid happened to notice that one of the Ricci family’s many religious paintings had fallen off the wall, coincidentally (or not) just as Carole had passed by. The maid, who was herself a very religious woman, had suspected there was something “off” about about Carole, and secretly confessed her fears to the Ricci family. With a busy family vacation just days away, the family decided to reassess Carole’s position when they returned, but in the meantime, the young woman would accompany them on their trip to the Italian Alps.
During the trip, no more than three mysterious fires broke out in the rented vacation home. Authorities confirmed that the bizarre fires were the cause of some faulty electrical wiring in the home, but even though there had been a perfectly believable explanation, the Ricci family were convinced that Carole had been the cause behind the fires. She was immediately fired from her Nanny position.
It wasn’t long before Carole found herself another nanny job, this time for the Tonti family who lived with their grandparents on the beautiful island of Elba. Again, the family instantly began experiencing a series of paranormal activity that ranged anywhere from loud bangs on the walls to objects moving around on their own. Carole herself began to complain that she was hearing an unexplainable scratching sound on the walls of the house. The family also witnessed, on more than one occasion, many of the religious icons falling off walls and countertops whenever Carole was present in the room.
The family began to suspect that the young woman was a witch, specifically a Strega Witch, an accusation which Carole laughed off wholeheartedly. Unfortunately for the Tonti family, the a strange reaction to religious paraphernalia wasn’t the only thing that seemed to have followed Carole. One evening a terrible fire broke out in the bedroom of the Tonti family’s three-year-old daughter, nearly destroying the entire home. Thankfully no one was harmed, however, when the police arrived they recognized the strange young woman who had suspiciously also been at the scene of the Ricci house fires. With no other option, the police arrested Compton, who was charged with attempted murder.
Thanks to over-the-top tales of the “Witch Nanny”, the story grabbed the attention of the press seemingly overnight. Newspapers all over Europe ran with fantastical headlines like “The Girl They Call a Witch”. Public opinion on the event was split down the middle, with one side shocked with Italy’s justice system for engaging in a literal witch hunt, and others who believed that the woman had made a pact with the devil and deserved to rot away in a prison for her crimes. Even the famous parapsychologist Guy Lyon Playfair, most well-known for his work in the Enfield Poltergeist case, attempted to get involved. Carole, however, believed that any association with the paranormal, even if it was to disprove her “powers”, would stain her reputation even further.
Carole never once admitted to having any paranormal abilities, nor did she confess to setting the strange fires. That, unfortunately, didn’t convince the court system, who kept her detained for sixteen months before her trial was set. Numerous forensic experts testified that there was, indeed, a very strange nature to the bizarre fires, even going so far as to refer to them as “abnormal”. During the trial, the courts were so afraid of the young woman’s supposed powers, that she was only allowed in the courtroom if she was kept safely inside a iron-barred cage.
Fortunately for Carole, she was found not guilty for attempted murder. On the other hand, she was charged with attempted arson and sentenced for two and a half years inside an Italian prison. Since she had spent the same amount of time awaiting her trial, Carole was released immediately, and for pretty obvious reasons, she moved to America and put the whole terrible spectacle behind her.
There have been plenty of theories about what exactly happened to Carole during the years she spent in Italy, some of which include poltergeist activity, psychokinesis, to unintentional magick spells cast. Even Carol herself suggested the possibility of a poltergeists, as the activity always seemed to get worse as the tensions inside the homes built. Years after the trial Carol wrote a book about the experience called SUPERSTITION: The True Story of the Nanny They Called a Witch, in which she recaps the experience from her point of view.
While there’s no way to make any definitive conclusions about what happened during the months that Carole Compton lived with both the Ricci and Tonti families, anyone familiar with poltergeist activity knows that people often report experiencing a range of violent activity that can range from objects moving on their own to mysterious fires.
Carole Compton has never once faltered in her innocence, and at the end of the day, all of the accusations are just rumors.. undoubtably interesting ones. How did the fires start? How come experts were unable to explain their origins? What about the religious objects compelled to leap from walls and counters in Carole’s presence? We’ll never truly know, but there is one thing we can all agree on: cases like the Nanny Witch will always captivate our imagination and keep the paranormal debate going for years to come.
Source: Week in Weird
- RIDING THE BLURRY BORDERS DEPARTMENT -
The Evidence for Phantom Hitchhikers
On a dark stretch of road outside of Chicago, in a town called Justice, Resurrection Mary introduced me to the ambiance of the phantom hitch-hiker. I was 16 years old, sitting in the backseat of my friend’s car as we drove down Archer Avenue at midnight. When we hit the darkest part of the road he turned off the lights and let up on the gas, dropping the car down 30 miles per hour under the speed limit. With experimental naiveté we were hoping that such peculiar behavior would increase our chances of meeting a world famous apparition.
The two police officers that pulled us over for reckless driving were less sure of our research methods. Confused, bemused and annoyed, they questioned us for over an hour with indignation at the allure she still held for legend trippers after so many years of her tale being retold. Weiser Books reissue of Michael Goss’ 1984 work, The Evidence for Phantom Hitch-Hikers, gives me the opportunity to pause and reflect on this formative moment in my involvement with applied investigation in the liminal realm. It’s a timely reissue too, as the influence of researchers such as Jeffery Kripal and my friend George Hansen brings greater focus on multi-disciplinary approaches to contemporary anomalistic studies.
Analyzing the phantom hitch-hiker phenomena through the interstices of psychical research and folkloristics, Goss’ methodology implies an important starting point for effective investigation into the night-side of nature. We often make assumptions about common categories like ‘ghost,’ but ask yourself, would you know a ghost if you saw one?
Let go of whether you believe or disbelieve in the existence of ghosts and consider deeply, would you know one if you saw it?
As Goss shows in his detailed examination of phantom hitch-hikers, there is a striking difference between folktales or urban legends and personal reports of anomalous experience. If seeing is believing, we should be careful when what we see fits the phantoms found in familiar stories. While there are superficial similarities in terms of experiential themes, i.e. something like encountering an apparition, folktales and urban legends rely on narrative structures and plot developments that are usually missing in reports of anomalous experiences themselves.
An anomalous encounter is, by its very nature, outside of the normal flow of things?—?they emerge into our view set against the habitual patterns that fashion the narrative of our lives. In Liminality, Marginality, Anti-Structure, and Parapsychology, a paper presented at the 2011 Academy Of Spirituality And Paranormal Studies conference, researcher and theorist George Hansen points out that, “paranormal phenomena are more likely to occur under liminal and transitional conditions and around liminal and marginal persons than among more ordinary conditions and people. Generally, those invested in established hierarchies find strongly liminal conditions unpalatable, irrational, and threatening. Thus liminal persons are often marginalized and viewed with some suspicion. (Marginality is a subcategory of liminality, and frequent consequence of it.)” It is not surprising then that catch valves for the maintenance of cultural continuity and status quo, such as academic scholarship and popular media, would foster normalizing approaches to anomalous phenomena like the phantom hitch-hiker, rounding these encounters off in explainable ways.
The mind creates continuity through root structures of information patterning. We see these same structures appear in the artifice of effective storytelling. Good stories stick because they work with the cognitive necessity of pattern recognition. They provide us with a smooth and comfortable movement from introduction of the theme to its conclusion?—?a person is traveling, encounters a hitch-hiker, they pick them up, hitch-hiker disappears from the car, puzzling over the encounter they later realize that they picked up the hitch-hiker where an accident had occurred, the narrative ends with this revelation which conforms to our need for sensible closure. This sense of closure allows the liminal nature of a liason with an apparition on a lonely stretch of road to be reintegrated into the structure of a culture’s shared worldview.
The raw reports collected by researchers lack the strong internal cohesion necessary for this integration?—?it is only in the urban legend and folk tale that this kind of stock pattern emerges. Psychical researchers usually find that a person encounters an apparition, and…that’s the report. Over the years it has been possible to collate these reports into specific categories, the apparition looked like a loved one that recently passed away, the apparition was solid, the apparition was misty, and so on, but for the most part no meaningful narrative structure fits the majority of what is reported. Anomalous experiences are just that, anomalous.
As Goss explains in terms of phantom hitch-hiker stories surrounding the Blue Bell Hill area near Chatham England:
the Blue Bell hill phantom may have been either relocated or regional variations on an old, received motif (folklore) or veritable apparitional encounters which, rightly or wrongly, became associated with the memorized fact of (a)1965 accident. What is more certain is that many of these episodes derived a species credibility or even respectability from the indisputably-real crash.
The discomfort of an anomalous encounter entices our curiosity into trying to explain it, and often coincidental events that occur in the area of the phenomena will be drawn in to help with this.
In the story of the Blue Bell Hill phantom a local accident becomes narrative ground to anchor what would otherwise be an inexplicable, and almost pointless, encounter. This pointlessness is a theme that researcher and writer Jacques Vallee covers extensively in his work, and is one of the things that frustrates serious researchers who delve into the field of apparitional appearances, be they ghosts, UFOs, goblins, or whatever else?—?although popular retellings (especially those sculpted for the media) put meaning to these events by attaching them to historical or pseudo-historical facts, the occurrences themselves are isolated by their often absurd incongruity.
In examining these accounts against the analysis of folklorists Goss differentiates the psychological needs fulfilled by folktales and urban legends and those which coincide with reports of actual believed experience. Citing the work of Aniela Jaffe, and her 1963 study Apparitions and Precognition: A Study from the Viewpoint of C.G. Jung’s Analytical Psychology, Goss highlights how story based and experiential based accounts differ in certain details. This is demonstrated in her analysis of the sole phantom hitch-hiker account found in the 1200 letters she received during her initial research:
Ms. Jaffe almost refuses to comment on this story. To her, it is devoid of significant, symbolic data and the style contrasts with the plain, monotonous tone of the other material she quotes. ‘The lack of archetypal features seems to be a criterion of the improbability of the ‘experience’. Another way of saying this might be to describe the thing as too artificial, too much so to even approximate the sort of account readers might concede as veridical. There is a clear credibility gap, then, between the artistically-devised ‘true story,’ which is fiction, and the real life experience it attempts to mimic.
Urban legends and folktales have their own unique set of archetypes whose artificial gloss differ from those manifesting in perceived experience. Through careful attention to the symbolic content of the story one can get a better idea for where it stands in terms of being a fictional story or a report where the person truly feels they are relating a real experience that they have had.
Breaking the Pattern
The picture of a ghost as an immaterial and spectral figure is a familiar trope of popular media, accompanied by numerous other incidences that are associated with spirit manifestation?—?orbs, shadowy shapes, or some kind of purposeful, unseen force. However, as type categories these bear more relation to narrative cues than to actually getting to the heart of the experience itself. All of them fall under the category of ‘ghost’ or ‘spirit,’ yet experientially they are quite different. Stories surrounding anomalies often speak more to our concepts of life and death, and to our relationships with the social order and the natural world around us, than they do about the phenomena themselves.
When I ventured with friends to find Resurrection Mary part of the draw was that outside of the famed hitch-hiker, the area has actively accumulated numerous other urban legends. Stories circulate of mysterious lights over the waterways that converge there, strange monk like apparitions and a vanishing horse drawn hearse are said to have been seen at the St. James-Sag cemetery down the road. Even the old tale about the Devil appearing at a dance, discovered when his dance partner sees his cloven feet (in Southwestern variations his feet are sometimes those of a chicken), has found a home at one of the local ballrooms.
While my search for Resurrection Mary lead me deeper into ghostland, many years later a chance encounter one night with a fellow named Preston would continue to change my understanding of how these patterns emerge and relate to anomalous incidents.
Born with a veil
Not long after I moved to Georgia I met Preston in an alleyway behind the Liminal Analytics office as he was walking home from work. He was a cook at a restaurant a few doors down and after a polite introduction, he asked me what I did. The question made me pause and consider the ramifications of revealing my obscure interests to a random stranger in an alley in the hyper-charged religious atmosphere of the Deep South, and finally said:
“I write about … weird things.”
“Oh, like what?” he asked.
“Well, peoples’ belief in the supernatural,” I explained with care. “How stories of the supernatural affect our sense of self.”
Much to my surprise, he didn’t flinch. Instead, he nodded thoughtfully and said, “I believe in the unknown, because to me, not to believe in the unknown is not to believe in God. I can’t see him, neither, but I know he’s there, and I can see him working.” I nodded, smiling to myself, his attitude echoed that of some of the early members of the Society for Psychical Research. It’s clear from correspondences among the founders, as well as the focus of much of their work, that proving anomalous experience was considered one way to shake things up for the philosophical hold of materialist mechanism that was becoming more prevalent during the late 19th century.
“Now, some people are afraid of ghosts,” he continued.
“They don’t like to talk about them none. I tell them, ‘Now I believe in the Lord too strong to be worried about any of that.’ I believe in ghosts because my daddy believed in them. He was born with a veil over his face. They say folks born like that can see things. He used to heal kids with the thrush.”
“Your dad was born with a caul?” I asked with excitement. A caul, as you may know, is a piece of the birth membrane that can cover a newborn’s head and face. Throughout history it has been popularly associated with second sight, and has often been taken as a sign that a child will have special abilities to heal as well. Preston was telling me that his father had been a local seer and faith healer, born directly into the tradition.
“Yeah,” he said, “some people call it that.”
He then proceeded to recount a number of stories about encountering “ghosts” with his father. But these were not the ghosts that I would normally have thought of. Some of them, for instance, were solid, as in his recollection of a “ghost” they met while waiting for a bus:
“One time we was at the bus stop, and he tells me ‘Look over there,’ pointing to a man standing across the street at the other bus stop. He was standing with his back turned to us so you couldn’t see his face. My daddy said, ‘That’s a ghost.’ And I said, ‘Now how in the world can that be a ghost? That’s a man standing there solid as me.’ He said, ‘Nah, that’s a ghost. You ain’t never gonna see his face. Watch.’ So we did. We sat there until our bus come. Whole time the man just stands there with his back to us. My daddy, he said, ‘Now wait, we’ll let this one pass, we’re going to sit here until his bus come.’ So we did, we sat there until his bus come, and still that man never did turn or move. My daddy say, ‘Now watch … ‘ The lights inside the bus was bright, you know, and I watched, but I never seen him get on the bus. When it drove away, he was gone. Now, I tell you, I ain’t seen him get on, but he was gone when it left.”
It was upon hearing this that I realized just how far popular and academic media had separated me from nearly every traditional tale of the “Other World” that I had ever heard or read. How many urban legends deal with very solid figures that are only later revealed to have origins other than the waking world? Preston’s account was quite different from the stories that had drawn me to Archer Avenue.
What exactly is a ghost in this sense? And what does it mean to encounter one?
There are ghosts, and then there are ghosts
In folktales and reported experience the phantom hitch-hiker is one of the more solid apparitions that people speak of encountering, at least in terms of the scholarly literature on the subject. Goss points out that, “one important aspect of Phantom Hitch-Hikers consists of their not being readily identifiable as supernatural entities, but as living, unexceptional human persons in need of a lift. Consequently, Beardsley and Hankey were convinced that ‘there is a modernity about the elements and the essence of the story…which sets it off sharply from the tales of the past. The most significant of the modern elements is the hitch-hiker’s successful masquerading as a human being.’ This element, they thought, is rare in European ghostlore and the few exceptions do not rely upon it for their impact. The ghost who is sufficiently real to pass for human?—?the kind most commonly reported in early psychical research journals?—?was not popularized until the end of the nineteenth century.” Goss systematically overturns these assumptions with clear examples from folklore attesting to corporeal ghosts.
There is even a name for this type of apparition –a revenant. Medievalist Claude Lecouteux has written extensively on European traditions of revenants and ghosts, and by drawing on court records, medical reports and other official period documents he too has shown how the veil between corporeal and phantasmal flesh is often rather thin. While Victorian ghost stories and reality television often lead us towards the image of a misty immaterial phantom, traditions which include interacting with the spirit world almost always treat spirit manifestation in fleshy forms. There is a stark contrast between the kind of tropes associated with ghosts in folktales and ‘ghost stories’ and those we find in the living folk beliefs of people whose worldview includes interacting on a regular basis with the spirit world. We can see this very clearly in Preston’s account of his father’s practice as a traditional seer.
Narrative and belief
If we seek other sources we find similar accounts appearing in the work of folklorists such as Harry Middleton Hyatt, who collected folk accounts without starting with a particular theme of interest. The folklorists that Goss references were all studying the narrative structures of folktales, and as such they discovered folk accounts with those narrative forms in place. On the other hand, Hyatt, in works like The Folklore of Adams County Illinois, survey’s general beliefs and comes up with many reports of spirit encounters that fit closer to the isolated accounts found by psychical researchers.
When we look for stories, we find stories, when we look for experiences we find experiences. Throughout Goss’ analysis one is given the opportunity to reflect on the nature of our experiential narratives and the effects of belief?—?as well as how the tools and paradigms used during our investigation help to shape the understandings that arise. Through the interplay of psychical research techniques with folkloristics we are given an interesting clue to how folklore studies, through the functional necessity of gathering and examining narratives, often moves outside the nature of folk beliefs as they are actually lived.
For instance, a local recounting a story told about a witch or faith healer, will be quite different than the experiential account of the witch or faith healer themselves. The vanishing hitch-hiker that we are given to observe in the book is a shadow filtered through popular media and correlated anecdotal reports, yet, as I learned from Preston, behind the blinds of literary leitmotif lays a living world of spirits.
Having gained more understanding since my foray at the age of 16, comparing the accounts that Preston related to me with the stories that lead me so many years ago into the darkness of Archer Avenue in search of Resurrection Mary I can clearly see the divergence of experience and legend. As Goss’ own examination shows, diving into first hand personal accounts we suddenly find that the tight categories which satisfy the needs of a good story are not necessarily those found in actual reports.
In future articles we will go ‘off trail’ and into the wild wood of history with our investigation. We’ll turn off the lights, drive a bit slower and focus on exploring with more detail what we can discover from phenomena such as the phantom hitch-hiker when we move away from the constricting atmosphere of categories like ‘urban legend’ and dance into the areas where experiential accounts fit with older understandings of the thinly veiled borders between the wide roads of the waking world and the darkened paths of ghostland.
Source: Modern Mythology
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