269 – The Haunting of David Oman: Sharon Tate and The House At The End of Cielo Drive

When David Oman woke up in 1999 to his Los Angeles real estate developer father finding a lot in the newspaper for $40,000, he thought it was a typo. Cielo Drive in Benedict Canyon, on the edge of Beverly Hills. It was the former address of Hollywood royalty like like Cary Grant, Henry Fonda, and Candice Bergen. But it also was the same street where Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski lived in 1969 and the site of the most infamous of the Manson Family murders. But that house was torn down after Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails famously recorded The Downward Spiral there and called his studio Le Pig, a kind of disgusting homage to Sharon Tate’s blood being used to scrawl the words “Pig” on the front door. He later regretted treating the murders with that kind of levity. But still, there’s no way a lot in that neighborhood would go for that kind of money.

However, it wasn’t a typo, it was a zoning issue. The city had zoned the street incorrectly and that meant that the owners of the lot weren’t able to develop it. They started building a house into the side of the hill and had to quit after laying the foundation. Oman’s father realized the mistake, so they bought the lot and petitioned the city to rezone the street. It worked and they were cleared to develop the house. Originally David Oman’s father wanted to sell the place, but David knew that it was his dream home.

David Oman with Lance Henriksen

Not long after moving in, Oman started having haunted experiences, including a full-bodied apparition of Jay Sebring, the famous Hollywood hairdresser who was murdered right down the street in th Sharon Tate home. He invited a ghosthunting team to investigate and they started to get strange readings, particularly their EMF and magnetic readings (we covered this earlier in our episode about the Manson Family as well, so you can get a little background there.)

Dr. Barry Taff of The Entity fame investigated and has seen some amazing things there, SyFy’s Ghost Hunters and of course, Zak Bagans and the Ghost Adventures team have been there as well.

Zak Bagans talking to Dr. Barry Taff about his experiences at the Oman House

Oman also had flashes of movie scenes come to him. Scenes that he believes were shown to him by the ghost of Sharon Tate. These would eventually culminate in the film, House at The End of the Drive, produced in 2015.

In October of 2019, David Oman released a book, The Ghosts of Cielo Drive where he talks about his experiences and we talked to him extensively about the book and the paranormal encounters including:

  • Oman’s encounter with Lindsay Lohan when she showed up wanting “to see a ghost”
  • Why David Oman isn’t scared of the paranormal phenomena in his home
  • Why he feels the place called to him to build there and reveal its secrets
  • More of the electromagnetic anomalies people have experienced

For the song this week, we were inspired by the cult of celebrity around Sharon Tate, Charles Manson, and true crime. We just can’t get enough of real life drama with these entertainers we’ve elevated to princes and princesses. But fame has its price and sometimes it’s a “Pound of Flesh”.

A map to the stars
and a map to graveyards
I want to know where the bodies are buried
Where history comes alive
like on Cielo Drive
I want to be as seen on TV

Lifestyles of the rich and famous
this appetite is heinous
hey now they’re just like us
when they’re all blood and guts

Another piece of me
another piece of meat
another pound of Flesh
for the paparazzi
You know the bourgeoisie
love their crime scenes bloody
And we’ll dance on the graves
of dead celebrities

268 – What Really Happened To Jimmy Hoffa? Psychics, UFOs, and The Irishman

July 30th, 1975. Former Teamsters Union President James R. Hoffa is scheduled for a 2PM meeting at the Machus Red Fox Restaurant in Bloomfield Township, Michigan with reported Mafia members, Anthony Provenzano and Anthony Giacalone. At 2:15pm he calls his wife and expresses his annoyance that no one is there. At 3:27pm, he calls his friend Louis Linteau and says he was stood up. After that, no one hears from him again.

Jimmy Hoffa

In a mystery that has never officially been solved by law enforcement and has been the basis of massive speculation as well as the source of a million late night comedy jokes over the years. Jimmy Hoffa, one of the most well-known figures of all time in organized labor politics, just vanished without a trace.

He wasn’t an angel. Hoffa had already been convicted of fraud and illegal wiretapping and had served several years in prison, and he several of his associates had admitted that they were in the mafia. In order to unify local trucking unions and rise to power, he had to cut deals with organized crime figures who were central to the running of the unions. He was the focus of Robert F. Kennedy’s corruption investigations in the early 1960s. Jimmy Hoffa was surrounded by criminals and eventually he angered the wrong people. But who did he anger and how did he disappear? That’s the mystery.

And the story is back in the news because it’s one of the central tales in Martin Scorcese’s new film, The Irishman, coming out this month. It’s based on the life of Frank Sheeran, a union leader, Hoffa associate, and a hit man for the Bufalino crime family. Sheeran claims to have killed Hoffa in his book, I Heard You Paint Houses (which was the code phrase people used to approach him to perform an assassination.) While that’s one theory of what happened to him, we delve into far-out ones in this episode. Some topics we cover:

This week’s track, inspired by the idea of vanishing without a trace is called “The Disappeared”.

When I say your name
There’s no answer on the way
I forget you were erased
because you were here one day
and it’s almost like I imagined

It’s a mystery
how you disappeared from my history
Oh It’s like you never existed
Oh It’s like you never existed.

Exit reality
to only remain in my memory
oh It’s like you never existed
Oh It’s like you never existed.

Just a fantasy
a phantom limb that itches me
Just a missing piece of meat
a sailor lost at sea
vanished and abandoned

It’s a mystery
how you disappeared from my history
Oh It’s like you never existed
Oh It’s like you never existed.

Exit reality
to only remain in my memory
oh It’s like you never existe

267 – Multidimensional Evolution: Exploring Consciousness with Kim McCaul

When anthropologist and consciousness researcher Kim McCaul talks about “multidimensional evolution”, it’s a concept that sounds like it might be a little bit woo-woo New Age-y. Kinda like when paranormal people talk about quantum physics. Yes, Einstein called it “spooky action at a distance”. No, it doesn’t provide a scientific explanation for ghosts, psychics, demons, etc… When you put scientific words into non-materialist concepts, things can often get dice-y quickly, which always makes me think of one of my favorite of Damon Wayans’ characters on In Living Color (sorry Homey The Clown!)

But when Kim McCaul breaks it down, the idea of “multidimensional evolution” isn’t complex or trying to ape modern science, it’s simply the idea that our consciousness doesn’t just have one dimension (or manifestation.) We have

  • the soma (our physical body)
  • the psychosoma (our spiritual body)
  • the mentalsoma (our analytical manifestation)
  • the energosoma (our manifestitation in energy).

And while a couple of those might hew close to the Freudian model of the psyche, the idea that we have more than one body is as old as humanity itself. When we talked to Jan Van Ysslestyne about her book The Spirits from The Edge of the World which is about the shamanism of the Ulchi people of Siberia, the idea of multiple bodies for one person is natural to their thousands-year-old Shamanic tradition. And Kim has been studying the Aboriginal civilization in Australia, whose spiritual tradition goes back tens of thousands of years, and there he finds many of the same concepts.

Which is why it’s funny that these ideas are often called “New Age”. New?! It’s the oldest religion in civilization. Our world around us is all alive and is all a different expression of this life energy that we call consciousness.

And there was something from the book and our conversation that I found particularly interesting. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression that in this life we are “a spiritual entity having a physical experience” but Kim McCaul says that it’s more like “we are a consciousness having a spiritual and a physical experience”. That struck me because it seemed to make more sense to me.

If consciousness is an energy that all comes from the same place and we are bits of that consciousness that differentiate from each other through the experiences we feel in our bodies (and Kim would say in many bodies over many lifetimes), then that unity that we all feel sometimes after meditation or through a psychedelic drug, that oneness, is because consciousness itself isn’t different, it’s the bodies that consciousness expresses itself through that are different. That whole “namaste” thing is even more powerful when you realize that other people are built from the same stuff as you, their experiences have just led them to where they are, even if they’re in opposition to you. It just helps to engender a little empathy when you realize that everyone else is dealing with their own $h!t too. Consciousness exists as a universal force that we have all come from and we all will go back to, there’s not as a finite number of “souls” that exist independently of each other.

Anyway, my mind was blown for a short time, but in the interview you’ll find more great tidbits like:

  • How Kim’s spiritual journey took him from the UK to Indonesia to Rio de Janeiro and to Australia
  • What kinds of meditation can help you open yourself up to discovering your different somas
  • What’s an “intruder” vs a “helper”
  • How to avoid ‘spiritual superiority disorder”

Kim’s thoughts about consciousness reminded me of the Divine Spark from the Gnostics who believed there was a bit of the divine in each of us, no matter who. It’s the Aristotlean “Breath of Life” that unifies us, even when it’s hard to see that. That’s the inspiration for this week’s song, “Breathe”.

I’ve seen this cruel and angry place from every way,
I’ve seen what people do when they need to survive,
I’ve seen the ugly face of the human race,
I’ve watched people each other alive.

There’s a spark inside, that’s what starts the fire,
But sometimes that light, it doesn’t shine so bright,
Oh I know there’s supposed to be a part of you that’s part of me,
But sometimes I need a little help to breathe.

All the times where I’ve been drowning in my own skin,
And all the moments when I thought I had enough,
But I’ve felt the guiding hand and I’ve seen the promised land,
and once that switch is flipped, it never can turn off.

There’s a spark inside, that’s what starts the fire,
But sometimes that light, it doesn’t shine so bright,
Oh I know there’s supposed to be a part of you that’s part of me,
But sometimes I need a little help to breathe.

266 – MOMO: Tracking Down The Missouri Monster with Seth Breedlove

Small Towns Monsters filmmaker Seth Breedlove has been bringing to life they mysterious cryptids from America’s out-of-the-way locations. We’ve already talked to him about The Beast of Bray Road as well as the strange flying beasts of Illinois and now he’s returning with another tale of large hairy beast sightings from the 1970s, Momo (which is a cute name for Missouri Monster).

But while Momo is a cute name, what people saw in the summers of 1971 and 1972 in Louisiana, Missouri, was anything but sweet and friendly. Louisiana is a sleepy Mississippi River town of less than four thousand people that straddles the border with Illinois in the northeastern part of Missouri. So when two girls reported seeing a seven-foot tall furry beast whose face was covered by hair and was accompanied by a foul stench that cornered them in their car and ate their peanut butter sandwich before it disappeared back into the wilderness, it caught people’s attention.

It was a year later though, when the story would capture the nation’s attention after three children saw the monster by a riverbed holding a dead dog that set off a flurry of monster sightings, huge tracks in the dirt, and lights in the sky. They told their father, Edgar Harrison, and he says that he saw two of the creatures himself, “almost like a human except it had black hair all over it.” Eventually the sheriff even organized a posse to look for the creature while Harrison camped out for 21 straight days to look for the beast. Alas, no creature was every capture, alive or on film, but some strange tracks were found (even though one famous footprint was admitted to be a hoax by one of the perpetrators.)

Edgar Harrison’s children still stand by what they saw in that summer of 1972, and Edgar is the closest thing to a protagonist in Momo: The Missouri Monster‘s film-within-a-film recreations. Seth and his team pretend their re-enactments are from a long-lost 1970s Z-grade horror film about the monster that is rediscovered for the documentary and cowboy cryptozoologist Lyle Blackburn is the horror host who leads you through the movie.

Lyle Blackburn talking about Momo

And Lyle (who has also been on the podcast) is no stranger to Momo himself, he wrote a book about the creature earlier this year and has his own fascination with the Missouri Monster.

This is probably the most fun of the Small Town Monsters series because while it takes the evidence seriously, and you can see that in the interviews with the local historians and townsfolk, they don’t take themselves too seriously. They embrace the 1970s grindhouse vibe with the film-within-the-film, but when it comes to the actual characters, they respect the humans who had to deal with the experiences and the aftermath of it.

That’s something that Seth gets into in the interview, how important it was to him to try and honor the experiencers while finding a novel way to tell the stories. If you haven’t seen Momo: The Missouri Monster yet, then this is an insteresting episode about paranormal storytelling, but if you have seen it, think of it like a special features interview with the director.

And in this episode and our conversation with Seth Breedlove about Momo: The Missouri Monster, we go over:

  • The timeline of the Momo sightings
  • How to properly create the 70s atmosphere in the movie
  • The town of Louisiana today and how they feel about the sightings
  • The recurring themes that come up in the Small Town Monsters series and what has tied them together for the filmmakers
  • The possibliity that Momo might have been an alien instead of a cryptid
  • How Allison (my sister) and I, who were superfans of Chicago ghost hunting legend, Richard Crowe, completely missed that he was the one who wrote the seminal news article about the creature in the first place for Fate magazine

You can watch Momo: The Missouri Monster right now by renting it from Amazon or you can purchase the DVD from the Small Town Monsters shop.

For this week’s song, we wanted to evoke the 1970s just like Seth’s movie did, so we went for a classic style Hard Rock song that might fit into the soundtrack for a grindhouse horror flick, here’s us going dad rock on “Momo”!

Baby I said you don’t have to believe me
but I will tell you it’s true
I was down Louisiana Missouri
when you thought I was stepping out on you

Something hairy something nasty something filthy
smelling like death itself
That furry bastard coming out of the woods
Had me screaming for help

Baby I was gonna run home to you
just as soon as I could flee
but the Sheriff, he enlisted me in his posse
to go up the hill and find that beast

looking for…
Something hairy something nasty something filthy
smelling like the Devil himself
That furry bastard coming out of the woods
Had people screaming for help

Fireballs o’er the Mississippi
Footprints on the ground
Momo’s stalking the hills of Missouri,
And he don’t wanna be found.

Something hairy something nasty something filthy
smelling like the Devil himself
That furry bastard coming out of the woods
Had people screaming for help

Fireballs o’er the Mississippi
Footprints on the ground
Momo’s stalking the hills of Missouri,
And he don’t wanna be found.

Fireballs o’er the Mississippi
Footprints on the ground
Momo’s stalking the hills of Missouri,
And he don’t wanna be found.

265 – Ghost Nation: Back On The Hunt With Jason Hawes

We’ve interviewed plenty of television ghost hunters on the show before, but it’s not every day you get to talk to the original. When Ghost Hunters premiered on the Sci-Fi Channel in 2004 (even before they’d changed the name for corporate trademark purposes to SyFy), there were talk shows with psychic mediums, there were shows that used the Night Vision camera like MTV’s Fear, but there was nothing that showed the modern ghost hunting experience. Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson founded the core of the team and Jason stayed with the show through all 232 episodes.

Those are some serious-looking Ghostbusters

In 1990 after having his own paranormal experience, Jason Hawes formed the group that would become The Atlantic Paranormal Society. The acronym T.A.P.S. would launch a thousand paranormal teams across the country, but it was a 2002 New York Times article that would eventually lead to their deal with Pilgrim Films and turn a Rhode Island paranormal investigation team into international celebrities and create the phenomenon that would become “paranormal reality television”.

Ghost Hunters ended after 11 seasons in 2016 (with a new revival on A&E with Grant Wilson starting this season), but Jason Hawes has returned to television with Ghost Nation, starring longtime TAPS members, Dave Tango and Steve Gonsalves. Ghost Nation is centered around what Jason feels is the most important part of paranormal investigation and that’s working in private residences with families who are having haunted experiences that they need help with.

Dave Tango, Jason Hawes, and Steve Gonsalves

Jason has his own radio show, Beyond Reality and he spent 11 years on television, so he’s a great talker and our discussion is wonderfully candid. He’s got a really disarming manner and even if I hadn’t seen him hunt ghosts so many times, it felt like I’d known him for years. You can see how people who’ve never met him can open up about their paranormal experiences. If he brings that kind of easy charisma to Ghost Nation, it will be a fun season indeed. Here are some of the topics that we cover:

  • Why Jason decided to get back into TV ghost hunting after several years off
  • Tips for a new ghost hunting team
  • The difference between an intelligent haunting and a “recording”
  • Why Jason misses some of the real-life drama that fueled the first few seasons of Ghost Hunters
  • What’s the difference between ghost hunting in the 90s and today
  • Is there some kind of feud between him and Grant Wilson now that they have competing shows?

Ghost Nation premieres on Travel Channel October 11th, 2019 at 9pm Central/10pm Eastern and Pacific Time!

So much of life is dedicated to pondering its brevity. In fact, the Roman Stoics used to carry Momento Moris around, which were little reminders that they were going to die. The idea is that its supposed to urge you into action realizing that you have a finite time on this earth, so make the most of it. My conversation with Jason Hawes who has been to so many haunted sites and has seen so many things that he cannot explain made me posit just the opposite. What if we had all the time in the world?

That immediately made me think of Andrew Marvell’s lovely poem “To His Coy Mistress” which famously starts “Had we but world enough and time”, the idea being that life is short so let’s get to the fun parts (in the poem, the speaker is trying to get his girlfriend to make some sweet love, as was another Seventeenth Century poem inspiration for one of our earlier songs.) But this song is just the opposite, it’s about how love never dies and when faced with the possibility that our spirits are eternal, instead of a one-night stand, it just might be “The Long Game”.

It’s the lines on my face
and the dark around your eyes
when infatuation fades
we’re left with these old lives

what if we knew forever
was more than just fantasy
what if we knew forever
could be our reality

we’ve got world enough and time
an eternity remains
we’ve got world enough and time
love is a long game

Though the clock is ticking
we’re more than these old bones
there’s no stroke of midnight
when you’re dancing on gravestones

what if we knew forever
was more than just fantasy
what if we knew forever
could be our reality

we’ve got world enough and time
an eternity remains
we’ve got world enough and time
love is a long game

264 – Coming Out of the Shadows: New Orleans Voodoo with Rory Schmitt and Rosary O’Neill

No other American cities have mysticism associated with them like New Orleans does with Voodoo. And that’s because, more than any other city, New Orleans is its own thing. It is firmly ensconced in American culture from jazz to football to Mardi Gras to the outporing of support after Hurricane Katrina and holds a special place in the hearts of anyone who has visited (I’m always looking forward to my next trip!)

And for paranormal fans, it’s where Anne Rice wrote her vampire series, it’s where Trent Reznor bought a house, Nicolas Cage bought a pyramid in the city’s most famous cemetery for God’s sake. It’s a city full of haunted history and vampire tours, rich with culture as a crossroads of French settler, African slave, American Indian, Carribbean and English culture have all collided into a gumbo (see what I did there?) of something completely unique. The place has something for everyone… Spring Breakers like Mardi Gras for the Girls Gone Wild aspect, paranormal lovers enjoy all of the legends and strangeness, music lovers can appreciate the one-of-a-kind Jazz, foodies can find a special cuisine, historians can enjoy one of America’s oldest cities, etc…)

Rory O’Neill Schmitt and her mother Rosary O’Neill are New Orleans natives who have taken a lifelong interest in voodoo and have written a book New Orleans Voodoo: A Cultural History. It’s a respectful and eye-opening exploration of a topic that is easily demonized. Voodoo isn’t the black magic of The Serpent And The Rainbow or Angel Heart, it’s not a religion practiced by the “other” that Hollywood can often make things out to be. It’s a normal way of seeing the world and finding spirituality in everyday life that has amalgamated from West African animism, Roman Catholicism, and New World neccessity.

When I read their book, it gave me an insight into Voodoo that I hadn’t seen before. It was more than just superstition and spells, but it provides some understanding of how the world’s oldest kind of spirituality (animism) can combine with more modern religion (Christianity) to create a cultural force that helps guide people’s lives. In this interview about New Orleans Voodoo, we learn about:

  • How did the practice of Voodoo come about, where do the ceremonies and the beliefs come from?
  • How slaves could use Voodoo to maintain a sense of control in a world where they were in chains
  • Who are the lwas?
  • What Catholic saints match up to which ancient African spirits and how they’re similar
  • Why is New Orleans such a unique place for this kind of spirituality?
  • What are some common misconceptions about Voodoo?
  • Rory and Rosary’s personal experiences with Voodoo practitioners

When I was reading the book, the idea of possession in a voodoo ceremony really struck me as something different and interesting to my religious upbringing. Instead of being possessed by the Holy Spirit like the Christians who speak in tongues, they get possessed by a variety of different lwas (a variety of spirits who act between humans and God), whether it’s a lord of the dead like Papa Gede, or Papa Legba, the Trickster of the Crossroads. In the ceremony, the participant becomes a vessel for the spirit to speak through and will often not remember it. That kind of surrender to the invisible powers of the world seems so dangerous to me, but it’s an exiciting idea. It’s exactly the type of thing that people who tell you you shouldn’t play with Ouija Boards would warn you against, but it’s also the kind of thing that seems like a powerful spiritual experience . “Possess Me” is our song inspired by the idea.

I walked with a zombie
somewhere on Bourbon Street
Coming out from the shadows
midnight on St. John’s Eve
So if you go go go
go see the queen
Please let her know know know
she’s gotta pray
she’s gotta pray for me

Ooh darling
I wanna bathe in your blue sea
When the mambo calls your name
I need you to possess me

Close your eyes and listen close
You can feel the Invisibles
flesh and blood, spectres and ghosts
some things aren’t divisible

So if you go go go
go see the queen
Please let her know know know
she’s gotta pray
she’s gotta pray for me

Ooh darling
I wanna bathe in your blue sea
When the mambo calls your name
I need you to possess me

263 – Dream Telepathy: From Inception to The Grateful Dead

We live as we dream – alone…

– Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

Or do we?

– Me
Me, getting ready for a little Ganzfeld-style dream research

We’ve talked about dream interpretation before (Episode 129 and Episode 53 in particular are a good place to start) and we’ve discussed the idea of dreams as parallel universes. Of course, we’ve talked about the Succubi and the demons of our nightmares as well. And trying to control your dreams through lucidity was our second episode! Dreaming is the the ultimate looking inward, it’s us actually living inside our own thoughts.

For millennia, humans have considered the dreamstate to be something mystical. After all, it’s a place where anything can happen. Dead loved ones can appear to you, friends can return, you can imagine what life would be like if you had made a different choice, and it all feels real. The thing about dreams is that it feels just as real as regular waking life.

You might not meditate, drop acid, or take magic mushrooms, but you experience an altered state of consciousness every night. When you fall asleep, you dream. Even if you don’t remember your dreams, you still dream when you enter REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep.

And if we believe that paranormal experiences happen to us in an altered state of consciousnesss, when are they most likely to happen except for the altered state that we naturally go into every single night?

What if we don’t have to be alone while we dream? What if someone can communicate with us, or even join us?

Inception was the latest movie to use this idea, but of course, we’re also big fans of Dreamscape (one of our friends even worked in the art department for that Dennis Quaid classic!) So, when it comes to dream telepathy, we’re trying to find out what is real and what isn’t, what scientists have proven and what they haven’t.

In this episode, we’ll talk about the most famous dream research, from Sigmund Freud (he’s the man who really introduced dream interpretation into the modern era with his “talking cure”) to Dr. Stanley Krippner, who did dream ESP research for decades, to the latest studies that prove there’s actually something significant (even if it’s only statistically right now) more to our dreams than just a “undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, or a fragment of underdone potato”! Here’s what we cover:

For the song this week, we picked a track off our first album where “dreams”, whether they be of the “wake up in a cold sweat” kind, or of the daydreaming your future kind, can have a huge impact on your life. They can paralyze you as well as energize you. Because no matter where the dreams are coming from, you have to pay attention to them, so you don’t get stuck!

Woke up this morning paralyzed by a dream, 
Stared at my ceiling for an hour, 
Prayed a little, thought a little, then got outta bed. 
Then I went to work at nothing for what seemed like forever. 

The days turn to hours, 
the minutes race past. 
Dreams have this way with me, moving too fast. 
We danced until dawn under endless sky, 
but when I woke up, it had passed me by. 

I’m falling behind in the human race, 
cuz all of my life I’ve been running in place. 
The boys with big dreams have to pick up the pace, 
or all of our lives we’ll be running in place. 

This room looks so old and worn and beat, 
I stared out my window for an hour. 
When you have too much ambition than it’s worse than none at all, 
when you’re waiting for a sign that will never come. 

The days turn to hours, 
the minutes race past. 
Dreams have this way with of outreaching my grasp. 
We danced until dawn under endless sky, 
but when I woke up, it had passed me by. 

I’m falling behind in the human race, 
cuz all of my life I’ve been running in place. 
The boys with big dreams have to pick up the pace, 
or all of our lives we’ll be running in place.

262 – Beyond The Lost Ark: Nazis And The Occult

80 years ago this week, on September 1st, 1939 Nazi Germany invaded Poland. 2 days later, on September 3rd, Britain and France declare war on Germany and the deadliest conflict in all of human history began. Only a little more than two decades after suffering defeat in the previous most devastating war of all time, the German people were compelled to lose another generation of young men in war as well as slaughtering millions of innocents in the Holocaust, all seduced by the racial ideology of Adolf Hitler.

If you’re reading this, chances are that you’ve seen Raiders of the Lost Ark, and that was the movie for my generation that solidified the idea that the Nazis weren’t just conquerors determined to rule Europe, but straight up evil monsters who were seeking to use demonic forces to their advantage.

Remember the first time you saw that one Nazi’s face melt? Pure nightmare fuel.

But the idea that the evil of the Third Reich was more than just human and had a supernatural flavor wasn’t limited to Indiana Jones. 1960’s The Morning of the Magicians discussed the neo-Pagan and magical organizations that exisited in 1920s Germany. Later generations had the Wolfenstein video games which provide an alternate reality of Nazism and occult research to create an undefeatable soldier. In the comics, we got Hellboy, who was born in a Nazi ritual designed to bring about the end of the world. Even Rob Zombie used the idea of occult Nazis in his faux trailer for the movie Grindhouse, “Werewolf Women of the SS”.

Hitler strikes a pose, but was he really casting a spell?

But Nazis didn’t need the demonic to be evil. The Holocaust was not a supernatural Final Solution, it was a very human answer. It was mass murder meets the assembly line and perfected with German engineering. But what are the underpinnings that enable otherwise normal human beings to be able to commit atrocities?

That’s where the Nazis used the occult. People need something to believe in, and the Nazis manipulated Pagan legends, racial pseudo-science (that was just as prevalant in America as it was in Hitler’s Germany), ancestral hatred, and an entire country’s inferiority complex to transform an educated 2oth Century modern nation into a people complicit with genocide. Hitler weaponized belief like a Crusade and set fire to a continent.

Mythology means something and it can unify a people. Science of the early 20th Century was constantly finding ways to justity horrible behavior based on racial identity, there was a resurgence of Spiritualism at the same time (particularly after all of the corpses created during the First World War), and the German people were in need of a morale boost after a devastating loss. The seeds of the Master Race were already planted, but Hitler cultivated it and provided a path to destiny for the Third Reich. He gave a nation of millions something to believe in.

And something to kill for.

The occult was a tool in the Nazi playbook to inspire and manipulate the German people. Did they conduct demonic rituals to summon a Hellboy-style monster to destroy the world? Probably not. Did spreading the myth of an empire destined to last a thousand years while reinforcing the idea that they are genetically superior help inspire a tired people sick of war to attack their neighbors? Definitely.

The Nazis were propaganda experts, and when you seek world domination would the spiritual be any less immune to manipulation than the political? For the 80th anniversary of the Second World War, Wendy and I jump into Nazis and the Occult. Here’s some of the topics we discuss:

  • Why the Nazis were cruel to humans but kind to animals
  • How the Hindu religion and Eastern mysticism was important in the creation of the “Aryan” myth
  • Carl Jung’s psychoanalysis of Hitler and his nearly magical control over crowds when he was speaking
  • Hitler’s strange search for Noah’s Ark
  • How Nazi mysticism is the biggest holdover to modern Neo-Nazi groups alive and active in the modern Unites States

This week’s song is about tribalism which is the basis of the identity politics that inspired the Nazis. Are you defined by your DNA? Should other people be categorized by the tribe they’re born into? Are we “blood and soil”? Are we delineated by who our parents are?

When I was 17, I was friends with a group of ethnically Croatian soccer players and they were proud of starting fights with the ethnically Serbian teams. This wasn’t in Yuogslavia. This was in Wisconsin. Almost all these kids were born in Milwaukee. But they kept their ancestral hatreds alive.

When does this end? Who gets to be the group that beats on all the other ones?

This week’s song is called “Fatherland”.

Run me up the flagpole, 
I bleed red white and blue 
I’m the trueborn son of Uncle Sam 
with an eagle tattoo 
So straight white males are bad guys 
defined by what we’re born into 
so if you wanna play with DNA 
I’ve got a game for you 

It’s time we all made a stand with our tribe. 
It’s time we picked the side where we belong 
We’re all looking for a scapegoat 
And don’t we all love a good bomb? 

I pledge allegiance to the Fatherland 
the corporation for which it stands 
And I cast my vote for apathy 
and I don’t give a damn about autonomy 
If stupidity is democracy 
I hope they blow it up 
I hope they blow it all up 

If identity is destiny 
and our lives are all programmed 
Then like should stick with like I say 
or our empire will be damned 
the legacy of heroes 
a new order of the Golden Dawn 
purity, blood and soil, 
My country right or wrong. 

It’s time we all made a stand with our tribe. 
It’s time we picked the side where we belong 
We’re all looking for a scapegoat 
And don’t we all love a good bomb? 

I pledge allegiance to the Fatherland 
the corporation for which it stands 
And I cast my vote for apathy 
and I don’t give a damn about autonomy 
If stupidity is democracy 
I hope they blow it up 
I hope they blow it all up

261 – Greening The Paranormal: A New Way of Investigating with Dr. Jack Hunter

Last time we spoke with Dr. Jack Hunter, it was upon release of his book Engaging The Anomalous : Collected Essays on Anthropology, The Paranormal, Mediumship and Extraordinary Experience. He’s an anthropologist who has devoted much of his research to exploring paranormal experiences from a more holistic perspective. Instead of just searching for physical evidence in paranormal experiences, he factors everything in from the culture of the experiencer to the history of the surroundings to try and get a deeper understanding of the phenomena.

Dr. Hunter giving a presentation

Humans seem hardwired for extraordinary experiences, so why can’t we prove it? Everyone knows someone that they trust that has had some kind of strange psychic experience or seen something that they absolutely can’t explain. So why is it so hard to prove it? One theory lies in the idea that the very words “paranormal” or “supernatural” are part of the problem. Those words say that metaphysical phenomena is something outside of normal experience.

In our interview with J. Van Ysslestyne, the author of Spirits From The Edge of the World, which is a study of one of the oldest continuous cultures on the planet as well as the one that gave us the very word “Shaman”, she says that to that tribe, the very idea that we’re separate from our surroundings, our land, our ecological system, is an alien thought.

We are part of the land as much as a tree and as much as a bird and they have a spirit or an energy that we can connect with. Paranormal experiences reflect that energy and when we isolate ourselves from it, or try to study the physiology of the experience instead of what happened as a whole, we’re not getting the entire picture. When we do that, we become observers instead of participants. And being a participant seems to be essential in having a paranormal experience.

That form of belief, animism, is one of the oldest kinds of religions, and it’s less of a religion with “rules” and more of a system of belief and conduct. The idea that we’re all connected to the world around us and that spirits are in everything whether it’s an inanimate object or not is how our ancestors viewed their surroundings for much longer than we’ve had modern religion.

Okay, so in this belief system does that mean that rocks have souls? Well, maybe not like humans, but sure, they have their own type of souls. Their own type of energy and it interacts with all the other energies around it and the system itself becomes its own entity. From Bigfoot to faerie sightings to UFO encounters to ghosts, people have often experienced the extraordinary outside in nature. What does that mean?

The new book, feeling at one with his feline friend.

Well, that’s what Jack is tackling in the new book he has edited, Greening The Paranormal: Exploring The Ecology of Paranormal Experience, is a collection of essays that goes deep into the idea that everything in the world is connected. In fact, he took his inspiration from the recent trend of “Greening Religion”, which means that certain churches and faiths are becoming more interested in environmental activism because they realize that pollution and man-made climate change will destroy the wonderful planet their God has created.

And that’s part of the idea of this new book, that perhaps understanding how important nature is to our own ecstatic and spiritual experience will give us new inspiration on how to battle harmful global warming or plastics in the ocean or smog over our cities. If we destroy the system, we could destroy our paranormal connection to it. That’s all very Avatar, sure, but that doesn’t mean that tens of millennia of human nature doesn’t have some ring of truth to it.

My fellow weirdo and sister Allison Jornlin joins Jack and I in this conversation where we talk about:

  • The roots of animism in human belief
  • The modern countries where rivers have been given legal personhood(!)
  • Jack’s own paranormal experiences and how they relate to some classic legends
  • How to approach paranormal investigation from a more holistic anthropological angle
  • How we can open ourselves up more to the spirits and energy that are surrounding all of us

For the song this week, we were inspired by Chapter 9 of the new book, “Ancient Webs, Modern Webs, World Wide Web” and the idea that we’re re-creating with LTE and 5G and the already-here Internet of Things a kind of communicative web among humans and inanimate objects that’s been there all along. And when we thought about that, well, Golden Earring’s “Radar Love” was the first song that came to mind. We used a little homage to that in the lyrics to be an inspirational starting point for this episode’s Sunspot track, “The Web”.

Inside the web
it’s all alive
inside the web
we’re all aligned
from the rocks to the seas to the dirt and the trees, our pets and the breeze, our love and disease,
it’s the wifi you see with your mind’s eye
it’s the wave in the air, our line in the sky.

I can feel you
always with me.
I can hear you
when I can’t see
from the whisper in my ear
to the hair upon my neck
I know you’re somewhere out there
Inside the web.

inside the web
it’s not a trap
inside the web
it’s our wiretap
from the land to the snows, the worms and embryos, mushrooms
and rhinos, our pain and shadows,
it’s the radar love that we dreamt of,
a hidden network we’re all part of

I can feel you
always with me.
I can hear you
even when I can’t see
from the whisper in my ear
to the hair on my neck
I know you’re somewhere out there
Inside the web.

260 – Crossroads: The Devil And Robert Johnson

While he was an obscure and impoverished traveling musician while he was alive, the larger-than-life legends and posthumously released music of guitarist and singer Robert Johnson has turned him into the “King of the Delta Blues” venerated by some of the world’s greatest rock guitarists, from Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones to Eric Clapton to Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin.

One of the only two confirmed pictures of Robert Johnson

The 81st anniversary of Robert Johnson’s death was this last Friday, August 16th, and we talked about Robert Johnson in our very first podcast episode about musicians who sold their soul to the Devil. After all, the legend that he sacrificed his soul for musical talent at the Crossroads is probably even more famous than his music. They did make a film with The Karate Kid about it!

With songs like “The Crossroads Blues” and “Hellhound On My Trail”, Johnson certainly wasn’t afraid to use some of that occult imagery in his own music and in this episode, we delve much deeper into the truth behind the Robet Johnson legend. We cover his massive influence on the musicians that would cover him and use their own occult imagery to sell records and create a mystique around their songs.

Scott Markus from WhatsYourGhostStory.com joins Wendy and I as we cover these topics:

  • The real musician who told people he sold his soul to the Devil
  • The tragedies of Robert Johnson’s first two wives
  • The trickster god who lives at the Crossroads and the reason people mistake him for the Christian Devil
  • Were there two Robert Johnson’s touring the south in the 1930s and that’s why he has multiple gravestones?
  • Where he really learned his guitar tricks that made him a legend
  • The similarities between Robert Johnson and another flamboyant musician who was rumored to have made a deal with Satan, Paganini

We also talk about our appearance at the Michigan Paracon in Ste. St. Marie this weekend and we hope to see YOU there!

For the song this week, we knew that we wanted to do something bluesy but with a dark twinge. I just finished reading The Thicket by joe R. Lansdale and there’s a quote in there that really struck me:

Robert Johnson’s upbringing in the deeply religious South and the fact that anyone playing non-religious songs was playing “The Devil’s Music” reminded me of the fierce faith of the early Twentieth Century East Texan main character in The Thicket, so like Led Zeppelin borrowing from Robert Johnson, we thought we’d grab a great line from Joe Lansdale and then form a song around it.

When Johnson embraced his legend and the hardened life of women and booze of the juke joint circuit, the terrifying “Hellhound on his trail” instread becomes his faithful companion, so we inverted the idea of his song a little to make “Man’s Best Friend”.

Look back behind my shoulder 
I’m always on the run 
Look back behind my shoulder 
Is there some kind of phantom 
But Lord don’t strike me down 
I was just having fun. 

Ain’t no one keeping score 
for a broken promise 
Ain’t nobody keeping score 
for just a little weakness 
God’s a good idea 
but the Devil is us 

And every night 
in every town 
I get lost and I get found 
I tried so hard to shake this hellhound 
but he’s my best friend. 

Ain’t no one keeping score 
for a broken promise 
Ain’t nobody keeping score 
for just a little weakness 
God’s a good idea 
but the Devil is us 

And every night 
in every town 
I get lost and I get found 
I tried so hard to shake this hellhound 
but he’s my best friend.