All posts by Mike Huberty

Co-Host of See You On The Other Side podcast Lead Vocalist & Bassist for Sunspot

283 – Call Of The Wild: Jack London And The Paranormal

When you think of turn of the Twentieth Century writer Jack London, you immediately think about of the Yukon and his most famous works like White Fang or Call Of The Wild. And in fact, Harrison Ford returns to the screen next week with the latest version of the classic novel (written from the dog’s perspective, there are few works like it!)

When the mushrooms wear off and you realize you’re not an intergalactic smuggler with a Wookiee…

Jack London led a tumultous and adventurous life, just like his characters. And he didn’t just write stories about the Gold Rush to Alaska, but also wrote plenty of ghost stories and science fiction. And even though he was an avowed atheist, that didn’t mean that the rest of his family was. And that doesn’t mean that the people around him didn’t experience paranormal activity like:

So whether it was the rejection of his real father or the fact that his mother famously attempted suicide twice after she found out she was pregnant, Jack London wasted little time in his life. In fact, two months before he died he said this quote to his friends that would later be known as his credo:

I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.

Jack London

And that’s the theme of this week’s song, “I’d Rather Be Ashes Than Dust”.

‘fore I was born my mother did her best to die 
but the bottle and the bullet didn’t kill her 
So I came out a little stronger, stronger than the average guy 
Gonna write my bio as a thriller 

Ohh ohh 
I got to hit the road 
ohh ohh 
Don’t you hear the call 
I’m gonna go out shooting ‘fore my body turns to rust 
cuz I’d rather be ashes than dust 

Half a world away is where I will find my passion 
Someone told me that there’s mountains full of gold 
Headfirst into the fray looking for some action 
I’ve got to see this world before I’m old 

Ohh ohh 
I got to hit the road 
ohh ohh 
Don’t you hear the call 
I’m gonna go out shooting ‘fore my body turns to rust 
cuz I’d rather be ashes than dust

282 – Coronavirus Conspiracy: A Pandemic of Misinformation

Here we go again, it’s a new year and there’s a new type of flu going around that’s going to kill us. The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) first originated in Wuhan, a city of eleven million people in China, and since it began, internet rumors have been flying fast and furious, in many places spread through memes.

Some are fun…

Some aren’t:

How does bogus information spread so quickly? Trust.

Trust in the media is at an all time low. Only 41% of Americans have a lot or a good amount of faith in the veracity of mass media. Trust in the government is even lower. In 1958, 73% of Americans had faith in their government, in 2019, it was at 17%. People just don’t believe what they’re told. And it’s not like the government hasn’t lied to them before or that the media has completely gotten a story wrong. When you don’t trust the institutions that are supposed to tell you the truth, conspiracy theories start looking a lot better.

How are people just supposed to trust the party line when official stories look ridiculous (looking at you Jeffrey Epstein)?! And we know that China censors the Internet, how can we trust anything coming out of there? That’s what we tackle this week as we discuss conspiracy theories, the Coronavirus, and why people are attracted to misinformation.

So what are some of our favorite Coronavirus conspiraces?

  • That the Virology Institute of Wuhan is a “real life” Umbrella Corporation like in the video game and movie, Resident Evil
  • Bill Gates patented the Coronavirus in 2015 and now he’s going to use it to depopulate the planet
  • It’s a Chinese bioweapon that escaped from the lab
  • That using a special soution called MMS (miracle mineral solution) can cure you of the Coronavirus, even though it’s actually just bleach
  • That China is doing a media blackout as crematorium employees report hundreds of bodies being burned so the disease won’t spread
  • That the virus contains 4 “protein inserts” from HIV that show the virus was designed and didn’t just occur naturally

For conspiracies to work like crackpots think they do, it would require geniuses at the top. Benjamin Franklin famously said, “Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead.” Whether it’s UFOs, cars that are powered by water, or bioengineered virii, the truth would get out. We keep believing that humans are actually smarter than they are, when the truth is that the inmates are running the asylum.

And in the jungle we’d be compost,
in the Savannah we’d be meat.
We’re so petty and we’re so mean,
We are everything we hoped we wouldn’t be.

Just so you know, the inmates are running the asylum.
Just so you know, they’re just as dumb as they seem.

And in the water we’d be sharkbait,
In the Taiga, freezer burn.
How old were you, when you finally knew,
that no one really has a clue?

Just so you know, the inmates are running the asylum.
Just so you know, they’re just as dumb as they seem.

281 – It’s All In Your Mind: The Paranormal Imagination of John E.L. Tenney

“What you think is weird is weirder than you think” – that’s the slogan that’s on the website of John E.L. Tenney and his weird lectures. That’s a fun turn of phrase but it took me a little bit to figure out what it means. We understand the idea of ghosts, we understand the idea of UFOs, we understand the concept of Bigfoot. Ghosts are the spirits of our consciousness surviving death after the physical body has died. UFOs are populated by beings that evolved on planets in some far off solar system and developed ships that can traverse the universe and they’re coming to visit. Just like us visiting the moon. Bigfoot is a kind of ape that we just haven’t been able to capture and put into a zoo yet. Even if we don’t believe in them, we grok the concepts.

But those explanations are fairly unsatisfactory because they don’t make a ton of sense. If aliens are just travelers from another planet, why are they so secretive? If our consciousness can survive bodily death, why do only some people show up sometimes? Where the #$%! are Bigfoot’s bones?! The way these things operate just doesn’t make sense with the rest of the way our universe works. So what we already think is weird (ghosts, UFOs, Bigfoot) has to be weirder than we think (we don’t know how to wrap our heads around it!)

John explains his Near Death Experience

That’s why John Tenney is fascinating to listen to. Number one, it never sounds like he’s trying to get one over on you (he’s not selling salvation or life after death) and number two, he’s willing to entertain all kinds of ideas that you don’t usually hear from paranormal investigators because they don’t fit the established model.

While John has been researching the paranormal for over 30 years (his cut his teeth in the weird world by apprenticing to a Kennedy Assassination Conspiracy Theorist and then by becoming a researcher for Unsolved Mysteries), his interest was peaked as a young man by being pronounced dead in 1988 and then coming back. His heart stopped for two minutes and he was given a choice to either come back to earth or stay where he was. The next thing he remembered was waking up in the hospital.

From left in the back – Robyn Davis and Ted Williams from Galena Haunted Tour Company, Lisa Van Buskirk from Madison Ghost Walks. From left in the front – Mike Huberty, Allison Jornlin, and Wendy Lynn Staats from See You On The Other Side.

He had a show, Ghost Stalkers, on Destination America and you might have heard him on our podcast before right when the New York Times decided to get into the UFO business. But John really shines in person, when you just put a quarter in him and let him go. The very first time we met him, he was in a casino bar regaling us about witnessing an exorcism and had even met the notorious Father Malachi Martin and we were spellbound. We’ve seen his lectures before at the Michigan Paracon (he lives near Detroit) and when we found out he was coming to Wisconsin, we weren’t going to miss it!

John onstage at the Palace Theater in the Wisconsin Dells

In this episode, we take some time to talk to John before the show and then we take some of the concepts that he discussed in his lecture and try to unravel them a little bit for ourselves, including topics like:

And of course, John’s idea of ghosts as timeslips instead of disembodied consciousness leads “perfectly” into this week’s song. There are some moments where it doesn’t matter what’s going on in the rest of the world, there are some minutes that you wish could be frozen in time and you could slip back to, those moments are “Perfect”.

With flood insurance and bodyguards, 
Humpty Dumpty bought a house of cards. 
I put a heart on layaway, 
but now I think tomorrow may be too late. 
And I say late, and I say late, and I say late, and I say… 

It doesn’t matter if everything’s ugly, 
It doesn’t matter if it’s all unsafe. 
The baby’s out with the bathwater, 
The Rubicon was crossed today. 
It doesn’t matter if we ever notice, 
That the stars have all burnt out. 
It doesn’t matter if things are perfect, 
as long as everything’s perfect right now. 

Some things are done before they start, 
Everything will always fall apart. 
The past is never that far away, 
but do you think that’s where I’m going to stay? 
And I say no, and I say no, and I say no, and I say I don’t think so. 

It doesn’t matter if everything’s ugly, 
It doesn’t matter if it’s all unsafe. 
The baby’s out with the bathwater, 
The Rubicon was crossed today. 
It doesn’t matter if we ever notice, 
That the stars have all burnt out. 
It doesn’t matter if things are perfect, 
as long as everything’s perfect right… 

Now, now now, 
I don’t wanna postpone my, 
Vow, vow vow, 
that this time I will own, 
How how how, 
I don’t care and I don’t know. Don’t know. 
Now, now now, 
I don’t wanna postpone my, 
Vow, vow vow, 
that this time I will own, 
How how how, 
I don’t care and I don’t know. Don’t know. 

Be kind, take your time. 
Be kind, take your time. 

With flood insurance and bodyguards, 
Humpty Dumpty bought a house of cards. 
The past is never that far away, 
but do you think that’s where I’m going to stay? 
And I say no, and I say no, and I say no, and I say I don’t think so. 

It doesn’t matter if everything’s ugly, 
It doesn’t matter if it’s all unsafe. 
The baby’s out with the bathwater, 
The Rubicon was crossed today. 
It doesn’t matter if we ever notice, 
That the stars have all burnt out. 
It doesn’t matter if things are perfect, 
as long as everything’s perfect right… 

Now, now now, 
I don’t wanna postpone my, 
Vow, vow vow, 
that this time I will own, 
How how how, 
I don’t care and I don’t know. Don’t know. 
Now, now now, 
I don’t wanna postpone my, 
Vow, vow vow, 
that this time I will own, 
How how how, 
I don’t care and I don’t know. Don’t know. 

Be kind, take your time.

280 – The Turn Of The Screw: Henry James And The History Of Parapsychology

The latest adaptation of Henry James’ classic 1898 ghost story The Turn Of The Screw is called The Turning starring red hot teenage actor Finn Wolfhard but it’s not the only adaptation being released this year. Mike Flanagan’s sequel to his Netflix smash The Haunting of Hill House is going to be called The Haunting of Bly House and will rework James’ novella into a modern story as well.

One-hundred and twenty years after the initial publication why does James’ work still resonate? After all, in our current society, we’re about as far removed from the Victorian age as you can be. We laugh when we think of their “uptight” sexuality, their treatment of women as the “fairer sex”, and of course, the superior attitude that came along with “the empire on which the sun never sets“.

The Turn Of The Screw is a story about a governess who is hired to take care of a girl and boy whose uncle is a busy gentleman that can’t be bothered with raising them himself. While originally enjoying the job, the governess starts seeing ghosts surrounding the children and her thoughts are eventually consumed by the spirits which raises tensions to an untenable level in the house. Part of the story that makes it the most interesting is that no one else ever sees the ghosts besides the governess, so is it real or is it all in her imagination?

The original illustration from the first page of the 1898 serialization in The Atlantic Monthly

Now, Henry James’ inspiration for The Turn Of The Screw came from a supposedly true story he was told Archbishop of Canterbury, whose wife was involved with the Society for Psychical Research. And James’ equally famous brother, William, was also a member of that English organization and returned to the United States to form the American branch.

William James was not only one of the founders of parapsychology, he was also one of the founders of modern psychology. He was as interested in the study of spiritual pheneomena as he was in the workings of the mind and his psi research help set the template for modern experimental psychology still practiced today.

So Henry James was interested in ghost stories from a narrative standpoint while his brother was investigating them from a scientific standpoint! How might the reality of research into spirit communication have leaked over into the fiction?

We discuss the real-life paranormal influences behind The Turn Of The Screw as well as William and Henry James’ views on the paranormal and its effect on the world of parapsychology. Some of the topics include:

  • Henry James’ father’s own strange “vastation”, a spiritual crisis which lasted two years
  • Just what or who did Henry James call “The Others”?
  • William James’ work on religious experiences and how they might be a result of mental illness (a foreshadowing of using therapy instead of exorcism to help the victims)
  • What did Henry James really think about the afterlife according to his article “Is There Life After Death”?
  • Did William James return to talk to the dead after he passed away in 1910?

For this week’s song, we expound upon one of the themes from The Turn Of The Screw. One of the first lines introducing the character of the governess mentions that she’s in love, but that she’d only seen her love twice. That’s because it was the uncle that hired her to take care of the kids and she was constantly thinking of ways to prove her worth to him, because he was a gentleman and she was a commoner. The overwhelming desire to be worthy of your heart’s desire is the inspiration behind the song for this episode, “Mine Without a Holiday.”

Tell me nothing of your life, 
I painted you as an angel, 
These lines, these curves don’t do you justice, 
But if it’s all the same to you, I’ll draw them just as well. 

I can’t believe you’re not on paper, 
I can’t believe you’re made for me to touch, 
I will accept that you are mine without a holiday, 
But not that I deserve as much. 

Tell me nothing of yourself, 
I sculpted you as a goddess, 
This lifeless clay don’t hold a candle to your visage, 
But if it’s all the same to you, I’ll shape it in your image 

I can’t believe that you’re not fiction 
I can’t believe you’re made for me to hold. 
I will accept that you are mine without a holiday 
But not that I should be so bold. 

I will accept that you are mine without a holiday. 
But not that I deserve as much.

279 – Ram Dass: The Spiritual and Psychic Adventures of Richard Alpert

I’ll admit it, I love making fun of hippies. 20 years of living in Madison, Wisconsin (where the Vietnam War never ended, at least the protest part of it) and performing alongside jam bands has jaded me to the culture. Free love and the daily “wake and bake” never seemed to me as much of a spiritual path as it does just another way to get your rocks off. I was disgusted at its patchouli-scented barefoot disguise as spirituality. That’s just another form of control and exploitation, it’s just “gurus” like Charles Manson or David Koresh or NXVIUM’s Keith Raniere looking for easy action and a good time. Don’t get me wrong, I love a party more than the next guy, but I’m not pretending it’s a sacred rite.

However, underneath that susceptibility to hedonism and exploitation is a spiritual quest and open-mindedness that is exactly what I respect and love about the Hippie Movement. While fringe jackets are still pretty silly, the willingness to wear them is not. “Let your freak flag fly” is a call to individuality and self-empowerment, not just group-identification and walking in lock-step with your tribe.

Hippies were hungry for something greater than themselves. They didn’t try to deny that essential aspect of humanity, they embraced it. And since they felt let down by the post-war industrial culture and traditional religions, they went out looking for it on an unprecedently widespread level. No one represents that more than Richard Alpert in his evolution to Ram Dass, tripping his way literally and figuratively, through acid, magic mushrooms, Mexico, and India, from secular Jewish psychologist to meditating New Age spiritual teacher.

The evolution of Richard Alpert to Ram Dass, Harvard psychologist to New Age guru

Richard Alpert was born in 1931 in Newton, Massachussetts. He got his doctorate in Psychology in 1957 from Stanford University and then accepted a position at Harvard in 1958. That’s where he met Timothy Leary and they began exploring the world of psychedelics in their Harvard Psilocybin Project. Through doing experiments on the therapetuic uses of magic mushrooms and LSD, they discovered spiritual experiences, paranormal phenomena, and long-lasting changes in mental health from frequent usage.

Although LSD was legal at the time (it wouldn’t be criminalized until 1970) Alpert and Leary were eventually kicked out of Harvard for giving psychedelics to undergraduates, which the university had forbade them to do. Dr. Andrew Weil, himself an eventual PBS New Age guru mainstay, was an undergraduate at Harvard at the time and when he asked them for psychedelics and they declined, he ratted them out because he knew that they had provided for others.

Dr. Weil, this friendly-looking bald Santa Claus is also a rat!

Leary and Alpert moved to California and created a community out there to continue their research, but Alpert and Leary had a falling out and still spiritually disillusioned even after taking so many psychedelic drugs, he went to India on a quest to discover himself. That’s where he met Neem Karoli Baba, also known as Maharaj-ji, a guru who changed his life forever. When Alpert returned to the West, he had changed his name to Ram Dass (which means Servant of God) and released his best known book, the quasi-graphical autobiography and meditation guide, Be Here Now.

He continued to be a popular lecturer through the 70s and 80s and after suffering a stroke in 1996, Ram Dass re-learned to speak and continued teaching spirituality and preaching unconditional love all the way up until his death on December 22nd, 2019.

The cover of his most famous book, Be Here Now

And while it could be argued that Ram Dass was a wealthy Westerner who took Eastern spirituality and co-opted it (Richard Aloert did own a freakin’ plane!), who else could have brought it to the Western audience like he could? Richard Alpert was an incredibly successful psychotherapist and researcher, he was well-versed in the Bible as well as the Bhagavad Gita as well as Madame Blavatsky. His gift was his synthesis of the major religions and his ability to delight audiences with self-deprecating and sometimes painfully honest stories. While he might have appropriated some Eastern mysticism, he was able to communicate its powerful message to an audience hungry for it, because he was once exactly like them.

I mean, two of my favorite TV shows of the 2000s had characters who were at least inspired by Richard Alpert. Walter Bishop was the lovable acid-gobbling scientist from Fringe who would use psychedelics in his experiments (just watch the “Brown Betty” for TV’s first hour-long acid trip.) Nestor Carbonell played an ageless character named Richard Alpert on LOST, a show that never shied away from its philosophical underpinnings, even when they choked in the last season. After all they had a tabula rasa character who reinvented himself after the plane crash who was named John Locke, so you don’t really get any more unsubtle than that.


You know you’ve made it when they named a LOST character after you

In this episode, we discuss the impact, both positive and negative, that Ram Dass had on the New Age movement and modern spirituality, but we also talk about the strange paranormal experiences that occured to him on his journey like:

  • The psychic mind-reading that led him to follow Neem Karoli Baba in the first place, the Hindu guru who would change Richard Alpert’s name to Ram Dass
  • Some of Richard Alpert’s psychic experiences while tripping on psychedelics
  • The time J.B. Rhine, founder of the Duke Parapsychology lab, Timothy Leary, and Ram Dass decided to study LSD’s affects on ESP
  • What does “Tune in, Turn on, and Drop out” really mean?
  • Psychedelic hedonism vs. the tradition use of chemicals to aid spirituality
  • The “Good Friday Experiment” where they took 20 Harvard Divinity students and attempted to induce a spiritual experience in them
  • Ram Dass’ channeling friend, Emmanuel, who told him that “dying was absolutely safe”
  • What are some of the siddhis? What are the powers that manifest themselves through enlightenment and meditation?

For the song this week, we thought it’d be appropriate to put up a meditation track for a little contemplation and intropection Ram Dass-style, “Be Here Now”.

278 – Kallikantzaroi: Christmas Goblins And Legends Of The Twelvetide

Every year, it seems like the Christmas season starts earlier and earlier, and you can see people getting annoyed about it on social media. Some people say it’s inappropriate to get your Christmas decorations up until the day after Thanksgiving. But it’s not like department stores are listening to this, they get their Holiday displays up immediately after Halloween is over. And while Jesus may be the reason for the season, Christmas is the reason that most retail outlets stay in business.

And of course, the early Church had no idea when Jesus’ actual birthday was, so they tried to picked a day that would be easy for recent converts. It wasn’t that unusual, because Roman emperors would arbitrarily pick a day to celebrate their birthdays instead of the actual anniversary of their birth.) December 25th worked out perfectly because you already had a Roman celebration called Saturnalia, which was their big yearly party complete with debauchery, pig offerings, human sacrifices of Gladiators, and customs that put the social order on its head like masters serving their slaves. In other Pagan areas you had Solstice celebrations and dancing and singing around the longest night of the year. People were used to having a party around December, so it seemed like putting Christmas in December was a perfect opportunity.

Are you not entertained, Saturn?

In modern America, we have been conditioned to celebrate before the Holidays, mostly to encourage the gift-giving aspect and to keep our retail stores in business. Back in the Middle Ages, the time before Christmas, Advent, was a time of fasting, much like Lent before Easter. They would sacrifice a little comfort to show their respect for the season and then start pigging out for 12 days starting on Christmas. Because there wasn’t a lot of agricultural work, peasants got the full Twlevetide off during the Middle Ages and there was some reason to party every day. It makes our official holidays of Christmas and New Year’s Day seem pretty weak by comparison. And they kept their Christmas decorations up until Candlemas on February 2nd, which was the date Mary went to temple and is supposed to have sacrificed a lamb and a dove as part of her post-birth purification ritual. So if anyone ever tells you magic isn’t part of the Judeo-Christian tradition, remind them that the Virgin Mary had to burn a baby sheep at a temple and slaughter a dove for her sins. And then we have a special Mass and Feast day to celebrate that animal sacrifice.

You would be surprised how many people have drawn pictures of Jesus getting circumcised…

So, the time of year starting on Christmas and going until January 6th (which was the day that the Three Wise Men who were following the Star of Bethlehem showed up to meet Jesus in person) is known as the Twelvetide. Back in the Middle Ages, there was a Feast Day for each day of the 12 and now we only really think about it because of the “Twelve Days of Christmas” song.

And here’s a little hometown pride for us (being from Wisconsin). The song was introduced to the United States in Milwaukee! Emily Brown of the Downer Teacher’s College found the song in a book on a trip to England and then she brought it back for her own Christmas pageant in 1910 and that was the first time it was sung in America!

From the book “The Milwaukee Downer Woman” by Lynne Kleinman.

But because there was an almost two-week long religious holiday around the Solstice and New Year every year, plenty of legends and traditions of the Twelvetide arose themselves. We’ve talked in detail about Krampus and Iceland’s Christmas monsters, but another fun Yuletide beastie is the Kallikantzaroi, who are the Greek goblins of Christmas and are active during the 12 days of Christmas.

The Kallikantzaroi as featured on the TV show, “Grimm”

They appear differently in different areas of Greece, with some saying that they’re tall ugly humans with dark complexions and others saying they are short and hairy with bulging red eyes. They act more like drunken idiots than a force of evil by urinating in flowerbeds, breaking furniture, and basically wreaking havoc on the nights during the Christmastide.

The Greeks have a variety of ways to ward off the Kallikantzaroi including making crosses of coal on the windows of the house, burning a log from a thorny tree in the fireplace, or sometimes putting the bottom jaw of a pig behind the door or in the chimney (there’s our sacrifice again!)

In this episode, we talk about the Christmas goblins as well as other interesting legends and traditions of the Twelve Days of Christmas, including:

  • How children born on Christmas Day have the risk of becoming Kallikantzaroi themselves!
  • Also wreaking havoc is the English “Lord of Misrule” during Twelvetide
  • How the Feast of the Innocents remembers the particularly nasty Christmas story of King Herod and his slaughter of children in Bethlehem
  • The role reversals of Twelfth Night and their origin in Saturnalia
  • Why fasting, once part of the Christmas tradition during Advent, is so popular among religions

For the song this week, we picked a classic English stomper that we know was regularly sung during the Twelvetide. It’s easy to make merry with this call and response Christmas party song from the 1700s, “I Saw Three Ships (Come Sailing In)”!

I saw three ships come sailing in,   
On Christmas day, on Christmas day,
I saw three ships come sailing in,
On Christmas day in the morning.

And what was in those ships all three?
On Christmas day, on Christmas day,
And what was in those ships all three?
On Christmas day in the morning.

Our Saviour Christ and his lady
On Christmas day, on Christmas day,
Our Saviour Christ and his lady,
 On Christmas day in the morning. 

Pray whither sailed those ships all three?
On Christmas day, on Christmas day,
Pray whither sailed those ships all three?
On Christmas day in the morning.

Oh, they sailed into Bethlehem,
On Christmas day, on Christmas day,
Oh, they sailed into Bethlehem,
On Christmas day in the morning.

And all the bells on earth shall ring,
On Christmas day, on Christmas day,
And all the bells on earth shall ring,
On Christmas day in the morning.

And all the Angels in Heaven shall sing,
On Christmas day, on Christmas day,
And all the Angels in Heaven shall sing,
On Christmas day in the morning.

And all the souls on earth shall sing,
On Christmas day, on Christmas day,
And all the souls on earth shall sing,
On Christmas day in the morning.

Then let us all rejoice, again,
On Christmas day, on Christmas day,
Then let us all rejoice, again,
On Christmas day in the morning.

277 – The Angel Experiment: Everyday Miracles With Corin Grillo

Angels feel like something for little kids and Christmas trees. It’s Della Reese performing heartwarming miracles on cheesy Sunday night television or the goofy Clarence from It’s A Wonderful Life. Or even a hearbroken Nicolas Cage staring forelornly at the ocean from City of Angels. They’re something silly, like a figurine in your Grandma’s cabinet or laying on a cloud in Heaven playing a harp. And of course the most famous painting of angels in the world doesn’t help.

Raphael’s cherubim from The Sistine Madonna aren’t even the focus of the painting, they’re just looking up at the Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus, but they’re the part that everyone remembers

That’s the touchy-feely Hollywood version. But the word “angel” just comes from the Greek word for messenger which is all the angels were, translated to from the original Bible stories in Hebrew. And in the Old Testament, they’re terrifying. They are the instruments of God’s will. Which means they do things like annihilate Sodom and Gomorrah when God thinks the city is too wicked or defend the Garden of Eden with a flaming sword. They are the forces of Nature carrying out the vengeance of the Almighty, supernatural soldiers of Heaven.

But that’s just the Christian version. Angels are in almost every religion as spiritual beings who carry divine messages, which are sometimes helpful and sometimes bad news. Even Satanists have angels, but they’re atheists who use the fallen angels from Christian theology as metaphors. In fact, angels aren’t even mentioned as having wings for the most part, that’s just a creation of artists in the Middle Ages.

Author and therapist, Corin Grillo

Corin Grillo was a licensed psychotherapist struggling with depression of her own when she prayed to the angels for something that would transform her life from the pit of sadness that she was living in. Shortly after, she witnessed something in the street that she could only describe as a miracle and she began to start seeing signs of angelic influence wherever she went. That miracle in the street altered her life forever and she began to climb out of her depression and find start finding meaning and purpose in life.

Corin started introducing angel invocation into her psychotherapy sessions and seeing results with patients. Whatever was going on, it was working and it led her to develop an online forum where people can connect with each other and try to share miracles and developments in their own lives. That formed the basis of The Angel Experiment, Corin’s guidebook on a 21-day program to try to invoke the power and healing of the angels in your own life.

The Angel Experiment: A 21-Day Magical Adventure To Heal Your Life

Corin says that you don’t have to be religious to experience angelic activity in your own life, you just have to go through with the rituals and meditation. After reading the book and going on my own Angel Experiment, it’s interesting because I feel like it’s like Chaos Magick. You’re invoking entities, you’re setting your intentions, you’re journaling your feelings and thoughts looking for synchronicities that happened and gratitude in the good things in your life.

Much like Chaos Magick, or as Dr. Dean Radin talks about in Real Magic, it doesn’t really matter if you have rock solid faith or not, there’s something in the ritual that makes changes happen in your life. When you perform a ritual and set an intention and you try to invoke a supernatural being to intercede on your behalf, your subconscious goes to work. Whether it’s angels helping you or you’re praying to the Saints to ask God for a favor, or it’s one of the entities in the Lesser Key of Solomon, it’s the same thing. Supernatural or not, these prayers are the basis of faith and Corin Grillo’s Angel Experiment is as good of a place to start as any to get some meditation and positivity going every day.

In this conversation we discuss:

  • The miracle that started it all for her and pulled her out of her depression.
  • What happened when Corin started introducing angel work into her psychotherapy practice?
  • The importance of a “sacred space” in your home
  • Who are her favorite angels?
  • What does an angel sound like when she channels them?

Corin’s story of overcoming her melancholy and keeping fighting the good fight when she was thinking of quitting it all, is heartening whether you believe in angels or not. Her idea of everyday miracles that people can see in their own life is a way of showing gratitude for the good things that do happen. Her story plus the thought of angels as warriors (with flaming swords!) inspired this week’s track, “The Battle of Everyday”.

This is the battle of everyday
this is the war to fight the urge to end the pain
this is a call to arms to say
a hole in your head doesn’t make you Hemingway

Everyday everyday
We need more than a pill to make it go away
are you safe are you safe
Sometimes you want to disappear, sometimes you want to be erased

Tomorrow never comes
We get one moment that we can ever change
Please just don’t give up
and the better angels of our nature will fight with us one more day

This is the battle of everyday
this is the conflict of willpower versus hurt
this is the struggle where we pray
for the strength to keep ourselves out of the dirt.

Everyday everyday
where every single victory feels like it’s just in vain
are you safe are you safe
You’re not just up against the whole world, you’re fighting your own brain.

Tomorrow never comes
We get one moment that we can ever change
Please just don’t give up
and the better angels of our nature will fight for us one more day

Tomorrow never comes
We get one moment that we can ever change
Please just don’t give up
and the better angels of our nature will fight for us one more day

276 – The Mandela Effect: Bringing the Phenomena to LIfe With David Guy Levy and Steffen Schlachtenhaufen

The fun part of The Mandela Effect is talking about the memories you share with other people that doesn’t necessarily jibe with reality. When you remember The BerenSTEIN Bears with other people and you all can’t figure out just why the real world has the book series written down as the BerenSTAIN Bears, it connects you with those people on more than one level.

Not only are you remembering something that you shared culturally, but it means that you’re probably of the same generation, or at least close enough in age to have read the same books when you were kids. And to top that off, you’re both remembering something incorrectly. It’s like an exclusive club where you have to answer three different questions to get in. So, people love talking about it because it connects them to others who are in a very specific tribe, a tribe defined by culture, generation, and shared (mis)memories.

We’ve talked about The Mandela Effect on the podcast before, it’s a phenomena that got its name after paranormal researcher Fiona Broome had a a discussion at Dragon Con in 2009 with other people who thought that Nelson Mandela died in the 1990s and was never let out of prison to return triumphantly to lead a post-Apartheid South Africa.

But it’s not that they didn’t know history, it’s that they remembered his funeral, they recalled seeing it on television. They have memories of it. In our reality, Nelson Mandela didn’t die until 2013, so how do you remember something that never happened?

It’s been a popular topic in paranormal circles for the past few years because more than just questioning what’s possible in our physical reality like ghosts or psychic powers do, The Mandela Effect makes us question reality itself. It opens up science fiction possibilities of parallel universes like Star Trek or the idea that we’re exisiting in some kind of simulation like The Matrix.

Screenwriter Steffen Schlachtenhaufen

The new film, The Mandela Effect, explores those science fiction possibilities to create a narrative out of these shared mistaken memories that we all love talking about. Starring Charlie Hofheimer (Peggy’s boyfriend Abe from Mad Men!), Robin Lord Taylor (The Penguin from Gotham), Aleksa Palladino (Jimmy’s wife from Boardwalk Empire), and Clarke Peters (Lester freakin Freamon from The Wire!), The Mandela Effect has a solid cast of actors that you’ll instantly recognize.

Screenwriter and Director David Guy Levy

And the acting particularly in a film like this is important because it centers on an emotional hook, this is an indie film and not some kind of special effects extravaganza. It looks great and does have a bunch of cool effects sequences, but that’s not where the heart of the story lies. Screenwriters David Guy Levy (who also directed) and Steffen Schlachtenhaufen take a fairly abstract concept like The Mandela Effect and turn it into a narrative that even non-paranormal aficianados can appreciate.

When the lead character learns about The Mandela Effect, he starts questioning the nature of his reality. And after a tragedy rips his family apart, he starts becoming obssessed with the idea that he can change the past. It’s this quest that leads him to meet renegade professor Dr. Fuchs, whose controversial ideas about our universe actually being a computer simulation provide a potential pathway that could alter history, but lead to either salvation or insanity.

We got a chance to watch the movie before the podcast and it’s a fun thriller, that most importantly, doesn’t use any narrative cheats even when it would be easy to pull the heartstrings. It provides a satisfying emotional story as well as some clever plotting but for paranormal fans, the real treats of the movie come from all the Easter Eggs. The Mandela Effect includes almost every example people have put out there on the Internet, but you’ll have to watch carefully to catch them all.

We talked with writer/producer Steffen Schlachtenhaufen and writer/director David Guy Levy about the movie as well as stuff like:

  • What are the real life paranormal influences that inspired the film?
  • Why doesn’t anyone else remember The Thirteenth Floor?
  • When have they experienced The Mandela Effect in their own lives?
  • How do you get great actors in an indie film?

You can watch The Mandela Effect on Amazon Prime and iTunes right now.

For the song this week, we were inspired by the ideas of the Mandela Effect to sing about pain that shouldn’t be there, but it is. In the movie, people are wondering how you can remember something that never happened? In phantom limb phenomena, people who have a leg or arm amputated still feel pain from the limb that’s no longer there. While there’s a scientific explanation for it (neurons in the brain that would usually be sensing those areas are getting stimulated accidentally by the neurons next to them), it’s the idea that something impossible is hurting you. Here’s our song inspired by The Mandela Effect, “Phantom Limb”.

Oh man, since you’ve been gone away
nothing feels the same
forget a little every day
sometimes it feels like nothing’s changed

my eyes are drawn like a carwreck
to an empty chair
talk to a picture that’s been staring at me on my cameraphone
and I’ll pretend that someone’s there

wake up and the pillow’s wet
I call your name in a cold sweat
I wear your face like a faded tattoo
I never learned to cry
but I’ll drink until that bottle’s dry
I still feel you

my phantom limb
my phantom limb

Sometimes I feel a pain inside
and I’m just left confused
remembering a former life
cuz there’s nothing left to bruise

my eyes are drawn like a car wreck
to an empty chair
talk to a picture that’s been staring at me on my cameraphone
and I’ll pretend that someone’s there

wake up and the pillow’s wet
I call your name in a cold sweat
I wear your face like a faded tattoo
I never learned to cry
but I’ll drink until that bottle’s dry
I still feel you

my phantom limb
my phantom limb

275 – Hellier 2: Hunting Indrid Cold With Greg Newkirk

We’ve had Greg and Dana Newkirk from The Traveling Museum of the Paranormal and Occult on the show several times before and they’ve always got great stories, whether they’re talking about the beautiful story of how they met or reminiscing about Buffy the Vampire Slayer. We’ve hung out with them at numerous paranormal conventions and enjoyed their work.

So when the webseries Hellier came out last year, it was exciting. First of all, the series looked amazing. Director Karl Pfeiffer opted for a classic cinematic documentary style instead of the paranormal reality show style that we’ve been used to for the past decade and a half. It’s much more Errol Morris than Zak Bagans.

The Hellier Goblin

The first series was a slow deliberate blow-by-blow investigation into a series of emails that Greg Newkirk received in 2012 from a Kentucky man who said that goblins were emerging from a cave on his property. Greg sat on it for a long time, but eventually he and his wife Dana joined forces with paranormal researchers Connor Randall and Karl Pfeiffer who used to do paranormal investigations at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, as well as paranormal adventurer Tyler Strand, who took a job at Mammoth Cave to help with the production and is just about as fearless as they come.

In the end, the team didn’t get any goblins on video, so the people looking for a big reveal were disappointed. Most of the excitement happened through “synchronicities”, however, I applaud them for not making anything up. It still was an interesting methodical look into a paranormal investigation that used everything from tarot readings to “The Estes Method” (a mashup of a spirit box and the ganzfeld technique) in trying to discover the other side.

So, a year later, the adventure begins again as the team goes out to investigate more questions that were left hanging at the end of the first season. Expanding on the connections they found in Hellier to the original Mothman case in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, they start searching for how the mysterious Indrid Cold, who features prominently in John Keel’s Mothman Prophecies book might figure into their research. Their investigation leads them further down that rabbit hole and eventually deep into the Mammoth Cave.

Hellier 2 launched exclusively on Amazon Prime on Friday November 29th and it’s streaming on all services free starting on December 13th. We’ve watched several episodes that they’ve sent to the press and it still looks as amazing as ever. With the natural conversation segments, it often feels more like an episode of The Office than Ghost Hunters. But it’s that documentary-style and lack of flashy jump cut gotcha moments that make it feel much more real. It’s like a slice of life, albeit a slice of a weirdo’s life.

I’m not sure if we’re gonna get those goblin money shots in episodes 6-10 (they only sent the first five episodes for press review), but the fact that they’re not teasing us with them the whole time is refreshing. They never catch the Zodiac Killer by the end of Zodiac, but it’s still a great look into the mind of the investigators.

And we look into that investigator’s mind in this interview with Greg Newkirk, where we go in depth about:

  • What made them want to dive back into the world of Hellier
  • How did the first series change the investigative techniques of the second
  • Have more synchronicities have popped up since the shooting ended?

And speaking of synchronicities, there’s a scene shot at the very point where the Stillwater, Minnesota ghost tour starts (which is a company I run, but they shot in the winter so there wasn’t a tour running at the time!) Not a synchronicity, but something awesome, is that you’ll also hear a couple of Sunspot songs on the soundtrack of Hellier 2!

The first Hellier took the investigators onto a route inspired by John Keel’s The Mothman Prophecies. One of the characters that shows up in that book is a strange self-proclaimed alien observer with a big smile named Indrid Cold. Early on in the new series, they talk to a the daughter of Woodrow Derenberger, a man who said he was stopped along the road by Indrid and then had contact with him over the next several years. We have already done a song about Indrid called “The Grinning Man”, but we’re returning to Point Pleasant ourselves with his last quote to Woodrow Derenberger, “We’ll Be Seeing You Again”.

I’ve got so far to go it feels
like the road it never ends
Sometimes it’s just me and my shadow
it won’t stop til I am dead.

I’m the searching kind
with a curious mind
I will say it all with a grin
If I can be so bold
you can call me cold and
We’ll be seeing you again

I keep on walking under
The lights that dance in the sky
through the rain and through the thunder
trying to find a little sunshine.

I’m the searching kind
with a curious mind
I will say it all with a grin
If I can be so bold
you can call me cold and
We’ll be seeing you again

I picked you to share my tale
I picked you to show the way
And when those red eyes fly right out of Hell
I’m always a call away

I’m the searching kind
with a curious mind
I will say it all with a grin
If I can be so bold
you can call me cold and
We’ll be seeing you again

274 – Tripping The Field: Lucid Dreaming With Ian Jaydid

I used to be terrified of going to sleep. Everyone has a nightmare once in awhile, but starting when I was six years old, I’d have them almost every night. I couldn’t just fall asleep, I’d read until the book would fall out of my hands and my eyes closed involuntarily.

I would dread if my parents went to bed before I fell asleep because that would just make things more terrifying, I’d be facing entering the dream world alone. And my dream world hated me. It would find ways to torture me every night with monsters chasing me, child killers cutting me up, or zombies chewing my body parts. After awhile, I just expected it, I felt like the teenagers in A Nightmare On Elm Street, desperate not to fall asleep, because I knew who was waiting for me there, even though I wouldn’t see that movie myself until I was much older.

It wasn’t something that I talked about much because I didn’t expect other kids to understand it. Everyone has bad dreams, but not everyone has them every night. I didn’t want to seem weird or crazy, so I kept it to myself most of the time. And when I had a chance, like when I was at the library, I would look for books on how to control your dreams. I knew there had to be a way.

We discussed this all the way back in our second episode, “Lucid Dreaming: A Beginner’s Guide for Psychonauts” about how I became obssessed with finding ways to escape my nightmares. “Lucid dreaming” means that you know you’re in the dream world and therefore you know that the things you’re seeing in your brain cannot hurt you. I eventually found a way to manage my nightmares through lucidity, but it took several years to get there. It was never as dramatic as the Dream Warriors for me, but it really wasn’t that far off, at least in the dream world.

We spend one-third of our lives unconscious. That’s a long time to be inside a world where everything is trying to kill you. And as I learned, you can’t escape sleep. Once a day, our minds need to be rebooted to function properly and that means that a major portion of our already too short existences are spent doing nothing. Most of the time, dreams don’t make sense, they don’t seem to mean anything. It’s just random synapses firing off little stories in your head.

Sometimes those stories are wonderful, and sometimes, like in my case, they’re horrific. But what if you could control those stories? What if you could do something useful with the hours you’re not awake? Wouldn’t that be awesome? And what if, sometimes in the dream world, you can leave your body behind?

Ian Jaydid is serious about lucid dreaming

Author, artist, and psychonaut, Ian Jaydid, had his first lucid dream when he was nineteen years old. Then, involuntarily, he started having those dreams every night. While he was always interested in the paranormal world, the experiences that he would have in his dreams would change how he fundamentally views existence.

He calls it “The Narrative”. In the real world, we all share certain beliefs about what is true and what is physically possible. You can’t walk through walls, you can’t fly, etc… In the dream world, “The Narrative” can be completely different. You might be able to talk to cats, you might be able to jump 10 feet high, people who you thought were dead are alive, etc… The rules are different. What’s possible is completely different.

In fact, one of the first things that regular lucid dreamers suggest to do is to try flying in your dreams. We’ve probably all done it involuntarily in a dream at some point, but when you do it purposefully it’s even more amazing. (Some people theorize that witches and broomsticks even come from them using hallucinogenics to simulate the fyling experience!) But we can’ t fly in real life, we don’t have ET helping us out with his psychic powers. It’s impossible. But that’s the kind of thing you can do in your dreams. You can transcend our physical limitations inside a lucid dream.

Ian was lucid dreaming so much that he started testing the limits of what he could experience. He started visiting his friends in his dreams and found out the things that he was seeing weren’t necessarily just in his dreams. His dream encounters changed his “Narrative” and altered what he believed to be possible.

His first book, Tripping the Field: An Existential Crisis of Ungodly Proportions (click here to check it out), is a fiction novel, but it contains the philosophy of what he’s learned in his nocturnal explorations.

In this interview, we talk with Ian Jaydid about his experiences and what inspired his novel and cover these topics:

  • Ways that you can try lucid dreaming tonight
  • How can you stop yourself from waking when you know you’re in a dream
  • Does lucid dreaming make you tired?
  • The evidence that caused him to believe he was doing more than just dreaming
  • Is it possible to astral travel in your dreams?

You can find more of Ian’s original artwork and writing at his website, ianjaydid.com

For the song this week, we were interested in how lucid dreaming can reframe what Ian Jaydid calls “The Narrative”. It’s like that old cliché, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.” Anything is possible in your dreams, the physical limitations in our material universe don’t exist there, anything goes.

There’s a movie from the late 90s called Mumford and there’s one scene that I think about often. In the movie, a man is describing one of his erotic fantasies to his therapist. In the fantasy, the male character is a stunning example of romance novel cover machismo who easily woos beautiful women, but in real life, the man is a total schlub. You think that the guy, Henry Follett, has a totally delusional sense of himself until the doctor is thinking about it later and says this:

In these fantasies, Henry Follett is played by a handsome guy with biceps. Can you imagine that? Where your self-esteem has to be? Man, I’d just like to move the guy to the point where he gets to appear in his own fantasies.”

He wasn’t even fantasizing about himself. His dreams weren’t his own. Sometimes your narrative is so ingrained that you’re not even the main character in it. That’s when you have to reframe it. That’s the idea behind this song, “Dreams Belong”.

The world is ugly
the world is mean
we’re drowning in cruelty
and there’s only one place I can hide
where I feel like I am free.

Your head spins round and round
your soul trapped on the running wheel
You gotta get out of your mind
if you want to find out what’s real

When the neurons fire
it’s more than just electricity
you can have my body and take my life,
but my dreams belong to me
I’ll close my eyes and fantasize
escape to lucidity
you can have my body and take my life,
but my dreams belong to me

It’s all fake
It’s all a hoax
we’ve all been fed a lie
You’ll never see possibility
until you leave your shell behind

Your head spins round and round
your soul trapped on the running wheel
You gotta get out of your mind
if you want to find out what’s real

When the neurons fire
it’s more than just electricity
you can have my body and take my life,
but my dreams belong to me
I’ll close my eyes and fantasize
escape to lucidity
you can have my body and take my life,
but my dreams belong to me