P is for Poltergeist: Not Just For Teenagers Anymore

Although I have respected colleagues in paranormal investigation who immediately dismiss all poltergeists cases as fraud, to a student of history, this approach seems limited and unreasonable. So many poltergeist cases pop up throughout history and across cultures that such casual dismissals don’t make sense. These eerily similar accounts of blatantly nonsensical manifestations are reported by very different populations dating back to antiquity and differ greatly from the usual ghost story narrative. This strongly suggests something is actually happening that goes far beyond mere imagination.

The German word “poltergeist” means “noisy ghost” and refers to the chaotic, cacophonous, house-wrecking phenomena that have been reported for centuries all over the world. These include, but are not limited to mysterious raps and other loud noises, untraceable fires and water damage, and the reckless hurling around of anything not nailed down by unseen forces. The word was first coined to describe such manifestations in 1638. Later Martin Luther would popularize the term in his religious writings. In 1948, the OG ghost hunter Catherine Crowe introduced the term to English usage in her groundbreaking catalog of the strange, The Night-Side of Nature.

The first recorded poltergeist case was in the 4th Century, according to Christopher Laursen, who wrote his PhD dissertation on the history of poltergeist phenomena at the University of British Columbia. Other sources attest such accounts date back to Ancient Greece.

The prevailing hypothesis maintains these violent outbursts may not be due to ghosts or any external forces at all, but to the power of the mind alone. Today poltergeists are mainly viewed as uncontrolled tantrums of telekinesis perpetrated most commonly by adolescent females. The modern study of the unexplained, parapsychology, has largely reclassified poltergeist activity as a human-centric phenomenon with the new label Recurrent Spontaneous Psychokinesis (RSPK). However, fashionable this current explanation, such activity has not always been blamed on the unconscious psychic machinations of disturbed teenage girls, but to many other monsters including ghosts, demons, fairies, and vampires.

My favorite podcast discussion about poltergeists was with Fortean author Geoff Holder. He spoke with us about his masterpiece of research, Poltergeist Over Scotland for which he examined 134 poltergeist cases documented in the historical record. Many different cultural contexts have been imposed upon poltergeist manifestations over the ages. However, in his opinion, no one explanation applies to all cases, even our modern interpretation. He has found that only 1/4 to 1/3 of poltergeists center on an adolescent human agent. To Holder, poltergeist activity usually has no obvious purpose and may just be the work of feckless entities, essentially the “numpties” of the supernatural.

Whereas most hauntings function as memento mori or cold comfort for mortality, poltergeist activity, on the other hand is often so chaotic it’s more likely to remind us that humans are not the center of the universe. Holder asserts that it may represent a non-human intelligence which is almost entirely indifferent to us.

Although Holder admits hoaxes and pranks do account for some poltergeist cases, as they do for any reported phenomena, he maintains that they cannot explain away the literally thousands of poltergeist cases reported by multitudes of reliable witnesses and the consistency of their accounts over centuries. In his study of 134 cases, he found that only 4.5% involved hoaxing. The analyses of other researchers indicate these numbers are between 3% and 15%.

Holder also hopes that the physical nature of poltergeist cases will open up the possibility for the scientific study of this phenomena. He cites one 2010 study of the unique audio signature of poltergeist raps as a step in the right direction. Conceivably studies such as these could some day lead to the scientific breakthrough for which every psychical researcher has been waiting.

For more fascinating poltergeist cases, listen to the following:

O is for Octopus (Tree): Unbelievable Paranormal Hoaxes

They say that seeing is believing, but that isn’t really true when it comes to the paranormal or supernatural. A long history of hoaxes and the prevalence of photoshop has lessened the ability of a picture to paint a believable thousand words. Today, witness testimonies and recordings of strange noises seem to inspire more belief in something not seen than a glossy 8×10.

But why don’t we believe in photos anymore? Is it because so many have been faked? Or is it because we have been so quick to believe them? To really understand the power a photo used to have, we need to look back in time, to simpler times…

In 1998, a hoax that is sadly forgotten today was launched–the story of the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus (Octopus paxarbolis). Now, before you roll your eyes and think that this was not a successful hoax (or else, you’d remember it) consider this: Snopes.org, once revered as the go-to site on the internet for debunking hoaxes and half-truths felt compelled, in 2014, to explain to the public that the Tree Octopus wasn’t real. That’s right, sixteen years later, some people still wondered if there really were Tree octopi—even though the webpage asking for help saving them explaining their major predator was Sasquatch.

What is a tree octopus? you might be wondering. Well, according to the official website (https://zapatopi.net/treeoctopus/) this gentle cephalopod hails from the rainy forests of the Olympic Peninsula, on the Eastern side of the Olympic mountain range, residing both in fresh water and in the wet canopy of the forest. Its natural predators include house cats, the bald eagle, and sasquatch.

Yes, sasquatch.

Okay, so now you might be wondering how could anyone believe that an octopus could live on land and in fresh water, and that the rainy season of the Pacific Northwest is what allowed its continued existence.

Before you judge a whole generation, take into account the era this took place in.

In 1988, the USAF revealed the existence of the F-117 Stealth Fighter, an “invisible” plane.

In 1989, Bob Lazar came forward, claiming to have reverse-engineered UFOs at the then-highly classified Area 51 military base at Groom Lake, Nevada.

In 1993, The X-Files premiered on television, bringing conspiracies, UFOs and the paranormal into the popculture mainstream.

In 1995, Ray Santelli presented his Alien Autopsy film, which purported to show the examination of an alien body recovered from a UFO crash. (This wasn’t revealed to be a hoax until 2006).

In 1999, the year following the Tree Octopus’ internet debut, audiences were terrified with the “found footage” film, The Blair Witch Project, many initially believing the film was based on true events.

And let’s not forget, the Internet was epically exploding onto the scene, worldwide, in the 1990s, allowing people to not only get information previously hidden in libraries around the globe, but to share reports of the strange and unusual. 1995, for example, saw the formation of the Bigfoot Research Organization.

You also need to remember a similar hoax, revealed in 1993, that was much older: the Surgeon’s Photo.

You might not know it’s name, but this iconic black-and-white image of the Lochness Monster’s head and neck sticking out of the water is known around the world, even today. Despite the fact that it was entirely a hoax, perpetrated by a conspiracy of three men, it is still cited when the Lochness Monster is discussed. The revelation it was a hoax did not diminished belief in Nessie.

According to the website The Unmuseum, Nessie’s most famous photo happened like this:

A man named Duke Weatherell wanted revenge on the London Daily Mail newspaper. This was because in 1933, they had hired him to find the Lochness Monster. He found footprints, made casts and size estimates and sent them off to the London Museum of Natural History. Later, it was discovered Weatherell had been hoaxed himself by locals—the footprints were frauds. The paper who hired Weatherell in turn ridiculed the man and humiliated him.

Fast forward to April 1934, and Colonel Robert Kenneth Wilson, a physician (and surgeon), presented the famous Nessie photo we’re talking about. This “proof” of Nessie remained contested, but believed, for decades. It wasn’t until 1993 that the full story came out, thanks to the work of David Martin and Alastair Boyd., who spoke to one of the men really responsible for the Surgeon’s photo, and who confirmed it was indeed a hoax.

Christian Spurling, stepson of Weatherell, admitted he’d made the “monster” out of some plastic and a clockwork, tinplate, toy submarine at his father’s request. Weatherell and his son actually took the completed faux Nessie out and photographed it. But they needed help disseminating the photo, since Duke had already been thoroughly discredited. They enlisted the aid of Maurice Chambers, who in turn contacted Colonel Wilson, who brought the photo forward and claimed credit for taking it.

Just five years after Nessie’s most famous mugshot was revealed to be a hoax, Lyle Zapato brought the plight of this Tree octopus to world attention with the creation of the website dedicated to saving it and used a similar methodology to fool people: he faked some photos (e.g. by placing a dead octopus in a tree and snapping some pics).

Today, the Tree Octopus is largely forgotten–a hoax when hoaxing was significantly harder to do. Hopefully, it and the surgeon’s photo have taught us all a valuable lesson: Don’t believe everything you see.

M Is For Major Arcana: Storytelling Through The Tarot

In addition to being lovers of the paranormal and all things Fortean, Wendy and I also have been performing in a rock band since college. The name of the band started as Nevermore, which we thought was sweet because everyone loves Edgar Allen Poe, but we switched it to Sunspot because the lawyers for a power metal band called Nevermore threatened to sue us when they got famous before we did.

Sunspot seemed like a cool name because they’re dark mysterious parts of the sun that interfere with radio waves on Earth. We’re all into sci-fi, so having an astronomical event be the name for our band sounded about right. Plus, it was the 90’s and compound nouns were all the rage then (Pearljam, Soundgarden, etc…)

We’ve always had a touch of an occult bent to the music and have long enjoyed the symbolism and mystery of the Tarot deck. In fact, our band, Sunspot’s first album, Radio Free Earth, featured The Fool from the Rider-Waite Tarot on the cover. I’ve always loved the Tarot, even though I don’t find it particularly mystical.

It’s a great party game, but it’s also a useful tool for self-reflection. The Major Arcana represent archetypes of personalities, and we all have a little bit of those archetypes inside of us at one time or another, so it can almost be a form of psychoanalysis. When you deal the card, what does that archetype mean to you and for your life?

So when, we were looking to create a rock opera that we were going to tour the country with, we knew we were going to be playing for a lot of people who had never seen us before. We needed to find some kind of shorthand that we could use to get a message across quickly to audiences who weren’t very familiar with our music. The Tarot seemed like the perfect and we could even give it a frame story of a lonely guy talking to an Internet psychic and the cards that he deals would then lead into the songs.

But in order to get to that story, we had to work our way through the process of how we would tell a story in a live music performance by using background videos, tarot cards, and loud rock songs. Here is the process we went through and the notes we took to figure out the beats of the story, what Tarot cards would work the best, and then you can see what became the final product, our rock opera, Major Arcana.

What Story Are We Trying To Tell?
“Life is pain. Anyone who says different is trying to sell you something.” – The Princess Bride

We’re all slowly disconnecting from each other. How can it be possible that we know more about each other than ever (we know what someone has to eat through their Twitter update, we know what they’re listening to at the time through Blip.fm, we know the score of their children’s soccer game through Facebook) but we take care of each other less than ever. We know the lives of celebrities better than we know the people who live next door. A recent study found that the number of people with whom Americans can discuss matters important to them dropped by nearly one-third, from 2.94 people in 1985 to 2.08 in 2004. Researchers also found that the number of people who said they had no one with whom to discuss such matters more than doubled, to nearly 25 percent. We have more ways to connect with people like us than ever, but there’s nowhere we belong more than ever.

The theme of this work is taking a journey that starts in naivete which leads to mistakes, pain, and isolation. It is only when he doesn’t try to control others but takes control of his own destiny that he rejoins society and finds the place where he belongs. Sunspot’s music and live show is a communal experience for the audience. Bringing people together is something we do extraordinarily well (there have been 4 weddings from people that have met at Sunspot shows!) Our music and performance is about connection from interacting with the audience to communal singalongs. We are all about bridging the gaps in the human condition.

Why The Tarot?
The main character is portrayed as a modernized version of The Fool from the Tarot and is representative of a desperate soul in search of experience. We use graphics and animation during the songs to show the emotional significance and characterization of each experience and to highlight the performance onstage.

Each song is represented by a major arcana tarot card that in its meaning helps represent the song graphically while the music conveys the emotion and the performance makes it real for the audience. By using the Tarot mixed with sci-fi elements we’re combining mysticism and technology. Viewing modern-day problems through the lens of archaic symbolism, much like the main theme of the piece deals with the paradox of how ultramodern forms of communication cannot cure the age-old problem of humans not relating to each other.

By using the Tarot, we don’t have to spell everything out for the viewer and we can use symbols that many are already familiar with, yet simple enough that their meaning can be imported through a few images. Also, it enables us to use a motif that began on our first record and work off the symbolism of each record afterwards because the iconography of our albums can be juxtaposed with the Tarot easily as well as integrating into the show’s themes.

Here is the basic structure of the character’s journey, the symbolism and iconography of each moment:

When The Revolution Comes (The Fool)

The character is an idealist and it’s one of our few songs that is honestly idealistic. It’s pure and sweet and non-ironic.

This is the perfect song to introduce the Fool character. After all, it’s his naivete that sets him on his journey.

The Breach (The Emperor)

Stinging disappointment and the way that idealism and hope can be inverted and crushed. Trust is abused and eventually broken. The descent begins.

The Emperor symbolizes the desire to rule over one’s surroundings, and its appearance in a reading often suggests that the subject needs to accept that some things may not be controllable, and others may not benefit from being controlled.

Sweet Relief (The Hanged Man)/Tunguska (The Wheel of Fortune)


A pean for the beginning of separation, the start of a change. The idea that the grass is greener on the other side of the street. The notion of emotional divorce from the world begins to seem attractive because there has to be a better way.

A pean for the beginning of separation, the start of a change. The idea that the grass is greener on the other side of the street. The notion of emotional divorce from the world begins to seem attractive because there has to be a better way.

The Hanged Man relationship to the other cards usually involves the sacrifice that makes sacred; personal loss for a greater good or a greater gain.

And when the song switches to “Tunguska” it’s the moment of impact, when the isolation begins. The character gets the last vestiges of his hope destroyed, blown away.

The Wheel of Fortune represents the intercession of random chance into the Fool’s path. The card represents the forces that can help or hinder the querant suddenly or unpredictably.

Eat Out My Heart (The Devil)

Here comes the idea that there’s no way to win, that separating from humanity is the best way because when you care too much, you lose.

Or it’s the idea of being a slave to an idea. The character is a slave to his idea that he’s been hurt. “Eat Out My Heart” is a song about hating someone else and being a big old victim. It’s wallowing in self-pity and delusion that someone else is to blame for why the character feels stung. As long as the character is encumbered by those emotions, they never get better. It’s not about being upset with the girl who this song is for, because that girl isn’t suffering. It’s the character singing who is being punished and he’s punishing himself. The Devil is great for “Defeated” but also works for “Eat Out My Heart” to add some levity here.

The Devil is the card of self-bondage to an idea or belief which is preventing a person from growing or being healthy. It is the card of futility, pessimism, and mistakes.

Neanderthal (The Hermit)

The lowest point of the emotional arc. Relationships are about domination and humanity is cast aside in favor of the animal. It’s the heaviest moment, the darkest lyrics.

The Hermit represents the need to withdraw from society to become comfortable with himself. He represents isolation.

Dig Your Grave (Death)

The other side of the door. It’s about seeing how someone else retreats, it’s about how someone else runs away from the rest of the world and in reacting to that event, the character starts to regain his (or her) sense of connection to the rest of the world. Only through forgiving others for how they’ve wronged you, can you start to become part of the community again.

Death implies an end, possibly of a relationship or interest, and therefore implies an increased sense of self-awareness.

Perfect (Strength)

A realization of that’s how life is, that you can’t control what happens around you only how you react to it. The character just wants to decide his own destiny.

“It doesn’t matter if everything’s ugly, it doesn’t matter if it’s all unsafe.” This song works well with this theme right off the bat. It’s a little more fun and the message is more straightforward. It’s happy, but not too happy and would lead well into Summer Day.

The modern interpretation of Strength stresses discipline and control. The lion represents the primal or id-like part of the mind, and the woman, the ‘higher’ or more elevated parts of the mind. The card tells the Querent to be wary of the temptations of the flesh.For example, in The Chariot card, the Querant is fighting a battle. The difference is that in Strength, the battle is mainly internal rather than external.

Summer Day (The Chariot)

I’ll be part of the group but by my own terms. I’ll live my own life and I’ll do it the way I want to. That’s what’s important, that’s what counts. You can’t make me grow up because I’ve seen the pain and the suffering that grown-ups endure. I’ll join, but only if I get to make the rules.

After the impulse that pulls us out of the Garden, we get on our chariot and depart. At that point, we are the Hero of our own story; maybe the Hero of everyone’s story. That Hero might represent Helios, the Greek god who drives the Sun’s chariot across the sky, bringing light to the earth.

No Place Like Home (The Star)

You have to accept that the world will crush your hopes sometimes, and that the world is hard. But it’s not impossible to find your place and sometimes it’s right back where you started, but when you get here this time, you at least have a better understanding and you’ve chosen to be here. So now, you may not necessarily be in the place you think you shoud be, but you’re in the place that suits you best.

The pool of water refers to the subconscious. The land refers to the material world. She renews both. Usually divined as hope for the future, good things to come regarding the cards close to the star. By having a foot in both, this is where the Fool understands that he needs to be part of the material world as well as his own life. This is the reintegration and reconnection back to society.

So, this silly story told through tarot cards consumed about a year of our lives. From the initial concept, to writing new songs, to figuring out how to synchronize the videos and lights, to recording the actors, to booking the tour, and then editing the DVD and all the videos ourselves.

And through that year-long DIY creative undertaking, much like a good Tarot reading, we learned a lot about ourselves. We loved the final result and the show was great (we even recorded a video tour diary as well as a directors commentary track on the DVD!), but it was the processthat we’ll always remember.

By doing it all ourselves and creating everything from scratch (except for the Tarot cards), we put ourselves through what sometimes felt like Hell. But it was our own “hero’s journey” along with the character from the show. And hopefully we too might have started off the trip as the Fool, but came out the other side, The Star.

L Is For Los Angeles: Haunting Pioneers of L.A.

When you think of Los Angeles, images of the glitz and glamour of Hollywood surely come to mind, alongside imagery of traffic and paparazzi. When considering LA’s older ghost stories, you may think of Marilyn Monroe, or silent era icons like Charlie Chaplin or Rudolph Valentino, but LA’s roots go back much further, which some very old structures still remaining, cared for by the watchful spirits of those who helped build (as Steve Martin would misquote in LA Story), “This other Eden… demi-paradise… this ground… this Los Angeles.”

Olvera Street is a marvelously restored, historic section of Los Angeles, just a few blocks from the heart of downtown LA. Spain was aware of the land that would become California and, in 1781, decided to send 11 Mexican families to establish a community here. Russia had already conquered the area we now know as Alaska and the fear was that they would work their way down the Pacific Coast. The first settlements in LA ended up getting washed away by the LA river, but the first community that stuck is this area, originally named (translated) Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels, or Los Angeles for short.

Avila Adobe

Located on the North end of Olvera Street, the Avila Adobe is the oldest standing residence in Los Angeles. The house was built in 1818 by former mayor Francisco Avila. It was built traditionally for the time and culture, originally featuring a flat, tarred roof, utilizing tar from the La Brea Tar Pits, which was grazing land Avila’s cattle.

This house was Avila’s family’s home, though he himself only visited on weekends. However, it was also a grand house to entertain friends, which the Avila family did frequently. Though, no battle took place here, American troops did take over the house for use as a headquarters until the Treaty of Cahuenga was signed, thus ending the Mexican-American War.

Massive earthquakes in 1870 and 1971 damaged the frail house, making it uninhabitable for large stretches of time. Today, thanks to tremendous preservation efforts, a seven-room portion of the house has been restored and can be visited daily for free.

Today, the home is not only frequented by guests, but also by original owner Francisco Avila, who is said to talk the halls and plaza, continuing to look over his impressive homestead and the village he once presided over as mayor. In addition to being seen clearly in the house, in the courtyard and in front of the house, people have also heard his heavy boots as he invisibly wanders the halls of the house. People have also observed shadow people throughout the structure.

Avila’s first wife, Maria, died in 1822. He later remarried to a woman named Encarnación. It is Encarnación’s ghost that is said to also inhabit the house long after her 1855 death. Some witnesses have seen a female form sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch while others have heard the sound of feminine crying within the home, apparently coming from the master bedroom. The belief is that her immense sorrow of learning of her husband’s death is the intense emotion that still plays out, in residual form.

One of Avila Adobe’s Haunted Bedrooms

Today, the home is not only frequented by guests, but also by original owner Francisco Avila, who is said to talk the halls and plaza, continuing to look over his impressive homestead and the village he once presided over as mayor. In addition to being seen clearly in the house, in the courtyard and in front of the house, people have also heard his heavy boots as he invisibly wanders the halls of the house. People have also observed shadow people throughout the structure.

Avila’s first wife, Maria, died in 1822. He later remarried to a woman named Encarnación. It is Encarnación’s ghost that is said to also inhabit the house long after her 1855 death. Some witnesses have seen a female form sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch while others have heard the sound of feminine crying within the home, apparently coming from the master bedroom. The belief is that her immense sorrow of learning of her husband’s death is the intense emotion that still plays out, in residual form.

Just 500 feet to the south, continuing down Olivera Street and through the plaza is the Pico House, a building once considered the most luxurious hotel in Los Angeles. The building was constructed in 1870 by successful businessman and the last governor of Los Angeles while under Mexican rule, Pio Pico.

The Pico House was an immediate success for years upon it’s opening. The 82-room hotel was in high demand through 1900, when the business center of the city shifted south. It was this shift that ended the glory days for this area.

However, even its glory days were not always so glorious. Just days after the city of Chicago burned to the ground in the great fire, a different kind of fire would rage in Los Angeles. A fire made up of vengeance and anger.

This location bordered the original Chinatown and two warring Chinese immigrant associations were battling each other when Jesus Bilderrain, one of only six police officers in Los Angeles, heard shots ring out. He found one Chinese gang member bleeding in the street when he was struck by a non-fatal bullet in the shoulder. Nearby tavern owner, Robert Thompson, came to aid and was eventually shot in the chest and killed. A city already rife with prejudice against the Chinese exploded. A mob stormed Chinatown, indiscriminately attacking any inhabitant they could find. Buildings and storefronts were damaged, easily hundreds of people were beat up and dozens more were hanged to death throughout Chinatown. The majority of the slayings took place just steps from the Pico House, on the land that is now LA’s Union Station.

In the end, at least 17 Chinese were killed, including young boys. Questions persist over Even Builderrain’s story. Was he a hero cop, shot in the line of duty, or was he merely a key member of a murderous lynch mob? Regardless of how it all went down, there is belief that some of those killed are still present at the Pico House. Some of the spirits are apparently vengeful, as an episode of “Ghost Adventures” talked to a security guard who claimed they were kicked in the back of the leg while walking down a staircase.

Additionally, Pio Pico himself is often seen looking over his land from the roof or upper windows of the Pico house. Much like Mayor Avila, he appears to be keeping tabs on the land he presided over in life. It’s also worth noting that, aside from the lit street lamps and the hum of nearby traffic, the setting is preserved, locked in time, so perhaps its this familiarity that makes Olvera Street, the Avila Adobe, the Pico House and a number of other nearby buildings such a desirable place for past tenants to remain, long after their deaths.

K Is For Kissing: The Blarney Stone And A Mysterious Shadow Cat

This blogpost is adapted from a podcast interview we did with author, Nick Redfern. In the podcast we talk extensively about tulpas or thoughtforms come to life. And you can listen to the episode if you’d like to learn more. Also, if you’re interested in watching me tell the whole story on video, head down to the bottom of this post.

So, while taking a trip to the UK and Ireland in 2008, I was reading Nick Redfern’s book, Three Men Seeking Monsters, which was about Nick and his friends going to the locations of legendary paranormal sightings across Britain, listening to punk rock, and drinking prodigious amounts of ale. That was the kind of trip that I could get behind and it was a fun book to read while we were on our own road trip across the island.

It was a terrifying time for us because I was just about to quit my day job working in software and I wanted to go for it as a musician. My wife, Chris, (girlfriend at the time) was contemplating leaving her career as a music teacher as well. So we were a couple of people who were planning on changing our lives completely.

One of the things that my wife did to lighten our apprehensive moods on the trip was secretly bring along a set of sticky googly eyes and she’d put them in different places (like on the Nick Redfern book) every morning to make us laugh. It was all based around this Saturday Night Live sketch with Christopher Walken where he played a gardener who was scared of plants. So, he’s stick googly eyes on them so he could look them in the eye. It was our favorite skit and we laughed that we’d remember these little jokes if our relationship got rocky, so we wanted to save them “for the hard times”.

So, while we’re in Ireland seeing the sites, we visit the Blarney Castle right outside of Cork. Now, when you visit the Castle of Blarney, you have to go see The Blarney Stone. The legend is that anyone who kisses the Blarney Stone will get the “gift of gab” and they offically call it “The Stone of Eloquence” because it’s supposed to make you more persuasive and be able to tell lies and have other people enjoy hearing it! And I know that sounds bad right before I tell a crazy story.

There are many supposed origins of this urban legend, but my favorite involves a witch who was saved from being executed by Cormac McCarthy, who was the lord of the castle at the time. She supposedly granted him this special gift of eloquence, of being able to lie and exaggerate and persuade, becuase he saved her life.

Surrounding the castle is a beautiful park where there are big rock formations they call a “Rock Close”, they have some old caves they call Druid’s Cave and Witch’s Kitchen. There’s some fun folklore about how the witch is trapped in a stone during the day and only comes out at night, but sometimes you can still see the embers of her fire from the night before burning in the kitchen.

But the most interesting section is the Wishing Stairs, a stairway where you’re supposed to walk up and down it backwards with your eyes closed and focus on a wish and if you succeed in doing so, your wish will come true within a year.

The following paragraphs are taken directly from my journal (which still has googly eyes on it) and I wrote them down as soon as we got to our hotel that night…

We weren’t expecting much but it was awesome. The lines weren’t too bad and it was a little overcast, but the temperature was perfect. The pathways were so wind-y and skinny, it was a long trip for us to get to the top of the battlements, so I can just imagine what it’s like for elderly people who take the journey.

Me kissing the Blarney Stone, it’s actually pretty scary

Kissing the Blarney Stone was way more of a rush than we expected because you have to actually lean back really far over the edge and someone holds you while you kiss it.You’re far enough back though, so it’s scary. That was fun and the castle was magnificent, but the Rock Close was the real treat. We waled along there by the Druid Cricle and up and down the Wishing Stairs (where I wished for financial independence because I was planning on quitting my day job and Chris must have wished something about her cats, but more on that later.)

The Wishing Steps of Blarney

So, we walked away from the Rock Close and to the gardens around the castle. We were completely alone and sat at a bench overlooking a field through the foliage. I told Chris about the Cormons in Nick Redfern’s book because I had just finished it that morning.

In his book, Redfern talks about interviewing an old witch, who told him about these creatures called Cormons. They were summoned to our world centuries ago by some British magicians and Irish occultists who were looking to protect the Isles from foreign marauders like the Vikings. These Cormons were supposed to appear as the darkest fears of the attackers (usually with glowing red eyes) and defend the island. But the magicians and the occultists were slaughtered and the Cormons were free to roam the land and feed on our fearful emotions. He speculated that UFOs, ghost sightings, and other monsters were these Cormons who use our fear as a pathway from their dimension into ours.

I was telling Chris about the Cormons and what an interesting idea I thought it was and she said “How scary would it be if the Big Black Wolf from The Never-Ending Story appeared right now?”

Gmork. “The Big Black Wolf” that Chris was referring to.

Just then a shape appeared in the pathway a hundred yards from us. I took a couple of blurry pictures and adrenaline rushed through our veins. It looked like it could be a wolf from the distance, but we approached it slowly and it was the form of a black cat that jumped into the bushes before we got a good look at it.

nick redfern tulpa
Sorry it’s blurry, but as soon as I saw it, I immediately tried to get a picture.

We never really saw its eyes but looked around for it where it jumped to and didn’t see anything. We couldn’t believe what we’d just seen after what we were talking about, it couldn’t have been written any better.

A closer up shot of the Demon Dog of Blarney! Okay, okay, I guess it does look like a cat

Chris said that it might have been because of the wish she made when she was on the Wishing Stairs. I thought she might have wished that our black cat, Mr. Spock, was okay and that’s why a black cat appeared. But the shape looked like it was a wolf at first, which made it so we just couldn’t believe it.

We were so grateful for the experience that we left googly eyes on a fern at the Druids sacrificial altar that was in the garden as an offering for the Blarney Witch to thank her. We thought she’d appreciate giving her our jokes “for the hard times”. We had a delightful lunch by the horses and took the Woodland Walk, saw Faeries’ Glen and the Horse’s Graveyard, but it’s the Shadow Cat of Blarney that’s the story we will always remember.

The Googly-Eyed Fern that we left for the Blarney Witch

A few years later, my wife told me that when she was on the Wishing Steps, she wished for a sign for her own future. And when she saw the cat, she thought was a miracle, because she’d been offered a position at a cat specialty clinic in town just before we left. She was desperate to find any kind of sign as to what to do with her life and there it was.

Seeing a mysterious shadowy animal while on the trail was one thing, but us both seeing something different was another. And her seeing the Shadow Cat of Blarney helped her make her final decision.


This Week’s Best Paranormal News – April 12th, 2019

Hey guys,
If you missed our last podcast it’s a great discussion with paranormal reality star Brian Cano (from Haunted Collector and Paranormal Caught on Camera). Click here to listen to it.

In the meantime, we’re back with the best paranormal news we saw this week!

‘Haunted’ doll ‘blinks’ in selfie at abandoned ‘Village of the Damned’
mirror

This one went viral on social media this week and it’s a pretty great pic. The creepy doll appeared to close her eyes in an abandoned building known as ‘The Village of the Damned’

Chinese scientists made super-monkeys with human brain genes
Futurism

And so it begins… “It is a classic slippery slope issue and one that we can expect to recur as this type of research is pursued.”

We Spoke to an MIT Computer Scientists About the Simulation Hypothesis
Digital Trends

The simulation hypothesis, which was famously probed in the 1999 film The Matrix, is the subject of a new book by Rizwan Virk, a computer scientist and video game developer who leads Play Labs at MIT. In his book, Virk endeavors to unpack the heady arguments that call our physical world into question.

Iran Says ‘Tall, White’ Space Aliens Control America
Forbes

Documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden conclusively prove that the United States has been ruled by a race of tall, white space aliens who also assisted the rise of Nazi Germany in the 1930s. Okay…

Incident Detail Report Shows Man Called 911 to Report Sighting of ‘7-8 ft Tall’ Creature in Woodstock, Illinois
The Singular Fortean Society

Now here’s a great example of how you do a paranormal investigation lead by our friends in The Singular Fortean Society. Someone called 911 to report seeing a strange winged creature in the northern Chicago burbs. The investigators followed up with the caller as well as did a Freedom of Information Act request to get a transcript of the call. Now, the rest of it is sketchy because the caller was hoping to “name the creature” and then they weren’t responsive to the investigator’s follow-ups. But The Singular Fortean handled this exactly right.

Stevie Wonder isn’t blind, claim wild theorists – and here’s the ‘evidence’
mirror

The so-called ‘Stevie Wonder Truthers’ bizarrely claim there’s a whole heap of evidence to suggest Stevie can see. Ummm… what?!

Sneaker Pimps – Superstition (Stevie Wonder Cover) YouTube

Trip Hop pioneers Sneaker Pimps covering Stevie?! Oh yeah. If Stevie can really see, we hope he watches the video!

Next week, we’re tackling the cursed movie Antrum. Please make sure you’re subscribed to the podcast to get it as soon as it comes out!

See you on the other side of the weekend!
Mike, Wendy, and the SYOTOS family

J Is For Jennie & Julia: The Ghosts of Innocence

Both Jenny Wade and Julia Buccola are immortalized today and given nearly sainthood status as two women who died tragically and have left behind some legendary stories,

First, we will go to Mount Carmel Cemetery in the south Chicago suburb of Hillside, Illinois.  Perhaps no cemetery illustrates the equality that death brings to all of us.  No matter how glamorous or ordinary, how wealthy or struggling, or how we lived our lives, we all physically end up in the same place.  Nowhere is this more true than in Mount Carmel Cemetery where the executors of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in interred in the same ground as some of their victims.  Warring Mafia henchmen and leaders alike, are resting peacefully alongside their rivals.  This dichotomy may not be more stark when considering that criminals like Charles Dion O’Bannion, “Machine Gun Jack” McGurn, Roger Touhy, Frank “The Enforcer” Nitti, Sam Giancana and even Al Capone is buried at the same cemetery as religious leaders like Cardinal Bernardin.

On the opposite side of the cemetery from Al Capone is the beautiful gravesite of Julia Buccola Petta, who is considered a modern-day saint.  Julia’s life was tragically taken at the young age of 20 while giving birth to a stillborn infant.  She was buried in her wedding dress under a nondescript grave, sharing her coffin with her baby.  At the time, she was remembered by her surviving family and a newly widowed husband.  Now she is remembered by a whole city.

After her death, Julia’s mother began having nightmares.  These nightmares consisted of her daughter begging and pleading to be removed from the earth from where she had recently been buried, as if she had been buried alive.

This started a six-year battle by her mother to have Julia’s body exhumed.  Finally, the church and cemetery agreed to go through with the task to appease the elder Buccola.  Their findings were remarkable.

Decomposition of the human body begins almost immediately and it tends to be a rapid process.  Knowing this, all of those present during the excavation expected to see nothing but bones once the casket lid was opened.  To their complete surprise, Julia’s body looked as if she were still living.

According to those who witnessed this first-hand, her skin was still fresh and soft to the touch.  She looked as though she was merely sleeping.  While Julia appeared completely unchanged, her infant was in the expected condition; nonexistent other than skeletal remains.

A monument was erected on Julia’s grave depicting Julia standing on her wedding day.  There are two photographs attached to the base of the monument.  One is Julia on her wedding day while the other was taken the day her body was exhumed, just before reburial.

Those who knew the story immediately considered Julia a saint.  She died while giving birth to her first child and her body was proven to be incorruptible.  She was an instant heroine for Chicago’s Italian-American women.

Indeed, Julia has been seen outside of her grave and without the help of an exhumation.  Her ghost has been seen walking the grounds of the cemetery in the area nearest to her Harrison Street gravesite.

For the most part, she has been seen at night, but there is at least one notable daylight encounter where a lost little boy was eventually found holding Julia’s hand.  When the worried parents finally found their child, Julia vanished.

Julia’s memory and inspirational past continues to live on throughout Chicago and, in particular, in the neighborhood around the cemetery.

Some 600 miles away in the living monument to one of America’s darkest events, Jennie Wade stands as a symbol to all the innocence lost during the Civil War.  Two opposing armies clashed over three days in 1863.  In all, over 175,000 soldiers would fight relentlessly around the town of Gettysburg, overrunning a town that previously only boasted some 2,400 residents.  Once the smoke had cleared, 50,000 soldiers were killed or wounded in the enormous, sprawling, battle.  Remarkably, only one civilian was killed.  It was 20-year-old Jennie Wade.

Wade, a born and raised Gettysburg native, went to her sister Georgia’s house as the fighting broke out to tend to her and her one-week-old nephew, Louis.  Instead of hiding out in the basement, Jennie was at work in the kitchen, baking bread for Union soldiers.  The intensity of the fighting was outrageous, with hot spots of action popping up and shifting constantly.  Perhaps, to the Wade family, they were growing apathetic to the danger around them.  After all, on day one alone, their house was hit by an estimated 150 bullets.  On the morning of day three of the fighting, this house saw one bullet too many.  Slicing through two doors, striking Jennie in the shoulder, continuing through her heart, only to emerge from the other side of her, coming to rest in her corset, one single bullet killed Jennie instantly.

Just days later, Jennie’s fiancé would also be killed in battle, even before learning of his love’s demise.

Due to the trajectory, many believe the bullet was fired from a sniper’s nest, possibly from the Farnsworth House, some 800 feet away. Immediately after her death, her body was taken down to the cellar of the house, which seems to be the most haunted part of the property

Today, Jennie is rightfully immortalized.  Her family was granted a pension as the family of a fallen soldier would since she died while serving the Union cause.  The house she died in is now a National Monument and a museum while a statue of her stands out front.  Her grave site is one of only two female graves in the country to fly a perpetual American flag.  The other person is Betsy Ross.

The Jennie Wade House is one of the dozens of known haunted sites around Gettysburg.  EVPs are commonly recorded by paranormal investigators.  There are claims of colored ghost lights appearing throughout the structure.  However, is it only Jennie who is still inhabiting the home?  Before the war, Jennie Wade’s father, James, was arrested for not returning found money and sentenced to two years of solitary confinement in the notoriously haunted Eastern State Penitentiary.  By the time he was released, he was a broken, mentally damaged soul.  He ended up spending the rest of his life residing in the Adams County Alms House, an asylum/poor farm.  Today, the museum’s cellar contains a blanket-covered mannequin, reproducing the scene of Jennie’s body laying here after her death.  Many speculate that it’s Jennie’s father who watches over this scene, still trying to protect his lost daughter.  People in the area have felt the unmistakable sensation of a hand grabbing them firmly, usually sending the unsuspecting individual running across the room.

I Is For Incubus: The Original Sleep Creep

In the middle of the night your eyes open. You’re not dreaming because you can see your room all around you. When you try to move, your body refuses to cooperate. You feel a pressure on your chest, a tightening of your windpipe. You can’t breathe and you can’t move. And then you see it. This malevolent beast that’s on top of you. This thing has violated your bedroom, your safest space and now it’s riding you, choking the life out of you. It doesn’t feel like a dream, it’s happening to you. And there’s nothing you can do about it.

And then the wicked thing is gone. The pressure is relieved, you can move your arms again, you can breathe once more. You’re terrified because it wasn’t a dream, it was happening to you while you were awake. It’s a real live Freddy Krueger coming out of your nightmare world and entering our physical realm. How is it even possible?

Scientifically speaking, the state when you transition from sleeping to wakefulness is called hypnopompia. While you dream, your voluntary muscles do not move so that you’re not running around in your sleep. You cycle between REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep where you have dreams and non-REM sleep where your body is just relaxing. Sometimes the cycle doesn’t sync up right and you wake up and you’re still stuck where your body can’t move because your mind thinks you’re dreaming, and because you are still dreaming, you can have visual hallucinations as well. That’s sleep paralysis and it’s scary as Hell.

I myself had a terrifying experience with sleep paralysis and while I didn’t see an old hag, I saw the grey aliens from Communion standing around me when I woke up from a dream when I was 12 years old and it was horrifying. We covered that in an episode about sleep paralysis and I go into all the details of my own personal “nightmare”.

They often call sleep paralysis “Old Hag Syndrome” because some men dream of seeing an old woman on top of them. Our word nightmare actually comes from a creature in Slavic folklore called a mare that rides your chest at night while you sleep. The Germans even had little prayers they’d say at night to ward off the mares. It’s something that happens to humans almost universally and it’s terrifying.

Adam Gray, a Canadian filmmaker, was so affected by his visit from the Old Hag that he ended up making a film about it and it lead to a series of paranormal films for Canadian television. You could say that his Old Hag actually was lucky because it furthered his career!

But sometimes strange dream women visiting men in the middle of the night don’t just want to terrify and paralye you, they want to steal your seed. And that’s where we get the succubi from, sex demons like the Hebrew legend, Lillith. She was Adam’s first wife from Genesis and was supposedly banned from the Garden of Eden and determined to take revenge on humankind. She’s not exclusively a Jewish legend, because they also mention a Lillitu in the epic of Gilgamesh who was a female demon that seduced men in the middle of the night.

It was an easy way for religious men to not feel guilty about nocturnal emissions and wet dreams because it wasn’t their impure thoughts that caused it to happen, it was the succubi visiting them in the middle of the night.

When this happenes to women, they’re called incubi instead of succubi and an incubus rapes women while they sleep. English King James (the guy that made the famous Bible translation) wrote in his dissertation Daemonologie that a demon could be an succubus to steal the seed from the man while he slept and change into an incubus to impregnate a sleeping woman with it. St. Thomas Aquinas pondered the same question a few centuries earlier and decided that those children created from demonic copulation were still human because they had God-given souls because “only God could create life.” In Welsh folklore, it’s said that the child of succubi or incubi is called a cambion and has special powers, the most famous cambion being the wizard Merlin of Arthurian legend.

The thing is, these guys were thinking about nocturnal sex demons fairly frequently enough to write about them.

But, sleep paralysis, the Incubus and Succubus are universal to the human experience no matter what the belief system. In Zanzibar, they’re called the Popo Bawa and there was a very real panic in the 90s that this malevolent entity was on the loose on the island. We talked with an anthropologist who was there during the crisis and what was actually happening.

Popobawa: Dr. Martin Walsh and The Idea Virus

When seemingly otherwise healthy men were dying in Hmong communities in the United States in the 1970s after they were resettled after the Vietnam War, superstitions began arising that it was the dab tsog (pronounced da-cho), who are the crushing spirits that sit on our chests while they sleep. Because these communities were resettled and they didn’t have access to a traditional shaman, some were blaming it on the dab tsog running wild without their traditional spiritual protection. At least one author thinks that it was their belief in the dab tsog that killed them, but another scientist says he’s traced it to a particular mutated gene that controls sodium levels in the heart and it makes certain people more susceptible to irregular heart rhythms while they sleep and puts them at risk for dying in their sleep.

That would explain why it’s more prevalent in Southeast Asian males even though every culture experiences “nightmares”.

They weren’t necessarily all bad, though. In Hawaiian folklore, the househould gods of the kane (male energy) or wahine o ka po (female energy) could visit a couple in the middle of the night and lovemaking would be guilt-free because it was only in dreamland. In fact, the kane o ka po would sometimes help an infertile couple successfully have a child. But also, the man could become obsessed with his wahine o ka po and no longer want to satisy his wife. So, these dream lovers could end up being a mixed bag.

So, the next time you wake up and you can’t move, remember, you’re still dreaming! And if you’re terrified, some experts recommend trying to wiggle your toes or fingers before try to move bigger muscles because that might help. Also, they suggest closing your eyes and imagining your spinning (which interestingly enough, is also a technique I’ve heard to instigate an Out-Of-Body Experience), so before you panic try those techniques and hopefully your Old Hag or Incubus experience will feel just like it really is… only a bad dream.

H Is For Hawaii: Paranormal Paradise

Why Hawaii?  Besides the glorious spectacle of sun, sea, and sand, Hawaii may just be one of the most crucial destinations in the world for the advancement of paranormal knowledge.  The Hawaiian Islands are among the most remote places on the planet geographically. They are not only remote in terms of mileage, but also genetic novelty. For a relatively small archipelago, Hawaii has the highest percentage of species that exist nowhere else on Earth.  Given such unique status, you’d expect far more differences than similarities. However, when it comes to the expression of cryptozoological and paranormal phenomena, I’ve found just the opposite.

Although Hawaii is the only state where Bigfoot has not been reported, many other familiar wonders reprise their proverbial roles albeit with a whole, new cultural context. Such startling cross-cultural connections may be the key to uncovering the truth behind these extraordinary experiences. I examine just a few of these intriguing connections below. Investigating recurrent similarities across time and space may reveal that there is some reality to even the most curious of encounters.

Dogmen & Kupua

The Bray Road Beast has been spotted for decades in Wisconsin.  Dogmen or werewolves have been reported all over the U.S., especially in the Midwest. Accounts of bipedal wolfmen crouching by the roadside eating roadkill is nothing new here as depicted in this illustration sketched from the recollections of the witness by artist, author, and the OG monster researcher, Linda Godfrey. I was shocked when I heard of an identical sighting along a deserted road on Oahu.  In Hawaii such shape-shifting spirits are known as kupua, which can come in many plant, animal, and mineral forms including the form of a dogman. The cultural context in this case is the story of a demigod named Kaupe. But that aside, the witness reports from across thousands of miles of ocean, on the other side of the planet, are remarkably similar to those in Wisconsin and many other Midwestern states of the Mainland — a bipedal creature seemingly half human and half canine.

River Deaths & ‘Uhane Kahea

Another parallel that leapt out and grabbed me on my first trip to Oahu in 2015, involved a far scarier specter called ‘Uhane Kahea or the Calling Spirit.  This is no ordinary ghost, but a murderous creature whose sole purpose seems to be luring eligible, young men to their deaths. The phantom appears as a ravishing, wanton young woman who calls the name of the unsuspecting man, drawing him closer with an alluring smile. She leads him on literally and figuratively and he follows blindly, failing to notice a cliff’s edge, surging water, or another equally deadly hidden pitfall. When I heard the story of one such fatal mishap from Lopaka Kapanui, I saw it as one possible answer to a perplexing question.  What could drive almost 300 young men on the Mainland to drown mysteriously in rivers and other bodies of water miles away from their last known locations? These cases have collectively become known as the work of a shadowy cabal of Smiley Face Killers. But alternative explanations for mysterious drownings abound throughout the histories of different cultures. The Scottish had the deadly water horse known as the Kelpie. The Japanese have the anally obsessed, but fart-repelled Kappa. The Slavic have the soul-stealing Water Man.  Closest to home, the Ojibwe tell tales of the pernicious “Water Panther” also known as Mishipeshu, whose villainy can only be curtailed by the protection of the Thunderbird. Yet are any of these water spooks better suited to ensnare a young man than the irresistible Calling Spirit? 

Fairies & Menehune

An ancient race of people who built sacred structures and who may still live among us playing mischievous tricks and cursing road construction projects on the sacred land they guard so fiercely.  Wait.  Where are we Ireland . . . Iceland? Nope. I’m still talking about Hawaii. However, all of these far-flung cultures seem to harbor the same beliefs just as many native people of the Mainland do. These little people are guardians of nature and must be respected. Some may even be our ancestors. Other fae traditions also appear in a new guise. The Wild Hunt of Germanic and Scandinavian lore, for example, features a threatening procession of fairies or the dead that are an eerie echo of the ancestral Hawaiian warriors called the Nightmarchers. Those unlucky enough to cross the path of either are as good as dead.

Perhaps these strange similarities between Hawaiian tales and Mainland lore are just due to coincidence or the cultural contamination resulting from colonization. The only way to know is to investigate. It’s worth studying if there’s even a small chance that such close connections between cultures separated by hundreds of years and thousands of miles point to consistent attributes of authentic phenomena. 

For a closer look and a chance to conduct your own investigation, join us in this curious paranormal paradise for Hawaii ParaCon.  The next conference is July 19-21, 2019.

G Is For Gillman: When Paranormal Life Imitates Art

On March 3, 1972, Officer Ray Shockey, of the Loveland Police Department reported seeing something truly bizarre: a large, frog-like creature, measuring 3 to 4 feet in length. This wasn’t the first time creatures like this were reported in Ohio: stories go back to the mid-1950s about 3 to 4 foot tall, bipedal creatures sighted near the Little Miami River. And, Ohio isn’t the only source of reptilian creature stories. A variety of reports exist from around the country, and the world, of upright-walking “lizard men”. But what is really interesting about these sightings is their alternatives in the world of art, or to be more specific, film.

Debuting in 1954, The Creature from the Black Lagoon impressed audiences for decades with its amazing 3D underwater photography and a creature, the Gillman (as fans call him), who was surprisingly advanced compared to other monsters of the genre. In the film, explorers (played by Richard Carlson, Julie Adams, and Richard Denning) journey to the Amazon and encounter an upright, amphibious creature that seems to be intelligent.

In 1955, following the Creature’s box-office success, the first of two sequels was released: Revenge of the Creature. In this sequel, the Gillman (or possibly another Gillman—the film doesn’t really specify) is again located in the Amazon, but this time is captured and transported back to America and put on display in a Marine park. As expected, the Creature escapes and wreaks havoc as he makes his way to the ocean to escape civilization. Of note in this film are the many sequences where the Creature is seen by surprised, incredulous citizens and the police, including a sequence where he crosses a road at night.

Could Revenge of the Creature have inspired later sightings of frog/lizard/reptile men? Did this very popular movie embed itself in our psyches and in akind of amphibious pareidolia cause people surprised by the unexpected to imagine something not just fantastic, but Fortean?

A single instance of paranormal life-possibly-imitating-art wouldn’t be good evidence that this can happen. Afterall, seeing the Gillman crossing a road is a lot different from seeing Jesus on a potato chip. But this isn’t the only known instance suspect sightings possibly based on fiction. And, in a weird case of synchronicity, another such incident, also involving Richard Carlson, may have happened in the 1970s…

Released in 1969, The Valley of Gwanji saw Richard Carlson again returning to the screen to fight the Fortean, this time in the form of a very angry Allosaurus (the titular “Gwanji”) located in a remote, forgotten region of the Mexican desert, at the turn of the 19th-20th Century. Under the direction of Champ Connors (Carlson) and his employer, T.J. Breckenridge (Gila Golan), and assisted by Tuck Kirby (James Francisco), a talent scout for Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, the Breckenridge Wild West Show takes a page from the Gillman/King Kong and captures the extant Dinosaur and puts it on display for all to see. Of course, things go wrong, Gwanji eats people, rampages in a Mexican city, and ends up burning down a church.

Now, as far as I know, no one has reported a real-life version of these events, although there are stories of the “Kasai Rex”, Mokele Mbembe’s carnivorous cousin, out of Africa. However, Gwanji’s lost valley wasn’t just home to the reigning Allosaur—it was also home to a prerodactyl-like dino.

In one particular scene of the movie, the pterodactyl swoops down and tries to carry off Lope’, a local boy-merchant who was assisting in the expedition into Gwanji’s valley. There is an extended sequence of the Pterodactyl trying to carry Lope’ away, but the scrawny little entrepreneur is just too heavy.

Fast forward to 1977, and Lawndale, Illinois. There, young, ten-year-old Marlon Lowe was outside, minding his own business one evening, when out of the sky swooped a giant bird that grabbed the boy and tried to carry him away. Fortunately for Marlon, his mother Ruth heard his scream, ran outside and drove away the giant bird and its bystanding companion.

I’ll note that Illinois is known for another giant, flying creature: the Piasa bird of Alton, Illinois, represented by Native American cliffside drawings above the Mississippi River and local legends. However, I also will note that I too was ten years old in 1977, and I vividly recall seeing The Valley of Gwanji on TV many times during the 1970s—it was one of my favorite movies, and still is.

Was Marlon Lowe the victim of a Thunderbird? Or perhaps an out-of-place Stellar Sea Eagle, or a famished, confused Turkey Vulture? Did Marlon and his mother concoct this story after seeing Gwanji’s pterodactyl brethren? Or did they partially-hallucinate/embellish a sighting of a large bird attacking Marlon, with no attempt to carry him away? Yes, there are accounts of large birds carrying off small pets and even attacking children, but there are also accounts of large hawks defending the area around a tree they have a nest in—going so far as to dive-bomb people just walking by.

The Gillman and Gwanji are surely not the only instances of art possibly inspiring the paranormal. The Legend of Boggy Creek was released in 1972. It inspired an increase in Bigfoot sightings thereafter—even one of my own cousins, in rural Southern Indiana, was convinced he saw a ‘squatch not long after seeing Boggy Creek at the drive in. And even the September 20, 1961 Betty and Barney Hill story of alien abduction (which they only remembered after hypnosis) is suspect when one considers the 1951 release of It Came From Outer Space, a film about aliens abducting Earthlings.

Life does indeed imitate art, but perhaps, more often than we’d like to admit, it is inspired by it.

A rock band's journey into the afterlife, UFOs, entertainment, and weird science.

Social Media Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com