Ghost Tours: Marketing Hype or Spiritual Quest?

18 Oct

This post is a re-print of an article by:
Barbara Franco, Independent Scholar on April 10, 2017

The 2016 Ghostbusters reboot begins with an actual ghost causing problems after a docent finishes a tour at a “haunted” historic house museums.

Many museums and historic preservation groups have been unsure how to react to the growing popularity of commercial ghost tours over the past twenty years.  Some museums have tried to avoid any connection to what they perceive as inaccurate, theatrical, or just sensational uses of history. Others have embraced the idea and offer their own versions of ghost and cemetery tours as part of their historical interpretation. How should museums react to public interest in these tours and how can their appeal help museums understand the needs and expectations of audiences?

What might have been a once-a-year Halloween special event has developed into a burgeoning heritage industry, with many communities advertising themselves as the most haunted city or town. Ghost Tours of Philadelphia advertises that, “We bring history back to life.” Ghost tour companies in Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Cape May, New Jersey; Baltimore, Maryland; New Orleans, Louisiana; Boston and Salem, Massachusetts; Charleston, South Carolina; Savannah, Georgia; and Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia are only some of the places that you will find in an online search for ghost tours.

Spiritualism has a long history in European and American cultures. Many nineteenth-century authors, intellectuals and reformers, many of them women, found spiritualism attractive. Arthur Conan Doyle, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Lydia Maria Child were all involved in the spiritualism movements of the nineteenth century. The current ghost tour companies across the country generally date back about twenty years.  How can we explain this increased interest in ghost tours in the 1990s?

The first Ghostbusters movie was released in 1984. Parapsychology, although generally not embraced by the scientific community, is studied at a number of universities, including the University of Virginia’s Division of Perceptual Studies. Paranormal television programs have developed as a sub-genre of reality television that presents supposedly scientific investigations of paranormal phenomena, as opposed to purely fictional representations. The 1990s saw an increase in this type of programming with History’s Mysteries (1998-2006) and Haunted History (1998-2008) on the History Channel and Ancient Mysteries (1994-1998) on A& E. Listings of paranormal television programs show a decided uptick from 2000 to the present.

Nowhere is interest in paranormal history more prevalent than Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where the standard battlefield tours have been joined by ghost tours designed to attract tourist audiences. As the site of so much death and dying, the Gettysburg battlefield, and the surrounding houses and farms that cared for the wounded, draw visitors seeking to make a connection to this historic and possibly haunted place.

In the summer of 2012, Pamela Cooper-White began a study of Gettysburg’s ghost tours. She interviewed scholars, and attended ghost tours and investigations as a participant observer, as she described herself.  A professor of psychology and religion at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, and author of Braided Selves: Collected Essays on Multiplicity, God, and Persons, Cooper-White set out to conduct a cultural analysis to determine, “what draws people to these experiences, and what cultural and/or spiritual findings might be found in them?” (Cooper-White 34.) Her findings have been  published as “Haunted Histories: A Cultural Study of the Gettysburg Ghost Trade,” in Gettysburg: The Quest for Meaning by the Seminary Ridge Press in 2015.

The ghost tours in Gettysburg began in 1994 when a former National Park Service ranger and author of a book on Gettysburg ghost stories was asked by the Chamber of Commerce to give ghost tours to help develop Gettysburg as a heritage destination. Today, Destination Gettysburg, the tourism promotion organization for Gettysburg, explains on its website that “Dozens of teams have conducted investigations on fields, homes, and taverns; discovering spirits left behind from the Civil War and other periods. You are invited throughout the year to tour our streets, our bridges, and buildings and discover for yourself what has lingered…” Their website lists seven different ghost and paranormal tours.

Cooper-White identifies three levels of engagement with these tours: 1) a folklore or storytelling aspect that is primarily theatrical in nature; 2) a ghost hunting level to observe and experience ghostly activity; and 3) a paranormal investigation level that applies scientific methods to collect evidence of paranormal activity (Cooper-White, 37). Many of the tours stress the accuracy of their historical research and information, and Cooper-White identifies a relationship between the ghost tour community and the reenactment community in their interest in individual and personal stories.

She identifies the ghost community as “a subculture within the larger culture of middle America.” From her research in Gettysburg, she reports that:

The demographics of this group are fairly homogeneous…almost entirely white and solidly middle class, mostly middle-aged, born in the North or Midwest, and from Christian backgrounds…Some are members—mostly nominally—of Catholic or mainline Protestant churches….Many have drifted without prejudice away from institutional religion, stating that they no longer need it when they have direct knowledge of heaven, the afterlife, and God. (Cooper-White 37)

She also notes that she did not encounter evangelical or fundamentalist Christians, Jews, or other religious traditions in her research. Although she encountered few people of color in the course of her research, one African-American visitor, who she interviewed, had had numerous ghost experiences. He felt that belief in ghosts was more acceptable in his family, church, and culture than in white middle-class culture. A Native-American naturalist, whom she questioned, responded that ghost sightings were not a question, but just part of the spirituality of his culture—a natural part of life. There is evidence that many present-day Americans also share a belief in spirits. In fact, she reports that about two thirds of the participants on every ghost tour she attended raised their hands when asked if they believed in ghosts.

Cooper-White set out to determine whether or not a spiritual hunger motivates ghost tour participants. While some visitors are simply drawn to the entertainment factor and dramatic presentations of history, she concludes that “many individuals come with spiritual questions, or even on a deeper level, a personal quest—for validation of their own unexplainable experiences, for the possibility of contact with a lost loved one, and for the greater certainty that there is truly life beyond death.” (Cooper-White 42)

Her research documents a spiritual component to how some Americans experience and interact with history through ghost tours and paranormal investigations. Can we still dismiss ghost tours as just a marketing fad to boost visitation, or do they represent a significant trend in how Americans relate to both religion and history? If visitors are looking for opportunities to interact with history in spiritual quests for meaning, we may need to take the popularity of ghost tours more seriously.

For more on this subject, see:
Pamela Cooper-White, “Haunted Histories of the Gettysburg Ghost Trade,” in Gettysburg: the Quest for Meaning, ed. Gerald Christianson, Barbara Franco and Leonard Hummel (Gettysburg, PA: Seminary Ridge Press, 2015).

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Lanes End, A Paranormal Journey (review)

10 Aug

A review of Lanes End by author L. Sydney Fisher . . .

While thumbing through articles on WordPress, I came across an author’s blog that immediately captured my attention.  I read the author’s bio and discovered that he was a realtor who had an unusual practice not commonly seen in my part of the country.  I was instantly drawn in . . . MORE: Lanes End, A Paranormal Journey

See No Evil

8 Aug

The Best Selling Amazon author L. Sydney Fisher has a penchant for the truth, something typically stranger than fiction. She published See No Evil toward the end of last year as a somewhat historical work, though it is much more than that. As fiction based on facts she discovered quite accidentally, she still felt compelled to write about them. This author has no qualms about researching exactly what that elusive quarry decides to deliver. The presentation is colored with fictional characters and situations, but it remains “inspired by true events.”

Historical fiction is not easy to write; perhaps even harder than made-up fare. Any reader who has the chops to stop and research a given point or story line will soon find out if there are discrepancies. Most readers will simply read an exciting story though, unaware of where things are coming from. That’s okay too.

See No Evil begins with an account of a Civil War setting where two men on the Confederate side plan what they’ll do after they die, should that be an outcome of the coming battle with Union soldiers. Though they make a pact that plays out in unpredictable ways, their future and that of the innocents around them may be pre-determined.

So who is L. Sydney Fisher? A search of her books on Amazon will quickly reveal that she is a prolific writer of novels about the paranormal. But we really need to dig deeper:  as a denizen of northeast Mississippi, she has a particular bent for its supernatural terrain, including Tupelo, the city where Elvis was born. Who knew that this southern semi-urban enclave and its environs is haunted by events that happened long before the white man set foot on its soil, extending their influence all the way downstate to places like the Confederate bastion of Carrollton. Regardless of your politics, real people with real families died there.

What’s required from writers of these types of stories is working experience in the local fields, not just a good imagination and a flair with a pen. I look for true stuff when I write, even if I have to dramatize all or parts of it. I value a sense of place in a novel. Don’t give me made-up cities and characters who have no basis in myth or fact. So writes L. Sidney Fisher. As a teller of scary stories myself, I can make the connection. Psychics or sensitives– whatever you want to call them, don’t just spring into being to meet a publisher’s deadline. As Lady Gaga wrote in song, they’re usually “born this way.” Then maybe they can write.

So we note the author’s self-proclaimed background where she describes herself as “an author and researcher of paranormal activities.” She is the real thing. As we read more from her website: “Sydney’s books will always contain some element of truth, so be observant. She is fascinated with the paranormal and has done extensive paranormal research for over twenty years. She calls herself a ‘Literary Indiana Jones’ “.

But let’s get back to the story. Is it good, or just another addition to the pantheon of books about the unknown realm of premature death, living humans with unusual supernatural talents, and the ghosts themselves who still haunt the locales of the living? According to the book the progeny of that Civil War pact compelled his wife to write the following:

. . . only some can see the earth’s non-linear thoughts,
and fewer still what under heaven is wrought.
Praetor knows, and he will share, but its your choice . . .
The truth awaits only if you dare.

Seymour Prater, “the Mississippi Mystic,” apparently was a real person with psychic ability who lived in the area back in the early first half of the 20th Century. Locals knew of his psychic abilities, and soon discovered the implications for the town’s descendants. Along with the Seymour depicted in See No Evil, now you too can search for another man’s unearthly murderer whose stage might have been set during the height of the Civil War. This is an excellent book and highly recommended by this author. My only criticism is that L. Sydney Fisher may be too good to be true.

For more about See No Evil, visit the author’s website.
ALSO see her review of Paul Hill’s LANES END on her blog.

Copyright 2017, Paul Hill
All Rights Reserved
For ALL Light in the Dark Paranormal postings
(most recent  top), visit our home blog:
http://www.lightinthedarkparanormal.wordpress.com
Visit our website: http://www.lightinthedarkparanormal.com
All posts on this blog are written and owned by Paul Hill

Reading & Signing in Taos, N.M.

22 Jun

For those of you in or near Taos, New Mexico on June 24th (Saturday), you are invited to a Reading & Signing of my new book, Lanes End, A Journey Into the Paranormal. The rest of you are probably going to think something like “I’m sure not going to get on a plane from (name the city) to fly to Taos to hear about a book and get some free cookies.” Perfectly understood. But the rest of you have no excuse for not showing up at 2 p.m at the Op. Cit. Bookstore at 124A Bent St. in downtown Taos on June 24th.

Op Cit has a website that talks about our talk, if they’ve posted it yet. So c’mon down, we’s gonna have a party!

Paul Hill, Author

ps: Here are some book reviews and comments from our Shameless Self-Promotion Department. Also, if you can’t get to the event and want to otherwise get a copy, Amazon is always there . . .

Top 10 Ways Skeptics Debunk the Paranormal

30 Apr

the Amazing Randi-former magician/professional skeptic

Skeptics have been around long before Galileo insisted the earth revolves around the sun. They shouldn’t be confused with their newer cousins the Spin Doctors, who are of a slightly different breed. One is chronically in denial about strange new ideas; the other interprets current events within a self-serving context that has little to do with the truth. We could do without both as easily as we could do without mosquitoes, but I suppose they must serve some kind of ecological purpose in keeping the culture honest.

These days Skeptics love to muck around paranormal phenomena, digging their sharp sticks into all kinds of theories that don’t fit traditional beliefs. Spin Doctors ply their trade in today’s political arenas. One could make a good living being either one. Professional Skeptics have their own magazine, and the Spin M.D.’s operate on the news shows every day. Both bend or outright disregard the truth in order to prove their points.

Mind you I don’t object to folks being skeptical, which is having a healthy doubt about unknown things until proven otherwise. I don’t mind those who try and explain things to their own advantage either– that’s human nature. But the skeptics and spinners I’m referring to cross the line.

Let’s have a closer encounter with the first kind . . .

the Top Ten Ways Skeptics Debunk the Paranormal

Using their most common target, the paranormal, the worst Skeptics typically start their criticisms with a pre-conceived negative attitude toward their quarry. Then they proceed to use bad research techniques and a faulty version of the scientific method to “disprove” some aspect of paranormal phenomena.  Occupationally, these folks tend to be magicians, illusionists, therapists, scientists, teachers, priests, and other secretive explainers. Here’s how they tend to think:

1. If I can simulate the phenomenon, what you saw cannot be real. Skeptics delight in inventing ways of simulating what eyewitnesses claim to have seen in the wild, whether it’s Sasquatch or the Loch Ness Monster. An old MonsterQuest episode shows a friendly Skeptic building cardboard cutouts of Sasquatch and planting them along a roadside where numerous sightings had been reported. He then had observers drive slowly by and later estimate their size. The “observers,” who incidentally were not the original witnesses, generally gave observations in the 6 to 8 foot range. The cutouts were no more than 4 feet high. “Aha!” said the Skeptic. “See, the folks who claimed to have seen a Sasquatch had to be imagining a creature who was very tall.” Boy, he sure got them on that one, these people who never claimed to have seen a real one to begin with.

2. If I can think of a Plausible Rival Hypothesis, it automatically nullifies your hypothesis. The best example I can think of for this brand of Skeptic goes back to Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. A few days after the alleged crash of a UFO, the federal government came up with the rival hypothesis that the UFO was really a weather balloon. Plausible?- sure. Correct? Unlikely. It was proven no more than the existence of a UFO itself, but it was a nice and easy rational explanation for what people thought they saw. Since it was a normal thing in the sky, the Feds reasoned, it couldn’t be extraterrestrial.

3. I simply don’t believe in such things, so they cannot be true. Many skeptics just don’t believe in the thing they’re analyzing, and aren’t shy about saying it. For them, the phenomena must be (insert rational explanation). Perhaps the best example of this way of thinking comes from the likes of “the Amazing Randi” and his friends (one of his best was Alice Cooper, the 60’s rock star who got rich by putting on the grossest stage shows he could think of. Kind of tacky, but he was one of the best at simulating horror via rock music. When they performed as a team, the show would end by the Amazing Randi chopping off Alice’s head). But back to the old pro Randi. He is a former magician and virulent Skeptic who concluded after zero years of research and investigation that paranormal stuff just couldn’t be real. He had always relied on trickery and illusion in his successful stage career, believing that the paranormal is only what he and his buddies did best–stagecraft. If not that, he would fall back on the “natural causes” façade.

4. If some or most reported cases of weird things have proven to be from natural causes, then all cases are from natural causes. This is one of those “neither logical nor true” assertions.  Example: studies have shown that most UFO observations are misidentified conventional objects or natural phenomena—aircraft, balloons, certain kinds of clouds, or celestial objects such as meteors or bright planets (a small percentage turn out to be hoaxes). But between 5% and 20% of reported sightings are unexplained. According to the National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC), there were 5,555 sightings reported in 2016. That’s anywhere from 278 to 1,111 that could not be explained by natural causes! If these stats are right, that’s still a whole lot of folks who said they saw an unexplained UFO. So even though most sightings could be from explainable events, it is simply not true that all are.

5. If a phenomenon cannot be validated by replication in a controlled environment by other researchers, then the phenomenon does not exist. According to these Skeptics, no phenom can be the result of rare or transient events; they must be happening anywhere at any point in time so they could easily be captured and put into a cage or a test tube. Unfortunately, that’s not the way supernature works. Ghosts are transient events. UFO sightings are rare. That defies capturing their data, but does not disprove their existence.

6. I shall proceed to prove my hypothesis in order to support the theory I’m paid to believe in. The scientific method does not presuppose an outcome. Testing an hypothesis requires objective analysis, regardless of the investigator’s bias. Unfortunately too many “scientific studies” often require making the boss happy. He/she may be paying them to test a given hypothesis in order to get a pre-determined result. Legalized medical marijuana has of late been the target of the pharmaceutical industry. In its effort to keep home-grown weed from competing with their own for-profit medications, Big Pharma is suspected of producing “scientific” studies that negate the beneficial medical effects of a natural plant. Their attitude is “if ya can’t join ’em, beat ’em with bad science.”

7. My religion commands me to not believe in anything it does not sanction. Case-in-Point: the Catholic Church. One priest-member of the Vatican community has said that telepathic dreams with deceased loved ones communicating with survivors can only be the result of a) the Devil whispering in your ear; b) God whispering in your ear, or c) your own subconscious making up things. He quite emphatically said that the dead cannot talk to you in dreams or otherwise–a Church teaching.

8. I rely on my own way of investigating and analyzing the paranormal. That’s very nice, but many Skeptics fail to use some basic and necessary tools, including logic. Remember “if A is greater than B, and C is lesser than B, therefore C is lesser than A” kind of stuff? Basic logic comes in handy when doing field investigations or lab work. So does deductive reasoning, where a researcher starts with a general principal and deduces individual facts logically following from it. Inductive reasoning starts with a bunch of independent though related facts and builds a working principal. Most skeptical arguments can be attacked for failing to use these basic tools of investigation and analysis.

9. I rely only on settled science to explain nature. This person ignores or minimizes new information since traditional science has not yet proven its existence.  In spite of a plethora of evidence for the existence of ghosts, including that garnered from the over-the-top ghost “reality” shows, this Skeptic will never accept it. As if science has discovered all its going to discover, this one relies only on the proven and substantiated, leaving by the wayside legitimate phenomena waiting for the scientific community to validate. Unfortunately, there is only a handful of scientists doing any kind of field work in the paranormal realm, and they have to be careful to not be laughed off campus or out of their labs.

10. Witnesses of paranormal events have something wrong with them. This kind of debunker believes only in the drunken fisherman who thinks he sees a UFO flying over his boat, or the ignorant person who confuses a UFO with the bright planet Venus. To them, experiencers of spirit visitations are people who have recently lost a loved one, and are prone to hallucinating what they want to see. Everybody else is just plain nuts.

For this category of Skeptic, if you can’t disprove the phenomenon, attack the credibility of the observer. That being said, there is an opposing position from an otherwise prominent parapsychologist who says There is one thing I feel absolutely secure in saying after spending the last forty-four years of my life conducting parapsychological research; that the paranormal attracts more emotionally disturbed people than any other area of human interest or endeavor. This may be true in Dr. Barry Taff’s (Aliens Above, Ghosts Below) experience. But to paraphrase #4, above: if some reports of paranormal experiences come from nut jobs, not all experiencers are nuts.

By the way, true believers in the paranormal can be just as guilty of their own faulty thinking and practices. But that’s for another post.

 

Copyright 2017, Paul Hill
All Rights Reserved
For ALL Light in the Dark Paranormal postings
(most recent at top), visit our home blog:
http://www.lightinthedarkparanormal.wordpress.com
Visit our website: http://www.lightinthedarkparanormal.com
All posts on this blog are written and owned by Paul Hill

 

 

Lanes End Giveaway Contest!

29 Mar

The Shameless Self-Promotion Department of Light in the Dark Paranormal Press is at it again. We are running a contest where you can win a free copy of Lanes End, a Journey Into the Paranormal. You’ll have a 1 in 10 chance of winning! Here are the rules:

–Watch the audio/video version of Chapter One of the book, Madonna on the Curb (below). Its only 8 minutes and 53 seconds long. Two questions you have to answer: 1) somewhere during the video, you’ll see an aerial view of a small park. What’s the shape of the park? 2) somewhere after that, it will show who wrote the original music. Who is that?

–After you watched it, via Contact Us (above) send us your answers. Then write a short paragraph about why you might like to read Lanes End. That simple. The first 10 entrants will be in the First Round, where we will judge the best entry. That person will win Lanes End (the soft cover, a real book!) which we will send to him or her including FREE U.S. shipping (for international shipping, you may have to chip-in some).

–The next 10 entrants will qualify for the next round, then the next 10, etc., until we have a maximum of 50 entrants. That’s 5 books given away among 50 readers! Even the non-winners (there are no losers in our world) will be able to buy the book for a discount just for entering.

–Finally, you agree to let us post your entry to our blog (anonymously if you wish).

As soon as we have our first 10 entrants, we’ll quickly pick our winner and get back via email to set up delivery. That’s it! Get started with watching the video . . .

 

For reader comments/reviews, click here
About the Author/How to Order

Copyright 2017, Paul Hill
All Rights Reserved
For ALL Light in the Dark Paranormal postings
(most recent at top), visit our home blog:
http://www.lightinthedarkparanormal.wordpress.com
Visit our website: http://www.lightinthedarkparanormal.com
All posts on this blog are written and owned by Paul Hill

Who Said That?

11 Mar

Sorry to deviate from the paranormal today, including the relentless self-promotion of my new book, Lanes End. Compelled instead to keep commenting on the horseshit spewing out of the White House, below is a quote from an important politico. I’ll be adding more one at a time, not only to keep my fingers from cramping, but also to introduce some continuing suspense into this game . . .

Who Said This?

” . . . if your organization is small in numbers, then do what Gideon did: conceal the members in the dark but raise a  din and clamor that will make the listener believe that your organization numbers many more than it does . . . if your organization is too tiny even for noise, stink up the place.”

a) Donald Trump
b) Steve Bannon
c) Aaron Burr
d) none of the above

For the right answer, scroll down >>

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Answer:

a) Donald Trump– no, too many big words
b) Steve Bannon– no, he’s just the copycat
c) Aaron Burr– no
d) none of the above– correct! This quote is from the late Saul Alinsky, the left-wing organizer and rabble-rouser who in 1971 published it in his book, Rules for Radicals.

More to come!

 

 

Lanes End Review

3 Mar

final-cover300x480From the Shameless Self-Promotion Department of Light in the Dark Paranormal Press, a review of Lanes End . . .

Book Review
Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers’ Favorite

Lane’s End: A Journey Into the Paranormal is an urban fantasy novel written by Paul Hill. Odessa Kearney was a “Lady Trucker”, and she was proud of it. She had wanted more from life than an uninspiring relationship; the ubiquitous big rig advertisement on the matchbook cover had settled itself firmly into her imagination. It took very little for her to make it become a reality. As she drove the I-40 east into New Mexico, she noted that her son’s twenty-seventh birthday was coming up. He lived in California now after leaving Phoenix for San Francisco eight years ago. She missed those few years when she was able to be his full-time mom, but that was all past. For her, nirvana was the open road, traveling the country, seeing the sights and warring, sometimes, with her tendency to zone out on the road. She had long learned not to indulge in a bit of road rage, no matter what craziness transpired on the road, but the crazy in the old Grand Prix that came zooming up behind her and nearly clipped her rig when passing merited a long lean on her horn. The passenger brandished a stubby middle finger in salute as they roared away.

She sighed sometime later when a profusion of red brake lights signaled traffic ahead, There were the inevitable police cars, a fire truck and an ambulance gathered around the impacted vehicle, but no flurry of effort surrounded the driver’s sheet-covered form. With a shock, she recognized that old Grand Prix and pulled over to give FBI Special Agent Sam Buscella a witness statement. Sam was there because the incident was definitely a homicide, and he suspected a serial killer, possibly a trucker riding the roads, was at work. When Odessa got back into her rig, she wasn’t alone. A gaunt and disheveled man in a filthy coverall had a gun trained on her, his near-perfect diction and manners a startling contrast to his appearance. As she started her rig, she wondered if perhaps a fortunate accident would occur; however, nothing unforeseen or otherwise halted their progress.

Paul Hill’s paranormal urban fantasy, Lane’s End: A Journey Into the Paranormal, is a taut, suspenseful and compelling descent into terror as Odessa comes to terms with her abduction and uncertain survival at the hands of the strangely urbane Zacharias. Odessa Kearney grabbed my attention in the opening paragraphs. I so admired this gutsy and resilient woman who had actually fulfilled the owner-operator fantasy so many harbor within their imaginations. Following as she adroitly manages her rig, plans the rest area stops to comply with DOT regulations and embodies that fantasy of the trucker’s life so many dream about was a joy indeed. Her story, which gets dark so quickly with the arrival of Zacharias, continues, somehow, to be the stuff of dreams as they leave her scheduled pick-up in Albuquerque and head towards the Four Corners and into Utah. The canoe scene is unutterably lovely as the two navigate the Green River in a stolen canoe through the Canyonlands. One can’t help but wonder at the possibility of Stockholm Syndrome as the two discuss her family and “the sparkling refractions of sunlight playing off the small waves breaking against the bow” lull Odessa into slumber. I especially enjoyed the serial killer investigation conducted by Agent Sam Buscella and hope that the author considers giving Buscella additional investigations in future novels.

Lane’s End is powerful and profound, and it’s a most impressive debut novel – this is highly recommended.

 

For more reader comments/reviews, click here.

About the Author/How to Order

Feel free to leave a comment below, or send a tweet: @lanesendthebook
Copyright 2017, Paul Hill
All Rights Reserved
For ALL Light in the Dark Paranormal postings
(most recent at top), visit our home blog:
http://www.lightinthedarkparanormal.wordpress.com
Visit our website: http://www.lightinthedarkparanormal.com
All posts on this blog are written and owned by Paul Hill.

 

 

 

Lanes End Audio Book/Video of Chapter One

5 Jan


This is a spoken-word, or audio book version of Chapter One of Lanes End,
a Journey Into the Paranormal
. Just to help your imagination a bit, I’ve included some imagery. Hope you enjoy it . . .

About the Author/How to Order

Copyright 2017, Paul Hill
All Rights Reserved
For ALL Light in the Dark Paranormal postings
(most recent at top), visit our home blog page
Visit our website
All posts on this blog are written and owned by Paul Hill.

The Solstice and the Sun Dagger

21 Dec
Fajada_Butte - Trimalchio, CC

Fajada Butte

Reprise of last year’s post . . .

December 21, 2016 –the Winter Solstice, coinciding with the first day of Winter and the shortest day of the year, but celebrated by ancient peoples as the beginning of the time where the days grow longer. More sunlight day by day until the warm seasons, when finally at the Summer Solstice, the day is the longest and the cycle begins again.

Of the Anasazi peoples of the precolumbian American Southwest, the inhabitants of Chaco Canyon in what is now northwestern New Mexico were among the most advanced. They studied the stars and complex astronomical relationships, knowing that the Winter Solstice marked an important turning point in their survival. Many centuries before digital clocks and calendars, they knew that the time to plant was not far away. It was a time of sacred celebration.

Sun Dagger -- Fajada Butte - Chaco Canyon

the Sun Dagger

On Fajada Butte, they constructed what is now called the Sun Dagger, a solar and lunar rock calendar that allowed the sun and moon to shine through carefully positioned stone slabs onto a wall. The filtered light was in the shape of a dagger, illuminating parts of a spiral carving in the wall corresponding to the precise dates and times of the Solstices and other seasonal events.

From Native American Antiquity . . .

” . . . then for the winter solstice, two large daggers embrace the sides of the larger spiral like bookends.  Even more remarkable, it was observed that the 19 segments of the larger spiral marked the 19 year movement of the moon from
minimum to maximum across the horizon.”
Fajada Butte -- sun dagger diagram

Sun Dagger at Winter Solstice- bottom image

 

Celebrate the Winter Solstice not just as the first day of Winter, but a day of resurrection and renewal.


Paul Hill writes of the ancient Chacoans in his new book of paranormal fiction,
Lanes End. Find out what role he has them play in a modern day drama of rebirth . . . (also watch the video trailer).


 

Copyright 2015-16, Paul Hill
All Rights Reserved

For ALL Light in the Dark Paranormal postings
(most recent at top), visit our home blog:

http://www.lightinthedarkparanormal.wordpress.com
Visit our website:  http://www.lightinthedarkparanormal.com

 All posts on this blog are written and owned by Paul Hill.

Email Conversations With My Ol’ Friend Bill (about UFO’s!)

29 Nov

A few weeks ago, I sent my friend Bill a link to an article in the Denver Post about Steven Hawkings warning that we’re going to need a new planet sometime in the future. He responded; then I responded, then he responded back, etc. After I few exchanges I felt that we had some pretty interesting observations about life, the universe, and everything.  So with Bill’s permission, I’m reprinting those emails here, in the fond hope that someone besides us can have some fun with our arcane comments. Bill is an amateur astronomer, so he’s starry-eyed but still skeptical…

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 12: Professor Stephen Hawking onstage during the New Space Exploration Initiative "Breakthrough Starshot" Announcement at One World Observatory on April 12, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – APRIL 12: Professor Stephen Hawking onstage during the New Space Exploration Initiative “Breakthrough Starshot” Announcement at One World Observatory on April 12, 2016

Email #1:

From: PAUL HILL
To: “taxibill”
Sent: Friday, November 18, 2016 11:43 AM
Subject: Fw: Stephen Hawking just gave humanity a due date for finding another planet – The Denver Post

Interesting take from Hawking…

P.

Email #2:

From: Bill
Sent: Friday, November 18, 2016 1:23 PM
To: PAUL HILL
Subject: Re: Stephen Hawking just gave humanity a due date for finding another planet – The Denver Post

I dunno. Hawking’s always been kind of a pessimist. He’s the one that said we need to quit broadcasting out presence to the universe (via radio/tv/communications, etc.) lest we draw the attention of a hostile alien culture.

I myself am a bit of a pessimist. I agree about the dangers of nuclear annihilation, unsustainable use of resources and the rest. We have a new president coming in January who seems to be determined to set us on a course which will pound us (those who survive) back into the stone age. Mel Gibson’s post apocalyptic “Mad Max” is beginning to look more like prophecy than fiction.

Should we discover an Earth like exoplanet, there is the problem of getting there. Current technologies would take thousands of years to reach the nearest star. I think we’re pretty much stuck with Mother Earth, and we’d better get our shit straight or it’s the end of humanity.

I for one would be satisfied with the discovery of extraterrestrial life, be it intelligent or microbial. I believe the laws of evolution are as universal as the laws of physics. Where there is life, there is evolution. Where there is evolution, the development of intelligence is inevitable.

Maybe those crop circle creating entities will come out of the closet and save us. Who knows?

Email #3:

From: PAUL HILL
To: Bill Kast
Sent: Friday, November 18, 2016 10:46 PM
Subject: Re: Stephen Hawking just gave humanity a due date for finding another planet – The Denver Post

Bill,

Okay. I like you believe that the earth is being run down to the nub, and that Trump will hasten its demise via his anti-scientific policies. I like you believe that there is intelligent life somewhere in the universe other than us.

But you don’t believe we’ll ever have the technology to travel to distant planets. If that’s true, then any other distant civilization would not have developed that technology either. Consequently you can’t believe that the UFO phenomena could be craft from another world, since they would not have that “impossible” technology any more than we would ever have. Am I understanding you correctly?

If so, that’s where our beliefs differ. I believe that a statistically-significant percentage of UFO sightings are real craft from another world who have mastered interplanetary travel in time and/or space. There is simply too much evidence from credible sources. If not, what are they? If I believe that, I have to believe that the corresponding technology exists for these aliens to get here. I don’t have to understand their motivation to believe this. So I believe that if they somehow developed that technology, given enough time and other resources, we will too.

Then as Hawking says, we’ll be able to escape this planet before they hang out the “closed” sign. I find that neither optimistic nor pessimistic; I think its just logical if one believes in the underlying premise of valid UFO phenomena. If I were to conjecture about alien’s motivation to visit us, maybe its to show us that they exist and demonstrate that we too can develop a way to get to their planet. Maybe when they feel the time is right they’ll teach us how. An evolutionary adaptive mutation with a little help from our new friends who don’t want to see our civilization collapse. I know that’s a violation of Star Trek’s “prime directive,” but I digress.

Most unlike the sci-fi cliché of “they’re here to destroy us!” That belief is more a product of our own violent tendencies than anything else. After all, that’s what we tried to do to the First Americans. But I digress again.

Continue the conversation, please…

P.

Email #4:

From: Bill
Sent: Saturday, November 19, 2016 5:25 PM
To: PAUL HILL
Subject: Re: Stephen Hawking just gave humanity a due date for finding another planet – The Denver Post

Paul,

Your logical analysis of my statements are flawless.350px-alcubierre

My conclusions about the unlikelihood of interstellar travel are based on current technology and technology on the near horizon. Who knows what the future may bring? I’m basing my conclusions on the speed of light being the limiting factor. This precludes the possibility of technology that would warp space-time, thus bringing distant points closer. But so far, this technology remains in the realm of science fiction. But not entirely…see
Alcubierre drive – Wikipedia

I’m still not totally sold on UFO’s, but I’m willing to keep an open mind. I agree that if they indeed are here, their intentions are to observe and perhaps at some point guide us along. They may be waiting to see if we will come to our senses before we destroy ourselves and/or the planet. If their intentions were hostile, we’d be toast already!

–Bill

Email #5:

From: PAUL HILL
Sent: Saturday, November 19, 2016 11:43 PM
To: Bill Kast
Subject: Re: Stephen Hawking just gave humanity a due date for finding another planet – The Denver Post

Speaking of sci fi, here’s quote from the Wiki article:

“Relation to Star Trek warp drive . . .The Star Trek television series used the term “warp drive” to describe their method of faster-than-light travel. Neither the Alcubierre theory, nor anything similar, existed when the series was conceived, but Alcubierre stated in an email to William Shatner that his theory was directly inspired by the term used in the show, and references it in his 1994 paper.”

Legends, myths and stories abound about our ancient ancestors having been visited by ET’s. Petroglyphs and pictographs have been found that depict people in what appear to be space helmets and drawings of UFO’s are not uncommon. How did they know about these things? Dreams? Visits? Could ancient astronauts have really visited our planet during its more primitive development, and were the people given knowledge that otherwise would have taken centuries longer to develop themselves? We really still don’t know how the ancient Egyptians constructed the pyramids; or how the Easter Island statutes were erected, or how the Mayans built perfect brick walls in their cities with only primitive carving and measurement tools. Check out this geo-design (though there are terrestrial theories about these) that can only be recognized from a high altitude. Created from 500 BC to 500 Ad…

nazca
The Nasca are probably best known for the famous “Nazca Lines”, giant geoglyphs which they left etched into the surface of the vast, empty desert plain that lies between the Peruvian towns of Nazca and Palpa.

 

 

This is even scarier… Jesus and UFOs in Religious Art-

The Baptism of Christufojesus2 . . . “Were the Magi aliens? A disk shaped object is shining beams of light down on John the Baptist and Jesus – Fitzwilliam Musuem, Cambridge, England – Painted in 1710 by Flemish artist Aert De Gelder. It depicts a classic, hovering, silvery, saucer shaped UFO shining beams of light down on John the Baptist and Jesus. What could have inspired the artist to combine these two subjects?”

This is all wild speculation to be sure, and there may be the ever-popular “rational explanations,” but how do we know alien influence didn’t happen? And why couldn’t it happen again at a critical stage in our future development if we are at the edge of disaster? Some far off alien society may already have an investment in us, and may not want to lose it!

P.

Email #6 & 7:

From: Bill
Sent: Thursday, November 24, 2016 8:51 PM
To: PAUL HILL
Subject: More on the subject of aliens

http://www.universetoday.com/132102/what-if-we-do-find-aliens/

What If We Do Find Aliens? – Universe Today
www.universetoday.com    Space and Astronomy news
x282-what-if-we-do-find-aliens-700x432-png-pagespeed-ic-mdeevhxjgdp2_e8gwsfu

Re: More on the subject of aliens
PAUL HILL
Reply|
Fri 11/25, 1:17 AM
taxibill

If you recall the 1955 sci fi movie, This Island Earth, you may remember that those aliens gave the puny earthlings plans to build a spaceship to go to their planet. If it wasn’t for the damn mutants once they got there, it could have been the start of a beautiful friendship.

P.

Email #8:

Bill,

Some very interesting footage on this hour long youtube vid. Have no idea of the credibility of same, especially the last clip. But apparently there’s been a surge in UFO activity and reportage since the election and some John Podesta WikiLeaks emails. Conspiracy theories wrapped up UFO stories? In any case, an entertaining hour.

P.

From: PAUL HILL
Sent: Sunday, November 27, 2016 1:40 AM
To: PAUL HILL
Subject: HOLD ON!!! BEST UFO Sightings October 2016!! Global Alien INVASION Happening NOW!! – YouTube

 

Haven’t yet heard back from Bill on this video. Should be interesting. Will keep you posted . . .

 

Feel free to leave a comment below, or send a tweet: @lanesendthebook
Copyright 2016, Paul Hill
All Rights Reserved
For ALL Light in the Dark Paranormal postings
(most recent at top), visit our home blog:
http://www.lightinthedarkparanormal.wordpress.com
Visit our website: http://www.lightinthedarkparanormal.com
All posts on this blog are written and owned by Paul Hill.

 

Comments & Reviews: LANES END

27 Oct

final-cover300x480Lanes End, A Journey Into the Paranormal is printed and available for shipping! For more information about the book and how to order, CLICK HERE.

If you’ve already read the book and would like to comment or contribute your own review, feel free to do so. Just click on the Contact Us link (above), and fire away in the comment box provided. Then we’ll publish it on this page.

For those who have already been promised a book, please send your mailing address so we can ship you a copy!

 

Reviews/Comments/Recommendations

Review by author L. Sydney Fisher: 

While thumbing through articles on WordPress, I came across an author’s blog that immediately captured my attention.  I read the author’s bio and discovered that he was a realtor who had an unusual practice not commonly seen in my part of the country.  I was instantly drawn in . . . (more from her blog)

Book Review
Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers’ Favorite

Lane’s End: A Journey Into the Paranormal is an urban fantasy novel written by Paul Hill. Odessa Kearney was a “Lady Trucker”, and she was proud of it. She had wanted more from life than an uninspiring relationship; the ubiquitous big rig advertisement on the matchbook cover had settled itself firmly into her imagination. It took very little for her to make it become a reality. As she drove the I-40 east into New Mexico, she noted that her son’s twenty-seventh birthday was coming up. He lived in California now after leaving Phoenix for San Francisco eight years ago. She missed those few years when she was able to be his full-time mom, but that was all past. For her, nirvana was the open road, traveling the country, seeing the sights and warring, sometimes, with her tendency to zone out on the road. She had long learned not to indulge in a bit of road rage, no matter what craziness transpired on the road, but the crazy in the old Grand Prix that came zooming up behind her and nearly clipped her rig when passing merited a long lean on her horn. The passenger brandished a stubby middle finger in salute as they roared away.

She sighed sometime later when a profusion of red brake lights signaled traffic ahead, There were the inevitable police cars, a fire truck and an ambulance gathered around the impacted vehicle, but no flurry of effort surrounded the driver’s sheet-covered form. With a shock, she recognized that old Grand Prix and pulled over to give FBI Special Agent Sam Buscella a witness statement. Sam was there because the incident was definitely a homicide, and he suspected a serial killer, possibly a trucker riding the roads, was at work. When Odessa got back into her rig, she wasn’t alone. A gaunt and disheveled man in a filthy coverall had a gun trained on her, his near-perfect diction and manners a startling contrast to his appearance. As she started her rig, she wondered if perhaps a fortunate accident would occur; however, nothing unforeseen or otherwise halted their progress.

Paul Hill’s paranormal urban fantasy, Lane’s End: A Journey Into the Paranormal, is a taut, suspenseful and compelling descent into terror as Odessa comes to terms with her abduction and uncertain survival at the hands of the strangely urbane Zacharias. Odessa Kearney grabbed my attention in the opening paragraphs. I so admired this gutsy and resilient woman who had actually fulfilled the owner-operator fantasy so many harbor within their imaginations. Following as she adroitly manages her rig, plans the rest area stops to comply with DOT regulations and embodies that fantasy of the trucker’s life so many dream about was a joy indeed. Her story, which gets dark so quickly with the arrival of Zacharias, continues, somehow, to be the stuff of dreams as they leave her scheduled pick-up in Albuquerque and head towards the Four Corners and into Utah. The canoe scene is unutterably lovely as the two navigate the Green River in a stolen canoe through the Canyonlands. One can’t help but wonder at the possibility of Stockholm Syndrome as the two discuss her family and “the sparkling refractions of sunlight playing off the small waves breaking against the bow” lull Odessa into slumber. I especially enjoyed the serial killer investigation conducted by Agent Sam Buscella and hope that the author considers giving Buscella additional investigations in future novels.

Lane’s End is powerful and profound, and it’s a most impressive debut novel – this is highly recommended.


“Lanes End sounds like a well balanced tale. I’m glad you made the choice to keep Zacharias multidimensional. The more people read about characters who are not merely black or white, the more they will recognize that the people in their lives and in the news reports are not always what they seem as well.” -Gerald S.


“. . . just finished–absolutely incredible! I loved it. I think if you got it to the right publisher, it could be a best seller . . .” -Harry A., Trinidad, Colorado


“. . . it was really interesting. i told jon that the beginning (before the first paranormal event) peeked my interest. then, for a few chapters, i was confused about what was going on…then it all started to come together and it was hard to put down. i really enjoyed it! congrats to you and all the research you did for it. of course, i found the pharma connection particularly interesting and close to home!”
-Jean D., Gurnee, Ill.



“The last sentence you spoke got to me. I look forward to the read.” -Pamela V., California, USA


“Well done Paul!” -Beverley Y., Ottawa, Canada


Feel free to leave a comment below, or send a tweet: @lanesendthebook
Copyright 2016, Paul Hill
All Rights Reserved
For ALL Light in the Dark Paranormal postings
(most recent at top), visit our home blog:
http://www.lightinthedarkparanormal.wordpress.com
Visit our website: http://www.lightinthedarkparanormal.com
All posts on this blog are written and owned by Paul Hill.

This May Scare You

29 Sep

highway-at-glorious-sunset-232711Do you like to read a ghost story before bedtime? Then you’re more likely to have a scary dream. If you have a scary dream in a place that is pre-disposed to being haunted, you have a greater chance of a supernatural entity visiting you in that dream. If you wake up and remember that dream, the entity may make a new friend . . . you.

The paranormal community is fond of saying its “scientific.” But where does traditional science come-in on this, if at all? Well, so far it only supports the first of these assertions– that you can cause dreams by reading before you sleep, for example. Once we venture beyond that, we cross the line from science to anecdotal paranormal evidence. That’s not supported by the scientific method, but does document incidents reported by credible experiencers and investigators using modern technology. There is in fact substantial such evidence of ghosts and dead people appearing in the dreams of the living.

If we go even further, we can speculate that if you go to sleep in a known haunted place, like some of us investigators have been known to do during their long middle-of-the-night wait for something weird to happen, entities who might be in the same room have a much greater chance of trying to communicate or make physical contact with you. Its easier and much less threatening for them when you’re asleep.

How do we prove this kind of stuff? Traditional scientists just don’t do paranormal field research. Paranormal investigators do. But up until now, the technology used by today’s ghost hunters has been used only for measuring the effects of paranormal entities who exist in certain places. Since we can’t wait for normal science to catch up with this kind of research, I’m suggesting we use our gadgets to measure not just the existence of ghosts, but for a change figure out what’s going on with us live humans. We may find out some interesting things. Its not just how do we affect them? Its how do they affect us?

Can we do an experiment to find out if ghosts or the dead really enter our dreams and become a temporary or lasting part of our consciousness? Can we test what happens when we wake up and remember our dreams? Can we find out if we’ve formed a relationship with someone who is no longer with us? Yes we can. Most dreams are not recalled, but vivid nightmares tend to wake us up! In that brief state between sleeping and wakefulness, lots of information about the dream is remembered and analyzed by the dreamer. Before they fade away, and as those memories linger before we rise, the experience can be imprinted in our brain (recorded into long-term memory). Then and only then is the dreamer most open to making a lasting connection with the entity who might have caused the dream in the first place (btw, those who don’t immediately wake up from such a nightmare will probably not remember it when they do awake).

So let’s conjure up an experiment! We’ll need a brave volunteer willing to spend the night in a paranormaly active environment, have him or her read a scary book, then go to sleep hooked up to an electroencephalograph (EEG) machine to measure their brain waves and rapid-eye movements (REM’s). If they awake from a dream during their sleep (if they don’t wake up themselves, we’ll wake them up as we’ll be able to tell they’re dreaming from their brainwaves and REM’s), we’ll then take notes while they report their experience. Others will measure the existence of any nearby phenomena while the subject was dreaming. Finally, we’ll correlate that information with whatever type of brain waves turned up on the EEG. Pretty cool, ‘eh?eeg

What’s the worst that could happen? Nothing. No dreams; no ghosts. What’s the best? Evidence of paranormal visitation while the subject reported a dream with that entity playing a starring role!

I’ll be doing this experiment in the future. Anybody have a spare EEG machine in their garage? Who wants to be the guinea pig? In any case, I’ll have to wait until my next $15,000 to get that EEG unit. Maybe I can find a used one on E-Bay.

Who knew reading a scary story could start all this in motion? Next time you do on some dark and stormy night, be prepared for a visit when you fall asleep. “They” may be watching you read.


Feel free to leave a comment below, or send a tweet: @lanesendthebook

Copyright 2016, Paul Hill
All Rights Reserved

For ALL Light in the Dark Paranormal postings
(most recent at top), visit our home blog:

http://www.lightinthedarkparanormal.wordpress.com
Visit our website: http://www.lightinthedarkparanormal.com

All posts on this blog are written and owned by Paul Hill.


 

Sudden Death

16 Jul

A bad accident . . . a sudden transition.

Ghostly spirit or an optical illusion? Saul Vazquez will only say that this photo has not been altered.

Ghostly spirit or an optical illusion? Saul Vazquez will only say that this photo has not been altered. SOURCE: photographer’s Facebook page via CNN News

 

I don’t know if you’ve seen this amazing photo virally making its way across the Internet, but here it is taken by a trucker’s passenger as he passed by an accident. Clearly seen suspended in the air between the two ambulances is an anomaly that looks like a human shape.

The fatal accident involved a motorcycle, and according to reports the victim later died at a local hospital. Is this mysterious figure a paranormal phenomenon, or can it be explained in the normal course of events?

Let’s first go over what it might be if not paranormal . . . possibly a photographic error of some sort? Maybe. This is the go to argument for most skeptics who view such evidence. But short of an examination of the camera and an analysis of the conditions under which the image was shot, there’s no way to prove that it was. Well then, what about some natural phenomenon like reflected mist or the ever-popular swamp gas? The background does seem to be dense and humid. Maybe. If not that, could the pic be a fake, where the presenter morphed a ghostly image into an otherwise normal photo using his computer? Possible. But only an examination of the photo by a digital expert could prove that likelihood.

Finally, is this photo the product of an hallucination or some other psychological issue connected to the observer?  I suppose anything’s possible, but most cameras don’t take pictures of hallucinations, let alone images of what a person unconsciously really wants to see (that would be a great invention!).

Was the phenomenon visible to the naked eye by anyone else who was busy at the scene? How did the apparition just happen to be caught as a photo? Taken a fraction of a second later, the anomaly might not have been visible to the camera.

Close-up

Close-up

Let’s get to the paranormal possibilities . . . is this the image of a dying person in the process of crossing-over to the “other side?” Or is it his ghost? If the unfortunate victim didn’t die until he reached the hospital, then technically-speaking he’s not a ghost (yet).

Are we then looking at the physical manifestation of a Near Death Experience (NDE)? Survivors of such experiences live to tell about it. Those unfortunates who don’t come back may have their NDE transformed into a DE (death experience). We will never know about those who had an NDE just before they died. Not in this life anyway. But does everyone have an NDE prior to their impending end, and are given the choice of returning or moving on?

As an author and paranormal investigator, I’m especially interested in such evidence, as rare as it is. I’m not trying to capitalize on the sad passing of this man, which was a tragedy for his family and stressful for first responders. But NDE’s are an important part my book, Lanes End. One of my characters explains the phenomenon better than I can (Dr. Zarkovian is a therapist and paranormal investigator educated in Vienna, speaking with scientist Dr. Sidney Green) . . .

      “Thus my interest in the paranormal aspects of the case ve’re investigating. Trust me, there are many. I have to be able to account for the existence of ghosts, or earthbound spirits if you vant to call them dat.

      In my thinking, there’s a difference between those who die naturally, or perhaps suddenly from a heart attack or such during surgery, and those who meet a violent death. The first groups appear to experience NDE’s if they survive, and we have to assume that those who don’t may also have an NDE, but then a DE . . .  a death experience. If the process functions as it should at the time, their transition forward and backward, or just forward, flows with no glitches. My concern is vith the glitches.”

     “So what glitches?” Sid asked.

     “Sudden or violent death that the nervous system couldn’t possibly anticipate or be warned about. Victims of war, murders, suicides, horrible accidents, and so on. I vould submit that the body under those circumstances is so shocked and traumatized, involving a cascading failure of organs and systems all in a instant, that the transition process is short-circuited. Then they may not have an NDE and their DE might be interrupted, leaving them stuck between this vorld and the next.”

An NDE Avoidedstory from the Denver Post


Feel free to leave a comment below, or send a tweet: @lanesendthebook

Copyright 2016, Paul Hill
All Rights Reserved

For ALL Light in the Dark Paranormal postings
(most recent at top), visit our home blog:

http://www.lightinthedarkparanormal.wordpress.com
Visit our website: http://www.lightinthedarkparanormal.com

All posts on this blog are written and owned by Paul Hill.


Movie Review: the Conjuring 2

22 Jun

It was a hot and stormy night. Actually it was hot and dry, having hit almost 100 degrees in our little mountain town in Colorado. Since we do not have air conditioning, my wife and I did something we rarely do: we went to the movies.

conjuring2There we watched the latest incarnation of the semi-fictional adventures of Ed and Lorraine Warren, the original ghost hunters.
The Conjuring 2 follows up where the commercially successful original left off (The Conjuring). Since the sequel will probably be a summer box-office smash, the two will soon be a cinema franchise. Watch for the Conjuring 3 coming soon to a theater near you.

But back to our movie. A rollicking, scary, funhouse summer flick to be sure; the kind we boys used to take our high school girlfriends to for lots of clingy hugs.

SARCASM ALERT! When I get especially critical, I tend to drip sarcasm, so please forgive me if some splatters on this page. I just can’t help myself.

The plot is based on the “true” paranormal investigations of Ed and Lorraine Warren, who back in the late 70’s allegedly looked into the haunting of a flat in London (the Enfield Haunting). It was occupied by a recently-single mom and her brood of kids, including one otherwise charming pre-teen girl who became the spokesperson for the unseen entity also sharing their quarters.

The girl is well-played by Madison Wolfe; the semi-hysterical mom also well done by Frances O’Connor. Both Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga reprise their roles as Ed and Lorraine. She could probably play an absolutely perfect angel if the right role came along, but I can’t vouch for Wilson’s inexplicable Elvis imitation somewhere around mid-film, even though I have to assume it was in-character for Ed Warren.

Anyway, to cut to the proverbial chase . . . the young girl character draws heavily on the female star of the 1973 release of The Exorcist, only unlike that girl, this time the possessed was up and out of bed while running around causing all kinds of mischief. Ed and Lorraine dutifully chase her (“it”) like some civilian geek squad on assignment from “the Church” that wouldn’t get itself officially involved. In the predictable end, the geek squad wins and the evil is vanquished.

Conjuring 2 is not a bad movie, but its also not a ghost movie. It is a demon movie (and not about a poltergeist, as the entity is commonly referred to). So don’t expect scary ghosts. It has instead more than the usual number of jumps and startles substituting for a dramatic build-up of genuine fear, and the setting of the house is artfully scary– what one would expect for a not-so-quiet demon who likes to party.

I concede that this movie was not made for aging paranormal investigators like ourselves; its aimed squarely at the 18 to 34 demographic. They will probably like it. But for us fully-formed (for better or worse) adults in the room, it is as they say “what it is.” What is instructive about it is the more valuable lesson for types like us. Its the distinction between “horror” and “supernatural” stories, with Conjuring 2 being an excellent example of the former.

What is true horror? Its like pornography: you know it when you see it. But instead of sexual arousal, horror causes sudden emotional stimulation characterized by fear, loathing, and an adrenalin rush that energizes a flight or fight response. Was the Exorcist horror or supernatural? When I first saw it in a theater, I witnessed grown men get up and run out of the place! But I read the novel before I ever saw the motion picture . . . I couldn’t sleep the first few nights– too scared. My opinion: definitely Horror/Supernatural for the movie; Supernatural/Psychological for the book.

To be real Horror with a capital H, a story has to exploit your primal fear at its most basic level. Not just ghost stories like the kind that scare you but don’t necessarily horrify you. Horror is visceral– biological/conscious jump-up and run away before you die fear. Supernatural is cerebral– the more subtle psychological/subconscious keep-you-up-at-night or have nightmares fear.

Beyond film genres and the depiction of the Warrens and their paranormal adventures, its also worth mentioning their real-life background. Why? Because they are yet having an influence on the minds of a far younger generation on a hot weekend in 2016.

Ed Warren (who died a few years ago) was a self-proclaimed demonologist. His wife Lorraine is a medium and joined her husband in the early 50’s as investigators of the paranormal. They were trailblazers, among if not the first to use tape recorders and other electronics of the day to scientifically measure such phenomena. Unfortunately, they had a built-in bias. They were devout Christians, and believed that all paranormal events were the result of diabolical forces.

I don’t have to criticize a major religion for its paranormal beliefs, as its a fact that in the Catholic Church for example, that belief is dogma. The priests in the Exorcist were of course Catholic, and admirably performed their duties in casting out the devil from its possession of a young girl (based on a true story). Where the Catholic Church goes awry in my opinion is its continuing insistence that ordinary ghosts are also the result of diabolical causes. They are not in most cases, which I can attest to from my own experience and most of those of my cohorts with only some rare exceptions.

I understand this misguided doctrine. I grew up Catholic, but left its confines many years ago due to other differences with its belief structure.  But let’s get back to the movies about the Warrens . . . both foster the belief that Satan is behind hauntings, and that is just not the case. That belief makes for more dramatic stories and can appeal to one’s inner religious child, but scaring grown adults into a given belief is exactly why I left that institution.

What we call “ghosts” today are the manifestations of dead people living their perfectly normal afterlives. They include those existing along either margin of the border to the Other Side as ghosts (earthbound spirits), or freed spirits who’ve successfully crossed over and are just visiting. Whoever else is lurking along the interdimensional boundary between life and death I’m not sure, but I’m fairly certain that they rarely include demons. Somewhere they may indeed exist to lead us into temptation and drag us screaming into hell, but they’re unlikely tenants of the average haunted house.

(Read another opinion on the story’s credibility)

 

Copyright 2016, Paul Hill
All Rights Reserved

For ALL Light in the Dark Paranormal postings
(most recent at top), visit our home blog:

http://www.lightinthedarkparanormal.wordpress.com
Visit our website: http://www.lightinthedarkparanormal.com

All posts on this blog are written and owned by Paul Hill.

 

 

 

 

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Renae Rude - The Paranormalist

Finessing bipolarity. Writing horror. Chasing ghosts.

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