Power Couples of the Paranormal

I know that I have sampled only a few of the many, many paranormal, occult, Pagan, and esoteric podcasts and video channels out there. (Feel free to add your faves in the comments.)

But when  you look at podcasts done by people who are partners in real life, I can think of two sets of contenders: Jessi Leigh and Joe Doyle of the Hellbent Holler YouTube Channel and Greg and Dana Newkirk of Hellier fame, who now have a new podcast, The Haunted Objects. (The former website, not updated since 2020, was The Week in Weird.)

Hellier, a documentary series (two seasons) that compressed several years of the Newkirks’ and their associates’ attempt to find the story behind some mysterious communications:

In 2012, Greg Newkirk received an email from a man calling himself David Christie, who claimed that he and his family were being terrorized by unearthly creatures by night. After exchanging emails, David disappeared. For the next five years, the case only got stranger, as more connections and mysterious emails came in. Then, in 2017, Greg and a team of researchers traveled to rural Kentucky, not knowing what they would uncover, or how deep they would discover the case might go.

Dana Newkirk using a God Helmet in a Hellier episode.

The story was compelling. (I thought Season 2 lagged a bit in the middle, but it finished strong.)  The videography and editing were better than a lot of what you see on ghost-hunting or Bigfoot-hunting TV shows. And it was released in 2020 just before people can to be forced indoors — meaning they could live vicariously through the investigators’ travels in eastern Kentucky. You can stream or download it or get it on Blu-Ray at the site.

It not only had thousands of viewers but has attracted the attention of scholars of Western esotercism and “the weird” in general. For instance,  Rejected Religion podcast host Stephanie Shea explains it to guest Aaron French in this November 2022 episode and earlier devoted to episodes to Hellier and High Strangeness. Here is the first one, from January 2021.

The Newkirks also manage museum of the paranormal, and the Haunted Object podcast builds each episode around a particular item, such as a plank from the Long Island house infamous for the Amityville Horror, leading to a freewheeling and often comic dialog between them and their producer, Connor Randall.

Jessi’s T-shirt proclaims “Make cryptozoologiy dangerous again.”

Meanwhile, Jessi and Joe are out in the woods. The two cryptid-hunters live in a former South Carolina textile-mill town but met when they were both bartending in New Orleans. As Jessi puts it,

I was born and raised in the mountains of western North Carolina, but when my wanderlust took hold I escaped to the Deep South. I spent 10 years in New Orleans, in and out of bars, swamps and graveyards. Eventually I became homesick for the mountains, trees and endless adventure of a darkened wood. It was time to leave the sirens, grime and crime behind. Along with my partner Joe, I moved back to Appalachia and began seeking out the mysteries and legends that still live in the hills we call home. Using the latest gear and equipment, we travel deep into the forests of Appalachia to gather evidence of the weird, strange and supernatural that roams this ancient slice of heaven.

In the spirit of Jessi’s T-shirt, they investigate areas of BIgfoot sightings, Dogman sitings (a sort of upright werewolf), and other mystery beasts.

Their technology includes state-of-the-art night-vision gear, audio recorders, video and still cameras, survival gear, and personal weapons. You could call them “preppers of the paranormal.”

The last is not a question of “What caliber for Dogman?” but rather an honest reponse to the fact they are moving through areas where they could encounter humans who are, let’s say, sort of feral.

Joe and Jessi push their own boundaries, which leads to lines like “Did you hear like a scream?” or “If every night felt ike this [eerie], I wouldn’t do this” or “That was not a coyote. That was not a coyote!” (All quotes from “Land Between the Lakes, Part 2: The Search for Dogman Contiues.

Their videos have a respectable number of followers, although not as many as the Newkirks’, and of course they have their own merchandise.

Locales

Greg and Dana: Generally indoors in haunted buildings, sometimes caves, in various states.

Joe and Jessi: Outdoors in forests of the southern Appalachian Mountains (north Georgia), Cumberland Plateau, and the Land Between the Lakes (Tennessee-Kentucky). Generally public land, such as the Chattahochee-Oconee National Forest.

Methodology

Joe and Jessi: Stalking through the woods, investigating ruins, utilizing audio and visual recorders, and utilizing visible and infrared ligjhts at night.

Greg and Dana: Investigations of haunted places and ghost experiences, utiilizing psychic impressions, amplified by technology such as the Estes Method and the God Helmet. Occasional ritual.

Production Values

Greg and Dana: Professional-level video.

Jessi and Joe: DIY level, but getting better all the time. Jessi is their editor.

What I Wish They Would Do

Get expert advice.

In the first season of Hellier, I remember talking the screen as the participants fumbled around seeking some information, “Why don’t you go to the local library and talk to the local history librarian? Even small libraries often have one, and they want to share!”

Later in Season 2 they do just that when researching a vanished restaurant in Kentucky and are amazed that the local library has photos of it. Libaries! Who knew?

Jessi and Joe spend a lot of time with boots on the ground, but I with they could balance that with more research instead, of, for instance, just wandering around old federal government buildings in the Land Between the Lakes and asking, “What was this for? Was it fortified against Dogman?”

Granted, federal agencies often do a poor job of preserving their own institutional history — as a Forest Service brat, I know this.

Also, an experienced hunter or wildlife biologist could offer alternative explanations to “How did these deer bones get here?” or “What made those scratches on the tree?”

Yet even though I sometimes say to the screen, “I bet a black bear did that,” there are times when I have no easy naturalistic explanation for what they encounter — and that is what keeps me coming back.

Monetize Your Doll Collection: Add Ghosts

People are always trying to make money off podcasts, Instagram, etc., but have you thought about dolls? Haunted dolls, that is. And who is to say they are haunted? You, the seller!

“Haunted doll Erwin,” currently for sale on eBay.

On eBay, a Fantastical, Earnest World of Haunted Dolls” in the New Yorker.

But whether any of these dolls are truly haunted seems beside the point. As I scroll through pages of smudged cheeks and wonky eyes, pausing on “ ‘Gracelyn’ (not vampire)” and “Bethany, Sad, Lonely Spirit” and “MECA VERY OLD POWERFUL SOUL,” I feel smug that even a sprawling corporation like eBay, with all its accompanying blandness-inducing powers, can’t suppress the batty and outright bizarre. In their unapologetic weirdness and scrappy prose, haunted-doll listings offer a reprieve from the Internet age’s slick, ironic posturing and its distancing effects.

A quick search this morning turned up quite a few listings.

This is not just pop American occulture either; “Erwin,” for instance, is priced in British pounds.

A Quick Video Introduction to Fairy Studies

Early in the twentieth century, the famous physicist Ernest Rutherford (1871–1937), “the father of nuclear physics,”  is supposed to have remarked snarkily that all science was either physics or “stamp-collecting.” [1]Variations on the saying include “That which is not measurable is not science. That which is not physics is stamp collecting” and “Physics is the only real science. The rest are … Continue reading

By “stamp-collecting,” I have always assumed he meant collecting and classifying, in that a geologist of his time might have been mainly occupied with classifying rocks and minerals or an entymologist concerned with classifying insects. (These disciplines — and others — now include much more.)

“Stamp-collecting” likewise describes a lot of paranormal studies. The famed Charles Fort (1874–1932 was the master of it.[2]His life almost parallels Rutherford’s. Interesting. “As a young adult, Fort wanted to be a naturalist, collecting sea shells, minerals, and birds” (Wikipedia). The sheer size of his collections had an effect, however.

Fort is acknowledged by religious scholars such as Jeffrey J. Kripal and Joseph P. Laycock as a pioneering theorist of the paranormal who helped define “paranormal” as a discursive category and provided insight into its importance in human experience. Although Fort is consistently critical of the scientific study of abnormal phenomena, he remains relevant today for those who engage in such studies

Back in the the early 1690s — contemporanous with the Salem witch trials — the Rev. Robert Kirk[3]A minister in the then-large Scottish Episcopal Church was not afraid to theorize, producing a handwritten book on fairies that latter became The Secret Commonwealth. Maybe his MA at Edinburgh University prepared him.

His attempt to fit the fairies into a Great Chain of Being might not appeal to everyone, but at least it gave him a theoretical lens through which to consider them.

Kirk proposed that the reason that the fairies appeared to humanity was to convince us that an invisible realm exists, and that it’s not entirely out of reach. Their occasional interactions with humans served as both a “caution and warning” that we are not alone in the world, and that unseen, intelligent forces occasionally meddled in our affairs. Maybe these forces are still at work. (video transcript)

Then it was mostly a lot of “stamp collecting” until astronomer Jacques Vallée wrote Passport to Magonia, in which he rejected the “extraterrestrial hypothesis” for UFOs and replaced it with something more multidimensional. Until the work of Jeffrey Kripal, I would rank Kirk’s and Vallée’s books as the most important when it comes to fairy studies, more even than Evans-Wentz’ The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries.

We still have people who are solely Bigfoot-hunters or UFO researchers or ghost-hunters or whatever, but thanks to Vallée, it is more and more common to see all of these as part of something bigger: “the phenomenon.”[4]Some BIgfoot researchers still seek a flesh-and-blood “wood ape,” which might be less psychologically threatening than an interdimensional big hairy critter.

(Video from Think Anomalous. I saw it first at Hecate Demeter.)

Notes

Notes
1 Variations on the saying include “That which is not measurable is not science. That which is not physics is stamp collecting” and “Physics is the only real science. The rest are just stamp collecting.”
2 His life almost parallels Rutherford’s. Interesting.
3 A minister in the then-large Scottish Episcopal Church
4 Some BIgfoot researchers still seek a flesh-and-blood “wood ape,” which might be less psychologically threatening than an interdimensional big hairy critter.

“Goblins, Goat-Gods, and Gates”: Weird Studies does “Hellier”

I wrote about my encounter with 2019’s take-off[[It doesn’t seem right for say “went viral” right now, don’t you think?))paranormal web series hit Hellier in this post, “Don’t Follow the Lights across the Moor, said the Monk.”

Now my favorite podcasters, J. F. Martel and Phil Ford of Weird Studies, have produced the episode on Hellier and related things — with them, there will always be related things. Usually they send me to the library website with a bunch of interlibrary-loan requests.

It is called “Goblins, Goat-Gods, and Gates.” And you see will that there is a references list.

The podcasters write:

On the night before this episode of Weird Studies was released, a bunch of folks on the Internet performed a collective magickal working. Prompted by the paranormal investigator Greg Newkirk, they watched the final episode of the documentary series Hellier at the same time — 10:48 PM EST — in order to see what would happen. Listeners who are familiar with this series, of which Newkirk is both a protagonist and a producer, will recall that the last episode features an elaborate attempt at gate opening involving no less than Pan, the Ancient Greek god of nature. If we weren’t so cautious (and humble) in our imaginings, we at Weird Studies might consider the possibility that this episode is a retrocausal effect of that operation. In it, we discuss the show that took the weirdosphere by storm last year, touching on topics such as subterranean humanoids, the existence of “Ascended Masters,” Aleister Crowley’s secret cipher, the Great God Pan, and the potential dangers of opening gates to other worlds … or of leaving them closed.

No, I haven’t listened to it yet. Weird Studies episodes are saved for long drives, and M. and I are going to the city tomorrow.

New Pagan, Paranormal Podcasts Added to the Blogroll

The trees have eyes.

You can buy this artwork in various forms at Strange Familiars’  Patreon site.

Readers, I have reworked the blogroll (right-hand column) to create a new “Podcast” category.

If you are looking at a single post, the blogroll might not display for you. In that case, click the main blog title or the banner photo at the top to switch to the main page.

I had few podcasts mixed in the blogs, but I am listening to more now, and I decided that they deserved their own category.

For instance, I mentioned Strange Familiars recently in my post, “Don’t Follow the Lights across the Moor, said the Monk.” Apparently that episode — with host Timothy Renner interviewing Br. Richard Hendrick about fairies, ghosts, and poltergeists — was their highest-rated ever.

Weird Studies is another solid favorite. Co-host Phil Ford is a musicologist at Indiana University. Who knew you could do such strange and edgy stuff under the roof of the School of Music? About every other time that I listen to Phil and his co-host, J. F. Martel, I have to visit the library.

Some of these podcasts are easily downloaded from their home sites, plus you can get them on Google Play, Apple Podcast, and usually various other podcast sites. I use Apple gear, but I don’t like Apple Podcast very much and prefer to download individual episodes to iTunes.

Pentagram Pizza with Idolatrous Sprinkles

That’s our idol, and we will see you in court!  The Satanic Temple is going after Netflix for using their Baphomet in the new “Sabrina the Satanic Witch” series. (OK, its real name is Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.  Via The Daily Grail.)

I think I blogged her before. Or I should have: “Orgasms I have with my spirit lovers have been way more satisfying than any I’ve had with ordinary men.” (No, it was someone else who had a “sex with ghosts” website, now 404’d.)

An underground chamber has been located under the Pyramid of the Moon in the ancient Mexican city of Teotihuacán. Was it a place for initiatory or shamanic ceremonies, or was it where they kept the . . . special Beast? (Via The Daily Grail.)

A Room Full of Eerie, Masked Idols Has Been Discovered in Peru. “Deep in the enormous citadel of an ancient Peruvian culture, archaeologists have uncovered a corridor containing 19 mysterious black wooden statues.”  “We assume they are guardians,” said an archaeologist. Or maybe they were special Beasts. (Via The Daily Grail.)

Got Ghosts with Your Historic House?

When I was handling the sale of my mother’s Arizona home after her death, the real estate agent and I were perched on the kitchen counters doing the paperwork, because the furniture had already been moved out.

Working through a long sale-listing questionnaire, I came to a question asking if the property were haunted. “You’re kidding!” I said.

“Oh no,” he said. “That’s Arizona law. You have to disclose if the house might be haunted. It’s based on a court case from some years back.”

I checked “No.”

But what if you are the buyer? You have found, perhaps, your perfect restoration project. “Everything is going smoothly until your electrician meets you at the top of the basement stairs and tells you you’re going to have to find another electrician. He’s not going down in the basement again. Ever.”

So writes M. Elwell Romancito in a recent issue of Enchanted Homes, a slick magazine of Taos, New Mexico-area real estate ads published by the Taos News. Also known as Melody Romancito, she is an artist, muscian, journalist, audio-video editor, ghost hunter and exorcist, which just goes to show that to live the bohemian life in a place like Taos, you need a few arrows in your quiver.

Her suggestions range from tidying tools and clearing remodeling trash (“This goes a long toward appeasing spirits who take to hiding tools.”) to keeping a journal of times, dates, and nature of each paranormal occurrance.

Antique furniture should also be regarded with suspicion: “Inquire about the history of an item before buying it.”

While “several locals have reported that bringing in Tibetan Buddhists for a house clearing . . . has been effective,” if things get tough, contact some other religious leader or “do a Google search for ‘Taos psychic medium.'”

I tried that and got 10,600 hits. Of course, a lot of them were actually in Santa Fe.

Wiccan Ghost-Hunting in India

If you are of a certain age — or if you hang around the “occult” section in used-bookstores — you might remember the ghost-hunting team of English witch Sybil Leek (1917–1982) and American parapsychology author Hans Holzer (1920–2009).

They were both writers, but the books appeared under his name, such as The Lively Ghosts of Ireland.

I was just reminded of them by reading this recent review of Bhangarh to Bedlam: Haunted Encounters, which covers some similar ground. Only most of the ground is in India, where — even with all of the kinds of polytheism, henotheism, and monism (and other -isms) that live under the umbrella term “Hindu” — Wicca, too, has gained a toehold in the religious landscape of the subcontinent.

In fact, author Deepta Roy Chakraverti is the daughter of Ipsita Roy Chakraverti, credited with bringing Wicca to India, as I noted in 2006.

The author who is a corporate lawyer by profession investigates the presence of the supernatural in the world we inhabit and writes about paranormal encounters she has had ranging from Bhangarh Fort on the Delhi-Jaipur highway, in the Lodhi gardens, the Konark Temple in Orissa, and the mental asylum of Bedlam in London. . . .

Deepta explores the energies of the Safdurjung Road house of late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who was assassinated and the psychic investigator writes about her experience . . .

She recalls a chilling encounter in the chapter “Who Walks on Marine Drive? “related to a peanut seller on Mumbai’s Marine Drive who has a horde of people, including a father-daughter pair flocking to him. The people, says the author are those who died suddenly in the 2011 terrorist attacks and are hovering between the worlds of the living and dead.

And in the interview/review she quotes Holzer himself. We have a tradition!

Bhangarh to Bedlam has a Facebook page, is available on Amazon in India but not here, it seems, and has created some controversy there.

An Indian website in April 2015 reported,

It also includes a chapter on a popular shopping mall in Kolkata, where a number of accidents and suicides have taken place in recent times.

And this is where a controversy has erupted, with the mall in question demanding that all references to it be eliminated from the book. According to Roy Chakraverti, a corporate lawyer by profession and a psychic investigator by calling, who is the daughter of the self-styled Wiccan priestess Ipsita Roy Chakraverti, the publishers [not identified] bliged by calling off the publication of the book.

But also in April, Life Positive Books (New Delhi)  announced its publication. Same house? Different one? Roy Chakraverti hints at dark forces:

The dark energy has its own power. I feel that this fiasco happened because there were one or two political entities in the background, which were afraid of a Wiccan woman gaining popularity.

According to the Facebook page, launch parties and signings are ongoing.

Back to Blogging, Short Version. Also Ghosts.

Short version: I was real busy and then I picked up a nasty cold. Savor the irony: I think that I got it at a National Outdoor Leadership School Wilderness First Aid class (two intensive eight-hour days).

I have all these links to comment on and books to review and, basically, I have done zilch. Expect a lot of short posts-with-links.

So let’s talk about the dead, specifically those from the Japanese earthquake and tsunami of 2011. Rod Dreher links to an article about a man whose visits to the area apparently led to possession — at least, that is how the Buddhist priest responded.

His wife had already left the house when he woke the next morning. Ono had no particular work of his own, and passed an idle day at home. His mother bustled in and out, but she seemed mysteriously upset, even angry. When his wife got back from her office, she was similarly tense. ‘Is something wrong?’ Ono asked.

‘I’m divorcing you!’ she replied.

‘Divorce? But why? Why?’

And so his wife and mother described the events of the night before, after the round of needy phone calls. How he had jumped down on all fours and begun licking the tatami mats and futon, and squirmed on them like a beast. How at first they had nervously laughed at his tomfoolery, but then been silenced when he began snarling: ‘You must die. You must die. Everyone must die. Everything must die and be lost.’ In front of the house was an unsown field, and Ono had run out into it and rolled over and over in the mud, as if he was being tumbled by a wave, shouting: ‘There, over there! They’re all over there – look!’

There is more, much much more. Processions of the dead. Vanishing hitchhikers. And stuff like this:

A fire station in Tagajo received calls to places where all the houses had been destroyed by the tsunami. The crews went out to the ruins anyway and prayed for the spirits of those who had died – and the ghostly calls ceased.

That would get my attention, since I have to drive past the ruins of neighbors’ homes every time I want to get out to the state highway. Luckily no one died here, no one human.

Gamers and Ghost-hunters

What gaming I do has been on computers rather than consoles, so this is a development I missed—using the new Xbox for ghost-hunting.

Ever since the release of the Kinect motion sensor controllers in 2010, gamers have been posting videos of “Kinect Ghosts” detected by their Xbox 360. The Kinect prompts you when a new person is in the room, a phenomena dismissed as a glitch by most users if they’re alone. However there are hundreds of videos on youtube of not only ‘someone not there’ being detected, but these ‘ghosts’ also using the motion controller to operate the system.

It makes sense, really. Ever since the invention of the flash camera and the tape recorder, not to mention other instruments, people have been trying to record photos, audio, temperature anomalies, and other “hard” evidence of ghosts.

The blog posts links to this YouTube video of a “Kinect Ghost,” and from its links you can find others.

Have you tried it?