Look south from Bennett Avenue, the bi-level main street of Cripple Creek, Colorado, across Poverty Gulch (once lined by the saloons and brothels of Myers Avenue), and there it sits, like the citadel of the Ice King.
At 9,494 feet (2,894 m.), the early February winds are still cutting and only the lengthening day suggests any turn toward spring. M. and I, plus my Pagan cousin and her partner, fortified ourselves with food and drink in a crowded restaurant and then zipped up all zippers and headed for the Ice Castle at our designated 6 p.m. entrance time.The restaurant’s Facebook page said that they were so busy with Ice Castle visitors that they were not taking reservations, but we snagged a table by showing up at 4:30, ahead of the dinner … Continue reading
This castle is a commercial venture. I had seen earlier versions in the ski town of Silverthorne in the 20-teens,and thought it would be cool-no-pun-intended to visit, but I was always on my way to or from somewhere else. Now we had our chance at Candlemas season. I like it when the Sacred Wheel matches up with popular activities, even when the coincidence is not planned.
Daytime must be different, but at night the Ice Castle hits the same sort of Underworld vibe that I get sometimes in Taos at PASEO, the fall art festival, when clumps of dark-clad people walk dim Spanish colonial streets until suddenly illuminated by the flare of a flaming gate or a giant robot or an art work projected onto high adobe walls. (See “The Robot God and the Underworld Gate.”)
So it was sort of like that but without the writhing silent-rave dancers. There was feasting and good conversation and then a chance to stock my memory with images and sensations.
Cripple Creek is a small place, compared to its height c. 1900 when there were three railroads plus street cars and belching smokestacks. I walked Marco the dog around a little, strolling past some of the buildings I visited during a long-ago bout of ghost-hunting, back before the casinos came in. Those visits produced a little book, Ghost Tales of Cripple Creek, which in terms of copies sold is probably my biggest commercial success. Out of print now, but I see it is still on Amazon.The photo was taken from the driveway of astrologer Linda Goodman’s house.
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.
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
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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.
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
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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.
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.
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.” 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.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 KirkA 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)
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.”Some BIgfoot researchers still seek a flesh-and-blood “wood ape,” which might be less psychologically threatening than an interdimensional big hairy critter.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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).
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!
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.
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.
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.