Monthly Archives: February 2012

Paranormal Politics (without the politics)…

In a year where there is a political electricity surging everywhere you turn, I couldn’t hold back from this post. Just statistics is all…

“Republicans are significantly less interested in the paranormal than Democrats and Independents. The typical Republican believes in fewer than two of the paranormal subjects we asked about on our survey (ghosts, fortune-telling, Atlantis/ancient, advanced civilizations, telekinesis, psychic powers, astrology, UFOs, haunted houses, and monsters). Democrats and Independents believe in two of these subjects, on average. A similar relationship holds for paranormal experiences. Republicans are the least likely to have a paranormal experience, and self-described Independents are the most likely.” (Statistics from the Baylor Religion Survey, 2005)

Source: Bader, C., Mencken, F, & Baker, J. (2010). Paranormal America: Ghost Encounters, UFO Sightings, Bigfoot Hunts, and Other Curiosities in Religion and Culture. New York & London: New York University Press.


Pub Ghost or Moth?

For today’s post… one of my favorite “ghost” videos. I saw this probably in 2010 when it was discovered but it’s still fascinating people and inspiring discussion. What do you think?

There are multiple articles on this video but the one below is pretty good.

 

 

 

 

At one point, it looks as if it’s cleaning tables – it seems to pulse and then boom – it shoots off upwards through the wall and ceiling.”

 

“What’s really strange is that something similar was going on next door. Our lounge area used to be part of next door, which I’ve been told was once an undertakers.”

 

 

 

 

 


Talking to the Dead: Kate and Maggie Fox and the Rise of Spiritualism

I was very excited to get this book and to start reading it. Then life happened. I absolutely hate for a book to take me longer than 2 weeks to read when I’m busy, but this book took me three weeks. For an earlier post about the Fox sisters from three weeks ago when I started the book, CLICK HERE

I think you’ll learn everything you ever wanted to know about Kate and Maggie Fox with this book, Talking to the Dead: Kate and Maggie Fox and the Rise of Spiritualism by Barbara Weisberg. If you read books on ghosts or paranormal investigation topics you know that most of these books include a small section that usually credits these two sisters for starting the movement known as Spiritualism on accident in the late 1840s. Usually when you read this section you get a little bit of the author’s personal opinion on whether or not the Fox sisters pulled off the biggest hoax ever. Before reading this book I knew that they admitted to being frauds but then later recanted, but it seemed to me as if most authors that mentioned the sisters believed there was at least an element of authentic spirit communication happening.

The two younger sisters (Maggie and Kate) claimed to hear “rapping” and knocks in their home coming from what they eventually decided was the spirit of a murdered peddler from years before. They were one of the first to attempt to communicate with spirits with this system of rapping. They eventually developed a system of “yes” and “no” answers and even spelling out messages. People came from all over to see it and they were an overnight sensation!

Throughout this book I kept thinking to myself… “So was it real or not? Just tell me!” As I read I started out with the feeling the author was pro-spiritualism and seemed to believe almost every detail.  Then toward the end I was surprised to find the author seemed to actually be very skeptical and was only telling the story from documented history. Strangely though, there are a lot of holes in the records and history involving the Fox sisters… I mean it wasn’t THAT long ago. It seems that some people believe they were legit and some people don’t. I definitely learned they had some sketchy and unclear moments.

In this book we learn a lot about Maggie and Kate’s parents and other siblings. Leah was a much older sister and was very influential in Maggie and Kate’s futures as mediums and speakers who travel around the world demonstrating their abilities. The book doesn’t always paint a nice picture of her. I had never heard of Leah. It seems to me that she is just as important in the story.

I learned about their loves and relationships. Maggie went through a particularly rough time with a man who tried to change her (Elisha Kent Kane, the explorer). I despised this man more and more with every detail I learned.

There were a lot of famous and influential people who supported, followed, or were clients of the Fox sisters.

There is much history of the Spiritualism movement in general included in the book. These women had leadership roles and started a movement in the days that women weren’t really accepted as leaders and weren’t supposed to be influential and smart. There were times they were definitely in danger. These were some ballsy girls!

In general, I had no idea that they were famous into adulthood and led the movement for such a long period of time. They were full-blown celebrities for a while. The book follows them till death and closes out with a summary of the Spiritualism movement since then.

So what do I think now? I think there is definitely proof of spirit communication and we learned a LOT from the Spiritualism movement (Obviously… this is The Big Séance). I also think a lot of frauds came out of it… and maybe there is much to learn from that too. But I think this story has to have some element of truth to it. I fell in love with the Fox sisters in this book and I really want to believe that they weren’t complete frauds.

On a final note, there are 34 pages of notes & bibliography at the end of this book. I didn’t read these pages, but I feel good knowing they’re there if I need them. 🙂

If anyone has suggestions of any good reads on the Spiritualism movement in general, I’d love to read more! 

 


Thoughts from Karla McLaren on Music & Emotion… a Follow Up…

After yesterday’s post on Moving Musical Experiences and the Meditative State, I thought of Karla McLaren, an author that I follow on Facebook. She is also a social science researcher, a cappella arranger, and an empath. Her most recent journey and writings are on The Language of Emotions.

Yesterday I contacted Karla. I mentioned the post, asked if she had any thoughts or opinions on the topic, and asked the following question:

“Are these just emotions or really truly a heightened state of awareness or meditation?” 

 
She graciously responded with the three links below along with the following message.

“As you know, I would never say that something was ‘just’ an emotion, since emotions are vital to every possible aspect of our cognition, decision-making, social awareness, relational skill, and intelligence. In the flowchart from emotion to feeling, which requires an emotionally evocative stimuli, music absolutely can be an emotionally evocative stimulus that will evoke a specific emotion.”

 

This link is from a blog by Maria Panagiotidi, a PhD student interested in cognitive neuroscience/psychology and science in general.

In my middle school vocal music classes we discuss just about everything in this writing. It’s true, kids recognize the modes of major and minor fairly quickly and easily. One of the goofy things that I’ve always done while demonstrating is put a giant smile or frown on my face as I play chords or melodies in either major or minor.

This site of abstracts makes me feel like a grad student again. 🙂 It gave me a physiological response that didn’t have anything to do with music.

And finally, this is a page from the Carnegie Mellon University website

Thanks Karla for helping us out and contributing to the discussion!


Moving Musical Experiences and the Meditative State…

Some recent comments by friends and readers of this blog helped to inspire tonight’s post.

These comments were in response to one of my posts on the topic of meditation. Ash mentioned how easy it was for her to reach a meditative state when she was a teenager. In one of her comments she mentioned how she “could block it all out and just float right out of [her] head..”. Marilyn discussed how music (without lyrics) was a good source for meditation.

This really got me thinking back to some of my early memories and experiences involving music, and I wondered if some of these moments were me being in some kind of heightened meditative state.

I don’t recall ever leaving my body or experiencing anything truly supernatural, but growing up I remember sitting in my room with my Walkman listening to John Williams’ Jurassic Park soundtrack. I used to really be into film scores and John Williams is one of my biggest inspirations. I’d listen to one or two tracks over and over… sometimes probably for hours (I still do that… get addicted to one piece of music and can’t leave it). I remember many times being moved to tears by the feelings and emotions that are brought out by the music. I don’t think this was ever sadness, just me having a moment with the music.

There were other moments, like the times I would watch my mom with the choir from my church rehearsing or performing their Easter Cantatas from the sanctuary balcony. It was always the last scene that got me… always a big song with powerful orchestration and harmonies. The scene probably depicting Jesus’ resurrection. This, of course, led to me listening to the recordings of those cantatas over and over on my Walkman in the bedroom. Just sitting… listening… imagining things in my head… cue the tears. 🙂

When it comes to words or lyrics in music, honestly most of the time I don’t hear them. Many times I’ll sing along with the most random instrumental part deep in the background that most people don’t hear. So most of the time my emotional response just doesn’t have anything to do with the words or lyrics. This is sometimes hard for singers to understand. For so many people, the words ARE the music… and that’s hard for ME to understand… they just aren’t as important. As a vocal music teacher, I’m kind of in a category on my own I suppose. I often tell my students that you never know how someone will appreciate a piece of music or performance, or how a singer is experiencing it. It may not have anything to do with the words. Or… maybe I’m the only one.

So, I ask you this question… When we are having moving musical experiences, are these experiences just overactive emotions? Emotions are often connected with the Ego (sometimes thought of as our “false self”). Or, are our souls off spending time in some other spiritual realm without us consciously knowing it?

I leave you with the theme to Jurassic Park.

 

**UPDATE – A follow up to this post: Thoughts from Karla McLaren on Music & Emotion… a Follow Up…


Ghosts Among Us…

It was the year 2008. My family and I had already been bitten by the Ghost Hunters (T.A.P.S.) bug, and I remember many nights watching Crossing Over with John Edward before bed in my old condo. Other than always having a love for a good scary movie, that was pretty much the extent of my paranormal life.

A few years earlier an ex had inspired me to start reading the Tales of the City series by Armistead Maupin. Reading was something I absolutely never did unless I was getting a grade for it, and I could count every book I’d read for pleasure my whole life on one hand and still have a few fingers left. I agreed to borrow the first book just to humor them. I absolutely fell in love with it, which led to me finishing the entire series of eight books (and rumor has it there is a ninth in the works). I was shocked to find that I was becoming obsessed with reading.

Now, back to 2008. I was walking through the bookstore (RIP Borders) and was struggling to find more fiction titles to add to my “to be read” shelf. On a bargain shelf next to the checkout I found James Van Praagh’s Ghosts Among Us and decided since it was cheap it was worth the try. O… M… G…

Seventy-some books later, most of them from the spiritual or paranormal genre, I look back and realize it probably isn’t any more mind-blowing than many of the other books I’ve read since, but it was the first, and it really kick started what I’ve been calling my “spiritual shift”. I loaned the book to my mother, who loved it as well. I have since loaned it to a few other people… and when I didn’t get it returned I went out and replaced it to put it on my shelf again (I’ve since created the “I am selfish with my books and don’t loan them out” rule. Don’t worry, I’m sure this rule will end when they halt the production of physical books…don’t get me started…or once I have to buy another book shelf or two.)

From the back of the book…

From a very young age James Van Praagh was aware of a dimension that most of us cannot see, and he has dedicated his life to explaining it to the rest of us. The New York Times bestseller Ghosts Among Us takes us on an incredible journey into the spirit world that brings to light one of our greatest mysteries – what happens to us after we die?

Go HERE for more about James Van Praagh…

 

 


Meditation Routines…

Not a big post tonight. Just a question.

Do you meditate? Do you have any typical routines when you meditate? For how long?

Right now I’m in the midst of the craziest and busiest part of my year at work… I’m a lot more stressed and I have a lot LESS of the down time that I typically require for me to be the happiest ME. I’m not one of those people who go crazy if they’re not super busy and living life on the go… but that’s how life has been going for a few weeks.

Anyway, I could use more meditation in my life right about now. I’ve been out of the habit for a while. Why is it so easy for some of us to make excuses for not meditating when it is so calming and relaxing and good for us? It’s not supposed to be work. I used to make a habit of meditating/praying before bed… but all it takes is 4 seconds of relaxation in bed and I’m asleep so that’s usually a fail. A lot of times I end up meditating in the shower (there are some good ones out there). Anyone else do that?

Anyone have any quick meditations for on the go? 😉 Any good books or sites for meditation?


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