Clairvoyant medium, Travis Sanders, sits down with Patrick for a conversation about psychic kids, Spiritualism, and support for today’s young people. Plus his book, I Am Psychic, So Are You!: A Clairvoyant Handbook.
Clairvoyant medium, Travis Sanders, sits down with Patrick for a conversation about psychic kids, Spiritualism, and support for today’s young people. Plus his book, I Am Psychic, So Are You!: A Clairvoyant Handbook.
I’ve done a pretty good job of avoiding the subject of demons or demonic possession on this blog. This isn’t due to being afraid of the topic or needing to leave the closet light on when I talk about it, but because the BS-o-meter tends to immediately start flashing in my head when the topic is brought up. It’s not something I do on purpose, and it’s not that I’m trying to be a jerk, it just doesn’t resonate with me, I guess. I’ve always done my best to not offend anyone in discussions about their beliefs, or when people recount their demonic experiences. As Jim Harold famously says, “I keep an open mind, but not so open that my brains fall out.” Most of the time I just listen and try to see the activity as simply paranormal, just like any other experience that may or may not be explainable, rather than attach a demonic name or entity to it.
But I think I need to finally come clean and admit that I have issues believing in the concept. Oh I know what some of you will use to argue already. Light can’t exist without darkness. A belief in angels requires a belief in demons. Those arguments sound nice, but they don’t settle anything for me, and to be fair, I have the same issues wrapping my head around angels sometimes too, with their names and their color coded wings. For a while last year I was involved in a few phone conversations with a popular television production company about the possibility of being involved in a pilot about angels and investigating whether or not they really existed. I’m not sure where the project ended up going, but many of the personalities they were interested in just had a knowing that angels existed, and that’s not what they were looking for. They wanted someone who needed the proof. It was exciting to be approached, but I’m not sure the topic of angels would have been enough to keep me focused or serious for a whole series. One thing is for sure, though. I’d have to see some evidence before I could confidently say I believed in angels. Now ask me if I believe in spirit guides. (Well… I can’t wait all night for you to ask, but just know the answer is YES. My regular readers already knew this.)
Oh I believe in evil, in a sense that there are bad people, good people, and a whole spectrum of people in between. Those same people may just end up being either the innocent ghost or the trouble-making poltergeist in a haunted house. Many people believe, as I do, that we’re placed here on earth, maybe more than once, to learn lessons and allow our souls to grow spiritually. Perhaps these “bad people” are here to be a part of those lessons, and maybe their struggle with being bad has something to do with their own lesson. But believing in an inhuman demonic entity, or the devil himself, is something that I admittedly struggle to take seriously. Some popular paranormal television shows haven’t helped my opinion, either. Often those suddenly possessed investigators or home owners seem to look like they’re simply starving for attention, and oh look, there just happens to be a camera rolling! The spotlight is on me! I don’t mean to be flip, but that’s how it appears. I have absolutely no doubt that spirit can make use of our energy, or manipulate the world around us, and I believe in some cases a person with a gift can be used as a channel for spirit. But sometimes I wonder if people confuse being mentally unstable, or just plain drama, with demon possession.
This post was originally intended to be a book review, but like it or not, I’ve always had a policy about not mentioning a book by name if I don’t have many good things to say about it. Therefore, I’ll be somewhat cryptic in talking about it, and I hope that isn’t seen as poor taste. I’m far from being qualified to be an English teacher, but if I have the urge to take out a red pen to correct grammar and spelling in every chapter of your book, you simply didn’t try very hard to edit it, and so that certainly means I’m going to have a hard time taking you seriously or trusting your qualifications. The book contains story after story of what is supposed to be taken from actual case files of demonic activity, but they just sounded like good fictional storytelling to me… and I’m not big on reading fiction. I simply don’t believe much of those events happened. And people shouldn’t be led to believe that a simple creek, a rap on the wall in response to a question, or an occasional shadow is a reason to convert to Catholicism, get a crucifix for every room, or look for an exorcist.
If you know me, you know that I can’t NOT finish a book, even if I’m not enjoying it. I take pride in finishing the last word and shelving it ceremoniously. But for the first time in years, I considered not finishing this one. I felt a little silly spending the time on it. It took me forever, but I finished it, sighed, and moved on to the next book on my “to be read” shelf.
Like some things I’ve brought up in this blog, I might change my mind about all of this in a year or two, or maybe even next week! If I’m suddenly involved in an investigation where I have pea soup spat by someone walking across the ceiling while cursing me in 12 different languages, you’ll be the first to hear from me. Until then, this is where I am with it all. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not out in search of evil. I’ve always preferred pleasant spirits “from the light”, but until I’ve experienced it, I refuse to make it something dramatic to fear.
Now it’s your turn to tell me why I’m right or wrong.
I know that many of my readers will disagree with me on this. As I say to my students, “you’ll still like me, right?”
As a counter to probably every opinion I just gave here, you may be interested in checking out the ongoing Hidden Astral World series from Gary Leigh’s Psychic Empaths blog, where he quite literally introduces you to Omen, who he claims is a demonic entity. Gary is a loyal reader of the Big Séance and I have a lot of respect for him, so I hope he chooses to still like me after this post. He’s writing about fascinating stuff. I’m just not sure where I am with it all or how to respond. Go check it out!
All winter long I’ve been anxiously awaiting the perfect day to return to Bellefontaine Cemetery under snow cover. I’d been once before, though things were much greener then, and I didn’t have my new camera, or the photography skills that I’ve gained this year.
Opening in 1849, Bellefontaine (pronounced “bell fountain” by most St. Louisans) was designed by Almerin Hotchkiss (Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York) and consists of 314 acres of park-like beauty with mausoleums as far as the eye can see. It truly is a small city. Among other big names from the region, you’ll find the resting places of Adolphus Busch (beer giant), William Clark, Sara Teasdale, and the infamous Lemp family.
Since it was 28 degrees and I knew once I made it there I’d be on foot for a few hours, I bundled in layers and prepared as if I was on a journey to climb Mount Everest. The always-kind and wonderful workers in the office mentioned that the roads were drivable, but they didn’t seem too confident in that statement, so I decided to walk. They encouraged me to take a map and keep the office number on hand. I guess that’s what they do when they see out-of-shape fat guys drop by for photos in the winter. I figured I’d stay close to the main entrance and photograph what I could until it got cold or I felt I was going too far into the cemetery. I didn’t know until later that I’d walked a pretty massive circle that covered most of the popular and historical monuments on the driving tour.
As I bravely started out, I couldn’t help but notice that my car was the only guest car in the lot. It appeared I was going to be very alone on this journey. Awesome! It was also very quiet, other than the crows flying around, keeping their distance, and warning others of my presence. It was creepy and cool at the same time.
With every hill I kept finding beautiful excuses to keep going further. I was impressed that I found a few sites by memory, such as the famous “Girl in the Glass Box”. Even as I detoured off the road and trudged through snow as I found interesting shots, I felt confident I knew where I was and what direction I’d need to head once I decided to go back. I never pulled out the map, or my iPhone, for that matter.
I’m not entirely sure I can describe to you how pleasant and enjoyable this was for me. I mean, I obviously enjoy spending time in cemeteries a little more than the average person, but to be alone (truly alone, I never saw another guest) in the middle of such a beautifully massive city of buried souls, in the middle of winter, enjoying the peace and quiet, with the added risk of getting lost or frozen before dark, was truly an amazing experience. I suppose this risk of being found frozen Jack-Nicholson-in-“The Shining” style could be why one of the workers came by in a cemetery truck as I was on the opposite end of the cemetery an hour and a half later… just checking. I waved and smiled and continued on.
I have to be honest, two hours later, as it got a bit darker, there was a moment when I wasn’t sure exactly where I was or if I was going in the right direction. I wasn’t lost for long, but I made the conscious decision to stop photographing so that I could focus on looking for the main entrance. It’s at this point that I nervously picked up the pace and started to feel the burn in my hips and joints. I couldn’t wait to find the car. A few minutes later I found it off in the distance, but I couldn’t believe how far away I was on the complete opposite side of where I’d been. I truly had made a pretty big circle. When I got to my car, the same cemetery worker was standing guard at the gate, probably relieved that he wouldn’t have to go searching for me again in the dark. I’d made it back forty-five minutes before the gates close and had been walking just over two hours.
I sat for a while and relaxed in my car as if I’d truly conquered my own Everest. I had hundreds of photos that I was so very excited about! I couldn’t wait to get home and check them out. I took a deep breath, texted Joe to let him know I was alive, and then I drove the hour-long trip home with a wind-burned face.
I wanted to be inspired to blog about something exciting tonight, but it turns out my brain (and my body) is tired from long work days this week. How about some more photography from two new cemeteries? While at the second cemetery, I captured a killer sunset that just took my breath away. I’m not entirely sure I did a great job of capturing it, but it was fun trying.
Fifteen minutes later I caught this one with my iPhone in the grocery store parking lot.
Back to the cemeteries… Bellerive Gardens in Creve Coeur, Missouri and Thomas Howell Cemetery in St. Charles, Missouri.
While I’m at it, I’d love some constructive criticism from any experienced photographers. I had a chance to talk photography with a colleague at school today. He’s a “retired” administrator and former music teacher who has been doing some long-term subbing in our building. He does photography on the side, and so I took advantage of the opportunity to ask him some of those silly questions that a new photographer might ask when they’re learning lingo and the how-to. You know, like when do I need to switch lenses? What’s ISO? Things like that. I’ve found that he is GREAT at explaining things to me and making me not feel stupid. Ha! (He’s really great at explaining new sound systems too, by the way.)
A lot of times when I’m shooting in a cemetery, I have the urge to lay on the ground for several shots. If you don’t know me, physically, crawling across the ground, under trees and bushes, and straining to get back up again is not the greatest activity for my back and will almost always result in breaking out the good pain pills. It’s also funny when you stop by the grocery store on the way home and realize you have twigs and leaves clinging to you everywhere. It’s totally worth it, though.
Anyway, I’ve suspected this, but I’ve learned that I think I tweak things like the saturation and contrast a little too much in Photoshop Elements. I need to find a balance. You learn as you go, I guess. Here’s the link to most of my favorite recent photos from the new camera.
Question: Do I need a Flickr account, or something similar? Why? Why not? What’s the point of it?
Something Unsettling (KarlPfeiffer.com)
A. I had planned on reviewing a documentary today, but…
I have such strange and mixed feelings about it, that I don’t know what good it would do to share them. This doesn’t mean it was bad, it only means I’m not sure how I’d share my opinions on it without possibly offending members of the paranormal community. Is it because I’m too chicken? Possibly. I think I’ll reserve the right to continue my tradition of only reviewing material on the blog that I can say wonderful things about.
2. I have really enjoyed this beautiful wintry weather, plus a few snow days, but…
Here’s one of my latest shots… and a link to many of the other photos from my new camera on Facebook. I’m still learning about the camera and Photoshop Elements.
C. I’m about a third of the way through The Uninvited: The True Story of the Union Screaming House by Steven LaChance.
It’s about a supposed haunted house not too far from me in Missouri. I wasn’t sure about this book, but I can tell you that so far it has been one of only a few books that I’ve been concerned about reading in bed right before turning the light off, leaving me to sit there in the dark imagining horrible things. I don’t need another hand grabbing me in the middle of the night! Great book so far, though. You’ll probably get a review in the future.
4. I’ve decided that tonight or tomorrow is a spectacular time to watch The Shining.
Wouldn’t you agree? Those people who prefer to watch this movie in the fall are just… well… wrong. It’s a WINTER scary movie. Am I right? Especially when my guest bedroom window looks like this!
There are a few great people out there who have served as inspiration for my recent interest in spirit communication through the Ouija, and I’ve blogged about these folks before. If you happen to be looking for books on the topic, you probably won’t find many. I should rephrase that last statement. If you’re looking for serious books by people with experience and years of research, and not written out of fear, you’ll only find a few. Karen A. Dahlman’s latest book, The Spirits of Ouija: Four Dacades of Communication is one of them.
Karen A. Dahlman, who is a true Ouija-ologist, begins by giving the reader a brief history of the Ouija Board and the misconceptions that many have, thanks to Hollywood for the most part. As I mentioned in a recent post, Karen and I tend to share the same opinion when it comes to fear and the Ouija.
In chapter 2 of her book, Karen says:
“Fear is a big reason for Ouija being cast off into an oblivion of negativity. People often fear what they don’t understand. It is easier to fear something than to take the time to learn about it. Fear is first and foremost created by assumptions. Assuming that all communications with the Beyond, coming from outside our typical experiences and the world of our everyday senses and faculties, is critically labeled ridiculous or blasphemous, is narrow-minded in itself. Just because these experiences can’t be measured by scientific theory or understood by religious communities, speak to the unfair and harsh criticism Ouija Board has received. Quite often, this type of communication is attributed to ideomotor effects (involuntary and unconscious motor behavior) by the scientific community, while attributed to demonic and evil forces by many traditional Christians. Could there be a deeper reason for the ridicule and fear, thus the unfair judgment?”
We then get to learn about Karen’s history with the Ouija Board, how it all began, the spiritual growth she has gone through, and the wealth of experiences and learning she and many others around her have gained over four decades.
There are several parts to this book that I really appreciate. First off, as someone who experiments an awful lot with spirit communication, I love that she discusses the proper use of the board, preparing the space, and just how she goes about conducting a session. She also includes an example of an opening protective prayer that I’m going to start incorporating into my sessions.
Through the Ouija Board, Karen has communicated with the deceased, such as spirits and earthbound ghosts, but also communicates regularly with angels, guides, ethereal beings, and the higher self. She includes many of these examples and the messages that came across, but I never expected to read about her communication with animals, both living and dead! Have you ever thought about animal communication and the Ouija? I hadn’t! The communication that she includes from her own living pets is just fascinating! You read that correctly. She communicates with her living pets.
From her author page on Amazon.
Karen A. Dahlman believes that life is meant to be a joyful experience, driven by the expression of our creative inner potentials. She believes that we are able to tap this great source within when we open ourselves to all possibilities.
Within her latest book, The Spirits of Ouija – Four Decades of Communication, she shares all of the insights she gained, while opening up her communication with conscious beings from the Great Beyond via the Ouija Board.
Karen has a strong spiritual connection to her spirit friends as she has throughout her entire life. Highly experienced as a Ouija-ologist (one who studies the uses of the board), she teaches others about the positive benefits of using this tool as a means for expanding and deepening one’s world and expression within it in the most profound ways.
Karen’s background is as diversified as her writings are controversial. She began her career as a licensed and board certified art therapist, hypnotherapist and counselor after graduating the University of New Mexico with both her bachelor and master degrees. For over a decade Karen worked within multiple settings, with varying populations, including her private practice and public workshops, while providing creative and expressive means for her clients to find health.
After spending her formative years living all over the United States, she made Southern California her home in 1999. At that time, Karen hung up her therapy shingle and entered the high-tech. industry of telecommunications and founded CVC, Inc, a consulting and utility design firm for the fortune 100 wireless carriers. Coming upon its thirteenth year in operation, Karen remains at the helm as CEO.
Coming full circle within her career, from right brain to left brain to center brain, she strives to maintain a balance of her total brain within her heart. Karen shares within her books, her process of doing this with herself and with others. She endeavors to help others deepen into their unique possibilities to discover their own empowerment to affect personal growth, their spiritual evolution, and a passionate expression of their calling.
I want to personally thank Karen for her advice and encouragement with my own Ouija sessions. She truly knows her stuff. I asked her about her future projects and in her own words, she’s working on a book “based on the personal development my spirit friends have assisted me and other women with via the Board. It’s a book entitled: The Alchemical Woman: Becoming the Queen. It speaks to the transformation we women must go through in order to discover and find out true empowerment. The book is a culmination of all my experiences of evolution/growth via the Board, including my practice as a psychotherapist, and working with many women along the way, helping them uncover their inner truths and strengths. My spirit friends actively participate in the writings as we traverse down this path of balance and evolution. This book incorporates their teachings, our learnings and the process to discovering true empowerment.” I’m hoping boys are allowed to follow along in this future journey. 🙂
For more on Karen A. Dahlman, visit www.karenadahlman.com.
On more than one occasion recently, the topic of fear in areas of the paranormal or spirit communication, such as the Ouija board, has crossed my path. So it has been on my mind lately. Below is a somewhat unstructured blabmentary on this topic.
It all began with a reader who commented on one of my Ouija posts. Most of the people who caution me about the use of the Ouija board refer back to their own personal negative experiences. Most of these experiences involve either sleepovers, dares, parties, or other situations where there probably isn’t much planning, focus, or reverence involved. In most of these situations where people are gathered and dabbling for fun, there’s not a lot of seriousness or trust involved, and with so many hands on the planchette, I’m likely to be skeptical of any paranormal event or communication that you tell me about. Sometimes people will use the term “dabbling” with me, or warn me of evil, as if I’d never ever thought about the possibility or read a book on the topic. It’s a bit insulting to me when people compare my very positive and structured experiments, based on reading and research, with a drunken party or a sleepover from when they were twelve.
That’s okay though. People only have their own experiences to draw from, and we’re all different. In fairness, this particular comment was left on a post from a year and a half ago, a time where I was only starting to read about the Ouija, and I’d conducted no formal sessions yet. It was a respectful comment and was intended to be a warning, or perhaps encouragement to use caution. As I’ve mentioned before, in my opinion, all tools of spirit communication fall in the same boat. Having to fear a Ouija board because it has a sort of magical power to bring in evil spirits, yet thinking a digital audio recorder is fine, makes no sense to me. And I’ve also publicly mentioned how I don’t hold much belief in demonic or evil entities, demons, etc. Negative or nasty spirits who were negative or nasty humans, sure. Bad energy? Of course. But the concept of the devil is something that makes me chuckle when it pops up in a serious discussion. Oh I know, so many of you say “In order to have good, you must have evil”, or “You can’t have angels without the devil”, but I don’t really get that opinion either.
My opinions of demonic or negative energies aside, I’ve always practiced spirit communication responsibly, often grounding and centering, praying or asking for protection, being in a light and positive mood, etc. I also should once again point out that I have never actually had any successful Ouija sessions where I witnessed any communication or paranormal activity.
Right now I’m in the middle of Karen A. Dahlman’s book, The Spirits of Ouija, Four Decades of Communication. On this topic, we seem to share the same opinion, for the most part. She discusses how people fear the Ouija board out of ignorance. They believe what Hollywood or religious leaders want us to believe, and they don’t want to take the time to learn about it. I’m really getting a lot out of it so far. I wanted to include a passage that pertains to fear, but I haven’t taken the time to send her a message asking for permission. She really knows her Ouija! She has a great interview out there on one of Jim Harold’s podcasts.
Another catalyst for this commentary was a portion of Theresa Caputo’s book, There’s More To Life Than This: Healing Messages, Remarkable Stories, and Insight About the Other Side from the Long Island Medium. My mom is a big fan of hers, and she sent the audio book to me as an early Christmas gift. At one point in the book, Theresa discussed how those who fear negative energy and experiences, breed negative energy and experiences. In other words, if you expect it you’ll get it. She also talked about how many of the homes she’s cleared of negative energy had a lot of religious items displayed around the house, as if it was a dare, or an obvious attempt at over protecting themselves. This has really gotten me thinking, and it has sparked a few discussions among friends recently. I suppose it was kind of like an Oprah “aha moment” for me.
Am I still talking? Hope everyone is enjoying their weekend!
Thanksgiving Ouija Session 2013 (Big Séance)
EVP/Ouija/Spirit Box Session: “Ouija… Board” (Big Séance)
A Very Ouija Thanksgiving (2012) (Big Séance)
Ouija Gone Wild (Big Séance)
The Paranormal Podcast… To Ouija or not to Ouija? (Big Séance)