Tag Archives: the big seance

Some exciting improvements for The Big Séance Podcast!

The Big Séance Podcast has had a few exciting updates and improvements this week!

 

  1. I’ve updated some new equipment and toys and kicked my recording capabilities up a BIG notch! (You can hear an exciting new sound in the new 30-second promo below.)
  2. Listeners can now call the show on our new feedback line! (775) 583-5563 (or 7755-TELL-ME)
  3. You can now also record your voice feedback directly from your device on my SpeakPipe page! This link can also be found in the main menu here at BigSéance.com, and will also be included in the show notes to each episode.
  4. To show off the new equipment, and to get the word out about the show, I’ve created a brand new 30-second promo, which will sound slightly familiar to you if you’re a regular listener. Intros and outros will also be new in upcoming episodes. The promo is below. Check it out.

 

The Big Séance Podcast 30-Second Promo!

 Get this promo on iTunes!
Direct Download Link

One last update. In case you didn’t know, it’s Autumn. No really. It’s here. How do I know? I just finished my first week of school with students. And so no matter how many people are splashing in the pool as I drive by, since I’m back at school, it’s Autumn! I don’t think I’ve ever been so worn out and tired from adjusting back into a normal schedule and a new year, which is why you’ve seen mostly podcast content and less “blog” this summer. But I’m super excited, because as The Paranormalist reminded us this weekend, the Halloween countdown has begun… and I’m excited to share some great content! Stay tuned!

 


Defining “The Big Séance”

Since The Big Séance has gained quite a few readers in the last few months, I’ve gotten a few questions regarding the title of this blog and what weirdness we’re all about here. Is this really a séance? And if so, why the pictures of historic buildings? Why the cemeteries? Well I’ve wanted to compose some thoughts on this for quite a while, but the time was just never right, and I guess the inspiration just never came. It is true, the blog has changed and grown (as most of them do) over the last year and a half, so I suppose it’s time to update the old “About” page.

The online Merriam Webster dictionary defines séance as “a spiritualist meeting to receive spirit communications.” The word itself comes from an old French word that means “sitting” or “to sit”. Well the way I look at it, I’m sitting as I write this post, and I’m seated every other time as well. That’s how I came up with the name.

…I’m kidding. Oh come on. Laugh already.

In all seriousness, from day one my plan was to create a blog that covered paranormal and spiritual topics, with an emphasis on spirit communication. I’d highlight some of my team’s paranormal investigations, share some evidence, etc. A lot has changed since then.

I don’t think there is a more dramatic or fun form of spirit communication than a séance. Am I right? Picture any séance you’ve seen from an old movie or TV show. An old Victorian house, dark and ornate décor, candles all over, perhaps a Ouija board, a fabulously costumed medium, and of course no séance is complete without theremin music for an extra spooky effect.  

In an early blog post on the topic of the séance, I thought back to my earliest introduction to the concept. Allow me to plagiarize myself.

I must confess, I think I was introduced to the concept of a séance in a segment of The Bloodhound Gang, which was like a miniature mystery series that was a part of the 1980s PBS children’s series, 3-2-1 Contact. Anybody remember? I even had a subscription to the 3-2-1 Contact magazines for a while and have probably seen every episode from all eight seasons. Don’t tempt me to sing the theme song (or even The Bloodhound Gang theme for that matter)… because I will. I can’t be exactly sure that’s where I saw my first séance, but that’s where my childhood memory is taking me back to.

I’ve never been able to prove that 3-2-1 Contact was responsible for sparking this fascination, but I suppose it doesn’t matter. If anyone knows what I might be thinking of, please let me know. It would be truly awesome to see it again, whatever it was.

After more than a year and a half and over 250 published blog posts later, I’ve learned a lot about blogging. I’ve learned a lot about “paranormal folk”. I’ve learned a great deal about myself, what I know, and what I don’t know for sure yet. But as of right now I’d like to think of “The Big Séance” as not just a broad form of spirit communication, but a way to honor or learn about anyone’s life or past… a kind of remembrance. In an EVP session, I don’t just want to capture a voice, but I think of it as a chance for a spirit to communicate. When I highlight a beautifully historic or abandoned location, I’m imagining the lives of the people who made memories in the space previously. By photographing the beauty of an old cemetery or the resting place of a soul’s body, we show that we’re not afraid or embarrassed of what we erroneously refer to as “death”. I like to think that by thinking of these souls and wondering about their lives, we’re honoring them. And I’ll almost always have a recorder with me, whether it’s a trip to the cemetery or an actual paranormal investigation. All souls are invited to communicate or pass on messages to the living. You’ve joined me in several experiments. You’ve even shared your own experiences. Therefore, you’re not only an audience member for MY séance, you’re all participating in it! It’s a BIG séance… and it’s getting bigger.

  

P.S. 

It’s now the eve of October 1st, a month-long (maybe even longer) holiday for many of us. So whether you just like to be goofy and dress up for trick-or-treaters, celebrate to honor your ancestors or the lives of the dead, or hope to take advantage of a thinning veil that separates us from “the other side”, stay tuned throughout the rest of the autumn season!

 

Today I made another visit to the resting places of both  Johnnie and Clara, as part of my new tradition of adopting and researching older graves during the fall season. I decided to give Johnnie the opportunity to jump in the photo with me... assuming he was there visiting as well.

Today I made another visit to the resting places of both Johnnie and Clara, as part of my new tradition of adopting and researching older graves during the fall season. I decided to give Johnnie the opportunity to jump in the photo with me… assuming he was there visiting as well.

 

 


Face in the Staples Receipt…

 

Yesterday’s post was on The Shroud of Turin. Today I present to you… The Receipt of Staples (you know you want to laugh).

Take a look at this face! I see a boy with very neatly parted hair in a tux. But wait… do you see more than one face? I see at least three. The creepiest one took me a while and is in the middle and to the left of the word “online”.

I make no claim that this is truly paranormal, and neither does the site that I believe originally posted this, or the man who submitted it. I’m certain this would be relatively easy to fake, being that it is digitized and online, and we don’t have much information about the source it came from, other than his name. However, receipts these days are sometimes printed on a mysterious thermal paper with an image that seems to disappear quickly…and as a person who keeps all of his receipts in his wallet, if these receipts ever get wet, good luck reading what was originally printed on them. Wikipedia tells us that “most direct thermal papers require a protective topcoating to reduce fading of the thermal image caused by exposure to UV light, water, oils, grease, lard, fats, plasticizers, and similar causes.” Reduce these things? That tells me a certain amount of it is expected to happen, creating magic artwork on the paper as it gets crinkled, handled with greasy hands, left out in the sunlight, etc. So it would be fairly easy for me to believe that a receipt could come out with patterns that would create a visual pareidolia… or recently referred to as matrixing. But is this little boys face a little too clear and perfect?

Here’s another face on a receipt…

You can find tons of examples of the phenomenon pareidolia on the internet. Some are man-made on purpose and some examples of pareidolia make their way to the toast you ate for breakfast this morning. Are you sure that wasn’t the face of Jesus? Or maybe you passed by the image of a stained Mother Mary on the way to work under an overpass? Oh look! There’s a cloud outside my window in the shape of a Care Bear! 🙂

 

 


The Shroud of Turin and the Chills During My Morning Commute…

Apparently the Shroud of Turin’s only documented history goes back to the 1300s, but it is thought to be centuries old and could quite possibly have the image of Jesus Christ, after crucifixion,  somehow imprinted on it. The shroud, a linen cloth, has been scientifically tested so many times that you can get lost in the research listed on www.shroud.com. Looking at the pictures, it is hard to imagine that any centuries old piece of fabric would not eventually disintegrate after that much research and handling over the years.

This morning on the way to work I was listening to the most recent episode of my favorite podcast, Jim Harold’s Paranormal Podcast, and he was interviewing the author and journalist, Nigel Kerner. The podcast was not entirely devoted to the topic of the shroud. Most of the interview discusses 2012 and our souls. Honestly, I probably only understand 10% of what this man says. BUT… if you cruise through to about 30:00, for about 8 minutes you’ll hear Nigel discuss some of the most recent research that just blows my mind. I had chills in my car. Before this morning I knew of the Shroud of Turin and had only a basic understanding of it. I think I had seen a program on the history channel or something years ago. I feel like I need to learn more about this. There’s even a Shroud of Turin blog!

The Vatican Insider summarizes the scientific papers that Nigel was describing below.

ENEA, the National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic
Development, has published a report on five years of experiments conducted in the ENEA center
of Frascati on the “shroud-like coloring of linen fabrics by far ultraviolet radiation.” “Simply put:
we tried to understand how the Shroud of Turin was imprinted by an image so special that it 2
constitutes its charm, and poses a great and very radical challenge, “to identify the physical and
chemical processes capable of generating a color similar to that of the image on the Shroud.”

 

 

 


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…


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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