Archive for the Investigations Category

THREE FOR THURSDAY: PARANORMAL INSPIRATION EDITION

Posted in Investigations on September 9, 2021 by Occult Detective

As a kid, I read a lot of books on ghosts, psychic phenomena, witchcraft, cryptids, UFOs, ancient civilizations, and, well, you get the idea. If Gordon White were to ask me if I was a ‘strange kid’ I think we all know what my answer would be. I remember when Stranger Things first dropped, some on twitter commented that they imagined that’s what my childhood was like, growing up in rural Indiana, playing D&D, and getting involved in all manner of spookiness. Truth is, they weren’t wrong.

I thought I’d use today’s “Three for” to point the finger at three “real world” influences on me as a kid. There were many others, of course, but the books, newspaper and tabloid, and television appearances of the following were huge in shaping the occult detective I was to become:

THREE
JOHN KEEL

John Keel (March 25, 1930 – July 3, 2009) was probably best known for his Mothman Prophesies, but it was Our Haunted Planet that first caught my attention. Keel’s ideas were out there and he influenced me to think outside the proverbial box.

TWO
ED & LORRAINE WARREN

Ed (September 7, 1926 – August 23, 2006) and Lorraine (January 31, 1927 – April 18, 2019) Warren had me glued to the tv whenever they appeared. Ed always came across as a used car salesman to me, but that was part of his charm. This couple was out there investigating the paranormal and I desperately wanted to join them on their adventures.

ONE
HANS HOLZER

Hans Holzer (January 26 1920 – April 26 2009) was the godfather of modern paranormal investigation. A prolific author and producer, Holzer did not shy away from mediums and magic in the quest to solve paranormal mysteries, and that fascinated me, seeing magic and science brought together to explain the inexplicable. His books were a staple of my childhood.

My thoughts on A Cosmic Encounter by Stewart W. Bench, available soon from @LlewellynBooks

Posted in Book Review, Investigations on August 17, 2021 by Occult Detective

A Fascinating Firsthand Nuts & Bolts Analysis of the Grays

When an alien craft stalled Stewart Bench’s truck on a backcountry road, he tried his best to just forget about it. But then they came back and made it personal. In A Cosmic Encounter, for the first time, Stewart tells the incredible true story of being encountered and then abducted by aliens. As an engineer, Stewart uses his technical experience to describe the specifications of the alien craft, their technology, their communications, and their mission.

You will discover the details of the alien device implanted in his nose, the telepathic communication displayed by the aliens, and a wealth of information about the layout and operation of their vehicle and equipment. This is a highly detailed, close-up look at how aliens infiltrate our airspace and conduct experiments on humans―without any official acknowledgement―as well as the personal toll these encounters have on the abductees.

I was fascinated with UFOs as a child. To be fair, anything strange and unusual caught my attention: Bigfoot, the Lost City of Atlantis, Oak Island, the Bermuda Triangle, and the like. I don’t suppose things have changed much. I read mountains of UFO comics and magazines, pored over paperback books by Jacques Vallee, Frank Edwards, Irving Greenfield, Erich Von Daniken, Ralph Blum, George Adamski, and so many more, and I clipped articles from National Enquirer and other newsrags to keep track of all the unnatural phenomena out there I could. Man, the mid-seventies were a great time to be alive.

I’ve told the story, many times, of how several of friends and myself were allowed to test out of fifth grade math and were given a classroom in the attic of the old Converse High School Building to study UFO Phenomena. This would have been 1976. We had a huge rotating bulletin board with a map of the United States on one side and the world on the other that we stick pinned the hell out of with every UFO sighting we could uncover. We developed a theory and presented before the school. I even made money on the side by recording myself reading eyewitness accounts and selling them to my classmates.

All this to say, I am the audience for Stewart W. Bench’s A Cosmic Encounter: A True Story of an Alien Abduction. It is further subtitles: An Engineer’s Analysis of Extraterrestrials & Their Technology. Not only am I the audience, but with UFOs so prominent in the news, with government “revelations” making the rounds, this is the perfect time to immerse yourself in just this type of read.

As an eyewitness account and retelling, Bench’s tale is very personal and exacting. At times, it almost reads like a diary. It is sometimes sad, sometimes confusing, and you really feel for the man and his family, and the conclusion is a heartbreaker in many respects.

Let’s get one thing out of the way, Stewart Bench is no Bob Lazar. The engineering aspects, told in journeyman detail, all sounds very solid, and oddly mundane. It also doesn’t feel right to me. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but Bench’s narrative is a little flat, a little too phlegmatic.

But it is a narrative worth inspection.

Did I come away from A Cosmic Encounter believing Stewart Bench? No. I’m sorry, I can’t say I was convinced. But there is a story there, and it’s one I valued reading. I saw a bit of myself in young Bench.

While I would not fall all over myself recommending A Cosmic Encounter by Stewart Bench, I do think it’s worth your time, especially if you’re interested in UFO Phenomena and Abduction narratives. The book drops September 8th, and it’s sure to cause a stir in the UFO/UAP Community. It will be available wherever books are sold. You can preorder through Amazon.

Ghost Hunting Tales: My thoughts on Passport to the Paranormal by Rich Newman, available from @LlewellynBooks September 8

Posted in Investigations on August 6, 2021 by Occult Detective

I’ve got a bone to pick with Rich Newman. In his latest book for Llewellyn, Passport to the Paranormal (September 2021), Indiana only gets two entries over four pages — Whispers Estate and Willard Library. Both are noteworthy, but as an occult detective who has been investigating the haunted Hoosier hinterlands for more than forty years, I can’t help but want to ask Mr. Newman, “Don’t you know there’s more than corn in Indiana?”

Okay, all kidding aside. If you’re into haunted locations, then you’ll want to buy this book. Full stop.

Passport to the Paranormal is a terrific resource for thrill seekers and ghost hunting hobbyists. In it you’ll find 200 reputedly haunted locations, from across all 50 States, but what makes Passport different from other books in this vein is that all of these locations are open to the public.

Newman has compiled an impressive list of locations, each with a detailed examination into the activity reported there and with a taste of the history behind them. It’s well-written, concise, and, for the paranormal enthusiast, a veritable roadmap to adventure.

I want to go on record that I absolutely adore the cover. Shannon McKuhen gets high praise from me on her design for this. It really captures the essence of what the book is about, and it invokes that sort of old school vacation aesthetic that tickles my nostalgia bone. The interior layout is passable. Nothing earth-shattering, but it gets the job done. Let’s face it, we’re here for the content, and it does not disappoint.

Here’s an example of what you’ll find inside:

I think you’ll agree, Newman provides ample information on the locations, and with a personal touch that makes this a travelogue well worth the price of admission. At just $21.99, Passport to the Paranormal: Your Guide to Haunted Spots in America is a tremendous value for plotting out your next haunted vacation. And with 200 attractions, this book will serve you for years to come.

I recommend it highly.

Passport to the Paranormal will be released on September 8 in the US and a month later, October 8, in Canada and the UK, just in time for the Samhain Season. US purchasers can preorder their copy here. Trust me, this is a book you don’t want to miss.

Watch for my review of Thorn Mooney’s The Witch’s Path on Monday.

Ghost Hunting Tales: Death By Witchery?

Posted in Investigations on July 30, 2021 by Occult Detective

This week my family and I paid a visit to a favorite old haunt of mine — The Indian Cemetery near Jalapa, Indiana. It’s a place I have visited often, beginning long before it became the manicured lawn it is today. I knew it when it was wild and unkempt and largely forgotten. One thing I have always known is that it is touched by dark magic and has long been the haven of those who wish to tap into those energies. The dead are restless here. Is it because of the nature of how many of them — both in marked and unmarked graves — died?

In his book, Miami Indian Stories, Chief Clarence Godfroy wrote of the Witch War between the tribes of Miami and Grant County. The Indians of Grant County, led by Chief Meshingomesia, wanted to become US Citizens and tried to get the Indians of Miami County to join them in this. Chief Gabriel Godfroy refused. In retaliation, it was said Meshingomesia instructed his witches to curse Godfroy’s tribe and “between the years 1872-1878 the Godfroy Band of Indians died like flies”.

Chief Godfroy wrote,”Among the Godfroy Band there were Indians who knew how to use witchcraft.” These Indians said, “We will attend to that matter.”

“Sometime when you visit the Indian Cemetery near Jalapa, Indiana,” he continued, “be sure to notice the number of markers that were put up in the year 1879.”

Did the Godfroy and Meshingomia Bands engage in a Witch War? I believe so. I have heard the disembodied voices of the dead in that sacred boneyard, seen shadow figures and strange lights moving amongst the stones and surrounding forest, and I have felt the dark stain of black magic on that place, still emanating from the very earth more than 140 years after the fact.

I have a huge project whose deadline is coming up like a bullet. As such, I suspect that, for the next month or so, I will be more scarce, at least in terms of these (near-)daily blogs. I will be back in the full swing of things throughout the month of October for another bout of #Occult30.

I will be taking part in #RPGaDay2021, but instead of blogging, as I have done in all the previous years, I will confine my activity to twitter.

Until next time — Stay Spooky, Sleuths…

Three for Thursday: Hoosier Haunts Edition

Posted in Investigations on July 29, 2021 by Occult Detective

FAVORITE HAUNTS OUTSIDE OF MY HOMETOWN

Let’s face it, my hometown is famously haunted and any number of locations within a two mile radius of my house would easily occupy my Top 5 list of favorite haunted places. So, to be fair, here are my Top 3 haunted places in Indiana outside of that sphere…

NUMBER THREE
THE MURDER HOUSE OF LISTON GLEN

It’s long gone now, but this old abandoned farm house had been a staple of my childhood from the first time my dad took me out there when I was still in grade school. A father killed his wife and children, then hung himself and there was no rest for him in death…

NUMBER TWO
THE MISSISSINEWA RIVER

A bit of a cheat, but hear me out. From Hobbitland to Seven Pillars, the Mississinewa River is littered with paranormal hot spots, vortexes, hidden caches of land and water wights, and more than a few spectres for good measure. Take a drive, or better yet, hop in a canoe. You’ll not regret it.

NUMBER ONE
GOOSE CREEK

I spent a lot of time along Goose Creek. We performed a lot of magic on that forgotten road, in amongst the trees, on the hilltops, and in the valleys. Ghosts, shadows, hellhounds, and more… Goose Creek calls to you. Believe me. There are few places like it in this world.

Ghost Hunting Tales: Haunted

Posted in Investigations on July 23, 2021 by Occult Detective

haunt·ed/ˈhôn(t)əd/ adjective: haunted

  1. (of a place) frequented by a ghost.
    “it looked like a classic haunted mansion”
  2. having or showing signs of mental anguish or torment.
    “the hollow cheeks, the haunted eyes”

We’re all haunted, in one way or another. It’s called being human. We make mistakes, have errors in judgement, or just plain can’t get out of our own heads to see what’s right in front of us. Being able to forgive the foibles of our own humanity is one of the more difficult tasks we’re saddled with in this turn as material beings.

It becomes doubly so when we put our ourselves “out there” in the public eye.

When we take that leap, we invite people to come to us with their problems, and sometimes, if they catch us at the wrong moment, or we’re preoccupied, we miss the signs, or ignore them. Sometimes, maybe, we’re afraid to get involved. Regardless, it inevitably happens, once you’ve hung that shingle, that you’ll let someone down.

Who knows? Maybe you couldn’t have helped in the end. But that you didn’t try, well, that’s when the haunting sets in. And those are the sorts of ghosts that are the hardest to exorcise.

Case in point, without naming names or locations, I was once approached by a woman at a book signing. She was roughly my age. Her attractiveness was buried beneath a haggard look: sunken and downcast eyes, pallid complexion. This was a woman who had been experiencing many a sleepless night.

She purchased a book and waited patiently as I signed it. She seemed nervous. I always try to engage folks at my table, but she was reticent. I thanked her, sliding the horror novel across to her with a smile. She did not return it. Instead, she asked me a question, solemnly.

“Do you perform exorcisms?”

Do I and will I are two different things, and there is a whole lot of baggage attached to an exorcism. Mental and physical health issues are a the top of the list. I am not a medical professional. Not by a long shot. I made excuses to her. I explained in detail all the reasons she should first explore more traditional avenues. She was in fear of and for her loved one, whom she believed was possessed by some sort of demonic spirit.

I gave her some well-meaning advice, but what I didn’t do is become involved. I didn’t investigate. I didn’t visit the home and the person in question.

Several weeks later, this woman’s loved one committed suicide.

Do I blame myself? No, of course not, but I am still haunted by the fact that, in the end, I did nothing. I should have, at the very least, paid a visit to her home, spoke with her loved one. I should have made some sort of assessment of the situation.

But I didn’t.

I am an occult detective. I am also human. I made a mistake in not reaching out, even marginally. Some day, I might forgive myself for it. Today is not that day.

Ghost Hunting Tales: Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign

Posted in Investigations on July 9, 2021 by Occult Detective

I formed the Nightstalkers in the Fall of 1983, though my interest in and investigation of the strange and unusual began far earlier.

In 1974, my friends and I had a little group called The Monster Club. We organized ourselves after The Viking Club from John Peterson’s The Secret Hide-Out, but our inspirations came from the ghost breakers and monster hunters we saw on late night tv and in the comics of the period. We also fed ourselves of a steady diet of The Three Investigators, Hardy Boys, and Nancy Drew. I mean, we were 8 years old, for goodness sake.

In 1977 we’d formed the Converse UFO Club. When a bunch of us had tested out of math in the fifth grade we were told to put together some sort of project to occupy our time while our classmates were busy learning leaning multiplication. I convinced the dozen or so of us to study UFOs. And we did. And it was glorious.

The Nightstalkers were (and are) really just an extension of those childhood flights of fancy.

Anyway, I thought it might be fun to take a walk down memory lane and display the various badges and symbols that represented my raison d’être.

You’ll notice, in the original Nightstalkers logo, a glyph from the Simon Necronomicon within the Indiana State outline. I had positioned it so the the circles corresponded with my hometown, Converse, and Shades State Park.

Symbols, glyphs, and sigils are important. they are the footprint we leave behind…

Three for Thursday: Ghost Hunter’s Delight (See Me, Feel Me, Touch Me Edition)

Posted in Investigations on July 8, 2021 by Occult Detective

Watching paranormal reality television, one would think that an investigator needs an entire van full of high-tech equipment to unlock the mysteries of a location. I’m here to tell you differently. Want to know the three most important things I use to examine the paranormal? Well, today’s your lucky day —

NUMBER THREE
IPHONE

Let’s face it, we are tethered to our cell phones. So, if that’s our reality, then why not make it work for you? I utilize a number of apps and features during my investigations. Beyond the obvious (camera, voice recorder), being able to access google maps is a life saver, never mind having what is essentially the Akashic Records at your finger tips. I also access apps such as Haunted Maps, Law Is For All, Sono X10 Spirit Box, Elevate, Moon Phase, and numerous others.

NUMBER TWO
DOWSING RODS

I’ve heard them called a number of things, from witch sticks to doodlebuggers, but I’ve always had a fondness and deep respect for dowsing rods. They are the go-to tool in my investigation arsenal. I started using them as a kid, making them from old wire coat hangers, then graduated to the copper set that have been in my kit bag for nearly thirty years. If you’re tuned to them, they are invaluable. I use them to ferret out spirits, to help identify them, and to communicate. Many people intuitively can dive right into their use, but the more you use them, the more aligned with them you become.

NUMBER ONE
MY SENSES

There is no better tool than utilizing your own senses. A seasoned investigator has honed their five senses to be sensitive to their surroundings, and many develop a sixth sense, what I call a “spidey sense”, that helps to zero in on phenomena. All of your senses come into play and, to be honest, they are the only tools you need. Be quiet. Be still. Be open. That’s the secret.

I gave up any interest in capturing evidence a long, long time ago. I investigate the paranormal for the experience, to collect stories, not only my own and of my colleagues, but of the spirits and intelligences themselves.

There is no better skill to develop. Leave the tech at home. Feel the presence of the unseen forces and make real contact…

Ghost Hunting Tales: The Grim

Posted in Investigations on July 2, 2021 by Occult Detective

It’s funny to me to hear paranormal investigators who scoff at the thought of investigating cemeteries. There are no ghosts there, they’ll say. Their spirits have already moved on. That tells me they’ve never heard of a Grim.

A part of English and Scandinavian tradition, a Grim, or more commonly a Church Grim, was created when a new cemetery was consecrated. An animal, usually a dog (though sometimes a boar or horse would be used), would be buried alive on the grounds so that its ghost would serve as a protector of the surrounding property.

The belief was that the first person buried in a graveyard would rise to guard it against the devil’s advances. To keep this from falling on the dearly departed, a black dog would be interred first that it might serve as eternal guardian.

There are several local boneyards where activity can be attributed to a Grim, such as Jerome (near Greentown), the Indian Cemetery (near Hobbitland), or Little Pipe Creek (outside of Converse).

Little Pipe, in particular, I feel is haunted by a Human Grim. I do not believe an animal was sacrificed there to protect its inhabitants. The apparition I witnessed there seemed to come from the oldest part of the yard, and the urban legends surrounding the mysterious gate, and its perchance for assaulting men when they entered makes me think they saw men as a threat, whereas women were more readily welcome inside…

As for the nature of these sentinel spirits, removing the threat of the “devil” from the equation, one might see how a protective guardian might put people at ease. Not only was a Grim charged to defend against Old Scratch, but against grave robbers too.

So, the next time you’re in a graveyard late at night, don’t dismiss those footfalls you hear, or the growl of some unseen hound. It just might be a Grim you’re hearing. Best to not give it cause.

Ghost Hunting Tales: Be Careful What You Wish For

Posted in Investigations on June 25, 2021 by Occult Detective

Just some quick, disjointed thoughts on the paranormal field, inspired by Jason Hawes and Steve Gonsalves’ live stream today promoting their return to Ghost Hunters.

One of the things many paranormal investigators have a hard time wrapping their heads around, something occultists are quite intimate with, is that spirits are “everywhere”. Spirits can be called, conjured, evoked, invoked, in all manner of ways.

What most “ghost hunters” deal with are residual “hauntings”, wherein a psychic imprint is made on a location, often due to a traumatic event. There is no intelligence behind the occurrence, no way to interact with the manifestation. Think of it as a tape loop, playing over and over again, most likely thanks to some sort of atmospheric condition that triggers the playback.

That’s certainly not to say there are not other instances wherein investigators might happen upon something else altogether. As I said, there are preternatural entities, spirits, and intelligences all around us. Sometimes we take notice of them, and they of us.

We live in the midst of invisible forces whose effects alone we perceive. We move among invisible forms whose actions we very often do not perceive at all, though we may be profoundly affected by them.” — Dion Fortune

Sometimes we are confronted with elemental spirits, poltergeist activity, “demonic or angelic” interactions, intelligent hauntings, godforms, tulpas, shadow figures, wights, or more…

That’s the danger of weekend ghost hunters out there, playing around with things they do not understand, with their electronic toys and idiot box training. Too many watch paraentertainment on the Travel Channel and think they’re experts on the paranormal.

Luckily for most, what they encounter are residual. The investigator might get a thrill, but they’re in no real danger.

An occult detective understands this. They utilize science, the occult, religion, and common sense in their investigations. Their first instinct should always be to debunk. Examine every avenue to properly categorize the situation, and deal with it appropriately.

For classification, in recent years, I’ve begun to use Streamside Software, LLC’s Periodic Table of Paranormal Elements.

As television inspires more and more people to head out into the field to investigate, professionals have to become even more diligent. Sometimes it feels like they’re bait, out there enticing various entities, making them restless. When that happens, hopefully there’s someone available to help clean up the mess.

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