Archive for the Investigations Category

#OCculTOBER: A’Vampire Hunting We’ll Go

Posted in Investigations, Occult Detectives, Occultober, Paranormal on September 26, 2021 by Occult Detective

We’ve all seen those, admittedly, cool “authentic” “vintage” vampire hunting kits online, retailing for considerable sums of coinage. I mean, who, in my line of work and proclivities wouldn’t want one of those. Sure, their as authentic as a three dollar bill with Bill Clinton’s face on it, but that certainly does not detract from the cool factor. Imagine pulling one of those out at your next paranormal investigation.

Truth be told, I do actually carry a “vampire hunting” utility tool with me in my paranormal kit. It sports hammer and axe heads, a crowbar, and a nail-puller. So long as I remember to bring along a wooden stake, I can pry open the bugger’s coffin, hammer a stake home, then lop off its head.

Bob Freeman: Occult Detective for the win ;)

Just 34 days until bloody Hallowe’en’s upon us. With any luck, I’ll get to use the thing. What? This is rural Indiana… stranger things have happened ;)

#OCculTOBER: National Ghost Hunting Day

Posted in Investigations, Occultober, Paranormal on September 25, 2021 by Occult Detective

Be safe out there…

#Occultober Shadows & Seances

Posted in Investigations, Occultober on September 24, 2021 by Occult Detective

Look at that cute kid. Yes, that’s me at age seven, 1973. I’m sharing this picture of me, on the cusp of beginning my magical journey, because it seems surreal to think that in less than a year, he’ll be reading his first book on the occult — Manly Palmer Hall’s Unseen Forces — and he’ll begin sneaking out of the house to spend nights in the local boneyard.

Truth be told, it was the summer of 1973 that I may have seen my first spirit…

Let me set the stage. I was already obsessed with ghosts and vampires and monsters… and detective work. By 1973 I had read through the majority of The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, and what Three Investigators i could get my hands on. I was reading horror comics, watching Sammy Terry’s Nightmare Theater, Dark Shadows, and going to the drive-in to see Hammer Horror films and The Legend of Boggy Creek. I was a devout fan of the Night Stalker TV movie, and I was devouring urban legends and folk tales, UFOs, and Bigfoot fervently.

My cousins were sort of in to all that stuff too. And, being six-ten years older, they used to enjoy scaring the proverbial crap out of me. That summer, they were playing with Ouija Boards and conducting seances, as kids are wont to do, especially in the 70s. Light as a feather, stiff as a board? Oh yeah, these were fun times to be a kid in the Midwest.

I remember clearly being at my grandparents’ house on Aleck Street in Converse. It was late at night and the street lights were casting long shadows. We were on the porch, a single candle burning in the center of us, all gather in a circle, holding hands, as they called out for spirits to manifest before us.

Of course, one of them was hiding in the bushes, making ghostly sounds and rattling tin cans, and the inevitable jump scare would be delivered as the crescendo of calls into the hereafter had reached their fevered pitch… but beforehand, and I remember this as clearly as it was yesterday, I saw a shadow, a silhouette, move across the porch but no one was there to cast it. I grew scared, but before I could wrap my head around what I saw, a cousin leapt from the bushes and everyone was screaming, and laughing, and the moment was gone.

I chalked it up to youthful fancy, but now, all these years later, I wonder…

Beginning an investigation into Asherwood

Posted in Investigations on September 17, 2021 by Occult Detective

I love the forests of Indiana. They seem to have a unique and haunted quality to them. I have felt it in Shades State Park without question, and in other spots as well, but nothing quite like the experiences I have had in and around the Mississinewa State Forest. From Hobbitland outside of Marion to Seven Pillars near Peru, the Mississinewa River acts as a catalyst for paranormal activity, and the creeks that feed into it, like Little Pipe or Goose, are no less so.

Of late, however, in the same neck of the woods, as they say, I’ve taken an interest in a creek fed by the Wabash, not far from where the Mississinewa and Wabash Rivers branch.

Asher Creek flows through the heart of Asherwood, now a 160 Acre Nature Preserve that is home to “over 300 species of flora and more than 140 species of birds”. In the 1950s it served as a summer camp for the Evangelical United Brethren flavor of the Methodist Church, and, it is said, it was a former Girl Scout Camp, and later owned by the Marion School Corporation. As of 2024 it will be in the hands of Acre Trust, “a membership-based nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting natural and working lands in northeast Indiana and portions of southern Michigan and northwest Ohio”.

It has outstanding, and somewhat challenging, trails weaving through the acreage, with interesting natural and man-made features to captivate hikers, but for those of us with a paranormal bent, from the first time I set foot there, I could feel a presence. Multiple presences, actually. Sometimes dark. Sometimes earthy.

Hence the research.

I have no doubt those woods are filled with land and water wights, spirits of earth and stream. Some friendly and some… well, not so much. But are there other spirits as well? Time will tell. Though I have hiked the area many times now, I have yet to do more than acknowledge the presence of those beings when I sense them.

And that’s the way I’ll keep it, until I conclude my research. The area has a rich history. Asherwood stands a little over a mile from the Mississinewa Dam and the trails now called Lost Sister. In my day, the area was a primitive campground, and holy ground for me and my crew of misfits. It was there where I cut my teeth as an occult detective, aiding COs during the Satanic Panic.

The vibes I get from Asherwood is akin to those I became so intimate with just south of there. There’s a mystery in those dark woods. A mystery I aim to solve. And when I do, you’ll read about it here…

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.

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