Archive for the Paranormal Category

Movie Review: Found-Footage “Documentary” Holes in the Sky: The Sean Miller Story

Posted in Horror, Media, Paranormal on December 3, 2021 by Occult Detective

First of all, let’s get the disclaimer out of the way: Ash Hamilton is a good friend of mine. I’ve known him for twenty years. We co-managed a Books-A-Million, we kicked around various comic projects, we’ve broken bread, I’ve been a guest on a couple of different podcasts he’s hosted, and we generally share a common love for horror, fantasy, comic books, and, well, all manner of pop cultural and conspiratorial phenomena.

That said, if this movie sucked, I would tell you, and I would bust on him gleefully until he started to whimper.

Thankfully, this isn’t the case.

Holes in the Sky: The Sean Miller Story, written and directed by my pal, has raked in a Brinks Truck worth of awards and accolades… and I’m happy to report after finally viewing the thing, it’s worth every bit of praise.

Ever since The Blair Witch Project dropped many moons ago we’ve been waiting to see the found footage documentary genre taken to the next level. Hellier, that magnificent paranormal entertainment series from Greg and Dana Newkirk, Karl Pfeiffer, and Connor Randall, tapped into this in their two season opus and legitimized the hunger for this type of storytelling. Holes in the Sky, while not quite elevated to Hellier standards, is in that same vein and a compelling and nail biting love letter to all those things that gave me thrills as a child growing up in the rural Midwest.

Holes in the Sky explores “a documentary film crew’s efforts to make a movie detailing the 2013 alien abduction of Illinois resident Sean Miller. A five-day shoot turns into a life-changing experience for everyone involved as events spiral out of control.”

The strength of the film lies in the superb performances by all those involved. This story feels real. All the people on camera are believable. Everyone seems natural. And the creepiest moments are beautifully shot. Ash does a great job of building tension and delivering legitimate chills.

Look, I grew up on UFO and Bigfoot sightings, ghost stories, and abduction narratives. Ash’s love for these same things really comes through on camera, and by firmly grounding it in the “Midwestern Gothic” atmosphere, it delivers a believable and ultimately terrifying tale.

This is a movie you’re going to want to watch late at night with the lights off.

On a scale of 1-5, this movie gets a solid 6 from me.

Addendum: I mentioned Ash and I kicked around some comic ideas back in the day. Here’s a little sample of something we were working on some 15 or so years ago. We should really get around to finishing it…

Magic(k) in Paranormal Investigations with Shawn, Michelle, Eilfie, and Me

Posted in Investigations, Magick, Occult Detectives, Paranormal on November 5, 2021 by Occult Detective

“Bob Freeman, Eilfie Music, and Michelle Belanger talk about the use of magic before, during, and after paranormal investigations. They all share their personal practices and stories of real-life investigations.”

A few nights before All Hallow’s Eve I joined Shawn Hebert for a roundtable discussion regarding the use of magic(k) in paranormal investigations to launch the second season of his podcast, The LVX Files. The real stars of the episode were the whimsical and ethereal Eilfie Music, whom I adore, and the erudite and perspicacious Michelle Belanger. Both are paranormal television veterans, having cut their teeth on Paranormal State which ran from 2007-2011. Michelle, of course, in addition to being an author, has gone on to be a part of a number of other programs, including Jack Osbourne and Katrina Weidman’s Portals to Hell.

Just to give you a few insights into the discussion, firstly I was very much under the weather. I had been suffering from a pretty nasty ear infection and between the pain medication and antibiotics it’s a wonder I was coherent at all. Luckily, Eilfie and Michelle were on top of their game and did the heavy lifting. Secondly, I was having all kinds of technical issues. Not only was my internet dropping in and out, but the overhead in my den was giving me fits, hence the dim lighting.

All that being said, man did I have a ball in this discussion. This was my second time as a guest on The LVX Files and Shawn is a terrific host. He’s just so comfortable to talk with and is able to direct the conversations effortlessly. I appreciate that he is always a part of the moment. A lot of interviewers tend to be aloof and separate from the subject. Shawn is not shy about climbing into the mud with his guests and that’s much appreciated.

While our roundtable tended to focus on the television side of things, which was completely reasonable considering Michelle and Eilfie’s pedigree, there was a lot of good general information that dropped.

Let me explain things a bit from my perspective. I have zero interest in gathering evidence to prove a location is haunted to the public. I have zero interest in whether the public at large believe in the multiverse of dimensions that exist and are home to the vast array of entities that make up what some call the spirit world. I have a vested interest in helping people who do believe they have encountered these beings, in whatever form they take, and I am compelled to interact with them, for my own interests and in the interest of helping those in need.

I don’t feel like the so-called “scientific method” used in paranormal investigations is of much use beyond looking good on television. The gadgets tend to give an air of verisimilitude to the viewer. It gives them something tangible to focus on when, in reality, the best tool an investigator has is their 5 (or 6) senses. Unfortunately, that does not make for “good television”.

So, what do I use beyond those senses?

A typical investigation finds me first doing a tarot or rune reading beforehand. Usually tarot. This gives me a feel for the place. Next, I do a sweep of the location with copper dowsing rods. This helps me isolate the active areas and gives me a clue as to what sort of energy I am dealing with. Then, I open a dialogue, sometimes using a digital recorder or ghost box app. I’ll sometimes utilize scrying mirrors, summoning circles, blasting rods… the whole occult arsenal.

Having an opportunity to chat with like-minded people was a thrill for me. It’s more rare than you’d imagine. We occult detectives are an isolated breed. And for the talk to go down with three of my favorite people, well, that’s just icing on the proverbial cake. With luck, we’ll have the opportunity to rattle the chains of the departed together, in some lonesome clime or long forgotten hall… when these plague days are well behind us.

Old Ghosts Can Be Like Old Friends

Posted in Investigations, Occultober, Paranormal on November 2, 2021 by Occult Detective

As I’ve often shared, I grew up on the edge of my maternal grandparents’ 60 acre ranch, but what I don’t speak of often is of how my mother, after a falling out with hers, moved us from the farm into the nearby town of Converse, population 1200 (give or take). Considering I went to school and bought my comics there, you wouldn’t think there would be much of an adjustment.

Well, you’d be wrong. I hated it. I hated the house we moved into. I hated being away from Turkey Creek and Little Pipe Cemetery. Luckily, moving out was just four years away… but, I adjusted over time. Still, I resented being taken away from the farm. I loved it in the country, but our new home did have a peculiar charm to it.

It was (is) haunted.

I thought maybe it was because of all the renovations required to make the dump livable, but there was plenty of activity in that house. Mostly of the residual kind, but on occasion, intelligent presences manifested over the years. Night terrors and sleep walking, things I had “grown out of” returned. There were phantom smells, footsteps, and knocks. And little secret rooms hidden in the walls which I made use of.

Of course this was a time, these young teenage years, when I was experimenting more readily with magic, so I was attracting a certain amount of activity through these studies. I certainly felt something with sinister intent. Overactive imagination? Maybe…

Later, when I discovered an old map of the town, prior to its name change to Converse, should I have been surprised to discover that our house was built on the site of a former church and cemetery? Our neighbor had a skeleton in their basement, dug up while doing some excavating, and when you looked out across our yards you could see the roll of the lawn give up the telltale sign that graves had once littered the landscape.

The intelligent hauntings have seemingly long since passed, though residual activity still occurs there on occasion. It seemed to be rekindled when my father was struggling with cancer from the hospital bed we’d set up in the living room. After he passed, things quieted down again, or so my mother says.

Still, sometimes when I visit, when I walk into the rooms I called my own as a teen, I get the sense still there is something there, watching me, wishing I would lie down to sleep there as I had once done. Maybe someday I will again, just for old time’s sake. Old ghosts can be like old friends, even the ones who mean us harm.

#OCCULTOBER: Three for Thursday: Paranormal Apps

Posted in Occult Detectives, Occultober, Paranormal on October 28, 2021 by Occult Detective

Short and sweet today. As it’s usually Three for Thursday around here, and with but three days till All Hallow’s Eve, I thought we’d keep with the Samhain Spirit and I would share my three favorite Paranormal SmartPhone Apps.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Sigil Engine: A technomantic tool to create magickal sigils, quickly and easily.

Runic Formulas & The Book of Runes: Elder Futhark runes what Scandinavian God gave to us is able to help, heal, and also to destroy. They help in making a powerful protection amulet or talisman for achieving success. Runic Formulas is your helper on the runic way, it contains not only a collection of runes amulets, bind runes, sigils, glyphs, talismans, and magic formulas but also a handwritten book of runes meanings with clear descriptions for every rune from Elder Futhark. Start your Viking journey with Runic Formulas.

Law Is For All: A toolbox for practitioners of Thelema

THREE

Sono X10 Spirit Box: Sono X10 Spirit Ghost Box is a great tool for both amateurs and professional paranormal investigators. We have created a Ghost Box and a Spirit Voice Box combined in one single ghost hunting tool. Control the sweeping speed, from 100 ms to 150 ms with a single button.

TWO

My Moon Phase: My Moon Phase is the best app for tracking the lunar calendar. It has a sleek dark design which makes it easy to view information such as the current moon cycle, moonrise & moonset times as well as extras such as when the next full moon will be. If you’re interested in moon photography, you can also find out when the golden hours and blue hours are so you can take the most beautiful photos.

ONE

Paranormal Elements: Explore, collect, and analyze paranormal experiences using this innovative organizational system from the makers of Spirit Story Box. Read my review of this app HERE.

OCCULTOBER: A Long Strange Trip Revisited

Posted in Investigations, Occultober, Paranormal on October 18, 2021 by Occult Detective

There were some concepts that I brought up recently that I never got to fully explore with you, and, while I still cannot delve as deeply as I would like due to time constraints, I would still like to add some things further.

Regarding Hallucinogens in the Investigation of the Paranormal:

Using mind altering techniques to enhance the perception of self, space, and time, and to communicate with beings that exist within extra-dimensional realms, or with those men and women who have crossed from this life to the next, have been used for thousands of years by shamans in all cultures. Obviously, psychedelic drugs have been used just as long to accelerate the process, as a tool to experience these spaces and to allow for a more proactive interaction with preternatural intelligences, both on a cosmic and more personal scale. Hallucinogens create the possibility of transpersonal experiences with entities that exist within the spirit realm. To deny this is to deny the history of human spiritual evolution, and to not acknowledge the role they might play in parapsychological investigations is irrational.

While undertaking such an endeavor requires controlled experimentation, whatever risks there are are mitigated by the tremendous benefits from being free to explore the entirety of human experience by delving into the untapped potential within ourselves, potential unlocked by many mind-expanding substances, such as DMT, Psilocybin,Mescaline, Salvia, Datura, among others.

My own experiences with substance-enhanced investigations have proven to me the value in such work, however, the criminality of such actions have tempered such research once I became a husband and father. That these natural substances have been criminalized represents a war on free thought and mind-expanding explorations of our inner selves…

Whether for a personal inner journey or used as a conduit to interact with other beings, hallucinogens are an important and vital tool that should not be discounted or ignored.

#OCCULTOBER: A Long Strange Trip Cut Short

Posted in Investigations, Occultober, Paranormal on October 15, 2021 by Occult Detective

A short day for me, on this, the 15th of October, a mere 16 days out from All Hallow’s Eve, thus I must be brief. My initial thoughts for today’s blog was to discuss one of the most neglected tools for investigation of the paranormal — psychotropics, particularly hallucinogens.

I have long been a proponent of their use, with proper guidance and all care given to them, of course. When dealing with entities whose homes are realms outside the material landscape, there are any number of natural stimulants that can help you cross that divide.

I unfortunately do not have the time to delve deeper into the subject today, so I leave the idea here with a promise for further discussion in the near future.

What do you think? Is there a place for drugs in the tool kit of an Occult Detective?

We’ll more talk on this soon…

OCculTOBER: The Times They Are A’Changin’

Posted in Occultober, Paranormal on September 28, 2021 by Occult Detective

It has been a peculiar OCCULTOBER so far, hasn’t it? Granted, here in the haunted Hoosier hinterlands, peculiar is the norm, but there is something else in the air that seems more preponderant. There is a not- so-subtle shift in reality and tone. People are different. They’ve become adversarial and divided in the past few years, and it’s more than a political trend. We’re seeing this on a global scale. For those of us involved in paranormal investigation, has it not seemed like activity has increased as well? In recent years, have not the spirits themselves becoming more agitated, more aggressive — darker.

A year ago, The New York Times reported on increasing claims by ordinary people, with no pre-existing belief in the strange and unusual mind you, of paranormal activity, such as phantom touches, the appearance of shadow figures, and hearing inexplicable noises.

Granted, people were in lockdown and going stir-crazy… but some folks weren’t restricted from work. For some, other than not eating out as often (or at all), their lives were largely unchanged (other than worrying about they loved ones). And they were reporting activity too.

Is it the heightened emotional states of the living that are feeding these spirits? Is it simply over-active imaginations due to ‘sheltering in place’? Or is there something more transformative at work?

I often take seasoned investigators on tours of particular hot spots across my nape of the woods. Due to COVID, those excursions have been greatly (and painfully) reduced, but on those occasions when I have been able to, the activity has been amplified, and I have noticed the increase in other regions as well.

Many of the heightened experiences I have personally taken note of have occurred in the woodlands between the Mississinewa and Wabash Rivers. Long the home of preternatural entities, of Paissa and wights and other fey, and in times past, shapeshifters and wild men, the feeling I get in those forests has taken a decidedly darker turn. I hear things moving across terrain that are not of this material earth, and I see things in my peripheral, shadow things… And I hear reports from colleagues in the field, and of those outside it, of similar occurrences. Similar enough to denote a trend.

So, tell me my fellow sleuths, have you noticed these changes as well? If so, do you have a theory or a story to share? I would love to hear it and discuss it further. It’s a dialogue we need to have.

#OCculTOBER: Paranormal Dream Team (Part I)

Posted in Investigations, Occultober, Paranormal on September 27, 2021 by Occult Detective

I was thinking over the weekend, having watched a few episodes of Paranormal Lockdown on Discovery+, about what my idea of a “Paranormal Dream Team” would look like, if I could only choose from those involved in magical or paraentertainment. Here are my selections:

Joining me (Keter) would be Heather Taddy (Binah), Katrina Weidman (Chochmah), Eilfie Music (Da’at), Josh Gates (Gevurah), Amy Bruni (Chesed), Michelle Belanger (Tiferet), Dana Newkirk (Hod), Greg Newkirk (Netzah), John E.L. Tenney (Yesod), and Shawn Hebert (Malkuth).

“Traditional” investigators Taddy, Weidman, and Bruni, are balanced with the “Magical” talents of Eilfie, Belanger, and Dana. I see Greg, Tenney, and myself as having feet in both worlds. Hebert, I chose because he has fresh eyes (having never investigated before) and is well versed in magic ritual. As for Gates? Well, I appreciate his investigative curiosity and his sense of humor…

Of course, a team so large would require an operation worthy of their skill set and number… Why, I believe the haunted Hoosier hinterlands of my own backyard would be more than enough to keep such a crew enticed. Prowling the forests along the Mississinewa perhaps? Or a certain small town awash in preternatural activity?

What about you? If you were to embark on an exploration of the paranormal kind, who would you call?

#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…

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