Friday, January 22, 2016

How to Be a Paranormal Investigator

Even in jest, this graphic's purpose seems to be to point out how the older generation of paranormal investigators is more serious about their research, and that newer generations just want to watch Zak, promote themselves on Facebook, and play dress up. While there is some truth hidden in there, there's a lot more to it.  Here are some late night ramblings about this goofy graphic...

I feel like I have gotten the very best out of both worlds. My interest in the paranormal was sparked well before 2000 and my earliest forays into paranormal research were influenced by some of the great pioneers in this field. I was forced to rely on lots and lots of reading to satiate my curiosity, because that's what was available. But, I really came into age around 2000. That's when I was finally getting old enough to actually start investigating seriously. The age of the internet and the age of paranormal reality television, while not totally dictating my interests in this field, definitely helped shape it.

 I'm very fortunate to have developed a love and fascination with paranormal research at an early age. I graduated high school in 2001, but even by then, I had been studying paranormal phenomenon for most of my life, thanks to my grandparents recognizing and cultivating my interests. Back then, I read every single book I could find on the subject. I exhausted the small collection my grandparents owned, and then I exhausted my school library's paranormal and folklore section. I interviewed family members about their ghostly experiences. I was in awe of the few television shows that featured paranormal phenomenon. I began collecting a list of haunted locations in my state, and 'investigating' them with a 35mm camera and a micro cassette tape recorder I borrowed from my mom's work.

After high school, I was able to take better advantage of the internet and all the resources it had to offer. Social media, especially Facebook, CAN be a great tool. It has made it possible to network and discuss with other investigators all over the world. We can share ideas and debate so easily now, when before, if you didn't know anyone in real life who shared your interests, you were out of luck.  I'm still not a huge fan of paranormal reality television and truthfully, there are many faults with this medium...but I recognize the contributions to the field it has made. People definitely are more open and willing to discuss paranormal events, knowing that they aren't alone.

And, I used the internet to find a team to join. Freelance investigation and experimentation is fine, but sharing resources, manpower, and differing points of view with an established team really opens up a lot of doors in this quest for the truth.

It's pretty apparent I'm guilty of a good number of items on the right-hand side of this list...but that isn't necessarily a bad thing and I certainly don't find fault with anyone who is just now discovering their love of paranormal research.  We all have to start somewhere and we all have to grow, make mistakes, learn from those mistakes and constantly evolve. We're all in this together...let's use good common sense, educate ourselves, and encourage one another to be the best that we can be.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Know Your Normals

What is normal, anyway? Normal is boring! Luckily, we live in a weird, wacky world where 'normal' is a subjective state of mind! We're also lucky to have a great vocabulary in which to accurately describe all that weird, wackiness around us.

These three definitions represent three different ways to describe the phenomenon that we as paranormal researchers and enthusiasts deal with. Is it truly paranormal, or is it something else? defines 'paranormal' as "of or relating to the claimed occurrence of an event or perception without scientific explanation,as psychokinesis, extrasensory perception, or other purportedly supernatural phenomena." The key here is the phrase, "without scientific explanation." So, the paranormal is something that is beyond the normal range of science.

Perinormal---Scientist Richard Dawkins uses the term 'perinormal' to refer to events and phenomena previously thought to have been  paranormal, but having since been scientifically verified as natural.

Xenonormal---According to the Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomenon, 'xenonormal' is "a term for events that, in certain circumstances, resemble the paranormal, even though they are not. They can be called 'xenonormal'. This means 'foreign normal'; in other words 'the unfamiliar but natural'. In many cases, witnesses to apparent paranormal events (and sometimes even the researchers!) are simply unfamiliar with a purely natural phenomenon. The xenonormal covers not only rare, exotic phenomena but also some common ones (that were simply unfamiliar to particular witnesses)."

So as a quick summary, very rarely is any phenomenon truly 'paranormal.' More often than not, what we perceive as paranormal is actually xenonormal---it might seem paranormal to us because we simply aren't familiar with the natural explanation for the phenomenon. That is where continued education, lots of reading, and lots of studying of multiple disciplines really comes in handy for this field. Finally, historically there are lots of examples of phenomenon that would now qualify as being perinormal---before modern science, our ancestors had to try to make sense of the world around them as best as they knew how. What was once considered divine intervention, witchcraft, hoodoo, etc. is common scientific knowledge.

I personally believe that ALL paranormal phenomena will one day be recognized and explained through science, thus reclassifying it as 'perinormal'.  But, that doesn't make it any less interesting or any less valid of an area of study. I just hope that this happens during my lifetime.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Weird Vocabulary: Anasyrma

What the heck is going on in this picture? Read below to find out everything you've ever wanted to know about the phenomenon known as Anasyrma!

According to a Wikipedia article, "Anasyrma is effectively “the exposing of the genitals.” This is a form of exhibitionism found in religion or artwork, rather than a display for arousal, and it always refers to the act of a woman exposing herself. The act of lifting up one’s skirt to display the genitals can be an apotropaic device."

Back during Vampire Week on the blog, we talked about how 'Apotropaic' is a word generally used to mean something that wards off demons and other evil spirits, but is often used to describe the various methods of stopping a vampire. Technically, it is defined as "preventing or intended to prevent evil," and comes from the Greek word apotropaios, meaning turning away from evil. 

I haven't really found out a whole lot of information about WHY or HOW showing one's genitals can scare away evil, but the Wiki article cited above does mention the idea that women are the ones who GIVE life, and thus, are the ones that can TAKE life, and the genital area symbolizes that giving of life. Examples exist in many cultures of women warding off evil, natural disasters, and other unpleasantness by simply lifting their skirts. Whatever the reason behind this behavior, this image is a plate from Jean de La Fontaine's Nouveaux Contes (1674), and depicts a demon repulsed by the sight of a woman lifting her skirt.

So...the next time you're faced with a potentially malevolent entity or demonic haunting, you've got another option for combating the evil!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Friday Funny: Who are These People and Where Can I Find Them?

For all of us who didn't win Wednesday's Powerball Jackpot, but are still looking for a way to get rich quick, check out these memes. These things are blowing up on social media and whenever they're posted on a paranormal page or in a paranormal group, there's usually a unanimous "YES" vote given. I just want to know who the heck these people are that are putting up that kinda money....and where the hell I can find them! 

Monday, January 11, 2016

What I Would do if I Won the Lottery-Paranormal Edition

Since nobody took home the grand prize in Saturday's Powerball lottery, Wednesday's jackpot total is now at an estimated $1.3 BILLION, more than doubling the previous record!  That means that there are a LOT of people out there right now fantasizing about becoming overnight billionaires...and just what they would spend all that money on!  Even the paranormal community is not immune to this Powerball Fever, and plenty of paranormal investigators, researchers, and enthusiasts are eagerly planning on all the spooky things that can be accomplished with lottery winnings that massive.

Admittedly, I am one of them, lol.

If I won the lottery, I'd obviously take care of first things first. I would make sure that my family was taken care of with new homes, cars, and anything else they needed/wanted, all debts paid off, and substantial trust funds set up for my son and nephew. I'd probably also go back to school and there are several charities that I would like to give generously to.  But then...the fun stuff!

I would equip myself with an arsenal of the latest and greatest technology used in the field of paranormal research and together with my HPIR team, I would do some extensive traveling. There are many awesome pay-to-play haunted locations out there that I would like to investigate privately and under the proper conditions. There are some reputed haunted places, many abroad, that I would be happy with just visiting and experiencing! Ultimately, however, I want to return home...

The main paranormal dream I have is to actually purchase my OWN haunted property. I want something pretty big, such as a hospital, hotel, prison or even a school. I don't want to keep it all to myself, though---I want to create an all-inclusive center for paranormal education and research! I want a location where investigations can occur over a period of time in as a controlled environment as possible. HPIR would obviously be the 'in-house' group, but the facility would be open to other select teams and individuals, with the occasional public investigation event as well.

It would be a place of research, where experiments can take place, again in as a controlled environment as possible and repeated over a period of time. It would be a place where new technologies and new techniques can be explored and tested. It would also be a place of historic and academic research. My personal paranormal and West Virginia history libraries are growing unwieldy. I would love to turn a section of my own haunted facility into an expansive lending library and research center. My collection would serve as the basis for the library, but I'd definitely use a huge chunk of those lottery winnings to expand.

And lastly, my haunted location would serve as an educational facility. I want to host a huge array of speakers and presenters for regular lectures and workshops. I want to offer a variety of classes on anything and everything that would be of interest to a paranormal investigator. Classes could be attended live and in person, or via online.

Anyway, that's a quick breakdown of what I would do if I won this week's unprecedented Powerball lottery jackpot. Hop over to Theresa's Haunted History Facebook and let us know what YOU would do if you won! 

Saturday, January 9, 2016

A Lynching in Weston

Good Saturday morning! Today is an exciting day---this evening I'll be taking part in a public investigation at the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, West Virginia! I've been to the pre-Civil War era hospital several times and taken several historic tours, but this will be the first time actually investigating the iconic haunt. And, since there has already been SO MUCH written about the hauntings (much of which I will include in a post-investigation wrap-up blog) I thought it would be interesting to take a slightly different look for today's blog.

If you follow Theresa's Haunted History of the Tri-State's Facebook page, chances are you've seen this photo before. One evening last February, I was on the WV History on View site and found this photo. I saw the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in the background, which piqued my interest, but then I saw what was happening in the photo. This photo was taken in July of 1892 by M.T. Smith who later sold the prints for 35 cents a piece. The image is that of the July 6th lynching of Edgar Jones, a 22 year old African-American who was accused of stabbing to death 25 year old Michael Tierney in the kitchen of the Commercial Hotel. The bridge is the West Second Street Bridge.

We, especially those of us in the paranormal community, tend to think about all the tragedy that occurred at Trans-Allegheny itself---it never crossed my mind that something else so traumatic happened right there in plain view of the hospital. Sometimes history can be ugly---real ugly---but if we ignore it, then we ignore the memory of those involved.

Source: Images of Lewis County by Joy Gilchrist-Stalnaker and Bradley R. Oldaker

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: What I'm Listening To

Welcome to Top 10 Tuesday: What I'm Listening To!

I like to consume my paranormal information and news in a variety of ways---reading books and articles, perusing Facebook groups and websites, watching documentaries and the occasional television show, discussing and debating with fellow researchers, attending lectures and conferences, and...listening the heck out of some paranormal podcasts and radio shows!

I've recently fallen in love with listening to paranormal podcasts and radio shows. They're a great way to make use of time while driving, cleaning up around the house, or crafting. And, there are so many awesome different shows out there, available to listen to for FREE! In no particular order, here are ten awesome paranormal-themed podcasts or radio shows that I've been listening to recently.

1. Paraversal Universe--This is one of my all-time favorite paranormal radio shows as they air a variety of different paranormal topics and interview a wide array of paranormal researchers. The show airs Friday nights at 8 pm EST on the Paranormal King radio network, and is hosted by Kevin Malek and Jennifer Scelsi, both of the Northern Wisconsin Paranormal Society. You might remember that I got to be a guest on the show earlier in 2015! Archives can be found HERE.

2. Lore--My boyfriend recently introduced me to this relatively new podcast by Aaron Mahnke. These are short little shows exploring hauntings, urban legends, weird historical events, and folklore. Mahnke does an excellent job with his research and the shows are presented very well---they are never boring or dry, but totally entertaining.

3. Real Paranormal Activity Podcast--You can listen to this show directly off the website (just scroll down), or on a variety of different media, including YouTube and iTunes. Lots of reader submissions of scary stories, interviews, and more.

4. Into the Fray--Hosts Shannon Legro, Ryan Sprague and Sam Shearon discuss tons of different paranormal topics and areas of interests. They recently did a show featuring a Bigfoot witness here in West Virginia!

5. Coast to Coast AM--This is one of the few radio shows I listen to live...when I can stay up that late! Since my local station here that carried the show switched formats, I've found the easiest way to tune in is through the awesome app/website TuneIn Radio. No one can ever replace Art, but I do like George Noory and most of the other hosts.  However, I have found myself picking and choosing which episodes to listen seems like more and more don't deal with strictly the paranormal anymore. Rather, topics such as holistic living and things of an almost political nature are coming up more and more.

6. Real Ghost Stories--I prefer to listen/watch this podcast, featuring plenty of real life ghost tales as told by those who experienced them, through their YouTube channel. Hosted by Tony Brueski, there are tons of archived shows waiting to be listened to!

7. The Unexplained--Hosted by Howard Hughes, this UK-based podcast has been one of my longest listened to favorites. You can download or stream off the website to listen to Howard interview guests such as Linda Moulton Howe, Graham Hancock, David Paulides, and many more.

8. The Paranormal Podcast--Jim Harold hosts this widely popular podcast, which you can stream from his website, or download through a variety of channels. Recent shows include 2016 Astrology with Maria DeSimone, Haunted Christmas and Christmas Angels, and Cinema Symbolism.

9. Living Paranormal--You might remember that Carrie and I were on Living Paranormal earlier in 2015! This awesome show is hosted by Jason Olivo and local investigator, Rob Henry, of the Original WV Paranormal. You can listen to the show live (check Facebook for schedule) or stream archived shows from the website.

10. The Squatcher's Lounge Podcast--For all you Squatchers out there, here's the Squatcher's Lounge Podcast's YouTube channel. Awesome eyewitness stories and much more of interest to fans of the hairy men.

Did I miss YOUR favorite paranormal radio show or podcast? Head on over to Theresa's Haunted History of the Tri-State Facebook page to share your favorites!