195 – Anthropology and the Paranormal: Engaging The Anomalous with Dr. Jack Hunter

Since the last time we talked with paranthropologist Jack Hunter, he’s become a Doctor. So congratulations  to this hard-working academic! His new book, Engaging the Anomalous: Collected Essays on Anthropology, the Paranormal, Mediumship and Extraordinary Experience is coming out this week and for those of you who are interested in learning about the universality of paranormal experiences across cultures, this is the book you want!

engaging the anomalous

Seeing that there was a lack of academic resources that brought together the anthropological approaches to paranormal beliefs and systems (and indeed what I remember from my university days is that we just talked about it in Folklore class), he came up with Paranthropology which is an awesome (and free so you can read it right now!) online academic journal dealing with it. 

Things we learned from our latest conversation:

  • The world’s most famous anthropologist Margaret Mead was instrumental in getting the Parapsychological Association into the American Association for the Advancement of Science (we mention her in our track “Cannibal”!)
  • Sir E.B. Tylor, thought of as the founder of anthropology, had his own paranormal experience (but was ashamed to admit it, because he was a hardcore evolutionist!)
  • Anthropologists have been reporting paranormal experiences for centuries now but that never seems to come up in the discussion
  • There is many ways to explain supernatural or paranormal occurrences and everyone seems to think their explanation is right, but Jack’s more interested in looking at all of them and how they intersect
  • What we think about paranormal events has more to do with the environment and the planet’s ecology then we often think of. We think of the spirit world as “supernatural” but maybe we can think of it as just another part of nature and our environment.
  • Allison brought up the Kogi people, who raise their Shamen in dark caves for nine years to make their senses more attuned to the spirit world (even that maybe something dramatized for a movie…)
  • There’s lots of talk about the universality of these experiences. What is it about spirituality that makes it so fundamentally human across all cultures?

Jack has also started an educational podcast that you can enjoy on YouTube that connects some of his philosophy on ecology and permaculture (which is the idea of creating agricultural systems that are sustainable and self-sufficient). It’s called “One School One Planet”.

You can also find Doctor Jack Hunter’s latest work, blogposts, and appearances on his website.

Something that really struck me from his book, is having to deal with an academic community that treats the paranormal as hokum. As the forward of Dr. Hunter’s book, Engaging The Anomalous says, there are probably only less than 5 people in the Unites States who make a living as a parapsychological researcher at a university. As someone who dreamed of that as a young man (parapsychology was always my backup plan in case the band didn’t pan out, yeah, guess I was thinking ahead<cough>). the idea that there’s no universities in the United States that are going for parapsychological research while there were several working labs in the 80s shows that we’ve gone backwards when it comes to open minds in our academic communities instead of forwards.

We thought this might be the perfect opportunity to breakout  our song about what it feels like when you go up seemingly immovable objects, sometimes it’s hard to try to be the irresistible force, which we sing about in “Path of Most Resistance”.

I should’ve been an athlete,
but my knees were too weak.
I should’ve been a scholar,
instead of a pubcrawler.
I should’ve moved to California,
like the Chili Peppers said.
I should’ve read more Tony Robbins,
and tried to get ahead.

Every time I try I fail,
I’m Jonah and I’m stuck inside this,
Whale of a time we’ll never have together.
Oh, woe is me.

On the path of most resistance,
Carry on banging my head against the wall.
Keep the world at shouting distance,
There’s no safety net and I’m in freefall.

I should’ve been a rocker,
but never took my chances.
I’m finally on my own now,
like I broke Piggy’s glasses.
Somedays I’m just miserable,
and others I feel boned.
I should’ve been something special,
but instead, I just got pwned.

Every time I try I fail,
I’m Jonah and I’m stuck inside this,
Whale of a time we’ll never have together.
Oh, woe is me.

On the path of most resistance,
Carry on banging my head against the wall.
Keep the world at shouting distance,
There’s no safety net and I’m in freefall.

It’s unacceptable.
It’s unreliable,
in@#$%ingcredible,
unjustifiable.
I’m in crisis mode,
and always on the run,
Starbucks to wake up,
pass out to Ketel One.
Have you tasted loco?
Your mind won’t let you go,
you can’t sit still, you can’t think,
worst-case scenario.
I *HEART* MELANCHOLY.
I love to curse my luck.
My finger’s on the button,
that says self-destruct.

Every time I try I fail,
I’m Jonah and I’m stuck inside this,
Whale of a time we’ll never have together.
Oh, woe is me.

On the path of most resistance,
Carry on banging my head against the wall.
Keep the world at shouting distance,
There’s no safety net and I’m in freefall.

I love to flirt with failure,
I love to make it tough.
Take the hardest way,
close but not close enough.

On the path of most resistance,
Carry on banging my head against the wall.
Keep the world at shouting distance,
There’s no safety net and I’m in freefall.

194 – Real Magic: The Secret Power of the Universe with Dean Radin, PhD

When it comes to psi research and bravely holding the torch against the encroaching darkness of materialism, Dean Radin, PhD is the man who has stood at the forefront. His work as a scientist researching psychic phenomena in the lab while being a spokesperson for approaching psychic phenomena from a scientific perspective is inspiring. Since 2001, he has been the chief scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (founded by Dr. Edgar Mitchell, who we profiled when he passed away in 2016.) His latest book is Real Magic: Ancient Wisdom, Modern Science, and a Guide to the Secret Power of the Universe deserves a spot in your library because it shows how magic might actually work.

real magic
The Audible version of Dean’s new book, Real Magic is narrated by the same guy that does the Dan Brown novels, so it’s about as exciting as non-fiction gets!

In this interview, Allison from Milwaukee Ghosts and I cover these topics with Dean and if you’re interested in any of the following, then you’re going to go bananas about our conversation.

  • What is the best scientific evidence proving psychic powers like psychokinesis and telepathy?
  • Are magic rituals necessary?
  • What is the gnosis state and how do you get there?
  • How can people use magic in their everyday life?
  • What level of data do you think is needed to prove psi to the mainstream scientific community?

In the lab, psychic powers aren’t measured like in The X-Men, it’s tiny things, like influencing a random number generator or being able to change a photon particle that happens. But that’s what really made me think about how magic can be real. Sure, we might not be able to manifest a car out of thin air or with magic words, but we can certainly influence small things every day that will eventually have big results. Our thoughts can have physical effects and we’re not quite sure why that is, yet. So we need to align our thoughts with what we want, because it will have a real affect on us. Roald Dahl might have said it best in The Twits:

“If a person has ugly thoughts, it begins to show on the face. And when that person has ugly thoughts every day, every week, every year, the face gets uglier and uglier until you can hardly bear to look at it.

A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”

One of the most interesting things in our conversation that I found was the discussion of how fragile belief can be. As Dean says when he talks about keeping your magic to yourself, “Just an arched eyebrow can ruin it”.  In a world where nothing feels sacred anymore, we have to create that sense of sanctity on our own, free from ridicule. I mean that’s why religions have heresy and have punished it so severely, because they want to create that sense of sanctity and make it so important that you fear breaking it. What does it mean for things to be sacred and how can we create that in our lives?

We laugh along with Al Franken’s Stuart Smalley character, but why do affirmations work? When you just say the words it just seems silly. It’s more than just the words, it’s the power that you can give them by making them sacred to you. That’s the potential of belief and using the strength of your will, the secret power of the universe, to make real magic happen

That’s the idea behind this week’s song, that just saying some words and just going through the motions isn’t going to cut it. You need to believe, you need to have a sense of the sacred, no matter what it is. You need more than just “Magic Words”.

Sacrifice a virgin
or tear a beast apart
it’s all just a fool’s errand
if you don’t have the heart
Bubble bubble toil and trouble
open sesame
In the lab Abracadab
I create as I speak
Somethings strangeo presto changeo
synchronicity
and the hocus pocus where you focus
is no guarantee
It takes more than magic words to cast a spell on me
It takes more than magic words oh you need to believe
Talk is cheap, promises free
If you want to change reality
It takes more than  magic words to cast a spell on me
Kiss your rabbit’s foot
say the sacred rite
don’t you know it’s just for show
if you don’t trust your mind.
Bubble bubble toil and trouble
open sesame
In the lab Abracadab
I create as I speak
Somethings strangeo presto changeo
synchronicity
and the hocus pocus where you focus
is no guarantee
It takes more than magic words to cast a spell on me
It takes more than magic words oh you need to believe
Talk is cheap, promises free
If you want to change reality
It takes more than magic words to cast a spell on me

193 – Long Live The King of Nye: Remembering Art Bell

  Coast to Coast AM is the grandaddy of all paranormal talk shows. It is the original and it’s a big reason why a show like See You On The Other Side exists.  Its founder and greatest host, Art Bell passed away on Friday the 13th. Art Bell wasn’t just a talk show host, he singlehandedly took the discussion of weird topics from the fringe of the airwaves to front and center every night. Talking about ghosts used to be just for Halloween, talking about UFOs would be reserved for science fiction tie-ins or special events. Art Bell didn’t just have a national talk show dealing with alternative histories, life on other planets, psychic powers, and all the paranormal topics that we love, he made it the second most popular talk show in the United States(!)

Art Bell
Art Bell with his eyes to the skies

In the 90s, Art Bell helped the paranormal go mainstream.  Over 10 million listeners tuned in to Coast to Coast AM at its most popular and all of us here at See You On The Other Side listened faithfully. Art Bell was the soundtrack to hundreds of my dreams (and nightmares) as I would always put the radio on as I went to bed.  In the days right before the emergence of the Internet, Coast to Coast AM provided a community and an outlet for fringe beliefs and strange encounters.  This wasn’t a convention or a users group meetup or a small BBS in your town, this was paranormal discussion on your radio every single night of the week, all across the country.

Art Bell’s deep voice was made for radio and his demeanor of patience and acceptance even while dealing with the most whacked out callers seemed custom-made for his topics. Art kept his calm no matter what, challenging his guests when they went too far, but at the same time never treating them dismissively.

That might have been his greatest strength and the reason why he is so beloved in the community. That balance between healthy skepticism and credulity is what made him the perfect host. The paranormal is a tricky topic. You’re dealing with things that many people don’t believe in and will treat you as if you’re crazy if you do. It’s not an easy thing to talk about with respect to both sides, reality and the experiencer. Art Bell was able to straddle that line with a grace that no one else has been able to match since.

art bell
Art Bell in a press photo taken at the height of Coast to Coast AM’s popularity in the 90s

Art Bell could make you feel welcome no matter what. Coming up in the late 80s, it was an era of shock jocks and confrontational hosts. It is a testament to the man that his show had the most outrageous topics, but had the most civil conversations.  He created a community and a format that is still strong decades later, even after he retired. Coast To Coast AM still runs every night and has over 2.75 million listeners a week.

In this episode of the podcast, Allison from Milwaukee Ghosts, Wendy Lynn, and I discuss the impact that Art had on our lives. Wendy and I used to listen to him in our band van as we drove in the middle of the night, excited that we could pick up the signal and had something fun to help keep us awake. Allison was a Coast to Coast insider from almost the beginning and would let me know when the best guests were going to be on. Allison heard it live when the most famous call was placed. This “Area 51 employee” called in to warn the rest of the world about the disasters that were coming. His frantic, terrified voice and the fact that the satellite uplink broke in the middle of the call made for some legendary conspiracy discussions in the late 90s.

We remember the great Art Bell in this episode, from our favorite guests to his untimely and mysterious retirements, from his greatest calls to the time that I almost got through to tell my own story . Thank you for the memories, Art, and thank you for setting the stage for all of us.

They still do it to this day on Coast to Coast, “Open Line Fridays”. They were (and are) some of the most fun (and most frustrating) episodes  of the show. It’s an all-night free-for-all call in where they might have a “Vampire” hotline, which is a line dedicated to anyone who might be a vampire, that they can call in. Or it could be “alien abductees” or people who think that they’re “The Anti-Christ”, or any number of awesome paranormal propositions. You never knew what you were going to hear when they opened it up to the community on Fridays.

That’s what this week’s song is about. We’re dedicating this special tribute song to Art Bell and the power of the community that he created. It was always ridiculous fun when the calls would come in and you never knew what you were going to hear when Art would say you’re “On The Line”.

Somewhere in the desert
a lonely trailer stands
well the wizard of the air sits there
with a microphone in his hand
strange lights in the distance
and mystery on the lips
destination unknown
we’re going live without a script

And who knows crazy things we’ll hear today?

It don’t matter if you’re a liar
or an angel or a vampire
we’ll you’re preaching to the choir
in the dark of the night
Just don’t waste our time
when you’re on the line

Maybe you’re ex-CIA
maybe you worked Area 51
We never knew who would call in,
all we knew is it’d be fun

And somewhere in the desert
there’s still a voice going through the night
and as the clock strikes twelve, you can almost hear
West of the Rockies you’re on the line.

And who knows crazy things we’ll hear today?

It don’t matter if you’re a liar
or an angel or a vampire
we’ll you’re preaching to the choir
in the dark of the night

It don’t matter if you’re a liar
or an angel or a vampire
we’ll you’re preaching to the choir
in the dark of the night
Just don’t waste our time
when you’re on the line
when you’re on the line
when you’re on the line

192 – The Nightmare: Incubi, Succubi, and the Demons of Sleep Paralysis

If you’ve ever experienced sleep paralysis, you know it’s not a laughing matter. You wake up to find yourself with a pressure on your chest, surrounded by nightmare creatures, and you can’t move. Sleep paralysis can make you question reality, after all, your dreams are showing up in your waking life. They are having a physical effect on you. No wonder that for millennia they’ve showed up in cultures all over the world. It’s the kind of thing that you write songs about!

Canadian filmmaker Adam Grey was so terrified by his Old Hag experience that he made a movie on it with his brother called The Nightmare (and we interviewed them about their film back in episode 59). Dr. Martin Walsh was in Zanzibar when a legendary succubus-like creature known as the Popo Bawa was terrifying the African island back in the 1990s (and we interviewed him about that in episode 133). There have been dozens of names across cultures for the creatures they blame for causing nightmares.

In Mesopotamia and early Jewish writing, they were the Lillin. In Hmong culture, it is the tsog tsuam (which was killing men as recently as the 1980s.) The word “mare” in nightmare isn’t supposed to be a horse, but actually a little goblin that sits on your chest. In the Middle Ages, these night terrors were associated with sexual assault. The succubus would have sex with men while they slept while the incubus would attack women. Various demonologies of the time even suggested that since the spawn of the Devil couldn’t get you pregnant, the succubus could steal the semen of a man and have the incubus plant it in a woman to create an evil child.

One of the aliens from Communion

My own experience with sleep paralysis wasn’t sexual, but it certainly was a waking nightmare. It happened the same week I was going to start junior high school in 1989. I hadn’t seen the Communion move yet, but I’d been looking at the face of the grey alien in checkout lines at the grocery store for years at that point. I was young but I knew it had to do with alien abduction.

I had long experienced nightmares, night terrors, and some light sleepwalking. That’s one of the reasons that I was interested in lucid dreaming from a very young age (we talk about that as well as some lucid dreaming techniques in episode 2), I was hoping to conquer the demons that stalked my dreamworld. Plus, you had movies like Dreamscape telling you that if you die in a dream you die in real life. I knew I had to figure out a way to stop these guys.

That week I had checked out Communion from the local library, I wanted to see what the fuss was about for myself. It was an interesting enough book, not as scary as I thought it would be, but one of the things that he talks about is sleep paralysis. In the book, he mentions that waking up he could be trapped in a hypnopompic trance. Hypnopompia is the state when you move from dreaming to waking and sometimes you can experience a hallucination like you were still dreaming. Except your muscles are still paralyzed from being asleep.

I had never heard of that before and just the idea of it terrified me. Even if it was still just a dream, the idea that the monsters from my nightmare could visit me in  real life, like when Nancy pulls Freddy Krueger into the physical world in the original A Nightmare On Elm Street was a pants-pooping proposition.

So what happens? Two days before school starts, I’m reading in bed while a strange light fills my bedroom wall, filtered out by the curtain from the window. My room was the one that faced the street and I thought it might be a car backing up into our driveway and pulling out, but I don’t hear the car and we live in a rural area where cars very infrequently come by. And we had a long driveway, for the lights to get into the room, they’d have to come up a bit because they would have been blocked out by the woods between the street and the house. Anyway, both my parents were home so it wasn’t one of their cars. Who was it? I don’t know, by the time I got the courage to go to the window there wasn’t any car there. But it planted a seed in my head, as silly as I thought it was at the time, that it was like a spaceship was landing out there.

And that was it. I wasn’t really scared as much as I let my imagination run a little bit wild and thought that I was being ridiculous. So, I went to sleep, fully knowing that tonight was the night that I would need to get rest because you can never sleep before the first day of school.

I woke up a few hours later in my darkened room and I couldn’t move. When I opened my eyes I saw a group of white faces in a semi-circle around my bed and they were looking down at me. The faces were triangular with almond-shaped eyes just like on the cover of Communion. The feeling was sheer terror (something that I was used to after waking up from so many nightmares) and I knew that the light I saw really was an alien ship. They’ve come for me just like they came for Barney and Betty Hill and just like they came for Whitley Streiber and his son. After a few seconds until the faces disappeared and I could move again.  The fear subsided and I realized that I experienced exactly what Streiber was talking about in the book, a hypnopompic trance.

There wasn’t any other signs of abduction. I didn’t have any missing time and I didn’t feel any strange pains or anything. My familiarity with bad dreams made me realize that it was all in my head. I certainly wasn’t enchanted by the possibility that this could be a regular occurrence though, like my near daily nightmares.

However, I was lucky and it wasn’t regular. I don’t remember ever experiencing it to that extent again. Some people however, aren’t so lucky, and they experience these hypnogogic (while they’re falling asleep) or hypnopompic trances (while they’re waking up) several times a week.

Now, while I read a couple of classic prayers from the Middle Ages on the podcast meant to protect you from nightmares (in a completely horrible accent too!), there are a couple of modern devotions (written in the 21st Century!) about protecting yourself from sexual assault by an incubus or succubus. You might want to check out the “Prayer Against The Sexual Demons of the Night” or this guide to how to handle if you get attacked by a “lust demon” (or you just have a wet dream.)

But if you’re interested in something a little more reasonable, there’s been some scientific research in the past few years in how to handle sleep paralysis in a more modern way. In fact, they use phantom limb pain research to help understand why the brain feels what it feels. Dr. Baland Jalal has developed a technique called “Meditation-Relaxation Therapy” that is a practice designed to help regular sleep paralysis sufferers to get some kind of relief. You can read part of his scientific paper on it here, but also here are the four steps:

  1. Reappraisal of the meaning of the attack – Remember that you’re in bed, you’re still sleeping. You cannot die from a  nightmare, no matter what Dennis Quaid learned in Dreamscape.
  2. Psychological and emotional distancing – Try not to be afraid. It’s just your REM activity. Remember your dreams can’t hurt you.
  3. Inward focused-attention meditation – Go to your happy place. For real, conjure up a nice memory. It helps.
  4. Muscle relaxation -Don’t fight, don’t move, it only makes it worse. You’ll react poorly to being paralyzed and you’ll freak out (I did.)

Now, this isn’t something you’re going to remember every time something  like this happens to you, but for regular sufferers of sleep paralysis, this practice is a place to start. And it’s great that we’re doing something besides trying to make people pray for forgiveness because they used to like Bluegrass music!

 

the nightmare
Here’s a still from another movie called The Nightmare about sleep paralysis

One of the things we talk about in the podcast is the William Shatner movie called Incubus filmed in 1966 that’s completely shot in Esperanto (a universal language invented in the Nineteenth Century for proto-hippie peace and love reasons.) You can watch the whole thing on youTube (for now at least) right here:

For the song this week, we unearthed a Sunspot track inspired by a succubus. “Goodbye Good Guy” uses a little bit of the bedtime imagery to talk about what you have to do to get rid of someone who is ruining your life. Sometimes you have to change who you are to become who you want to be, and it’s not usually pretty.

Sometimes the strength in me builds up,
But fails me when you cry,
I’m not a heartless bastard,
But you’ve driven me to dispossession.

I wanted things this way,
That thought was never left unsaid.
But hey Pinocchio,
How your nose will grow,
When you scream at the back of my head.

Goodbye good guy,
Wipe the cobwebs from my eyes,
This time I’m doing it just for me.
Goodnight sleep tight,
I hope all the bed bugs bite,
I’m sick of cleaning up your debris.

You know I wanted this,
And I created this,
Well I made my bed I’ll lie in it.

I put my heart on hold,
Hoping that you’d hang up.
I’m in suspended animation,
Waiting on a give-up.

I wanted things this way,
That thought was never left unsaid.
But hey Pinocchio,
How your nose will grow,
When you scream at the back of my head.

Goodbye good guy,
Wipe the cobwebs from my eyes,
This time I’m doing it just for me.
Goodnight sleep tight,
I hope all the bed bugs bite,
I’m sick of cleaning up your debris.

You know I wanted this,
And I created this,
Well I made my bed I’ll lie in it.

I wanted things this way,
That thought was never left unsaid.
But hey Pinocchio,
How your nose will grow,
When you scream at the back of my head.

Goodbye good guy,
Wipe the cobwebs from my eyes,
This time I’m doing it just for me.
Goodnight sleep tight,
I hope all the bed bugs bite,
I’m sick of cleaning up your debris.

Goodbye good guy,
Wipe the cobwebs from my eyes,
This time I’m doing it just for me.
Goodnight sleep tight,
I hope all the bed bugs bite,
I’m sick of cleaning up your debris.

You know I wanted this,
And I created this,
Well I made my bed I’ll lie in it.

191 – Gary Lachman: Use Your Imagination To Change The World

Gary Lachman is a man after our own heart. Not only does he write amazing books on occult figures like Aleister Crowley, Madame Helena Blavatsky, and Colin Wilson, but he started as a musician in the New York New Wave scene in the 1970s (the most exciting time to be a musician ever, in my opinion!) As the bass player of Blondie, he wrote songs like “(I’m Always Touched By Your) Presence, Dear” which talks about the strange ESP and synchronicities that he shared with his girlfriend at the time and it even namechecks theosophy (which might be the only time that’s happened in a Top Ten UK hit!) Later on, he played with Iggy Pop after forming his own band, The Know, a name that was directly inspired by the early Christian Gnostics (a mystery religion that believed that you could interact with God directly instead of through the institution of the Church.)

So, Gary used to write  pop-rock songs based on paranormal themes, which makes him awesome. But since leaving the music business in the 80s, Lachman subsequently moved to London and has been writing books and articles on occult figures and paranormal themes since.

Allison from Milwaukee Ghosts gave me his book A Secret History of Consciousness for Christmas in 2003 and it was the first time I’d heard of Nineteenth Century New Age philosophers like Madame Blavatsky and Rudolf Steiner. It was the first book that I read as an adult that shook my materialist worldview to the core and made me see mystery in the world anew. That’s why we had to have him on the show!

gary lachman
Gary Lachman from his feature in the New York Times

So, it’s perfect that Allison and I talk to Gary about his New York rocker youth, some of the occult imagery they appropriated for the New Wave aesthetic, and how he was ejected from David Bowie’s party over a disagreement about an occult author(!)

But then we get into the meat of his research and writing about the Western Esoteric Tradition – that is the philosophical idea that one can achieve Enlightenment through direct interaction with the Divine or the Spirit World instead of a mediated route through a traditional religious institution. Influenced  by everyone from Carl Jung to the guy who wrote Space Vampires, Gary Lachman also gives Allison and I a workshop in integrating the spiritual side of yourself with the materialist parts. Gary covers that in his latest book, The Lost Knowledge of the Imagination.

gary Blachman
President Donald Trump and Pepe The Frog with a Trumpian Combover

But things get really interesting as we preview Gary’s upcoming book on President Trump. Dark Star Rising: Magick and Power in the Age of Trump is the kind of work that you have to see to believe. We discuss the real power of symbols, the external group consciousness that is the World Wide Web, and much like our conversation with Nick Redfern about The Slenderman, we delve into how social media and the Internet might be affecting reality (just wait until you hear about Meme Magic!)

Make sure to visit Gary’s website and read some of his articles and check out his books. He sets the standard for thoughtful discussion of occult philosophy and detailed research. This interview is a great starting off point because we cover the  basics of the subjects that he goes much more deeply into in his books.

Speaking of deep, since Gary Lachman was the one who introduced me to Madame Blavatsky, the ultra-dramatic Spiritualist who founded the Modern Theosophical Society as well as being one of the key philosophers who ushered East Indian spiritualism into Western society, we thought she’d be the perfect inspiration for this week’s song.

In her most famous book, The Secret Doctrine, the opening stanza discusses “The Night of The Universe”, which is a time in the cycle of creation and destruction where everything is gone back to its original form, the clay of all creation has been crushed and balled back up ready to begin again. It’s a time of no pain or want or trouble  and to us, the perfect inspiration for a lullaby.

Good night universe good night
For everything will sleep
until the morning’s light
The wheel has come to rest
The clock has stopped again
You won’t need to dream
Where there is no pain
open up your perfect eye
It will a brand new day
I say good night universe good night

Good night universe good night
The sun has faded but
The hidden comes to light
A blissful empty
freedom from our brain
Sparks inside the fire
And all links in the chain
Until the great breath
Brings us to life again
I say good night universe good night

190 – NXIVM: Inside the Self-Help Celebrity Sex Cult

News just came this week that they arrested Keith Raniere in Mexico City. Keith was the founder and leader of the NXIVM organization which started as a series of self-help seminars attended by people as successful as Richard Branson, a former US Surgeon General, the daughters of Edgar Bronfman Sr., the Seagrams billionaire, two children of Mexican presidents, the founder of Black Entertainment Television, and many more. In 2009, Raniere even sponsored a visit to Albany, New York from the Dalai Lama.

Which made it all the more shocking this week when he was arrested for sex trafficking and it was alleged that former Smallville star Allison Mack was his second-in-command for luring women into a special branch of his Executive Success Programs (ESP, get it?). In this special “sorority”, there was a hierarchy of women who performed slave labor and sexual acts for their master (Raniere made everyone call him “Vanguard”.)

nxivm
Who wants to join a sex cult? Superman will be there!

Now, there’s been rumors of NXIVM basically being a cult since at least 2003 with an article in Forbes magazine and in this episode we go through a newspaper article written  by Rick Ross (no, not the rapper!) about the tell-tale signs of a cult and we compare those signs to the reports about what was going on inside the NXIVM organization. Who knew that the real secret to a successful Multi-Level Marketing downline was blackmail? Keith Raniere did!

So what does MKUltra, A Clockwork Orange, L. Ron Hubbard, The Manchurian Candidate, and Dionysus have to do with the NXIVM cult? Well, you’ll have to listen to find out!

nxivm
I’m like the Jesus who brands people…

One of the nastiest stories about the NXIVM cult is how the women thought they would be getting a tattoo when they joined his secret sex organization and instead they were branded. There were also reports of extremely restrictive calorie diets (because the Vanguard liked ’em thin), forced labor, and sick experiments showing women scenes of violence while observing their brainwaves. One of the aspects of a cult is that “you’re never good enough for the leader” and that’s what Raniere was certainly doing to these women.

That’s what this week’s song is about, when a man just can’t handle a woman as she is and thinks that he can tame her like his pet. Like he can swat her with a newspaper and say “Bad Girl”…

And you’re so cold they take your temperature in Kelvin
But I’ll steal you, I’m Menelaus and you’re Helen
It’d take Captain Scott to find your heart
a place that’s so far off the chart,
There be monsters!You’ve been a bad bad bad bad girl
I’m gonna ride you like a mule
You’ve been bad my pet and it’s time to tame this shrew
Bad bad bad bad girl
I’m gonna housebreak you

I’m sick of dealing with your lack of basic reason
you say that you don’t have to care because you’re bleeding
I bet you wish you were hitched
to a guy that was rich
G$%d%^# you love to b!#$%

Bad bad bad bad girl
you’re going to obedience school
You’ve been bad my pet and it’s time to tame this shrew
Bad bad bad bad girl
I’m gonna housebreak you

Your changing moods
your attitudes
the way you look at other dudes
gimme time I’ll change you
just a little more I’ll change you

your overbite
your cellulite
the way you dress on Friday night
I’m gonna change you
don’t you worry now I’ll change you
I’ll mother^&*!# change you

You’ve been a bad bad bad bad girl
You’ve been a bad bad bad bad girl
You’ve been a bad bad bad bad girl
I’m gonna ride you like a mule
You’ve been bad my pet and it’s time to tame this shrew
Bad bad bad bad girl
I’m gonna housebreak you

189 – Portal To Hell: Zak Bagans vs. Demon House

The story of the demonic possession of three children in Gary, Indiana in 2011 is one of the most compelling paranormal stories of the Twenty-First Century. What started off with a black fly infestation starts manifesting itself in strange behavior from the children, from dangerous imaginary friends to threats and strange voices. A local clairvoyant claims that there’s up to 200 demons who are active in the house.

Unlike most supernatural tales where the police don’t quite believe in it or the doctors immediately find some other explanation, the story of LaToya Ammons’ children is backed by the authorities. A worker from Child Protective Services sees one of the children climb the wall and launch over his grandmother, the local police captain believes his squad car is acting strangely, a local priest feels threatened and that the demons not only got into his computer but endangered him on a bike ride.

It becomes a major story in the age of Internet tabloids and there’s no surprise that a paranormal reality show celebrity would get involved. In 2014, Zak Bagans from Ghost Adventures purchases the home in order to make a documentary there. And four years later, we have Demon House.

demon house

Of course we had to check the movie out opening weekend! We had met the priest involved in the case at the nearby Chicago Paranormal Convention in 2015 and Darkness Dave Schrader from Beyond The Darkness podcast was freaked out enough that he wouldn’t even tell me the demon’s name when we were out at a bar. Zak Bagans ended up demolishing the house in 2016, but what did he find there? He had years to make the movie, how many investigations did he go on there, just how many nights did he spend in the Demon House?!

Well, the answer is not many. We don’t even get a proper interview with LaToya Ammons or her family because she’s bound by a exclusivity agreement with a different company making a movie about the case. The best we get is her brother. The priest Father Michael Maginot shows up as does Gary Police Captain Charles Austin, who steals the movie with his rendition of what he says he heard over his car radio, a mysterious voice shouting “Who in der?!”

We also get former tenants (whose daughter ends up with some strange activity on her own and Father Maginot has to bless that family), the landlord, squatters living in the house, and Barry Taff from The Entity. 

Demon House
Oh no, the Goatman!

The strangest thing is probably the mysterious 12-Foot tall Demonic Goat that Bagans has seen in his dreams. Even the minds of Zak’s crew end up getting messed with by the Goatman, but unfortunately the re-enactments with this fearsome beast  mostly just made me think about the Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks Dragnet film.

I’ve been critical of Zak Bagans and his confrontational investigative style in the past, but the man often knows how to create compelling television entertainment. So, how do his dramatic re-enactments, goat costumery, and paranormal evidence captured on film hold up? Well, you’ll have to listen to the episode to find out as Allison from Milwaukee Ghosts, Scott Markus from What’s Your Ghost Story.com and Wendy and I discuss our experience in the Demon House. 

(Full disclosure: there might have been a drinking game involved when we watched the movie!)

We’ve never recorded a rap-metal song before so we figured this episode would be the perfect opportunity to get our best Fred Durst and Kid Rock on. Turn those hats backwards, yo, Sunspot is goin’ to the “Demon House”.

Welcome to the Demon House
Who in der?
You’re in the Demon House

Yeah something totally whack happened to an innocent family,
You better watch this at your own risk cuz evil’s coming through your TV

Yo, you know I had to buy this house
Sight unseen baby
There’s 200 spirits creeping around
And not one chips in for the heat.
I go on the Ghost Adventures and seen all kinds of Forteana
I thought I was going to Hell but it’s just Gary Indiana

Welcome to the Demon House
Who in der?
You’re in the Demon House

There’s shadows and there’s black flies and kids climbing up the walls
There’s a pain wracking my brain and messing with my eyeballs

Yo, this place scores an 8
on the demon scale
It’s a portal that goes straight to Hell
Just like Sunnydale.

Old guys getting organ failure and the Devil’s messing with my crew,
Who’s down there in the basement.
It’s the Goatman coming for you!

Welcome to the Demon House
Who in der?
You’re in the Demon House
You even lift, bro?
Welcome to the Demon House
Oh God, it’s the Goatman
You’re in the Demon House
Demon House.

188 – Shadows and Creepers: Adventures in the Old South Pittsburg Hospital

This week we take the show on the road by visiting the Old South Pittsburg Hospital whose manager we met at the Haunted America conference in Alton, Illinois last Summer. After hearing stories of the shadow beings, Electronic Voice Phenomena, and variety of paranormal characters, we knew that we had to go on location and see the hospital itself.

old south pittsburg hospital
This place doesn’t look spooky at all…

When we got there, we were greeted by the fine people of the Paranormal Free Agents from St. Louis, Missouri and they graciously allowed us to tag along with them on some of their ghost investigation. That’s where we had our first weird encounter of the evening.

After exploring for a bit, we interviewed the delightful Stacey Hayes from Old South Pittsburg Hospital Ghost Hunts. We spent some time talking with her and the history of the place.

old south pittsburg hospital
Interviewing Stacey Hayes live on location at Old South Pittsburg Hospital

Interesting enough though, once we were done talking with Stacey we started getting stories from Pete and Larry from Starr Mountain Paranormal Research and Investigations. They mentioned that they saw three shadowy figures in the hallway behind us who were interested in what we were talking about. That was a pretty chilling moment (even though we didn’t get to see them for ourselves!)

Preparing to shoot a music performance for the spirits of Old South Pittsburg Hospital

Afterwards, we wandered the halls ourselves, and even shot a music video in the hallway where Larry and Pete have seen the mysterious tall shadow man passing through!

Go for your own ghost hunt at the Old South Pittsburg Hospital by clicking here to visit their website and scheduling a haunted overnight stay!

When we were in the hospital, they told us about a Dr. Havron who is rumored to have performed unnecessary surgeries at the hospital. While I couldn’t find anything about that in our research, his first wife was murdered at home in 1964 while he was on duty at the hospital. The police said that it was someone with intimate knowledge of the house and that none of her valuables were missing. The killer was never found and the house where the murder took place was said to be haunted by her spirit as well. While Dr. Havron passed away in 2006 as a fairly beloved member of the community (according to his obituary and some nice things people have said about him online), urban legends have a way of taking root especially when there’s ghost stories involved. And that’s where we took inspiration for this week’s song, “The Evil Doctor H”!

Go ahead and roam the halls a bit
you might feel him at your back
and you will feel a strange spirit
You might scream a little
and you might have to shout
When you’re in the hospital where no one ever checks out
He don’t need insurance
he’s ready to begin
You’ll only wait a minute
Oh my God the Doctor is in
You’ll never get sick again
Electroshocking therapy,
Unnecessary surgery
a full frontal lobotomy
with the Evil Dr. H
a big blood squirter
Your organs into burger
It’s Diagnosis Murder
for the Evil Dr. H
he’s not much for the Hippocratic Oath
But cutting and slicing yeah he’s good at both
Dr. H’s the last physician that you’ll need
He’s already in the morgue and he’s eager to proceed
He don’t need insurance
he’s ready to begin
You’ll only wait a minute
Oh my God the Doctor is in
You’ll never get sick again
Electroshocking therapy,
Unnecessary surgery
a full frontal lobotomy
with the Evil Dr. H
a big blood squirter
Your organs into burger
It’s Diagnosis Murder
for the Evil Dr. H
Strict  confidentiality
With an MD in brutality
Specializes in fatality
The Evil Dr. H
You don’t want to make his list
He coulda used a psychiatrist
Every town needs a mad scientist
the evil Dr. H

187 – Luck O’ The Irish: St. Patrick’s Day Traditions, Myths, and Legends

I don’t know when St. Patrick’s Day turned from a sweet celebration of a wonderful culture into an excuse for binge drinking  (a Guinness holiday instead of a Hallmark one?) , but I think it was at some point in my lifetime. Before it used to be just about wearing green, running in the almost Spring grass looking for four-leaf clovers, eating Lucky Charms, drinking Shamrock Shakes, and of course, watching wonderful family films like Leprechaun.

But seriously, St. Patrick’s Day is flush with weird legends and myths of the patron saint of Ireland. The story of St. Patrick is that he drove the snakes out of Ireland (metaphor for Pagans), Christianized the country, and he used the Shamrock to help explain the Holy Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The Irish culture has plenty of fun superstitions, but luck of the Irish, pinching people on St. Patrick’s Day, and turning their rivers green aren’t any of them. Join us for a conversation on where all our silly St. Patrick’s Day traditions come from and some of the real history of St. Patrick’s Day as well as legends and myths about the Emerald Isle’s patron saint himself.

Our show on March 17th, 2007 at Bikini’s in Austin, TX. Still a, ahem,  personal favorite!

One of the strange stories we talk about in the show is this weird shadow that’s cast by Saint Patrick at this New Jersey church. Sure, it’s just a coincidence… OR IS IT?!

st. patrick's day
From St. Joseph’s Church in Keyport, NJ

It’s a good time as any to bring out one of our favorite Irish songs done by an amazing Irish band. Thin Lizzy wasn’t in love with getting famous through an Irish folk song, but their version of “Whiskey In The Jar” made it a Top 40 hit all over the world. We do an acoustic guitar and violin version of it that you can request at the next Sunspot Acoustic Duo show or See You On The Other Side live event!

As I was goin’ over
The Cork and Kerry Mountains
I saw Captain Farrell
And his money, he was countin’
I first produced my pistol
And then produced my rapier
I said, “Stand and deliver or the devil he may take ya”

Mush-a ring dum-a do dum-a da
Whack for my daddy-o.
Whack for my daddy-o
There’s whiskey in the jar-o

I took all of his money
And it was a pretty penny
I took all of his money,
Yeah, and I brought it home to Molly
She swore that she loved me,
No, never would she leave me
But the devil take that woman,
Yeah, for you know she tricked me easy

Mush-a ring dum-a do dum-a da
Whack for my daddy-o.
Whack for my daddy-o
There’s whiskey in the jar

Being drunk and weary
I went to Molly’s chamber
Takin’ Molly with me
But I never knew the danger
For about six or maybe seven,
Yeah, in walked Captain Farrell
I jumped up, fired my pistols
And I shot him with both barrels

Mush-a ring dum-a do dum-a da
Whack for my daddy-o.
Whack for my daddy-o
There’s whiskey in the jar

Now some men like a fishin’
But some men like the fowlin’
Some men like to hear,
To hear the cannonball roarin’
Me, I like sleepin’,
‘Specially in my Molly’s chamber
But here I am in prison,
Here I am with a ball and chain, yeah

Mush-a ring dum-a do dum-a da
Whack for my daddy-o.
Whack for my daddy-o
There’s whiskey in the jar-o

186 – The Slenderman Mysteries: Investigating the Internet Bogeyman with Nick Redfern

In May of 2014, a vicious crime shocked Wisconsin and made headlines across the United States. Two junior high school girls attempted to stab their friend in a sacrifice to an Internet horror story known as “The Slenderman”. While the victim thankfully survived, it left the world wondering, why would these girls commit such a horrible crime and what is The Slenderman?

The Slenderman Mysteries
The pic that started it all

Created as part of a challenge on an Internet forum to create a scary paranormal character, artist Eric Knudsen Photoshopped a tall faceless figure with tentacles on his back around some kids and featured some creepy text. It was a scary pic and the popularity of the character exploded over time as people added the Slenderman  to more and more images and created short text stories that people could copy and paste on Internet forums. The common slang for “copy and paste” is “copypasta” and people adapted that term for horror stories and called it “creepypasta”, which was extremely popular with young teens (who love horror stories, I know I did!)

Unfortunately, young people can become obsessed with stories, especially dark ones, and that can lead some to horrific behavior like we saw in Waukesha. But beyond that, people are starting to have actual “Slenderman sightings” in the real world. Are people’s obsessions creating tulpas, and giving form to a fictional Internet Bogeyman?

As a prolific author of books and articles, Nick Redfern is always on the forefront of the paranormal community. We’ve had him on the podcast before and we’ve been dying to bring him back. This time he’s released a new book, The Slenderman Mysteries, and Allison and I get all the details.

Full disclosure, Allison and I are both featured in the book. As lifelong Wisconsinites, whenever something unusual happens here that has a relationship with the paranormal, we try to check it out thoroughly. I had my own experience near Waukesha, Allison discovered a strange coincidence,  and indeed Wendy Lynn is tour guide for Waukesha Ghost Walks, so we all have a stake in what happens and how it’s represented.

the slender man mysteries nick redfern

It’s a lively and informative conversation and some of the things that Nick uncovered in this book are fascinating and terrifying. He is extremely respectful of the tragedy while exploring all the avenues and we reflect that in this discussion.

Also, since Nick is a massive Ramones fan, we had to do a Ramones tribute for this episode. It’s Sunspot inspired by the Ramones with a song about “The Slenderman”.

9 foot tall in a suit and tie
Oh Oh Oh the Slender-man
He came from the woods to terrify
Oh oh oh the Slenderman
He’ll crawl inside your headspace
It looks like he erased his face.

From the basement of the Internet
and made out of belief
are we peeking through the Gates of Hell
when we close our eyes to dream?
They thought that he was fiction
But he’s creeping into fact
and when you feel long arms around you
you best dare not turn your back.

Your nose bleeds and you’re sensing dread
Oh Oh Oh the Slender-man
the Pied Piper of the World Wide Web
Oh oh oh the Slenderman
Ooh those tentacles are gross,
Comin’ through Lovecraftian cosmos.

From the basement of the Internet
and made out of belief
are we peeking through the Gates of Hell
when we close our eyes to dream?
They thought that he was fiction
But he’s creeping into fact
and when you feel long arms around you
you best dare not turn your back.

 

A rock band's journey into the afterlife, UFOs, entertainment, and weird science.