The Brimstone Deceit: The Scent of the Paranormal with Joshua Cutchin

119 – The Brimstone Deceit: The Scent of the Paranormal with Joshua Cutchin

When we hear about paranormal experiences, we can envision what people see and hear. A ghost might moan, a UFO might quickly blink in and out of existence. We don’t ask people if they tasted a ghost, we ask them if they have ever “seen” a ghost. But we humans have five senses (well, I would argue at least six, but let’s make it five for the sake of this interview!) so what about the rest of them. People obviously feel the chill and the temperature change when a ghostly presence enters the room or the physical “touch” of a spirit like that of all the reports from Greyfriars in Scotland (indeed it even happened to me when I was there and I never experience anything!)

But taste and smell just don’t often get the attention that they deserve. They are the two senses that are most closely intertwined, smell dominates how things taste to humans. After all, when we smell something putrid, we often react by retching, like we just ate something disgusting.

Author, musician, and man after our own heart (University of Wisconsin alumni!) Joshua Cutchin decided to tackle these senses when no one else was handling the job. His book  A Trojan Feast: The Food and Drink Offerings of Aliens, Faeries, and Sasquatch came out in 2015 and it details the different food experiences that people have had in paranormal experiences. He’s now followed it up with The Brimstone Deceit: An In-Depth Examination of Supernatural Scents, Otherworldly Odors, and Monstrous Miasmas which explores the olfactory experiences that people have during their encounters with the other side.

joshua cut chin the brimstone deceit
Joshua Cutchin, just a Fortean and his tuba

We wrote a song called “Sulfur” when we had Mary Marshall on the podcast because she talked about the “smell of brimstone” that accompanied her first paranormal experience with an evil entity in her friend’s basement. What we think of sulfur (or the rotten eggs smell), commonly known as brimstone in the Old Testament, is really a compound called Hydrogen Sulfide and in The Brimstone Deceit, Cutchin details how incredibly sensitive the human nose is to the compound. Hydrogen Sulfide often naturally occurs near volcanoes and hot springs and ingesting too much of it is deadly for humans. Brimstone is said to be how Hell smells.

The Brimstone Deceit Hellfire
OH GOD MY NOSE… Is this what Buster Poindexter meant by Hot Hot Hot?!

In our conversation with Joshua, we talk about how this smell often accompanies encounters from demonic possessions to UFOs to Bigfoot and how his title The Brimstone Deceit really means how our sense of smell might be used to manipulate us in these otherworldly encounters. Could Hydrogen Sulfide be some kind of primordial trigger? It helps to activate our sixth sense like it activates taste? Freezing us in place with some kind of Manchurian Candidate extraterrestrial brainwash?

brimstone deceit joshua cutchin fairy food
It looks so good, but don’t eat it or YOU’LL NEVER GET OUT OF HERE

And from paranormal smells,  we also get into the link between modern extraterrestrial lore and ancient faerie stories as well. Why is it that humans are never supposed to eat the food or drink the wine offered to them by fairies? Why are faeries hanging out with the long dead? What are the similarities between the accounts of alien-human hybrid fetuses and faeries stealing unborn children and replacing them with changelings? We look for the connection between ancient paranormal encounters and modern day alien abductions through Josh’s incredible research.

If you’re interested in learning more about Josh and his excellent books, A Trojan Feast and The Brimstone Deceit, then you’ve got to check out his website. He’s also the co-host of the Where Did The Road Go? podcast which you should check out as soon as you’re done with ours!

helena bonham carter the brimstone deceit morgan le fay
I ruined Kenneth Branagh and Tim Burton’s marriages and didn’t even need any magic!

Since we spent some time discussing faeries (also known as the Fey), we thought it would be a perfect time to put our track “Morgan Le Fay” on the podcast. It was the first track we ever wrote as the band Sunspot. Wendy was reading “Mists of Avalon” at the time and everybody thinks that King Arthur is totally sweet, so we started with the main guitar riff and worked on the imagery.

Morgan le Fay is the lure of the naughty and the evil. Like Lady MacBeth she spurns Arthur to do things he shouldn’t (like um, father a child with his half-sister.) She is the instant gratification of material power and pleasure, the temptation of the other world that’s almost impossible to resist.

She wraps black wings around me,
I’m paralyzed just like a dream.
Sacrifice in a place I thought was safe,
A warning I would never heed.

I spent my life looking for the savior,
But he looked the other way.
She holds me tight,
Wrapped in the living night,
A kiss from Morgan le Fay.

Quiet storms surround me,
I close my eyes and she appears.
Freedom from all the lies that I believed,
From my schizophrenic fears.

I spent my life looking for the savior,
But he looked the other way.
She holds me tight,
Wrapped in the living night,
A kiss from Morgan le Fay.

Hail to the Queen of the Hurricane,
I shot my conscience full of novocaine,
I lost my pleasure when I lost my pain,
And no one’s innocent when no one’s to blame.

Have you ever howled at the Full Moon?
Or watched the Earth from the sky?
Have you felt the ecstasy of murder,
Or a power over life?
A power over life.

I spent my life looking for the savior,
But he looked the other way.
She holds me tight,
Wrapped in the living night,
A kiss from Morgan le Fay.

Hail to the Queen of the Hurricane,
I shot my conscience full of novocaine,
I lost my pleasure when I lost my pain,
And no one’s innocent when no one’s to blame.

Blame.
Blame.
Morgan le Fay.