Tag Archives: devil

173 – Santa Claus Is Real: Toys, Traditions, and Tulpas

Ho ho ho, friends, it’s a Yuletide tradition for us to uncover the weirdest stories we can about the Christmas season and this Holiday is no different. In the past we’ve covered everything from Krampus to Icelandic Christmas monsters to Holiday ghost stories and Alien Jesus, but we’ve hardly talked about the star of the show in most children’s imagination over the holidays, and that is Santa Claus! It’s St. Nick’s Day on December 6th, so we thought this is the perfect week to talk about him.

In this episode we go through the long history of Saint Nicholas, from his beginnings as a young holy man in 4th century Turkey who came from a rich family and was a deeply generous bishop who saved young women from lives of prostitution to eventually being venerated as a saint because he brought three murdered children back from the dead and he telepathically appeared in the dreams of Emperor Constantine. Awesome, right?

And while Saint Nicholas was a hugely popular saint in Europe in the Middle Ages, he wasn’t always a bearded fat man in a red fur suit who cam e down your chimney,  that didn’t happen until he came to the New World and was popularized as a character in Clement Clarke Moore’s “A Visit From St. Nicholas” poem in 1822 and Thomas Nast’s illustrations in the 1870s. And of course, Coke spent a ton of money advertising the jolly old elf too, helping out with that red and white suit he’s famous for.

santa claus is real coca-cola
Santa needs some of that “old school” Coca-Cola so he can stay up all night to bring you gifts!

Because Christmas itself is a little bit of a Pagan holiday (burning the Yule log a the Winter Solstice has been going on way before Baby Jesus), there’s a touch of Pagan in our Santa Claus, influenced by Odin and his eight-legged horse! And of course even Saint Nick can’t please everyone, because some Christians think that Santa is actually an avatar of Satan. And while most of us might think that’s kinda funny, the same Puritans who gave us Thanksgiving (ahem… and the Salem Witch Trials) also banned Christmas and made celebrating it a punishable offense. There was too much drinking, too much revelry, and just too much fun for them. The Puritans thought of it was a wasteful and decadent celebration, so they banned it in the New World and in England for a few decades in the Seventeenth Century.

santa claus is real santa's slay
Maybe Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans knew something about St. Nick that we don’t…

Truly my favorite part of this discussion though is when we start getting down to brass tacks. Santa Claus is real and people have been reporting sightings of him for awhile now. Yes, the same way they report sightings of Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, and UFOs. Kids and adults have seen Santa under the tree, they’ve seen him and his sleigh flying over their houses, they’ve seen him peering into their bedrooms… Yeah, I was taken aback as well.

So, what is it? Is there really an immortal who lives at the North Pole and stops time every year on Christmas Eve to deliver presents to the good boys and girls of the world? Could hundreds of millions of children believe him into existence? A tulpa created with the Christmas wishes of centuries of kids? Could there be something supernatural happening and the kids just interpret it as Santa Claus, kinda like the High Strangeness UFO discussion we had with Robbie Graham and Mike Clelland? That’s gotta be up for you to decide. For me, it’s like my Mom always said, “If you believe in Santa, he’s real.”

A few years back, we participated in a Christmas benefit album for the Salvation Army, we put our own spin on a track called “Hey Santa” by Madison songwriter Joe Snare, who put the compilation together.

 

Hey Santa,
You’ll be coming soon,
I cut my hair and changed my tune,
I’m a brand new man this year.
Hey Santa,
I’ve been counting days,
I cleaned up all my nasty ways,
I got your message loud and clear.

That lump of coal you gave me last year really made your point.
I’ve toned it down a notch or two,
look how I cleaned up this joint.
You’ve got Christmas right there in your hands,
Hey, Santa, won’t you give me one more chance?

Hey Santa,
I’ve been clean and straight,
you got no need to hesitate,
put me on the witness stand.

I couldn’t help but notice how my tree was kinda bare,
last time Santa came to town, you didn’t leave a present there.
You’ve got Christmas right there in your hands,
Hey, Santa, won’t you give me one more chance?

Hey Santa,
When you fill your sack,
don’t forget about me, Jack.
Because I’ll be looking out for you, you know.

Now you and I know I’m not quite an angel or a saint,
I’m doing everything I can,
to be someone that I ain’t.
You’ve got Christmas right there in your hands,
Hey, Santa, won’t you give me one more chance?

105 – Exorcism: Carl Seige and The Four Signs of Possession

Exorcism, it’s back baby! From scores of possessed Peruvian kids to the Catholic Church increasing the number of priests they train for exorcism, to a psychiatrist seriously discussing possession in the pages of The Washington Post, the word on the street is that people are getting possessed by demons and it’s gonna take some of that Power of Christ to compel them out of there!

One of our favorite paranormal experts, Allison Jornlin from Milwaukee Ghosts, has been researching cases of demonic possession and we brought her on to talk about a little known, but very influential exorcism case, that occurred in the Devilish Dairy State (that’s Wisconsin) in the 1860s.

watertown wisconsin carl siege exorcism
Watertown, WI in the 19th Century – this is the best they could do for aerial views, I guess.

It all begins with the Seige Family, who were living in Germany in the late 1840s. Carl’s little sister was playing outside when she found a duck egg with a pinhole in it. She brought it into show the family but the mother immediately said to get rid of it. However, before they could, the dog ate it. Soon after, the poor pooch passed on and the sister became violently ill. She suffered for a year with blindness and fits and then passed away. One side of Carl’s body shriveled and he became very sickly. Soon after the family emigrated to Watertown, Wisconsin because they knew that the Devil wouldn’t follow them to America (right? Right?!)

Not so, Carl continued to suffer from strange symptoms. Newspapers reported that he had a lizard (or some said a snake) in his stomach. He started acting crazy so his parents brought in a Native American doctor to help draw out the evil, but that didn’t seem to work. So, they finally called in the demon-cleansing professionals, the Catholic Church.

Now the Catholic Church says that there are four Signs of Possession:

  •  Knowing The Unknowable – This is where you possess knowledge that you can’t possible have known beforehand. People’s locations, things that they were doing, who they were with, secrets, etc… Basically psychic powers like you’re Professor X watching them through Cerebro.
  • Understanding Unlearned Languages – Being able to comprehend when people are speaking to you in a tongue with which you have no prior experience. This is especially useful when possessed people go on vacation.
  • Aversion to Sacred Objects – Crosses, holy water — all the kind of stuff that people try in vampire movies but never seems to work because they don’t have enough faith.
  •  Supernatural Strength – When little kids can throw a grown man across a room or a tiny middle-aged woman can bench press a sofa bed, that means they’ve probably been popping Satanic Steroids.

You don’t have to exhibit all the signs to be authentically demonically possessed, but it’s an important checklist because at least 3 out of the 4, you can’t really fake. (It’s easy to act freaked out around a cross, people do it in Dracula movies all the time. It’s a lot harder to answer someone speaking in Latin or deadlift a Mini-Cooper.)

In Carl’s case he exhibited three of the signs, number one, he met his would-be Exorcists, the Rev. John Gmeiner and another priest as they were arriving, even though no one told him when they were coming. Number two, the priests would ask him questions in Latin and he’d give the correct answer, responding in German, but showing that he understood the Latin nonetheless (even though he had no prior education in the language.) Number three, when he was deep in the throes of his possession, he reacted violently to the crucifix.

spirits of darkness carl seige exorcism
Father Gmeiner invented the “Horror Movie” font 30 years too early!

The priests exorcised Carl and were able to drive the demons out of him according to Father Gmeiner’s book, Spirits Of Darkness. But like herpes simplex, the demons never really go away, they just hide and come back in multiple outbreaks of possession throughout your life. Carl Seige had to be exorcised many times during his life to keep the Devil at bay.

In the present day, they recently held an Exorcist training seminar in Northern Illinois at Mundelein Seminary. Allison stopped by there last week to do some research and maybe catch a glimpse of some of those Catholic heroes who are learning the proper angles to spray Holy Water and the latest in projectile vomit-avoidance techniques. Our friend, Tea Krulos, wrote an article about it in the Milwaukee Record and called it “Exorcist-palooza”.

mundelein seminary carl seige exorcism
Excuse me guys, is this where all the Exorcists hang out?

There’s an new Exorcist TV show coming on FOX this season as well. William Peter Blatty’s book was famously based on a 1949 case, but there’s some connections that Allison has been researching that are less well known, and that’s a story for another podcast.

Self-harm is one of the cornerstones of demonic possession. There’s even a case in the Bible where Jesus encounters a possessed man cutting himself with stones. (Mark 5:5) This song, “Mercy of Myth” by our band Sunspot talks about how punishing yourself needlessly isn’t worth it, because not only does it make you feel bad, it also opens you up to being possessed!

There is a Hell we hold within,
you can’t forgive yourself for the things you did.
A hair shirt and a bottle,
won’t let you forget.

Consequently, rear entry
is all that we’re left with.
We camouflage our sabotage,
and lay at the mercy of myth.

And culpa’s even worse than Crack,
You don’t need a sheepskin to know that,
even after cutting, nailbiting, hair pulling and spiting.
All your shame is still toxic.

Consequently, rear entry
is all that we’re left with.
We camouflage our sabotage,
and lay at the mercy of myth.

I’ll abandon ship on this guilt trip,
and let it drown,
Need some clemency from self pity,
and burn it out.

94 – Bizarre Magic: The Weird Adventures of Daniel Rumanos

The world of the paranormal and the world of entertainment are intrinsically bound together. From Moses and his Burning Bush to Valerie Bertinelli getting Touched By An Angel, we tell stories to each other about the things that might sound crazy if they would happen in our regular life. But those stories help us believe.

Really, would The Exorcist have been so scary if it wasn’t Roman Catholic priests battling a demon who serves a master that fifty-seven percent of Americans believe exists? That’s not The Creature From The Black Lagoon or even George Romero’s zombies (who I thought might be real after a particularly traumatic Night Of The Living Dead viewing as an easily impressionable six-year old), we’re taking about The Devil, baby.

daniel rumanos
Daniel Rumanos in the flesh

But we’ll get back to Ol’ Scratch soon enough (we always do). First, let’s talk about this week’s guest. Daniel Rumanos is a Baltimore-based entertainer who performs bizarre magic. Okay, that’s a pretty cool name, but what is bizarre magic all about?

Rumanos describes it as story-based magic, you tell a tale to go along with the tricks. Part of the performance is creating a greater magical “outside” world with which to tell the story and then the tricks serve to spice up the performance. In our Houdini & Doyle episode, we talked about how some magicians in the Houdini era deliberately told their audiences that they had supernatural powers, and that set an atmosphere of wonder during the performances. While most modern mainstream magic shows use comedy to set the mood, Bizarre Magic uses the power of a supernatural or horror story to evoke an air of mystery. But today’s audiences don’t believe that these modern bizarre magicians actually have supernatural powers.

If David Copperfield makes an elephant disappear right before your eyes, you don’t really think that David Copperfield is a sorcerer who is invoking a supernatural power Gandalf-style to make the elephant disappear. It’s still wondrous and amazing, but you know that it’s a carefully constructed man-made illusion. If someone told you that David Copperfield is actually a wizard, it might flash as a possibility before your eyes for a second (how did he make that German goddess Claudia Schiffer fall in love with him after all?) but then you’d have a laugh because we all know that stage magic is an illusion and it’s great, but it’s not supernatural.

So, now let’s go back to the Devil and this is where it intersects with Daniel’s life. While a bizarre magic show might create a Lovecraftian world of sorcery and monsters which the tricks and stories take place in, there are events that take place all the time where someone’s faith has prepared them their entire lives for an atmosphere of wonder and paranormal experience.

When people go to a traveling religious revival event, their Christian faith has already done the groundwork to set the mood. If a majority of Americans believe that there is an actual Satan who is actively trying to deceive, seduce, and tempt humanity to do horrible things to each other, well, then you’ve got a pretty good setup for a traveling stage show where the magician (preacher) does battle versus the Devil and his minions (sinners in the audience.)

Bob Larson is a former radio host and present-day exorcist had been doing these types of shows, traveling from town to town in what Daniel Rumanos calls the “carnie” tradition. It’s a religious revival show where as the character, Ron Mephisto, he was one of the sinners planted in the audience to say the horrible things that he’d done in the name of Satan. Dressed up like whatever Goth culture was in at the time, Ron Mephisto would get up onstage and his soul would be healed by Bob Larson The Exorcist.

Daniel describes these events as being more about the show and downplays the religious aspects a bit. He said that while they would make the lights flicker at appropriate times, the audience saw many more things in the performance than they actually created and that it was their imagination that filled in most of the paranormal blanks. Collection plates would fill up when people saw the power of the Lord channeled through his faithful servant Bob Larson.

Now, imagine if you were in a Catholic Mass and Jesus came right off the crucifix and transubstantiated into the communion wafers and wine right before your eyes. That would make you believe wouldn’t it? That would make you cough up a little more cash that week when the ushers bring around the donation baskets.

That was the essence of what they were doing, a Bizarre Magic show where the audience’s faith created the suspension of disbelief. And after a few years of that, Daniel eventually wanted to be the exorcist instead of the sinner and started performing as one himself.

This led to a Coast To Coast AM interview in 2007, where his credentials as an exorcist weren’t vetted nor were his claims. While I almost always enjoy George Noory and his show, this kind of thing is the perfect reason to take the guests’ claims with a grain of salt. And to listen to all of the claims on paranormal “reality” shows with caution. Bob Larson had his own special on the Sci-Fi Channel called The Real Exorcist and well, we know how real that is.

Houdini was a magician that knew the tricks used by Spiritualist mediums to fool people who wanted desperately to believe in their loved ones’ souls surviving death. Rumanos does some of his own paranormal debunking and that’s gotten him into trouble with paranormal reality superstars like Zak Bagans who threatened to sue Rumanos a few years back.

Daniel Rumanos grew up loving stories of the macabre and now he writes his blog, Weird Adventures, where he creates the world in which he performs his bizarre magic shows. The stories on the blog are creepy and in a Lovecraft-meets-The Dresden Files sorta way and it’s a lovely fiction.

While the magician and writer says he’s seen some things that he cannot explain, he also says that since he cannot explain, he prefers not to try. The stories that he weaves on his blog and in his shows are entirely his own.

While the character that Daniel Rumanos has created for himself seems to be shrouded in a little bit of mystery, he seems to me like a paranormal trickster. He’s a showman who’s seen Oz behind the curtain and blends his love of classic horror and fantasy stories with illusion and magic. I try not to judge the beliefs of people who are on the show (they might all be right for all I know!) but it’s a little refreshing that he doesn’t make any fantastical claims of his own.

That gave us the idea for this week’s song about how sometimes we all feel like impostors, like we’re making it up as we go along. This Sunspot track is called “In Plain Sight”:

I’ll sit and listen to the worst things in your life,
I’ll be crying on the outside but I don’t care about your plight.
Looking side to side to find a mask to emulate,
when the camouflage wears off, you’ll be the first to run away.

The wheels spin and the lies begin,
I’ll confabulate a feeling,
to learn the tricks I need to fix,
to keep everyone believing that,

Nothing’s broken,
in my emotion.
I must be cracked,
cuz I’m not right.
Some kind of monster,
just an impostor,
a freak that’s
hiding in plain sight.

Observing close and keeping notes, of the right way to behave,
To infiltrate and analyze, maybe one day invade.
I’ll shake your hand, I’ll nod my head, pretend to give a damn,
I’ll respond to every cue, but never understand.

The wheels spin and the lies begin,
I’ll confabulate a feeling,
to learn the tricks I need to fix,
to keep everyone believing that,

Nothing’s broken,
in my emotion.
I must be cracked,
cuz I’m not right.
Some kind of monster,
just an impostor,
a freak that’s
hiding in plain sight.

The Best Occult Imagery at NAMM 2016

I’m at the NAMM 2016 Show this week, which is the National Association of Music Merchants, it’s where musical instrument companies, music dealers, recording equipment companies, etc… all get together to show off their latest and greatest stuff. It’s in Anaheim, California right next to Disneyland, and 140,000 musicians, gearheads, salespeople, and techies from all over the world converge and take over this Orange County city and it’s long hair, dye jobs, tattoo sleeves, and leather jackets as far as the eye can see.

One of the most fun things about the conference is that guitar companies will bring their most outrageous guitars, instruments not that don’t sell that much, maybe, but are showcases for the huge amount of talent that their best craftsmen have. These guys and gals can make unbelievably beautiful instruments and it is terribly exciting to see the most well-crafted and gorgeous instruments ever made.

The occult and rock n’ roll have been linked since Robert Johnson sold his soul at the crossroads and themes of horror have run through the music from Screamin’ Jay Hawkins to Alice Cooper to Marilyn Manson and in the modern era with Ghost. Skulls have always been a popular symbol for high testosterone males. In the old days, it was a symbol for all the people that they had defeated in battle, today it represents the aggressive style and fearlessness in the face of mortality that rock n’ roll music has long stood for. But the devil, the Illuminati, and horror movies were all well represented today and here are some of the most fantastic guitars and accessories with occult imagery that I’ve seen at the NAMM 2016 Show so far!