Tag Archives: spiritualism

226 – Strange Frequencies: Technology and the Supernatural with Peter Bebergal

At the beginning of the Millennium, I used to visit the website tarot.com almost every single day. It was a good-looking page that had some really cool tarot cards and it was free to do a little reading everyday. You could pay for a full “Celtic Cross” elaborate kind of thing, or you could just get a little three card session for free. You would ask it a specific question and get three cards back, one to tell you about yourself, one to tell you about your situation, and one to tell you about your challenges.

But there was always something that I felt was off in trying to use a computer to divine something about your life. There’s no human element, there’s no psychic or medium to help you interpret the cards, while it felt interesting and fun, it never felt magical. Tarot on a computer screen never felt sacred. It’s zeroes and ones, I never felt what Peter Bebergal in his new book Strange Frequencies: The Extraordinary Story of the Technological Quest for the Supernatural, calls “enchantment”. That feeling you are participating in something outside your natural human experience, like religious ecstasy or the of meditation, or when you’re talking with a medium and they tell you things that are impossible to know.

The last time we had Peter Bebergal on, we talked about his great book, Season of the Witch: How The Occult Saved Rock ‘n’ Roll, and this book is just as fascinating. He argues that using technology to uncover the paranormal has been with us since we started trying to explain the universe. Something as simple as rubbing a lucky rabbit’s foot is magical technology. It doesn’t have to be an Ovilus plucking words out of the ether. And really, is looking for signs of the future in animal entrails any different than a computer program designed to spit out random predictions? The same forces that would use the viscera to relay a message could just as easily use the zeroes and ones, couldn’t they?

Author Peter Bebergal

Fast forward fifteen years and I use my Apple Watch to meditate every day. I’ve listened to MP3s of hypnosis sessions where I try to recollect past lives. I use my phone alarm to wake me an hour before I’d normally awaken sometimes so that I can explore lucid dreaming. I’ve gone from someone who scoffed the first time a psychic told me that she would do phone and Skype sessions (all I could think of was Miss Cleo) to being shocked and amazed at some of the things I’ve been told during those very same sessions.

When you watch Ghost Hunters or Ghost Adventures, the technology is as big a part of the show as the history of the haunted location. They set up digital voice recorders to catch EVPs, thermal imaging cameras to look for variations in the temperature (cold spots!), Electromagnetic Field Detectors to reveal temporary energy fluctuations. We don’t have the technology to capture a spirit like in Ghostbusters, but we can try to “capture” phenomena on tape when they happen. Technology and the supernatural are more intertwined than ever, but as Peter argues in his book, that’s nothing new. Some of the things we touch on:

In the episode, Wendy and I talk about how much fun we had at Krampusnacht in Milwaukee on the day before St. Nick’s. We have a whole episode dedicated to everyone’s favorite Christmas demon! Here’s a link to some amazing photos of Milwaukee Krampusnacht 2018 as well!

The song this week is inspired by the title of Peter’s book Strange Frequencies and the Spirit Box. Even our most famous inventors, Edison and Tesla, both thought that they could eventually design a radio to communicate across the veil (or even between planets) and we took that idea and ran with it. Here is Sunspot with “The Strangest Frequency”.

If I could talk to those I lost again
to try and make amends
among the graves

Some kinda wiretap
from far beyond the map
somehow these words get trapped
between the waves

Screaming in the darkness
broadcasting our callsign
hoping to break though reality
a mechanical catharsis
tuned in from the other side
I heard you on the strangest frequency

Finding patterns in the static
is automatic
with all these toys

sufficiently
advanced technology
is just necromancy
with some white noise

Screaming in the darkness
broadcasting our callsign
hoping to break though reality
a mechanical catharsis
tuned in from the other side
I heard you on the strangest frequency
I heard you on the strangest frequency
I heard you on the strangest frequency

171 – Darkest Hour: The Paranormal Life of Winston Churchill

It’s getting near the  end of the year, so that means it’s  Oscar-bait time and one of the performances getting great reviews this season is Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour. Of course, Gary Oldman isn’t afraid of a radical transformation (just see his work as a computer-generated dwarf in the movie Tiptoes) and the skinny Oldman gets out the fat suit to play the more squat Sir Winston. The movie looks good and I’m a sucker for World War II flicks, especially set during the Blitz .

While we all know Churchill from his amazing speeches and his steadfastness in the face of the Nazi threat, he also had plenty of supernatural experiences as well.

In this episode we talk about

So, there’s plenty of stories about the paranormal life of Winston Churchill, but as the “Last Lion” of the British Empire, he was a man very much of his time with an aura of greatness that proceeds him as almost no other leader of the Twentieth Century. He was a great author, orator, leader, and politician and helped shape our world.

We mention him in our song “No Place Like Home” because it’s that greatness that this song is looking for, the idea that you have to run away to find your purpose because you’ll never find it where you grew up. But we don’t always get to choose where we are most needed, where we are most valuable. Churchill was perfectly suited to his time and his place, but even when it doesn’t feel like it, aren’t we all exactly where we are supposed to be?

I was looking for any kind of way out,
I’ve been planning my escape since the day that I was born,
I took a map, threw a dart, and hit a target.
Anywhere but here was a better place to be for me.I am the puzzle that is missing lots of pieces,
I am  the paint by numbers that don’t all add up.
I am the Christmas gift with batteries not included,
I am the greatest book you ever read whose ending sucks.I said that I was coming back as a big shot,
when I found more of my kind,
I promised I would have a laugh at the townies,
the poor bastards left behind.I left town like a prison break,
Anywhere was better than this place,
I thought I was a rolling stone,
When I went out to the Twilight Zone,
But in the end there’s no place like home.There must be some kind of error in the geography,
I’ll never grow old in this locality,
I’m Buck in the 25th century,
I felt like Dorothy, but don’t call me Dorothy.
I always felt like I belonged in the 70s.
or with Churchill or even DaVinci,
but the further I run from this proximity,
The bigger the hole gets inside of me.

I’m still the puzzle that is missing lots of pieces,
but I’m not lonely anymore.
We’re all expatriates confused by our coordinates,
The cosmic refugees who washed up on this shore.

I left town like a prison break,
Anywhere was better than this place,
I thought I was a rolling stone,
When I went out to the Twilight Zone,
I left town like a prison break,
Anywhere was better than this place,
I thought I was a rolling stone,
When I went out to the Twilight Zone,
But in the end there’s no place like home.
No place like home.
No place like home.
No place like home.

P.S. – Here’s the awesome map of UFO sightings we talk about in the episode from our friend, John. UFO sightings in Wisconsin broken down by city!

158 – Fool Us: Magic and Mystery with David Parr

Magician David Parr’s recent appearance on Penn & Teller: Fool Us ended up with David performing a neat card trick with Alyson Hanigan (Willow from Buffy!) that not only amazed the crowd, but managed to fool both of the title stars! The show is based around the famous magic duo trying to figure out tricks by other magicians and if they can’t figure your trick out, you get to perform with them at their Las Vegas show! On the August 7th episode, David Parr was the only one who managed that feat!

You can watch the segment in its entirety on David Parr’s YouTube Channel

In addition to just being an incredible performer, though, David brings a cast knowledge of magical and mystical history to his show. He has a special Spiritualist-type magic performance in addition to his stage show (which you can see in Chicago at The Magic Cabaret) where he delves into the history of the seance as well as the spectacle.

David Parr
David Parr looking like he wants to trick you!

In this episode, Allison from Milwaukee Ghosts joins Wendy and I as we talk to David Parr about his favorite tricks, the whole experience of being on the Penn & Teller: Fool Us program, the problem with modern skepticism, non-staged and unexpected paranormal experiences during magic shows, and of course, miniature guillotines that kids used to get as presents (WHAT?!)

David Parr and the Miniature Guillotine
David Parr and his Miniature Guillotine

Well, one of the things that we discussed in the podcast with David Parr was that humans really love mysteries! That feeling of wonder and “not knowing” helps keep life interesting and fun, and magic is definitely part of that. We all love being fooled a little bit, whether it’s willfully getting engaged in the suspension of disbelief during a movie or watching a lady being sawed in half onstage, or even in our relationships. There’s what’s real and what we want to believe, and often, it’s just more fun to say to the person we love, “Lie to Me”.

Tell me I’m the biggest,
tell me I’m the best.
Tell me how hard I feel
and I’m better than the rest.

Let me know how good my kisses taste,
You’ve never felt this way before
Tell me how every other boy,
left you wanting more.

I can smell the bull$&^% on your breath.

Lie. To. Me.
Lie. To. Me.
Tell me I’m your big daddy,
Everything you’ve ever dreamed.
Lie. To. Me.
Lie. To. Me.
I’m the only one you need,
The only man who can compete.

I love it when you fool me baby
I love it when you fib
I love it when you make me feel
I’m just the best that there is

I’d rather live a fantasy
then suffer through the truth
And your sweet little fictions
Are all I need for proof

I can smell the bull$&^% on your breath.

Lie. To. Me.
Lie. To. Me.
Tell me I’m your big daddy,
Everything you’ve ever dreamed.
Lie. To. Me.
Lie. To. Me.
I’m the only one you need,
The only man who can compete.