Tag Archives: tulpas

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?

137 – Tulpas, Secret Societies, and the Chupacabra: The Paranormal Cornucopia of Nick Redfern

Nick Redfern is the author of  40 books on UFOlogy, cryptozoology, secret societies, conspiracies, and the paranormal.  An incredibly prolific researcher and author, Nick usually contributes about 2 books a year to the field. From the Men (and Women!) in Black (the real kind, not the Wil Smith variety) to the Loch Ness Monster to the CIA’s mind-controlled sex slaves (say what?!), Nick has covered almost every possible paranormal story there is.
Nick Redfern
What’s Nick hiding in the desert?

You’ve probably read some of Nick’s writing on the Mysterious Universe blog or in FATE magazine or have heard him on Coast to Coast AM or seen him on Ancient Aliens (no, he’s not the dude with the crazy hair), Monsterquest, or Penn & Teller’s Bull$%^. When there is news of the strange and unusual, Nick finds a way there. Raised in England, Nick Redern moved near Dallas, Texas and that’s where he spoke to Allison and I.

Our discussion with Nick ranges from his new book on secret societies (with so many presidents Ivy Leaguers or members of Skull & Bones, we were eager to learn if President Trump was part of any secret organizations…) to Victorian Men in Black (could that be the real inspiration for Torchwood?) to the most interesting part of the interview for me.

nick redfern
Nick Redfern, man of mystery… and bandana model.

Of all the stories that Nick has heard, the one that surprised him the most was of the Puerto Rican Chupacabra (a beast that we discuss in depth in episode 24 of the podcast) and just how believable and credible the witnesses to the stories were. That took me for a loop, because at the end of our episode, I was thinking that the Chupacabra, the mystical goatsucker itself, was just the product of an overactive imagination after someone had watched Species (a film that could have used a lot more imagination!)

I was glad however that I got to tell him my own story that was influenced by one of his books (I also told this full story in our Exploring Cryptozoology roundtable discussion in Episode 66.) On a trip to the UK and Ireland in 2008, I was reading his work, Three Men Seeking Monsters, which was about Nick and his friends going to the locations of legendary paranormal sightings across Britain, listening to punk rock, and drinking prodigious amounts of ale. That was the kind of trip that I could get behind and it was a fun book to read while we were on our own road trip across the island.

It was a weird time because I was just about to quit my day job to go for it as a musician and my wife (girlfriend at the time) was contemplating leaving her career as well. So we were a couple of people who were planning on changing our lives completely.

 We went to Ireland for a few days on the trip to see the sites and we visited the Blarney Castle,  where you kiss the Blarney Stone and it’s supposed to give you the gift of telling lies and making up stories, which sounds bad right before I tell a crazy story.

nick redfern culpas mr. ed sideburns
Hey Mr. Ed, how do you like my 2008 sideburns?

 One of the concepts that Redfern deals with in Three Men Seeking Monsters is that maybe these paranormal visitations of ghosts, UFOs, Bigfoot, faeries, and the like are really just manifestations of our belief, the Tulpa or “Tibetan thoughtform”. As Wikipedia calls it, “a being or object created through sheer spiritual or mental discipline alone. Indian Buddhist texts call it an unreal, illusory, or mind-created apparition.”

I’d never heard of that before and I thought it was a really unique concept at the time. We were talking about it a couple of days earlier. While we were walking the grounds of the castle, we were in the park alone when we spotted the shadow of an animal a hundred yards away. I saw what I thought was a dog or small wolf. In the back of my mind a little bit, I was terrified it was some kind of Hellhound like the kind Nick talks about in his book (hey, when you’re all alone walking around in a foreign country, sometimes your mind wanders a bit!) My wife, however, said she saw a cat.

nick redfern tulpa
What manner of beastie is that?! And why do these shots always have to be blurry?

Which she thought was a miracle, because while she was considering a career change she’d been offered a position at a cat specialty clinic in town just before we left and was wandering around the British Isles hoping to find any kind of sign on what to do with her life. Seeing a mysterious shadowy animal while on the trail was one thing, but us both seeing something different was another. And her seeing a cat was the icing on the cake.

A closer up shot of the Devil Dog of Blarney! Okay, okay, I guess it does look like a cat

Who knows what it was? Probably just a normal Irish kitty running around, but it certainly felt like something else. And as we checked our cameras and it disappeared when we looked away, it sure felt like it might be that sign she was looking for, and that it just might have been a Tulpa, the thought form that I first read about in Nick’s book just days earlier.

In honor of Nick’s book and Chupacabra stories and the strange creature I saw in the woods, we thought this week’s song would be perfect for a little beastly Sunspot goodness about , this rocker is actually based on the fable of the “Scorpion and the Frog” and it’s called “Nature of the Beast”.

 I’m loving, caring, and kind,
you’ll put your stinger in my backside,
your venom I can’t resist,
so let’s get on with this little tryst.

You love me,
You hate me,
You can try but you can’t change me.
I’m a victim,
I’m a killer,
I can’t help it, that’s my nature.
My nature.

I’m naive, but I’m not a fool.
You’re designed to be cold and cruel.
You can’t help your insatiable bloodlust,
I can’t help my misguided trust.

You love me,
You hate me,
You can try but you can’t change me.
I’m a victim,
I’m a killer,
I can’t help it, that’s my nature.

You can’t deny what you can’t control,
the beast is cold of heart but pure of soul.
there’s no changing spots through an exit poll,
so let’s take a dive in the swimming hole.

You love me,
You hate me,
You can try but you can’t change me.
I’m a victim,
I’m a killer,
I can’t help it, that’s my nature.
That’s my nature.

Tim Armstrong from Rancid on The X-Files?

Spoilers for The X-Files episode, “Home Again”…

Okay, in the mix of paranormal and pop culture, here’s is one of the strangest casting choices that I’ve seen, Tim Armstrong from Rancid, was in The X-Files!

You can hardly understand the guy when he’s singing, I was surprised that he was able to get out all of his lines and didn’t need someone to dub his voice over like an old kung fu movie.

Sunspot, our band, still plays “Roots Radicals” by Rancid all the time. We learned it back in high school (before there was guitar tabs and lyrics all over the Internet) and before you could find the words on the …And Out Come The Wolves album, so that means I had to listen to that song a thousand times to try and figure out what he was saying. Basically, I just grunted and made words up that kind of sounded like the song until the chorus.

I thought Armstrong might really be into the paranormal too (after all, he was in a band with Travis Barker and some of that Blink–182 Tom DeLonge UFO weirdness might have infected him) but no, the writer Glen Morgan, is just a massive Rancid fan, and I can’t blame him for that. Wendy and I saw Rancid at Lollapalooza and they killed.

The promo said that he plays the character of Trashman, but if you’ve seen the episode, you know that’s not really true. Actually, Armstrong plays an artist who isn’t the Trashman, but creates a sculpture that his anger at the mistreatment of Philadelphia’s homeless population imbues the artwork with life and compels it to a killing spree. His acting is just fine, he needs to play a scared weird artist type that looks like they’ve been sleeping on the street. Tim Armstrong fits that bill just about perfectly. He even mentions Tulpas, the mystical Tibetan thought-form. The idea that a belief or idea held strongly enough can be brought to life.

Mulder quickly corrects him that the Tulpa was a mistranslation of a different Tibetan concept and that Tulpas never existed traditionally, but the idea of them was created in a book (during the whole Orientalism craze of the early Twentieth Century), With Mystics and Magicians in Tibet. And that was a revelation to me, The X-Files taught me something this week!

Tim Armstrong X-Files
Ruby ruby ruby ruby so- oh God, there’s limbs everywhere!

Before the reveal, I thought it was more like the Golem, which is an inanimate object brought to life to do his master’s bidding, but there was plenty of nice and gruesome killing and horror movie fun in this episode. You get to see several snobby rich jerks literally get ripped apart by a monster that rides around in a garbage truck. So, that’s nice.

However, just because that Tulpas aren’t really a traditional Tibetan idea, doesn’t mean that willing a creature into existence – the thought form – isn’t an idea that’s taken life in it’s own right. I talk a little about my experience with Tulpas in our Cryptozoology Round Table episode. And for a great movie about thought forms, check out Wes Craven’s New Nightmare