141 – The World of Wicca: Selena Fox and The Witches of Circle Sanctuary

With Beltane (May Day) on the horizon, we thought it was the perfect time to interview Wisconsin’s favorite Witch, Selena Fox. Selena is a Wiccan priestess who has been performing public Pagan rituals  since the early 1970s and she is the leader of the Circle Sanctuary Nature Preserve in southwest Wisconsin (geologically known as the Driftless Region).

selena fox circle sanctuary
Selena leads a ceremony as you can see Allison watching on

Selena’s work on providing support for the Pagan and Wiccan religious community in the United States has been recognized in TIME and People magazines and the Circle Sanctuary Nature Preserve holds public events for the 8 big Earth-based religious holidays. For this episode we concentrate on Beltane, where one of the parts of the celebration is the famous Maypole!

Earth-based religions like Wicca are all about getting back in touch with nature. They connect with their spirituality by connecting with the outdoors. They find their power in the relationship between all things, everything has a spirit from the trees to the rocks to the water to the animals and as such, we can find commonalities with those spirits and each other. Their universe is much more than a single God watching over us, it’s an ecosystem, a greater whole of energy and spirit that are bodies and souls are part of.

selena fox circle sanctuary beltane

One of the best parts of this episode is dispelling the myths that surround Wicca and Paganism. Because the god Pan features in plenty of Pagan imagery (you know, the flautist with the horns and the goat legs) and early Christians decided to use Pan to represent the Christian Devil, when you grow up with mainstream religions the ideas you get about paganism are from The 700 Club and the Tom Hanks Dan Aykroyd classic, Dragnet (and you should stop whatever you’re doing and watch the music video below, you will not be disappointed!)

Dispelling myths is also what this week’s song is about. We already talked about Walpurgisnacht in our Devil’s Night episode, but that’s the night before May Day where the witches were supposed to meet up in the German mountains and plot their wicked deeds for the year. Well, in this song, someone stumbles upon the witches’ gathering but realizes that it’s not wicked, they’re just having fun and like everybody, happy that Winter is over!

Click on these links if you’re like to learn more about  Selena Fox on Facebook or visit the official Circle Sanctuary calendar to see when the next public event is where you can join in the fun.

What did I see out behind the mountains
What did you see when you looked at the full moon?
Was it demon wings and hellfire in the sky
Did you see the witches flying for our doom?

The Devil’s whores are waiting for their master
Spring time is here and evil’s coming after

Walpurgisnacht
Is the night where Satan spreads his seed
Walpurgisnacht
Is the night that challenged my beliefs
Walpurgisnacht

They danced around the Maypole,
The earth made love to the sky
I waited and I prayed for mercy,
But old Scratch never arrived.

So what were we afraid of,
What was the magic spell?
Where was all the the temptation
That would lead me right to Hell?

So i guess that they’re not wicked,
I was scared of the wrong stuff,
They’re just happy that Winters’s over
And want to party in the buff!

Walpurgisnacht
Is the night where we pray for our seed
Walpurgisnacht
Is the night that we renew our beliefs
Walpurgisnacht

140 – The Phoenix Lights: Revisiting The Most Famous UFO Sighting In The World

With the new film, The Phoenix Forgotten coming out this weekend, we thought it was the right time to reconsider The Phoenix Lights. On March 13th, 1997, an estimated ten thousand people saw a UFO over the Phoenix skyline.

The new movie is a found-footage Blair Witch-style film produced by sci-fi movie favorite, Ridley Scott, that takes the plot of three teenagers who were witnesses to the phenomenon, go out in the mountains to investigate it, and then disappear. The idea is that they bring along a video camera (no camera phones or YouTube in 1997!) and the videotape is later discovered.

So, cool premise for a film, but what did people actually see on that Thursday night in 1997? Well, the original sighting began in Henderson, Nevada, a town right outside Las Vegas. That report was of a V-shaped object that had six lights at the leading edge and it was traveling southeast. It was then reported in several towns between Henderson and Phoenix, with Phoenix being the place where it was reported the most.

Also, people were reporting two different kinds of events as well. One was the boomerang type spacecraft that would eventually be what the Phoenix Lights is most known for. They said that it blocked out the stars as it passed overhead, with some people claiming that it was nearly a mile across (while the original Henderson, Nevada sighting claimed to only be the size of 747.) These were primarily reported in Prescott, Arizona but no known footage was taken of it there. Later in June of that year, *USA Today *would run a photo on its front page reporting the story, and that computer-generated recreation of the sighting would become the most famous image associated with the phenomenon.

phoenix lights

The second event was a set of nine lights that appeared to hover over the city at 10pm and that’s what’s been covered the most because of the famous video footage that was taken that night. The lights seemed to disappear behind a mountain range and no explanation was given.

The governor of Arizona, Fife Symington III, even talked about the lights in a press conference not too long after. He said that they “found the culprit” and brought out a cabinet member in an alien costume as a joke. The authorities didn’t treat it seriously, even while thousands of people reported the sighting and the story ended up being picked up by the national news networks in July, after the USA Today story ran.

phoenix lights

The lack of immediate response from the government allowed for people to start speculating themselves and Dr. Lynne Katei has become the most famous investigator into the phenomenon. She connects it to earlier UFO sightings in the area as well as a missing time experience that she had with her husband and wrote a book and released a documentary on the Phoenix Lights.

Since the initial sightings, debunkers have claimed that the first event was merely the Maryland Air National Guard in the are running winter exercises, and the second was the flares that they dropped as part of those exercises. Who knows why they decided not to tell everyone at the time? Since air traffic control records are usually cleared every two weeks if there’s no incident, there’s no hard copy to verify the claim. Only the word of government sources. But the lights were on the news that night, why did they wait?

Governor Fife Symington III, who originally made fun of the event in 1997, has an explanation. He didn’t want to panic the fine people of Arizona and he was afraid if they took the event too seriously, that’s what would have happened. In fact, he now claims that he saw the boomerang shaped UFO over Phoenix that night as well and that the investigation should be re-opened. He even called it “otherworldly”, so why did he change his tune ten years later?

There hasn’t been an explanation yet that satisfied all the people who witnessed The Phoenix Lights, so the mystery endures twenty years later.

On a related entertainment note, a different found footage movie about the Phoenix Lights called The Phoenix Incident came out in 2015 and they tried a different kind of marketing campaign than The Phoenix Forgotten. While I think the marketing at SXSW this year where they recreated The Phoenix Lights with drones over Austin was awesome, The Phoenix Incident tried using viral marketing in a more nefarious way.

Number one, they did an anonymous report to MUFON of a 60-year old man who claims to have seen an alien the night of the lights. This was later picked up by Cryptozoology News and reported on as a news story as well as someone reading the report into YouTube over footage from the real Phoenix Lights. Then, the director of the film does interviews claiming that his film is telling the truth with tying into a “missing persons” case from that night. They try to tie the false missing persons case to the Heaven’s Gate cult as well to further exploit the “real-life connections”.

It’s a pretty clever way to get attention for your film, but at the same time it’s damaging to the field of UFOlogy (just take this forum post from Above Top Secret for proof of people missing the fictional aspect of it) and it’s another case where they’re capitalizing on innocent people’s beliefs and natural curiosity in an event witnessed by thousands, just so that they can try to sell more tickets (I have this same issue with Tom DeLonge’s book, Sekret Machines saying that it’s fact masquerading as fiction.)

When you’re dealing with the paranormal, the lines between reality and fantasy are already blurred and mixing them further to make a little money might be good marketing but it’s bad humanity. Whether you believe in extraterrestrials or not, any time you mess with the truth for personal gain fouls it up for the rest of us.

This week’s Sunspot track takes a different tack on what the UFO was doing flying over Phoenix. Unlike The Phoenix Forgotten or The Phoenix Incident, maybe these aliens just came to Las Vegas to have a good time on a little St. Patrick’s getaway, partied too hard (because that can happen to anyone in that town), and got lost on the way home. Just saying that maybe they didn’t mean any harm, they just don’t get the same kind of fun on their homeworld. Anyway, take a listen to “The Ballad of The Phoenix Lights”.

They came down to Sin City,
For a St. Patty’s Day party
But things were far from pretty,
they started drinking too early.

They hailed from a world that was dry,
a real cosmic bore.
These boys just wanted to get high,
and maybe even score.

So they hid their ship and hit the strip,
didn’t miss a casino,
And they left a trail of wreckage
from the Luxor to the Flamingo.

When the aliens finally showed up,
they did not come to destroy,
No hellfire blaze or cosmic rays,
they came to here to enjoy
the good life that they couldn’t get
on a world beyond the black,
These spacemen just like to party,
are we gonna send them back?

Their foreign livers couldn’t process,
All the booze they did consume,
and the MIBs said they had to leave,
before they trashed their hotel room.

They stumbled back to their ship
grabbed the wheel with one eye closed,
But they took off way too fast,
and then got lost on the way home.

They thought they set the course for their world
and went southeast instead,
the driver said that he was fine,
but he was messed out of his head.

When the aliens finally showed up,
they did not come to destroy,
No hellfire blaze or cosmic rays,
they came to here to enjoy
the good life that they couldn’t get
on a world beyond the black,
These spacemen just like to party,
are we gonna send them back?

When they finally got to Phoenix,
well, it made quite a scene,
Ten thousand people saw their lights,
they knew it couldn’t be a dream.

Mericopa County had a Sheriff Joe
he saw the craft with his own eyes,
he knew he had to pull them down
Intergalactic DUI.

He tracked them down by the mountain range,
And they didn’t try to run,
‘License and registration’ he said
’You boys have had your fun.

You see this rock ain’t for aliens,
specially trouble like y’all,
This planet’s for humans only
I’m gonna kick you off our ball.’

When the aliens finally showed up,
they did not come to destroy,
No hellfire blaze or cosmic rays,
they came to here to enjoy
the good life that they couldn’t get
on a world beyond the black,
These spacemen just like to party,
are we gonna send them back?

The driver cried almond eye tears,
and Joe felt a touch of mercy,
Maybe I shouldn’t be so tough,
Maybe these things are just like me.

So he didn’t blast them back to space,
So they didn’t have to run.
And now they’re being poked and prodded,
in Area 51!

When the aliens finally showed up,
they did not come to destroy,
No hellfire blaze or cosmic rays,
they came to here to enjoy
the good life that they couldn’t get
on a world beyond the black,
These spacemen just like to party,
Now they’re never going back
These spacemen just wanted better,
now they’re never going back.
They just wanted a better life,
and they’re never going back!

139 – Field of Screams: Talking Haunted Baseball with Dan Gordon

While the season officially begins after the Vernal Equinox (the day in March when it’s exactly 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark), a lot of people don’t consider it really Springtime until Opening Day of baseball season. Growing up in the Milwaukee suburbs in the 80s, going to Brewers Opening Day was even considered an excusable absence. While my interest in the National Pastime and burning desire to be a professional baseball player burned out along the Brewers’ dashed hopes of the 1982 World Series, I am thoroughly interested in learning more about its superstitions and ghost stories. As the co-author of both Haunted Baseball and Field of Screams (along with his close friend and baseball aficionado, Mickey Bradley), Dan Gordon is the man to talk to when it comes to baseball and weirdness.

Dan Gordon and Mickey Bradley Haunted Baseball
Dan (left) and Mickey (right) hanging out in the bleachers

While most of my previous knowledge of haunted baseball came from the episode of Real Ghostbusters where Winston becomes part of the game between the forces of Good and Evil (“Night Game”, which is one of the series’ best episodes), the rich history of the sport and its spotlight in the national consciousness since at least the beginning of the Twentieth Century has filled its supernatural coffers with plenty of legends and ghost stories.

haunted baseball winston real ghostbusters night game
How did the hat and jacket stay on Slimer when he’s made out of only ectoplasm?

Whether it’s the Chicago Cubs’ famed “Curse of The Billy Goat” to the “Curse of the Bambino” that haunted the Red Sox, baseball is full of generations-spanning myths as to why some teams win and others lose . Dan tells Wendy and I a ton of new haunted baseball stories.

Yankees Stadium in particular seems to be a place where the spirits of the old players give the home team an unfair advantage. Dodgers Stadium has catacombs and of course we talk about the haunted Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee and how the ghosts there have it out for baseball players in particular! Dan fills us in on these stories and a lot more in the interview!

You can grab Dan Gordon and Mickey Bradley’s books on haunted baseball right at their website, conveniently titled HauntedBaseball.com!

Special thanks to Scott Markus of www.whatsyourghoststory.com for recommending and getting us in contact with Dan Gordon!

Going off our athletic inspiration from Dan Gordon, this week’s Sunspot song is a special sports barnburner called “All In”!

Float like a butterly,
Get knocked down and you gotta get back up,
put me in the game, I’m ready to play,
in the place where the best and mighty roam, take the field and fight,
struggle in a battle for glory.When I play, I play to win,
take my chips cuz I’m all in.
This is our time, this is our day.
Victory is the aim,
the only thing,
we will proclaim,
And when you go, go all the way.

Old Vince was right, winning is the only thing.
When somebody rocks you,
you must come back.
In this world, there is no replay,
called forth to action on this day,
Get out on the field and get ’em back.

When I play, I play to win,
take my chips cuz I’m all in.
This is our time, this is our day.
Victory is the aim,
the only thing,
we will proclaim,
And when you go, go all the way.

138 – Heaven’s Gate: 20 Years After The Science Fiction Cult Suicide

On March 26th, 1997, thirty-nine members of the Heaven’s Gate religious group were found dead in a mansion near San Diego, California. They were all wearing Nike Decade sneakers and identical black sweatsuits with patches on them that said “Heaven’s Gate Away Team”. They had happily taped Farewell Videos to say goodbye before they transitioned out of their physical bodies to “The Evolutionary Level Above Human”. At the dawn of Internet journalism and the ramping up of cable news competition, it was a mesmerizing tragedy and it dominated the airwaves that Spring.

heavens gate
C’mon, the Packers should get some kind of royalty for using the logo

In the late 90s, there was apocalypse in the air. And it wasn’t just the Doomsday Preppers who felt it or the über-religious, they’re always predicting the end of the world. Humans love round numbers (ten fingers and ten toes sure did a number on our evolutionary psychology) and the rounding of the 1999 to 2000 was freaking everyone out a little.

I was a huge Art Bell fan that would listen every night when I went to bed. Y2K was on Coast To Coast AM several times a month. Pop culture about the end of the world was at a fever pitch from Bruce Willis fighting a Texas-sized asteroid (a global killer) in Armageddon to Arnold fighting Satan in End of Days. The X-Files (the most 1990s of TV shows) had a spin-off called Millennium, for Christ’s sake. Even Doctor Who got in the act with the TV movie being about how he needs to stop The Master from destroying Earth on December 31st, 1999.

Marshall Applewhite was a Presbyterian preacher’s son that was originally a music teacher. While he got married in 1952 and had two children, he ended up getting divorced in 1968 and a short time later suffered a nervous breakdown, which was rumored to be because of an inappropriate relationship with a student. Being this was Texas in the 1960s and the student was the same sex and Marshall was a religious man, it led to some serious internal conflict.

Bonnie Nettles was a registered nurse with an interest in astrology. They met when her son was a drama student at the school that Applewhite taught at. She did an astrological forecast with him that said they were destined to work together. On New Year’s 1973, she left her family and Applewhite left his life behind and they took their spiritual mission on the road to figure out what their destiny was.

Applewhite was arrested for rental car theft and ended up in prison for six months and that’s where they refined the beliefs of Heaven’s Gate. That Applewhite and Nettles (who called themselves “Ti” and “Do”) were reincarnations of Jesus and God and that they could help people cast away their earthly (read: sexual) urges and ascend to a level without gender or race, to the “Level Above Human”.

heavens gate
I would so go to this and you know you would too!

[http://offbeatoregon.com/assets-2016/1606a.heavens-gate-ufo-cult-394/heavens-gate-ufo-poster-1780.jpg](If I saw this poster, I would be there in a second)

Their idea was that the Earth was a garden developed by extraterrestrials designed to grow souls and the aliens were coming back to harvest the souls who were ready and then the rest would be plowed under to make room for a new garden. So, it was the usual apocalyptic “we’re the only ones who are going to be saved”.

They first made national news in 1975 when they hosted an event in Waldman, Oregon and twenty people ended up going with them. 3% of the town just took off with the group without even saying goodbye.

At the group’s prime, they had almost 200 followers and lived at campsites, often performing rituals in order to rid themselves of their human impulses (8 members eventually even castrated themselves, including Applewhite. )In the beginning, the aliens were only supposed to pick everyone up, but then Nettles got cancer and died in 1985. And that changed things. How could Nettles have died? Didn’t they predict that she would be alive when the aliens came by to pick the true believers up?

Nope. Applewhite had to think fast. All of a sudden, you had to get rid of your “earthly vehicle” in order to ascend to the Level Above Human. Bonnie Nettles just went early so that she could prepare the way.

heavens gate
Look at these two, what could go wrong?!

In this episode, we talk a lot about how the beliefs of Heaven’s Gate aren’t that different than any other mainstream religion. It’s perfectly normal in our society when someone joins the priesthood and lives a celibate life. While the life of a monk or a nun might not be the most traditional American path, it’s not that weird when someones decides to do it. The idea that we are spiritual creatures living in physical shells who need to control our base sexual impulses is written into every religion there is! I’ve even done similar things to the Master Cleanse (juice fasting, and it actually feels pretty great, so I’m not going to say anything bad about it, ha!) and I bet a lot of you have too.

The pantheon of Christian Saints is full of martyrs who died for their beliefs. In Catholicism, when you’re confirmed, you take a confirmation name. I took the name of Saint Cyprian who was beheaded by the Romans for his beliefs. Is it strange that people can be led to believe that they too can become martyrs for their beliefs and ascend to a better, happier afterlife?

heavens gate
Hey, it’s St. Syprian being beheaded, how nice!

In fact, Heaven’s Gate used that in their recruitment efforts. Christianity was the original cult, they said. The normal church that every single American president has claimed to believe in started off as a persecuted cult in the Mediterranean. So, who wouldn’t like to get in on the ground floor of the next Christianity?

Marshall Applewhite felt so conflicted over his own sexual urges and how they were considered evil by his own religion, that he decided to make up his own. And Applewhite was someone who knew how to take advantage of the times. His original followers were hippies from the communes who were disillusioned with their former lives. When fascination with UFOs was at its peak, he and Bonnie used the plausibility of extraterrestrial life to talk to a generation raised on science fiction. They watched Star Wars, Close Encounters of The Third Kind, and Star Trek frequently. Applewhite used sci-fi concepts that people could understand and presented a spiritual belief that already had a basis. 77% of Americans believe that aliens have visited Earth and 63% of American adults say they are absolutely certain there is a God . Applewhite put it together like chocolate and peanut butter.

heavens gate
Wouldn’t you believe this man? Seems reasonable to me!

It’s not what Heaven’s Gate believed that made them dangerous. That belief system could have been anything. It was the Millennial Fever that the feeling that the end of the world was coming, it was the slavish dedication to their leader, Marshall Applewhite, and the belief that he was the reincarnation of Jesus. He was infallible, but he knew that wouldn’t last forever.

That’s the real danger. It’s the person who understands how to manipulate those beliefs in order to get what they want. And Marshall Applewhite wanted to die.

“Do” knew that he had to put up or shut up. Whether it was some kind of final power he wanted to feel over others, whether he believed he and Bonnie Nettles were the “UFO Two” and decades of living his own dogma had convinced him of its veracity, or whether he was just tired of being alive. He thought that it was time for him to go and he was taking his followers with him.

When it came to the end, Applewhite was no different in understanding the zeitgeist in how to manipulate people to their end.

  • He used the Hale-Bopp comet as the sign that the time had come.
  • He used the “companion” UFO to the comet that people had talked about on Coast to Coast AM as proof.
  • He took advantage of the end of the world Millennialism
  • He used modern technology to solidify their beliefs in permanent format by videotaping the goodbyes

And here’s something that’s even weirder. It’s been twenty years and we know that there was no “companion” riding with Hale-Bopp, we know that there wasn’t any spaceship that picked everyone up. But one of the former followers, who left in the early 1990s has had dreams where he believes that Do (Applewhite) still speaks to him, that he needs to spread the message. And the Heaven’s Gate website is still up! Two decades after the mass suicide, the word is still getting out.

We wrote this week’s song, “Arthuriana” by Sunspot, about how our little obsessions and interests can keep us going. How even our smallest beliefs keep us motivated, but sometimes we need to bend the truths of those beliefs to keep them close.

You are the sword,
I am the stone.
You are the lighthouse
In the storm.

Little obsession to pass the time,
Arthuriana.

You are the lady,
of the lake,
You are the comet,
of Heavens Gate.

Little obsession to keep even,
Arthuriana.

You are Gawain,
Versus Green Knight.
You are St. George and you always win the fight.

A fantasy where you’ll come back to me,
Arthuriana.

You are the grail,
From that I drink,
You’re the saddest of the angels,
I won’t blink.

Little obsession to keep us sane,
Arthuriana.

You are the knight who says nee,
You don’t capitulate or bend the knee,
All these thoughts that stalk around my mind,
Arthuriana.

Reality,
is something queer.
You were always more Morgaine than Guinevere.
The long dead still alive in my head,
Arthuriana.

You are the sword,
I am the stone.
You are the lighthouse
In the storm.

Reality,
is something queer.
You were always more Morgaine than Guinevere.
The long dead still alive in my head,
Arthuriana.

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.

136 – Paranormal Paradise: The Mysteries of Hawaii with Lopaka Kapanui

This week, we bring on Robert Lopaka Kapanui, who we discussed at length in our episode 57 on Haunted Hawaii. Lopaka is a native Hawaiian who runs Mysteries of Hawai’i ghost tours.  He’s a writer, actor, and master storyteller who lives on the island of Oahu.

lopaka mysteries of hawaii
Lopaka and his Paranormal Paradise

Allison from Milwaukee Ghosts joins us once again as we talk with Lopaka about what brought him into the world of the supernatural and some of his favorite legends, ghost tales, and more from the Mysteries of Hawaii.

Since Lopaka was killed on Hawaii Five-O (the latest version with Jin from LOST!) twice, we thought that maybe that one of the reasons that they cast him is that he looks great dead and must be a convincing victim! So here’s the Sunspot track,  “Good-Looking Corpse”.

I’m so bored that I could die,
but at least I’d leave a good-looking corpse,
of a post-modern poster child.
They say he didn’t feel a thing,
but it didn’t mean a thing.

We’re all looking for a reason,
we’d love to kill ourselves,
like maybe Plath or Hemingway.
I put on my best black turtleneck,
I smoked a dozen cigarettes,
and raised my eyebrows all day.

Gimme drugs.
Gimme sex.
Gimme booze.
Help me forget that there’s nothing new under the sun.
Make me deaf.
Make me dumb.
Anyway to make me numb,
because there’s nothing new under the sun.

Just a glamorous little junkie,
that was a little freak, a little funky.
A good-looking corpse is what I’ll be.
Old rockstars never die, they just OD.

We’re all looking for a reason,
we’d love to kill ourselves,
like maybe Plath or Hemingway.
I put on my best black turtleneck,
I smoked a dozen cigarettes,
and raised my eyebrows all day.

Gimme drugs.
Gimme sex.
Gimme booze.
Help me forget that there’s nothing new under the sun.
Make me deaf.
Make me dumb.
Anyway to make me numb,
because there’s nothing new under the sun.

 

135 – Demonology 101: Dennis W. Carroll Vs Evil

Dennis W. Carroll, the co-founder the Carolina Society for Paranormal Research and Investigation had his first encounter with demonology as a teenager in church. The preacher had brought up a troubled man and the whole congregation prayed for him. While everyone’s eyes were closed and the were praying furiously for the man’s soul, Dennis saw three balls of what he describes as “dirty light” flee from the man’s body and disappear into the sky.

From that moment on, Dennis was a believer and has spent much of his life learning more about the invisible world of the supernatural and demonology. In addition to co-founding the CSPRI, he has also authored two books on investigation, Beyond The Shadows: A Field Guide to The Paranormal and The Road Unseen: A Paranormal Journey Into High Strangeness, as well as two collections of poetry influenced by his investigations, In Sunshine and In Shadow.

dennis w carroll demonologist
Dennis W. Carroll compelling some evil entity with the Power of Christ

Dennis has been on hundreds of investigations over the years and he shares what he’s learned as not only a “location exorcist” (i.e., a guy that blesses houses and buildings to drive out any negative energy) but a demonologist who has fought powers that are conspiring to bring down the human race in what Carroll claims is a highly organized ring of evil.

Dennis W Carroll Demonology Demonologist
Demonologist At Your Service

Also in this episode, we feature a quick preview of the latest feature from our friends at The Singular Fortean blog. It’s St, Patrick’s season so they’re featuring legends and folklore of The Emerald Isle all this month.

One of the ways that Dennis talks about opening yourself to demonic possession is by focusing too much on your negative emotions and very few things make people as negative as a bad breakup. This week’s song is all about indulging in those negative emotions and allowing yourself to fully hate your ex. Which might be good for singing songs, but not so much for defending against infernal influences, it’s called “Eat Out My Heart”.

I’ve been waiting so long for you to call,
but now you’re finally here and I’m a wreck.
Worked out a little, even did my hair,
but I’m not the man I used to be back there.

I hope you have an ugly boyfriend,
I hope you’re working at a carwash,
I hope your life went down the drain and everything is not okay,
I hope your best years passed you up.

I dodged a bullet,
One or two since then,
You’re not the only one who still calls me up.
I’m still the jerk who listens to your problems,
I never told you all the times,
I’d wished you died in a car crash.

I hope you have an ugly boyfriend,
I hope you’re working at a carwash,
I hope your life went down the drain and everything is not okay,
I hope your best years passed you up.

I’m eating out my heart.
I’m eating out my heart.

And I’m not happy for you,
That you’re a better person without me.
I’m so glad you decided to apologize,
When I’m too numb to care,
I’m just too numb to care.

I hope you have an ugly boyfriend,
I hope you’re working at a carwash,
I hope your life went down the drain and everything is not okay,
I hope your best years passed you up.

134 – Game Over, Man: Remembering Bill Paxton

When  Bill Paxton passed away on February 26th, 2017 at the way too young age of 61, we just knew we had to talk about him. Sure, the TV news might talk about his HBO show, Big Love or when he headlined the storm chaser classic, Twister,  but he was a huge presence in so many fantastic science fiction and horror movies. His legacy of performances adding color and fun to huge blockbusters and adding gravitas and real character to B-movies meant that I’d never turn the channel when he was on the screen.

For this episode, Wendy Lynn and I are joined by our friend, author and screenwriter, Mark O’Connell, as well as the always effervescent Allison Jornlin from Milwaukee Ghosts.

For those of us growing up in the early 80s, we knew him before we probably even realized it. He directed and starred in the video for “Fish Heads” which was a classic from the experimental film days of Saturday Night Live (and if you have “Fish heads, fish heads, roly poly fish heads” stuck in your head right now, you’re welcome.)

He was a special kind of jerk in Weird Science, he gets offed by The Terminator at the Griffith Park Observatory in the beginning of that film, and he’s a highlight of arguably the greatest vampire film since Murnau’s Nosferatu, Kathryn Bigelow’s 1987 Near Dark. His most famous role for many people, though, is undoubtedly Aliens‘ ill-fated hysterical Colonial Marine William Hudson with the motormouth and negative attitude.

All these things are what you’re going to find in other remembrances of the actor, from the movie geek sites to the entertainment magazines. For our episode, we wanted to talk with Mark O’Connell, who had a movie script that Bill was aiming to direct in the late 90s.

Mark’s script was called Doug and Dave, and it was based on the true story of two older British guys who claimed to be behind the United Kingdom’s Crop Circle phenomena. They said that it was all a hoax that they would do in the middle of the night after knocking back a few pints at the local. It was shortly after that they were denounced as hoaxers themselves and made up the story for the ten thousand pound fee they got from a magazine for telling the story. Paxton loved Mark’s script and wanted to direct it as his first feature film.

Unfortunately, the producer couldn’t get the funds together for the movie, so eventually Paxton went on to direct the thriller Frailty, a dark, moody, and often disturbing film about a Texas family that “murders” demons that look just like regular people.

A few years later, Mark gets a call out of the blue and Bill Paxton tried again to get the film off the ground. While the movie never happened, Mark tells a personal story of working with the actor and the energy, attitude, and the excitement of trying to move a film out of “Development Hell” to a movie theater near you.

Then Allison remembers her own Bill Paxton story of how she visited the Hotel Chequamegon in Ashland, Wisconsin because it was reportedly haunted. Ashland is a tiny tourist town in Northern Wisconsin and it’s where Sam Raimi (the man that gave us Evil Dead as well as two great Spider-Man films) took his cast and crew to make the film-noir A Simple Plan in the late 90s.

Well, it starred Bill Paxton and Billy Bob Thornton and they stayed at the Hotel Chequamegon during the filming. According to the staff, both actors told the front desk that they had scene a mysterious woman in Victorian clothing roaming the halls and vanishing and had asked for their rooms to be moved.

So, not only do we get a personal tale of working with Bill Paxton, but we find out that he had his own paranormal experience (and in Wisconsin, no less!)

As an actor, he could elevate any scene he was in, he was a huge reason why Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. started getting good in the middle of its first season, and he’s the only other actor besides Lance Henriksen that’s been killed by a Terminator, Alien, and Predator! From the Jimmy Buffett-eqsue “Coconut Pete” in the hilarious slasher sendup Club Dread to the astronaut Fred Haise in Apollo 13 (the role that he made it sound to Mark that he wanted to be remembered for), he was a big part of what made so many of our favorite science fiction and horror movies fun.

bill paxton power loader aliens ghost story

For this week’s song, we took some inspiration from Aliens, because when you’re in a “Power Loader” you feel invincible!

1 2 3 shots in,
I’m through the roof,
invincible and I’m 200 proof.
Spoiling for someone to take me on,
My blood is fire,
I’m in the Octagon.

I’m in a Power Loader,
I’m indestructible now,
Like in a Power Loader,
You can’t push me around.

Every look’s a jab,
and every stare a punch,
an invitation to some fisticuffs
Just say the word, and let’s go to the mat,
Cry for mama and say Game Over Man

I’m in a Power Loader,
I’m indestructible now,
Like in a Power Loader,
You can’t push me around.

You can ride the white line
all the way to fight time
Cuz you know for a black eye,
is better than a flatline.

I’m gonna nuke you from orbit
I want you to hit me as hard you can
I’ve got the code for god mode
tonight I’m a champion.

I’m in a Power Loader,
I’m indestructible now,
Like in a Power Loader,
You can’t push me around.

I’m in a Power Loader,
I’m indestructible now,
Like in a Power Loader,
You can’t push me around.

133 – Popobawa: Dr. Martin Walsh and The Idea Virus

Martin Walsh is a social anthropologist with a PhD from the University of Cambridge.  He has extensive field experience in East Africa including the Tanzanian archipelago of Zanzibar.

popobawa dr. martin walsh
Look at the red star to find Zanzibar

We first heard about Dr. Walsh in the Gray Brothers’ documentary about sleep paralysis, The Nightmare, (check out our interview here!) where he was the liaison between the people of Zanzibar and the filmmakers. They were exploring the mystery of Popobawa (literally translated to English as “bat-wing”), an evil shapeshifting spirit who would visit people in the night and poke them where the Sun don’t shine.

Of course, we’re being flippant, but that’s part of it. The very intimate nature of the violation is one of the reasons of the legend was so scary, funny, and fascinating to the Tanzanian people. As Dr. Walsh describes it, there was a period in 1995 where that’s all the people talked about, a national obsession.

popobawa dr. martin walsh
An artist’s rendition of Popobawa, often portrayed as a one-eyed demon with bat wings, in the real legend, it was a shapeshifter and appeared in many different forms.

Much like the Clown Hysteria hit in 2016 in the United States and it spread through the news and social media, stories of Popobawa’s nocturnal visits spread through word of mouth where people would tell personal stories of waking up paralyzed and seeing a terrifying shapeshifter pressing on their chest. In fact, the stories very often resemble alien abduction tales. In one of the wildest tales that Martin talks about in the interview, there’s a spinning dog with a police siren on its head. And of course, accompanied by a fetid stink (shades of Joshua Cutchin’s Brimstone Deceit?)

popbawa martin walsh the grey brothers
Dr. Martin Walsh with The Gray Brothers filiming “The Nightmare”

But this wasn’t just harmless sleep paralysis, the panic that spread through the community caused several deaths. Since Popobawa could appear as anyone, that means that anyone acting strangely or just a little unusual could be the evil spirit in human form. Some poor mentally ill folks ended up being mistaken for Popobawa and were killed by the mob.

Dr. Walsh wrote an academic paper about this phenomenon shortly after it all went down, you can even read it online (and I recommend it, it’s not stuffy or difficult and gets into some real fascinating detail.) Click here to check out “Killing Popobawa: collective panic and violence in Zanzibar”

popobawa dr. martin walsh
Dr. Martin Walsh

Dr. Walsh goes into several reasons as to why this idea virus might have spread so quickly and such a ridiculous legend became so popular in our discussion, but one of the things that he brought up really made me think about our interview with Jack Hunter, another British student of Anthropology.

One of the things Martin believes is important to the story is that the panic took place during the Islamic Holy Month of Ramadan, and that’s a month where everyone is fasting, they’re not sleeping as much, they’re praying more, etc… they’re engaging in rituals. One of the things that Jack is studying is how people across the world have used rituals to facilitate paranormal experiences.

popobawa dr. martin walsh
Dr. Martin Walsh on location in Tanzania

The inhabitants of Zanzibar were doing exactly that when Popobawa came for a visit. Whether or not people were really visited by a single-eyed bat demon with a penchant for you know what, Martin mentions that they could very well have been setting themselves up for being more likely to have a sleep paralysis experience.  Especially once the first one happens and people start hearing about it and you might manifest it in your own bed.

Martin, of course, is featured in The Nightmare (which you can watch above) but he also has some authors he can recommend if you’re interested in learning more about this topic:

And don’t forget that Dr. Walsh has lots of work available online where you can learn more about Popobawa and Tanzania!

Martin also works with Oxfam, an organization dedicated to poverty eradication, health, and human rights in some of the most vulnerable parts of the world. You can find more about their mission and his work right here.

This week’s song was inspired by a couple of the things Martin said in the interview. Number one, he talked about the “twilight zone” between waking and dreaming. Number two, the widespread panic that spread throughout his village one night that was probably started  by his night watchman who got scared and ran away. Nothing actually happened but the whole village was terrified. Those two things put together really reminded me of the classic Twilight Zone episode, “The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street”.

There’s a great line at the end of the episode where two aliens are talking to each other discussing how their simple mindgame of turning electricity on and off selectively down the street has made the formerly friendly neighbors turn on each other. ”

“They pick the most dangerous enemy they can find,” one of the aliens says, “and it’s themselves.” And in the end, he chillingly adds, “The world is full of Maple Streets.” The Popobawa panic was one of those instances. This song is titled after its inspiration, “The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street”.
What do we do
the switches won’t respond
point our fingers to
a 5th column from the vast beyond
who’s hiding what
another wild theory
Who can you trust
when we’re yelling in the streets
and behind every picket fence
you’ll find your own worst enemy.
the monsters are due on Maple Street.
A simple pattern
It’s always the same
When the unknown appears
We find someone to blame
A trigger in plain sight
Agitates the hive
It’s just a matter of time and
We’ll eat each other alive
What are you guilty of?
What are you waiting for?
Who’s the little green man
inside a meteor?
and behind every picket fence
you’ll find your own worst enemy.
the monsters are due on Maple Street.
Inside every closed door,
there lies a new conspiracy
the monsters are due on Maple Street.
And our world is full of Maple Streets.

132 – Paranthropology: An Interview with Jack Hunter

From Near-Death Experiences to spirit possession, Jack Hunter has been finding the commonalities of paranormal experiences from cultures all over the world. As a PhD candidate at the University of Bristol in Anthropology, Jack has devoted his academic and professional life to understanding how different peoples across the planet use ritual, ceremony, to alter their states of consciousness to interpret the world and their place in it.

jack hunter paranthropology
Fancy a pint with British Jesus?

Jack Hunter’s journal, Paranthropology has been publishing since 2010  and it’s a free online academic journal that features articles written by researchers  interested in exploring the paranormal through  a social science lens.

In this interview where Allison Jornlin from Milwaukee Ghosts once again joins us, we discuss the importance of ritual in many societies, how we’re missing out on a lot of those rituals and ceremonies in modern Western Civilization, and how those rituals can help induce psychic and paranormal experiences (and also, how psychedelic substances from Magic Mushrooms to LSD to Ayahuasca can accelerate or shortcut the process.)

Jack even takes us through a modern psychic medium experience that he wrote about for his original dissertation and how the present-day Spiritualist experience is alike to the classic Victorian and Edwardian seances that we envision from TV and movies.

jack hunter paraanthropology
Jack Hunter doing the academic thing and giving a presentation!

A big concepts of this episode is about feeling connected to a place. In Wales where Jack lives, he talks about the folk tales of a dragon in every valley or just how so much of the small towns have so much history and folklore. For example, a modern geologist will talk about a rock formation that was left by a glacier,  the folk tale might be that giants left the rocks there. They’re two different ways of trying to understand why your environment is the way it is, and while they’re very different explanations, they’re also two different ways of reaching a truth that you feel comfortable with.

Jack has edited and written several books on the subject as well, and with titles like The Paranormal: Why People Believe in Spirits, Gods, and Magic and Talking With The Spirits, and of course, Paranthropology: Anthropological Approaches to the Paranormal, if you enjoy the interview, you’re going to want to check those books out to learn more.

One of the intriguing concepts that Jack discusses in this episode is “Ontological Flooding” which is the concept that when you are exploring a phenomena or even just your relationship to your environment around you, to embrace all possibilities. Consider the materialist aspect (the physicality of it), the spiritual aspect (how it affects you emotionally), the mythic aspect (what is the story of the place you’re at) , and how those things all contribute to understanding it.

Ontology is the “study of being” and ontological flooding is the idea that you will let all the information in and not judging the information as “crazy” or “magical thinking” but synthesizing all of it to find a way of living that excites you and a way of finding and accepting your place in not only the ecological system, but of the story, of a big world. This episode’s Sunspot song  is called “The Flood”.

A subtle change and your head spins
flip of the switch, it all makes sense
an arrogance you can pretend,
To reduce it to just elements.

Synapses fire
with chemistry
But we can break up
reality
to share far more
Than flesh and blood
A new way of knowing
Here comes the flood

When you’re in the space that’s in between
You can redefine what you believe
No time to waste
no place to judge
Better get ready for the flood.

Look for who’s pulling your strings,
Are you just defined by your things?
Embrace what this knowledge brings,
And this is where the balance swings.

Synapses fire
with chemistry
But we can break up
reality
to share far more
Than flesh and blood
New way of knowing
Here comes the flood

When you’re in the space that’s in between
You can redefine what you believe
No time to waste
No place to judge
Better get ready for the flood.
Better get ready for the flood.

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

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