Paranthropology: Journal of Anthropological Approaches to the Paranormal



From what I've read so far this is an excellent resource, even if one doesn't always agree with the conclusions.

Paranthropology: Journal of Anthropological Approaches to the Paranormal

Established in 2010, “Paranthropology: Journal of Anthropological Approaches to the Paranormal" is a free on-line journal devoted to the promotion of social-scientific approaches to the study of paranormal experiences, beliefs and phenomena in all of their varied guises. The journal aims to foster an interdisciplinary dialogue on issues of the paranormal, so as to move beyond the sceptic vs. advocate impasse which has settled over the current debate, and to open new avenues for enquiry and understanding.

holds no standard position on these issues and all views expressed are those of the each particular author. Paranthropology is devoted to an open-minded and exploratory perspective on a wide range of experiences, beliefs and phenomena often called paranormal, supernatural or anomalous.


Paranthropologist Jack Hunter’s Esalen Adventure

Jack Hunter is a graduate student at the Department of Archaeology & Anthropology at the University of Bristol in England. He has been a leading force in bringing interdisciplinary scholars together to discuss the paranormal in academic studies. He founded Paranthropology: Journal of Anthropological Approaches to the Paranormal in 2010, which, featuring an impressive editorial board, has become a central point for serious discussion on paranormal studies.

In October 2013, Jack was invited to the famed Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California, from which a large group of scholars shared and discussed their research. Jack also interviewed many of the participants, with thematic podcasts and full interviews now posted online.

I caught up with Jack over the Christmas holidays to talk about paranthropology and the get together at Esalen.
Christopher Laursen: Could you tell me a bit about "paranthropology" - what is it and how did it come about?

Jack Hunter: “Paranthropology” is essentially an anthropological approach to the study of paranormal beliefs, experiences and phenomena. It’s not a particularly new approach, as anthropology has, since its inception in the nineteenth century, traditionally concerned itself with studying magic, ritual, religion, belief and the like - all of which intersect with the paranormal in one way or another. Where paranthropology (as I use the term) may differ from other more traditional approaches in the anthropology of religion, is in the fact that it doesn’t preclude the possibility of genuine paranormal phenomena - in fact it openly explores the possibility that the beliefs and experiences of fieldwork informants might hint at something more than the usual anthropological models of social and psychological functionalism can account for. This approach draws inspiration from parapsychology, which critically examines experiences and phenomena that seem to go beyond the limits of standard psychological models, and the work of anthropologists whose writings have pushed at the boundaries of standard ethnographic theory - anthropologists such as Joseph K. Long, Edith Turner, Patric Giesler, Charles D. Laughlin and others. Paranthropology might also be considered a sub-set of transpersonal anthropology and the anthropology of consciousness, with their emphasis on experiencing culturally significant states of consciousness first-hand.


Phenomenological Convergence between Major Paradigms of Classic Parapsychology and Cross-Cultural Practices: An Exploration of Paranthropology

A new generation of researchers have begun to contribute to the emerging transdisciplinary endeavours of paranthropology. This intriguing area of research unifies methodologies and theoretical perspectives of both parapsychology and anthropology to enhance understanding of anomalous phenomena related to consciousness. Furthermore, by employing a paranthropological perspective, a number of cross-cultural convergences between disciplines are revealed. We begin by summarizing a number of major paradigms typically observed in classic parapsychology, followed by a brief historical overview of the development of paranthropology and its implications for subsequent research. Finally, phenomenological convergences between parapsychology and anthropology are discussed, before a final summary of general conclusions are entertained.


New Issue is out:

The Spectrum of Specters:
 Making Sense of Ghostly Encounters - Michael Hirsch & Jammie Price

The Witch from “His-Story” to “Her-Stories”: Changing Contexts - Matt Coward

The Complexities of Evaluating Evidence for “Psychic” Effects:
Spontaneous Case Research in Parapsychology and Some Considerations for Progression - S. Alexander Hardison

Ritual as Therapy:
 Steps Towards an Ethnography of the Invisible - Peter Mark Adams

‘Research Among Spirits, Ghosts and Deities: How to Study Non-Ordinary Realities’ - Panel at BASR Annual Conference, The Open University, 
September 2014

COMMENTARY: Progressivism, Materialism, Anthropology, Politics, and the Paranormal: Reflections on a Talk on William James' "Excision" - T. Peter Park

REVIEW: ‘Talking With the Spirits: Ethnographies from Between the Worlds’ Edited by Jack Hunter & David Luke - William Rowlandson


The Complexities of Evaluating Evidence for “Psychic” Effects: Spontaneous Case Research in Parapsychology and Some Considerations for Progression (pp 21-26)

...If the issues are to be resolved, regarding whether or not supposed psi effects are genuine, means of adequately documenting and sharing the proceedings and results with the public must be explored. This is particularly important regarding anything suggestive of macro-psi phenomena. For example, there is little excuse, in a modern context, for not training multiple security cameras on someone who claims to be able to bend spoons with the power of their mind alone. This won't prove that no trickery occurred, but it will circumvent certain observational problems and, most importantly, the problems associated with memory recall regarding the proceedings (Hodgson & Davey, 1887; Wiseman and Morris, 1995).

Additionally, the controls that are in place if something occurs will be observable via video media, rather than relying on testimony – potential sources of error or weak points in the controls would be easier to assess. It may prove useful to document every aspect of an investigation or experiment with video recording apparatus. When possible (dealing with apparent "macropsi" effects), live streaming the proceedings would appear to exclude any tampering with footage, as would inviting the presence and scrutiny of independent researchers.

From there, it would be pertinent to robustly present such evidence to both the population and the scientific establishment. Publishing in peer-reviewed journals may be an essential aspect of a reputable case in favor of paranormal functioning, but it probably is not enough for modern audiences, especially when dealing with extraordinary claims; particularly when the investigations involved macro effects, as skepticism can be lain onto the fact that modern recording apparatus was not used to document what really happened. Anything that can reduce the confounding variables involved in interpreting the cause of the documented effects will only be beneficial for making a case in one direction or the other.

So, optimal documentation, stringency and publicity must be the goal of all future parapsychological endeavors. There is no excuse for not properly using the technology available and then applying the cumulative knowledge of the past one-hundred and thirty odd years to relevant domains of study. Too often, it seems, parapsychologists themselves are not as well-versed as they should be in past research and tend to think that they've "reinvented the wheel", when some one else has long-ago treaded onto similar territory...


New Issue is out, subtitle is Hypotheses in Search of a Paradigm:

Differentiating Experiences from Events, and Validity from Authenticity in the Anthropology of Consciousness - Stanley Krippner & Mark A. Schroll

Reflections on Methodological Concerns in the Anthropology of Consciousness: A Response to Krippner & Schroll - Hillary S. Webb

Interplay of Perspectives in the Anthropology of Consciousness: A Commentary on Krippner & Schroll - Susan Greenwood

Experiencing Dream Telepathy (Or Non-Local Memory): A Fifty Year Retrospective Autobiographical Analysis - Mark A. Schroll

Psychic Dreams: Evidence, Transformational Process and Magical Thinking - David Luke

Whose Dream Is It Anyway? A Commentary on Experiencing Dream Telepathy (or Non-local Memory): A 50 Year Retrospective Autobiographical Analysis - Zelda Hall

Sacred Places and Home Dream Reports: Methodological Reassessments and Reflections on Paul Devereux’s Experiment in Wales and England - Stanley Krippner & Mark A. Schroll

Geomantic Earthmind: Practicing Earth Yoga: A Response to Krippner & Schroll - Bethe Hagens

Commentary: Barometers for the Anomalous? Dreams and Transpersonal Archaeology - Ryan Hurd

Bohm’s Influence on Ullman’s Theory of the Origin of Dreams: Reflections and Insights from Montague Ullman’s Last Interview - Mark A. Schroll

Dreaming, Ullman, and Bohm: A Commentary - Daniel Deslauries

Epilogue: Toward a New Paradigm of the Varieties of Transformative Experience - Mark A. Schroll & Darlene Viggiano.

Review: ‘Seeing Fairies: From the Lost Archives of the Fairy Investigation Society, Authentic Reports of Fairies in Modern Times’
by Marjorie T. Johnson - James McClenon


Anthropology of the Weird

What, if any, conclusions can be drawn from this collection of anecdotal reports?

One of the most significant insights, I believe, is that these types of experience can be had by anyone so long as they participate in the relevant cultures and ritual situations. This, I feel, is a fundamental aspect of the paranormal in general: it requires our participation in the moment, whether spontaneously or within a ritualized context, in order to be experienced. E.B. Tylor left the comfort of his study to conduct fieldwork in Spiritualist seances and in so doing experienced phenomena for which he could find no explanation; Evans-Pritchard was fully immersed in Azande culture and belief when he encountered disembodied witchcraft in the African bush; Bruce Grindal’s encounter with the numinous occurred in the midst of a traditional Sisala death divination after several days worth of disrupted daily routine, and Edith Turner’s “breakthrough moment” erupted when she finally let go of her emotions and fully participated in the Ihamba ceremony. These illuminating insights into the nature of the paranormal are precisely the reason that I believe ethnographic methodologies should be used to supplement parapsychology’s laboratory based experiments. The ethnographic approach lends itself to a greater appreciation of the wider context in which paranormal phenomena occur: it demonstrates the significant role of culture both in terms of the way in which such phenomena manifest and the way they are interpreted by those who experience them.


New Issue

Welcome to Paranthropology Vol. 7 No. 1. It seems like a long time since the last issue of the journal was published, but we have not been idle in the gap between issues. Indeed, since the last issue two new edited volumes have been published, both of which deal with themes that are very close to the heart of Paranthropology. The first publication, Transpersonal Ecosophy Vol. 1, is an epic (600 page) exploration of the intersections of the anthropology of consciousness, parapsychology, transpersonal psychology, ecosophy and quantum physics, edited by Mark A. Schroll. Along with Strange Dimensions: A Paranthropology Anthology, this book is one of the first publications of the new Psychoid Books imprint (

The second publication I would like to mention here is my own edited collection Damned Facts: Fortean Essays on Religion, Folklore and the Paranormal, published by Aporetic Press. This book was initially intended as a means to determine what a Fortean religious studies would look like. To this end it features articles ranging from comparisons of the work of Charles Fort and William James, research on the links between UFO sightings and fairy folklore (a la Jaques Vallee), right through to examining John Keel’s influence on the Occult revival and analyses of personal psychedelic and psi experiences. It is well worth getting hold of, and the introduction has been reproduced in this issue (see page 51).
Paranormal Experience, Belief in the Paranormal and Anomalous Beliefs - Neil Dagnall, Kenneth Drinkwater, Andrew Parker & Peter Clough

Religious Flows and Ritual Performance: East Asian Interpretations of Shakespearian Tragedy - Matt Coward

Shamanic Initiation by the Trickster - Juan J. Rios

A Quantitative Investigation into the Paranormal Beliefs of the Contemporary Vampire Subculture - Emyr Williams

Edith Turner and the Anthropology of Collective Joy - Paul Stoller

Hearing the Dead: Supernatural Presence in the World of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic (PPN) in Reference to the Balikligöl Statue - Alistair Coombs

The Uncanny and the Future of British Quakerism - Benjamin J. Wood

On Mental Travel, Remote Viewing and Clairvoyance - John R. DeLorez

Intermediatism and the Study of Religion - Jack Hunter

REVIEW: “Ayahuasca Shamanism in the Amazon and Beyond” by Beatriz Caiuby Labate & Clancy Cavnar - Gerhard Mayer

REVIEW: Do we need the paranormal to explain the UFO phenomenon? A Review of Illuminations: The UFO Experience as Parapsychological Event by Eric Ouellet - Jean-Michel Abrassart

REVIEW: First International Colin Wilson Conference, University of Nottingham, July 1st 2016 - Colin Stanley


New Issue

In retrospect, this issue offers its readers various opportunities to revisit the elusive, frequently forgotten, and important point that nearly everyone sees the world through their own unique lens (one of Immanuel Kant’s important contributions). Yes, there are cultural averages, but these averages are individually nuanced. This is why qualitative methodologies are so valuable, and why ethnomethodology in particular is so important. This too is why the more people who read and respond to our writing (and oral communication), the more it improves. It is an ongoing conversation, and this too is why dialogue (as David Bohm has framed it, 1993) is an important methodology, and technique of inquiry. Actually more than mere inquiry, dialogue is an essential means of engaging each other in a deeply meaningful way to address concerns threatening our collective planet-wide future (see Schroll 2017, this issue).
Editor’s Introduction: Revisiting Cultural Evolution and Technological Evolution in Consciousness Studies - Mark A. Schroll

A Quest for a Temple to Sleep In - Sarah Janes

The Big Dream and Archaeo-Geo-Neuro-Pharmaco-Parapsychological Theories - David Luke

Odin: Wandering Shaman Seeking Truth - Mark A. Schroll

Commentary: Dreams, Drugs and the Engines of Creativity - Ryan Hurd

Nature Awareness and Psychedelics: Report and Commentary on a Presentation by Ralph Metzner and Kathleen Harrison - Heather Walker

REVIEW: Dr. Strange: A Cinematic Journey into the Multiverse and Otherworldly Realities - Mark A. Schroll

REVIEW: Cultural Perspectives on Mental Wellbeing: Spiritual Interpretations of Symptoms in Medical Practices by Natalie Tobert - Teresa McLaren

Revisiting the Meaning of Chief Seattle’s Speech - Mark A. Schroll

The Meaning of the Cover Design: Envisioning a Cosmic Archetypal Model of Personality - Mark A. Schroll

The Meaning of the Hourglass Symbol - Regina U. Hess

The Archetypal Cauldron: A Clinical Application of the Anti-Hero in Transpersonal Art Therapy and the Hebraic Lore of the Golem - Claire Polansky

Catalysts that Initiate Embodied Knowing: Reflection on Individuation, Synchronicity and Ritual Space - Tanya Hurst

Reply to Tanya Hurst & Wendy E. Cousins - Claire Polansky

Commentary: Reflections on the Supernatural and its Relation to Spiritual Emergency/Emergence - Claire Polansky

Escaping the Night of the Living Dead: Toward a Transpersonal Ecosophy - Mark A. Schroll


Lost Pilgrim
"The Golden Bough" by James George Frazer was an interesting work. It's information has probably been superceeded by now by new ideas but maybe worth a look.

The Golden Bough Free Ebook

EDIT: Maybe this is a better link -

"Who does not know Turner's picture of the Golden Bough? The scene, suffused with the golden glow of imagination in which the divine mind of Turner steeped and transfigured even the fairest natural landscape, is a dream-like vision of the little woodland lake of Nemi—"Diana's Mirror," as it was called by the ancients. No one who has seen that calm water, lapped in a green hollow of the Alban hills, can ever forget it. The two characteristic Italian villages which slumber on its banks, and the equally Italian palace whose terraced gardens descend steeply to the lake, hardly break the stillness and even the solitariness of the scene. Diana herself might still linger by this lonely shore, still haunt these woodlands wild."

The Golden Bough - A Critical Appreciation
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