The Dark Side of Paranormal Phenomena? [Resources]

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Let These Waters Pour Back to the Ocean: Rethinking the Psi Debate

There is a tendency in some of the more available media to swing the pendulum too far towards acceptance and easy answers. This never sat well with me, but neither did the cherry picking that goes on in skeptical circles to choose the most unsuitable subjects for study. Does testing a television psychic really provide a decent picture of anything? That seems to me like critiquing Christian theology based on televangelists, or making assumptions about the whole worth of contemporary literature by reading the Oprah book list. Psi exists on a spectrum, and as Aldous Huxley points out in his writing, traditionally the most powerful examples come from folks who've developed themselves over a long period of time, through arduous trials, and who have come face to face with both the beneficial and the malefic aspects of these areas of human potential. Ever the elusive subject, powerful examples also exist on the margins, but it is rare to find these examples in the mass mediated environment of contemporary life. In all cases where strong psi occurs there is usually a shadow side to the experience, a deep and unnerving change that happens when faced with phenomenon that moves so far outside of what we have been taught to expect.

One of the things that impressed me about Bill was that he wasn't afraid to admit the shadow side of psi. The pastel picture of a harmonious potential, all angel wings and gold lamé, didn't mesh with my years studying folk magic and witchcraft. Whatever positive effects exist, there is still the fact of maleficia, and one of the first signs of a limited perspective is some wide eyed medium singing the praises of unmeasured contact with the unknown.
Bill isn't wide-eyed. Spindrift Research currently exists as a loose collective, its founders, Bruce and John Klingbeil, a father and son team, both committed suicide after years of harassment from the Christian Science community they had sought to invigorate with their research, and from the skeptical scientific community that saw their work as delusional. They thought what they were doing would bring value to all sides, but they were ahead of their time.


A Gnostic Vision of the Conquest: A Review of Graham Hancock's War God

The best way to describe War God is that it is a Gnostic novel – a label I'm sure he'd rather appreciate, since it follows his own personal philosophy. At the risk of offending scholars & theologians alike with my crude summary, the main gist of the Gnostic cosmovision can be boiled down into 2 basic notions:

  • What we call 'Reality' is nothing but a veil preventing us from perceiving the true nature of the world.
  • That veil was put before our eyes by entities seeking to manipulate us, for their own devious purposes.
In the case of War God, that deceiving entity is Huitzilopochtli: the highest deity in the Aztec pantheon, and the one they believed led their people on their pilgrimage from the mythic region of Aztlán, to the little island in the Texcoco lake where they founded Tenochtitlán in 1325. In Graham's novel he portrays the god as a demonic being – or a 'demiurge', in the proper Gnostic lingo – using Moctezuma as a puppet who subserviently tends to its insatiable hunger for blood and human hearts; but the demon also manipulates Cortés, to whom he appears as the figure of St. Peter in his dreams, filling his head with promises of glory and endless riches.
Different legends also relate how Huitzilopochtli would provide the Aztecs with food during their more arduous part of their pilgrimage – Mana, anyone? In the book of Exodus it is stated how Yahweh appeared in front of the Israelis as a ‘pillar of cloud' during the day and a 'pillar of fire' in the night; with the Aztec chronicles, it is sometimes mentioned how Huitzilopochtli would guide them in the shape of a 'resplendent eagle.'

And as for the war-like nature of Yahweh when compared to Huitzilopochtli, well… not only do we have the Biblical passages in which the god of the Israelis demanded the utter extermination of all the enemies of 'his people', but there are plenty of references in the book of Exodus and other parts of the Ancient Testament that, quite simply, portray Yahweh as a real dick – there, I said it.
Relating to this is Alex Grey's vision of Mind Parasites, in which he saw what appeared to be Hindu deities feeding off the spiritual aspects of humanity. Think caste system + subjugation of women under Islam and Hinduism, and you see the same gnostic concern touches Asia as much as it does the Middle East + Europe and the Americas. I doubt it would be hard to find similar issues in other cultures.

Not to say any of the above faiths are definitively bad, just that what we consider gods might be archetypal masks for our own urges...or that evil beings can take advantage of belief and manipulate humans with ease.


Dancing Past the Dark ~ distressing near-death experiences

I want to create the fullest possible understanding of what is going on with these deeply troubling experiences.

I am a near-death experiencer. On most Sundays, I am in church, where I exercise a deep though unconventional faith and a thoroughgoing distrust of literal interpretations, although I accept that others find them meaningful. I have also been for thirty years a researcher of distressing near-death experiences, working with the International Association for Near-Death Studies and publishing in their peer-reviewed, scholarly journal. My work bridges the gulfs between social science research, secularism and religious beliefs, and the sometimes loony world of public opinion. To the best of my knowledge, my work is as close as anyone has come to offering a body of substantial scholarship specifically about the distressing end of the near-death spectrum. For more information about me, see the tab About the Author.

Dancing Past the Dark: Distressing Near-Death Experiences is available both as a paperback and an ebook for Kindle, Nook, and other e-readers. I hope the book and this website will be the source of the kind of solid, trustworthy information that was not available after my own traumatizing NDE.

I also hope you will keep coming back to see what new posts, articles, and links have been added. If you have recommendations, please let me know (except, please, no conventional religious claims or quotes from scripture, as those are already in abundant supply, and no rants or abusiveness, which are also in overabundance elsewhere).

You are very welcome here.

Nancy Evans Bush
I read Dancing a few years ago. Don't remember much, but I remember she tried to explain them in a non-threatening way. Perhaps as part of her own process of dealing with it. Tough questions.


I read Dancing a few years ago. Don't remember much, but I remember she tried to explain them in a non-threatening way. Perhaps as part of her own process of dealing with it. Tough questions.
There's a three part review Nancy Bush recommends for people that she feels provides a good overview + commentary to her book.

I've admittedly not read the book, though I probably should at some point. Some of the darker experiences remind me of one of Strasman's accounts from his patients that he relayed in DMT: The Spirit Molecule:

When I was first going under there were these insect creatures all around me. They were clearly trying to break through. I was fighting letting go of who I am or was. The more I fought, the more demonic they became, probing into my psyche and being. I finally started letting go of parts of myself, as I could no longer keep so much of me together.

As I did, I still clung to the idea that all was God, and that God was love, and I was giving myself up to God and God's love because I was certain I was dying. As I accepted my death and dissolution into God's love, the insectoids began to feed on my heart, devouring the feelings of love and surrender.

It's not like LSD. Things really closed in around me, in comparison to the spaciousness that I feel with LSD. There was no feeling of space. Everything was in close. I've never seen anything like that. They were interested in emotion. As I was holding on to my last thought, that God
equals love, they said, "Even here? Even here?"

I said, "Yes, of course."

They were still there but I was making love to them at the same time. They feasted as they made love to me. I don't know if they were male or female or something else, but it was extremely alien, though not necessarily unpleasant. The thought came to me with certainty that they were manipulating my DNA, changing its structure. And then it started fading.

They didn't want me to go...

Hungry Ghosts, by Michael Prescott.

After all, there was nothing actually dangerous about that little bookstore – was there?

Maybe there was. Over the years, as I’ve studied this subject, I’ve encountered a fair number of cautionary tales. People who become unduly interested in psychic phenomena – interested to the point of obsession – can find their mental health deteriorating, their relationships fragmenting, and their social status undermined. Of course, obsession is a bad thing regardless of its focus, but I suspect that it’s easier to become obsessed with the paranormal than with, say, stamp collecting. Something about this field of inquiry tends to draw people in and make them vulnerable to harm.


More on the Hungry Ghosts from Zap Oracle, the previously posted stuff:

The Siren Call of Hungry Ghosts

Essentially, this book pulls back the veil on the channeling and spirit guide phenomena, and compels you to look, through a glass darkly, at evil in one of its more beautiful, complex, seductive, ingeniously manipulative forms. While it is dangerous to be unaware of such dark possibilities and manipulative entities, it may also be dangerous to cast your attention in their direction. Attention is not just internal, it is also a beacon visible to others, and not all of those others are visible to us. That’s one of several reasons I am providing a fairly extensive review of this book. I will also announce a bail out point for those of you who are actually prepared to hunt down this book and read it in the immediate future. But if you are not sure that you are going to make that a top priority, then at least read this review, because the findings of this investigation are much too significant to be overlooked. Better yet, read the review and get this book which is a classic in the field of paranormal investigation and deserves an honored place in your personal library.
I know we've discussed this before, but for some reason this account raised the hair on my neck more than negative NDEs or psychedelic trips.

Perhaps it's because it feels closer to mundane manipulation, or perhaps it reminds me of my childhood reading Stephen King books but putting them away when the sun went down? :)

Anyway, I'm not refuting or endorsing the claims - just presenting them in this thread for organizational purposes.


Mysterious Forces: Exploring the Poltergeist Phenomenon

After Catherine Crowe’s 1848 book The Night Side of Nature introduced the word poltergeist to English-speaking readers, psychical researchers adopted the term to discuss the phenomenon. From what I can tell, it was ghost hunter Harry Price who popularized the word through the British press who he invited to investigate poltergeist cases such as the Romanian girl Eleonore Zugun (1926) and the Battersea poltergeist (1928). From then on, it has become a common way of describing this ghostly, physical phenomenon.

I suppose I haven’t really answered your question directly. What is a poltergeist? I have to level with you, David. I’ve been studying the poltergeist as a doctoral student of history for years now, and I don’t know what the phenomenon actually is. Mind you, I’m not trying to explain the poltergeist. As a historian, that’s not my goal. I take a methodologically agnostic approach to this topic. It is not its reality or non-reality that concerns me, but rather how people have experienced these anomalous events, how others intervene, and how ideas emerge from that. From historical records, it is obvious that people have experienced this strange physical phenomenon. How they deal with something so elusive is what fascinates me most.
DM: How does historical work integrate with field and lab research?

CL: From what I’ve gathered, there are ongoing tensions between historical analyses and the studies of psi phenomena (and science in general). I hear occasional complaints that historians get it wrong, but these are usually issued over contested factual details. I’m concerned that there is a rift between historical analysis and its value to today’s researchers. Researchers can benefit from historical thinking on how the making of scientific knowledge is a dynamic process that involves a lot of people with different points of view, methodologies, and interpretations. And historians can benefit from seeking ways to reach out more to active research communities. I like Jeffrey Kripal’s approach that historians should be working with psychical researchers and scientists to write better histories and do better field and lab research. I would add experients to the mix – the very people who experience the anomalies. It’s all a work in progress. We all have something to learn from one another. I prefer a hands-on approach to make this happen, which may not work for all historians or researchers, but it certainly has been working well for me and many of those I’ve been interacting with.

DM: How has running the Extraordinarium website helped in your research?

CL: I started ">Extraordinarium as a way to write about the extraordinary in broader ways – both experiences and studies of the extraordinary. It’s a collection of occasional papers and interviews that I conduct that don’t otherwise fit into my writing projects that end up published elsewhere. It remains a rather niche website, but I get a lot of compliments on it. The articles and interviews are usually lengthy, so it provides a deeper alternative to explore a variety of ideas than are usually found online. I think it’s starting to form into something that brings together broader concepts of how the extraordinary and wonder are an integral part of human life.

Writing articles and conducting interviews has really expanded my own approach in my research. It has put me in touch with people who experience extraordinary things, and researchers who I hadn’t heard of before write to me. I feel like Extraordinarium has enabled me to be part of a wider dialogue, and that has only encouraged me to keep pushing boundaries with my research. While my academic work has been very insightful, the greatest inspiration really happens through personal dialogues with experients and thinkers through Extraordinarium, Exploring the Extraordinary, the SPR, Paranormal Studies & Investigations Canada, and so forth.


Remembered this thanks to the MSU Kripral lecture (Mutants and Mystics) K9! posted:

Through a Fractured Glass, Darkly (Part One): The Facts in the Strange Case of Whitley Strieber

To dismiss Strieber as insane doesn't work, either, because there were plenty of other witnesses to testify to the strange goings-on around his New York cabin during the period in which he underwent his experiences. (Ed Conroy even wrote a whole book on his investigations, called The
Communion Report
.) So if Strieber is neither insane nor lying, if what he says happened actually happened, the question to ask is: how accurate are his accounts, and why, exactly, did these beings choose a well-known author of horror fiction to introduce their presence to humanity?
I don't know much about these other witnesses or much about Conroy, but I think Strieber's case is interesting in that there's a distinct unwillingness to simply take the experiences in isolation and categorize them as Absurd. Not "absurd" as in they are so ridiculous they can be dismissed outright, but rather that they simply happened and that's about all we can say.

In fact I can't help but feel that perhaps some of the original events happened and were at best a signal for Strieber's personal transformation. However I think the later contacts and developed mythology involving chosen persons and an epic struggle may have been the result of a mind trying to make sense of something that was fundamentally nonsensical or, again at best, meant to be deeply personal rather than a message meant for the rest of us.

Of course, this analysis is uncomfortable in that it can call into question the general applicability of all scripture...


While not wholly dark, the essay on Owls and the UFO abductee does raise some negative possibilities about the paranormal/Numinous. (Skeptiko thread on the essay here.)

And now a word from your sponsor ;):

These posts are somewhat of a counterargument to the idea that the firmament is Sweetness & Light...though in some cases a deeper wisdom and benevolence might lie on the others side of darkness..

But let's take a quick break from the continual gloom and consider the suggestion that Absurdity rather than Malevolence lies at the heart of creation...I think recognition of this Absurdity is more freeing than confining -> As Borges once noted, given the apparent Mystery and suggested Absurdity of the universe we should hold to our ethical and imaginative impulses regardless of the ontologies that come and go like Fall fashion fads. (*cough* Materialism *cough*)

He also noted that any top down Meaning would only come to feel tyrannical - though I suspect he'd make allowance for the All is Love conception of the NDE - and it was good humans could find their own path to Truth.

Anyway, I'd say take the reality gamble* that an affirmative position toward life - however you conceive of that affirmation - is the right decision while keeping in mind that you might be wrong about the particulars. As one of my favorite writers would say:

– So what if it’s Achilles’ mother who can have a son that’s greater than its father? What if it’s Io, too? What if it’s any girl, every girl? Any woman? Every woman, Anna. Sure and can’t any son be greater than his father? Isn’t that what it’s all about, what makes us all go on? Ye can’t look at the sheer bloody-minded defiance of a wee babe screaming its lungs out at the terrible injustice of the world and not have hope. Every generation of us, all born kicking up a racket, rebels every one of us. So who’s the son – the child – that’s greater than its father? I’ll tell ye who it is, Anna.

– Humanity.

Duncan, Hal (2011-08-11). Vellum (The Book of All Hours)

More on Duncan in the Western Civ thread.

*See MysticG's elucidation of Robert Anton Wilson's Creative Agnosticism
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Ghosts of the Tsunami

His wife had already left the house when he woke the next morning. Ono had no particular work of his own, and passed an idle day at home. His mother bustled in and out, but she seemed mysteriously upset, even angry. When his wife got back from her office, she was similarly tense. ‘Is something wrong?’ Ono asked.

‘I’m divorcing you!’ she replied.

‘Divorce? But why? Why?’

And so his wife and mother described the events of the night before, after the round of needy phone calls. How he had jumped down on all fours and begun licking the tatami mats and futon, and squirmed on them like a beast. How at first they had nervously laughed at his tomfoolery, but then been silenced when he began snarling: ‘You must die. You must die. Everyone must die. Everything must die and be lost.’ In front of the house was an unsown field, and Ono had run out into it and rolled over and over in the mud, as if he was being tumbled by a wave, shouting: ‘There, over there! They’re all over there – look!’ Then he had stood up and walked out into the field, calling, ‘I’m coming to you. I’m coming over to that side,’ before his wife physically wrestled him back into the house. The writhing and bellowing went on all night until, around five in the morning, Ono cried out, ‘There’s something on top of me,’ collapsed, and fell asleep.

‘My wife and my mother were so anxious and upset,’ he said. ‘Of course I told them how sorry I was. But I had no memory of what I did or why.’


Some stuff on the whole Jinn/Ultraterrestrial hypothesis. Not sold on this (or the nuts & bolts theory), but it fits the topic:

The Jinn

We don't actually know a single thing about life on other planets. Scientific evidence that extraterrestrials visit us doesn't exist. Our belief that they do is fantastic modern mythology in the making. However, there is enormous evidence that deceptive entities are masquerading as extraterrestrials.

There are unseen creatures that we share this Earth with. They don't come from other planets. They've been called many names: aliens, spirits, Etherians, Ultraterrestrials, and more. In the Koran they are called the Jinn.

Information about the Jinn reads like a textbook description of UFO and other paranormal phenomena. Discovering these entities gives you an essential key to understanding paranormal phenomena. They are the major players behind our myths and most perplexing mysteries.

UFOs aren't extraterrestrial -- They're extradimensional.
As far as I can see distressing NDEs seem to be experienced by people with a somewhat dark side to their time on earth. Drug abuse or basically rough or ego driven characters seem to have experienced those that I can remember reading. Eban Alexander's worm eye view is maybe a small such sample, I suspect, though cannot prove, that there may be some things in Eban's previous life that he'd rather forget.

This doesn't mean that "you're going to hell!" ie you're doomed forever. It seems to me that it is maybe a reminder that the dark side exists, I think anyone who has experienced a distressing NDE would do whatever they thought it might take to avoid another one. There are probably exceptions of course. Doesn't Nancy feel that she is pleased that the NDE happened? Despite it being a distressing example, that she's grown from it.

It says a lot for people who do report them honestly, I would hope that I could be as honest.


Confessions of a Reluctant Ghost Hunter: Encounters with Malevolent Entities & Other Disembodied Spirits

My teacher knew how to help troubled ghosts move on spiritually, which is the greatest gift that any ethical ghost hunter could give. Unfortunately, my teacher did not prepare me for the other things that go bump in the night – unearthly spirits that never lived a human life and never did belong here.

Actually nobody sees them in the normal sense with eyes or hears them in the normal sense with ears. Keep in mind that spirits have no material form and, hence, cannot make a sound or appear physically. They cannot make footsteps or shout out anything to you in the normal manner. Instead, they project thought forms using consciousness that remains with us beyond our physical demise. And we receive these conscious thought forms in much the same manner we ‘read’ people on a daily basis, often knowing what they are thinking long before they utter a sound.

As a result, phantom spirits can project just about any thought they want to imprint on us. They can make us believe they are shouting our names or posing as your dearly departed aunt. They can manipulate and trick you. Consequently, attempts to stalk them down and record them can prove deceiving. They have no mouths to speak or bodies for us to photograph in a physical sense, but will project onto your consciousness or recording equipment only what they want you to know about them. It’s questionable if we can ever truly trust what we think we see or hear.
They got higher and higher up the mountain and I began to fear that the fire might spread through the dry timber to the herbalist’s home. Then they reached their final turnout and I could see the results of the fire myself.

The herbalist’s family trailer had burned to a crisp. Outside mother and daughter were crying in an embrace. A captain from the regional fire department was trying to question them.

They reported that nobody had been cooking, running the heat, or burning candles inside the home. They had no idea how the trailer suddenly burned. Stranger still, their dog which they never tethered had died under the trailer home. It was tied there with some chain which they didn’t recognise.

Then I remembered all of the dog names and dates carved on the tree in front of their home and understood. This mayhem had been going on for some time. It explained why the trailer couldn’t be rented or sold and why carefully stacked and labelled preserves had been hastily abandoned.
off on a slight tangent but there was a recent bbc r4 program about disturbing experiences arsing from meditation

perhaps small internal factors can tip the balance and determine whether you have a positive or negative nde/oobe, as per chaos theory/'butterfly effect'?
I am listening to that very programme on iPlayer.

The host seems anti-meditation, he has interviewed people who seem to be heavily involved, but I haven't (yet) got the impression properly from any of them that maybe these 'psychotic' episodes are part of a process. He seems to be convinced that they are bad - which no doubt they can be, but if people are carefully helped through them, then that is surely part of the journey that they seek. If you are afraid and don't know about these possibilities, then don't go on a heavy meditation retreat.

Are people made aware that these things might easily occur?

I think this programme is heavily biased towards materialism.
I think this programme is heavily biased towards materialism.
oh totally Steve, but it is the bbc:eek::D
quite annoying really, meditation is a huge subject and some of the experiences, whilst unpleasant were also very interesting...he just sweeps it all into a file marked 'meditation can damage your mental heal'
no mention of the's the beeb after all
oh totally Steve, but it is the bbc:eek::D
quite annoying really, meditation is a huge subject and some of the experiences, whilst unpleasant were also very interesting...he just sweeps it all into a file marked 'meditation can damage your mental heal'
no mention of the's the beeb after all
Yes, now that I've heard the whole thing I reckon it was nothing but a debunking exercise. I haven't been that involved with meditation, but after my stroke I had a sudden urge to do so which lasted about three years, around one hour each day on average. Then the urge left the same way it arrived - strange but true. I still meditate occasionally but it only lasts around half an hour at most now. In the past I have definitely felt its benefits, even though I was quite disappointed that I didn't experience more. Possibly someone thought the stroke was enough to be getting on with for now! :)

Anyway, I hope that someone very familiar with all aspects of meditation challenges this arsehole who has probably never even tried meditating. Hardly any mention was made of possible benefits, except to question some crime statistics that were claimed. No individuals that felt that they benefitted from the practise were interviewed. :mad: