Short pieces

MIND TO MIND:Some Thoughts from My Mind to Yours

Loyd Auerbach

Just Say No to Demons!!

Frankly, I’m troubled. I’m troubled by the kinds of training (or lack thereof) people who call themselves “ghost hunters” have received (or not received), especially when they offer their services to people who claim paranormal problems in their homes – people who are often scared by their experiences, and experiences that may or may not have a paranormal cause.

I am troubled by the perpetuation of misinformation about ghosts, hauntings and poltergeists on the internet, and amongst ghost hunting groups – who have completely missed the over 130 years of field work and investigation of such things from the earliest days of psychical research through the inception and work of folks in the field of Parapsychology.

I am troubled by the sentiment that using technology is the same as doing science — it’s not, especially when the equipment is not even used properly (I’ve seen this first hand).

But recently, I have been troubled by the rising tide of “demonology” connected to investigations of the phenomena which exists and is experienced in connection with consciousness, and the suggestion that studying demons is somehow “scientific.” Many use the word “demon” to refer to apparent non-human entities that have “evil” intentions, and the word “angel” for those entities who have “good” intentions.
It has not been established (scientifically) that human beings have consciousness, though the opinion is that we do. It has not been established (proven, scientifically) that consciousness is separable from the body (ghosts and such), though the evidence certainly points that way.

The idea of non-human disembodied beings is one step even further removed. Only living people’s perceptions, what they experience, points to disembodied consciousness and only those perceptions and interpretations of those perceptions might suggest “non-human” beings (other than ghostly pets, of course). We’ve got enough to deal with human consciousness without leaping to conclusion that some entity or other is “non-human” for whatever reason.

Further, what is “good” and what is “evil” is subject to our interpretations, biases, and beliefs. Is a shark evil when it attacks someone? The result of the attack is certainly not a good thing, but the shark is what it is: hungry.

Is an earthquake “evil”?

Things can be very dangerous without being “evil.” That label attributes motive – a conscious motive to do harm merely for the sake of doing it (see most DC and Marvel Comics super-villains).

There are two questions here: are there non-human entities and are they malevolent or evil?

The answer to both depends on looking deeper into the perceptions, psychology and experience of the folks encountering things they believe fall into these categories. From the Parapsychological perspective, while there might be non-human disembodied entities (essentially, beings of pure conscious energy), they falls into the realm of belief and speculation even more than ghosts do. The experiences with such things can be explained by other psychic models (apparitions, hauntings, poltergeists, telepathy, etc.).

If there are such beings, are they evil?

Using the word “demon” to describe them already puts them in that category, regardless of what their intentions are or who they are. But more dangerous than that, using the label “demon” puts a religious spin on the entity and experience.

If one takes the word “demon” to mean those entities which started out as angelic beings, caught up in some rebellion against God (losing side) and thrown down to the “region” that became known as Hell, and perhaps their progeny, then we have a simple problem: God, or gods, and beings of that hierarchy, including the “low” (demons) are seen as unknowable.

How do you prove God exists? If you can’t prove the existence of God, how do you prove the existence of lesser yet associated beings such as angels? How do you prove the existence of a Devil, whether you call him Satan, Lucifer, Ahriman, or Loki, when he is said to be part of God’s (or the gods’) hierarchy?

Not all cultures or religions have a “hell” as part of their beliefs in an afterlife. Many do not have demons or angels – though they do have gods who may do good or bad things.
The existence of demons and evil entities is relative to our belief systems.

Gods, demons and other supernatural beings have always been held responsible for the events of the natural world, whether we’re talking about the weather or the functioning of the human body. Most of such explanations derive from the sense that humans have a hard time with the unknown, so we have come up with some forms of explanations, however groundless in fact. So, in some cultural belief systems, drought occurs because people have offended particular deities or demons, while rain comes when they are again pleased. An individual gets sick because of the direct influence of a magic spell, an evil spirit, or a demon.

Most of us do not still believe demons are responsible for drought, pollution, disease or a simple headache. Why? Because science and medicine have learned otherwise. Demonology, studying demons, is inherently non-scientific. Approaching such experiences and supposed entities from this perspective IS religious, and a particular religious approach.

For ghost hunting groups to incorporate such things into their “investigations” means approaching the experiences of people from a religious perspective. Unfortunately, I’ve seen too many websites for groups that do include demonology, and in the same site profess to be going about their investigations “scientifically” with no acknowledgement that demonology is inherently from religion (and generally the Catholic/Christian religion).

More than that, it can mean that you are going to scare the s**t out of people having paranormal experiences (telling them they have a demon attacking them). This is inappropriate and does not respect the people one is trying to help, or the phenomena/experiences which need explaining.

I have had cases over the years (and know of many more) where people had a “ghost hunter”, tell them they had a “demon problem.” They got more frightened than they were, the ghost hunters were unable to help them (other than to refer them to some clergy who could not help them), and the experiences continued. In too many of those cases, there was NOTHING paranormal happening – the people (and I assume the ghost hunters) had misinterpreted normal occurrences as “supernatural.”

In the cases where something paranormal was happening, not everything they reported was paranormal…just some things. We dealt with the experiences, we dealt with the fear they felt, and the phenomena stopped. But they needed counseling because of the stress and fear the “demonologist” ghost hunter had put into them.

There is also another danger which keeps rising in my mind.

Several people have been either killed or allowed to die during “exorcism” rituals in many places all over the world. By demonologists (usually clergy doing the exorcism).

Other people have been killed by individuals who attacked them because they (the killers) thought the victim was either possessed, WAS a demon, or was a witch. I was involved as an expert in a homicide case in 1984 where the couple had killed one woman for apparently casting a spell on them, and another man because he was a demon.

If you are truly interested in the human spirit – in ghosts – and whether it survives in some form after death, drop the demon angle. Too much confusion, too much bias, and too much religious mythology (which I acknowledge may be religious fact to you, but not to Science) can lead to pain and suffering.

It certainly doesn’t lead to understanding what these experiences are that we link to apparitions, hauntings and poltergeists.

It certainly doesn’t lead to any sort of application of Science – which is the search to understand how we and the Universe works.

But most of all, looking for evil demons where there are other, non-religious explanations will send you off track and create emotional problems for those who report their ghostly encounters.

Just say No to demons!


Things That Go Bump in the Day…

Turn on most ghost hunting shows produced over the last 10 years or so, and you can expect to see the ghost hunters running around in the dark, portrayed via nightshot camera work.

Yes, it looks cool.

But it’s not the way someone educated in parapsychological field methods — which is what the original ghost hunters learned (or pioneered) –would conduct their investigations, for two reasons:

1) Psychic experiences (that includes experiences with apparitions, hauntings and poltergeists) mainly happen when people are awake and aware.

2) Most psychic experiences (that includes experiences with apparitions, hauntings and poltergeists) happen with the witnesses able to see — meaning either in daylight or with the lights on.

Plus there’s the issue of conducting the ghost hunt (since much of what we see out there is hardly an “investigation”) late at night even without considering whether the pattern of experiences/reports indicates some other time of day.

The folklore of ghosts and haunted houses (ghost stories) naturally put the activity late at night. Let’s face it, ghost stories are meant to scare us, and the dark of night is that time when it’s often so quiet as to both notice things we normally don’t, but also when people’s minds are quiet enough to be suggestible.

Parapsychologists take each case separately. We consider the reported experiences of the witnesses, and try to nail down patterns that show when the phenomena is most likely to occur.

Most people who live or work in ostensibly haunted places are not even awake in the wee hours of the night/morning, so there are few reported experiences at those times. In some cases of hauntings, there is some imprint of past activity that happens late, or very early morning — but the witnesses have to be awake enough to experience them in order to make them part of a pattern of activity. Or the activity has to be “loud” enough to wake them up. Yes, this does happen, but it’s the exception not the rule.

For some cases, especially those with apparent ghosts (apparitions — conscious deceased people), the “pattern” is really at the whim of the ghosts. If they want to be around and make themselves known at any given time, they do — or don’t. Several of my apparition cases (see my book A Paranormal Casebook (Atriad Press, 2005) such as the Moss Beach Distillery, the USS Hornet Aircraft Carrier Museum, and the Banta Inn, have apparitions that appear to folks, move objects or otherwise make themselves known at all times of day and night.

In fact, how can one say a ghost is active in the middle of the night at a place that has no witnesses present to experience/report this? In a bar or restaurant, this is possible because there are often people working well after midnight. Or there may be security folks around in a workplace overnight.

But again, most people are either asleep or not present during the hours we so often see TV ghost hunters running around with nightvision cameras.

Poltergeist phenomena is the result of the unconscious activity of living people, and as it is unrestrained by conscious impulses, tends to be much more dramatic (bigger activity, and often destructive) than the activity caused by apparitions. Poltergeist activity tends to occur when people are awake, and with the lights on (otherwise, how could you see it?). There are some cases in which it appears some activity occurs when the poltergeist agent is in the dream state, the activity an extension of the metaphors of the dreaming.

Hauntings are replays of past events — the “recordings” very much in a pattern. If the recorded activity originally happened at 4 PM, then that is generally when people witness the imprint. Imprints tend to follow the pattern of activity of the living people who are “recorded” and can even be “recordings” of activity of people still alive.

Such activity can certainly occur late at night — murder, suicide and such seem not to follow the normal day-flow of most people. Perhaps some troubled person living in a home paced up and down the upstairs hallway at 1 AM, leaving an emotional imprint only re-experienced around the same time.

One of my favorite cases involved an imprint replaying at 3 AM and waking the new owners of the home (the imprint was of the prior owners – still alive, by the way – making loud, passionate love). But the event that was recorded (events, actually in this case) ALSO occurred at 3 AM.

In any event, witnesses constantly report experiencing the same imprints whether their lights are on or off.

In other words, why investigate in the dark when the vast majority of repeated ghost and haunting (and poltergeist) experiences occur in the light of day or under artificial lighting?

Okay, so many people find it cool to walk around in the dark. But it’s not necessary. Nightvision cameras will still throw their infrared light and work just fine in full light (well, people’s eyes won’t glow as much in regular light, so that’s an artistic downside).

It’s much safer to walk around with light.

It’s also more possible to observe what’s going on — say, if someone felt something touch them, or there’s an odd sound, it’s easier to immediately consider alternative explanations for those events, which is essential in a real investigation. One must always eliminate as many “normal” explanations as humanly possible in order to be able to understand what is and is not paranormal. This is very hard to do in the dark.

Most ghost hunters don’t even know the history of infrared photography in psychical research (later parapsychology) — and that it was necessary mainly to catch both fraud and potential “real” phenomena in the old seance rooms of the later 19th and early 20th centuries. Significantly more fraud was caught with infrared film, by the way.

I advocate using every tool possible — both human and technological — and this does certainly include nightshot. But it’s more important to find the patterns that indicate the best time to “hunt” the phenomena that’s been reported. Focusing on late night and working in the dark, nightshot or not, generally misses the pattern (if there is one — if not, you need to conduct investigations at ALL times of day and night to find the pattern or best times to connect with the ghost).

If the pattern (from the witness reports and prelim investigation) says the activity occurs right after midnight, great. IF the reports indicate people only experience stuff in the dark, follow that lead — but ALSO try with the lights on, in order to test if darkness really is essential to the occurrence of the phenomena or if darkness merely hides alternative, non-paranormal explanations. Try nightshot with the lights on (still works, and still can get “odd” unexplained things).

In general, keeping the lights out when this is unneccessary and often unsafe is, really, only for “effect.” Darkness is spookier, so it may make the “hunt” more atmospheric. But there is little place for such atmosphere in an investigation if you’re really interested in finding out what’s going on and why.

Of course, if you’re into the fun of running around a spooky place in the dark, that’s fine too. But be honest about what you’re doing.


And now, a contribution from a visitor:

Hypnotic Past Life Regressions

Jon Rhodes

Submitted May 4, 2009

When people find out that I am a hypnotherapist, they often ask if I can help them access their past lives. “Maybe” is what I usually reply. I have been a clinical hypnotherapist for several years now, and have performed past life regressions on numerous occasions. I have even experienced one myself. However I remain on the fence as to whether hypnosis can actually helps us remember a true past life.

In my mind the jury is still out as to whether we even have past lives. Many think that we do, but I am unsure whether it is the creative part of the mind making up the details of a past life, or indeed there are remnants of memories of a past life that hypnosis can bring out. I will tell you about when I was hypnotically regressed to a past life, and maybe you can decide for yourself.

I experienced a past life regression several years ago. This was during my training as a clinical hypnotherapist. After being guided into trance, I was regressed backwards through my life, making me younger and younger. Eventually I was regressed back further, to a point before I was born.

I recalled being a hunter gatherer in a forest, providing for my family. I remember being aware I had a beard, and was using a wooden spear, and bow and arrow. I did not have to put any effort into these details, they just flowed into my mind. I simply relaxed my mind, and allowed these thought to come, no matter what they were. I was aware that the subconscious part of the mind is very creative, and more than capable of making these details up, without any conscious effort at all. However I was still a little intrigued as I was also aware that just because it was capable of doing so, it didn’t mean that my mind was merely creating these vivid ‘memories’.

I was then regressed to the point just before dying in that life. I remember lying on the forest floor with a wound to my right shoulder, slowly dying. I knew I was dying, but was in no pain. I realized that I had been attacked by some animal that had horns or antlers, although I did not see this happen. As I led there staring up at the trees, I felt a sense of loneliness. I was dying on my own, without anyone to comfort me. I knew my family was close, but I could not go to them for comfort. This made me feel a tinge of sadness.

When I woke up, I was fairly convinced that I had experienced some memories from a past life of mine. It was so vivid, and so emotional. However as time passed, I became more skeptical, thinking that it is very possible that it was all fabricated by my subconscious mind, in order to satisfy what was expected of me during the session. This is very possible, but who knows?

I cannot say for sure whether hypnosis can help you access a past life, or even that we have had a past life. Perhaps this does not really matter. It was a worthwhile experience. I somehow felt a little wiser because of this. I remembered how lonely I felt as I stared upwards from the forest floor, yearning for the comfort of my family. This made me realise how precious people in your life are, and how I should not take people for granted. The experience of being a bearded hunter taught me this lesson several years ago, which I will never forget. To this day I bear this in mind, and I am grateful to him whoever or whatever he is.

Jon Rhodes is one of the UK’s leading clinical hypnotherapists.
Click for information on his online hypnosis store, and for hypnosis downloads

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