Friday, June 24, 2011

Ghost Photos

Photographs of ghosts are perhaps the Holy Grail of ghost hunting. That being so, there are lots of attempts to fake ghost photos. There are also a lot of photos that show natural phenomena that has been misidentified as paranormal. Someone with enough experience in this field can usually pick out when a photo has been tampered with or when the "ghost" is just a trick of light and shadows. For skeptics and believers, knowing how to pick out a fake or misidentification makes it a little easier to determine what is the real deal. To that end, I give you the following link:

Photos That AREN'T Paranormal

To give a taste of what real ghost photos may look like there's this:

The Best Ghost Pictures Ever Taken

And finally, if you're the type that likes to find things for yourself:

How To Photograph Ghosts

I've never been much of a photographer and ghost pictures have never really done it for me, but it's a facet of the larger phenomena that I thought should be explored. Hopefully you find these links interesting, even if all you get out of them is learning how to spot hoaxes or misidentified natural phenomena.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Synchronicity, Destiny, and Free Will

I'm sure all of us have had times in our lives where events come together in a way that makes us look up and take notice. "Hey, that's strange," we might say and then think nothing of it. You're thinking of a particular song and then that song comes on the radio. You're interested in a particular subject and then in the near future a documentary or other show about that subject comes on television. A lot of people will pass these off as just coincidences, but sometimes they stand out so much that it's impossible not to say "Maybe something strange is happening here."

There is an occult maxim that states "Like attracts like." Perhaps this is how synchronicity works. When we have something in our minds that we are focused on then maybe it will manifest in our external reality through this occult principle. This same idea is seen in sayings like "Misery loves company," and brooding on your misfortunes is likely to send you deeper into despair. Listening to upbeat music will put one in a positive mood. We are more likely to find something that we are specifically looking for. These are just basic examples of like attracting like, but they get the point across.

So, we draw to us what we focus upon. What about things that we focus upon unconsciously? Things beyond our conscious awareness? Perhaps destiny is synchronicity taken to the next level.

If we incarnate on the physical plane to have experiences and to learn things, how can we be sure that we will learn the things we mean to learn when we choose (or when someone else chooses) for us to incarnate? Sure, we may be able to choose where and to whom we are born to get us on the right track, but could we really take into account every permutation of reality and plan accordingly before setting our (re)incarnation into motion? This is where a "higher self" might come into play. If there is a correlation between the unconscious mind and the higher self, the part of us that abides outside of our incarnated state, that part that is our link with the higher realities, then maybe destiny is just synchronicity on a larger, deeper, and more complex scale determined by the focus of our higher self.

In this view synchronistic experiences and destiny may be the same process but just orders of magnitude apart, both designed to attract to us what we are focusing on either consciously or unconsciously. What does this mean for free will? If our overall destiny is determined by a higher aspect of ourselves then are we really in control of our lives? How do we reconcile a higher plan with personal free will? Maybe we're given free reign within certain parameters that are set out for us within this lifetime. Maybe this gentle guiding is why we find some things to be so difficult, maybe impossible, and yet other things are effortless even though they don't vary much in general intensity or difficulty.

An example would be a career path that one just cannot break into, everything goes wrong, and it just does not seem to be feasible no matter how much a person may try or seem to desire it on the surface. However, success at another career (or in another area of life) may be smooth and relatively easy. Maybe this is the nudge of our higher self, the superconscious self, the soul, guiding us through the things that it is focused upon, the things that we need to accomplish in this life to learn the lessons we were placed here to learn. In this case it would seem that the higher self's focus overrides the conscious self's focus. Or maybe we were supposed to fail at this thing as part of our learning experience. Without the benefit of insight it's hard to know whether it's a learning experience in itself or guiding us toward a learning experience. Maybe it's both.

Basically, the big picture would be unavoidable but we would be in control of the details. That is, if any of this holds true. This has just been me musing on synchronicity, destiny, and free will as I find myself in my own life feeling more and more like I'm being guided down a certain path by the things that take place around me and my own strengths and weaknesses. Hopefully you found this interesting and it inspired you to give it all a little thought.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

EVP - Electronic Voice Phenomena

Electronic voice phenomena (EVP) are voices that mysteriously appear on recording media and they have been a staple of ghost hunting for years now. The idea is that by giving the dead a conduit to speak through they can imprint their voices on magnetic recording media. EVP is typically undetectable at the time it is being recorded and is only noticeable upon playback. EVPs are also usually low in volume, whispery, and can sometimes warble in and out of audibility depending on the quality of the EVP. The specific mechanism that allows for EVP is unknown.

The practice as we know it dates back to the 1950s. The key players in popularizing EVP were Attila von Szalay, Raymond Bayless, Friedrich Jurgenson, and Konstantin Raudive. In fact, had it not been for Raudive's book Breakthrough: An Amazing Experiment in Electronic Communication with the Dead being translated into English, the phenomenon may have never made it across the Atlantic. Hard to imagine considering how popular EVP is now.

Naturally there are people skeptical of whether these voices are actually the voices of the deceased. There's no scientifically accepted way that the deceased should be able to communicate through audio tape and natural explanations for EVP abound. However, when has that ever stopped me from writing about something before? I'm of the opinion that if the messages have meaning then the hows or whys are not as important and the phenomenon needs to be investigated. Pushing EVP under the rug because it can be explained away naturally is a cop-out, especially when it's something that can be easily tested by anyone with a tape recorder.

The implications that electronic communication with the dead could have are huge. Being able to communicate with those on the other side of death with no special abilities and very simple equipment could lead us into an era of knowing what's on the other side instead of just blindly believing or inferring it. Imagine what effects that would have on humanity as a species. This would of course require that EVP be accepted by the establishment though, and that may be too tall of an order at this point in time. However, that's no reason we shouldn't try it for ourselves if we have the interest.

I've yet to experiment with EVP but I've been studying the phenomenon and how to do it and I hope to begin trying to pick up voices from the beyond in the next few days. I'd like to say that anything I capture will be put up on this blog but I can't promise that. While I consider myself technically savvy, I just might not have the equipment or expertise to put any EVPs I may get on here. I may, in the future, transcribe sessions or share my experiences if I have any that are relevant but again, I can't promise that. I've avoided putting up some profound experiences I've had on this blog before because I still have a hard time wrapping my mind around them sometimes and, quite frankly, if I read them on some random blog on the Internet I probably wouldn't believe them myself.

I can see myself maybe doing an EVP how-to if I find success with it though, so that might be something to look forward to. Until then I've got some links for you:

Electronic voice phenomena at Wikipedia
Electronic Voice Phenomenon Samples
EVP Samples
Ghost Audio at

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Armchair Occultism

In my opinion, armchair occultism is a common trap among the mystically inclined. It's easy to move from book to book, absorbing knowledge but not really doing anything with it. Intellectual and scholarly pursuit alone is worth the time for many but when armchair occultists clash with practical magicians it can sometimes get ugly. An armchair magician might say that something has to be done a certain way, no exceptions, because that's what the books they've read have said. How can they say this with certainty if they've never actually attempted it themselves, especially when a more pragmatic occultist has had success going against the grain? The reality is sometimes very different from what the books say.

Study is a necessary part of occult practice because one has to have something to practice in the first place and we learn about this through study. However, knowledge not applied has the same benefit as reading a novel. It can be entertaining, it can make you think, but it usually has no practical benefit. The practical magician, the one that studies to find new things to practice, is going to have the truer and more fulfilling experience. The practical magician is going to have something that the armchair occultist can only wish for: firsthand experience of the mysteries.

This said, it's a good idea to have a firm grasp of your source material and the knowledge of the past. Very few people have ever said "I'll just go practice magic today," without having picked up a book on the subject before. This is how knowledge progresses; we build upon the knowledge of those that came before us. I'll also tell the truth and say that it doesn't hurt your credibility to be able to throw out a few prominent (or even more obscure) examples of occult literature in discussions with like-minded individuals. Knowing where your practices came from can help you progress them. New material sparks new ideas and this requires study.

The gist of what I'm trying to get at with this post is that you should be mindful not to fall into the trap of armchair occultism if you hope to be a practicing occultist. As annoying as armchair occultists can be in discussions, the only true danger is in becoming an armchair occultist practicing solely in your head with what amounts to vague concepts and ontologies when you really wish to be "out there" doing something, applying the knowledge, and having the experiences firsthand. Study and theory have their place but they only have true value when they're applied. The thought of contacting spirits is perhaps more entertaining than the actual process, but it is nowhere near as awe-inspiring.

Firsthand experience should be the goal of occult study. Otherwise we're just accepting whatever dogmas or cosmologies have been laid out. An experiential approach is pure empiricism and the only way you're going to gain any true insight into whatever mysteries you're looking for. Someone has to try things and actually do something in order to write about it and pass it on to the true seekers and armchair occultists alike. Do you want to be someone that reads about the experiences and practices of others or do you want to be having your own experiences? Do you want to find the truth for yourself or accept it at face value?