Being a die-hard fan of Star Trek, I basically grew up accepting the idea that people could be beamed from one location to the next. They made it look so easy; you just stepped onto the lighted pad while some guy in a red (or yellow) shirt hit a few icons on his control board and after a few wibbly lines and sparkles, away you went. They were never really clear on exactly how it worked or how far they could send you, but it must have been anywhere from a few hundred thousand miles to a million. What a way to travel!
Of course, that’s a TV show. A particularly good TV show in my opinion, but a fictional construct nonetheless. Mr. Roddenberry was faced with a conundrum when he created a show based on interstellar travel, including visits to all manner of alien worlds. How do we get our characters from the ship to the surface without endless voyages in shuttlecraft or what have you? Easy, we invent a machine that magically transports them in an instant! But did Roddenberry really invent the idea?
Well, no, he didn’t.
The idea that a person or thing can be magically transported from one location to another is actually quite an old one. It has shamanistic origins, and there are accounts, arguably, in the Bible, but it likely predates the Biblical period. Those Biblical accounts, Ezekiel 11:1, and in the story of Daniel and the Lion’s Den from the Hebrew Bible, tell of the mystical phenomenon of bilocation, where a person is observed in two places at once, often impossibly far apart. This idea is also found in Vedic traditions, Buddhism and many other spiritual customs. The story from the Holy Quran, of the Prophet Muhammad’s Night Journey from Mecca to Jerusalem, is sometimes thought of as another example.
The idea has a few names too: bilocation (also given as bi-location), apportation (or to apport), teletransportation, or more commonly, teleportation. These terms all have slightly different meanings, but all refer to the same phenomenon. The term teleportation was first coined by the inimitable father of paranormal research, Mr. Charles Fort in 1931, in his second non-fiction book titled Lo!. In it he described various events and happenings revolving around the idea and presented his thesis that, by way of a “cosmic joker”, certain objects and people could be transported over great distances by unknown means. Fort connected many disparate phenomenon with teleportation, from telekinetic apportation, which is associated with spiritualistic séances and mediums, to missing persons cases and even weird rain (strange items and/or animals falling like rain, often from clear skies).
"Mostly in this book I shall specialize upon indications that there exists a transportory force that I shall call Teleportation."
But as mentioned, the idea long predates Fort and the spiritualism movement of the late 19th century. The problem, as with any Fortean subject, is that the older the account, the less credible the source. There are many stories from almost every culture that feature an event resembling Fort’s idea of teleportation, but it’s exceedingly difficult to pin down details, and thus we are forced to look at them as apocryphal myths. Of course, the more modern accounts don’t really offer that much reliable information either.
Apportation gets a bad rap, resulting from the questionable methods of mid to late 19th century and early 20th century mediums and spiritualists, who used sleight of hand and outright trickery to dupe sitters into believing objects, such as flowers, stones, perfumes, and small animals, were either spontaneously disappearing or appearing (or both) during a séance. Almost every account from this period has either been debunked or is considered to have been hoaxed, but there are a few worth mentioning.
The amazing story of the Pansini Brothers is one such account.
The Pansini Brothers, the sons of Signor Mauro Pansini, an Italian building contractor, were considered to be “mediumistic children”. Following what was said to have been poltergeist activity in the family’s older home in 1904 and ongoing accounts of the older son speaking in tongues, the boys, Alfredo (10) and Paulo (8), we mysteriously transported a distance of ten to fifteen miles from the home in mere minutes. Apparently there were multiple teleport events involving both boys, and on one occasion, in the presence of a bishop Bitonto, the boys vanished from the room as their mother and the bishop discussed means for ending this “obsession”.
Despite fairly close scrutiny by Italian scientists at the time, no explanation was ever found for the events.
Another notable account of teleportation is that of Damodar Ketkar of Poona, India. Ketkar, described as a young child in the grips of a “poltergeist persecution”, suffered a teleportation event on April 23, 1928. According to a letter written by the boy’s British Governess, Miss H. Kohn, Damodar materialised in front of her and said to her “I have just come from Karjat!” (Which is approximately 63 miles from Poona)
Kohn noted, with some enthusiasm, that the boy’s posture upon materialising was “…of a person who has been gripped round the waist and carried, and therefore makes no effort but is gently dropped at his destination.” He apparently suffered no ill effects from the experience.
This case is unique and particularly interesting, as it’s the only known case of a person’s teleportation arrival being witnessed independently. As with the others though, this tale stands, and will remain, uncorroborated.
Of course, anyone who stays abreast of modern technological advancements, is aware that scientists are working on making the Star Trek transporter a reality. This research is in the realm of quantum physics, and it involves what Einstein called “spooky action at a distance”, otherwise known as quantum entanglement. A certain level of success has been achieved in the field of quantum teleportation, but we’re still far from zipping through space, from planet to planet, for various complicated reasons.
It is reasonable to think, though, that in time our greatest scientific minds will master the science and bring us something like a sci-fi transporter, but as Eric W. Davis concluded in his 2004 special report to the US Air Force Research Laboratory on teleportation physics:
“At present, none of the theoretical concepts explored…have been brought to a level of technical maturity, where it becomes meaningful…”
 Lapponi, Joseph. Hypnotism and Spiritualism. New York: Long-Mans, Green and Co. 1907
 Price, Harry. An Indian Poltergeist with Miss H. Kohn. Psychic Research (New York) March 1930
A long time ago – circa 1930 – in the area of Mineral County, WV, there was a little town called Shaw. You won’t find it on any modern map though, because it no longer exists. Where Shaw once stood is now a small lake. Jennings Randolph Lake to be precise, but it wasn’t a natural disaster that condemned Shaw, it was the American Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). Residents of Shaw were asked to pack up their lives and leave, as the government had decided to install a dam on the Potomac River, which flowed through the small town.
An entire town told to pack up and leave in the name of progress. The people of Shaw were largely unhappy about this proposition, as could be expected, but several of those residents were less worried about their own wellbeing than they were about a strange rock known locally as ‘The Indian Rock’, that was to be buried under meters of water with the completion of the damn project.
It might seem strange that people would be so concerned about a rock, but this was no ordinary rock. One-time resident of Shaw, Ms. Betty Webster Bishop, recounts her memories of the rock via both the Army Corps of Engineers website, as well as a commemorative website honouring the history of Shaw.
“Our Sundays were for worship and rest. The one allowed activity was a walk in the woods. It was on one of these walks that my Mother discovered ‘her’ rock, as we often referred to it. She loved God and all aspects of nature, with a special fondness for rocks, large and small. This big rock, the subject of this story, was her ‘pot of gold’ at the end of the rainbow. She never tired of taking visitors to see it, whether local or out of town. She called it ‘The Indian Rock’, but we later referred to it as ‘Mom’s Rock.’ It was located a short distance up the hill. All who came were granted the privilege of visiting Mom’s ‘Indian Rock’. We felt it belonged to us and we reveled in the sharing of it. Many spoke of it and the awe it inspired, even after many years, and the many miles that separated us.”
Betty’s story is heartwarming and engenders nostalgic longings for a simpler time. The full version, which I encourage you to read, tells of her Mother’s discovery of the rock and how it came to be known, at least to them, as “Mom’s Rock”, and of how Betty brought its story to the world via a letter to the Saturday Evening Post (December 1984). That letter was precipitous, and led to the best answer at the time for what, exactly, this rock might actually be. But this is getting ahead of the story.
Waffle Rock, as it’s now called, is a large block of sandstone lodged into the ground just outside the visitor center at the lake in question. On one side of the rock appears a regular waffle-like geometric pattern of raised, darker stone that creates pockets or deep pits on the rock’s surface. This odd formation has caused many to speculate on what might have caused such a strange pattern. As is apparently a common failing of the editorial standards in the world of paranormal blogging these days, if you search for ‘Waffle Rock’, you’ll find numerous websites offering pretty much the exact same story, which generally goes as follows:
“This is a boulder on display at Jennings Randolph Lake in Mineral County, West Virginia. There have been numerous theories and speculations as to its origin, ranging from a pictograph made by prehistoric man, an Indian carving, the impression of the skin pattern of a giant lizard, or evidence of a visit to earth by an early travelers [sic] from outer space.
After examination of the phenomenon, Corps of Engineers geologists and those of other agencies have concluded that it is a natural geological formation. Although such formations are not common, similar patterned boulders were found on the east side of Tea Creek Mountain in Pocahontas County, West Virginia. Dr. Jack B. Epstein of the Geological Survey, U.S. Department of the interior, explained that the waffle rock is part of the Conemaugh geologic series that was deposited about 300 million years ago during the Pennsylvanian period. It is surmised that the waffle rock is a large loose boulder that fell from a parent outcrop somewhere higher up the slope, many decades ago, before the present trees grew.”
That being the extent of the readily available information on the rock, one can almost forgive the Internet’s rather quick descent into wild speculation, but the somewhat obscure accounting by Ms. Webster Bishop does provide more material to sink one’s teeth into. In response to her December 1984 letter to the Saturday Evening Post, a letter-to-the-editor was published in the April 1985 edition, from a Col. Martin W. Walsh Jr. Corps of Engineers Commander (Baltimore MD).
Col. Walsh offered some interesting commentary about the rock:
“Speculations range from the impressions of the skin pattern of a giant reptile, to evidence of space travelers on earth. Upon examination by geologists from the U. S. Corps of Engineers and other agencies, it was concluded that the rock is a natural geologic formation.”
Apparently Col. Walsh went on in his letter to describe the process by which such patterning could form naturally, suggesting that sand deposited by ancient streams consolidated into sandstone layers with rock above and below being compressed into the large folds that make up the pattern. It’s believed that this occurred between 250 and 300 million years ago, during the formation of the Appalachian Mountains.
Of course, there are those who are less than enthusiastic about these conventional, natural explanations. Many claim – namely the Rense.com correspondent identified as “Jeff” and the author of s8nt.com’s piece on the matter – the scientific explanations don’t account for all of the features present in the rock. Aside from the usual ancient alien talk, many believe that the pattern is actually an early form of hieroglyphic or primitive writing, and that the rock is the result of Neolithic art by pre-Columbian peoples.
That’s a little short sighted though.
The rock on display at the West Virginia Outlook on Jennings Randolph Lake is but a small piece of the original rock. It was moved there to save the geologically significant piece of history from the dam project; likely in no small part because of pressure exerted by the original residents of Shaw. Photographs of the whole rock show clearly that the pattern, or the structure of the pattern does not run all the way through the rock, but rather can only be seen on one side. And Dr. Epstein (mentioned above) offers an explanation more plausible than aliens or dragons, or even ancient art.
As outlined in Epstein’s official USGS fact-sheet on the Waffle Rock; when layers of sandstone were formed during the Appalachian Orogeny (the epoch during with the Appalachian range was formed), approximately 250 million years ago, the lower layers of the bedrock experienced compression forces as the Appalachian range heaved and folded. Those different forces, which pushed that lower layer in different directions, resulted in a unique folding of the sandstone which formed joints or fractures that just happen to look like the pattern shown on the Waffle Rock.
“Four sets of joints are apparent in the waffle rock. Sets a and b are roughly perpendicular to each other; sets c and d are at an acute angle to each other. The stress that formed the joints, as well as the folds in the rocks, bisects the angle between joints c and d…”
The mechanism that causes the waffle pattern to appear to be of a different material is similar to that which formed the Klerksdorp Spheres. Following the formation upheaval of the bedrock, iron ore particles filtered through the sediment and rock, and leached out of the material below, settling into the spaces between sand particles, which ultimately acted like a cement or glue. Once settled, the compression of the sandstone by the ongoing movement of the surrounding rock turned the iron ore into Hematite (as with the Klerksdorp Spheres), which is darker, harder and of a different consistency than sandstone.
This process is sort of like a perfect storm of conditions, which resulted in the rare but not unique form we see in the Waffle Rock as it sits near Jennings Randolph Lake (also called Bloomington Lake). Another example of the Waffle Rock (which was also taken from Jennings Randolph Lake) sits at the entrance to the US Geological Survey Headquarters in Reston, Virginia. And as it turns out, there are many undocumented examples of identical stone patterning in several other places around the world. (Undocumented because, to the trained eye, they aren’t particularly remarkable)
It seems likely that there will be people who refuse to accept that the Waffle Rock is a natural formation. Hell, there are still people who think the Earth is flat. But since Dr. Epstein was good enough to provide his expert analysis and opinion on this subject, perhaps we should bow to his superior knowledge on the subject.
But whichever camp you find yourself in, if you’ve found any of this interesting, I urge you to read Betty Webster Bishop’s story on ShawWV.com, if only to keep some part of that history alive.
 Dennis, Norm. The Waffle Rock: A big attractions to the thousands of visitors at Jennings Randolph Lake each year. http://www.nab.usace.army.mil/Portals/63/docs/Recreation/JRL/Maps/WaffleRock.pdf
YouTube user pseudon name shares a video he stumbled upon at Facebook. Two bros in Utah discovered a strange ice formation upon a frozen lake, recording it for posterity. The formation appears to be at least six feet / 182cm in width, and riddled with regularly-spaced holes arranged like a mandala. From the video, the holes are about the length of an average person's index finger.
Upon closer inspection these holes contain white crystals, described by one of the dudes as being "slimy". A nearby Starbucks coffee cup led our intrepid bros to conclude the cause might've been hot coffee, possibly supported by the yellow-brown 'corona' around the center circle. Nobody seems to know the exact location of the video, and the exact Facebook page hosting the original remains elusive. Based on the Starbucks cup's design, the footage isn't from 2015 since it's not the controversial, plain red one.
What is it? Someone might've gotten pretty lucky tossing their coffee on the ice, creating this curiosity. Even if the cup was a grande, there wouldn't be enough coffee to create all those crystals. Commenters suggest this is a lion's mane jellyfish, typically found in high northern latitudes. But this is Utah, a landlocked state more than 700 miles / 1100km from the nearest ocean. Those unusual crystals might be indicative of antifreeze proteins from another cold-loving critter. The pattern might illustrate how the protein diffuses through the surface, altering the crystallization of the ice.
Then again, it might be aliens... or viral marketing for the upcoming sequel Independence Day: Resurgence.
What's your best guess?
Who's ready for a Fortean road trip? A couple of years ago the lads of 'Mandate33' took us on a tour of weird New Hampshire, exploring the region's historical links with the likes of horror legend H.P. Lovecraft, master occultist Aleister Crowley, the famous 'alien abduction' of Betty and Barney Hill, and strange sites such as the 'Ossipee Triangle'. And now they're back, but this time they're investigating "America's ancient and ongoing WEIRD WAR on its left coast."
Before setting out, our Fortean tour guides stopped in at the International Cryptozoology Museum, where Loren Coleman offered some advice for their trip, which ended up spanning the Mojave Desert, George Van Tassel's Integratron, the wilds of the Santa Monica Mountains and Topanga Canyon, Jack Parsons's old stomping grounds, Death Valley, Lovelock Caves, the lost beehive kilns of Oregon, Mount Shasta and occult San Francisco.
Interviewees include some of our good friends (and Darklore contributors): Loren Coleman, Adam Gorightly, and Greg Bishop.
Above is the trailer for the new series, while below I've embedded the first two 'episodes' - be sure to subscribe to their channel for future instalments. Good fun!
Last Friday night I had the pleasure of engaging in an all-encompassing conversation with Seriah Azkath, the host of the awesome radio show Where Did the Road Go?; with us was my good friend Joshua Cutchin, musician and author of the widely acclaimed book A Trojan Feast.. Since this was my first appearance on the show, we were supposedly going to stick to one subject in particular --Artificial Intelligence-- but as it is often the case when you're engaging with intelligent people who share many of your ideas about Forteana, we ended up pretty much going all over the place (UFOs, Bigfoot, Extraterrestrial life and a hell of an etcetera).
In fact, after Seriah stopped the recording, we still kept chatting for FOUR MORE HOURS, until it was past 3 in the morning and I suddenly realized I hadn't parked my car inside the garage yet...
To say that I enjoyed this conversation is an understatement of Trump ego proportions. Like probably many of you, I've been a fan of Seriah for quite a long while, ever since I listened to him as a guest on Micah Hanks' Gralien Report. Not only is he the kind of host who comes fully prepared at the moment of asking the interviewee about their latest book or investigation, but in fact he's had *plenty* of personal experiences with the kind of high strangeness that makes one question your basic presumptions about reality, as well as eroding the faith in all those who claim to have simple explanations to what's going on with these phenomena --both from the skeptic AND the true believer camp...
Ditto with having my first chance to joining Joshua Cutchin on a radio interview --even though we were already good friends and have engaged in many a discussion over Skype privately. It's my opinion Joshua's doing a much-needed work in the Fortean field, by pointing out to the kind of cases and characteristics of witnesses' testimonies that used to be overlooked or discarded by previous investigators --like the kind of foodstuffs given to experiencers by non-human entities-- who didn't stop to consider THOSE little details might just the kind of thing which will cast a bit more light into these apparently unsolvable enigmas.
So, if you're the kind of person who doesn't mind dark and bumpy roads filled with lots of bifurcations and dangerous curves then strap in, because it's gonna be one hell of a ride!
Just in case you've been living under a megalith, the internet's abuzz over the discovery of a "circle" of stones on Mars.
Dubbed Marshenge, by commenter Jeff Taylor at Facebook's Journey to the Surface of the MARS, this formation's triggered a deluge of speculation. It was originally imaged by by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on September 24, 2012 at 3:29 p.m. local time in Nilosyrtis Mensae (28.064°N, 75.956°E).
The obvious Earthly parallel is England's Stonehenge. According to mainstream archaeologists this 5,000 year old stone circle is aligned with the summer solstice's sunrise and the winter solstice's sunset. Mavericks, like Graham Hancock, propose a connection between this and other megalithic sites across Earth, suggesting an ancient global civilization. This hypothesis isn't so outlandish with Bronze Age burials around Stonehenge hailing from the Mediterranean, Germany, and France.
Were Martians among those cosmopolitan visitors, returning home to erect their own tourist trap? Until we have boots on the ground to "science the shit out of this" we won't know for certain, but puny Earthlings can still make a pretty good guess.
The MRO's HiRISE camera resolution in the original image is 25 cm per pixel.
This formation is impressive with Marshenge's "hill" being approximately 359 pixels in diameter, and the stone "circle" is about 188 px, translating to 89.7 meters and 47 meters respectively. The four primary stones, which I shall provisionally dub Greg (3 o'clock), Patrick (6 o'clock), Andreas (9 o'clock), and Miguel (noon), cast shadows making it easy to calculate their height by plugging in the numbers from the NASA/University of Arizona's metadata into the following equation.
tan (Sun Elevation)=(Height of the Object) / (Length of the shadow)
"Greg" is close to 2.25 meters tall, and "Miguel" a little shorter at 1.8m. "Patrick" is closer to 1.62m, and "Andreas" measures up to a mere 81 cm. These are short compared with the 7-9 meter tall megaliths of Stonehenge, but formidable with their remarkable width. "Greg"'s 6.25 meters wide (measured at the diagonal, west to east), "Patrick" at 1.8m, "Miguel" 4m at the widest point, and "Andreas" measuring at 4.25m.
If their placement isn't natural, then Martians certainly have a different aesthetic than us. The stones don't appear to be aligned to cardinal directions nor the direction of Mars's solstice sunrises and sunsets. Any resemblance to Stonehenge could be chalked up to pareidolia. Yet if this is an artificial arrangement, maybe there's more to be found beneath the hill much like Göbekli Tepe appears to have been intentionally buried.
On the other hand, these stones might be ejecta from an ancient eruption. Another possible explanation, put forward by mainstream media, is 'sorted terrain', or 'patterned ground'. This phenomenon appears on Earth and Mars where sediment and small stones are arranged by permafrost's freeze-thaw cycles. Looking closely at the raw images, this may not be the case since the area doesn't resemble Earth's patterned ground below.
Until humans can examine them firsthand, we'll never know for certain. Until then, I'm fairly confident this is a natural phenomenon but hope to get proven wrong one day.
My gratitude to Andreas Müller at GreWi for his assistance in determining the correct pixel measurements, and utilizing HiRISE's JP2 archives, facilitating my revision of this article with the correct dimensions of Marshenge.
Note too that Jacques has been working hard on a very special collector's edition of his most recent book, Wonders in the Sky (co-authored with Chris Aubeck), and will soon be launching a crowd-funding campaign to finance the printing, which interested readers will be able to contribute to so they can get their hands on a copy - I'll update you when I find out more.
To celebrate Jacques' birthday, here's a few links to Vallee-related lectures and interviews we've posted over the years, full of great insights from his five decades of experience researching the UFO phenomenon:
- Jacques Vallee - A Man of Many Dimensions
- "UFOlogy Has No Ontology": Jacques Vallee at the CAIPAN Workshop 2014
- Jacques Vallee on UFOs, Remote Viewing and the COMETA Report
- Jacques Vallee - On Messengers of Deception
- Inhabited Sky: Researchers Discuss Historical Sightings of UFOs
- Jacques Vallee at TEDx
- Vallee: Author of the Impossible
But for the newbie, it's hard to go past Passport to Magonia: From Folklore to Flying Saucers as an eye-opening introduction (yes we publish it, but it's always been my favourite) - Amazon links below:
Further proof 2015 has been a year that sucked donkey balls*, the organizers of Paradigm Symposium, the event which I've religiously attended to for the last 3 years, has been postponed and moved to either May or June of 2016. To say this is a personal disappointment for me is an understatement the size of the freaking Death Star...
2015 began with promise for the Paradigm Symposium; however, we have experienced numerous setbacks throughout the year, while still operating under full confidence that the Symposium would successfully come off as planned. It was only in the last week that we reached the final decision that moving the date and location had now become a necessity.
Over the last few months, we have experienced setbacks and budget cuts from nearly all of our sources sponsorship, along with having experienced issues coordinating our needs with the hotel venue. Again, it was while moving forward within these last weeks that it became clear that the Symposium would need to be rescheduled.
On Thursday of last week, that final decision to reorganize and move things to a future date became finalized. We felt it much more prudent and wise to make this necessary change.
Scotty Roberts and John Ward, the main organizer of Paradigm, assure attendees that all tickets purchased in 2015 will be honored for next year. That of course will be of little comfort for those who, like me, ended up with non-refundable plane tickets...
It's also still uncertain whether the current lineup of speakers will be maintained either --I was just listening to Richard Dolan's radio show on KGRA a few minutes ago, and currently he does not know whether his schedule will permit him to speak at the symposium as it was intended.
Will Paradigm be able to overcome this HUGE blow? I sure hope so. I cannot deny how incredibly rewarding and nourishing attending this eclectic event has been for me; it's not just a question of hanging out with my buds, but being around like-minded people in a rich environment where ideas can be explored, and personal high-strangeness experiences shared, without the usual fear of ridicule.
Regardless of the situations and/or decisions which led to this kerfuffle, Paradigm deserves to endure.
(*) Please God, *PLEASE* don't let 2015's bad juju jinx Episode VII, too!!
For four years the free, online journal Paranthropology has provided a wonderful clearing house of academic level thought on many aspects of the paranormal, and its effect on humans (regardless of its "reality", or otherwise). We've regularly linked to new releases here on TDG as they've become available, and it's worth noting that a new issue, Vol. 6 No. 2 is now available.
Also available right now as well is an anthology of Paranthropology articles that you can add to your bookshelf, titled Strange Dimensions, and which will help support the free journal into the future.
Here's a quick word from editor Jack Hunter:
[I am] very excited to announce the publication of Strange Dimensions: A Paranthropology Anthology, which celebrates 4 years of the Paranthropology Journal. It features 16 chapters (plus an introduction and a foreword by Joseph Laycock), covering everything from William Burroughs to Crop Circles to dowsing, via alien abductions, consciousness studies, mediumship and surfing.
If you have enjoyed the journal, or found it useful, over the last 5 years (that’s 20 issues!), please consider buying a copy of the anthology, as it is the very best way to support its continued existence. It is an excellent collection of some of the best articles from the last two years, over 400 pages of anomalous goodness!
The anthology has received warm praise from the likes of Jeffrey Kripal, who notes that the collection "takes us down the proverbial rabbit hole, here with the grace, nuance and sheer intelligence of a gifted team of essayists, each working in her or his own way toward new theories of history, consciousness, spirit, the imagination, the parapsychological, and the psychedelic." According to Kripal, Strange Dimensions is "another clear sign that there is high hope in high strangeness, and that we are entering a new era of thinking about religion, about mind, about us."
Here's an excellent summary of the contents of the book, taken directly from Jack's introduction:
In an effort to convey as broad a picture as possible of the remit of the Paranthropology journal, this anthology is split into four sections. Part 1 features a collection of ‘Ethnographies of the Anomalous,’ and the chapters within it see scholars going out into the field to investigate their subject matter as participant-observers. First, Darryl Caterine takes us on a tour of American paranormal gatherings to reveal striking, and quite unexpected, core themes connecting Spiritualists, UFO enthusiasts and dowsers. Next, Tanya Luhrmannn describes the sensation of hearing the voice of God during her fieldwork with contemporary Evangelicals in the U.S.A., followed by anthropologist John A. Napora’s vivid description of his own encounter with the deceased, and the ontological challenges such experiences present. Then, Emma Ford examines the experience of transcendence known as ‘stoke’ amongst Christian Surfers in Cornwall, England, before Loriliai Biernacki outlines some Indian perspectives on ‘the paranormal body.’
Part 2, ‘Making Sense of Spiritual Experience,’ looks at anomalous experiences from different theoretical perspectives. To begin, John W. Morehead and David J. Hufford discuss sleep paralysis and explore the notion of ‘core spiritual experiences,’ before Angela Voss takes an imaginal perspective on the paranormal, drawing on the writings of the Sufi mystic Muhyiddin Ibn’Arabi. Then, in their chapter ‘The Spectrum of Spectres,’ Michael Hirsch and colleagues present their sociological findings about the interpretation of ghostly experiences, followed by my own exploration of the ‘problem of spirits’ and some of the scholarly efforts to overcome it. Finally, Andrew Newberg outlines his perspective on the neurophysiological correlates of religious and spiritual experiences, and discusses the implications and future directions of this brand of neurotheological research.
Part 3 takes us a step further down the rabbit hole into realms of ‘High Strangeness,’ where James Riley introduces us to the writer William S. Burrough’s magical use of tape recorders and the cut-up technique in 1970s London. Then, William Rowlandson employs Carl Jung’s archetypal approach to the UFO phenomenon as a lens through which to interpret Crop Circles as a ‘psychoid manifestation.’ This is followed by Steven Mizrach’s summary of the field of alien abduction research as an introduction to John Keel’s ‘ultraterrestrial hypothesis,’ an alternative to UFOlogy’s dominant ‘nuts-and-bolts’ extraterrestrial model.
The final section explores ‘Consciousness, Psychedelics and Psi’ through Rafael Locke’s first-person science perspective on mediumship and psi, David Luke’s expansive review of the literature connecting ostensible psi phenomena with the psychedelic experience, and, finally, Bernardo Kastrup’s proposed model of the brain as a filter for non-local consciousness, in opposition to the standard materialist view of the brain as a generator of consciousness.
The diversity of subject matter and perspectives explored in this anthology do not present a coherent view of reality (or perhaps they do), and nor do they offer any definitive conclusions concerning the reality of the paranormal, one way or the other. What they do succeed in doing, however, is to conjure a spirit of open-minded critical thinking about a range of topics that have fascinated and perplexed countless generations of human beings since time immemorial. It is this open-minded approach that characterises Paranthropology and the kind of writing and thinking it seeks to promote and disseminate. I sincerely hope you enjoy reading this collection, and that it encourages you to delve deeper into this intriguing area of research.
Only 24 days for the event I've been waiting for all freaking year: The Paradigm Symposium, the kind of eclectic event suited for open-minded-yet-grounded people like the members of the Grail, is bringing once again an impressive menagerie of thinkers and researchers to the Twin Cities from October 1st to the 4th.
Paradigm started in 2012 as the brainchild of Scotty Roberts and my Cosmic Compadre Micah Hanks, taking positive advantage of the 'esoteric' momentum of that year, and the renewed interest in ancient mysteries through shows like 'Ancient Aliens', in order to have --as Micah put it, very tongue-in-cheekly-- "the best 'end-of-the-world' party we could throw."
Obviously the world didn't end that year --or maybe it did, in ANOTHER dimension!-- and so Scotty and Micah, with the help of John Ward and others, decided to soldier on and make Paradigm an annual event with its own, distinctive flavor. The tone has shifted away from the initial 'ancient aliens' vibe --which IMO is for the best-- and although prehistoric mysteries and megalithic sites are still a central topic, they are counter-balanced with presentations about other subjects like UFOs or altered states of perception --although of course, we Grailers know these are not isolated phenomena anyway...
So please, check out the symposium's website if you're interested in having a phenomenal time with some of the best thinkers in the field, like Randall Carlson --who gained a lot of notoriety thanks to Joe Rogan's podcast, and will gain even more once Graham Hancock's Magicians of the Gods is released-- Nick Redfern, Peter Robbins, Rich Dolan, and many MANY others.
If you're still undecided, perhaps reading my 'Take me Down to Paradigm City' series, which I wrote for Mysterious Universe as a review of everything that transpired last year might finally convince you.
And if you do decide to come, please look for me and say hi --I'll be the tall guy wearing a red luchador mask ;)
UPDATE (14/09/2015): Unfortunately, the Paradigm symposium has been postponed. More later.