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kmaherali



Joined: 27 Mar 2003
Posts: 23617

PostPosted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 1:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My Haunted Dorm Room

During my sophomore year, I lived in a haunted dorm.

I’ll admit, I have always loved a good ghost story. So you could say I was primed to have a ghost sighting, or at least, hopeful for one. And at Kenyon College in Ohio, where I went to school, ghosts are a big part of campus lore.

Every October, the security guards host a bonfire and recount, straight-faced, tales of disappearing footprints, disembodied wails and an elevator that operated on its own. One professor leads a haunted campus tour, and Kenyon alumni from different generations share versions of the stories at reunions and gatherings; it’s part of our shared language and a useful conversation starter.

The stories themselves are regularly embellished, and some have taken on mythic proportions, but the original tales come from a handful of tragic accidents over the last century.

One such calamity took place around 4 a.m. on Feb. 27, 1949, when a towering stone dormitory called Old Kenyon burned to the ground in a devastating fire that killed nine students. Two of those students died as a result of skull fractures they suffered after jumping from the windows. The fire was national news — it made the front page of this newspaper, along with a photo of a group of college men huddled before the building, its windows illuminated by the uncontrollable blaze.

The dorm — a beautiful 1829 Gothic Revival building with spires — had been the centerpiece of campus. So the school vowed to rebuild quickly, and by the next year Old Kenyon was ready for new inhabitants. The exterior was reset with the structure’s original stones, but the inside was reconstructed with concrete and steel to be safer and more modern in design.

According to legend, the ghosts of the dead students prefer to walk along the old floor plan. Allegedly, they silently traverse the hallways, visible only from the waist up. That, or their feet can be seen gliding over student heads.

When I lived in Old Kenyon, I never saw any meandering spirits. But sometimes, in the middle of the night, when not a Kenyonite was stirring, I’d awake to an odd pattern. The room would get very cold, and I would feel the presence of a slow-moving force, gliding toward me, past my dresser. My makeup cases, vitamin bottles and other dresser-top trinkets would clatter to the floor. But they wouldn’t fall all at once. Instead, the items would drop to the carpet, one by one, as if someone were pushing a hand slowly through them.

In these moments, I’d lay very still, paralyzed by an oddly cheerful terror. My ghost was back!

There were a few other poltergeist-esque encounters during the year. Once my roommate and I fled screaming after a disembodied voice woke us both at the same time. A college boyfriend once “dreamed” he heard the door slam before he was locked in place by cold hands, pressing him into the bed. I’ve held these stories up as proof of a genuine haunting.

More..
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/15/opinion/haunted-college-halloween.html?em_pos=small&emc=edit_ty_20171016&nl=opinion-today&nl_art=10&nlid=45305309&ref=headline&te=1
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kmaherali



Joined: 27 Mar 2003
Posts: 23617

PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2017 11:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Eerie moment 'ghost' car appears from nowhere causing crash at busy junction

https://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/newsother/eerie-moment-ghost-car-appears-from-nowhere-causing-crash-at-busy-junction/ar-AAtHTlx?li=AAggFp5&ocid=mailsignout
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kmaherali



Joined: 27 Mar 2003
Posts: 23617

PostPosted: Sat Oct 28, 2017 6:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How We Find Our Way to the Dead

I don’t believe in ghosts, but I see them all the time. Social media gets spookier every day. Among Facebook’s more than 40 million deceased users, an acquaintance who passed away two years ago has a profile page that remains quite active. Dozens of people who knew her post memories and emoji hearts, speaking to the dead woman as if she were only as near or as far as we all are these days — out there somewhere, behind another screen.

According to the Pew Research Center, nearly a fifth of Americans believe they have “seen or been in the presence of” a wandering soul; nearly a third report that “they have felt in touch with someone who has already died.” Polls from the past suggest such numbers hold steady across the generations. To be captivated by the uncanny has been a national pastime at least since Washington Irving celebrated the “fearful pleasure” of listening to tales of “haunted fields, and haunted brooks, and haunted bridges, and haunted houses.”

But now it seems we are experiencing something new. Today even skeptics live in the presence of the departed, the disembodied and the illusory — internet shadows that are no less influential for not being real.

Technology makes such eerie interactions possible, and that’s the paradox of the pervasive presence of scientific wonders in our daily lives: We carry futuristic fact-checking supercomputers in our pockets, but they don’t make us any less superstitious, susceptible to trickery or caught in the thrall of our deep-down Dark Ages tendencies. In fact, they seem to do the opposite, relocating our credulity to any new medium promising to bridge the gap that keeps us from whatever or whomever we’ve lost.

The ubiquity of smartphones as access points to the collective cognitive realm some call the noosphere — from the Greek word “nous” for “mind” — perhaps makes our increased preoccupation with unseen powers inevitable. Yet this is not the first time radical advances in technology have creaked the attic door open for imaginary encounters. While we naturally think of spirits in spiritual terms, the ghosts of a culture are shaped equally by its machines.

When Samuel Morse sent his first telegraph message between Baltimore and Washington in 1844 — the biblical verse “What hath God wrought” — among his most enthusiastic supporters were those who believed such missives could be transmitted not just across great distances, but to and from the great beyond.

In the middle of the 19th century, the rise of Spiritualism, the belief that the living can communicate with the dead, was bound up with the era’s astonishing technological developments. The first nationally known Spiritualists, Leah, Kate and Maggie Fox of Hydesville, N.Y., explicitly compared their interactions with the dead to electric pulses sent along a wire. “God’s Telegraph,” the eldest Fox sister said, “antedated that of Samuel F. B. Morse.”

Believers soon started a newspaper called The Spiritual Telegraph, “devoted to the illustration of spiritual intercourse,” while another leading Spiritualist, Andrew Jackson Davis (known as the Seer of Poughkeepsie), claimed that séances were most effective when participants were joined together by a copper cord.

Before the trans-Atlantic telegraph cable, Davis proposed that the quickest way to send messages across the ocean would be through a system of spiritual switchboards, in which the living in New York would convey a message to the American dead, who would pass it on to the dead of England, who in turn would make reports to the living of London.

The founder of The New-York Tribune, Horace Greeley, was rumored to be so taken by this idea that he sought Spiritualist correspondents. Unfortunately for Greeley, it was noted at the time that “the spirits utterly refuse to serve the press.”

The telegraph was not alone as an unlikely stimulant of “spiritual intercourse.” With understanding of electricity growing across the country, believers in invisible forces argued that it buttressed their claims. Mediums called themselves “batteries,” essential for supplying the power needed to send the longest of long-distance communiqués. Photography, too, with its promise of producing images depicting details hidden to the naked eye, offered ghost hunters a new and powerful tool.

In the wake of the Civil War’s unprecedented loss of life, a mania for spectral images seized the nation when the photographer William Mumler claimed he could capture the souls of the dead with his camera. First in Boston and then in New York, Mumler convinced many that portrait sessions in his studio were attended by the spirits of paying customers’ lamented spouses, children and friends.





Mumler’s high-profile arrest for fraud put Spiritualism on trial in the courts and the public square. Though he had been caught red-handed selling a “spirit photograph” to a New York City marshal, his lawyer mounted an ingenious defense, appealing both to the precedent of spirits appearing in the Bible and to the growing faith in technology’s ability to accomplish the impossible.

“The taking of these pictures,” Mumler’s attorney argued, “is a new feature in photography, yet in its infancy surely, but gradually and slowly progressing to greater perfection in the future, requiring for such perfection time and a scientific knowledge of the power that is operating.”

After his surprise acquittal, Mumler went on to take his most infamous picture: a portrait of Mary Todd Lincoln posed with the alleged spirit of the murdered president.

Belief that the dead took forms waiting to be discovered was not a fringe view but a commonly held religious position. Some estimates made in the 1860s put the number of Americans with Spiritualist sympathies over 10 million — a third of the population.

The pace at which new technologies became part of the 19th-century landscape helps explain why. The telegraph, electricity, photography: All of it was new. All of it was baffling. All of it seemed utterly fantastic until suddenly it was everywhere, making it difficult for many to separate genuine marvels from showmanship and sham.

The spiritual confusion prompted by these innovations played out for decades. In 1843, when Morse petitioned the federal government to support the telegraph, a congressman argued that if the government provided resources to explore sending electric messages, it ought to fund the pseudoscience of mesmerism as well. In 1869, a State Supreme Court judge and several legitimate photographers testified on Mumler’s behalf, all noting that it had not been proved that photography could not do what he claimed.

In our own technology-haunted times, it’s worth asking how our lives both online and offline will soon be influenced by discoveries and manipulations far beyond what we can currently imagine. One hopes that future citizens of the noosphere will see through the kinds of digital deceptions we endure today as easily as we might debunk a spirit photograph. Until then, we can only wait for our ability to detect invented entities to catch up with our talent for creating them.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/28/opinion/sunday/death-ghosts-culture.html
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kmaherali



Joined: 27 Mar 2003
Posts: 23617

PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 1:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your College Ghost Stories

Haunted dorms, Ouija boards and brushes with the supernatural.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/31/opinion/college-halloween-ghost.html
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kmaherali



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Posts: 23617

PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 6:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Season of the Witch

Excerpt:

“If you’re not ready to admit that the universe is chaos, I’m not sure how far you’re going to go,” Bracciale said to the class, describing witchcraft as a way to exercise power in a world without transcendent moral rules, a supernatural technology for taking care of yourself when no one else will. Witchcraft, Bracciale said, lets you be the “arbiter of your own justice.”

I suspect that this assumption of chaos — the sense that institutions have failed and no one is in charge — helps explain the well-documented resurgence of occultism among millennials. Attempts at spell-casting are obviously not unique to today’s young people; the Washington writer and hostess Sally Quinn just published a book in which she boasts about hexing the renowned magazine editor Clay Felker, my former journalism professor, before his death from cancer. Still, magic and witchcraft have a renewed cachet, one that seems related to our current climate of political and cultural breakdown.

“Witches are everywhere these days,” says the introduction to “Basic Witches,” a cheeky how-to book about witchcraft published in August. At Catland, along with candles, pheasant feet and little jars of mouse bones, you can buy the beautifully produced feminist witchcraft magazine Sabat, whose covers feature black-and-white photos of gorgeous girls looking like pensive pop stars. There are a surprising number of magical paraphernalia subscription boxes. “Why the Witch Is the Pop-Culture Heroine We Need Right Now,” said the headline of a recent piece on New York Magazine’s Vulture site, part of its Witch Week Halloween series.

Some of this vogue is about witch-as-metaphor, an icon that captures the boiling rage and determined independence of legions of nasty women. But some of it is a real, if eclectic, spiritual practice, adopted by people skeptical of organized religion but unfulfilled by atheism. It’s these sincere attempts to use magic that interest me, because occultism often gains currency during times of social crisis.

More...
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/03/opinion/witches-occult-comeback.html?em_pos=small&emc=edit_ty_20171103&nl=opinion-today&nl_art=3&nlid=71987722&ref=headline&te=1
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kmaherali



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Posts: 23617

PostPosted: Mon Nov 20, 2017 2:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

12 real haunted homes for sale (ghosts included)

Slide show:

https://www.msn.com/en-ca/money/homeandproperty/12-real-haunted-homes-for-sale-ghosts-included/ss-AAtZDZq?li=AAggNb9&ocid=mailsignout#image=1

HAUNTED HOMES FOR SALE
Halloween is just around the corner and if it’s a serious fright you’re after, these spooky properties are riddled with paranormal activity. From creepy interiors to things that go bump in the night, let’s take a look at some of the most haunted houses on the market.
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kmaherali



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2018 9:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

16 of the Strangest Unsolved Mysteries of All Time

Slide show:

https://www.msn.com/en-ca/lifestyle/smart-living/16-of-the-strangest-unsolved-mysteries-of-all-time/ss-BBI5jn5?li=AAggNb9&ocid=mailsignout#image=1
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kmaherali



Joined: 27 Mar 2003
Posts: 23617

PostPosted: Wed Apr 04, 2018 10:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ghost playing with balloon on video!

https://www.msn.com/en-ca/video/watch/landlady-captures-%E2%80%98ghost-of-dead-child%E2%80%99-on-film-as-balloon-drifts-eerily-through-pub/vi-AAvrKiy?ocid=mailsignout
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kmaherali



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PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2018 11:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

13 American Haunted House Mysteries No One Can Explain

These creepy houses around America hide dark and horrible secrets.


Slideshow:

http://www.readersdigest.ca/features/heart/haunted-house-mysteries/view-all/
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shivaathervedi



Joined: 16 May 2018
Posts: 354

PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2018 2:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quran mentions jinni and angels but there is no trace of ghost according to Quran. Ghosts are found in stories, folklore, imagination and in Hollywood and Bollywood movies.

In folklore, a ghost (sometimes known as an apparition, haunt, phantom, poltergeist, shade, specter or spectre, spirit, spook, and wraith) is the soul or spirit of a dead person or animal that can appear to the living. In ghostlore, descriptions of ghosts vary widely from an invisible presence to translucent or barely visible wispy shapes, to realistic, lifelike visions. The deliberate attempt to contact the spirit of a deceased person is known as necromancy.

The belief in the existence of an afterlife, as well as manifestations of the spirits of the dead, is widespread, dating back to animism or ancestor worship in pre-literate cultures. Certain religious practices—funeral rites, exorcisms, and some practices of spiritualism and ritual magic—are specifically designed to rest the spirits of the dead. Ghosts are generally described as solitary, human-like essences, though stories of ghostly armies and the ghosts of animals rather than humans have also been recounted. They are believed to haunt particular locations, objects, or people they were associated with in life.

The overwhelming consensus of science is that ghosts do not exist. Their existence is impossible to falsify, and ghost hunting has been classified as pseudoscience. Despite centuries of investigation, there is no scientific evidence that any location is inhabited by spirits of the dead.
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kmaherali



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PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2018 2:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What about all the evidence provided in this thread? Did you read them at all?
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shivaathervedi



Joined: 16 May 2018
Posts: 354

PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2018 4:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kmaherali wrote:
What about all the evidence provided in this thread? Did you read them at all?


I think you did not paid attention to last paragraph of my post, let me reproduce it.

"The overwhelming consensus of science is that ghosts do not exist. Their existence is impossible to falsify, and ghost hunting has been classified as pseudoscience. Despite centuries of investigation, there is no scientific evidence that any location is inhabited by spirits of the dead".

My question to you, have you personally seen any ghost or a witch or have any encounter with a ghost?

Yes, I did read some of posts in the thread but these events are tricky one. In my college days living in dorms we use to play such tricks to frighten other students. You should have heard this phrase,: JO DARR GAYA SO MAR GAYA".
Is the Exorcist movie (1973) a real event?
Mostly haunted house stories are pranks to acquire properties. The smart persons planted such ghost stories to frighten mostly poor and illiterate families to acquire possession of those properties.

The way to frighten people is, "DARK NIGHT, MOON HIDING BEHIND CLOUDS, WINDS WHISTLING, A WOLF CRYING, AND SHADOWS MOVING HERE AND THERE IS THE PROOF OF GHOST COMING".

The NYT stories have no base because these are scientifically not proven. There can be many explanations but not the real one.
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kmaherali



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2018 2:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

READ MSMS statement from his memoirs quoted in page 1 of this thread. He accepted their reality!
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shivaathervedi



Joined: 16 May 2018
Posts: 354

PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2018 4:36 pm    Post subject: Re: Ghost Phenomena - ISMS Reply with quote

kmaherali wrote:
To me ghosts are a manifestation of the paranormal or parapsychology. The fact that they cannot be proven scientifically does not mean that they do not exist. Mowlana Sultan Muhammad Shah in his Memoirs (pg 312) alludes to this.

"Mr., Chaplin is interested in certain psychical and non-physical phenomena, such as telepathy and its various derivatives. He quoted to me Einstein's demand that ten scientists should witness at the same time, and under precisely similar conditions, every case of this kind submitted, before he would consider these manifestations proven. He and I agreed that the imposition of this kind of test would make all psychical research and experiment impossible, for these phenomena-and the laws under which they occur-are simply not at the beck and call of human beings".


I went through the chapter of Memoirs you mentioned. What I got is as follow;

"Mr. Chaplin is interested in certain psychical and nonphysical phenomena, such as telepathy and its various derivatives. He quoted to me Einstein's demand that ten scientists should witness at the same time, and under precisely similar conditions, every case of this kind submitted before he would consider these manifestations proved. He and I agreed that the imposition of this kind of test would make all psychical research and experiment impossible, for these phenomena -- and the laws under which they occur -- are simply not at the beck and call of human beings.

I consider it a real privilege and pleasure to have met Mr. Chaplin and his beautiful and accomplished young wife. She comprehends and fully sympathizes with his ideals, with his mental and spiritual aspirations and satisfactions, and with the real suffering that the contradictions of our time cause him. I, who by the grace of God's greatest gift, am myself blessed with a wife who fully understands the joys and the sorrows of my mind and my spirit, can well appreciate the happiness which he finds in a domestic life very similar to my own".
The words mentioned in paragraph like, 'non physical phenomena or telepathy' does not prove existence of ghosts.
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kmaherali



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PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 11:16 am    Post subject: Re: Ghost Phenomena - ISMS Reply with quote

shivaathervedi wrote:

The words mentioned in paragraph like, 'non physical phenomena or telepathy' does not prove existence of ghosts.
They cannot be proven by normal scientific criteria, but that does not imply they do not exist!

God cannot be proven by normal scientific means. This does no imply that God does not exist, otherwise you would not have posted Munaajaat of Hazarat Aly!
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shivaathervedi



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PostPosted: Sat Jul 14, 2018 3:42 pm    Post subject: Re: Ghost Phenomena - ISMS Reply with quote

kmaherali wrote:
shivaathervedi wrote:

The words mentioned in paragraph like, 'non physical phenomena or telepathy' does not prove existence of ghosts.
They cannot be proven by normal scientific criteria, but that does not imply they do not exist!

God cannot be proven by normal scientific means. This does no imply that God does not exist, otherwise you would not have posted Munaajaat of Hazarat Aly!


The phrase non physical phenomena can be implied for souls but not for ghosts. In my view, the definition of ghost is," a smart criminal who want to deceive or frighten innocent people for monetary, physical, or property gains play pranks and tricks to make people believe in ghosts".

But science has given proof that there is an entity which they call X FORCE who controls the universe. Religion can give that entity any name. That X FORCE balances the universe, look at galaxies, black holes, stars, planets, they are running on their path without colliding each other. If sun tilt a degree downward or move an inch upward what will happen to this earth!! The skies display His craftsmanship. Earth and human being is the physical proof of His creativity.
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kmaherali



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PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2018 5:57 am    Post subject: Re: Ghost Phenomena - ISMS Reply with quote

shivaathervedi wrote:

The phrase non physical phenomena can be implied for souls but not for ghosts. In my view, the definition of ghost is," a smart criminal who want to deceive or frighten innocent people for monetary, physical, or property gains play pranks and tricks to make people believe in ghosts".
Anything whether physical or non-physical which has a connection to the dead is considered as a ghost.

As I said read the whole thread and you will get a better understanding of the meaning.

The Ginans mention the word 'bhut' meaning ghosts. For example

ejee utam abhiyaagat alakhne, aaraadho moraa bhaaijee
or sarve bhut keraa vaasaa jaannojee...tame jaago............3

O my brothers! Worship the most perfect guest, the indescriptible (Lord). The rest are all places of ghosts. O brothers! remain continuously awake...
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shivaathervedi



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PostPosted: Thu Jul 19, 2018 5:01 pm    Post subject: Re: Ghost Phenomena - ISMS Reply with quote

kmaherali wrote:
shivaathervedi wrote:

The phrase non physical phenomena can be implied for souls but not for ghosts. In my view, the definition of ghost is," a smart criminal who want to deceive or frighten innocent people for monetary, physical, or property gains play pranks and tricks to make people believe in ghosts".
Anything whether physical or non-physical which has a connection to the dead is considered as a ghost.

As I said read the whole thread and you will get a better understanding of the meaning.

The Ginans mention the word 'bhut' meaning ghosts. For example

ejee utam abhiyaagat alakhne, aaraadho moraa bhaaijee
or sarve bhut keraa vaasaa jaannojee...tame jaago............3

O my brothers! Worship the most perfect guest, the indescriptible (Lord). The rest are all places of ghosts. O brothers! remain continuously awake...


A person whose time is up, and his soul is taken out can not stand on his feet, become a ghost, roam around, and frighten others. Soul is not visible, how come a ghost in body form be called " BHATKI HUI AATIMA".

A ghost falls in the same category as Pari (fairy) or mermaid. These are imaginative creations.

You have right to translate couplet of ginan as you understand, I reserve the same right too. My translation is as follow;

Worship the pure (perfect) GUEST, whose name can't be written; if you fail, your abode will be in deserted area with other (fallen from grace) disobedient.
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kmaherali



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PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2018 10:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pagan beliefs persist in the New World

Nearly half of American adults believe in ghosts


SURVIVING winters some 2,000 years ago was not easy. In an attempt to increase their chances of survival, Irish pagans would curry favour with evil spirits during the festival of Samhain—which fell at the midpoint of the equinox and the winter solstice—by inviting occupants of the “Otherworld” to feast with them. The tradition persists 2,000 years later, albeit with a distinctively Yankee flavour. Halloween in America is a multi-billion dollar industry. Some 175m Americans will spend a total of some $9bn dressing up as ghouls, witches and monsters; spraying fake cobwebs over their homes; and stuffing their faces with horror-themed candy.

But what, if anything, remains of the original Gaelic belief that spirits can haunt? On behalf of The Economist, YouGov, a pollster, asked a representative sample of American adults whether they believe in ghosts. A shocking 47% of respondents said that they did. Indeed, around 15% of them reckoned that they had caught sight of one.

Suitably spooked, The Economist dug a little deeper to find out what factors determine such beliefs. Unsurprisingly, education plays a part. People that left school at 18 or earlier were more likely to believe in ghosts than those who went to college. Age is negatively correlated: the younger people are, the more likely they will let their imaginations of the afterlife run wild. People that identify as either Middle Eastern, Native American or mixed race have a far higher propensity to believe in ghosts than other racial groups. And of course faith is instructive, too. Roman Catholics, perhaps because of their veneration of saints, are more likely to believe in ghosts than Protestants. And the more you pray, the more likely you are to believe in the undead.

More...
https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2018/10/31/pagan-beliefs-persist-in-the-new-world?cid1=cust/ddnew/email/n/n/20181031n/owned/n/n/ddnew/n/n/n/nna/Daily_Dispatch/email&etear=dailydispatch&utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily_Dispatch&utm_term=20181031
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kmaherali



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 01, 2020 7:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

13 Mysteries Actually Solved by Psychics

Since ancient times, people have sought advice and counsel from psychics—or those claiming to be. But it's only in the past century or so that psychics have been credited with solving seemingly unsolvable crimes like these.

Read about them here...

https://www.readersdigest.ca/culture/true-crime-mysteries-solved-by-psychics/
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kmaherali



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PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2020 12:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

PODCAST

Do You Believe in Magic?

A global history of our oldest—and most maligned—practice


Magic has gotten a bad rap for the past few hundred years: in our haste to become rational, logical creatures of the Enlightenment, we’ve disavowed magic of all kinds (and burned a few hundred thousand women as witches along the way). Oxford professor of archaeology Chris Gosden wants to change the way we think about magic, starting with its definition: a connection with the universe that allows us to directly influence its workings. Gosden considers it the oldest and most neglected form of human engagement with the world, wrongly condemned by adherents of science and religion. His new book, Magic: A History, runs from the stones of prehistory to the apps on our smartphones to explore practices on every inhabited continent. What might we learn by considering the sentience of trees, or the connections between the living and the dead? Who is excluded from the hierarchies of religion or science? And might a 21st-century magic lead us to a better response to climate catastrophe?

Listen to the podcast:

https://theamericanscholar.org/do-you-believe-in-magic/?utm_source=email
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kmaherali



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PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2021 2:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This Spooky Season, Give Horror a Chance



These days, there’s a lot to be anxious about. There’s a lot to fear. There’s the environmental wreckage that’s increasingly evident around the world, the fragile state of our political systems, the mutating virus making the very air we breathe dangerous.

It’s perhaps no surprise that a horror renaissance has happened in film over the last decade. If many other aspects of one’s day are a running list of terrors or involve creeping dread and consuming paranoia, then the eyes and mind, already accustomed to that, will expect it from whatever page or screen they land on.

In 2016, Victor LaValle’s novella “The Ballad of Black Tom” showed racism and institutional violence through the lens of Lovecraftian cosmic horror (while pushing back against the racism and xenophobia built into H.P. Lovecraft’s original work). The year after that, Jordan Peele’s horror film “Get Out” literalized the oppression and occupation of Black people. As Americans have taken to the streets to protest police violence, a raft of films and shows have explored the horrors of the nation’s racist history, culminating recently in “Candyman.”

On Friday, there’s the release of “Halloween Kills,” which adds to the 43-year-old franchise. We’re all still watching the religiously tinged “Midnight Mass” on television, and the bookshelves are bleeding this year from Chuck Wendig’s “The Book of Accidents,” about a dark past that continues to haunt, next week’s collection of tragic tales “Ghost Sequences” by A.C. Wise and “Nothing but Blackened Teeth” by Cassandra Khaw, a story, in part, about soul-sucking relationships.

Horror fans have always known that the genre is more than a nightmare carnival. Horror is, and always has been, in dialogue with the anxieties and fears of its time. During the Great Depression, the misery and economic strife were embodied by monsters from literature and folklore, as Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster and the Mummy made their way across the movie screen. In the 1980s, when paranoia about the Cold War and fears of nuclear winter reached a fever pitch, a slate of suburban terrors assured us that our insecurities were valid, that we were not, in fact, safe in our homes. Enter Jason Voorhees, with his machete and hockey mask; Michael Myers, with his mechanic overalls and chef’s knife; and Freddy Krueger, with his fedora and very sharp fingers.

But horror doesn’t just reflect our fears and anxieties back at us. It also helps us process them. Horror is a fun house mirror everybody can use. It exaggerates, distorts and distills whatever it is we’re trying to work through, then delivers it back to us as entertainment.

Horror can offer comfort, can offer solace. Not because it’s an accurate representation or dramatization of our turmoil — who’s that intentional with their media consumption? — but because horror comes packaged for us in 400-page novels, in two-hour movies, in stories that end. Whether those books or films end happily or not, they end. For all of us who sense no end to our own daily horror stories, that’s what’s important.

And even amid the jump scares and houses that are obviously haunted, horror can get you thinking, can get you talking. That’s the key to what horror can do. Horror can shine a light on things we’d rather ignore, can confront us with our failings. Horror can challenge us to do better. “Get Out” didn’t solve discrimination or racism — Black people are still dying in traffic stops — but it did, at least for a couple of hours, make a lot of people see the racism that lurks beneath even the most liberal-seeming facades. And that’s success. That’s art.

Every horror story, whether an ecological disaster or a vampire encounter, a haunted house or a plague, is basically a long, dark tunnel that the story’s “final girl” is trying to survive.

It’s terrible in this tunnel, no doubt. The cars she clambers over are coffins. There are unnatural creatures shrieking from the ceiling. The walls are crumbling and seeping and maybe even undulating, and this muck she’s having to wade through is noxious, but — but way down there, through the dark, almost too distant to see, so far away that it has to be taken on faith that it’s actually there, is a point of light.

That’s where she’s headed. The light might be a train, or some monstrous angler fish (horror writers can be cruel like that), but struggling ahead toward that light is what a horror story can gift you.

Never mind that this virus keeps reaching back for variant after variant. Never mind that our politicians are so entrenched in their camps that the common good is just a dim memory. Never mind our monstrous ecological footprint.

In the long, terrible tunnel of her horror story, our heroine keeps struggling ahead, placing one foot in front of the other. Despite the damage, the terror, the hopelessness, the pain, despite her friends and family falling all around her, our heroine does that thing that humans are so, so good at: She keeps going.

If she can struggle on against those insurmountable odds, then, well — so can we, right?

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/15/opinion/halloween-horror-movies.html?campaign_id=39&emc=edit_ty_20211015&instance_id=42918&nl=opinion-today&regi_id=45305309&segment_id=71724&te=1&user_id=b5e5426f5c89f06ac9cd19778d3e6de3
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2021 4:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

WHY GROWNUPS HAVE CAUGHT HALLOWEEN FEVER (AND WHY IT’S UNLIKELY TO END ANYTIME SOON)



It’s spooky season again, the time of year when we’re drawn to horror; when The Great Pumpkin arrives to teach us how to live with the blockheads; when the pagan outrage machine is fired up; and when, increasingly, full-grown adults dive headfirst into a fantastical world of zombies, superheroes, and killer clowns, often exemplified by those who look forward to Halloween for months, even preferring it to Christmas and Hanukkah.

But why are we surprised that, as a recent USA Today headline put it, “Halloween’s been hijacked by adults,” or that more than half of all costumes sold by a popular online retailer are for grownups? Is this adult Halloween craze about expressing ourselves and finding joy, as the article suggests? Perhaps, but that seems more like a description than an explanation.

Sociologist Linus Owens argues that the increase in popularity comes from the sort of “purgatory” young adults find themselves in as the traditional markers of adulthood like family, career, and homeownership are delayed or abandoned. Reacting to this purgatory, young adults explore their identities through activities such as costuming and take Halloween as an opportunity to be creative.

While I don’t disagree with Owens’ assessment, my research has led me to conclude that those markers of adulthood were merely dampening a craving for enchantment we all share. Young adults in the situation Owen outlines simply have fewer social constraints to prevent them from craving enchantment more keenly. As I argued in an earlier piece, even though traditional religious affiliation has been declining in the United States, enchantment has not.

What I mean by enchantment is a belief in the non-rational, the magical, the mysterious, and the supernatural. Survey data and ethnographic studies show that the majority of Americans who claim no religious affiliation still believe in and seek out the supernatural and unexplained. In fact, Americans are seeking out new ways to experience enchantment now that the old ways (traditional religion) are losing hold on society and the lives of individuals. Halloween is a major available source of enchantment for Americans and is especially well-suited to the contemporary American religious landscape. You don’t have to join anything or draw any firm boundaries to embrace Halloween, and there’s no authority structure to obey. Halloween is centered on play and fun. It’s enchantment without commitment.

Strikingly, while religious disaffiliation is increasing across demographic groups, the drop in affiliation is more pronounced in younger groups. Data on which age groups participate most in Halloween activities mirror the data on which age groups are most likely to be religiously unaffiliated. In general, Baby Boomers are least likely to celebrate Halloween and lack religious affiliation, while Millennials and Gen Z are the most likely to celebrate Halloween and be religiously unaffiliated.

As a scholar of American religion I’ve observed various Facebook groups devoted to Halloween all year long and interviewed members of these groups about why they love Halloween so much. Many discussed a certain magical feeling in the air when the cool weather rolls in and jack-o-lanterns pop up on porches.

One man told me, “It goes back to being a kid, and recognizing the ‘eeriness’ as leaves fall, trees look scarier, it get[s] darker earlier, and there is this ‘atmosphere’ that just has you feeling like you’re not alone.” Another added, “I like Halloween because it has this really cool link between the living and the dead. It’s the time when the veils between the worlds are the thinnest allowing the supernatural elements to come again.”

Some discuss the holiday’s alleged origins in the mystical and ancient Celtic fall festival of Samhain. A self-identified member of “’witchy’ circles” explained, “Samhain…holds the potential for reaching spirits on the other side, giving us connections that feel otherworldly and magical.”

Many of those I interviewed referenced childhood and the magic of childhood experiences. The magic of Halloween just seemed more real to them as children, and they often seek to make Halloween magical for the children in their lives. Childhood as a whole is seen as an age of enchantment while adulthood is an age of rationality.

Sociological research has found that nostalgia increases as personal or social upheaval increases because nostalgia frequently results from a feeling of displacement. We can expect the political upheaval of the past several years and Covid anxieties to further fuel the quest for nostalgic enchantment around events like Halloween.

In a society with declining religious affiliation but a booming appetite, Halloween offers a healthy dose of enchantment that’s non-sectarian, media-rich, fun, nostalgia-driven, and non-authoritarian—perfect for the contemporary American spiritual landscape.

https://religiondispatches.org/why-grownups-have-caught-halloween-fever/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=why-grownups-have-caught-halloween-fever&utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=why-grownups-have-caught-halloween-fever
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 27, 2021 6:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In Good Spirits

Carissa Schumacher channels the dead for her A-list celebrity clients.
But most days, she’s in the forest.




Last Saturday night, a group gathered at the Flamingo Estate in the Eagle Rock neighborhood of Los Angeles to meet the spiritual adviser Carissa Schumacher.

At the front of an open-air room, a seat awaited Ms. Schumacher under a large floral arch. After guests, including the actresses Jennifer Aniston and Uma Thurman, filled the rows of chairs, others moved to the floor. Andie MacDowell reclined on a rug among a heap of pillows. Ms. Schumacher was supposed to appear at 8:30 p.m. A gospel choir sang while everyone sat around and glanced at Ms. Schumacher’s empty chair and at each other.

Since 2010, Ms. Schumacher has worked as a medium, meaning someone who receives messages from people who have died. She doesn’t have a website and is often booked months in advance. Her prices are another obstacle, with sessions priced at $1,111 per hour. (She likes the synchronicity of the number.)

Ms. Schumacher might fall under a category of so-called New Age practitioners. But spiritualism — the belief that the living can communicate with the dead — is very old, its popularity surging in times of high mortality rates: in the Victorian era, for example, and after major wars in the United States and Europe.

In late 2019, just as the world was on the precipice of a plague of biblical proportions, Ms. Schumacher said she began channeling Yeshua, a.k.a. Jesus Christ. Transcribed recordings of some of those sessions appear in a new book, “The Freedom Transmissions,” out Nov. 30.


The party was for the book, but it was also a chance for her clients, many of whom hadn’t experienced the Yeshua channeling, to see what it was all about. Maybe she would channel him at the party. No one was quite sure.


Ms. Schumacher, 39, at an event at the Flamingo Estate in Los Angeles.
Ms. Schumacher, 39, at an event at the Flamingo Estate in Los Angeles.Credit...Alex Welsh for The New York Times

Ms. Aniston, who’s been seeing Ms. Schumacher since 2019, has a Rolodex of healers, astrologers and numerologists that she’s acquired over the last 30 years. Ms. Schumacher’s advice, she said, has helped her navigate personal struggles, work and friendships. “The Yeshua channeling thing is way out there,” she had told me earlier, “and for some people, it’s going to be insane this idea of someone channeling Jesus, but it’s more about this message that she’s tapped into. Everything she’s communicated to me just resonates with me and excites me.”

Rooney Mara, another client, couldn’t make it to the party, but spoke to me by phone. She hadn’t experienced Yeshua’s transmissions, but was open to the idea. “I’m pretty much open to everything,” she said, adding, “I think because she’s channeling Yeshua, that automatically closes the door for some people. But she could be channeling anyone. It doesn’t close the door for me.”

Ms. Schumacher finally appeared a little after 9:30 p.m. A petite woman of 39, she walked tentatively toward the front of the room, removed her metallic gold heels, and sat cross-legged beneath the giant floral wreath, which now looked like a halo. The wall behind her was covered in photos of rainbows.

“We love you so much!” someone screamed. She put her hands together in prayer and nodded to a few fans around the room. “For those of you that don’t know me, I’m Carissa,” she said. “I knew my whole life that I would be a channel for Yeshua.”


Image
Ms. Schumacher works as a medium, or someone who receives messages from people who have died.
Ms. Schumacher works as a medium, or someone who receives messages from people who have died.Credit...Alex Welsh for The New York Times

‘Lost Souls’

A few weeks earlier, I had met Ms. Schumacher at her home in Escondido, Calif., outside San Diego, where she lives with her partner, David Carnell, a mission assurance engineer at a defense technology company. “Hello, beloved!” Ms. Schumacher said, embracing me while their two rescue dogs milled at our feet. (“Beloved” is how Yeshua addresses readers in the book.)

Ms. Schumacher wore brown leggings, suede brown boots and a turquoise hooded sweatshirt, saying that she mostly wears Faded Glory, Wal-Mart’s clothing label. A tangle of Native American medicine necklaces jangled around her neck, a gift from a Cherokee healer. Ms. Schumacher grabbed a turquoise JanSport backpack and we headed out to the Elfin Forest, a vast recreational reserve near her home.

Ms. Schumacher estimated that she goes to Los Angeles almost never. She doesn’t like the collective feeling of dashed hopes that tends to fester there. “There’s this tragic lost souls energy,” she said. “I think a lot of people go there to become something or to find themselves, and very rarely do they actually.” What they find instead are the cults, gurus, healers, psychics and the swollen egos that drive them. Ms. Schumacher doesn’t want to be known for any of the above. “I hate talking about myself,” she said. “But I have a lot to say about my journey with Yeshua.”

Not that she doesn’t understand how that sounds. “I can’t even say ‘channel for Jesus’ without laughing,” she said. “It sounds so freaking blasphemous! And frankly, really insane.”

Ms. Schumacher isn’t the only medium to attest to channeling biblical figures. Besides Esther Hicks, whose best-selling “Law of Attraction” series in part inspired the popular 2006 documentary “The Secret” and was based on messages she said she received from “Abraham,” there are also authors who tour lecture halls with the promise of channeling John the Apostle and the Virgin Mary.

Susan Gerbic, the founder of Guerrilla Skeptics, a group that conducts sting operations of people she calls “grief vampires,” told me that the invocation of religion was consistent with a psychic’s desire to feel special. “If you are in conversation with dead biblical figures, then that is really special and holds a lot of power,” she said, adding that it also served as a shield against skeptics. “Who’s going to attack someone who’s playing the religion card?”

Ms. Schumacher told me that she tries to avoid the spotlight. “I say no to everything,” she said. Among the things she has said no to were a potential TV show with Discovery Studios and another that the actor Rob Lowe, also a client, proposed in which Ms. Schumacher would channel for other celebrities. She wanted to say no to the book party too, she said, but her fans convinced her the party was really for Yeshua.

She recalled something Brad Pitt once told her. “Brad said that in the beginning of his career, he never knew that the cost of having a public life would be his freedom,” she said, “I’ve heard that in the back of my mind all this time.”

We settled on a cluster of rocks above a stream, where Ms. Schumacher pulled a pipe out of her backpack, packed it with kinnikinnik — a Native American smoking mixture — and began to recount how she became a channel for Yeshua. “People are like, ‘Oh, it must be so amazing being Yeshua’s channel,’ and it’s not,” she said. “I meant it is, but it requires a huge amount of discipline.”


Image
Ms. Schumacher paused to observe a snail during a walk. She said the snail shell is a powerful symbol of rebirth and fertility.
Ms. Schumacher paused to observe a snail during a walk. She said the snail shell is a powerful symbol of rebirth and fertility.Credit...Michelle Groskopf for

‘Searching for Something’

Ms. Schumacher was raised in Westport, Conn. Her father, a Catholic who became Unitarian, worked for Pitney Bowes, the mail services company. Her mother taught English as a Second Language classes. In grade school, a cemetery field trip earned her the nickname “Crazy Carrie” after she called out the names on the graves before her class would reach them. It stuck with her until middle school, when she was bullied again for developing early. “I struggled a lot with self esteem, and some of that resulted in feeling like I needed to please guys,” she said, “so that I can feel loved and wanted.”

Ms. Schumacher attended Brown University, where she majored in cognitive neuroscience. She went on to work in biotech, and eventually landed in San Diego at NovaRx, a pharmaceutical company developing a lung cancer vaccine. She was vague describing her time at the company. “I was pretty traumatized,” she said. “I felt like I was dying. I just needed to let everything die.” I asked if she felt comfortable explaining what she meant. “Are you talking about the New York Post story?” she asked.

In 2006, Justin Murdock, the Dole Pineapple heir, became the C.E.O. of NovaRx, after he and his father, David Murdock, invested $35 million in the company. In 2010, Ms. Schumacher accused Justin Murdock of sexual harassment, according to a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court. Mr. Murdock’s lawyer, in a comment for this article, said that the case was dismissed with prejudice and that there was no merit to Ms. Schumacher’s claims.

After leaving the company, Ms. Schumacher moved to the Elfin Forest. One day, she said, she returned home from a hike and felt a blue flame swirl down her spine. She heard glass shatter and a baby cry. She said this is when she first felt Yeshua’s energy.

Her naturopathic doctor suggested she meet Danielle Gibbons, who lives in southern Oregon and says she has been channeling the Virgin Mary since 1994. (She has a YouTube channel.) In 2011, Ms. Schumacher attended Ms. Gibbons’s workshop in Los Angeles, and subsequently booked private sessions with her roughly once a year. Ms. Gibbons told me that she didn’t know Ms. Schumacher was a Yeshua channel until much later, in 2019.

Ms. Schumacher said that she spent the next decade preparing her channel for Yeshua. She meditated daily, cut out sugar and caffeine, and limited her diet to five foods: broccoli, cauliflower, turkey, chicken and watermelon. “If someone’s channel is diluted,” she said, “there’s a kind of film or gunk that the energy gets stuck in and can’t push through.”

Ms. Schumacher, who dated men and women in her 20s, assumed she would also have to be celibate. But then she kept getting a message, “David with a black dog.” She signed up for Match.com. Mr. Carnell’s profile, which had a photo of him with a black dog, was the first one that popped up. When she took him to a John Mayer concert for his birthday, he understood when she suddenly had to go channel the dead lover and brother of a woman in another row. “That’s love,” she said.

By 2013, Ms. Schumacher had started channeling for friends, then friends of friends, and eventually put on free events. She also received a message in a dream to lead her followers into the desert. She began hosting journeys to Sedona, Ariz., where she invited clients for meditations in caves and occasionally channeled their dead relatives.

Ms. Mara attended such a journey in 2018. She first wrote to Ms. Schumacher under an alias when she had just finished filming “Mary Magdalene,” a 2019 film in which Ms. Mara starred. “The first session was just out of this world incredible,” Ms. Mara said. Other mediums were more vague, making generalized statements that could apply to anyone. But Ms. Schumacher, she said, knew specifics about her family that no one could have known. “Even if she did somehow figure out who I was,” Ms. Mara said.

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Ms. Schumacher then invited her to Sedona. “I was definitely scared and slightly resistant to it,” Ms. Mara said. “I think I pulled up and almost turned right back around. But after a few hours I was like, ‘Nope, I can trust these people. We’re all just human here, searching for something.’”

Ms. Schumacher thinks of her referral system like trees, with each person referring six others. Rain Phoenix, Joaquin’s sister, referred Ms. Mara, who then referred the director David Fincher — “we had a really ‘wow’ session,” Ms. Schumacher said — who then referred Brad Pitt. Mr. Pitt also didn’t write his real name, but signed his initials. “I thought he was Brad Paisley,” Ms. Schumacher said. (Mr. Fincher could not be reached; Mr. Pitt declined to comment.)

Ms. Aniston was referred via a totally different tree, specifically “the Rob Lowe tree.” When she received a session with Ms. Schumacher for her 50th birthday in 2019, Ms. Schumacher revealed details about the death of a relative that gave Ms. Aniston clarity about her childhood. “One moment after the next just left my jaw on the floor and tears streaming out of my eyes,” Ms. Aniston said.

Later that year, Ms. Aniston attended a Sedona journey, which included a heart-opening ceremony. “My heart might have been closed down for the last 15 years or so for whatever reason,” she told me. (I wasn’t sure if she was referring to her divorce from Mr. Pitt in 2005, and I didn’t ask.)

Ms. Aniston said it is not typical for her to do anything with groups of strangers. “Normally that would paralyze me with fear,” she said. “For someone who’s built a life of walls and protection and suspicion and being, you know, a public person, it was probably the greatest gift I’ve had in terms of human experience in a long, long time.” By the end, she said, “I just put my arms around 29 strangers and thanked them for their vulnerability.”

Ms. Aniston left that journey early, and the next day Ms. Schumacher said that Yeshua spoke through her for the first time. Those who’ve witnessed it since then say that Ms. Schumacher’s voice and body change. Yeshua’s voice is deeper, more measured, and has a slight British accent.

When I asked what it’s like to channel Yeshua, Ms. Schumacher said, “It feels like I’m being flushed down a toilet. I go whoosh! And he comes up. I breathe a lot. My body shakes.” On journeys, someone is tasked with holding down her ankles. Coming back into her body is hard, she said. “It’s a little bit like … womp, womp.”


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Ms. Schumacher meditated while seated in a stream inside the Elfin Forest.
Ms. Schumacher meditated while seated in a stream inside the Elfin Forest.Credit...Michelle Groskopf for The New York Times

Only Human

In the fall of 2020, Ms. Schumacher emailed recordings of Yeshua transmissions to her clients. Among them was Jennifer Rudolph Walsh, who was referred to Ms. Schumacher after leaving her longtime job running the literary department at WME. She thought Yeshua’s teachings could be a book and connected Ms. Schumacher with the publisher of Harper One, which will release “The Freedom Transmissions.”

Though there’s some Christian iconography in it — references to the crucifixion, for instance — the rest is a more neutral smorgasbord of divine power surrender, Buddhism, repairing the fragmented self after trauma, and accessing “the God self,” a reference to Carl Jung.

Ms. Rudolph Walsh said that Yeshua’s teachings changed her entire nervous system. “I don’t react to the weather,” she said. “I don’t report the weather. I am the weather. And the weather is always peace.”

I asked Ms. Rudolph Walsh if she believed that Yeshua was truly speaking through Ms. Schumacher. “To me, it doesn’t matter,” she said. “It matters what is being said. But do I personally believe she’s channeling Yeshua? Yes, I do.”

Later I asked Ms. Gerbic, the psychic skeptic, if she believed there were any legitimate mediums in the world. “I could give you the long answer about how we don’t know all things yet and science does not know everything, but I think you know my answer: It’s all BS,” she wrote in an email. “And the way I know this isn’t because I’ve been doing this for so long, and know many people who have been doing this for so long. But because it is NOT possible to communicate with dead people. They are dead.”

Ms. Schumacher pointed out that Ms. Gerbic hasn’t met her or read her book. “If people want to judge, it’s their choice to do so,” she said. She also wanted to be clear that Yeshua is not her alter ego. “And frankly that type of response is exactly what was said to Mary Magdalene,” she said. (According to some Christian texts, after Jesus came to Magdalene in a vision, his disciple Peter ridiculed her.)

Back at the party in Los Angeles, Ms. Schumacher held court. She had already signed a deal for two more books of Yeshua transmissions. A fashion designer offered to dress her for the event, but Ms. Schumacher bought a used turquoise Express dress online and wore that instead.

“Yeshua invites us to set our burdens down,” she told her audience. “The problem with burdens — where is Jenna? We were just talking about this.” She searched the room for the actress Jenna Dewan, who attended her first Sedona journey the year her divorce from Channing Tatum was finalized. Ms. Schumacher said the only way to freedom was through forgiveness. “Your freedom cannot be taken away when you lose your fortune or get put in a tabloid or whatever you people have to deal with,” she said. (Everyone laughed.)

Ms. Schumacher’s fans say that she is far from a cult leader: There’s no indoctrination, they say, no mind control, no shame or isolation involved. “It’s not going to be for everybody,” Ms. Aniston said. “But as long as it’s not harming anyone, I feel that to each his own. Whatever makes it easier to walk through this world with a lighter step, especially today.”

But Ms. Mara told me that it’s good to be wary. “Any time you’re looking to any one person for all the answers, that’s a problem,” she said. “Carissa is human like the rest of us, so you have to take from it what resonates and leave the rest.”

Ms. Schumacher decided ultimately that the vibe at the Flamingo Estate wasn’t conducive to channeling Yeshua. (“I am not a go-go-gadget channel,” she told me.) Instead she channeled Kenneth, a guest’s dead father who she said liked fishing and fixing cars. Kenneth’s son, John, wiped his eyes, as did many others in the room. “I’m sorry,” Ms. Schumacher said.

“Don’t be,” John said. “I loved it.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/26/style/carissa-schumacher-flamingo-estate-los-angeles.html?campaign_id=2&emc=edit_th_20211127&instance_id=46450&nl=todaysheadlines&regi_id=45305309&segment_id=75510&user_id=b5e5426f5c89f06ac9cd19778d3e6de3
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 21, 2022 9:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

WHAT CAN A REAL LIFE HAUNTING TELL US ABOUT AMERICAN RELIGION?



While researching ghost hunters in the 21st century US during the course of earning my PhD, I was sometimes asked what ghost-hunting had to do with religious studies. In fact, Americans’ interactions with ghosts often reveal their personal spiritualities and religious worldviews—especially when those worldviews don’t fit neatly into traditional religious boxes.

A haunting is like a canvas on which people paint their religious worldviews using the unique tools their culture provides them. I’m not the first to suggest a culture’s hauntings reflect its religious milieu. Psychologist Frank T. McAndrew has argued that, for example, medieval European Christian, or contemporary Muslim or Hindu or Buddhist, afterlife and spirit beliefs affect how these societies portray and interpret hauntings.

I’m as interested as anyone in whether or not ghosts exist, but that isn’t my concern here; what I’m interested in is the way that a haunting can shine a light on the American spiritual landscape in ways that surveys or investigations cannot. Which is what led me to Maria.

Maria began to suspect the property she was renting in Lancaster, Pennsylvania was haunted after about a month. Weird things kept happening. At Maria’s home, the cabinets were often found open in the kitchen. At first she suspected the cats. Then, at some point Maria and her husband installed a video camera to monitor the room overnight. One morning, they walked out into the kitchen to find all the cabinets wide open—even the upper cabinets that were well out of reach of the cats. The door leading to the garage was also wide open letting the cats out into the garage. When they checked the footage they found that the camera had stopped transmitting at around 1 A.M.

Soon after, Maria’s husband began experiencing the strong smell of cigarette smoke near him in the house at seemingly random times. He would also see black shadows racing across the floor when there was no one around and nothing to cast them. The couple’s nanny, before the couple had ever mentioned the idea of a haunting, saw a bright orb of light in the baby’s room. Maria saw a disturbing amorphous black mass hovering in the corner of the couple’s bedroom. Sometimes Maria, her husband, and one of their daughters would experience intense nightmares during the same night.

In my experience researching ghost hunters, I’ve found that a haunting often begins with one or more anomalous experiences—strange phenomena that evade standard explanations. What’s important is that these experiences demand explanation, and that people draw on their cultural lenses to explain them. Maria believed in ghosts and hauntings before her experiences in the Lancaster house.

Growing up in a Latina household in south Texas, Maria was told ghost stories like those of the legendary La Llorona, the ghostly weeping woman, and she enjoys what she describes as “Catholic horror movies,” such as The Conjuring in which Catholic heroes fight off demons.

Maria drew from these word-of-mouth tales and the media she consumes to conclude that these otherwise unexplainable phenomena were a haunting caused by ghosts. Maria isn’t particularly odd or deviant; survey data show that paranormal belief is common for Americans of all demographics.

Maria’s husband Mark, who describes himself as religiously agnostic, didn’t believe in ghosts before his experience of the Lancaster house. At first he rejected Maria’s talk and, when forced, preferred to talk about some sort of “energy” being in the house. Mark’s instinct is a common one in the United States. Like many ghost hunters, he sought to scientize his seemingly paranormal experiences. To people like Mark, the idea of a ghost seems unbelievable or superstitious. Something was going on, he believed, but calling it “energy” was more comfortable as it seemed more in line with our scientific understanding of the world.

Maria’s response to the haunting is in keeping with a type of spirituality she shares with an increasing number of Americans. She holds what some academics would call a form of metaphysical spirituality. Historian of American religion Catherine Albanese traces metaphysical religion or spirituality through New Age spirituality back through late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century Theosophy and back to Spiritualism and Mesmerism. It’s a type of spirituality concerned with intuition, the therapeutic, and the flow of spiritual energy. More and more Americans are embracing metaphysical forms of spirituality as they move away from traditional religious affiliation.

Maria originally responded to the haunting by attempting a house-cleansing derived from her training in Reiki. She lit candles, used hand motions to direct energy, and imagined the house filling with pure, cleansing light. She also consulted a friend who practices New Age spirituality, such as Akashic record readings, who reported sensing a strange energy in the house.

She reported that, whenever she tried to speak to this friend on the phone in the house about the haunting, the phone connection would be interrupted. As a busy woman with two kids, Maria doesn’t always have a lot of time to devote to spirituality, but when she does, she often relies on intuition. In the case of the haunting, she reports that her intuition pointed her toward the conclusion that it’s the land on which the house was built that’s haunted, rather than the house itself.

This particular haunting account reveals the eclectic spirituality of a single American couple, but it isn’t theirs alone. They’ve drawn from community narratives, popular media, popular understandings of science, and widely circulating currents of metaphysical spirituality to build this portrait of a haunting. They’ve interpreted a set of anomalous experiences through their cultural lenses. My research suggests this haunting is typical in the US, and I would suggest that by studying American hauntings, we can better understand the American spiritual landscape

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