Friday, January 6, 2017

Book Review: Southern Spirit Guide's Haunted Alabama

Title: Southern Spirit Guide's Haunted Alabama: A Guide to Ghostlore, Legends and Haunted Places in the Heart of Dixie
Author: Lewis O. Powell, IV
Published by Southern Spirit Press (2015)
Amazon Purchase Information

I've been following Lewis' blog, The Southern Spirit Guide, for years and have always been so impressed with his ability to share interesting, yet accurate information, backed up by resources for additional research. I often find that when I'm searching for a haunted location in the south, his blog usually pops up! Understandably, I was thrilled when he published the book, The Southern Spirit Guide's Haunted Alabama.

I was even more thrilled when he offered me a copy! I began reading it immediately, and honestly, I cannot say enough good things about this book. It is a well-written and very thorough look at locations throughout the entire state of Alabama that have a reputation for being haunted. It's also a chunker---at 269 pages, it is PACKED with spooky stories, haunted locations, and creepy legends. That's a lotta bang for your buck.

One of the amazing aspects of this book is that it is sort of multi-functional; you can use in a variety of ways. If you're like me and just really love devouring anything and everything relating to the paranormal, you can simply read it cover to cover, novel style. With so much information packed in, it may take you more than one sitting, but the conversational writing style and Lewis' ability to weave an interesting story with just the right amount of historical background information make plowing through the book totally possible.

However, if that isn't your style, this book makes a great piece to have on hand while you're out and about. Since the entry for each haunted location is relatively brief, you can easily read a couple here and a couple there while on your lunch break, waiting in line, or commuting home from school or work.

Obviously, you don't have to actually be from Alabama to get a lot out of this book. But, those who are investigators wanting to find locations to check out in that state, or travelers looking for a haunted restaurant, hotel, or tourist attraction to visit while in the area will find that Southern Spirit Guide's Haunted Alabama is the perfect resource. Broken down by county, its a breeze to find great locations to explore, and the overwhelming majority of locations listed in the book are open to the public in some capacity, some even offering public or private pay-to-play investigation opportunities. Since each entry contains bibliographical resources and information on any past investigations done at the property, its easy to narrow down locations that will yield the best potential.

The Southern Spirit Guide's Haunted Alabama is a really fun and informative read. I can only imagine how much work went into compiling such an extensive list of haunted locations, complete with good, solid information to back up the rumors of the hauntings. You're not going to find the vague, incomplete 'stories' that are so often a part of similar listings---you're only going to find the best, most accurate up-to-date info available, all condensed down into a format that is not only entertaining to read, yet provides a great start to your own research.

This book makes an excellent addition to any digital paranormal library and is highly recommended for investigators working in the south, those paranormal enthusiasts who will be traveling through that area, or simply just anyone with an interest in all things spooky! Go pick up your copy today, and check out The Southern Spirit Guide blog for more great locations. Happy reading!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Krampus is Coming!

With every Yin, there comes a Yang. You can't appreciate the light if it doesn't come followed by the dark. And, you can't have St. Nicholas without....THE KRAMPUS!

Children throughout eastern Europe eagerly await December 6th, which is known as St. Nicholas' Day, to see if the kindly old St. Nick has filled their shoes with goodies and candies. But for the naughty kids, well....they're lucky if they're still AROUND on the morning of December 6th because the night before is KRAMPUSNACHT.

In Norse mythology, Krampus is the son of Hel, a goddess who resides over the location of Hel, where a portion of the dead go after death. Krampus' appearance also borrows heavily from other Pagan entities from various locales, resulting in a horrifying embodiment of all that is...Christmas? He comes during the night of December 5th----Krampusnacht----and to the mildly naughty children, he might whip them with his switch or even leave the kid's parents a switch so they can do the whipping. The super naughty kids, however, might get thrown into Krampus' sack of horrors and carried off into the night.

Over the past five years or so, Krampus has increasingly become more popular throughout the United States, and this year, Luke and I finally got to meet him and St. Nick!

Oddbird, A Gift Emporium, located in Charleston, WV had a special Krampus/St. Nick meet-and-greet on Saturday evening. When I saw it come up in my Facebook news feed, I knew we absolutely, positively had to go. We got there a few minutes early, so we took some time to look around the shop. I was super impressed! This was my first time at visiting Oddbird, and I was blown away by the unique selection of gifts, art, clothing, and household goods they offered. Everything was extremely reasonably priced, and all the staff were extremely sweet and helpful....including St. Nick and Krampus!

Since we were there a few minutes early, we just happened to be near the back of the store when St. Nick came out. Luke was thrilled, especially since this was his first meeting with Santa this season. St. Nick immediately came over to him and told him HE was the first KID he'd seen that year! Luke thought that was awesome and talked about it all evening, lol. He had a nice lil' chat with St. Nick and then out came Krampus to join us.

Luke was a little unsure of Krampus, but Krampus was very good to him, lol. He shook his hand and told Luke that he wasn't on his naughty list, so he had nothing to worry about. We did a little more shopping, finding lots of cool gifts for family and friends (and a Krampus ornament us!), and then met the Christmas-y duo out front for a photo.

I was very pleased with the whole experience, and am so glad we got to come out Saturday evening to support an awesome local business, partake in a few refreshments, and meet a very polite and well spoken demon. It was a great kick-off to the holiday season for us! A very special Thank You goes to the Oddbird Gift Emporium for hosting the event. Please check them out on Facebook and on their website, and if you're local to the Charleston, WV area, go check them out in person! They really do have some awesome stuff and you're guaranteed to find something for just about everyone on your list...including yourself!  Also, if you'd like to learn more about Krampus and Krampusnacht, NatGeo has a very informative article to check out HERE.

*Behave yourselves out there....because Krampus is coming Monday night!* 

Friday, November 25, 2016

Alien Humor

Being a paranormal investigator with a main focus on ghosts and hauntings, I tend to blog about those subjects. But, I'm interested in ALL areas of the paranormal and unexplained and one of the areas I tend to neglect is ufology/extraterrestrials. So, today's Friday Night Funny is dedicated to the alien, lol. I specifically chose today to post this because every time I eat too much and get a bellyache, I feel exactly like this is what is going to happen to me. I hope YOU and yours had a happy Thanksgiving and didn't eat too much! 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Morphic Resonance

Have you ever visited a place for the first time, yet surprisingly found your new surroundings so familiar that you could swear you've been there before? Have you met someone new that you felt like you've known forever? Have you taken up a skill or hobby with such ease that its almost like you've been doing it for years? If so, you may be experiencing what proponents of reincarnation call "Morphic Resonance."

In her book, Past Lives of the Rich and Famous, the controversial psychic, Sylvia Browne, defines Morphic Resonance as what happens when "the spirit mind finds itself in a place so profoundly familiar from a past life that it experiences almost total recall and infuses the conscious mind with that same, seemingly inexplicable sense of familiarity." It is a result of cell memory, and is not necessarily limited to geographical locations. A place, a person, or even a circumstance from a past life can lead to the infusion of the conscious mind with a sense of familiarity.

I'm sure at one point or another in our lives, whether or not we really believe in reincarnation or not, we've all experienced a similar feeling. I know several years ago when I visited the town of Grafton, WV for the first time, I instantaneously knew my way around without even needing to read the street signs. I knew where to find specific buildings, and what other buildings were used for. When visiting Charleston, S.C. for the first time, I lacked a real clear familiarity in regards to finding my way around....but I felt such a connection for the area and the locals, that I actually felt stabs of homesickness when we had to leave. For the week we were there, I felt comfortable and at home. I've also met many people throughout my life that I had an instant bond with...and a few who I knew from the first time meeting them that they were not good people.

The term Morphic Resonance isn't, however, a product of Sylvia Browne herself. It was actually coined by Rupert Sheldrake in his 1981 book, A New Science of Life. According to the Skeptic's Dictionary, Sheldrake uses the term to '"refer to what he thinks is "the basis of memory in nature...the idea of mysterious telepathy-type interconnections between organisms and the collective memories within species."' He further clarifies that "natural systems, such as termite colonies, or pigeons, or orchid plants, or insulin molecules, inherit a collective memory from all previous things of their kind."

There seem to be some stark contrasts between Browne's definition and Sheldrake's. Browne uses the term to explain how the memories from our past lives can leak through to our current incarnations. Sheldrake tends to take a more practical approach, albeit it still extremely controversial and unproven in the scientific community, by using morphic resonance to explain why living organisms act the way they do...why they seemingly are created with the collective knowledge of their species built in. If you're interested in learning more about Rupert Sheldrake's theories of morphic resonance, I've included an hour-long lecture on the subject below. 

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Ghost Photo Analysis: Staircase Apparition

This photo was recently posted to a Facebook paranormal interest group to which I belong. The original poster did not post any accompanying information on the photo, and as of 16 hours after the original posting, had not returned to answer any questions or pose any type of clarification.

When I'm perusing Facebook groups, I tend not to focus too much on the ghost pictures submitted by others. Most often, its just not worth it, lol. That sounds harsh, but its true. Either there is just not enough information or photo clarity to give a good, accurate analysis....or the photo is a natural glitch. Sometimes, the photo is outright fraudulent. These I hate the most because I'm one of those who believe that people are inherently good. I don't think the majority of people posting ghost app photos and other fraudulent photos and/or information are doing so maliciously. Rather, I think people have a tendency to find something cool on the internet and want to share. Unfortunately, some are the victims of pranks by friends who realize their gullibility.

I tend to think this photo is just one of those, 'Hey, cool! Look what I found!' photos. When I first scrolled by and paused, what caught my attention was that I knew I had seen this image somewhere before. Further, while looking at the photo, it certainly didn't look like an image taken with a camera---it had that look of 'film,' like it was a still shot from a movie.  A simple reverse-image search later, and I had my answer.

This image IS a still shot, and it was probably taken directly from the documentary, The Best Ghost Cases Ever Caught on Tape, which aired as a Fox TV special in the early 2000s. This show specializes in taking film footage of alleged ghosts, and explaining or debunking them. While I highly recommend watching the whole thing, I want to bring your attention to the clip at hand. If you fast forward to 26:16, you'll see the clip in question....and the confession that it is the product of a student filmmaker! Oh, and what looks like a robot ghost is actually the mist pausing in front of the refrigerator, lol.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Theresa's Travels: Flatwoods, WV

On Tuesday, November 7th, I went with my mom and my sister to Fairmont, WV to spend time with my nephew! Ryan is a Freshman at Fairmont State University, and thanks to early voting, we were able  to take Tuesday to drive up there, take him out to lunch between classes, and get a peek at his dorm. We also met a few of his fraternity brothers, who I was surprised to find were a very nice, polite group of young men....despite the fact that they apparently like dressing up as bananas and roaming the downtown district in their spare time, lol. A shout out for the wonderful restaurant we ate at: Muriale's in Fairmont was an awesome Italian place with great service and great food. If you take advantage of the lunch specials, it's especially affordable.

Anyway, as usual, I had to consult my own blog to see if there were any good ghost stories to explore while on campus. For some strange reason, despite the town of Fairmont being a pretty historical place, there aren't really any ghost stories of any substance that I found. I thought for sure the campus would be filled with the typical college urban legends, but nope. NADA. So, if you know of any Fairmont ghost stories or haunted buildings around the city, please please please comment below or send 'em to me at !

The trip wasn't a complete bust, though, paranormally speaking. Since we had to go through Flatwoods to return home to Putnam County, we decided to stop. My sister wanted to look around the Fiesta Outlet, and I saw a discount bookstore in the same shopping center. While I was walking over to the bookstore, I passed the Braxton County CVB office. I had heard about the display, and wasn't disappointed! One little area of the office was completely devoted to the Braxton County/Flatwoods Monster, complete with models, memorabilia, and two notebooks filled with documents and articles about the 1952 sighting.

There are a ton of great resources out there to consult for more information on the Braxton County Monster, but in short: In September of 1952, a group of kids playing football witnessed what appeared to be some sort of aircraft fly overhead and crash on a nearby mountain. They rushed to the home of one of the boys, where his mother and a neighbor accompanied the group up a mountain road to look for the crash site. What they found was a strange and creepy THING, that was later theorized to have been some sort of being in a spacesuit or smaller craft.

Seeing the display and knowing that over the past few years the city has really embraced its monster heritage was pretty awesome. However, we weren't done. The county also maintains five Monster Chairs in various locations throughout the area. While we were apparently quite close to two of the five, we went a tad out of our way to the Gassaway Dairy Queen and visited the first chair to be installed.

It was a fun and interesting way to end the day, and we already have plans to go back soon and track down ALL FIVE chairs! The Braxton County/Flatwoods Monster is an intriguing and important case in Ufology, and I'm proud that my little state is its home. Here's a documentary if you'd like to know more: Braxton County/Flatwoods Monster

Friday, October 28, 2016

Book Review for Ghost Hunting Kentucky

Title: Ghost Hunting Kentucky
Author: Patti Starr
Published: 2010 by Clerisy Press
Amazon Purchase Information

Ghost Hunting Kentucky, by the well-known author and ghost hunter, Patti Starr, is part of the 'America's Haunted Road Trip' group of books. Patti writes about 30 haunted places throughout the entire state of Kentucky that she has investigated---and that you most likely can as well!

I received this book in late September. My boyfriend travels throughout Eastern Kentucky and to Lexington quite a bit for work, and he's always on the lookout for local paranormal books for me. He happened across a signed copy of Ghost Hunting Kentucky and brought it home! Within a day or two, I had already read it, lol.

Patti Starr is somewhat of an old school ghost hunter, and while I don't necessarily agree wholeheartedly with all her paranormal ideology, I do love her and respect her work. Plus, she's visited some really interesting places throughout Kentucky and elsewhere! This was a really quick and fun read, featuring a great mix of stories from locations I'm quite familiar with and some I had never heard anything about. There's also a good mix of history, personal experiences, and investigation reports.

The book is broken down into geographical sections, with each haunted location given its own chapter. Most haunted locations featured in the book come from the central part of the state, but there's a great sampling from all over, including Frankfort's Buffalo Trace Distillery, Mammoth Cave, Ashland's Paramount Arts Center, Paducah's C.C. Cohen Restaurant, and Lexington's Kentucky Theater. Black and white photographs accompany each chapter, some taken during the investigations and believed to be of a paranormal nature.

Overall, this was a great collection of regional ghost stories, spiced up a tad by the fact that these were places that were actually investigated for paranormal activity. The best part, nearly all these locations are available for private and/or public investigation events, or at the very least are open to the public during normal business hours. I had a great time reading through the experiences of not only Patti, but the many, many employees, guests, and other visitors to these locations. It gave it quite a personal touch. I definitely recommend this book if YOU'RE looking for a quick, fun read on haunted places throughout Kentucky, but you don't have to be from Kentucky to appreciate these spooky tales.