Review of Cursed: The Bell Witch

I was on the fence about watching the recent paranormal series, “Cursed: The Bell Witch”.  However, considering I live about ten minutes away from the Bell Witch Cave, I felt compelled to do so.  I already knew about the story and the history behind the Bell family.  I started watching a couple of episodes but then something would always pull me away and I never really got a chance to really digest what I was watching.  So,  one day after the series was over, I put on a cup of coffee, sat down and watched every single episode from start to finish.

Every. Single. Episode.

And I LOVED IT!

I’m just kidding.  It was absolutely wretched!!!!  I’ve seen some pretty bad paranormal shows in my time, but just when I thought it doesn’t get any worse than a demon being blown up in a mirrored box, I watched “Cursed: The Bell Witch.”  I considered shoving my head into a toilet in the hopes of flushing out all the crap and shenanigans I witnessed in a 34 minute time span of watching the show, but I figured, why punish myself more? This was yet another stereotypical paranormal show full of ominous music for no apparent reason, awkward camera angles, and bad acting, accompanied with incorrect history and inaccurate facts.

To begin with, the show portrayed the residents of Adams, TN as overall-wearing, backwoods, ignorant, country folk that hate outsiders and most likely have a friend named “Cricket” who is married to his first cousin with one tooth. This couldn’t be further from the truth.  The residents of Adams are very kind, normal, sweet people. I’ve been to Adams several times to visit my friend who lives there and I’ve asked locals about whether or not the Bell Witch legend was true.  Not one time did anyone “warn” me to get out of town and to stay away if I know what’s good for me, which is what the show pretended to have happen to the cast members, John and Chad.  In one episode, they actually tried to get viewers to believe that while they were sleeping in their tent, an Adams resident hung a corn doll up in a tree to warn them and scare them off.  Now I have seen something similar to that…in the movie “The Blair Witch”!  Everyone who saw that movie remembers that scene, John and Chad!

In one episode, John and Chad embark on a spiritual cleansing of the land to break it of a possible Native American curse by performing a shaman ritual.  There’s just one little small problem with that scenario: The area the Bell farm was located at was NOT, I repeat, NOT, Native burial ground.  It was Native hunting ground, as was all of the South. Did they not read up on the Tennessee Mound Builders who buried their dead in mounds, hence why they were called Mound Builders? Furthermore, real Native “Shaman” do not publicize that they are “Shamans”.  In fact, they don’t really use that term to describe themselves.  They most definitely wouldn’t perform any ritual on a TV show. But then the ritual goes terribly wrong and John must turn to his only hope: an exorcism! (Cue ominous music!) At that point my level of “I can’t even…” was exceeded.  Is the Catholic Church aware that there is apparently an express lane to exorcisms?  They might want to put a phone call in to John and Chad.

In yet another horrible episode, they whip out their reliable K2 meter and place it on a tombstone.  Of course, it starts lighting up when a foreboding question is asked.  It is purely coincidence that it seems to light up at the exact same time the camera man leans in to get a better camera angle. But of course, that big ass camera and boom mike aren’t going to manipulate that trusty K2 meter. Way to go, dumb dumb!

Why does Chad’s service dog, Newton, bark and run off, leaving his handler by himself? Isn’t that what he’s NOT supposed to do?

The main characters, John and Chad, were constantly hearing footsteps, twigs breaking, and movement in the woodline while they were investigating at night.  I would hope that they did.  It’s called wildlife.  Not uncommon, especially in the backwoods of Tennessee. Just because you’re in a fabulous tent and you turn your flashlight off doesn’t mean all the other animals have to go to bed, John and Chad!

The show really struck a nerve with me when they started dispelling the history of the legend as being factual, grounded in historical documentation. Oh you dedicated purveyors of truth, John and Chad! In actuality, the first book that was ever published about the Bell Witch was written 75 years after the alleged occurrence.  Anyone who would have had first hand knowledge of what actually happened was dead when it was written. Yeah, let that sink in for a moment. The author of the book wasn’t even alive when the Bell Witch “haunts” began.  According to the show, the legend was first documented in the handwritten diary of Richard Bell, who was six when the “hauntings” began. Nevermind the fact that he didn’t write the diary until 30 years after the “hauntings”.  The problem with this is that they completely overlooked the fact that the guy who wrote it is remembering with great detail something that supposedly happened when he was six and he waited 30 years to write it down.  Not only that, but there is no evidence that the diary even exists as no one has ever seen it.

I could go on and on about the absurdity of the show but you get the point.  If you get the opportunity to watch it, don’t.  You can’t get that time back. All the tomfoolery and chicanery will suck the marrow of life from your bones with each passing minute.  I’m not sure if that’s true, but I bet if we ask John and Chad’s trusty K2 meter if that will happen, it will light up, and that makes it real.

I give this show -666 stars….for obvious reasons.

Does Death Location Equal Haunting Location?

There have been moments where investigators both new and seasoned have heard someone say or have said a statement along the lines of, “this place must be haunted because someone died here,” or that “it is haunted, which means the person died here. Truly, it can be a reasonable conclusion, yet it also confines the spirit world into a perfectly fitted formula for explaining who and partially why someone is haunting a location. In the paranormal world, words such as “fitting,” “easy,” and “reasonable” are rarely accurate descriptions.

A general exception to this rule are places that include battlefields. These are tricky because they are so tied to moments that have scarred time and history that any choices made by spirits to stay or go elsewhere are certainly riddled with difficulties. As a favorite place of many paranormal investigators, Gettysburg does have a number of spirits who act as those the war has not yet ended. Investigators have caught EVPs warning them away from certain, brutally bloody parts of the battlefield, for example, the Wheatfield; or ones yelling at visitors to “get out of the way”. When asked why they stay, some claim answers of work left to be done; hinting at a choice to move on, yet over one hundred and fifty years later, they still have not.

There are spirits who do leave the battlefields to haunt other, seemingly unusual places. It may seem an oddity that these spirits still do not always return home, instead haunting the place that was the source of their death prior to a battle. For instance, at Codorus Iron Furnace in York County, Pennsylvania there have been sightings and contact made with a Revolutionary War soldier. He reportedly haunts the furnace because that is where some of the cannonballs were manufactured for the Continental Army during the war. Evidently, he was the unfortunate target of an artillery shot.

On a more understandable level of spirit contact and location are those who chose to remain with family. Whether it is in their own house or a relatives, family ghosts have made themselves feel at home. From personal experience and through private investigations, contact has been made with family members who died in their own home or nursing homes and then found their way to family. Some would call this a type of guardian angel complex; however not everyone subscribes to the idea of angels, or people being able to cross over and come back. Some people may just leave their bodies and go directly to where they want to be.
There have been occasions where the family member is waiting for another person to die. During an investigation inside a chapel, an EVP was acquired from a gentleman waiting for his wife to pass on. Certainly, there are stories of funeral parlors being haunted, even if it does seem like a set up for a horror story. Only on very rare occasions has it been mentioned of someone passing away in a funeral home. The hauntings could be tied to former employees, or in the case of funeral homes that were previously private homes before the renovation into a business, there could be lingering activity not connected to the funeral home. If one takes away the other factors, there still remains stories of hauntings in funeral homes caused by people who did not die there.

Some spirits may split between two or more locations in what may well be both residual and intelligent hauntings. Henry VIII’s second wife, Anne Boleyn, is said to haunt both her childhood home and the place where she died. Of course, by all accounts Anne is only one of several spirits that haunt the Tower of London; a place that holds a distinction as a royal palace where monarchs wait to be crowned and the Crown Jewels are protectively displayed. It is also a location that has a “Traitor’s Gate,” coming in from the Thames. Once through that gate, death is often the only means of escape.
When Anne Boleyn was beheaded, one of six who died due to the king’s quest for a new wife. He married Jane Seymour ten days after Anne’s death. Members of the Yeoman Guard, her Majesty’s soldiers who watch over the Tower of London, have reported seeing a headless woman in period clothing roaming the Tower Green on the date of Anne’s beheading, May 19th 1536. She also makes her way through the Chapel Royal, near the Lieutenant’s lodgings, and in the Queen’s House.

As for where she lived, visitors to Hever Castle have reportedly seen a young Anne Boleyn running around the grounds. Hever was likely the last true peace Anne had away from court life. Likely the sightings of young Anne are more residual since no one claims to have communicated with her at the castle. Other, less substantiated sightings of Anne have also occurred at Windsor Castle, Hampton Court, and Rochford Hall, a manor house owned by her family. With all of these last three, the tales generally take on a romanticized, wild view of Anne; typically she is clutching she head in her arms and screaming or running down the corridors. Such ideas do not exactly fit the deceased queen who remained witty to the end, and calm as she approached the block. It is hard to imagine death taking away any vestige of noble charm to her persona.

From family homes, to work places, funeral parlors, cemeteries, and castles, there are any number of places that the dead can remain in their afterlife. There are many places for the dead to choose from, with many different reasons and factors in those decisions. Any place, whether someone died there or not, can be haunted or have a spirit inhabiting it. It is important for anyone in or interested in the paranormal field to keep an open mind about what spirits and ghosts can and cannot do. Or where they go. Besides death, nothing is definite; and even in death, there are still possibilities.

Historical Vomit in the Paranormal

There are many, many things that can be debated in the paranormal.  The existence of activity, the use of equipment, the methods used, and even the words/labels people use are constantly being argued over.  One thing, however, should not be up for debate: The history of a location.  Yet, I have found myself at the center of several arguments over this very topic.

You would think that the history of a place would be very cut and dry.  It’s not subjective to what one’s opinion is; at least, it shouldn’t be.  It should be based on facts.  It should be based on documentation.  It should be based on records.  It should be based on research.  Not research as in “let me put this recorder here and see what I come up with,” but rather it should be research conducted pulling up records, interviewing prior occupants/owners, doing title searches, going to the    library, etc. historical-research-4-638

More often than not, when I see a paranormal page put up the “history” of a location, I hold my breath as I read  through it. Then I start my own google search.

Why?

I google search to see how much word vomit I’ve allowed to permeate through my brain.  Yes, I used to the term word  vomit. Let me explain.

If you take a known location that has been widely promoted as being a paranormal location and you look at the history provided by the numerous teams and/or individuals that investigated it and posted their finding about it, eight and a half times out of ten you will find that the history was regurgitated – sometimes word for word.  In other words, it’s a simple take-what-you-fin-on-the-internet-from-someone-else-who-posted-about-it-and-recycle-it without fully analyzing what you posted.

Word vomit.  That’s exactly what it is.      istockpuking_woman_vomit-255x300

When you’re conducting a paranormal investigation and you plan on providing the history of the location, it is important that you eschew (avoid) this technique.  For one thing, you may be providing false information.  From my own research into many of the locations that people post up, I’ve found more false histories on locations than actual truthful ones posted on numerous paranormal sites.  This is disrespectful to the location itself.  It robs the house, the land, and its people of their footprint in time.  It’s unfair.

Secondly, you are setting yourself and others up for failure before they even start their investigation.  Many paranormal claims are tied the history of the location.  If you’re circulating false information, then you could be possibly feeding into false claims. This sets yourself and those who rely on that information you provided at a disadvantage. For example, if a location claims to be demonic because of an alleged heinous murder that occurred there, and yet factually there was never a murder on the premises, then that claim can be negated from the start. The claim may be tied to something else or be created out of a paranoia based on a rumor. On the flip side, say you find records of a cowboy that lived on the land that loved goats and sleigh bells (it could happen, don’t judge me) and someone (unbeknownst of the records your found) claims that out of nowhere he heard sleigh bells and then saw a man with a cowboy hat feeding goats, you may have something to look further into.  Therefore, it’s imperative that the history is correct.

Lastly, think about the trickle-down effect of what you are circulating as it has a direct impact on the community surrounding the location.  For example, there is a show on TV that is propagating an alleged curse of seemingly demonic activity. The community was portrayed as being closed minded, exclusive, poor country folk who hated outsiders and were almost threatening. Then they circulated that the activity spawned not just from the conjuring of evil, but also because of Native American history. Well, I happen to live 7 minutes from that location.  I work with someone who was raised in the area.  The people of that community are not just frustrated, but offended at the portrayal.  Not only that, but it’s not even a small community, considering it borders a military post. Furthermore, Natives hunted on the grounds but there was never, ever, ever, any Native Burial Grounds in that area….ever.  I was able to confirm this with two universities, state historical societies, as well as other agencies.

On a side note, I hate to break this bit of shocking information to you, but Native Americans were all over the continental United States at some point.  Not everything can nor should be blamed on Native Americans.  Not every location was an “Indian Burial Ground,” yet that seems to be the go-to explanation of a lot of paranormal locations.  With a little bit of research, one would discover that to little bit of factual information. Just dropping that bit of knowledge down for you.  Stop blaming Native Americans for everything.

But alas, I digress….

Many times I have been surprised by the legitimate history behind a location. Not too long ago I did research on a popular location that was widely promoted as being (again) demonic, with some fairly grandiose historical claims.  However, after doing extensive research I discovered that the history put out was not just erroneous but completely fabricated.  The history couldn’t have been further from the truth. Sadly, the true history of the location was completely overlooked although it turned out to be far more interesting and intriguing.

historical-research-6-638

To me, it seems a bit lazy to take as truth history of a location from what’s been circulating on the internet or a ghost hunting show.  If you’re going to say you’re a paranormal investigator or into paranormal research, then you need to do actual investigating and research from start to finish.  Don’t half ass it. Take the time to go to a library and pull records.  Take the time to go through newspaper archives and/or phone books from the past. Take the time to conduct interviews of past residents.  Take the time to pull deeds and do title searches.  Don’t just regurgitate the same crap that’s out there and try and pass it off as research. It’s not.

Remember, it is word vomit…. And last I checked, vomit is gross.

The Mystery of Oak Island

Oak Island August 1931 via Wikipedia

The legendary story of Oak Island is to say the least unique and the Oak Island deaths have played a starring role in the legends longevity to this day, but were these deaths accidents or a curse fulfilled?  The island itself has been the source of many stories, and legends.  Below is a few excerpts of the from Oak Island’s timeline:

  • 1795 – 18 year old Daniel McGinnis observed lights coming from the island, upon investigating he discovered a circular depression in a clearing on the southeastern end of the island. Adjacent to the clearing was a tree with a tackle block on one of its overhanging branches.  McGinnis, with the help of friends John Smith (in other early accounts, Samuel Ball) and Anthony Vaughan, excavated the depression and discovered a layer of flagstones a few feet below. On the pit walls there were visible markings from a pick. As they dug down they discovered layers of logs at about every 10 feet (3.0 m). They abandoned the excavation at 30 feet (9.1 m). This initial discovery and excavation was first briefly mentioned in print in the Liverpool Transcript in October 1856. 
  • 1803 – According to the original articles and the memories of Vaughan, another company examined what was to become known as the “Money Pit.”  The Onslow Company continued the excavation down to approximately 90 feet (27.43 m) and found layers of logs or “marks” about every ten feet (3 m) and layers of charcoal, putty and coconut fiber at 40, 50 and 60 feet (12, 15 and 18 m ).  According to one of the earliest written accounts, at 80–90 feet (24–27 m), they recovered a large stone bearing an inscription of symbols.  Several researchers apparently attempted to decipher the symbols. One translated them as saying: “forty feet below, two million pounds lie buried.”  The symbols currently associated with the “forty feet down…” translation and seen in many books first appeared in True Tales of Buried Treasure, written by explorer and historian Edward Rowe Snow in 1951. In this book he states he was given this set of symbols by Reverend A.T. Kempton of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Nothing  is known about Kempton’s involvement in the Oak Island tale or how he knew of the symbols

    Inscribed Stone Found at Site
    Inscribed Stone Found at Site
  • 1850 – Subterranean waterway and artificial beach were found at Smith’s Cove.
  • 1861 – First life claimed by Oak Island. A man was scalded to death by an exploding boiler.
  • 1897 – Triangle rock formation was discovered.
  • 1897 – “Cement vault” encountered and parchment was found during drilling.
  • 1897 – Second life lost when Maynard Kaiser fell to his death while being pulled out of the pit.
  • 1936 – 2nd inscribed stone found and more evidence of original cofferdam found.
  • 1965 – In one day Oak Island claimed four more lives: Bob and Bobbie Restall, Karl Grasser, and Cyril Hiltz.

Since the Oak Island treasure hunt began, 6 lives have been lost and a treasure has never been found, only some clues or pieces of the islands past history have surfaced. Why though does the hunt continue?  A majority of the story is true guesswork with missing parts and questionable history. No real archaeology or controlled digs has happened in the hunt for the treasure, as more and more money is tossed into finding the island’s secrets. Over the years many ambitious and dedicated people have hunted for the treasure but more often then not they were only amateurs with money or the desire for it. And they came out with nothing.  Honestly can you blame them for trying? The allure of finding what so many others couldn’t, solving the great mystery of Oak Island…

What if the only treasure Oak Island contains is really just a metaphor for what makes an adventure/mystery so marvelous to us all…. that search for the unknown?

Honoring the Spirit is Possible

The first quote is from the Bible’s book of Proverbs: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” There is a red flag here. We’ll get into it in a moment and see what emerges.

The second is from Frederick Douglass: “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” Well, of course, I might add broken women here too, but other than that, it seems a pretty good thought. One thing: in all but exceptional cases it’s the broken adult who has to repair him/herself. I’m starting out today with a few quotes. The topic is conditioning… and… conditioning. What kind of conditioning were we subjected to, and what kind of conditioning are we subjecting our children to. I can’t think of many things more important than looking into who our children really are; and the ‘raising’ of that Spirit in a body. While the little body may be us in the form of our DNA, the Spirit within is completely itself: only ours to nurture and guide, and set free.

And finally, here’s a Chinese proverb: “A child’s life is like a piece of paper on which every person leaves a mark.” Amen to that! Now how do we leave the right mark, and build strong children, and accumulate some wisdom so we can train them up in the ‘way they should go’.

In the consciousness movement, many of us, at one time or another, have visited the long-gone yet ever-present inner child. The experience of losing our innocence affects us in adult life as it comes up in emotions or patterns, replicating the deep feelings of abandonment or hurt or shame or restriction we experienced back then.

We work on liberating ourselves, remembering, resolving, and comforting that child part… the one who experienced ‘harsh reality’. As it comes to the surface we recognize and accept what happened, and we let it go with forgiveness; handing the responsibility over to the responsible parties, with grace.

So the point is, we know what it takes to overcome the conditioning of growing up within a culture and set of beliefs. For some, it is quite traumatic, for others, childhood has a sweetness that stays with us. From my own experience, I would say: even a religious childhood at the low end of the economic ladder can be sweet… if there is freedom to roam in nature, with playmates and imagination in abundance.

Question: Knowing our own process of inner child healing and overcoming conditioning, are there ways for us to not place such a burden on our own children?

For the most part, every parent does the best that they can. Those of us with grown children can look back on what we did and how we behaved, and we may see times when we did disappointing things… parenthood isn’t easy. Maybe we thought we knew – and alas, it was our ego doing its thing, or fear, or our old conditioning still in charge.

Thankfully, with love and honesty and ego in the back seat, there is still a bridge. We can talk with our grown sons and daughters, allowing things to be expressed and not taking offense. In this case, we will be the exception… consciously helping to repair across a generation. If the inner child of our sons and daughters is loved and accepted by us, that’s a beautiful and healing thing – humbling for us maybe, but liberating for all.

Now let’s get to the little ones experiencing childhood, and the babies coming into life. Why are they entering at such a time as this? Can we raise them without damage to their true self… which are they going to very much need? More than that: I believe they may guide and teach us, so let’s honor the new generation, as we begin.

Where do I see the potential damages to the children who are young now? What do parents believe they are doing right that may be, in fact, something their child will have to overcome later… another generation of adults doing ‘inner child’ work.

I see a culture where parents and authorities exert a great deal of control… placing the guiding hand on almost every moment of the child’s day. It seems that the conditioning culture has set it up that way for modern parents… you create the experiences of your children… you help them to adapt… you provide them every opportunity… you make sure there is always adult supervision… and you stress yourself and your pocketbook out to the max while doing it.

Today good parenting is done within a box requiring copious $$$.

I feel for the children as I look at their busy lives, remembering myself stretched out on the prairie grass, watching the clouds roll by. Nature doesn’t cost anything. Nature with playmates and imagination and inventiveness doesn’t need an adult to create experiences.

I’m sure today’s parents can see the benefit of nature, imaginative play, and less adult control… if only life offered the opportunity. Here I feel for the parents who worry about safety and supervision… what if, what if, what if. Can we let them run and play… will they be safe? What if we’re not doing enough? What if they fall behind other kids or feel left out?

Many parents are raising their children in cities, and they’re stuck with demanding schools, planned and supervised recreation, additional classes, plus homework, and the opinions of neighbors and friends and ‘educational experts’. Creating an entirely new way would seem an insurmountable task, so let’s search for something surmountable… something that nurtures and guides, and sets free on a scale that is not too radical to achieve.

To do that, I’ll go back to the quotes: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

Do you see the red flag here? It’s the ‘should’ word. What is the way they should go? Should they believe what you believe… desire what you desire?

How about another option of ‘training up’. Instead of setting a direction for them and looking at performance, focus on virtues. Reward them for speaking from their heart, keeping their word, practicing kindness, listening to their inner knowing of right and wrong, being charitable, having the courage to face new things… and being able to withstand a change of circumstances.

Next quote: “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” How is a strong child built? Strength is called up when facing problems. Listening, communicating, advising and then allowing children to solve problems for themselves does build strength. And the parent is in the mix too: there are few inspirations more beautiful and long-lasting for a child than seeing a parent’s strength of character.

And now to the final quote: “A child’s life is like a piece of paper on which every person leaves a mark.” Honoring the Spirit is possible, trusting in your decisions is possible; even as parents face external pressure to tightly control everything being written on their child’s piece of paper. As much as we might think it is, control isn’t love-based. It’s fear-based.

So let’s try to do just a tiny bit of problem-solving. This culture encourages fear. Truth alleviates fear. If your child knows that you want the truth more than you want to feel comforted or pleased and that the truth will mitigate disappointment or even punishment, then you’ve taken a step toward honoring your child. You’re polishing the jewels of the Spirit: truth and love.

I see the young ones as having the potential to reach far beyond us… in the right way. Let’s let them show us who they are and embrace that person… who will one day be the inner child of an adult? Set free, we will see an adventurous, balanced and self-realized creator of a courageous new world.