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.

Real Paranormal Activity – The Podcast | Episode 41: Sharon Clarke

Sharon ClarkeIn this episode:

  • Aaron rambles about being busy the last couple weeks
  • Aaron interviews Sharon Clarke from Northern Ireland
  • Sharon is a founding member of Pacem Paranormal Research Team. Studied Anthropology and Mental Health Nursing. Also a writer for SpookyIsles.com and Haunted-Media.com
  • They speak about Sharon’s experiences and investigations. They even speak about the Demonic!
  • Aaron actually gets involved and they both banter back and forth
  • Be sure to listen to the end. I added some traditional Irish music. Try not to tear up!

All this and more at Real Paranormal Activity – The Podcast

 

Halloween Tradition of Samhain and Illinois Monsters

4056410832_bd393e9e8c_o

As Halloween approaches, the entire world transforms into an eerie mindset focused on caricatures of the dead, famous movie icons, and spooky monsters. The celebration of the Day of the Dead, another name for this mysterious practice, goes back many centuries and has its roots in Celtic lore. All Hallow Even, as it dates back through pre-Christian eras (known to this religion as the eve of All Saints’ Day), was known as Samhain (pronounced sow-in) in Irish cultures. It was, and still is, a luminal time of year when the autumn equinox begins its transition into the winter one.

Samhain is also when the veil between the physical and spiritual worlds is at its thinnest. This is why Halloween is called the Day of the Dead, because on this day it is the easiest time of the year for those who have crossed over death’s doorstep to be able to come back into the world of the living. Samhain might also be the day of the Zombie Apocalypse…who really knows?

16120413914_b080d42b16_z

“In marking the onset of winter, Samhain was closely associated with darkness and the supernatural. In Celtic lore, winter was the dark time of the year when ‘nature is asleep, summer has returned to the underworld, and the earth is desolate and inhospitable.’” (Rogers, 20)

The dark Samhain celebration is also tied to a plethora of supernatural creatures and monsters that rise up from the pages of mythology. Ghosts, goblins, faeries, elves, sprites, and a myriad of other spirits and entities come out to greet and interact with the living. During this dark season it is as if the doors of heaven, hell, purgatory, and every realm in between were opened up for every being and entity to roam free once a year:

“Samhain was a time of divine couplings and dark omens, a time when malignant birds emerged from the caves of Crogham to prey upon mankind, led by one monstrous three-headed vulture whose foul breath withered the crops.” (Rogers, 20)

During this period of upheaval and desolation, the fears of the common folk were brought to new heights as word spread that the dead were coming to life and walking the earth once again. Creatures were being vomited up from the bowels of the Earth and set free to wreak havoc on townspeople and drive fear like wooden stakes into their hearts. Witches and warlocks gained new confidence during Samhain, as pagan practices grew more widespread throughout the Celtic landscapes and spectral forests . One group of robed men, deeply enshrouded in magic and the supernatural realm, were especially active during this season – Druid priests.

The Druids are inextricably tied to Stonehenge and the mysteries behind this mysterious English landmark. They were very adept at their religious practices and were known to capitalize on the season of Samhain. Many times their intent was to drive fear into people, and so the Druids played upon superstitions to solidify their power. Sacrifices were demanded as retribution for the evil spirits who were responsible for bringing on the cold weather and shorter hours of daylight. Although horses were known to be sacrificed, black cats tended to be their preference because it was believed that these felines were shapeshifting evil spirits.

3539654323_4c3197616b_z

The power of influence over belief can have a very strong impact with groups of people causing a social contagion, or mass hysteria, in regards to supernatural traditions like Samhain. This contagion, alive and well when the Druids were still in existence, is also very active within the world of cryptozoology. Over 2,000 years ago, when the Celtic hooded priests were in their prime, black cats may have looked very different than they do today. The small, domesticated kitty you may be thinking of right now may very well have been a creature resembling the size of a small horse. One of the many mysteries behind cryptozoological animals is that it is theorized that some of these prehistoric-type creatures who lived long ago, can still exist today. The list of possible creatures runs quite the gamut, from the Adjule in North Africa to the Zuiyō-maru creature in New Zealand. Interestingly enough and beautifully in line with the holiday season of Samhain, cats and feline-like creatures fall into this category as well.

Illinois, in my opinion, is really the cryptozoology capital of the country. There have been more species of cryptids sighted in this state than anywhere else in the United States. Thunderbirds have been more prevalent here than anywhere else in the world. And, yes, this state has seen its share of mysterious black cats. In April 1999, a Clarksdale, Illinois couple, Mike and Bev Ray, claimed that a giant black cat walked across their yard. They said it was about 1½ times bigger than their largest Rottweiler and that it left a footprint in the mud 4 inches wide. The Rays think that the cat is either a panther or a black mountain lion and they have tried to capture it with a cage, but have had no luck. Despite the harsh criticism from the locals and experts, they firmly believe they have some sort of cryptid stalking the woods around their home. And they are not alone.

“There are black panther sightings throughout Central and Southern Illinois and over in Indiana, where they are known as ‘Varmints’”. – Loren Coleman, expert cryptozoologist

14569302437_a483e4e72c_z

These cats have been spotted since 1917 and it has been documented dozens of times over the years, notably in 1955 and in 1976. Could these mysterious cats be the manifestations of evil spirits, destined to roam the Illinois forests just as they may have in the early days of Samhain?

One of the oddest cryptid stories happened on April 25, 1973 in the town of Enfield, Illinois. This sighting became known as the Enfield Monster because the furry creature is quite bizarre and is an aberration of the traditional black cat in nearly every way. A man named Henry McDaniel was at home when he heard something scratching on his door. When he opened the door, he saw a hideous creature that looked like something from a nightmare or a monster from the dark depths of Samhain.

“[T]he weird creature [was] about five feet tall, with a flat body, grayish in color… a strange appearing head at least twelve inches across… [having] three legs and two pink eyes the size of flashlight lenses.” (Miller 132)

Mr. McDaniel fired a pistol shot at it, causing the cryptid to hiss “like a wildcat” from the impact of the bullet. He then called Illinois state police to report the incident. His story not only made the local newspapers, but was broadcast over the radio station WWKI in Indiana. Mr. McDaniel, a sober man of rational character, also claims to have found the creature’s footprints leaving from his home, “shaped like a dog’s, but having six toe pads.” Shortly after he filed the police report, nearly 75 people converged on his property. Mr. McDaniel also “received approximately 250 phone calls… including a call from a ‘government representative’ who told him that the incident was similar to others occurring since 1967, and that these incidents had been associated with UFO sightings.” (Miller 133)

In many cryptid cases like the Druid black cats and the Enfield Monster, hundreds, even thousands of people have either “seen” the reported creatures or they adamantly state that they believe the claims to be true. Often, simply having a “seed”, like the myths of Halloween, planted into the minds of a group of people will increase sightings of cryptids. It has also been theorized that the harsh economic conditions and the effects of the Vietnam War stirred up mass sightings as a way to take American minds off of their troubles. This “seed planting” theory has been tested on paranormal tour groups and has shown the same results with more members feeling cold spots or seeing shadow movement.

4055669711_d2ef6b09a6_z

The effects of social contagion can be seen as far back as the Celtic tradition of Samhain. Black cats, very common images of Halloween, were perhaps some of the first cryptid-like creatures to instill fear and dark curiosity within general society. The Day of the Dead may very well be more than just the lowering of the veil between the physical and spiritual worlds. It might also be the one time of year that the dividing barrier between sanity and insanity, along with reason and fear, are at their thinnest.

 

 

Works Cited:

Rogers, Nicholas.  Halloween: From Pagan Ritual to Party Night. 2002 Oxford  University Press.  Page 20.

Miller, David L., et al. “A Critical Examination of the Social Contagion Image of Collective Behavior: The Case of the Enfield Monster”. The Sociological Quarterly  Vol. 19.  Winter 1978.  Pp. 129-140.

 

Ghost And Demon Smells: How Is This Possible?

3698884924_18bcac0cd7_z
Flickr – Kali the Destroyer

Oftentimes during a paranormal investigation a phantom smell will waft across the nose of a team member or perhaps you have caught a whiff of something out of the ordinary in your home. Detecting an unusual odor isn’t always a sure sign of a spirit’s presence, but in certain instances, it is. Some of the more familiar smells are perfumes that were worn by the lady of the house when she was alive or, in the case of a smoker, pockets of cigarette or cigar smoke will mysteriously appear. These scents are generally harmless to a resident or investigator – as they are intended to be either an attempt at communication, a comforting sign to let a loved one know they are nearby or they will suggest the presence of a spirit who coincidentally is within your vicinity. There are certain odors, however, that everyone should be gravely concerned about because they are a pretension that an evil entity is in the room with you.

In certain extreme cases, smells can signify a negative presence which either resides on the property or is passing through to another destination. In some instances, there is an open portal nearby which is allowing the passage of a spirit to wander as it sees fit. The strong odors of decaying flesh and decomposition are telltale signs that this foul entity is nearby. In the town of Union, Missouri, located about 50 miles south of St. Louis, there is a house where these types of disgusting smells have been detected on multiple occasions.

Author and Radio host Steven LaChance is a haunted survivor and has written two books where he retells his incredible story. In his first publication, The Uninvited, he graphically recounts what happened when he and his children rent and move into a home owned by a mysterious landlord. Shortly after they move into the residence, a wide range of paranormal activity begins. Paintings fall off of the walls, incredibly loud banging is heard upstairs, doors slam shut (once locking his daughter in a room), dark and full-body apparitions appear throughout the home, and the horrible smells of rotting flesh and sulfur were noticed, mainly in the living room area. One entity in particular could harvest enough energy to manifest as a black, smoky apparition and even physically attack the family. In one attack, the entity slammed shut a door with Steve’s daughter trapped inside. Steve is a big dude and, despite slamming his shoulder against the door until it was bruised, he was unable to get inside. Finally the door unlocked and she escaped, rushing out the front door with her dad to her grandparent’s house. In another instance, the demon jumped from a second-story window into a tree in the front yard, pursuing Steven outside of the home. Later on this powerful entity attacked a woman who had moved into the home after Steve’s family had left. Her attack was sexually heinous and resulted in a full-blown possession.

17295752092_d475af02f3_z
Flickr – Filter Collective, Innocents Lost

The Union Screaming House is quite unusual and unbelievably traumatic, however, these types of activities do occur and paranormal investigators should be aware of them. In the Union house case, three portals were found on the property, possibly linked to voodoo and certain dark practices performed in the basement. The smell of rotting flesh was experienced on multiple occasions, even by independent paranormal investigators who were called to the home. So, in order to gain a better understanding of this phenomenon, we can ask a couple questions – what exactly are these putrid odors and how is it possible that decomposition smells can be experienced on a site by residents and paranormal investigators?

“In the early stages of death, cellular metabolism slows as the internal systems begin to break down. Lack of oxygen in the tissues an explosive growth of bacteria, which feed on the body’s proteins, carbohydrates and fats, producing gases that cause the body to smell and to swell.” – Jonathan Hayes, senior forensic pathologist, New York City Medical Examiner’s Office

536999630_47272b793c_o
Flickr – John Gos

In the natural process quoted above, body decomposition produces several gases, one of the most common is called cadaverine. This gas is a hydrogen-nitrogen gas which has a pentane chemical structure and is predominately responsible for the horrific smell decaying flesh and is partly responsible for the distinctive odor of urine. Pentanes have five carbon atoms in their chemical formula and they are similar to a gas we use every day (if you’re a smoker) – butane. I’m not sure if pentagrams and pentanes can have anything in common in the realm of evil, but they do share the number 5. Coincidence?

Cadaverine was first described in 1885 by the Berlin physician Ludwig Brieger, who was a bacteriologist largely known for his uses of hydrotherapy. Cadaverine and the substance sulfur, which is that nasty egg smell, have been associated with zombies in the world of fiction and, more importantly in the spirit world, the presence of a powerful demon.

Most of the time foul paranormal odors are associated with cold spots, shadow play, and apparition manifestations. The entities emitting the odors can be very aggressive and usually are connected with intelligent hauntings. These demonic creatures have chosen lives which have plunged them into the deepest and darkest realms in the parallel universes that coexist with ours. Their existence in “hell” fuels evil intentions as they completely disregard human life – making them very dangerous entities. Their extreme malevolence is the source of these horrible smells which manifests itself through the death process of decomposition. Paranormal investigators who happen upon sites with these entities should be very cautious – even a devoted priest performing holy rituals in these places may have little effect on these types of demons. In Steven’s story, the demons were not banished by a priest and, in fact, followed him to other peoples’ houses. The extreme activity eventually drove him into a deep oppression, bordering on possession. Steve and his family are lucky to have made it out with just mental scars.

Now that you have gotten a whiff of the worst aspect of paranormal smells, let’s waft over to some positive odors and try to understand what they are and how they can be experienced. There seems to be a universal truth in the spirit realm and it is the fact that however a person was in life, so shall they be in the afterlife. If a person was kind and caring in this life, then they carry that personality with them when they cross over to the other side. Habits, as well, are taken with us when we leave this world, ingrained into our souls as we continue to experience the next stage of our spiritual journey.

3926875276_13ffcf6007_z

On numerous occasions my wife and I have smelled tobacco smoke in our home. Her father was a smoker, and we know from experience that he likes to make frequent appearances (a medium had told her this was the case… but that is another article). An old friend of mine, who was a chain smoker, passed away about a decade ago. I believe that he too will come and pay a visit because I know this is something he would have done in life. The scent of burning tobacco was always his constant companion, and so I expect that any of his visits would warrant this odor.

Aromatherapy works wonders in our everyday lives, rejuvenating the mind by causing a rush of endorphins and positive memories, bringing a sense of happiness and reducing stress. Perfumes have always been very common for ladies of all ages to spritz upon their necks. I have noticed that among the older generations, women will pick a certain scent and that is the one they stick with each day. My mother and grandmother have very distinct perfumes they wear and, whenever they are in the room, I know it before I see them. Interestingly, perfumes work much the same way in the afterlife. These perfumes can carry over with them and whenever a loved one is under great stress or in a time of trouble, a spirit is able to exude this scent into the environment to trigger comforting memories. Comforting scents have been known to take on a wide variety of forms – from the smell of fresh bread, recently cooked bacon, various types of flowers, and even the smell of old books. It is also claimed that certain fairies emit a mushroom-like scent when they are nearby.

5907663682_06811a22b1_z
Flickr – Bruce Reyes-Chow

There are many locations throughout the world where the presence of odors has been verified by multiple sources. It is, perhaps, one of the most difficult aspects of paranormal investigating because this type of evidence is contingent upon the person who is experiencing the odor. Some people do not have the brain wiring to detect certain smells and sometimes what smells like lavender flowers to one person may smell completely different to another person. There is also no way to effectively record and analyze this data as you would with EVP recordings or video footage of shadow and light movement. The best acquired information in regards to paranormal odors may lie solely in many people over an extended period of time experiencing the same scents.

The Tower of London is just such a place located in Nottinghamshire, England. This site is over 900 years old and boasts of a myriad of hauntings that stems back to Thomas Á Beckett, who has been seen peering out of the windows of this tower. The site is also where the illegitimate princes, Edward V and Richard, were held confined to these grounds and then never seen again. Henry VII’s wife Queen Anne Boleyn was beheaded in the Tower Green and her apparition has been seen walking the hallways, a headless corpse. It is in the White Tower where the White Lady has not only been seen, but more so smelled:

“Her true identity unknown, the woman’s perfume is said to be overpowering, and has made many people gag around St John’s Chapel. One visitor felt tapping on her shoulder, although could not see who could have been responsible.” https://www.paranormaldatabase.com/hotspots/EC3.php

In the case of the White Lady, the overpowering scent remains a mystery of how it can be possible for a spirit to emit such a strong odor. In the case of demon entities, the smell has its origins in the lower realms of hell where, in the Bible, there is “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 24:51). The odors of cadaverine and sulfur that the negative spirit emanated from the Union house comes from the lifestyle of the entity. The horrible odors from demons and the mushroom-like smell from fairies make sense – they exude from the spiritual body very much like human pheromones. Even in the case of flowers, the scents may originate from some sort of ethereal plant source. However, in order to explain the smells derived from daily habits, there must be some physical laws that apply in the spirit realm. For the scent of tobacco to occur, would the spirit need to be smoking? And, if so, where do the cigarettes or cigars come from? With perfume scents, are there Sephora stores in the afterlife where a lady can obtain the alluring oils she once used in life? What do you think?