The Book of Mysteries: Trickster and the Paranormal

IMG_1778.jpgThe bedside book-well

Do you ever do this?

For years it seems I have put off reading a very good book, one that is oft-quoted and one I suspected would hold the key to some of my questions about life, about existence, about the outer reaches of consciousness.

Why did I do this? Who knows? Maybe I just found more interesting books to read—books that apply the concept but, of course, never explore the full richness of the original idea.

But, also, I think there is a perverse part of me that saves some really good reads for when the bedside book-well runs dry. As if that book-well could actually dry up!

 

The Trickster and the Paranormal

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Take George Hansen’s The Trickster and the Paranormal as an example. This is one of those books I kept putting off, leaving it untouched in my ebook library for that rainy day when I had read everything there was and needed something really good to capture my interest.

I am not sure how it fell from that exalted rainy-day bookshelf, but tumble it did into my digital book-well.

It is not an easy read as it is full of concepts from sociology and anthropology. But Hansen does give you a roadmap through the book that avoids the “weightier” concepts and brings you to the gist of the book. It is a fascinating read.

 

The Gist of the Book:

The paranormal (ghosts, ghouls, poltergeists, UFO, ESP, even Sasquatch) are all related to liminal states where boundaries are blurred, where the world as we know it is being de-constructed, where our realities are being challenged, or where major social systems (personal or societal) are in flux. He calls these “the betwixt and between,” where something is no longer this but not yet that.

The author’s premise is that the paranormal is more likely to happen when we are in a liminal state. He goes on to give examples, one of which is the UFO flap begun when Kenneth Arnold spotted nine strange disks/saucers flying in front of his small aircraft.

That was June 24, 1947. Think back to what the world was like. We had just entered the nuclear age. For those of us born into the Cold War, it is hard to imagine the zeitgeist shaft that must have taken place for those who witnessed the nuclear devastation that ended the war with Japan. This was quickly followed by the detonation of an even more destructive force—the H-bomb. Overnight, it seemed, the world could be wiped out. 100% assured destruction. No longer the hope that a bomb might hit somewhere else, these new bombs were so far reaching a very few would hit everyone.

The world was in a liminal state as humanity was being initiated into a very precarious world, indeed.

Then two weeks later on July 8, 1947 Roswell happened. Another paradigm shift—another betwixt and between state where we grappled with a new worldview, a shift in our place in the universe.

RoswellDailyRecordJuly8,1947.jpgBy . ([1][dead link] Archived copy: [2]) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Trying to knit it together:

This all takes me to my afternoon pastime–knitting while listening to podcasts, mostly weird ones. My two favorites could be said to be on opposite ends of the spectrum.

Where Did the Road Go? is about “exploring the paranormal, alternative science, lost history, supernatural, occult, and the hidden forces that affect our world.”

Sasquatch Chronicles is about flesh-and-blood Bigfoot, leaving Psychic Sasquatch to the “flute-players.”

The host of Where Did the Road Go?, Seriah Azkath, talks about paranormal encounters and often cites The Trickster and the Paranormal when discussing the reaches of consciousness.

The host of Sasquatch Chronicles, Wes Germer, along with his brother Woody, had an encounter with hairy monsters in the woods. Not your friendly forest giants, for Wes Germer these are dangerous primates.

These podcasters come to their subject with very different worldviews, but each in his own way experiencing that liminal state betwixt and between two worldviews.

 

Is Sasquatch a flesh-and-blood animal or a psychic spiritual being?

Here is what I am wondering: let’s say that there are undiscovered hairy hominids in the woods—something you would probably believe could be true after hearing the 300 or so encounter stories presented on Sasquatch Chronicles. These encounters are all described as “life changing” in that the observer’s worldview was thrown into flux. Until the new worldview is assimilated, the person is betwixt and between beliefs, in other words in a liminal state.

So what if this “life changing” liminal state then opens some people to the paranormal, creating a space for the Psychic Sasquatch to enter one’s reality?

Is Sasquatch a flesh-and-blood animal or a psychic spiritual being? Perhaps the answer to that is a simple “yes” because it can be both depending on which mode of perception one uses, a right-brain marginal liminal one, or a left-brain linear logical one.

And is one more “real” then the other? (See, for instance, Gary Lachman’s The Secret Teachers of the Western World.) Our modern civilization values the left-brain linear logical model over the right-brain more encompassing paranormal model. But does that make it more “real?”

 

References:

Hansen, George. (2001). The Trickster and the Paranormal. Xlibris Corporation

Lachman, Gary (2015). The Secret Teachers of the Western World. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/ Penguin.

Book of Mysteries: Strangeness in the Hudson Valley

 

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The Hudson valley is no “stranger” to High Strangeness. Witness Whitley Strieber’s experiences with “Super Natural” beings, the Pine Bush Phenomenon, and UFO sightings all up and down the Hudson Valley, most notable those reports by Linda Zimmerman and J Allen Hynek. (Remember: I am not saying the UFOs are real, I am saying the experiences of the observers are real or to put it another way, they are real to the observer and worth studying.)

Putnam County, less than an hour up the river from Manhattan, has certainly seen its share of strangeness, if the reports are to be believed. And just east of the Hudson River in the middle of Putnam county is where I had a couple of very strange experiences that have made me wonder about consciousness, the trickster, and what may be beyond our known world.

 

The Invisible Stalker

This experience happened in the mid to late 1980s. At the time I was studying with a Native American elder, OhShinnah. As part of her teaching, she had us do exercises to harmonize with the four elements, earth, air, fire, and water. I was working on water so every time I visited near Cold Spring, NY I would go down to this wonder-filled place just below the dam of a manmade lake.

This was a truly magical spot and I always felt the encircling love of nature while there.

One of the most beautiful spots was by a stream, and there I practiced the water ceremony OhShinnah taught us. It was there I first saw (experienced) tiny sparkles in the air—what I thought might be air spirits, but later learned are identified as water spirits.

On this particular day, the sparkles danced in and out of my field of vision and somehow I started to experience the entire area as “separated,” but separated from what I am not sure. I experienced this bubble of sparkles surrounding the stream and the woods for maybe 50 feet in all direction. I sat transfixed.

Whether I started to move first or the sound of something moving through the undergrowth caught my attention and I stood, I do not remember. But I looked all around me and it was as if, off in one direction only, the background was muted out. It was fuzzy and without distinction. That, anyway, is what I experienced.

Then a wave of apprehension hit me. I had never been anxious in this place before. Indeed, it was a place where stresses always fell away from me. Deciding it was “just my imagination,” I ignored it and relaxed. It hit me harder and now I was afraid. I ducked behind a tree and stood stone still. Not a sound, all was quiet again. Come to think of it, not even a bird was singing.

Peeking out, I searched the woods for deer—they often came close when I was there, but I saw nothing. The sparkle was gone, except in the one area up a muted hill. But, as I moved again, the sound of something disturbing the brush returned.

I froze and all was quiet. I moved and it moved.

For a very long time, I stood stock still, the fear mounting. Something was playing cat and mouse with me.

Finally I grabbed my things intending to hurry out of there. The sound of movement returned and now I was choking down panic as I hurried back to the dam. A time or two, I looked back over my shoulder, but saw nothing.

It stopped following me as I neared the dam. I hurried past the dam and up the dirt road—really more a trail with two ruts—and back to the cabins. There, in a more public spot, I sat for a while, waiting for whom or whatever was stalking me to come out as there was no other trail to follow but that one. Nobody and nothing ever came.

It was years later that I heard about Bigfoot and the experiences of others, experiences like mine—as if something was throwing fear at them. The hypothesis put forth by Bigfoot researchers is that Bigfoot uses infrasound to scare away unwanted visits. Infrasound does that, creates that experience of fear.

Was it Bigfoot, or a family of them passing through the woods? I don’t know. All I know is that I experienced something that was both real and unreal to me—something I would come to experience a couple more times in my life. And that lead me on a quest to discover what it is that lies beneath experiences like these. The something, I believe, is the most basic field of all—a field of consciousness out of which we ourselves create experience. And maybe have created the image of Bigfoot to explain those experiences. If that is true, then Bigfoot is becoming very real indeed.

 

 

Photo Credit: Gnashes30 under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. The sign is along the Pikes Peak Highway.

 

NOTE: No blog post next week–away with friends having fun!