Near-Death Experiences—What Would You Do?

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(from Varieties of Religious Experience, New York Times, December 24, 2016)

‘It’s Christmas; indulge me.

One of my hobbies is collecting what you might call nonconversion stories — stories about secular moderns who have supernatural-seeming experiences without being propelled into any specific religious faith. In some ways these stories are more intriguing than mystical experiences that confirm or inspire strong religious belief, because they come to us unmediated by any theological apparatus. They are more like raw data, raw material, the stuff that shows how spiritual experiences would continue if every institutional faith disappeared tomorrow.

Here are some public cases. Three decades ago A. J. Ayer, the British logical positivist and scourge of all religion, died and was resuscitated at the age of 77. Afterward, he reported a near-death encounter that included repeated attempts to cross a river and “a red light, exceedingly bright, and also very painful … responsible for the government of the universe.” Ayer retained his atheism, but declared that the experience had “slightly weakened” his conviction that death “will be the end of me.”

As a young man in the 1960s, the filmmaker Paul Verhoeven, of “RoboCop” and “Showgirls” fame, wandered into a Pentecostal church and suddenly felt “the Holy Ghost descending … as if a laser beam was cutting through my head and my heart was on fire.” He was in the midst of dealing with his then-girlfriend’s unexpected pregnancy; after they procured an abortion, he had a terrifying, avenging-angel vision during a screening of “King Kong.” The combined experience actively propelled him away from anything metaphysical; the raw carnality of his most famous films, he suggested later, was an attempt to keep the numinous and destabilizing at bay.

Barbara Ehrenreich, the left-wing essayist and atheist, had shocking, unlooked-for experiences of spiritual rapture as a teenager, which she wrote about in 2014’s don’t-call-it-religious memoir, “Living With a Wild God.” The “wild” part is key: Ehrenreich rejects the God of monotheism because the Being she encountered seemed stranger, less benign and more amoral than the God she thinks that most religions worship.

Lisa Chase, the wife of the late New York journalistic icon Peter Kaplan, wrote an essay for Elle Magazine last year about her experiences communicating, on her own and through a medium, with her husband after his 2013 death. There is no organized religion in her story whatsoever. But if you read the essay carefully, it’s clear that her quest was shaped by the fact that more than a few highly educated liberal Manhattan professionals have also had experiences like hers.

William Friedkin, the director of “The Exorcist,” had never seen an exorcism when he made his famous film. A professed agnostic, he decided recently to “complete the circle” and spent some time shadowing the Vatican exorcist Father Gabriele Amorth, just before Amorth’s passing at the age of 91. Friedkin recounted his experience in Vanity Fair this fall; it did not make him a Catholic believer, but it did seem to scare the Hades out of him.

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Why You should Be Cautious with Sacred Texts…

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Not to mention the Apocrypha, Gnostic Gospels, and loss of translation in between the Septuagints’ Hebrew to Greek translations. Much of the Christian Bible (post-Jewish scriptures) was translated from the already translated Septuagint texts—i.e., from the Greek. NOT FROM THE ORIGINAL HEBREW. The possibilities of error and manipulation are endless and frightening considering how much blood has been spilled because of these texts.

What’s on the Tube? “Demon House” … A Documentary of Indiana’s “House of 200 Demons”—Zak Bagans Filmed It, & Then He Tore It Down…⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

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The Text

“…then psychic medium Chris Fleming sends me a text. He’s heard I bought the house. He sends me a warning that I’ll never forget. He tells me there’s a 12-foot-tall ‘demon guardian’, just like the one from my dream at that house. And I better stay the hell away from it.” —Zak Bagans, Demon House

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Above: Text to Zak Bagans from psychic Chris Fleming, warning Bagans about the demonic infestation in the house in Gary, Indiana. Photo: Sanguine Woods (Demon House).


The Warning

In my opinion film-school graduate and 13-year veteran of demonology and ghost hunting, Zak Bagans, is among our greatest documentary filmmakers. The skill of his vision, authenticity, and artist’s eye for the truth can be seen in Ghost Adventures—the Travel Channel series Bagans created which has been on the air scaring the shit out of millions of viewers for almost 20 years. Bagans doesn’t play. He’s often foolish in his taunting of the demonic—he has learned to be, let’s say, more careful—more respectful—over the years. However, a few years ago, when he learned of the Haunted House in Gary, Indiana in the window of which a police officer caught on film a ghostly entity, Bagans wasted no time. He bought the house straight-up…over the phone. When you’re rich you can do things like that. But rich or poor: you’re regrets for having done so…will be very much the same.

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(Pinterest).

Below, after the trailer, are two articles to whet your interest in The Ammons “House of 200 Demons”—one that takes the phenomenon of demonology and related infestations seriously—and to be fair to the other side, one written for Skeptical Inquirer. I’ve also included Links to some other interesting articles and videos as well as where to buy/view Bagan’s documentary.

The film advises that Viewers Watch Demon House “at Your Own Risk”.

As always when dealing with dark things—evil things as some would call them—beings or phenomenon—whether or not you purport to believe in such things—it is prudent to exercise caution.

SW


The Photo

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“The First Order of Whaleyville’s Divine Basilisk Handlers”—A Horror Story by Eric J. Guignard

I don’t have too many favorite writers in horror and the like…but Eric J. Guignard is one of them. He is NOT a writer to miss! Link to this book is below.

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Cover art by Christine M. Scott.

The First Order of Whaleyville’s Divine Basilisk Handlers

Eric J. Guignard, 2018

Originally appeared in The Fiend in the Furrows, An Anthology of Folk Horror, ed. by David T. Neal & Christine M. Scott, Nosetouch Press, 2018.

I never heard of basilisks ‘til the night of Murrell’s barn dance, but that was the night I met Rosalie, so the basilisks sorta took a back seat in my thoughts. I think it was Ronny Loom who told me, though his brother, Carter, was there too, and they’re one ’n the same, being just a year apart and closer than spittin’ twins.

“Poppa told me basilisks are crossing the Nolichucky River,” Ronny said. “Heard Lilac and some men from Kingsport bagged half a dozen already, but more keep showing up. Lilac says they’re worth more’n cougar pelts.”

“That old trapper’s still around?” I asked, more interested in hearing ’bout him than gabbing on new mountain game. Legend was, Lilac Zollinger had once been engaged to my great-granny Lizbeth, but Great-Grandpa Micajah dueled him for her hand and won, leaving Lilac with a bullet in the shoulder.

He healed, except for his pride, which supposing got wounded the most. “Heard Lilac caught the scythe two summers ago by way of momma grizzly.”

“He survived that,” Carter said. “Thought everyone knew.”

Me and the Looms passed under the banner for Murrell’s dance and into his barn. Its double red doors were shuttered open and breathing yellow light like a hell cat, silhouetting straw-hatted farmers and their bonnet-hatted wives.

“Harv Ridout says Lilac won’t sleep under a roof, but rather beds down amongst the trees each night so he won’t soften up like us townies,” Ronny said.

Carter added, “Harv Ridout says Lilac punched a wolf that was fightin’ him over a cottontail.”

I rolled my eyes. “Harv Ridout’s got less sense—”

The sudden scream of fiddle severed my words, then the clang of guitar followed, and soon a gaggle of folks lined the varnished floor kickin’ up their legs like a train of asses. I never cared much for dancing and don’t know what others see in it. It’s not like kissin’ or anything, not even a little, and I should know ‘cause I done both. Dancing, you’re not even allowed to touch girls ‘cept on their hands, or Pastor Wright’ll whip your bottom scorched as Hell’s eternal fury for such a sin.

That’s when a girl I never seen before swung from the dance line, twirling delicate as a marigold bloom. Right away, my insides turned light and fizzy, like if ever I thought to float on moonlit mist, now would be the moment. She was tall and skinny, like me, but her hair went dark, and her eyes shone like copper pennies set in fire ‘til they glowed and sizzled. She wore a dress pretty as first snow, and it clung to her in the middle and billowed out everywhere else as she moved.

Truth was, I never felt that way looking at a girl before, not even when kissing Aimee Greenwood last Harvest Day. I only kissed Aimee ‘cause she started it, but I liked it too, though how it felt didn’t compare a blue belle to how seeing this new girl weave and bow to each man in line did. Suddenly I felt dancing would be the greatest thing in the world, especially if with her.

“New girl in town,” Ronny and Carter said together. “Heard her name is Rosalie Jacobs.”

“Rosalie,” I repeated, and I wondered where she came from. In Whaleyville, everyone knew everyone—even new folks—but she was a puzzler.

Murrell’s barn was stuffy hot that night, and the back of my neck stuck to the shirt collar with sweat. I ran a checkered sleeve across my forehead and it came away damp and grimy, though I still felt my best in over two years, since that terrible day at the revival.

“I’m gonna ask her to dance,” I vowed. But no sooner had the words been spoke did that vow fall to bitter ash when I saw Rosalie link arms with Luke Holder.

Ronny and Carter shook their heads somber as grave diggers. Luke Holder was older’n us, sized the three of us together, and meaner than a pecker full of sin. It was the cruel joke of the county that he was good looking too, with a big, perfect smile that made gals do funny things, and with eyes blue as winter quartz: cold and hard and sharp enough to cut, should you fall on ‘em the wrong way.

“Hellfire,” I muttered.

Click here to read the remainder of this great story and support this Anthology by picking up a copy…very affordable and worth it…

More “Lovecraftiana”

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Unless otherwise noted, all artists are unknown (Source: Pinterest/tumblr).

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