Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Time to Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals!

It's that time of the year again- the new one is almost here.  Have you taken some time for careful, even prayerful thought about what you want to get done and how you want to grow as a human being?  This SMART goal system is one I've used for decades:

The S.M.A.R.T. goals system is a very useful method for setting goals. As an overview, the "S" stands for Specific, the "M" stands for Measurable, the "A" stands for Attainable, the "R" stands for Realistic, and the "T" stands for Timely. Below are the steps explained in detail.

"S" - Your goals have to be SPECIFIC. If you want to achieve any type of goal, it has to be something that is not a generality or a poorly-thought-through idea, but something that you can put definite parameters around. For instance, it's no good to say that your goal is "to be a better husband", "to lose weight", or other generic ideas. How much weight do you want to lose? When would you like to arrive at this weight-loss goal? Those are the specifics necessary to really get your mind thinking in the right direction. When writing down your goals, make them as specific as possible. If your goal is to one day have a dream home, what would it look like? How many bedrooms would it have? Would it have a two, three, or four-car garage? Clarity is essential when writing down your goals.

"M" - Your goals have to be MEASURABLE. As it has often been said, "You can't manage what you can't measure". You have to have definite points of progress mapped out so that you can have some measure of how close to (or far away from) your goals you are. Included in the "Measurable" step is establishing milestones. For instance, if your income goal is to be making six figures, have you made it even halfway there yet? If your goal is to lose 50 pounds
, have you lost 10 pounds yet? You have to have certain "checkpoints" established so that you can have a measure of your progress.

"A" - Your goals have to be ATTAINABLE. It's nice to have a goal such as "I want to bring peace to the world", but trust me, it may not happen in this lifetime. Idealistic goals are very difficult to attain. Add a healthy dose of concrete reality to your goals.

"R" - Your goals must be REALISTIC. You can set a goal to become a billionaire in one week, but don't be surprised if it doesn't happen. Now I'm a big advocate for believing that "all things are possible" (Mark 9:23), but that doesn't mean that all things are likely to happen. Don't frustrate yourself and shoot yourself in the foot by being too unrealistic with your goals. Thoroughly examine the type of process you will have to go through to realistically arrive at your goal, and commit to that process."

"T" - Your goals must be TIMELY. In other words, you must establish a time frame for achieving your goals. Don't keep your goals in an "abstract" state by not setting definite points in time for them to be achieved. Remember: "A goal is a dream with a deadline".

I learned this goal system in the U.S. Army, so I don't give this website credit for "Inventing" it, but it's where I got the above text:

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Say Ghost Hunter, Whatcha Reading or Studying?

I've finished four books the last couple of weeks, and have started a couple of more.  I finished Richard Southall's book How to be a Ghost Hunter; The Dark Sacrament: True Stories of Modern-Day Demon Possession and Exorcism, by Keily and McKenna; There are Ghosts In Our World But Are They Real?, by David Manch ( a decent book covering some false-positive angles); and M. Scott Peck's Glimpses of the Devil.  I'm half way through Angels: Elect & Evil by Fred Dickason, a couple of books on Wicca, one each on Tarot (including learning the arcana and cards - for knowledge - not practice) and Ouija, and Hostage to the Devil, by Malachi Martin.  I'm well into all of those, and have others in a pile waiting.  My focus, obviously from what I'm reading, is on the demonology angle right now.  What are you guys reading, or what are you looking into?  (May or may not be related to the paranormal.)

EMF Effect: True or Not? The Issue Isn't Exactly Settled

Most ghost hunters just assume that EMF can cause paranormal like affects.  Lately, I've been doing a bit of research, and was surprised to find that this is actually hotly debated among scientists and researchers.  Most of the argument and debate center around EMF causing cancer, but you can find articles and studies about the symptoms in general.  Most of the studies that EMF are harmful come out of Sweden, and most debunker studies (not so harmful) come from the USA.  Just be aware that there is a controversy surrounding the effects of high EMF, that the issue is not as settled as some think, and some of it no doubt on the pro side is environmentalist bloviation (we've certainly seen that before with the craziness and blatant lies being espoused as fact about global warming - when these so called facts have NOT been proven).  I tend myself to think that some people can experience some minor symptoms like nausea and dizziness after very long exposure to very high EMF, but in fairness, you are going to find some people who are going to react negatively to almost anything, no matter what it is!  Here is one small article:

Electromagnetic Fields (EMF)

Definition of Electromagnetic Fields (EMF)
All electric currents produce two kinds of fields - electric and magnetic - but their effects are different. Electric fields are easily blocked by metal or other shielding, but magnetic fields penetrate most materials and so are more likely to reach the human body.

Description of Electromagnetic Fields (EMF)
From the time you slap the snooze button on your alarm clock to the time you click off the bedside lamp at the end of the day, you are bombarded by invisible electric and magnetic fields. These fields are everywhere; they emanate from household appliances and cellular phones, from the high-voltage power lines strung outside your home, and from deep within the earth itself.
All electric currents produce two kinds of fields: electric and magnetic. Scientists do not know how electromagnetic energy actually affects cells and tissues in plants, animals or people. Scientists say that the strength of electromagnetic energy most people are exposed to is low when compared to other forms of radiation, particularly the kind produced by radioactive materials. Nuclear radiation can rip through cells with the power of a cannon ball striking plate glass, sometimes causing cancer. Electromagnetic energy produced by electrical equipment is much less powerful, striking the same glass window with the force of a flea.
All electrical devices produce some form of electric, magnetic or electromagnetic fields, but not all at the same frequency (a measure of how rapidly fields change with time). Each frequency may be distinct in terms of potential effect. A partial biological response or effect may result from exposures to one frequency but not others. In other words, one cannot assume that an effect or problem seen on one region of the electromagnetic spectrum will occur in some other region.
It is well known that overexposure to x-rays and ultraviolet radiation, both very high in the spectrum, pose health risks by breaking chemical bonds in cellular molecules. Current research indicates that EMF fields are unable to break such bonds.

A recent study stated that on the basis of a review of all available childhood brain cancer studies, there was no support for an overall association between EMF and childhood brain cancer. Another study concluded that although there is much debate and controversy surrounding the effects of low intensity electromagnetic fields and radiation, there is no convincing evidence to suggest that exposure to the fields commonly encountered in the environment will cause any significant adverse health effect in humans.

Monday, December 27, 2010

King's Tavern Timeline - The True One


1794     Prosper King on July 20th petitions to the Spanish governor for permission to build a house on lot 3 of square 33 - the site where the Tavern now stands.

1796     Petition granted to Prosper King by Gayoso on July 21st of this year.

Photo at Left:  The Historic Marker at King's Tavern, which depicts an incorrect date.  Much, if not all, of the reporting and history of King's Tavern, as told by most, contains major errors, just as The Myrtles Plantation's fictitious embellishments.

1798     Prosper King sells the property for $50.00 to his brother, Richard King on January 18th. Whether there was a building on the site at this time is unknown.

1799     The earliest association of a King with a tavern is found on August 5, 1799 in the Minutes of the Court of General Quarter Sessions of the Peace (Adams County Courthouse, Adams County Mississippi, p.78) where Richard King was licensed to operate a public house.

1799     Micajah Harpe (Big Harpe) murders Major William Love for snoring in his sleep, as well as Mrs. Stegall and her child by tomahawking them to death, on Wednesday, August 21, 1799.  This occurs about 5 miles north of Dixon, Kentucky in Hopkins County.  A few days later, he is hunted down and beheaded by Moses Stegall, the husband.  Little Harp (Wiley) flees to Natchez and joins Sam Mason and his gang robbing and murdering people along the Natchez Trace.  The story about Big Harpe killing an infant at King’s Tavern is totally unfounded, and evidence is very strong that Micajah never stepped foot in Mississippi.  However, it is very likely that Wiley (Little Harpe) was in the Tavern often.

1804     Wiley Harpe (Little Harpe) is captured and executed by hanging on February 8, 1804, just outside of Natchez, about where Natchez Trace milemarker 19 is, in the vicinity where State Highway 553 crosses the Trace.  His head is then cut off and stuck on a pole on the Trace.  The actual place of execution is Gallows Field, in the community of Greenville (at the time said to be about 300 people living there), but no longer exists.

1817     An 1817 map of the division of Richard King's estate depicts 2 buildings on lot 3, square 33, the larger of which sits directly on the present site of King's Tavern. That one of the two buildings was operated as a public house is supported by Richard King's inventory which lists 4 waiters and one set of dining tables (Probate Box 22) and the subsequent purchase of the property by Charles B. Green, who was also a tavern keeper (1807 city tavern license, Mayor's Court Minute Book 1085-1808, Natchez City Records, Mississippi Dept of Archives and History). Green then mortgaged the property to the Bank of Mississippi and lost it a short time later to the bank which was owned by Henry Postlethwaite and Dr. Stephen Duncan.

1823     Henry Postlethwaite dies of yellow fever on August 27th of this year, his widow (Elizabeth Postlethwaite) and her 8 children move into the Tavern. 

1827     King’s Tavern property deeded to Stephan Duncan by the Bank of Mississippi to help settle Henry Postlethwaite’s affairs which were tied up in the bank’s assets on February 2, 1827. Mr. Duncan then conveyed the property to Emily Postlethwaite and her sister Mary Ann Bledsoe in 1861.

1860      Mrs. Elizabeth Postlethwaite passes away on July 27th in the Tavern.

1861     Property deeded to Emily Postlethwaite and her sister Mary Ann Bledsoe as part of their inheritance.

1874     George Wiley dies.  Wiley, who came to Natchez in 1788 and died in 1874, wrote "Probably the oldest house now existing in Natchez is the one occupied by Mrs. Postlethwaite on Jefferson Street between Union and Rankin. It was at one time kept as a tavern by a man named King..."(Claiborne: Mississippi as a Province, Territory and State, page 529).

1932      Remains of 3 skeletons (1 female & 2 male) & a Spanish dagger supposedly found during remodeling of the building. The bones were reported to have been buried in Potters Field of the Natchez City Cemetery. We do know that the dagger does exist because of photographic evidence & the fact that we have located the owner of it. As for the bones or remains, an extensive search of The Natchez Democrat newspaper archives from that time period and the Natchez City Cemetery records have not yielded any information.  So, we have yet to find proof they were ever indeed found, but we are still researching their existence at this time.

1966     June 12 Natchez Democrat article with photo of Annabel Maxie holding the dagger that was allegedly found in 1932.

1970     Mrs. Annabel Maxie, a descendant of the Postlethwaite family, sells King’s Tavern to the Pilgrimage Garden Club on the 2nd of December of this year. 

1971   The Pilgrimage Garden Club starts restoration of King’s Tavern.  Several articles appear in The Natchez Democrat featuring the Tavern.

1974   Opens for pilgrimage tours & restaurant for a short time.

1974   February 23; in a Natchez Democrat article of this date entitled, Thomas Young Recalls King’s Tavern, written by Thomas E. Young, he states: “My mother Hilda died when I was two years old and my grandmother has told me many times of the misty figure of a veiled woman in a cloak with head bowed and hands folded which stood at the foot of her bed at night after my mother’s death.”  This is the first written and recorded mention of any ghost at King’s Tavern.  His mother was Mary Elizabeth Postlethwaite.  In the same article he mentions the ghost of an Indian.  There is no mention of any bones or remains being found in the 1930's.

1977   The Pilgrimage Garden Club leases the Tavern to Mrs. Bobby Porter and Mrs. Florence Turpin. It is a 5 year lease, with an option for an additional 5 years.

1978   The Tavern opens for business as The Post House restaurant.

1987   The Pilgrimage Garden Club sells the property to Mrs. Yvonne Scott.

1988   Reopens as King’s Tavern.

2005   Mrs. Yvonne Scott sells property to Tom Drinkwater and Shawyn Mars who are the current owners of King’s Tavern.

2010   October 22nd, N.A.P.S. launches an extensive, full-blown paranormal investigation into King’s Tavern – the crown jewel of Natchez’ haunted sites – with interview & historical research phases initiated.

2010   December 22nd, N.A.P.S. officially closes its first investigation into King's Tavern, with a finding of Positive: Class B (significant paranormal activity present); with reservations notated about some experiences claimed being possibly due to high EMF, and others likely due to Matrixing from the high expectations created by advertising of the haunting.  However, none of that is sufficient in our minds to explain all that is happening, as well as the fact that our own field investigation revealed plenty of data: both technical and non-technical evidence (including tactile, olfactory; Class A EVP; Photo and Video; as well as EMF and motion/temperature detection data – much of it cross-substantiated).  Furthermore, the investigation uncovered significant errors and misinformation into the history of the Tavern, including dates.  This correction of historical data may actually be the greatest contribution of this particular investigation.  Lastly, the investigation concludes its finding, but does recommend that the Tavern be investigated further, in the future, to answer specific questions and issues that this investigation raised – see Case File “Recommended Follow-Up Investigative Questions & Issues” - as well as attempt to gather additional paranormal evidence.

Natchez Historic Foundation: Land Records, Deed & Titles
Mississippi Department of Archives & History
A Way Through the Wilderness: The Natchez Trace and the Civilization of the Southern Frontier, by Davis
A History of Muhlenberg County (Kentucky), by Rothert
The Outlaws of Cave-in-Rock, by Rothert
Natchez Under-the-Hill, by Moore
Natchez: The History and Mystery of the City on the Bluff, by Whitington
The Devil’s Backbone: The Story of the Natchez Trace, by Daniels
Natchez On the Mississippi, by Kane
Archives: Natchez Democrat
The Judge Armstrong Library

©  Copyright 2010, Natchez Area Paranormal Society.  All or parts may be used with permission, just cite your source.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Our New Internet Link Exchange Banner

This is our new banner. Mark at Top Paranormal Sites created it. Thanks Mark, awesome!

Of Hyper Skepticism & Via Negativa

The process of paranormal research in a field investigation case is indeed a deductive one, but one that operates in very much of a process of elimination fashion. Deduction is a system of reasoning in which a conclusion follows necessarily from the premises presented, so that the conclusion cannot be false if the premises are true.  Normally, one moves forward collecting a set of facts or premises, then builds to an deductive finding or conclusion. As a law enforcement officer, when we arrive on the scene of a rape for example, we begin moving forward through a process of "reading" the scene as soon as possible after securing the area, the evidence itself, and getting any needed help on the way.  That's because what our job is as first officers on the scene, is to locate and record the evidence as it is in its original position, then as investigators to say, "Okay, what kind of hand have I been dealt...what is the scene trying to tell me, that happened here."  Every piece of evidence has some clue or fact to offer that helps us "build" a case.  While we do not accept the fact as gospel that the victim was indeed raped, we do clearly move forward aggressively with that assumption.  Our investigation will backtrack to tell us indeed whether she was raped (collection of a rape kit at the hospital, talking to witnesses, interviewing her, checking her background etc.).  In the meantime, we are doing our best to collect evidence and track down leads on who might have raped her.  The clear assumption though, is that a rape has occurred, and we act upon that assumption. 

I do, of course, observe the scene to make sure what the person is saying makes sense and I observe them closely to make sure they aren't showing signs of mental illness.  Usually, there are family, friends or neighbors around that all contribute to the scene as being genuine (collateral evidence).  But to be honest with you, as first responders, while we watch carefully for signs of false reporting or psychological disturbance - we take a caller or complainant's word at face value.  We know the investigation will flush all that out, but the point is, unless something doesn't feel right, we assume they have a legitimate complaint.  (Notice the word feel.)  We have learned to trust our instincts and feelings, based upon experience and observation (science).  Both the feeling and science work together, intertwined and informing one another throughout the process.

In contrast, what I've seen being taught and portrayed as "true and proper" paranormal investigation technique into someone's claim of being haunted, is much more of an, "Okay, where do I begin to break their story or claim down?" kind of condescension.  It assumes a priori that what they are saying is not true!  That is a far cry from being wary that something may not be.  I hope you as a reader can get that very important difference.  I don't know where it started or where it came from (I have my ideas) but this is a stance that says from the get-go: there is no paranormal activity and "I must debunk what they claim is happening."  Paranormal investigators across the country think they are being faithful to the present age and culture of scientific rationalism by being "skeptical."  I think that is a bit ridiculous, unnecessary and unfair.  It's time someone called it for what it is.  In truth, what is happening in many instances is an atmosphere of hyper-skepticism and sheer condescension, and is being justified in the name of the god of "good science."
Furthermore, paranormal investigators for some odd reason, run like scalded rabbits from any hint of sensory, intuitive, or gut-feelings kind of input into a case.  I find it almost funny, especially when they push their glasses back up their nose, screw their faces up so seriously and say with a twisted lilt, "Well it's just not good science."  Relax Johnny boy, don't take yourself so seriously.  Science to that extreme only blinds you.  To wholly ignore the sensory or gut instinct inputs and to not trust to a complete and holistic world-view (yes, that means including the subjective - horror of horrors!!!) is a big, big mistake.  Both science and sensory have to work together.  Anything different is not only warped and unrealistic, it is false and a lie.  No one operates that way in any other part of life.  It is foolish and unrealistic (and dishonest) to try to do so in paranormal investigations.

This "hyper-skeptical" process begins with an assumption of that if it isn't something I can get with my super-duper ACME scientific tool kit, then it isn't real.  Its cynicism moves immediately and quickly as first steps to and through a litany of questions and probes; such as:

Are you nuts?
Do you have a psychological disorder?
Are you emotionally disturbed? 
Are you making this up? 
Are you embellishing this in any way? 
Oh, I'm sure it's just effects of high EMF (which isn't completely proven & is still being debated)
I'm sure it's just problems with your house

It's a plumbing problem, like a "water hammer"
What kind of drugs do you take? Or, is it alcohol? wink, wink
Oh, I'm sure it's just or lead paint or carbon monoxide, or some such (fill in the blank)
My, oh my...don't we have an active imagination (may as well pat them on the head)
Are you sick, you're not feeling well are you? (hand to their forehead)
You're lying to me aren't you?  

I can just see myself responding to a victim on one of my law enforcement calls like that!

This process is a via negativa approach, which means by way of negativity or elimination.  It literally is the approach of "what is it not?"  I'm not saying those are not legitimate questions, but to employ them first and to couple them with an attitude of I'm going to prove you wrong - is wrong.

Is it fair to automatically enter the scene with huge doubt about what is being said, with this attitude of hyper-skepticism?  Paranormal teams and ghost hunters gush with pride (I read it on the Internet all the time) at saying to one another, "Oh we are VERY scientific and skeptical when it comes to paranormal claims."  Well, let me put it to you straight up:  how would you feel if you called me to your house because you claimed someone raped you or your daughter and I put you through the same sort of "healthy skepticism" you see these ghost hunters be so proud of?  See what I mean?  Got a little different view of that now? 

As a law enforcement officer I don't stop to say, "Prove it to me beyond a shadow of a doubt first - scientifically - that you were indeed raped before I believe you and take action."  That would be absurd and insensitive.  But that's what we do in a paranormal situation isn't it?  Additionally, most ghost teams don't go any where near "taking action."  That would mean they have to make a judgement on what is causing it, and that takes belief or involves - gasp! - religion.  So, what we have is a situation in which someone calls about their house being haunted, would we please come help, and we are supposed to go there with the attitude that it is not really happening, they are: deluded, crazy, paranoid, sick, mistaken, or out-and-out liars and frauds.  If they make it through that gauntlet, then we say, "Well we got some interesting stuff, so your house might be haunted, see ya."

That is comparitive in the rape case of me showing up as a cop with a look of cold rationalism on my face and saying to you, "Oh okay, so you claim you were raped, eh?  Well...hmmm...let me make sure you are not...

asked for it and therefore got what you deserved
mentally ill
a fraud
a liar

...then, little lady, once you can prove that to me scientifically, then I can say, yeah, you was probably raped."  I then pack up my gear and leave you standing there right at that moment.  No help, no remedy, no assistance.  That's it.  That's how most paranormal investigations are - and how they are taught as being legitimate. 


Why do we act so differently for paranormal research and investigation?  Why do we do this?   I know, I know.  What you are likely to say is that the burden of proof is on us to provide compelling evidence to the skeptics; or, that often the cause is paranoia, emotional or psychological; or, some natural cause, yada yada yada. 

Sorry, but I ain't buying it, not for one second.

Like too many parapsychologists, many in this field fret and wring their hands all day long trying to figure out how they can approach this subject and still be considered by scientists that they too are "legitimate" and real scientists.  Well, let me put my arm around your shoulder and tell ya right now, that ain't gonna happen, Virginia.  That is a delusion.  Why do you need that anyway?  Is it pride?  Your client doesn't need that.  They need help and they need an answer and they need something that works.  There are many PI's (paranormal investigators) who think they have to dangle by the leash of skeptics in order to be true and legitimate PI's.  To hell with the skeptics.  They are never going to believe any way.  Haven't you got that yet?  I don't want to be a scientist.  I want to be effective.  M. Scott Peck tells of an atheist on one of his teams that watched a full blown exorcism for four days and still came away saying, "I didn't see anything that couldn't be described as a psychological problem."  Hello?  Another episode of blinded-by-science headed your way.  Haven't you ever heard Hellen Keller's quip, "There is none so blind as he who will not see"?  We spend far, far too much energy and time chasing the opinions of skeptics and scientists, when all that time and attention is not spent listening to and helping our clients.  Those fools are never going to "see" anyway.  (Yes, I called them fools, because that is exactly what they are. That, and deluded.)  We have it upside down.  If we want to influence the world with the truth, let's do it from the grassroots up, by the ordinary everyday person who is needing our help, not the intellectuals at the top who are never going to believe us anyway.  Huddle up, listen up and get this:  those knuckleheads are irrelevant.  Why do you listen to them?  It is you and your client.  Repeat after me:  It is me and my client.  It is you, your client and your help to them - your real and practical help - that is your little world.  Operate within that.  Control, influence, and operate within that which you can, and stop wasting your time and your clients' time by worrying about what irrelevant outsiders may say.  It does not matter if they don't believe you. Stop being manipulated and dangled by the end of their rope.  Cut it.

I have yet to find a single case where we were called that the people were crazy, nuts, mentally ill, paranoid to the point of making everything up, totally mistaken, ill, sick, deluded, emotionally disturbed, frauds or liars.  I do find them upset and stressed sometimes.  I do find them unnerved, depressed or even fearful.  I've found them even in tears.  However, while we do find a bit of matrixing and embellishment occasionally, invariably there is genuine paranormal activity - and by that I mean a ghost or spirit.  Occasionally we find a natural or psychological reason for perhaps three or four phenomena out of twenty or twenty five, but those are based upon freaking out about the real phenomena that is happening.  Never, ever, have we totally and completely debunked a case due to the reasons that are always stated of why we have to be so hyper-skeptical and scientific.

I'm not saying we should not be skeptical.  Do not mistake what I am saying.  What I am referring to is that I believe some have hijacked the term to mean "hyper-skeptical" when just plain ole skeptical will do.  Actually, I'd rather use the term "common sense" because the instant you tell some investigators to be skeptical, they go nuts with it.  The reason for that is we live in an age where most of us westerners are far too science oriented to begin with.  We have far over emphasized the role of science to where it has become a religion.  We have a serious flaw, and that is not to learn to trust our nose and instincts, and develop those.  There are some who will read this and scoff that this is much too subjective; but who would you rather have investigating your daughter's rape - an investigator who is excellent at the science, interviews and history AND who has excellent intuition and a great "nose" for getting to who-dun-it?  Get real!  Science can tell you a reading on a MEL meter in a paranormal investigation.  It can take a photo.  It can record someone talking.  It can give the history of a case.  But a human has to decipher, interpret and use his intuition, senses, and mind, as well as draw from his experience and world-view to solve a case and say what he thinks is going on, and then take action to remedy it.  He (or she) must be decisive and make a call.  A victim, client or family is in need.  Are you seriously going to limit yourself to merely the science?  Really?

Let's use science.  Let's use our common sense.  Let's even be skeptical.  But let's leave the condescension, hyper-skepticism and hyper-reliance upon "science alone" behind for good.  Time to leave behind "sola-scientola."  Let's be fair and real.

Mike Chapman
Natchez Area Paranormal Society Founder
Deputy Sheriff
Natchez, Mississippi
Copyright - December 26, 2010

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The True Reason Christ Came So Long Ago - But Has Been "Lost"

Merry Christmas!  It is Christmas day.  God became flesh, blood and bone so long ago in the incarnate Christ, but is still here along side of us, through the indwelling and empowerment of the Holy Spirit.  Today we celebrate His coming at Christmastime, and for His amazing gift of salvation to us.  It is, however, important to remember that our salvation was not the only reason He came. 

In fact, many wise and knowing theologians even say what many of us have never realized: that what He did for us in salvation was not the most important reason He came.  We are so self-centered to think He came only to save us.  The scriptures point to a very different reason:  He came because of an on-going war between the Kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of darkness, and he was addressing that cosmic war by coming to earth.  His coming was a benefit to us by what He did, by conquering Satan and freeing the cosmos from Lucifer's bondage.  However, the end is "not yet."  What Christ did allows us a path to freedom and an escape from bondage - but only if we choose that path.  The victory is ours in Christ, but it is up to us to appropriate it.

Both reasons for his coming are true and important to understand, but only one side (the benefit to humans) is what we always hear.  Such as: 

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”   -Isaiah 9:6

What we do not focus upon, and what I am calling attention to here in this post, is the real and deeper reason of why Christ came.  He came to set up His Kingdom.  That Kingdom was to oppose and destroy the kingdom of Satan. In his important work God at War, Gregory Boyd cites Kallas:

This world [in Jesus' view] was a demon-infested world in need of liberation, and the advance of God's sovereignty was in direct proportion to the rout of the demons...Exorcisms of demons was the central thrust of the message and activity of Jesus.

A few of the scriptures citing the real reason Christ came:

"The son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil."   - 1 John 3:8

"Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword."   -Matthew 10:34

"If it is by the finger of God that I cast out the demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you."    -Luke 11:20

Those of us in the S.O.R./Demonology Unit would just like to remind us all of the above fact, that his coming was, as C.S. Lewis said, "A raid behind enemy lines."  We leave you with the verse below, which is available to us - our ability only in Christ to join the cosmic war for souls, of our power over the evil ones with Christ indwelling us, and to live without fear - because of who Christ was and what Christ did.

"I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you."  -Luke 10:19

And because of all of that, we can truly say: Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Book Review: The Dark Sacrament

My dear brothers, never forget, when you hear the progress of enlightenment vaunted, that the most exquisite of the Devil's wiles was persuading us that he doesn't exist. 
     -Charles Baudelaire
       The Generous Gambler, 1864

Darkness cannot put out the light.
It can only make God brighter.

Recently, my studies into demonology have intensified, due mainly to the fact of sheer need.  We have recently been called to assist in a number of demonic cases, ranging from poltergeist type of activity that has clear demonic signs, to cases involving Ouija board usage (and other behavior and practices) that opened up a doorway that has led to demonic oppression.  (Yes, poltergeist activity can be demonic.)  One never arrives at some level of being comfortable with one's knowledge or experience in such matters. The good news is, though knowledge and experience are extremely important, the confidence and strength in one's faith in Jesus Christ is what's is vital and is the most important asset.

Currently, I am involved in reading-studying a book that I think is excellent, and I'd like to share it with you.  It is one of the finest books on the subject of demonic possession and oppression I've come across, and I recommend it to anyone interested in the subject.  The book is The Dark Sacrament: True Stories of Modern-Day Demon Possession and Exorcism, by David M. Keily and Christina McKenna; HarperOne, 2007, ISBN: 978-0-06-123817-8. 

This book is very well written, and I love the style and matter-of-fact approach that authors Kiely and McKenna took.  The Dark Sacrament gives an excellent survey of how our current culture arrived at such a fascination now with the subject of demon possession; all while taking place in a sea of skepticism and scientific - rationalistic blindness.  It calls for a balance and clarity that I find very refreshing, and that I share from my own Christian perspective.  As it goes into and through real case histories of oppression and severe demonization, the authors and the clergy involved explain the cases and phenomena from a practical standpoint that is invaluable to a practicing demonologist such as myself.  I have read dozens and dozens of books on demons, angels, ghosts and the after-life.  So much of what I read is just plain wrong and downright reckless - even dangerous.  This book is one of the finest that focuses on demonic cases and what is truly going on.  It clarifies issues that other books touched upon but left "muddy."  I highly recommend it, especially if you are involved in this field.
The book is endorsed by a number of people, two of which caught my attention as I respect them a great deal.  I include their words below:

"This book is a must read for students of demonology, and for anyone interested in demonic possession.  Not only will it frighten you, but more importantly, it will educate you to the dangers of the preternatural realm.  I wholeheartedly recommend this book."
     -Lorraine Warren

"This is perhaps the best account written in my lifetime about this difficult and troubling subject, and I would commend it to one and all.  This is important food for thought and for the soul, reminding us once more that there is more to reality than meets the eye."
     -Dr. Ben Witherington, III, Professor of New Testament, Asbury Theological Seminary.

I have a personal affinity for Asbury, as many of my own seminary professors I studied under were also professors there.  The book also has a number of useful and interesting entries in the Appendix, including the complete Prayer to the Archangel Michael, as well as Prayers of Exorcism.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What A Year! Get ready for 2011!

This time last year there was no Natchez Area Paranormal Society.  We were just scattered individuals doing our own little thing, no real recording of findings.  More importantly, we had no real way to help individuals who wanted and needed answers to their phenomena and problems.  We also had no way to share our skills and passion with other like-minded ghost enthusiasts.  Well, all that has changed!

As we end the year 2010, you can be very proud of yourselves.  You have helped found and organize what I think is an amazingly incredible team, ESPECIALLY considering our newness!  You have helped families in need, and sacrificed your time, money and effort to go and investigate their situations and offer them sound and thorough research.  You have collected some amazing and compelling evidence, and we've experienced some really weird and wacky "stuff" together.  We've been touched, grabbed, slapped on the head, pushed, whispered to, growled at, hissed at, warned, pleaded to, said "Hi!" to, been asked to help, seen things, smelled things and even captured some of it on meters, cameras or audio recorders - all by stuff that wasn't there - at least in the physical sense!

We've also met and begun to cross-pollinate with paranormal investigators and leaders from other teams, and that has been a great experience.  We look forward to expanding those, both horizontally (meeting more teams and people) and vertically (deepening our friendships and relationships) this next year.  I am also very proud that we became area representatives for the American Ghost Society, and look to be invited back next year.  In a couple of weeks, we will become an Affiliate Team because we will have 5 or more members signed up.

We have some amazing equipment, a great methodology, and a couple of neat websites (with three more right around the corner: Historical Research Archives; S.O.R. & Demonology; and our Evidence Case Files sites will soon go public).  We held numerous meetings and training sessions, and have built the number of investigators from two (Mike & Kim) to 12!  We are handing out another application packet as we speak.  We have a well organized and tough training system, and many are moving through that.  We have set some amazing goals for 2011, and true to form, we've already accomplished a few of them!  The bottom line is, we have set a really strong foundation this year, and now we are set to build upon that and be an even more organized, professional, quality Paranormal Society and investigative team by the end of 2011!  When I project ahead and think about where we will be this time a year from now - I really get stoked.  However, we have to put in the hard work to get there first.

There are several things in particular that I'm really excited about for next year.  One of the main components is a strong and effective Public Relations and Marketing campaign, and that has already been launched.  We have compiled a list of necessary "tools and materials" that we need in order to be effective in that, and we are currently designing, acquiring, and collecting all of those tools and materials.  That list consists of everything from team photos, bios, getting the websites up to where we need them, brochures, business cards, logos, marketing items, banners, rack cards, power point presentations to evidence packets and portals, and more.  Once that is done, we'll be confident and ready enough to be proactive in all kinds of media.  Another key to that was finding a Director to focus upon that and push it.  Benjie has assumed that role and we are excited to see where he's going to lead us in that area.  What an effective and quality media campaign does for us is basically four main things: gets the word out that we are here, so families in need can get help; helps us get supporters, sponsors, affiliates and partners as we raise funds and do our community service projects; brings in additional professional consultants who see us as active, professional and effective which in turn makes us more effective as a team; and finally, it opens the door for educational opportunities to teach and demonstrate what we do - which raises awareness in the community of occult and paranormal activity and how to deal with it. As you can see, each of those benefits all feed into and support one another.

Another thing that is fascinating for me personally, is how all of us are getting in touch and familiar with our abilities and feelings in the paranormal sensory scope of things. It is extremely interesting to see how each of us are different, yet there are patterns of similarity within the team.  While all of us are increasing our abilities and developing them due to the investigative experiences and how often we are now encountering them, three of our team
members are definitely what I consider to be paranormal sensitives.  These individuals have plans to study and grow what they perceive to be the spiritual gift of discernment of spirits.  It's been exciting to see their growth and understanding in that area, and the plans they have to develop that gift in order to help people.  So, as a team we are advancing in both the science realm and sensory realm.

The last thing I want to mention (I could go on forever) is that 2011 will give us an amazing amount of experience AS A TEAM, working together.  We're continuing to learn our strengths and areas we do best in individually, whether it is EMF, EVP, historical research, interviewing, photography or whatever.  I'm very pleased at how we work so well together and how we compliment, push, and encourage one another.  Our clients see that too, and I'm proud of your maturity, professionalism, and passion to do the work and do it at a very high level.  As the year ends, we are looking at two major public investigations right off the bat for 2011 - at Meadvilla and the Old Adams County Jail.  Our S.O.R. Team is currently involved in three private family cases involving demonic-like phenomena, with one case confirmed as such.  So, we are not lacking in cases, both public and private.

So, great job, keep up the hard work, and Merry Christmas to all of you.

Happy hunting!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Myrtles Apparition Photo: Release of Evidence Log

N.A.P.S. – Natchez Area Paranormal Society

Location:               The Myrtles Plantation
                              St. Francisville, LA
Date:                     11/04/2010
Time:                     9:30pm (2130 hours)
Type:                     Apparition Photo
Investigator(s):     Kimberly & Michael DeLorenze
This photo was taken on the 4th of November on Thursday night by Kimberly DeLorenze at approximately 9:30 p.m. The weather was clear, the temperature was approximately 54 degrees, the Geomagnetic Field was quiet and the Solar x-ray was Normal that evening, according to NOAA.  It was 2 days before the New Moon phase.
At the time this photo was taken, we were just to the north and west of the main house, slightly to the rear, somewhat located between the main house and the caretaker’s house.  Kimberly had just mentioned to me (Michael) that she felt (“sensed”) that there was something moving over in that direction, and so she quickly raised the camera and snapped a photo with a SVP Full Spectrum Camera.  I was holding a Phantom full spectrum illuminator (25 LEDs) in my right hand (it was NOT mounted next to the camera on a camera mount bar).  When she pointed the camera, I pointed the illuminator the direction she was pointing the camera.  We were standing side-by-side right next to one another, with me positioned on her right.  She is right handed but was holding the camera in front of her face with both hands.  I was holding the camera just off my right shoulder with my elbow bent in about a 90 degree angle – in a normal position of holding up an illuminator.  The distance between the camera and the illuminator was about 3’-4’.  There was absolutely no one on the grounds at this time of the night.  We were walking around by ourselves and we did not see anyone.  At the distance involved it would have been easy to see anyone over in that area.  There was absolutely no one there.  We did not know we had captured this unique photo until we reviewed our evidence the next day.
Declaration of Truth:
We declare that the above statement is true and factual, and is neither an embellishment nor a falsehood.
Michael DeLorenze
Kimberly DeLorenze

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Is Everybody Studying & Reading?

With the holidays fast upon us, most ghost hunting teams are taking a much needed break from investigations and analysis.  However, that's not to say that all of us are not doing anything.  I have to laugh because this stuff is just in our blood.  It seems though most of our investigators are reading and studying during this time, as I have spoken with several of our PI's in the last couple of days.  Yeah, it's true, we don't have lives...

Many are getting the chance to get caught up on subjects they've been wanting to explore, and that's a very good thing.  I tend to read about six or seven books at once - no kidding.  I read a chapter or two in one and have to digest something a bit different - like sampling morsels from a party plate: a little bit o' this and a little bit o' that!  As I finish one I add another to the pile.  Eventually they move through "the system" and get spit out the other side.  Another thing I do is write all in the book, underlining and making snide comments in the margins if I disagree, or "right on - correct" if I do.  Sometimes there's a sketch or a face.  I have many different versions of "faces":  of course the smiley face, but I have the frowny face, confused face and angry face too.  I pity the person who borrows one of my books and comes across this stuff.  Then they'll know the truth - what my family and friends have known all along.  I'll be exposed: he's truly "touched."

Currently, my reading "pile" consists of everything from paranormal Encyclopedias to books on Wicca, Tarot, Ghost Science, the Catholic doctrine of purgatory and the Ritual Romanum.  I think I need something a little lighter to peruse.  Maybe I can dig out one of my old comic books...

Friday, December 17, 2010

Our Path of Paranormal Investigation

I can't tell you how many books, articles, magazines, encyclopedias, and online websites that I have studied over the years regarding the after-life, paranormal investigations, and theology.  Nor can I easily list the number of courses I have completed that have direct and indirect impact on my knowledge and approach to this field.  They are numerous.  Sometimes, especially in the realm of occult books and sites, the information is just plain wrong, dangerous, or the author is naive and/or deceived.  However, in the course of looking back at some of the more helpful, I was recently drawn back to something that Richard Southall said in his book, How to be a Ghost Hunter.  I include it here: 

No two organizations are alike when it comes to investigating a haunting.  One ghost-hunting or paranormal group may stay very close to the scientific method, only taking into consideration tangible, measurable evidence.  Another group may be more metaphysical in nature, relying on intuition, psychic gifts, and forms of divination to learn about a house or haunting.  I have found it beneficial to be involved in a group that is a combination of the scientific and metaphysical.  An investigative group that is entirely scientific in nature may miss many subtle but important clues, such as impressions and feelings.  A sense of sorrow or dread, or other psychic impressions left in a particular room, cannot be measured on scientific instruments, but can be picked up by ESP.  However, if the group solely relies on the metaphysical, it risks the possibility of transforming intuition into imagination.  Natural phenomena such as creaks and drafts can be (mis)interpreted as information picked up "psychically" from a spirit or ghost.  With a combination of the two types of investigative styles - scientific and metaphysical -readings and intuition tend to validate each other, and can make a difference in determining whether a real haunting is taking place.

I agree with this "combination" approach completely, and it is exactly the approach that the Natchez Area Paranormal Society uses.  I also want to emphasize that it is NOT

1/2 science + 1/2 metaphysical = A full approach to paranormal investigation. 

Rather, we say it is a full 1 + 1 equals a fuller and more complete understanding of a case. A robust and aggressive scientific approach with full research method, healthy skepticism, great training on the equipment, and equipment that is as state of the art as we can make it; PLUS, a metaphysical approach that is full, with sophisticated, learned, deep theological concepts in place, as well as psychic understanding from a Christian perspective (utilizing the spiritual gift of discernment of spirits as well as development as a paranormal sensitive) and trusting/growing our intuitive and sensory gifts as humans. Also, and certainly not to be underestimated, is a relationship with Christ that sources all of those gifts and energies and supplies us and empowers us to be able to contact, discern, and protect. Truth and clarity are powerful tools in this field, and they aren't all EMF Meters and audio recorders!

Both of those areas - the science and the metaphysical - are something that we break down into compartments and study each part passionately and try our best to develop skills in. We think an over-emphasis, or worse yet, a sole interest in either one at the expense of the other leads to a paralyzing blindness that frankly, we see too often. That's frankly, our opinion.  Being balanced in this "Combination" attitude (as Southall puts it) is the only way that we see that can lead to a full understanding of a case, and answer not only the "what" of a case" but the "why" as well. What is the true value of capturing some phenomenon on a camera or an audio recorder? It's like a dog chasing a car, what are you going to do now that you caught it? Only a balanced, combination approach to paranormal investigating can answer that. The value lies in now that you know what it is, you can deal with the why to help your client.  An investigator who limits himself  to only using "science" in his approach and who runs from the "religious, metaphysical, or psychic" aspects, is cutting himself and his client short - way short.  (I did not say use occultic practices!)  We can only say of such paranormal investigation efforts what Demonologist Ed Warren used to say of them:    they are fishing without a hook!

It is truly amazing what combining, for example, thorough Historical Research & well conducted Interviews, and solid Scientific Field Investigations with what concious and confident Intuition and Discernment Gifts can provide. We've seen some truly amazing things emerge in several of our cases, that would not have otherwise if we had not used both domains. This is an example of how Science and Sensory (feeling/belief) can work together to give an investigator a lot of information and a much clearer path of discovery.