As living, energy-emitting, spiritual creatures, there is essentially no doubt that we all have a personal aura that can be seen and possibly photographed. Religious photographs depicting a supernatural glow around the subject are classic examples of the existence and the importance of our own personal auras, and every life form has an aura - be it human, animal, or plant. Each person's aura is uniquely individual, much like a fingerprint, and interpretation of the fluctuations in intensity and color can give us meaningful insight into the thoughts, feelings, and even the health of ourselves or those around us.
Though most of us can't see the auras of ourselves or others, some people apparently can, and their reports are what we must depend on to understand the significance of the colour of the aura, how far the aura emanates out from the body, and how we can use this data to reveal more about ourselves or others. Unlike the religious pictures mentioned above, which usually portray the subject with a white or golden aura, auras actually cover the spectrum of colour, and the colours and intensity of the aura change constantly along with our moods, thoughts, and levels of energy.
Science has not embraced the concept of auras, though they do acknowledge that each living creature emits gasses, radiation, and energy. Scientific testing has been inconclusive, as would be expected when trying to test an ever-changing, highly variable phenomena such as auras, but photography techniques are being tried all the time in an effort to produce consistent results, and as technology advances, it is almost a certainty that someone will stumble upon a way to get consistent photographs depicting auras.
Despite the scientific scepticism of auras, this concept has been around since the beginning of time, and there is a lot of data pertaining to them from all over the world that is in basic agreement on the meanings of the colours, the intensity of individual auras, and ways to become more sensitive to their existence. It is this data that we will compile and use in this section to try to give an accurate depiction of auras and how they can be used as a vehicle by which we can understand our thoughts, moods, and even our very existences more clearly.
Astral projection (also astral travel or AP for short) refers to a supernatural interpretation of episodes of out-of-body experiences which posits the existence of an astral body that separates from the physical body and travels to one or more astral planes or the physical world. Astral projection is experienced as being "out of the body".Unlike dreaming or near death experiences, astral projection may also be practiced deliberately.
Descriptions of such experiences are found in major religious and accounts of the afterlife, with the soul's travels being described in such terms as an 'out-of-body experience' where the spiritual traveler leaves the physical body and travels with his/her spirit body (or astral body) into ‘other’ realms.
Modern psychology has identified a neural basis for some aspects of out-of-body experience, reducing the need for supernatural explanations of it. Although there have been a limited number of paranormal investigations directly examining the validity of the astral projection hypothesis and the perception during it, more typically reports of such experiences are problematically subjective and anecdotal, and the more quantitative of such studies not reproducible by independent investigation. Nevertheless, the belief that one has had an out-of-body experience, whether spoken of as "astral projection" or not, is common. Surveys have reported percentages ranging from 8% (as much as 50% in certain groups of respondents) who state they have had such an experience.
Astral projection or travel denotes the astral body or double leaving the physical body to travel in the astral plane. According to classical, medieval, renaissance Neo-Platonist, later Theosophist and Rosicrucian philosophy, the astral body is an intermediate body of light linking the rational soul to the physical body, and the astral plane is an intermediate world of light between Heaven and Earth composed of the spheres of the planets and stars. These astral spheres were held to be populated by angels, demons and spirits.
The subtle bodies, and their associated planes of existence, form an essential part of the esoteric systems that deal with astral phenomena. In the neo-platonism of Plotinus, for example, the individual is a microcosm ("small world") of the universe (the macrocosm or "great world"). "The rational soul...is akin to the great Soul of the World" while "the material universe, like the body, is made as a faded image of the Intelligible". Each succeeding plane of manifestation is causal to the next, a world-view called emanationism; "from the One proceeds Intellect, from Intellect Soul, and from Soul - in its lower phase, or Nature - the material universe". Often these bodies and their corresponding planes of existence are depicted as a series of concentric circles or nested spheres, with a separate body traversing each realm.
Similar concepts of "soul" travel appear in various other religious traditions, for example ancient Egyptian teachings present the soul as having the ability to hover outside the physical body in the ka, or subtle body. A common belief is that the subtle body is attached to the physical body by means of a psychic silver cord.
The idea of the astral figured prominently in the work of the nineteenth-century French occultist Eliphas Levi, whence it was adopted by Theosophy and Golden Dawn magical society. The Theosophists also took note of similar ideas found in ancient Hindu scriptures.
However, the expression "astral projection" came to be used in two different ways. For the Golden Dawnand some Theosophists it retained the classical and mediaeval philosophers' meaning of journeying to other worlds, heavens, hells, the astrological spheres and other imaginal landscapes, but outside these circles the term was increasingly applied to non-physical travel around the physical world rather than the astral. Though this usage continues to be widespread, the "etheric travel" label coined by later Theosophists such as Leadbetter and Bailey is more appropriate to such scenarios.
Commonly in the astral projection experience, the experients describe themselves as being in a domain which often has no parallel to any physical setting, although they say they can visit different times and/or physical settings. Environments may be populated or unpopulated, artificial, natural or completely abstract and from beatific to horrific. A common belief is that one may access a compendium of mystical knowledge called the Akashic records. In many of these accounts, the experiencer correlates the astral world with the world of dreams. They report seeing dreamers enact dream scenarios on the astral plane, unaware of the wider environment around them. Some also state that "falling" dreams are brought about by projection.
The astral environment is often theoretically divided into levels or planes. There are many different views concerning the overall structure of the astral planes in various traditions. These planes may include heavens and hells and other after-death spheres, transcendent environments or other less-easily characterized states.
In contrast to astral projection, etheric projection is described as the ability to move about in the material world in an etheric body which is usually, though not always, invisible to people who are presently "in their bodies." Robert Monroe describes this type of projection as a projection to "Locale I" or the "Here-Now", and describes it as containing people and places that he feels actually exist in the material world. Robert Bruce refers to a similar area as the "Real Time Zone" (RTZ) and describes it as the nonphysical, dimension-level closest to the physical.
According to Max Heindel, the etheric "double" serves as a medium between the astral and physical realms. In his system, the ether, also called prana, is the "vital force" that empowers the physical forms in order for that change to take place. From his descriptions it can be inferred that when one views the physical during an out-of-body experience, one is not technically "in" the astral realm at all.
The subtle vehicle remains connected to the physical body during the separation by a so-called “silver cord”, said to be that mentioned in Ecclesiastes 12:6.
Stephen LaBerge suggested in his 1985 book Lucid Dreaming that all such "out-of-body experiences" may represent partially lucid dreams or "misinterpreted dream experiences", in which the sleeper does not fully recognize the situation. "In the dark forest, one may experience a tree as a tiger, but it is still in fact only a tree." Applying identical reasoning to waking consciousness, real life could be a dream too (see Descartes' Evil daemon).
Representations in popular culture
One of the earliest mainstream portrayals of such experiences is a 1936 Mickey Mouse animation short, Thru the Mirror. In it, Mickey's consciousness is shown as rousing while his body still sleeps, leaving the bed and then climbing through his mantelpiece mirror to a parallel Carrollian version of his room. With perfect timing, it later reintegrates with his sleeping body just as his alarm clock rings. Also, in the series Charmed, Prudence "Prue" Halliwell, played by actress Shannon Doherty, was a powerful good witch that possessed the power of astral projection.
Cattle mutilation (also known as bovine excision) is the apparent killing and then mutilation of cattle under unusual or anomalous circumstances. Sheep and horses have allegedly been mutilated under similar circumstances. A hallmark of these incidents is the surgical nature of the mutilation, and unexplained phenomena such as the complete draining of the animal's blood, loss of internal organs with no obvious point of entry, and surgically precise removal of the reproductive organs and anal coring. Another reported event is that the animal is found 'dumped' in an area where there are no marks or tracks leading to or from the carcass, even when it is found in soft ground or mud. The surgical-type wounds tend to be cauterized by an intense heat and made by very sharp/precise instruments, with no bleeding evident. Often flesh will be removed to the bone in an exact manner, consistent across cases, such as removal of flesh from around the jaw exposing the mandible.
Since the time that reports of purported animal mutilations began, the causes have been attributed variously to natural decomposition, normal predators, cryptic predators (like the Chupacabra), extraterrestrials, secretive governmental or military agencies, and cults. "Mutilations" have been the subject of two independent federal investigations in the United States
Charles Fort collected many accounts of cattle mutilations that occurred in England in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Reports of mutilated cattle first surfaced in the United States in the early 1960s when it was allegedly largely confined to the states of Pennsylvania and Kansas. The phenomena remained largely unknown outside cattle raising communities until 1967, when the Pueblo Chieftain in Pueblo, Colorado published a story about a horse named Lady who was mutilated in mysterious circumstances, which was then picked up by the wider press and distributed nationwide; this case was also the first to feature speculation that extraterrestrial beings and unidentified flying objects were somehow associated with mutilation.
The Lady/Snippy mutilation
The first allegedly strange death of livestock comes from near Alamosa, Colorado, in 1967. The real name of the animal was Lady, but the media quickly adopted the name "Snippy" (the name of another horse at the ranch), which stuck.
On September 7 of that year, Agnes King and her son Harry noted that Lady, a three-year-old horse, had not returned to the ranch at the usual time for her water. This was unusual, given the heat and the arid conditions.
Harry found Lady on September 9. Her head and neck had been skinned and de-fleshed, the bones were white and clean. To King, the cuts on Lady seemed to have been very precise. There was no blood at the scene, according to Harry, and there was a strong medicinal odour in the air.
The next day, Harry and Agnes returned to the scene with Agnes’ brother and sister-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Berle Lewis. They found a lump of skin and horse flesh; when Mrs. Lewis touched it, the flesh oozed a greenish fluid which burned her hand. They also reported the discovery of fifteen "tapering, circular exhaust marks punched into the ground" over an area of some 5000 square yards. (Saunders and Harkins, 156) The medicinal odour had weakened somewhat, but was still present.
Mrs. Lewis contacted the United States Forest Service, and Ranger Duane Martin was sent to investigate. Among other tasks, Martin "checked the area with a civil defense Geiger counter. He reported finding a considerable increase in radioactivity about two city blocks from the body." (Saunders and Harkins, 157) Later, Martin would state, "The death of this saddle pony is one of the most mysterious sights I’ve ever witnessed ... I’ve seen stock killed by lightning, but it was never like this." (ibid., 159)
After trying to interest other authorities with little success, Mrs. Lewis turned to her professional connections: she wrote occasionally for the Pueblo Chieftain. Her account of Lady's strange death was published in that newspaper, and was picked up by the Associated Press on October 5 1967. Soon, much of the United States knew the tale of Lady’s death, and reports of UFO’s were made from others in Colorado.
That same day, an account by Superior Court Judge Charles E. Bennett of Denver, Colorado, saw publication. Bennett and his wife claimed to have witnessed “three reddish-orange rings in the sky. They maintained a triangular formation, moved at a high speed, and made a humming sound.” (Saunders and Harkins, 157) The civilian UFO research group NICAP became involved in the case as well, and some people speculated that UFOs were somehow involved with Snippy’s death.
Shortly thereafter, an anonymous Denver pathologist’s account of his necropsy saw publication. Lady’s brain and abdominal organs were missing, he said, and there was no material in the spinal column. The pathologist insisted on anonymity, he said, due to fear his reputation would be damaged with involvement in such a high-profile case.
The Condon Committee, then at the University of Colorado, sent its coordinator, Robert Low, to investigate. Low brought in Dr Robert O. Adams, head of Colorado State University’s Veterinary and Biomedical Science School.
Adams examined Lady and the evidence. He concluded there were "No unearthly causes, at least not to my mind." (Saunders and Harkins, 164) Adams noted a severe infection in Lady’s hindquarters, and speculated that someone had come across the dying horse and slit its throat in order to end its misery. Then, Adams said, scavengers had inflicted the rest of the damage to the horse.
To some, this settled the question, but Mrs. Lewis argued that Adams’ conclusions failed to account for the lack of blood at the scene and the medicinal odour.
Low reported that he’d located the "anonymous pathologist"; Low said that the man was "widely misquoted" and was furthermore not a pathologist. The man's opinions of Snippy's death generally matched Adams', said Low. Jerome Clark later identifies the anonymous man as haematologist John H. Altshuler.
By the mid 1970s, mutilated cattle were reported in 15 states, from Montana and South Dakota in the north, to New Mexico and Texas in the south.
Democratic senator Floyd K. Haskell contacted the FBI asking for help in 1975 due to public concern regarding the issue. He claimed there had been 130 mutilations in Colorado alone..
Horse-ripping, or horse slashing, is a similar animal cruelty phenomenon in which horses are killed, often involving mutilation of their genitalia and slashing of the flank or neck. Horse-ripping seems to be a European phenomenon, with 160 reported incidents in Britain between 1983 and 1993, and 300 incidents in Germany between 1992 and 1998. Causes remain uncertain and actual convictions are rare, though a man has been convicted in the Netherlands for a large number of such attacks on horses and ponies, along with the murder of a homeless person and the attempted murder of several other humans.
Although the exact nature of mutilations varies from case to case, a typical mutilation might involve any or all of the following: -
In most cases mutilation wounds appear to be clean, and carried out surgically. Mutilated animals are usually, though not always reported to have been drained of blood, and have no sign of blood in the immediate area or around their wounds.
George E. Onet, a doctor of veterinary microbiology and cattle mutilation investigator claims that allegedly mutilated cattle are avoided by large scavengers "such as coyotes, wolves, foxes, dogs, skunks, badgers, and bobcats" for several days after its death. Similarly, domestic animals are also reported to be "visibly agitated" and "fearful" of the carcass.
In FBI records from 1975, mutilations of the eye occurred in 14 percent of cases, mutilation of the tongue in 33 percent of cases, mutilation of the genitals in 74 percent of cases, and mutilation of the rectum in 48 percent of cases. According to a later survey taken by the National Institute for Discovery Science (NIDS), mutilation of the eye occurred in 59 percent of cases, mutilation of the tongue in 42 percent of cases, the genitals in 85 percent of cases, and the rectum in 76 percent of cases.
According to Dr. Howard Burgess, nearly 90 percent of mutilated cattle are between four and five years old.
Some mutilations are said to occur in very brief periods. A 2002 NIDS report relates a 1997 case from Utah. Two ranchers tagged a specific calf, then continued tagging other animals in the same pasture. The ranchers were, at the most, about 300 yards from the calf. Less than an hour later, the first calf was discovered completely eviscerated -- most muscle and all internal organs were missing. There was no blood, entrails, or apparent disturbance at the scene. Independent analysts both uncovered marks on the calf's remains consistent with two different types of tools: a large, machete-type blade, and smaller, more delicate scissors.
The absence of tracks or footprints around the site of the mutilated carcass is often considered a hallmark of cattle mutilation. However, in some cases, strange marks or imprints near the site have been found. In the famous "Snippy" case, there was an absolute absence of tracks in a 100 ft radius of the carcass (even the horse's own tracks disappeared within 100 ft of the body.) But within this radius several small holes were found seemingly "punched" in the ground and two bushes were absolutely flattened. In Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, June 1976, a "trail of suction cup-like impressions" were found leading from a mutilated three-year-old cow. The indentations were in a tripod form, 4 inches in diameter, 28 inches apart, and disappeared 500 feet from the dead cow. Similar incidents were reported in the area in 1978.
Laboratory reports carried out on some mutilated animals have shown unusually high or low levels of vitamins or minerals in tissue samples, and the presence of chemicals not normally found in animals. However, not all mutilated animals display these anomalies, and those that do have slightly different anomalies from one another. On account of the time between death and necropsy, and a lack of background information on specific cattle, investigators have often found it impossible to determine if these variations are connected to the animals' deaths or not.
In one case documented by New Mexico police and the FBI, an 11 month old cross Hereford-Charolais bull, belonging to a Mr. Manuel Gomez of Dulce, New Mexico, was found mutilated on March 24, 1978. It displayed 'classic' mutilation signs, including the removal of the rectum and sex organs with what appeared to be “a sharp and precise instrument” and its internal organs were found to be inconsistent with a normal case of death followed by predation.
“Both the liver and the heart were white and mushy. Both organs had the texture and consistency of peanut butter”
Gabriel L Veldez, New Mexico Police
The animal's heart as well as bone and muscle samples were sent to the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, part of the University of California, for microscopic and bacteriological studies, while samples from the animal's liver were sent to two separate private laboratories.
Los Alamos detected the presence of naturally occurring Clostridium bacteria in the heart, but was unable to reach any conclusions because of the possibility that the bacteria represented postmortem contamination. They did not directly investigate the heart's unusual color or texture.
Samples from the animal's liver were found to be completely devoid of copper and to contain 4 times the normal level of zinc, potassium and phosphorus. The scientists performing the analysis were unable to explain these anomalies.
Blood samples taken at the scene were reported to be "light pink in colour" and “Did not clot after several days” while the animal's hide was found to be unusually brittle for a fresh death (the animal was estimated to have been dead for 5 hours) and the flesh underneath was found to be discoloured.
None of the laboratories were able to report any firm conclusions on the cause of the blood or tissue damage. At the time, it was suggested that a burst of radiation may have been used to kill the animal, blowing apart its red blood cells in the process. This hypothesis was later discarded as subsequent reports from the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory later confirmed the presence of anti-coagulants in samples taken from other cows mutilated in the region.
As with most disputed phenomena, there are a number of potential explanations to cattle mutilations, ranging from death by natural causes to purposeful acts by unknown individuals.
U.S. governmental explanation
After coming under increasing public pressure, Federal authorities launched a comprehensive investigation of the mutilation phenomena. In May 1979, the case was passed on to the FBI, which granted jurisdiction under Title 18 (codes 1152 and 1153). The investigation was dubbed "Operation Animal Mutilation."
The investigation was funded by a US$44,170 grant from the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, and was headed by FBI agent Kenneth Rommel.
It had five key objectives:
Rommel's final report was 297 pages long and cost approximately US$45,000. It concluded that mutilations were predominantly the result of natural predation, but that some contained anomalies that could not be accounted for by conventional wisdom. The FBI was unable to identify any individuals responsible for the mutilations.
Details of the investigation are now available under the Freedom of Information Act. Prior to the involvement of the FBI, the ATF launched their own investigation of the phenomenon. It concluded further investigation was necessary, but was unable to determine what was behind the phenomena. The scope of the ATF investigation was limited to a single suspected cause.
Both federal investigations were preceded (and followed, to some extent) by a state level investigation carried out by enforcement officials in New Mexico. This investigation reported finding evidence that some mutilated animals had been tranquilized and treated with an anti-coagulant prior to their mutilation. It also contended that alleged surgical techniques performed during mutilations had become 'more professional' over time. However, officers in charge were unable to determine responsibility or motive.
The ATF investigation was headed by ATF Agent Donald Flickinger. The New Mexico investigation was headed by Officer Gabriel L Veldez of the New Mexico Police, with the assistance of Cattle Inspector Jim Dyad and Officer Howard Johnston of the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish.
Blowflies have been implicated as possible scavengers involved in making livestock carcasses look "mutilated."
While many unconventional explanations have been put forward to explain cattle mutilations, a variety of scientists, veterinary workers and knowledgeable observers (including farmer and other agricultural workers) have suggested more conventional ideas, most of which revolve around the hypothesis that 'mutilated' animals died of natural causes and were subjected to known terrestrial phenomena – including the action of predators, parasites and scavengers.
Missing or mutilated mouth, lips, anus and genitalia are explained as:
Missing/mutilated eyes and soft internal organs are explained as:
The action of carrion feeding insects such as blowflies, and opportunistic or carrion birds such as vultures and buzzards which are known to direct themselves toward an animal's eyes, and to enter the body through the openings of the mouth and anus in order to feed on soft internal organs.
Absence of blood is explained as:
Surgical incisions in the skin are explained as:
Tears in the skin created when it is stretched by post mortem bloat and/or as dehydration causes the animal's hide to shrink and split, often in linear cuts.
Incisions caused by scavengers or predators, possibly exacerbated by the above.
The hypothesis that natural phenomena account for most mutilation characteristics has been validated by a number of experiments, including one cited by long-time scientific sceptic Robert T. Carroll, conducted by Washington County (Arkansas) Sheriff's Department. In the experiment, the body of a recently deceased cow was left in a field and observed for 48 hours. During the 48 hours, post mortem bloating was reported to have caused incision-like tears in the cow's skin that matched the "surgical" cuts reported on mutilated cows, while the action of blowflies and maggots reportedly matched the soft tissue damage observed on mutilated cows.
Experiments have also been conducted to compare the different reactions of surgically cut hide/flesh and predated hide/flesh to natural exposure. They demonstrated pronounced differences between surgical cut and non surgical cuts over time. This article does not address tearing due to bloating.
Some ranchers have disputed the more scientifically mainstream "natural causes hypothesis" on the grounds that the mutilated animals often fall outside of the normal categories of natural deaths by predation or disease. One reason cited is that that the animals were healthy and showed no sign of disease prior to death, and were large and strong enough not to be a likely target for a predator. In some cases, ranchers have reported that the mutilated cattle were among the healthiest and strongest animals in their herd.
Other critics for the accepted position include investigators involved in paranormal and UFO research organizations, such as "National Institute for Discovery Science" which report the discovery of anomalies in necropsies which, they claim, cannot be explained by natural processes.
Human intervention, Animal cruelty and deviant activity
It is alternatively hypothesised cattle mutilations are the result of two unrelated deviant phenomena. The bulk of mutilations are the result of predation and other natural processes, and those with anomalies that cannot be explained in this way are the work of deviants who derive pleasure or sexual stimulation from mutilating animals.
Deviant attacks against animals are a recognized phenomenon. There have been many recorded cases around the world, and many convictions. Typically the victims of such attacks are cats, dogs and other family pets, and the actions of deviants are usually limited to acts of cruelty such as striking, burning or beating animals. However, attacks have also been recorded against larger animals, including sheep, cows and horses. Deviants, particularly those with sociopathic disorders, have been found to have mutilated animals in elaborate ways using knives or surgical instruments.
On April 20, 1979, Dr. C Hibbs of the New Mexico State Veterinary diagnostics Laboratory spoke before a hearing chaired by Senator Harrison Schmitt. Dr. Hibbs testified that mutilated fell into three categories, one of which was animals mutilated by deviants (page 25). FBI records did not record the percentage of the mutilated animals fell into this category.
The standard criminal charge for mutilating an animal, including cattle, is animal cruelty.
Closely related to the deviant hypothesis is the hypothesis that cattle mutilations are the result of cult activity. However, contrary to the deviancy hypothesis, which holds that cattle are mutilated at random by individual deviants, the cult hypothesis holds that cattle mutilations are coordinated acts of ritual sacrifice carried out by organized groups.
Beliefs held by proponents of the cult hypothesis vary, but may include:
The hypothesis that cults were responsible for cattle mutilation was developed in the U.S. during the 1970s, a time of growing national concern over cults issues. It became a social phenomenon in areas where cattle were being mutilated and there were several panics when it was claimed that cattle mutilations were a 'warm up' in preparation for human sacrifices.
In 1975, the US Treasury Department assigned Donald Flickinger to investigate the existence of connections between cults and the mutilation of cattle (Page 23). The operation came under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
Flickinger recorded a number of 'unusual' incidents and circumstantial evidence, but was unable to find sufficient evidence of cult involvement for the ATF to take further action. Media reports of the time reported his investigation was dropped when it was determined cattle deaths were not a prelude to a co-ordinate campaign against elected officials by cult members.
However, there were various reports during the time of menacing groups prowling around mutilation sites. In September 1975, a forestry service employee in Blaine County, Idaho, reported seeing a group of people in black hooded robes. Several cattle were found mutilated in the area the following day. On October 9, 1975, a motorist on U.S Highway 95 in northern Idaho, in an area of frequent cattle mutilation, reported to police that some 15 masked individuals formed a roadblock with linked arms, forcing him to turn around.
Public interest in the cult hypothesis waned during the 1980s, but interest was maintained by proponents such as the Colorado based television evangelist Bob Larson, who campaigned to raise public awareness of links between cattle mutilations and cult activity through his ministry and radio shows.
Another proponent of the cult hypothesis is Montana author Roberta Donovan. In her 1976 publication "Mystery Stalks the Prairie" she documents the experiences of Deputy Sheriff Keith Wolverton of Great Falls, Cascade County investigating cattle mutilations with suspected cult involvement.
Since the beginning of the cult hypothesis, law enforcement agents in several states and provinces, including Alberta, Idaho, Montana, and Iowa have reported evidence implicating cults in several instances of cattle mutilations. but does not prove involvement beyond reasonable doubt.
During their investigations, the FBI and the ATF were unable to find appropriate evidence, including signs of consistency between mutilations, to substantiate that the animals had been the victims of any form of ritual sacrifice or organized mutilation effort. They were also unable to determine how or why a cult would perform procedures that would result in the anomalies reported in some necropsies (Page 3), or to verify that the anomalies were 1) connected to the mutilations themselves 2) the result of human intervention.
In most cases, mutilations were either ruled due to natural causes, or the cattle were too far decayed for any useful conclusions to be drawn. Some cases of cult hysteria were traced back to fabrication by individuals unrelated to the incident. In one case it was concluded that claims had been falsified by a convict seeking favourable terms on his sentence in exchange for information, claims were traced back to local high school students who had circulated rumours as a joke.
During the early 1970s one of the hypotheses that emerged to explain cattle mutilations was that they were being perpetrated by shell-shocked Vietnam veterans who were recreating scenes of torture that they had either seen committed against US troops by Vietnamese guerrillas, or that they had themselves committed against Vietnamese fighters.
This hypothesis was quickly discounted by FBI agents and soon fell out of favour among phenomena proponents. It rarely appears in modern texts on mutilations.
In his 1997 article “Dead Cows I've Known”, cattle mutilation researcher Charles T. Oliphant speculates cattle mutilation to be the result of covert research into emerging cattle diseases, and the possibility they could be transmitted to humans.
Oliphant posits the NIH, CDC, or other federally funded bodies, may be involved, and they are supported by the US military. Part of his hypothesis is based on allegations that human pharmaceuticals have been found in mutilated cattle, and on the necropsies that show cattle mutilations commonly involve areas of the animal that relate to “input, output and reproduction”. To support his hypothesis, Oliphant cites a previous case in which plain clothes military officers, travelling in unmarked vehicles, entered a research facility in Reston, Virginia to secretly retrieve and destroy animals that were contaminated with a highly infectious disease.
Additionally, a 2002 NIDS report relates the eyewitness testimony of two Cache County, Utah police officers. The area had seen many unusual cattle deaths, and ranchers had organized armed patrols to surveil the unmarked aircraft which they claimed were associated with the livestock deaths. The police witnesses claim to have encountered several men in an unmarked U.S. Army helicopter in 1976 at a small community airport in Cache County. The witnesses asserted that after this heated encounter, cattle mutilations in the region ceased for about five years.
Biochemist Colm Kelleher, who has investigated several purported mutilations first-hand, argues that the mutilations are most likely a clandestine U.S. Government effort to track the spread of Bovine spongiform encephalopathy ("mad cow disease") and related diseases, such as scrappier.
Theories of government involvement in cattle mutilation have been further fueled by "black helicopter" sightings near mutilation sites. On April 8, 1979, three police officers in Dulce, New Mexico reported a mysterious aircraft which resembled a U.S. military helicopter hovering around a site following a wave of mutilation which claimed 16 cows. On July 15, 1974, two unregistered helicopters, a white helicopter and a black twin-engine aircraft, opened fire on Robert Smith Jr. while he was driving his tractor on his farm in Honey Creek, Iowa. This attack followed a rash of mutilations in the area and across the nearby border in Nebraska. The reports of "helicopter" involvement have been used to explained why some cattle appear to have been "dropped" from considerable heights.
Aliens and UFOs
Various hypotheses suggest cattle mutilations have been committed by aliens gathering genetic material for unknown purposes. Most of these hypotheses are based on the premise that earthly entities could not perform such clean dissections in such a short space of time without being seen or leaving evidence behind at the mutilation site, and around laboratory reports suggesting the use of unconventional cutting tools and other unexpected phenomena. Some suggest that as cows make up a significant part of the global human diet a study is being carried out on this element of the human food chain. Numerous speculative theories abound, but others center on possible specific nutrient requisites, hormone procurement, species propagation (reproduction), and rote experimentation on mammalian populations.
Crop circles are patterns created by the flattening of crops such as wheat, barley, rapeseed (also called "canola"), rye, corn, linseed and soy.
The term was first used by paranormal researcher Colin Andrews to describe simple circles he was researching. While patterns involving complex geometries have been observed, the term circle has stuck as a generic term for crop patterns.
Many circles are known to be man-made, such as those created by Doug Bower, Dave Chorley, and John Lundberg. Bower and Chorley started the crop circle phenomenon in 1978 and were awarded an Ig Nobel Prize in 1992 for their crop circle hoaxing.
Various hypotheses have been offered to explain the formation of crop circles of unknown origin, ranging from the naturalistic to the paranormal. The main naturalistic explanation is that all crop circles are man-made, primarily as a hoax. Another naturalistic explanation is that they are caused by ball lightning. Paranormal explanations suggest that, while some crop circles are man-made, others are the product of alien spacecraft or supernatural processes such as communication from Gaia or from extraterrestrials in a Galactic Federation.
The earliest recorded image resembling a crop circle is depicted in a 17th-century English woodcut called the "Mowing-Devil". The image depicts the devil with a scythe mowing (cutting) an oval design in a field of oats. The pamphlet containing the image states that the farmer, disgusted at the wage his mower was demanding for his work, insisted that he would rather have "the devil himself" perform the task. That night, the crop appeared as if it were on fire, then in the morning an oval pattern had mysteriously appeared.
1678 pamphlet on the "Mowing-Devil"
A more recent historical report of crop circles was republished (from Nature, volume 22, pp. 290–291, 29 July 1880) in the January 2000 issue of the Journal of Meteorology. It describes the 1880 investigations by amateur scientist John Rand Capron:
"The storms about this part of Western Surrey have been lately local and violent, and the effects produced in some instances curious. Visiting a neighbour's farm on Wednesday evening (21st), we found a field of standing wheat considerably knocked about, not as an entirety, but in patches forming, as viewed from a distance, circular spots....I could not trace locally any circumstances accounting for the peculiar forms of the patches in the field, nor indicating whether it was wind or rain, or both combined, which had caused them, beyond the general evidence everywhere of heavy rainfall. They were suggestive to me of some cyclonic wind action,..."
In 1966, one of the most famous accounts of UFO traces happened in the small town of Tully, Queensland, Australia. A sugarcane farmer said he witnessed a saucer-shaped craft rise 30 or 40 feet (12 m) up from a swamp and then fly away, and when he went to investigate the location where he thought the saucer had landed, he found the reeds intricately weaved in a clockwise fashion on top of the water. The woven reeds could hold the weight of 10 men.
There are also many other anecdotal accounts of crop circles in Ufology literature that predate the modern crop circle phenomena, though some cases involve crops which were cut or burnt, rather than flattened.
Crop circles rose in prominence in 1975 as circles began appearing throughout the English countryside. The phenomenon of crop circles became widely known in the late 1980s, after the media started to report crop circles in Hampshire and Wiltshire and corresponding phenomena were reported from locations as diverse as Penrith in Australia and Minnesota in the United States. To date, approximately 12,000 crop circles have been discovered in sites across the world, from locations such as the former Soviet Union, the UK and Japan, as well as the U.S. and Canada. Skeptics note a correlation between crop circles, recent media coverage, and the absence of fencing and/or anti-trespassing legislation. However, proponents point to the simple profusion of these events prior to and continuing after the decline in media coverage as rendering the amateur crank phenomenon unlikely.
Although farmers have expressed concern at the damage caused to their crops, local response to the appearance of crop circles can often be enthusiastic, with locals taking advantage of the tourist potential of circles. Past responses have included bus or helicopter tours of circle sites, walking tours, t-shirts and book sales. Potential markets include curious tourists, scientists, crop circle researchers, and individuals seeking a spiritual experience by praying to and communing with spirits. Notably also, the crop generally continues to ripen in a 'genuine' circle, being laid flat rather than broken. Some researchers have found that the corn appears to have bent at the nodes of the stalks, showing that can only be replicated in the lab using a microwave oven. In rarer cases, this has occurred near the top of the stems, not the bottom, all but ruling out human involvement.
In 1996, a circle appeared near Stonehenge, and the farmer set up a booth and charged a fee. He collected £30,000 in four weeks. The value of the crop had it been harvested was probably about £150.
Early examples of crop circles were usually simple circular patterns of various sizes. After some years, more complex geometric patterns emerged. In addition to circle designs based on sacred geometry, some of the later formations, those occurring after 2000, are based on other principles, including fractals. Many crop circles now have fine intricate detail, regular symmetry and careful composition, and elements of three-dimensionality have been introduced.
Crop circle maker John Lundberg, in an interview with Mark Pilkington, spoke about this change in crop circle designs: "I am rather envious of circlemakers in other countries. Expectations about the size and complexity of formations that appear in the UK are now very high, whereas the rather shabby looking Russian formation made the national news. Even Vasily Belchenko, deputy secretary of the Russian Security Council, was on site gushing about its origin: 'There is no doubt that it was not man made... an unknown object definitely landed there.' If the same formation appeared in the UK it would undoubtedly be virtually ignored by researchers and the media alike."
Often crop circle seasons begin with a few simple patterns. The 2009 season began with complex and numerous formations. The 2009 season also unusually began with six large formations in rapeseed. "The crop is tougher and more brittle than corn or barley." During May, June and July crop circles in the UK have pointed to the date July 7 2009 hinting at solar activity.
Creators of crop circles
In 1991, two men from Southampton, England, announced that they had conceived the idea as a prank at a pub near Winchester, Hampshire, during an evening in 1976. Inspired by the 1966 Tully Saucer Nests, Doug Bower and Dave Chorley made their crop circles using planks, rope, hats and wire as their only tools: using a four-foot-long plank attached to a rope, they easily created circles eight feet in diameter. The two men were able to make a 40-foot (12 m) circle in 15 minutes.
The pair became frustrated when their work did not receive significant publicity, so in 1981, they created a circle in Matterley Bowl, a natural amphitheatre just outside Winchester, Hampshire—an area surrounded by roads from which a clear view of the field is available to drivers passing by. Their designs were at first simple circles. When newspapers claimed that the circles could easily be explained by natural phenomena, Bower and Chorley made more complex patterns. A simple wire with a loop, hanging down from a cap—the loop positioned over one eye—could be used to focus on a landmark to aid in the creation of straight lines. Later designs of crop circles became increasingly complicated.
Bower's wife had become suspicious of him, noticing high levels of mileage in their car. Eventually, fearing that his wife suspected him of adultery, Bower confessed to her, and subsequently, he and Chorley informed a British national newspaper. Chorley died in 1996, and Doug Bower has made crop circles as recently as 2004. Bower has said that, had it not been for his wife's suspicions, he would have taken the secret to his deathbed, never revealing that it was a hoax.
Circlemakers.org, a group of crop circle makers founded by John Lundberg, have demonstrated that making what self-appointed cereologist experts state are "unfakeable" crop circles is possible. On more than one occasion, such cereologists have claimed that a crop circle was "genuine" when in fact the people making the circle had previously been filmed making the circle.
Gábor Takács and Róbert Dallos, both then 17, were the first people to be legally charged after creating a crop circle. Takács and Dallos, of the St. Stephen Agricultural Technicum, a high school in Hungary specializing in agriculture, created a 36-meter diameter crop circle in a wheat field near Szekesfehervar, 43 miles (69 km) southwest of Budapest, on June 8, 1992. On September 3, they appeared on a Hungarian TV show and exposed the circle as a hoax, showing photos of the field before and after the circle was made. As a result, Aranykalász Co., the owners of the land, sued the youngsters for 630,000 HUF (approximately $3000 USD) in damages. The presiding judge ruled that the students were only responsible for the damage caused in the 36-meter diameter circle, amounting to about 6,000 HUF (approximately $30 USD), and that 99% of the damage to the crops was caused by the thousands of visitors that flocked to Székesfehérvár following the media's promotion of the circle. The fine was eventually paid by the TV show, as were the students' legal fees.
Not everybody accepts that circles are man-made, believing instead that many designs are too perfect and that they lack signs of human interaction. They also claim out that it is highly unlikely that an international wave of highly covert amateur pranksters could have developed prior to the 1991 publicity gained by Bower and Chorley, and that this is far more likely to be a 'reverse prank', where credit is taken for an existing phenomenon and an explanation offered in order to garner media attention. Among these critics was British-born astronomer Gerald Hawkins, who, prior to his death, argued that some circles displayed a level of complexity and accuracy that would be difficult to recreate on paper, let alone in a field after dark. In response, circle-creating groups and proponents of the man-made hypothesis point to their creations of complex designs by marking radii and angles with rope, and tactics used to enter and to move about a field using landscape features and tractor trails in order to avoid leaving other marks.
One theory of crop circle formation that is at least as plausible as those involving aliens or anomalous weather events, especially given the connection with microwaves, is that the designs are formed by Masers’ (Microwave Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation, a precursor to the LASER) aboard orbiting satellites, controlled by human intelligence organizations. Computer control of a maser to draw patterns is well within current technological capabilities.
According to material published by Nancy Talbott's "BLT Research Team", anomalies found at some circle sites in England and the US are consistent with them having been created when localized columns of ionized air (dubbed plasma vortices/vortexes) form over standing crops. Talbott claims minuscule spheres of magnetic iron have also been found, distributed either around the perimeter of the circle or linearly, and that this suggests a very complex delivery system.
Claims of bent or extended nodes in the stems of cereal grasses have also been made, allegedly suggesting that the crop has been subjected to a very rapid electromagnetic burst, causing the moisture inside the stems to expand, stretching or bending the nodes to almost three times their length. Talbott claims holes have been found in the nodes, suggesting a rapid microwave burst, causing the moisture to turn into steam, which then forces its way out, leaving expulsion cavities.
In 2002, Discovery Channel commissioned five aeronautics and astronautics students from MIT to create crop circles of their own. Discovery's production team consulted with crop-circle researcher Nancy Talbot, who provided them with three attributes that she believed set "real" crop circles apart from known man-made circles, such as those created by Doug Bower and Dave Chorley.
These criteria were:
Over the course of a single night, the team was able to create a stereotypical "man-made" circle that they then attempted to enhance using the three criteria. The team used lengths of rope to plot their design and trampled the wheat down in a spiral pattern using lengths of wooden board attached to loops of rope. To meet criterion 2, they constructed a portable microwave emitter, using it to superheat the moisture inside the corn stalks until it burst out as steam. To meet criterion 3, they built a device—dubbed the Flammenwerfer ("flamethrower")—that sprayed iron particles through a heated ring. However, the device proved to be too time-consuming to use, and they were forced to finish the task by using a pyrotechnic charge to distribute the iron around the circle. The circle was later analyzed by graduate students from MIT, who declared it to be "on a par with any of the documented cases". Their conclusion was later questioned by Talbott, who noted that the team had only been able to recreate two of the three criteria.
Talbott also expressed concerns that the iron particles were not distributed laterally. Furthermore, she felt that the team's use of night-vision headsets and other technologically advanced items would be out of reach for the average hoaxer. This would have been even more so in the '70s and '80s when night-vision equipment was rare outside government use.
The creation of the circle was recorded and used in the Discovery Channel documentary Crop Circles: Mysteries in the Fields.
Paranormal and alternative explanations
Since appearing in the media in the 1970s, crop circles have become the subject of various paranormal and fringe beliefs, ranging from the hypothesis that they are created by freak meteorological phenomena to the belief that they represent messages from extraterrestrials.
Other hypotheses attribute them to atmospheric phenomena, such as freak tornadoes or ball lightning.
The location of many crop circles near ancient sites such as Stonehenge, barrows, and chalk horses has led to many New Age belief systems incorporating crop circles, including the beliefs that they are formed in relation to ley lines and that they give off energy that can be detected through dowsing. New Age followers sometimes gather at crop-circle sites in order to meditate, or because they believe that they can use the circle in order to contact spirits.
UFOs and other lights in the sky have been reported in connection with many crop-circle sites, leading to their becoming associated with UFOs and aliens. Some people claim to have seen images of UFOs forming crop circles or overflying them, though photographs have been dismissed by experts as being indistinct or clear hoaxes.
The main criticism of non-human creation of crop circles is that evidence of these origins, besides eyewitness testimonies, is scant. Crop circles are sometimes explicable as the result of human pranksters. There have also been cases in which researchers declared crop circles to be "the real thing", only to be confronted soon after with the people who created the circle and documented the fraud (see above). Many others have demonstrated how complex crop circles are created.
The main criticism of human creation of crop circles is that Bower and Chorley could not have covertly travelled internationally and executed all if indeed any known circles prior to their claims in 1991, and that still-secret cells of hoaxers are very unlikely to have spontaneously and successfully joined the game. It is more likely that their "hoax" consisted merely of claiming to have begun the practice years earlier. All subsequent human circle creators derive from the 1991 publicity, and devote their efforts to maintaining the hoax, i.e. to proving the implausible proposition that Bower and Chorley created a world-wide plethora of crop circles in total secrecy. In hoaxer terms, this represents a classic success, an "I'm Brian / Spartacus" scenario.
In his 1997 book The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, Carl Sagan discussed alien-based theories of crop circle formation. Sagan concluded that no empirical evidence existed to link UFOs with crop circles. Specifically, that there were no credible cases of UFOs being observed creating a circle, yet there were many cases when it was known that human agents, such as Doug Bower and Dave Chorley, were responsible. Circle creators Doug Bower and Dave Chorley concur.
In 1999, researcher Colin Andrews received funding from Laurence Rockefeller to conduct a two- year investigation into crop-circle hoaxing. Andrews put together a team that studied crop circles that had been commissioned by various media outlets and infiltrated several groups known to be creating man-made circles.
Using these man-made circles as a base, Andrews went on to study data from circles found in England in 1999 and 2000. Andrews concluded that 80% of all circles studied showed "unassailable" signs of having been man-made, including post holes used to demarcate circle layouts or evidence of human tracks underlying the circle sites, but could not account for the remaining 20%, for which he was unable to find signs of human interaction. Andrews's figures have been disputed by CSICOP, who argue that Andrews's criteria for distinguishing between man-made circles and non-man-made circles were insufficient, as no official standard exists for determining the nature of a crop circle. Furthermore, these circles were in England, where the hoax is most operative.
In 2002, Freddy Silva published Secrets in the Fields (2002). He paraphrases Gerald Hawkins' summary: "If crop circles are made by hoaxers, then they should stop doing it, because they are breaking the law and damaging the food supply. If they are made by UFO aliens, they shouldn't give us back the dates of our trips to Mars and the names of the men from the Titanic era – famous, clever, but now forgotten. If some are transcendental, the power behind it should realize that our culture is not now willing to accept transcendental happenings. But if they are indeed transcendental, then society will have to make a big adjustment in the years ahead.
Critics have cited what they refer to as the "shyness factor". This alludes to the fact that no crop-circle makers have been caught in the act. This assertion is not true however, and there are cases of circle makers being apprehended, including one high-profile case in 1998 when a circle was made for the media and the makers interrupted when seen in the act. In most cases, it appears that the creation of crop circles is a nocturnal activity. Usually nothing is reported, and during one attempt to observe the creation of a crop circle, numerous individuals witnessed nothing out of the ordinary, yet were astounded to see a crop circle in the field only a short distance away from the one they had been watching the next morning. Crop circles known to have formed during daylight have not revealed the presence of hoaxers.
Dowsing is purported to be a psychic method of finding hidden things, i.e. water, gold, treasure, etc. To tell the truth, we had a little trouble when we embarked on the research for this page, because for every document that touts the wonders of Dowsing, there is another document that describes controlled studies in which dowsers basically performed very poorly.
Despite this, Dowsing has been utilized for hundreds of years, and in Europe it is still considered a valid medium for finding water, etc. As such, we will treat it as a viable phenomena for the purposes of this page, as it does seem to work in some cases.
The use of Pendulums to answer questions is a variation on traditional Dowsing methods, and again, this is met with quite a bit of scepticism as far as the literature is concerned. This use of Dowsing comes very close to the concept of using Ouija Boards for insight into the unknown, and quite frankly, it seems to us that a Ouija Board is much better suited for this type of inquiry. However, we will leave that decision to the reader, and do our best to describe and report various techniques and tools used in Dowsing on these pages.
All concerned seem to agree that Dowsing is a learned art that comes with practice, and that it is probably not a spiritual entity that causes the rods or pendulums to react in the ways they do. Rather, the results appear to come from inside the dowser himself, and indeed, some people have the innate ability to find whatever they are looking for without the use of tools of any kind.
For most of us, however, a tool of some sort is required, and on the following pages in this section, we will concentrate on how to make or acquire the proper tools for Dowsing, and how to actually utilize them for the desired results.
The following cases of apparently paranormal firestarters involve some aspects common in people who exhibit psychic / poltergeist - like powers. Unfortunately we don't have much detail about the girls involved, so the case must remain intriguing though unsupported by independent evidence. However, it would be interesting to know if prior to or at the time of the alleged fire-starting incidents, these two girls had made claims of mediumship, telepathy or any other 'psychic' abilities.
In November 1890, in Thorah, near Toronto, Canada, strange things started happening around a 14 year-old English girl called Jennie Bramwell, the adopted daughter of a farmer, Mr. Dawson, and his wife. The girl had been ill and gone into a trance, crying out 'Look at that!' pointing to a ceiling which was ablaze. Shortly after, to the astonishment of Mr. and Mrs. Dawson, she pointed to another fire. The following day numerous fires broke out around the house; as soon as one was put out, another started. In one instance while Mrs. Dawson and the girl were seated facing a wall, the wallpaper suddenly caught fire, Jennie's dress then burst into flames and Mrs. Dawson burnt her hands extinguishing the fire. Fires continued to break out in the house for a whole week. A report in the Toronto Globe, for 9th November, described charred pieces of wallpaper, which looked as if they'd been burned using a blazing lamp.
The situation became unbearable, all the furniture was moved into the yard, and the unfortunate girl, blamed for the fires, was sent back to the orphanage from where she'd come. With her leaving, the phenomena stopped. The reporter from the Toronto Globe depicted her as 'a half-witted girl who had walked about the house with a match, setting light to everything she came across.' However, he had difficulty explaining how the fire on the ceiling, and those on the walls had been started. Charles Fort, describing the case, commented wryly - 'I'll not experiment, but I assume that I could flip matches all day at a wall, and not set wallpaper afire.'
The reporter wanted to know if Jennie had any knowledge of chemistry, as according to him the 'half-witted' little orphan was 'well-versed in rudiments of the science.' He subsequently made enquiries around town, and discovered that the girl was also 'an incorrigible little thief', and that she had visited the chemist many times on errands.
So, the mystery was solved: the girl had stolen "some chemical," which she had spread over various parts of the Dawson's house in order to start the fires.
In January 1895 there were fires in the house of an out of work carpenter, Adam Colwell in Brooklyn, New York. The fires were investigated by police and firemen who witnessed furniture burst into flames and subsequently reported that the cause of the fires was unexplained. However, the Fire Marshall suspected the pretty adopted daughter of the Colwells, Rhoda, as playing some part. He stated that 'It might be thought that the child Rhoda started two of the fires, but she can not be considered guilty of the others, as she was being questioned, when some of them began. I do not want to be quoted as a believer in the supernatural, but I have no explanation to offer, as to the cause of the fires, or of the throwing around of the furniture.'
Mr. Colwell asserted that on the afternoon of the 4th of January whilst in the company of his wife and stepdaughter Rhoda, a crash was heard - a large, empty stove had fallen over, four pictures also fell off the walls. Shortly afterwards a bed caught fire, a policeman was called who saw wallpaper start to burn. Another fire started and a heavy lamp fell from a hook onto the floor. The house burned to the ground and the family, who had lost everything apart from their clothes, were taken to the police station. Captain Rhoades, of the Greenpoint Precinct said that he could attribute the strange fires to 'no other cause than a supernatural agency.'
However, a Mr. J.L. Hope of Flushing, Long Island, came to see Captain Rhoades and told him that Rhoda had worked for him as a housemaid and, between 19th November and 19th December, four mysterious fires had broken out. This was enough to convince the Captain of Rhoda's guilt in the present case as well, and she was warned to admit the truth. Frightened, she wept that she had indeed started the fires as she disliked the place she lived and wanted to get away. The girl had also knocked the pictures off the walls and dropped lighted matches into the beds, continuing with her mischief even after the police, firemen and detectives arrived at the house.
Though the police Captain had previously thought the fires 'supernatural' he now found a natural explanation in Rhoda's now well-attested fire-starting tendencies. The New York Herald ran the story as 'Policemen and firemen artfully tricked by a pretty, young girl.' So instead of investigating the fires in Flushing the Captain gave the girl some 'wholesome advice' to which she apparently listened, and closed the case.
Such fire starting seems intimately connected with poltergeist activity (the moving about of furniture for example) and young girls Some, though not all, of the fire-starters seem to be orphans in unhappy situations, and this may, in some cases, explain the motive. But since the methods by which these unusual fires were started are a mystery (explanations at the time obviously being ludicrous i.e. tossing lighted matches at the wall, ) we are still left with the puzzle that certain young people are possessed with the allegedly paranormal ability to unconsciously start fires without any visible means. however, the sources for such 'paranormal' stories, especially those from the 19th century and earlier, are usually newspaper accounts, which unfortunately means that the events may or may not have happened as described. We can never be sure.
Like in many other countries, in Indonesia also have a medium to communicate with the spirits of the dead. If you know a game called Ouija Board, it has a similar rules though the way the communication is done may be somewhat different. Jelangkung, such name given to this game, which was quite popular among the Javanese people of the past. In one secluded room, a group of about 3 - 5 people sits encircling two men holding a doll (A bamboo cross clothed with a child's shirt is tied to the upper part of the handle of the basket). On top of the bamboo cross, a coconut shell is so placed that the whole thing looks just like a doll. A pencil or chalk, to be used for writing, attached to the lower side of the doll. The burning of the incense starts, and smoke begins to billow, transmitting, as it spreads across the room, a certain aroma. There is complete silence in the room now and everyone looks solemn, as if they are attending a funeral. All eyes are focused on the basket, which is now being held higher up by the two persons to ensure that it will have all the agility it needs when the time comes for it to write.
The leader of the group, whose role is more like a shaman, sits right in front of the doll, which they called " Jelangkung." He then starts murmuring the mantra :
In Javanese language :
" Jelangkung, jalangseng...
ning kene ana pesta...
jane mung pesta elek...
Jelangkung, jailangseng ayo teka.. "
In English :
" Jelangkung, jailangseng...
there is a party here...
just a small party...
Jelangkung, jailangseng, come to me...."
The shaman keep repeat it until the doll turns heavy, a sign that someone's spirit is entering it. Thus, as soon as the two persons holding the doll give him a nod to signal that they are being visited by a spirit, which happens to pass by, the leader immediately asks the Jelangkung, "What's your name ?" Though slowly, yet surely, the Jelangkung moves the pencil to write his name on a piece of paper that has intentionally been prepared earlier. Incredible ! How is it possible that only a doll with a pencil attached to it can write so clearly ? Now, just imagine that you are at the moment holding the doll, by yourself, trying to move it so as to write something. Difficult, isn't it ? And yet you are doing it alone. So just imagine how frustrating it can be for any two persons working under natural condition to do such writing, because each will be pushing and pulling the doll in different directions.
The shaman then asks another question : "Where are you from ?" This second question is also answered in writing. The Jelangkung writes down his address, slowly yet clearly. And the questioning and answering goes on and on. Astonishing indeed ! All the questions are answered correctly. In fact, the Jelangkung can even tell the secrets of everyone present in that room.
But, this game could be really dangerous, if the players, especially the shaman could not remove and getting back the spirit from it belongs. If this happen, and the spirit getting angry, it can possess the players one by one. And it will be very difficult to remove the spirit that possess the player's body. Yet, the question remains : What is the Jelangkung actually ? Is it a spirit ? Is the Jelangkung just a lingering, inquisitive spirit that happens to come by ? Or is there any other power that is logically and rationally comprehensible ?How could it be that the Jelangkung can have the answers to all of the questions set forth by the participants of the game?
Ley lines are hypothetical alignments of a number of places of geographical interest, such as ancient monuments and megaliths. Their existence was suggested in 1921 by the amateur archaeologist Alfred Watkins, in his book The Old Straight Track.
The existence of alignments between sites is easily demonstrated. However, the causes of these alignments are disputed. There are several major areas of interpretation:
Archaeological: A new area of archaeological study, archaeogeodesy, examines geodesy as practiced in prehistoric time, and as evidenced by archaeological remains. One major aspect of modern geodesy is surveying. As interpreted by geodesy, the so-called ley lines can be the product of ancient surveying, property markings, or commonly travelled pathways. Numerous societies, ancient and modern, employ straight lines between points of use; archaeologists have documented these traditions. Modern surveying also results in placement of constructs in lines on the landscape. It is reasonable to expect human constructs and activity areas to reflect human use of lines.
Cultural: Many cultures use straight lines across the landscape. In South America, such lines often are directed towards mountain peaks; the Nazca line are a famous example of lengthy lines made by ancient cultures. Straight lines connect ancient pyramids in Mexico; today, modern roads built on the ancient roads deviate around the huge pyramids. The Chaco culture of Northwestern New Mexico cut stairs into sandstone cliffs to facilitate keeping roads straight.
New Age: The ley lines and their intersection points are believed by some to resonate a special psychic or mystical energy, often including elements such as geomancy, dowsing or UFOs, stating that, for instance, UFOs travel along ley lines (in the way that one might observe that cars use roads and highways). This belief postulates that points on lines have electrical or magnetic forces associated with them.
Skeptical: Skeptics of the existence of ley lines often classify them as pseudoscience. Such skeptics tend to doubt that ley lines were planned or made by ancient cultures, and argue that apparent ley lines can be readily explained without resorting to extraordinary or pseudoscientific ideas.
Alfred Watkins and The Old Straight Track
The concept of ley lines was first proposed by Alfred Watkins. On 30 June 1921, Watkins visited Blackwardine in Herefordshire, and went riding near some hills in the vicinity of Bredwardine when he noted many of the footpaths therein seemed to connect one hilltop to another in a straight line. He was studying a map when he noticed places in alignment. "The whole thing came to me in a flash", he would later explain to his son.
However, some time before Watkins, William Henry Black gave a talk titled Boundaries and Landmarks to the British Archaeological Association in Hereford in September 1870. Here he speculated that "Monuments exist marking grand geometrical lines which cover the whole of Western Europe". It is possible that Watkins' experience stemmed from some half-recollected memories of an account of that presentation.
Watkins believed that in ancient times, when Britain had been far more densely forested, the country had been crisscrossed by a network of straight-line travel routes, with prominent features of the landscape being used as navigation points. This observation was made public at a meeting of the Woolhope Club of Hereford in September 1921. His work referred back to G. H. Piper's paper presented to the Woolhope Club in 1882 which noted that:
"A line drawn from the Skirrid-fawr mountain northwards to Arthur's Stone would pass over the camp and southern most point of Hatterall Hill, Oldcastle, Longtown Castle, and Urishay and Snodhill castles." The ancient surveyors who supposedly made the lines were given the name "dodmen".
Watkins published his ideas in the books Early British Trackways and The Old Straight Track. Nevertheless, they were generally received with skepticism in the archaeological community. The archaeologist O. G. S. Crawford refused to accept advertisements for the latter book in the journal Antiquity, and most archaeologists since then have continued to be unaccepting of Watkins' ideas.
In 2004, John Bruno Hare wrote, "Watkins never attributed any supernatural significance to leys; he believed that they were simply pathways that had been used for trade or ceremonial purposes, very ancient in origin, possibly dating back to the Neolithic, certainly pre-Roman. His obsession with leys was a natural outgrowth of his interest in landscape photography and love of the British countryside. He was an intensely rational person with an active intellect, and I think he would be a bit disappointed with some of the fringe aspects of ley lines today".
Despite the largely negative reception to his ideas, some experts have made observations similar to Watkins': Megalithic researcher Alexander Thom offered a detailed analysis of megalithic alignments, proposing a standardization of measure by those who built megaliths. However, Thom avoided using the term "ley line" in his discussion of megaliths. The discovery by Europeans of the Nazca lines, man-made lines on desert pavement in southern Peru, prompted study of their astronomical alignments.
Watkins' theories have been adapted by later writers. Some of his ideas were taken up by the occultist Dion Fortune who featured them in her 1936 novel The Goat-footed God. Since then, ley lines have become the subject of a few magical and mystical theories.
Two British dowsers, Captain Robert Boothby and Reginald A. Smith of the British Museum, have linked the appearance of ley lines with underground streams and magnetic currents. Guy Underwood conducted various investigations and claimed that crossings of 'negative' water lines and positive aquastats explain why certain sites were chosen as holy. He found so many of these 'double lines' on sacred sites that he named them 'holy lines.'
Two German Nazi researchers Wilhelm Teudt and Josef Heinsch have also claimed that ancient Teutonic peoples contributed to the construction of a network of astronomical lines, called “Holy lines” (Heilige Linien), which could be mapped onto the geographical layout of ancient or sacred sites. Teudt located the Teutoburger Wald district in Lower Saxony, centered around the dramatic rock formation called Die Externsteine as the centre of Germany. Nazism often employed ideation of superiority and associated Aryan descent with ancient higher cultures, often without regard for archaeological or historic fact. See religious aspects of Nazism.
By the 1960s, the ideas of a landscape crossed with straight lines had become conflated with ideas from various geomantic traditions; mapping ley lines, according to New Age geomancers, can foster "harmony with the Earth" or reveal pre-historic trade routes. John Michell's writing can be seen as an example of this. He has referred to the whole face of China being heavily landscaped in accordance with the laws of Feng Shui. Michell has claimed that Neolithic peoples recognised that the harmony of society depended on the harmony of the earth force. And so in China, ancient Greece, Ireland and Scotland men built their temples where the forces of the earth were most powerful. Rosslyn chapel is located on the Roseline which the Knights Templar had alleged mystical knowledge of its significance.
Some skeptics have suggested that ley lines do not exist, and are a product of human fancy. Watkins' discovery happened at a time when Ordnance Survey maps were being marketed for the leisure market, making them reasonably easy and cheap to obtain; this may have been a contributing factor to the popularity of ley line theories.
One suggestion is that, given the high density of historic and prehistoric sites in Britain and other parts of Europe, finding straight lines that "connect" sites (usually selected to make them "fit") is trivial, and may be easily ascribed to coincidence. The diagram to the right shows an example of lines that pass very near to a set of random points: for all practical purposes, they can be regarded as nearly "exact" alignments. Naturally, it is debated whether all ley lines can be accounted for in this way, or whether there are more such lines than would be expected by chance. (For a mathematical treatment of this topic, see alignments of random points.)
Archaeologist Richard Atkinson once demonstrated this point by taking the positions of telephone boxes and pointing out the existence of "telephone box leys". This, he thus argued, showed that the mere existence of such lines in a set of points does not prove that the lines are deliberate artifacts, especially since it is known that telephone boxes were not laid out in any such manner, and without any such intention.
Regarding the trade-route theories, skeptics point out that straight lines do not make ideal roads in all circumstances, particularly where they ignore topography and require users to march up and down hills or mountains, or to cross rivers at points where there is no portage or bridge.
Are alignments and ley lines the same thing?
The existence of the observed alignments is not controversial. Both believers in magical and ancient theories of ley lines and skeptics of these theories agree that these alignments exist between megaliths and ancient sites.
Most skeptics believe that their null hypothesis of ley-line-like alignments as due to random chance is consistent with the evidence. They believe that this consistency removes the need to explain the alignments in any other way. Some Chaos Magicians have views consistent with that approach, claiming it to be in accord with their generative view of chance. Still, others believe that further theories are needed to explain the observed evidence. See hypothesis testing, falsifiability and Occam's razor for more on these topics.
In discussing the arguments for and against the chance presence of ley alignments it is useful to define the term "alignment" precisely enough to reason about it. One precise definition that expresses the generally accepted meaning of Watkins' ley lines defines an alignment as:
a set of points, chosen from a given set of landmark points, all of which lie within at least an arc of 1/4 degree.
Watkins remarked that if this is accepted as the degree of error, then:
"if only three accidentally placed points are on the sheet, the chance of a three point alignment is 1 in 720."
"But this chance by accidental coincidence increases so rapidly in geometric progression with each point added that if ten mark-points are distributed haphazard on a sheet of paper, there is an average probability that there will be one three-point alignment, while if only two more points are added to make twelve points, there is a probability of two three-point alignments." "It is clear that a three-point alignment must not be accepted as proof of a ley by itself, as a fair number of other eligible points are usually present."
"A ley should not be taken as proved with less than four good mark-points. Three good points with several others of less value like cross roads and coinciding tracks may be sufficient."
The Leyhunter's Manual (page 88), 1927
One should also bear in mind that lines and points on a map cover wide areas on the ground. With 1:63360 (1-inch-to-the-mile) maps a 1/100-inch (1/4 mm) wide line represents a path over 50 feet (15 m) across. And in travelling across a sheet, an angle of 1/4 degree encompasses something like an additional 600 feet (200 m)
There are many ghost stories that involve non-living objects that seem to be alive. These cases usually involve a personal object such as jewellery or a doll. The people began noticing that the objects are not always in the same place that they were left. The people don't actually see the objects move, but they know that the objects are moving when they are not around.
Either a very powerful spirit or a demon conducts this type of ghostly activity. They move the objects to give the impression that the objects are themselves alive or possessed. Spirits cannot possess non-living objects. This is a common spirit trick to fool the living into giving the objects recognition. Recognition equals power for the spirit.
The spirits use these methods because it is easier to get people to give recognition to earthly objects than to an invisible entity. The spirits typically disguise themselves as the ghosts of children. Again, this is because people are much more likely to communicate with the lost lonely ghost of a child than an evil festering demon. It plays on the all to familiar feelings of human compassion.
Once the spirits have the attention of the living they continue to control the objects getting more and more recognition and more power. They begin to use the extra power to influence more of the natural environment. They can influence dreams, control other household objects, manipulate machines including cars and household electrical devices. The "harmless" object movement soon turns into something different and sometimes violent. The people in the house usually become afraid. The spirit uses the fear to gather strength and power, which it then uses to create more fear. It's a snowball effect that could lead to demon possession, psychical injury and even death.
Moving Statues in Ancient History
Many reports of miraculous statues in pagan times were undoubtedly fraudulent, just as there are known cases of moving statue hoaxes in modern times. It is well known that ancient peoples constructed lifelike images of their gods and goddesses.
Plato and Aristotle stated that the Greek Daedalus was said to have made statues that not only walked but also needed to be tethered at night to prevent them from walking away. Aristotle described a wooden statue of Venus that moved as a result of quicksilver being poured into the interior. Pliny reported that the architect Timochares began using loadstone (magnetized ore) to construct the vaulting in the temple of Arsinoê at Alexandria, to suspended in midair an iron statue inside. Such a levitating statue would have been a great wonder if the plan had succeeded. Procopius described a complex clock that the engineers for the ancient Romans were responsible for having figures of gods and heroes that moved on the hour.
Lucian related how a certain Alexander caused a statue of Aesculapius to speak by using the gullet of a crane to transmit a voice through the mouth of the statue. In the fourth century, Bishop Theophilus described statues at Alexandria that he broke open and discovered to be hollow; they were placed against a wall in such a position that priests could slip behind them and speak.
It was believed that in ancient Egypt there were numerous statues of gods, said to deliver oracles. The Pymander Asclepios (attributed to Hermes Trismegistus) asserted the Egyptians "knew how to make gods," i.e., to install deities, angels, or demons in statues, with the power to do good or evil. Although such statues have not survived, it seems probable that they were animated by priests. The archaeologist Gaston Maspéro (1846-1916) stated (Journal des Debats, December 21, 1898): "There were thus obtained genuine terrestrial gods, exact counterparts of the celestial gods, and, as their ambassadors here below, capable of protecting, punishing and instructing men, of sending them dreams and delivering oracles.
"When these idols were addressed, they replied either by gesture or by voice. They would speak and utter the right verdict on any particular questions. They moved their arms and shook their heads to an invariable rhythm…. And as they as surely did nothing of all this by themselves, someone had to do it for them. Indeed, there were priests in the temples whose business it was to attend to these things. Their functions, being anything but secret, were carried out openly, in the sight and to the knowledge of all. They had their appointed places in ceremonies, in processions and the sacerdotal hierarchy; each individual knew that they were the voice or the hand of the god, and that they pulled the string to set his head wagging at the right moment. Consequently this was not one of those pious frauds which the moderns always suspect in like circumstances; no one was ignorant that the divine consultation was brought about by this purely human agency.
"Things being so, one wonders how not only the people but the kings, nobles, and scribes could have confidence in advice thus proffered…. The testimony afforded by monuments compels us to acknowledge that it was taken seriously until paganism died a natural death, and that all who played any part in it did so with the utmost respect. They had been brought up from childhood to believe that divine souls animated the statues, to approach these living statues only in the most respectful dread and awe…. Their mental attitude was that of the modern-day priest who ascends the altar. No sooner has he donned the sacerdotal garb and repeated the first few sacramental words than he no longer belongs to himself but to the sacrifice he is about to consummate; he knows that at this voice and gesture the elements will change into precious blood and flesh, and he continues unperturbed the work which he is certain he can accomplish."
Such a reverential attitude to manipulating statues, if true, offers an alternative theory to views of either miracle or fraud. Similarly, in some societies, shamans may invoke divine inspiration by initial trickery, acting out a miraculous situation by conjuring tricks as a preliminary to creating the emotional atmosphere in which heightened consciousness and genuine phenomena may arise.
However, there are also many claims in both ancient and modern times that statues have actually moved independently of humans. In some cases, rival religions did not deny the miracles but asserted that they were demonic, not divine. In analyzing a passage from Hermes Trismegistus concerned with "statues animated by divine association, which do great things, foretell the future and heal diseases," St. Augustine did not dispute the claims, but commented that "this art of binding genii to statues is an ungodly art … Instead of serving men, these would-be gods can do nothing, except as devils". The Synod of Laodicea defined idolatry as "the art of invoking demons and incorporating them in statues."
Moving Statues in Modern History
Throughout history, moving statues have tended to be reported at times of civil, political, or religious crisis, in which a breakdown of morale or the imminence of national disaster seemed beyond human aid, inviting divine intervention. In 1524, Italy was overrun by French armies and coping with floods, famine, and plague. During this time, when Rome itself seemed threatened, a statue of the Virgin Mary at Brescia was reported to open and close its eyes and to move its hands, bringing them together and separating them in a gesture of sympathy. Thousands of witnesses attested to the phenomenon, and similar moving statues were reported in other towns. After the crisis, such miracles ceased.
A similar event took place in 1716, when Turkish forces threatened war on Venice. One man claimed that the Virgin Mary had appeared to him in a vision and stated that if enough prayers for souls in purgatory were offered up, the infidels would be defeated. A crowd assembled in front of a statue of the Virgin Mary, and some of those present later declared that the statue opened and closed its eyes to confirm what the visionary had stated. The senate of the city and the local bishop affirmed their belief in the reality of the phenomenon.
Eighty years later, when the French revolutionary forces threatened the Papal States during 1796-97 there were numerous reports of Virgin Mary statues opening and closing their eyes or shedding tears. These miracles were claimed in many churches in Rome and also all over the country. A papal commission examined over nine hundred witnesses and reported favourably on the reality of the phenomena. The manifestations subsided when Napoleon Bonaparte entered the Italian seaport town of Ancona and ordered the statue of the Virgin Mary, which had been one of those reported to move, to be covered up.
In 1870, at Soriano, Calabria, Spain, there were reports of a statue that appeared to move its hand and arm. In 1919, at Limpias, Santander, Spain, pictures of saints were reported to move their eyes or drip blood, some even stepping out of their panels. Hundreds of sworn statements attesting to such miracles were obtained. Many similar incidents were reported in Spain, in 1893 at Campocavallo and on five separate occasions at Rimini between 1850 and 1905. In the latter cases, paintings of saints were said to shed tears.
The reports from Limpias, Spain, were investigated by Professor A. Encinas of Santander University, who compared notes with the scientist E. R. Jaensch. These and similar cases were ascribed to collective hallucination, specifically arising from the psychological phenomenon of eidetic imagery.
In his book The Mechanism of Thought, Imagery and Hallucination (1939), J. Rosett commented: "The reports of mystics and of devotees about pictures and statues which moved and spoke like living persons and performed miracles are … not necessarily fraudulent. An understanding of the mechanism of attention and its relation to the state of falling asleep, and of the hallucinations associated with that state, offers a rational explanation of such reports."
According to Jaensch in his important study Eidetic Imagery (1930): "Topical perceptual (or eidetic) images are phenomena that take up an intermediate position between sensations and images. Like ordinary physiological after-images, they are always seen in the literal sense. They have this property of necessity and under all conditions, and share it with sensations. In other respects they can also exhibit the properties of images (Vorstellungen). In those cases in which the imagination has little influence, they are merely modified after-images, deviating from the norm in a definite way, and when that influence is nearly, or completely zero, we can look upon them as slightly intensified after-images. In the other limiting case, when the influence of the imagination is at its maximum, they are ideas that, like after-images, are projected outward and literally seen."
Eidetic imagery has relevance to the visual faculty of artists, who can "see" their subject on the blank paper or canvas. It may also have relevance to the phenomenon of crystal gazing. The existence of various explanations for moving statues— deliberate fraud, sacramental or ritualistic manipulation, hallucination through eidetic imagery—offers a number of explanations that must be discarded before any claims of paranormal phenomena can be considered.
It would be wrong to assume that moving statues belong only to earlier history. In 1985, there were numerous reports of statues moving, bleeding, or weeping throughout Ireland. Cases were reported from over thirty localities during a few months of that year. Interestingly enough, no cases were reported from Northern Ireland during this period, although there is a large Catholic population there.
Characteristically, the period was one of cultural, political, and religious unrest. The cultural unease was focused around a 1983 referendum on amending the constitution to protect the rights of unborn children. New legislation liberalizing the availability of contraceptives and the promise of a referendum on the issue of divorce (not permitted by the constitution) had excited conservative protests. All this came to a head with the 1985 judicial inquiry into the case of an infant corpse discovered with stab wounds in Chirciveen.
It was against this background that statues of the Virgin Mary were reported as moving throughout Ireland. It began on February 14, when several children in Asdee, County Kerry, claimed to have seen a statue of the Madonna and child at the parish church of St. Mary open its eyes and move its hands. An eighty-year-old farmer also stated that he saw the Madonna blink three times. Thousands of people visited the church, but there were no further reports.
A few weeks later, children at Ballydesmond, County Cork, stated that they saw a statue move in the local church, but parents ascribed this to their imaginations. A group of tourists at Courtmacsharry, County Cork, claimed to have seen a statue near the town move, but no other movements were reported and the affair died down.
In July, two teenage girls reported seeing movement in a statue of the Virgin Mary in a grotto some 20 feet up on the side of a hill at Ballinspittle. Soon other people reported seeing the statue change expression or move, and large crowds gathered regularly to watch and recite the rosary. Many people claimed to have seen the Virgin's eyes or hands move, or the statue to move back and forth or sway from side to side. Thousands of pilgrims visited the shrine, which became the central focus for stories of statues that moved. Pilgrimages and reports of moving statues persisted for over three months and subsided at the end of October, when vandals smashed the hands and face of the statue with an axe and a hammer.
Meanwhile, throughout August and September, further reports of phenomena associated with the Virgin Mary came from all over the Ireland. In Mitchelstown, County Cork, children stated they had seen black blood flowing from a statue of the Virgin Mary and an apparition of the devil had appeared behind the statue. Many pilgrims gathered, and other young people claimed they saw the statue move. Four teenage girls said a statue at the local Marian shrine spoke to them and called for peace.
In Dunkitt, County Waterford, a statue of the Virgin Mary in a grotto on the main Waterford to Kilkenny road was reported to have been seen moving. Some people claimed the statue breathed and the hands moved from center to right. A local publican and his wife stated the statue shimmered. Thousands of pilgrims visited the grotto.
In Waterford, two young boys stated a statue of the Virgin Mary outside the Mercy Convent School moved its eyes, which were full of tears, and spoke of Pope John Paul II being assassinated. Hundreds of people kept vigil around the statue. At Mooncoin, County Waterford, several youths stated they saw a statue move, and a girl said she saw a tear fall from the right eye of the statue and the left eye open and close. Local people gathered at the site.
In the scores of cases reported from all over the country, it seems the statues appeared to move, rather than physically shifting position. Psychologists pointed out that staring at statues in dim light, especially with a glare from an illuminated halo, could result in optical illusions. However, the essential and more elusive aspect of the phenomenon was the religious fervor associated with it, and the feelings of spiritual grace experienced by many individuals.
Ballinspittle statue is still on the move.
WITNESSES who were ridiculed for saying they saw Ballinspittle's famed moving statue 20 years ago, are sticking to what they said. And they say it still moves for them.
The phenomenon attracted worldwide attention in 1985 when crowds thronged to see the statue of the Virgin Mary in the Co Cork area.
A former garda sergeant says he was teased in his station because he saw the statue float in mid-air during the height of the marvel that captivated Ireland. But in a documentary to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Ballinspittle he says he is adamant that he witnessed a miracle in the tiny Cork village.
"People have had very different experiences. But in July 1985 I saw something physically impossible at that grotto. I saw the concrete statue of Our Lady floating in mid-air. Not rocking too and fro but floating," says retired Sgt John Murray.
"The following morning I went up there and checked out that statue. I felt like someone was playing tricks on me and I was amazed to find no wires or trickery there at all.
"In 1985 there was a mingling of two worlds, our world and the mystical world, and something amazing got people praying."
Mother of nine Cathy O'Mahony said she too suffered ridicule because of her visions. But she says she is confident of what she has seen with her own eyes - and only had a vision three months ago.
"I was saying my prayers and the whole statue disappeared and I saw a big luminous figure of some sort. I got a fright but it faded away and came back.
"You meet many sceptics and they don't believe it, but as far as I am concerned it is there for everyone to see."
Patricia Bowen says she too sees the statue move to this day and claims to have seen the face of God at the grotto.
When the statue in the roadside grotto began to move, it prompted religious fervour across Ireland and around the world.
A teenager was the first to make the claims.
The sailing stones (sliding rocks, moving rocks) are a geological phenomenon where rocks move in long tracks along a smooth valley floor without human or animal intervention. They have been recorded and studied in a number of playas around Racetrack Playa, Death Valley, where the number and length of travel grooves are notable. The force behind their movement is not understood and is subject to research.
Racetrack stones only move every two or three years and most tracks develop over three or four years. Stones with rough bottoms leave straight striated tracks while those with smooth bottoms wander. Stones sometimes turn over, exposing another edge to the ground and leaving a different track in the stone's wake.
Sliding rock trails fluctuate in direction and length. Some rocks which start next to each other start out travelling parallel, but one may abruptly change direction to the left, right, or even back the direction it came from. Length also varies because two similarly size and shaped rocks could travel uniform, then one could burst ahead or stop dead in its track.
Speed is an unknown variable. Since these stones are rarely transported and nobody has witnessed the movement, the speeds the rocks travel at are not known.
Most of the so-called gliding stones originate from an 850 foot (260 m) high hillside made of dark dolomite on the south end of the playa, but some are intrusive igneous rock from adjacent slopes (most of those being tan-colored feldspar-rich syenite). Tracks are often tens to hundreds of feet (low to high tens of meters) long, a few to 12 inches (8 to 30 cm) wide, and typically much less than an inch (2.5 cm) deep.
A balance of specific conditions are thought to be needed for stones to move:
A saturated yet non-flooded surface,
Thin layer of clay,
Very strong gusts as initiating force,
Strong sustained wind to keep stones going.
Geologists Jim McAllister and Allen Agnew mapped the bedrock of the area in 1948 and made note of the tracks. Naturalists from the National Park Service later wrote more detailed descriptions and Life magazine featured a set of photographs from The Racetrack. Speculation about how the stones may move started at this time. Various and sometimes idiosyncratic possible explanations have been put forward over the years that have ranged from the supernatural to the very complex. Most hypotheses favoured by interested geologists posit that strong winds when the mud is wet are at least in part responsible. Some stones weigh as much as a human, which some researchers such as geologist George M. Stanley who published a paper on the topic in 1955 feel is too heavy for the area's wind to move. They maintain that ice sheets around the stones either help to catch the wind or move in ice flows.
Bob Sharp and Dwight Carey started a Racetrack stone movement monitoring program in May 1972. Eventually thirty stones with fresh tracks were labelled and stakes were used to mark their locations. Each stone was given a name and changes in the stones' position were recorded over a seven year period. Sharp and Carey also tested the ice flow hypothesis by corralling selected stones. A corral 5.5 feet (1.7 m) in diameter was made around a 3 inch (7.5 cm) wide, 1 pound (0.5 kg) track-making stone with seven rebar segments placed 25 to 30 inches (64 to 76 cm) apart. If a sheet of ice around the stones either increased wind-catching surface area or helped move the stones by dragging them along in ice flows, then the rebar should at least slow down and deflect the movement. Neither appeared to occur; the stone barely missed a rebar as it moved 28 feet (8.5 m) to the northwest out of the corral in the first winter. Two heavier stones were placed in the corral at the same time; one moved five years later in the same direction as the first but its companion did not move during the study period. This indicated that if ice played a part in stone movement, then ice collars around stones must be small.
Ten of the initial twenty-five stones moved in the first winter with Mary Ann (stone A) covering the longest distance at 212 feet (64.5 m). Two of the next six monitored winters also saw multiple stones move. No stones were confirmed to have moved in the summer and some winters none or only a few stones moved. In the end all but two of the thirty monitored stones moved during the seven year study. At 2.5 inches (6.5 cm) in diameter Nancy (stone H) was the smallest monitored stone. It also moved the longest cumulative distance, 860 feet (262 m), and the greatest single winter movement, 659 feet (201 m). The largest stone to move was 80 pounds (36 kg).
Karen (stone J) is a 29 by 19 by 20 inch (74 by 48 by 51 cm) block of dolomite and weighs an estimated 700 pounds (about 320 kg). Perhaps not surprisingly Karen didn't move during the monitoring period. The stone may have created its 570 straight and old track from momentum gained from its initial fall onto the wet playa. However, Karen disappeared sometime before May 1994, possibly during the unusually wet winter of 1992 to 1993. Removal by artificial means is considered unlikely due to the lack of associated damage to the playa that the needed truck and winch would have done. A possible sighting of Karen was made in 1994 a half mile (800 m) from the playa.
Professor John Reid led six research students from Hampshire College and the University of Massachusetts in a follow-up study in 1995. They found highly congruent trails from stones that moved in the late 1980s and during the winter of 1992-1993. At least some stones were proved beyond a reasonable doubt to have been moved in ice flows that may be up to half a mile (800 m) wide. Physical evidence included swaths of lineated areas that could only have been created by moving thin sheets of ice. So wind alone as well as in conjunction with ice flows are thought to be motive forces.
Physicists studying the phenomenon in 1995 found that winds blowing on playa surfaces can be compressed and intensified. They also found that boundary layers (the region just above ground where winds are slower due to ground drag) on these surfaces can be as low as 2 inches (5 cm). This means that stones just a few inches high feel the full force of ambient winds and their gusts, which can reach 90 mph (145 km/h) in winter storms. Such gusts are thought to be the initiating force while momentum and sustained winds keep the stones moving, possibly as fast as a moderate run (only half the force required to start a stone sailing is needed to keep it in motion).
Wind and ice both are the favoured hypothesis for these mysterious sliding rocks. Noted in Don J. Easterbrook's "Surface Processes and Landforms", he mentioned that because of the lack of parallel paths between some rock paths, this could be caused by the breaking up of ice resulting in alternate routes. Even though the ice breaks up into smaller blocks, it is still necessary for the rocks to slide.
Raining animals is a rare meteorological phenomenon, although occurrences have been reported from many countries throughout history. One hypothesis that has been furthered to explain this phenomenon is that strong winds travelling over water sometimes pick up creatures such as fish or frogs, and carry them for up to several miles. However, this primary aspect of the phenomenon has never been witnessed or scientifically tested.
The animals most likely to drop from the sky in a rainfall are fish and frogs, with birds coming third. Sometimes the animals survive the fall, especially fish, suggesting the animals are dropped shortly after extraction. Several witnesses of raining frogs describe the animals as startled, though healthy, and exhibiting relatively normal behavior shortly after the event. In some incidents, however, the animals are frozen to death or even completely encased in ice. There are examples where the product of the rain is not intact animals, but shredded body parts. Some cases occur just after storms having strong winds, especially during tornadoes.
However, there have been many unconfirmed cases in which rainfalls of animals have occurred in fair weather and in the absence of strong winds or waterspouts.
Rains of animals (as well as rains of blood or blood-like material, and similar anomalies) play a central role in the epistemological writing of Charles Fort, especially in his first book, The Book of the Damned. Fort collected stories of these events and used them both as evidence and as a metaphor in challenging the claims of scientific explanation.
The English language idiom "it is raining cats and dogs", referring to a heavy downpour, is of uncertain etymology but probably unrelated to the raining animals phenomenon.
Tornadoes may suck up animals into the air and deposit them miles away.
French physicist André-Marie Ampère was among the first scientists to take seriously accounts of raining animals. He tried to explain rains of frogs with a hypothesis that was eventually refined by other scientists. Speaking in front of the Society of Natural Sciences, Ampère suggested that at times frogs and toads roam the countryside in large numbers, and that the action of violent winds can pick them up and carry them great distances.
More recently, a scientific explanation for the phenomenon has been developed that involves waterspouts. In effect, waterspouts are capable of capturing objects and animals and lifting them into the air. Under this theory, waterspouts or tornados, transport animals to relatively high altitudes, carrying them over large distances. The winds are capable of carrying the animals over a relatively wide area and allow them to fall in a concentrated fashion in a localized area. More specifically, some tornadoes can completely suck up a pond, letting the water and animals fall some distance away in the form of a rain of animals.
This hypothesis appears supported by the type of animals in these rains: small and light, usually aquatic.. It is also supported by the fact that the rain of animals is often preceded by a storm. However the theory does not account for how all the animals involved in each individual incident would be from only one species, and not a group of similarly-sized animals from a single area.
In the case of birds, storms may overcome a flock in flight, especially in times of migration. The image to the right shows an example where a group of bats is overtaken by a thunderstorm.. The image shows how the phenomenon could take place in some cases. In the image, the bats are in the red zone, which corresponds to winds moving away from the radar station, and enter into a mesocyclone associated with a tornado (in green). These events may occur easily with birds in flight. In contrast, it is harder to find a plausible explanation for rains of terrestrial animals; part of the enigma persists despite scientific studies.
Sometimes, scientists have been incredulous of extraordinary claims of rains of fish. For example, in the case of a rain of fish in Singapore in 1861, French naturalist Francis de Laporte de Castelnau explained that the supposed rain took place during a migration of walking catfish, which are capable of dragging themselves over the land from one puddle to another. Thus, he argued that the appearance of fish on the ground immediately after a rain was easily explained, as these animals usually move over soft ground or after a rain.
The following list is a selection of examples.
1555 engraving of rain of fish
Singapore, February 22, 1861
Olneyville, Rhode Island, May 15, 1900
Frogs and toads
The term psycho kinesis (from the Greek ψυχή, "psyche", meaning mind, soul, heart, or breath; and κίνησις, "kinesis", meaning motion; literally "movement from the mind"), also known as telekinesis (Greek τῆλε + κίνησις, literally "distant-movement"), sometimes abbreviated PK and TK respectively, is a term coined by publisher Henry Holt to refer to the direct influence of mind on a physical system that cannot be entirely accounted for by the mediation of any known physical energy. Examples of psychokinesis could include distorting or moving an object, and influencing the output of a random number generator.
The study of phenomena said to be psychokinetic is an aspect of parapsychology. Some paranormal researchers believe that psychokinesis exists and deserves further study, although the focus of research has shifted away from large-scale phenomena to attempts to influence dice and then to random number generators.
There is no convincing scientific evidence that psychokinesis exists. A meta-analysis of 380 studies in 2006 found a "very small" effect which could be explained by publication bias. PK experiments have historically been criticised for lack of proper controls and repeatability. However, some experiments have created illusions of PK where none exists, and these illusions depend to an extent on the subject's prior belief in PK.
Spirit photography hoaxer Édouard Isidore Buguet[ (1840-1901) of France fakes telekinesis in this 1875 photograph titled Fluidic Effect.
The term "Telekinesis" was coined in 1890 by Russian psychical researcher Alexander N. Aksakof. The term "Psychokinesis" was coined in 1914[ by American author-publisher Henry Holt in his book On the Cosmic Relationsand adopted by his friend, American parapsychologist J. B. Rhine in 1934 in connection with experiments to determine if a person could influence the outcome of falling dice. Both concepts have been described by other terms, such as "remote influencing", "distant influencing" "remote mental influence", "distant mental influence", "directed conscious intention", " anomalous perturbation", and "mind over matter." Originally telekinesis was coined to refer to the movement of objects thought to be caused by ghosts of deceased persons, mischievous spirits, angels, demons, or other supernatural forces.
Later, when speculation increased that humans might be the source of the witnessed phenomena not caused by fraudulent mediums and could possibly cause movement without any connection to a spiritualistic setting, such as in a darkened séance room, psychokinesis was added to the lexicon. Eventually, psychokinesis became the term preferred by the parapsychological community. Popular culture, however, such as movies, television, and literature, over the years preferred telekinesis to describe the paranormal movement of objects, likely due to the word's resemblance to other terms, such as telepathy, teleportation, etc.
As research entered the modern era, it became clear that many different, but related, abilities could be attributed to the wider description of psycho kinesis and telekinesis are now regarded as the subspecialties of PK. In the 2004 U.S. Air Force-sponsored research report Teleportation Physics Study, the physicist-author Eric Davis, PhD, described the distinction between PK and TK as "telekinesis is a form of PK." Psycho kinesis, then, is the general term that can be used to describe a variety of complex mental force phenomena (including object movement) and telekinesis is used to refer only to the movement of objects, however tiny (a grain of salt, or air molecules to create wind)[ or large (an automobile, building, or bridge).
Measurement and observation
A spontaneous PK case featured on the cover of the French magazine La Vie Mysterieuse in 1911.
Parapsychology researchers describe two basic types of measurable and observable psychokinetic and telekinetic effects in experimental laboratory research and in case reports occurring outside of the laboratory. Micro-PK (also micro-TK) is a very small effect, such as the manipulation of molecules, atoms, subatomic particles, etc., that can only be observed with scientific equipment. The words are abbreviations for micro-psychokinesis, micropsychokinesis and micro-telekinesis, micro telekinesis. Macro-PK (also macro-TK) is a large-scale effect that can be seen with the unaided eye. The adjective phrases "microscopic-scale," "macroscopic- scale," "small-scale," and "large-scale" may also be used; for example, "a small-scale PK effect."
Spontaneous movements of objects and other unexplained effects have been reported, and many parapsychologists believe these are possibly forms of psycho kinesis/telekinesis. Parapsychologist William G. Roll coined the term "recurrent spontaneous psycho kinesis" (RSPK) in 1958. The sudden movement of objects without deliberate intention in the presence or vicinity of one or more witnesses is thought by some to be related to as-yet-unknown PK/TK processes of the subconscious mind. Researchers use the term "PK agent," especially in spontaneous cases, to describe someone who is suspected of being the source of the PK action. Outbreaks of spontaneous movements or other effects, such as in a private home, and especially those involving violent or physiological effects, such as objects hitting people or scratches or other marks on the body, are sometimes investigated as poltergeist cases.
Psycho kinesis is the umbrella term for various related specialty abilities, which may include:
In September 2006, a survey about belief in various religious and paranormal topics conducted by phone and mail-in questionnaire polled Americans on their belief in telekinesis. Of these participants, 28% of male participants and 31% of female participants selected "agree" or "strongly agree" with the statement "It is possible to influence the world through the mind alone". There were 1,721 participants, and the poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4%.
In April 2008, British psychologist and skeptic Richard Wiseman published the results of an online survey he conducted entitled "Magicians and the Paranormal: A Survey," in which 400 magicians worldwide participated. For the question Do you believe that psychokinesis exists (i.e., that some people can, by paranormal means, apply a noticeable force to an object or alter its physical characteristics)?, the results were as follows: No 83.5%, Yes 9%, Uncertain 7.5%.
Laboratory experiments versus field research
Many scientists have concluded that psychokinesis, especially the visible movement of objects, does not exist because it cannot be replicated in a controlled laboratory setting to match anecdotal reports.[ There are many areas of accepted science, however, such as in astronomy, geology, and meteorology, that do not rely on replicable results in a laboratory and instead depend on spontaneous cases in nature to provide evidence for study and the formation of theories. On the problem of eyewitness testimony of alleged spontaneous psychokinetic events, anecdotes; that is, stories by eyewitnesses outside of controlled laboratory conditions, are considered insufficient evidence by the majority of scientists to establish the scientific validity of psychokinesis.
Explanations in terms of bias
Cognitive bias research has been interpreted to argue that people are susceptible to illusions of PK. These include both the illusion that they themselves have the power, and that events they witness are real demonstrations of PK. For example, Illusion of control is an illusory correlation between intention and external events, and believers in the paranormal have been shown to be more susceptible to this illusion than skeptics. Psychologist Thomas Gilovich explains this as a biased interpretation of personal experience. For example, to someone in a dice game willing for a high score, high numbers can be interpreted as "success" and low numbers as "not enough concentration." Bias towards belief in PK may be an example of the human tendency to see patterns where none exist, which believers are also more susceptible to.
A 1952 study tested for experimenter's bias in a PK context. Richard Kaufman of Yale University gave subjects the task of trying to influence 8 dice and allowed them to record their own scores. They were secretly filmed, so their records could be checked for errors. The results in each case were random and provided no evidence for PK, but believers made errors that favoured the PK hypothesis, while disbelievers made opposite errors. A similar pattern of errors was found in J. B. Rhine's dice experiments which at that time were the strongest evidence for PK.
Wiseman and Morris (1995) showed subjects an unedited videotape of a magician's performance in which a fork bent and eventually broke. Believers in the paranormal were significantly more likely to misinterpret the tape as a demonstration of PK, and were more likely to misremember crucial details of the presentation. This suggests that confirmation bias affects people's interpretation of PK demonstrations. Psychologist Robert Sternberg cites confirmation bias as an explanation of why belief in psi phenomena persists, despite the lack of evidence: "[P]eople want to believe, and so they find ways to believe."
Prize money for proof of psychokinesis
Main article: List of prizes for evidence of the paranormal
Internationally, there are several individual skeptics of the paranormal and skeptics' organizations who offer cash prize money for demonstration of the existence of an extraordinary psychic power, such as psycho kinesis. Experimental design must be agreed upon prior to execution, and additional conditions, such as a minimum level of fame, may be imposed. Prizes have been offered specifically for PK demonstrations, for example businessman Gerald Fleming's offer of 250,000 pounds sterling to Uri Geller if he can bend a spoon under controlled conditions. These prizes remain uncollected by people claiming to possess paranormal abilities.
The James Randi Educational Foundation offers 1,000,000 US dollars to anyone who has a demonstrated media profile as well as the support from some member of the academic community, and who can produce a paranormal event, such as psycho kinesis, in a controlled, mutually agreed upon experiment.
Spontaneous human combustion (SHC) is a name used to describe cases of the burning of a living human body without an external source of ignition. There is speculation and controversy regarding SHC - some regard it as a unique and currently unexplained phenomenon, while others feel that cases described as SHC can be understood using current generally-accepted scientific principles. There are about 200 cited cases worldwide over a period of around 300 years; however, most of the alleged cases are characterised by the lack of a thorough investigation, or rely heavily on hearsay and oral testimony. In many of the more recent cases, where photographic evidence is available, it is alleged that there was an external source of heat present (often cigarettes), and nothing occurred "spontaneously."
There are many hypothesised explanations which account for the various cases of spontaneous human combustion. These generally fall into one of three groups: paranormal explanations (e.g. a ghost or alien caused it), natural explanations that credit some unknown and otherwise unobserved phenomenon (e.g. the production of abnormally concentrated gas or raised levels of blood alcohol cause spontaneous ignition), and natural explanations that involve an external source of ignition (e.g. the victim dropped a cigarette).
Objections to natural explanations usually revolve around the degree of burning of the body with respect to its surroundings. Indeed, one of the common markers of a case of SHC is that the body - or part of it - has suffered an extraordinarily large degree of burning, with surroundings or lower limbs comparatively undamaged.
Many hypotheses have attempted to explain how SHC might occur, but those which rely on current scientific understanding say that with instances mistaken for spontaneous combustion, there actually was an external source of ignition, and that the likelihood that truly spontaneous human combustion actually takes place within the body is quite low.
Unverified natural phenomena
Since every human body contains varying strengths of electrical field and the human body also contains flammable gases (mainly methane in the intestines), an electrical discharge could ignite these gases.
SHC victims are sometimes described as lonely people who fall into a trance immediately before their incineration. Heymer suggests that a psychosomatic process in such emotionally-distressed people can trigger off a chain reaction by freeing hydrogen and oxygen within the body and setting off a chain reaction of mitochondrial explosions. This theory has been criticised on the basis that Heymer "seems to be under the illusion that hydrogen and oxygen exist as gases in the mitochondrial cell [sic] and are thus vulnerable to ignition, which is, in fact, not the case." (Mitochondria are organelles found within cells.)
Another theory suggests high-energy particles or gamma rays coupled with susceptibilities in the potential victim (e.g. increased alcohol in the blood) triggers the initial reaction. This process may use no external oxygen to spread throughout the body, since it may not be an oxidation-reduction reaction. However, no reaction mechanism has been proposed, nor has a source for the high-energy particles.
The victim is an alcoholic and has been smoking whilst drinking or shortly after drinking a strong spirit. There are claims that this raises the blood alcohol level to a point where it ignites; however, this 'explanation' is implausible, since ethanol typically burns only if the concentration is greater than about 23%, whereas a fatally toxic level is about 1%. (To reach a blood alcohol level of 20% would mean drinking many bottles of pure vodka, for example.)
A suggested possibility is that both clothing and the person are caused to burn by a discharge of static electricity. A person walking across a carpet can build up sufficient charge and voltage to create a spark. It is unlikely that this could start a clothing fire, as although the voltage can be high (several thousand volts), the stored energy is very low (typically less than a joule).
The controversial phenomenon of ball lightning has been proposed as one of the causes of spontaneous combustion.
Cigarettes are often implicated as the source of ignition. Usually, the victim is alone at the time of death, and it is thought that natural causes such as heart attacks may lead to the victim dying, subsequently dropping the cigarette. However, some of the victims did not smoke.
The "wick effect" hypothesis suggests that a small external flame source, such as a burning cigarette, chars the clothing of the victim at a location, splitting the skin and releasing subcutaneous fat, which is in turn absorbed into the burned clothing, acting as a wick. This combustion can continue for as long as the fuel is available. This hypothesis has been successfully tested with animal tissue (pork) and is consistent with evidence recovered from cases of human combustion.
Scalding can cause burn-like injuries, including death, without setting fire to clothing. Although not applicable in cases where the body is charred and burnt, this has been suggested as a cause in at least one claimed SHC-like event.
High temperatures, normally over 570 Fahrenheit can combust the skin.
Possible cases of deaths deaths
Some commonly cited cases include:
Survivors of static flash fires/events
Two examples of people surviving static flash events are given in a book on SHC. In addition, Jack Angel claims to have survived an SHC-like event.
In September 1985, a young woman named Debbie Clark was walking home when she noticed an occasional flash of blue light:
It was me. I was lighting up the driveway every couple of steps.
I screamed at her to get her shoes off and it [the flashes] kept going so I hassled her through and got her into the bath. I thought that the bath is wired to earth. It was a blue light you know what they call electric blue. She thought it was fun, she was laughing.
I was in the kitchen and my daughter just screamed out that my back was on fire. As I looked down it sort of whooshed all over me. It was like yellow and blue flames all over me. I was not burned at all. Not even my hair was burned.
The two subjects (Debbie Clark and Susan Motteshead), speaking independently and with no knowledge of each other, give similar histories.
I was not wearing any nylon clothing [at the time of the flashes]. I used to suffer a lot with static electricity so I tended not to wear anything nylon. I used to crackle with static when taking off my clothes and if I touched any metal thing it used to hurt me. I used to have a lot of trouble with electrical things. They would break down or blow up.
I had just washed and dried my hair [at the time of the incident. I used to have a lot when I was younger. I used to get shocks from touching fridges, things like that.
SHC-Spontaneous Human Combustion : is a strange phenomena, whereby someone has apparently burst into flames, without an obvious source of ignition or fire accelerant. A unique trait of this phenomenon, is that when a victim is discovered there will normally be little of their body left. Most of the body will have been reduced to a pile of ash with either a seemingly untouched limb or limbs protruding from the rest of the victim’s charred remains.
Over the years there have been many quite shocking images released showing maybe a leg or two lying in situ among a pile of smouldering ash. One notable image which appeared in the ‘Unexplained One’ in the 1980’s showed a single foot left in its slipper next to a walking frame.
It appeared that the victim had apparently just spontaneously combusted, with surrounding objects hardly touched. In order to reduce a human body to a pile of ash, crematoriums use enormous sustained, temperatures of around 2500 degrees Fahrenheit for hours to incinerate a corpse. With temperatures as high as this, it is hard to conceive that, rarely, surrounding objects also get badly burned. Indeed due to the composition of the body and its large circulatory system, comprising mainly of blood and water it would seem an unlikely object to suddenly and inexplicably ignite.
Spontaneous Human Combustion, although a highly irregular phenomenon, is by far new or unheard of. There are many references to it throughout history by both eighteenth and nineteenth century writers, such as: "de Quincey, Dickens, Melville and Zola"
‘The Unexplained Phenomena - A Rough Guide’ quotes an early example which was mentioned in the ‘Enzyklop„ disches W” rterbuch (Berlin 1843), which mentioned ashes that were the remains of the wife of a Frenchman called Millet, of Rheims in 1725. Millet was accused of an affair and of murdering his wife and burning the body to conceal his crime. However at the enquiry, the event was acknowledged as a "genuine" case of spontaneous human combustion and Millet was subsequently acquitted.
A more recent and well known case was that of 67 year old Mary Reeser of St. Petersburg, Florida who died on 1 July 1951. She was found the following morning by her landlady, who, whilst taking her a telegram found the door knob to Mrs Reeser’s appartment "too hot to touch". Eventually two painters working in the area opened the door and were confronted by a blast of hot air. There was no sign of Mrs Reeser, just a little smoke and a "feeble flame", on the beam of a partition that divided the single room from a kitchenette.
According to the account detailed in ‘The Unexplained Phenomena - A Rough Guide’:"Firemen easily put out the flame and tore away the burnt partition. Behind it, instead of Mrs Reeser and her armchair, they found a circle on the floor, a few coiled springs, a charred liver, a fragment of backbone, a skull shrunk to the size of a fist, and just in front of the scorched patch, a black satin slipper enclosing a left foot burnt off at the ankle."
Even a crematorium would have had to employ the use grinders to get a body into the same state as that in which they found Mrs Reeser.
A subsequent FBI report released on 8 August suggested that after having taken some sleeping pills, Mrs Reeser had fallen asleep while smoking. However experts testified that this type of ignition would have only caused superficial burning and even smouldering armchair stuffing could not have produced the kind of temperatures required to ignite a human body.
Explanations for this strange but intriguing phenomena are varied and wide ranging. Some experts suggest that bacteria production in the gut of either internally combustible or external combustible gases may be to blame. Gases produced in the gut which might be externally ignited include: methane (Ch4), hydrogen (H2) and phosphane (Ph3), a.k.a. "phosphoretted hydrogen." A gas which in theory might be produced in the gut and combust internally on contact with oxygen is diphosphane (P2H4). Many victims of SHC are found with their stomachs as the seat of the fire which does add some weight to this theory.
Other theories include the "candle effect" whereby the victim’s clothing serves as the wick and the victim’s body fat the candle. The candle effect was eloquently demonstrated in August 1998 on the BBC science programme ‘QED’. Dr. John de Haan, a forensic expert at the California Criminalistics Institute constructed a replica living room. In this room he placed a dead pig, wrapped in a blanket. He wanted to demonstrate that once the pig was set on fire using an accelerant, a prolonged, but low intensity blaze might indeed cause similar effects to those observed in cases of SHC. For example he managed to replicate a localised fire where the pigs extremities remained intact yet the bones crumbled when poked. Even though enough localised heat was produced to make the pigs bones "friable", surrounding objects in the replica room remained surprisingly untouched; except a lightly scorched table and partially melted plastic radio.
While the documentary produced a convincing explanation for SHC, it was still necessary to use an accelerant to ignite the pig. This is in conflict with many SHC cases where there is no such evidence of an ignition source. It also failed to explain the accounts of SHC survivors who claim that the fire originates from within the body and burns outwards. There is still some room for further investigation.
Stigmata are bodily marks, sores, or sensations of pain in locations corresponding to the crucifixion wounds of Jesus. The term originates from the line at the end of Saint Paul's Letter to the Galatians where he says, "I bear on my body the stígmata of Jesus" - stigmata is the plural of the Greek word στίγμα, stígma, a mark or brand such as might have been used for identification of an animal or slave. An individual bearing stigmata is referred to as a stigmatic.
The causes of stigmata may vary from case to case, though supernatural causes have never been proven. Stigmata are primarily associated with the Roman Catholic faith. Many reported stigmatics are members of Catholic religious orders. The majority of reported stigmatics are female.
A depiction of St. Francis receiving the stigmata by Cigoli.
The first well-documented case and the first to be accepted by Church authorities as authentic, was that of Saint Francis of Assisi (1182–1226), who first experienced stigmata in La Verna, Italy, in 1224.
In the century after the death of St. Francis, more than 20 additional cases of stigmata were reported. Stigmata have continued to be reported since, with over 300 cases by the end of the 19th century.
In the 20th century, the number of cases increased dramatically; over 500 cases have now been recorded. In modern times, increasing numbers of ordinary people as opposed to the usual mystics or members of religious orders, have began to report stigmata. Although rarer, cases have been reported among non-Catholic Christians, including a young black Baptist girl.
The first written record of a woman to have received stigmata is in the Medieval Codex Iuliacensis, circa 1320–1350, reporting the stigmata of Blessed Christina von Stommeln (d. 1312), whose relics rest in the Propsteikirche in Jülich, near Aachen. It is claimed that one can still see marks from the crown of thorns on Bl. Christina's skull, which is publicly displayed during the octave beginning every 6 November in Jülich.
Cases of stigmata take various forms. Many show some or all of the five Holy Wounds that were, according to the Bible, inflicted on Jesus during his crucifixion: wounds in the wrists and feet, from nails, and in the side, from a lance. Some stigmatics display wounds to the forehead similar to those caused by the crown of thorns. Other reported forms include tears of blood or sweating blood, wounds to the back as from scourging, or wounds to the shoulder as from bearing the cross. In addition, in some cases lashes on the back can be witnessed.
Some stigmatics claim to feel the pain of wounds with no external marks; these are referred to as invisible stigmata. In other claims, stigmata are accompanied by extreme pain. Some stigmatics' wounds do not appear to clot, and stay fresh and uninfected. The blood from the wounds is said, in some cases, to have a pleasant, perfumed odour, known as the Odour of Sanctity.
Individuals who have obtained the stigmata are many times described as ecstatics. At the time of receiving the stigmata they often have a mystical experience or a vision of Christ. In more recent times an individual’s stigmata is reported to heal within a few hours of its reception. Blood pours from the individual’s wounds for unspecified amounts of time and suddenly dries up, and the wound is healed. Some individuals with stigmata in the past sought medical attention, but neither remedies nor medical treatment of any other sort could cure their wounds. Stigmatic’s, such as St. Francis were affected by the stigmata for an extended period of time; however, the wounds never rotted or possessed a rank odour or became infected. Reported stigmatic’s are usually devout Roman Catholics. The wounded area is most likely to heal in less than 2 hours leaving no mark or trace of a wound.
Saint Francis of Assisi (1181-1226)
Saint Catherine of Siena (1347-1380)
Saint Rita of Cascia (1381-1457)
Blessed Lucia Brocadelli of Narni (1476-1544)
Saint John of God (1495-1550)
Saint Catherine of Ricci (1522-1590)
Saint Marie of the Incarnation (1566-1618)
Saint Veronica Giuliani (1660-1727)
Sister Therese Margaret
Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824)
Louise Lateau (1850-1883)
Sister Mariam Thresia (1876-1926)
Saint Gemma Galgani (1878-1903)
Saint Pio of Pietrelcina (aka Padre Pio; 1887-1968)
Therese Neumann (1898-1962)
Marthe Robin (1902-1981)
Saint Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938)
Zlatko Sudac (born 1971)
Haile Selassie (of the Rastafari religion)
No case of stigmata is known to have occurred before the thirteenth century, when the depiction of the crucified Jesus in Western Christiandom emphasized his humanity.
In his paper Hospitality and Pain, Christian theologian Ivan Illich states: "Compassion with Christ... is faith so strong and so deeply incarnate that it leads to the individual embodiment of the contemplated pain." His thesis is that stigmata result from exceptional poignancy of religious faith and desire to associate oneself with the suffering Messiah.
In 1998, Edward Harrison suggested that there was no single mechanism whereby the marks of stigmata were produced. He found no evidence from a study of contemporary cases that the marks were supernatural in origin. However marks of natural origin need not be hoaxes, he concluded. Some stigmatics marked themselves in attempt to suffer with Christ as a form of piety. Others marked themselves accidentally and their marks were noted as stigmata by witnesses. Often marks of human origin produced profound and genuine religious responses. Dr Harrison also noted that the male to female ratio of stigmatics which for many centuries had been of the order of 7 to 1, had changed over the last 100 years to a ratio of 5:4. Appearance of stigmata frequently coincided with times when issue of authority loomed large in the church. What was significant was that early stigmatics were not predominantly women, but that they were non-ordained. Having stigmata gave them direct access to the body of Christ without requiring the permission of the church through the Eucharist. Only in the last century have priests been stigmatized. There is currently a cluster of cases in the United States.
From the records of St. Francis’ physical ailments and symptoms modern doctors believe they know what health problems plagued the holy man. Doctors believe that he had an eye ailment known as trachoma, but also had quartan malaria. Quartan malaria causes the liver, spleen, and stomach to be infected causing the victim intense pain. One complication of quartan malaria occasionally seen around Francis’ time period is known as purpura. Purpura is a purple hemorrhage of blood into the skin.
Purpuras usually occur symmetrically, which means each hand and foot would have been affected equally. If this were the case of St. Francis he would have been afflicted by ecchymoses, an exceedingly large purpura. The purple spots of blood may have been punctured while in the wilderness and therefore appear as an open wound like that of Christ’s. This is not historically supported, only a speculation by some present day physicians.
We all know that we use some of our psychic potential sometimes, but we also know that few or none of ever use it all. Have you ever just "known" that something was going to happen? Have you ever had a "sense" as to whether a person you have just met is of a good or bad character? These perceptions are simple everyday examples of your unintentional usage of underlying psychic power.
So, what if you could focus this power to manipulate the world around you? We know through science and physics that physical energy is created by electromagnetic impulses, and that the electromagnetic and vibratory fields of an individual or object are affected by the electromagnetic and vibratory fields of other individuals or objects. This is how the entire universe works, from atoms to galaxies. Therefore, it stands to reason that a very focused form of this energy, directed like a laser beam, could indeed result in "mind over matter" type phenomena. This phenomena can be referred to interchangeably as telekinesis or psychokinesis - physically moving an object or changing the form of an object solely by using the power of the mind, and without physical manipulation.
As all of us can exercise to strengthen the body, those of us who are so inclined can also exercise the psyche to strengthen psychic and telekinetic powers. Simply stated, by learning to focus one's natural energy and vibratory rate, one can physically manipulate the world around them. It is probable that the ancients knew how to manipulate this power and used it to build the Great Pyramid at Giza.
Unfortunately, few of us today have enough knowledge, discipline, or focus to do so.
Ancient Chinese philosophy teaches us that every object and individual has a circulating life energy known as Chi, and this seems borne out by recent advances in physics, namely the superstring theory. Having said that, on a good day telekinetic abilities would be a wonderful thing to have around - beginners could move small objects and change the shape of things, such as bending a metal spoon. Advanced telekinesis could include locking doors, opening windows, starting cars, and a million other mundane tasks we do daily. On a bad day, however, telekinesis is probably very closely related to activity such as poltergeist phenomena, with objects being manipulated to hurt or frighten others. Unfortunately, we hear more about disruptive poltergeists than people who turn the stereo on from the couch without a remote, indicating that something has triggered the brain to such an extent that it can send that focused signal and manipulate outside objects. In poltergeist activity, this trigger is almost always believed to be a strong negative emotional state such stress, anger, hate, or frustration.
So is there any way to focus the Chi, or internal energy into a laser beam that will manipulate objects purposefully? Even the ancients knew that every object vibrates at its own unique frequency, or resonance. The plant on your shelf, the paperweight on your desk, and the dog at your feet are all vibrating at their own unique frequencies. By somehow raising or lowering your own vibrations to match the object you want to move while simultaneously focusing electromagnetic brain waves, you could move, reshape, or destroy any object. A good example of this is a singer who hits a high note and shatters a nearby drinking glass - through focused energy she has matched the vibrational frequency of that drinking glass, eventually shattering it.
Indeed, the key word when dealing with the practice of telekinesis is "focus." This can't be stressed enough. All the want-to in the world is not going to make that object move or bend if you are not completely focused. As such, knowledge and practice of meditation techniques and inner awareness is a prerequisite for anyone interested in cultivating their psychic and telekinetic skills. One should also be aware that this kind of focus, even for a very short time, is absolutely exhausting to the physical body.
Mental telepathy is defined as "Communication through means other than the senses, or thought transference." This is a rather dry way of putting it, but is an accurate definition nonetheless. Solid proof as to whether telepathy is even a valid phenomenon has been extremely elusive over time, despite continuing efforts. Most evidence is anecdotal and therefore not accepted scientifically.
Having said that, most of us have had a telepathic experience at some point whether we realized it or not. Lots of things happen in life that we attribute to coincidence or chance that may actually be telepathic manifestations. Just because we can't prove it at this time, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. There are many things related to the mind, thought processes, and spirit that we still know little or nothing about. We know that thoughts are a type of energy, but we don't know much about how that energy originates or how it is dispersed. It could be that we are tapping into the theorized global consciousness, with our thoughts going out into a network to finally make their way to their destination, much like the phone network. Or it could be that we can actually focus thoughts like a laser beam at a particular receptive individual, whether they are aware of the process or not.
Anecdotal evidence of telepathy is really quite overwhelming, even if we can't come up with a repeatable scientific test to confirm it. The mother who is instantly aware that her daughter has had an accident, the person who thought about someone they haven't seen in years, then runs across that very person in a supermarket the next day, the strong feeling that the phone is about to ring, and then it does - all of these are likely manifestations of telepathy. As human beings, we are interconnected in ways that we don't fully understand, and therefore, it stands to reason that telepathy is as natural as breathing, but is for the most part stifled in our modern world with all it's distractions.
It's pretty clear that we can wittingly or unwittingly transmit or receive messages, especially in times of stress or crisis. But can we influence that actions of others by thought transference alone? Hard to say but I think those with a strong motivation probably can.
One of the most interesting is the theory that we can telepathically communicate with our pets - especially dogs. We know pretty much zero about how our pets think, but for dogs in particular, we already know that they are very attuned to us.
Some believe strongly that you can influence someone to think about you and possibly call or come by if you feel strongly that you want to see them. This would obviously have to be someone you had a fairly close emotional relationship with at some point in time, like an old boyfriend or girlfriend. It takes persistence and concentration, but not an enormous amount of energy such as what it would take to bend a spoon telekinetically.
Just think of them often and concentrate on them. If you pass near their house in your car, call out their name. Visualize their face and call their name as you go to sleep at night and say Call Me! Imagine that your thoughts are a laser beam and point them in the direction of their house. Do this consistently and don't be surprised when the phone rings or they knock on your door within a month or so. Again, try this. If you are serious and persistent, it should work for you. One word of caution, though - be careful what you ask for. That old boyfriend/girlfriend might not be the hot catch you blew him/her up to be in your mind after all that time.
A weeping statue is a statue which has been claimed to be shedding tears or weeping by supernatural means. Statues weeping tears of a substance which appears to be human blood, oil, and scented liquids have all been reported. Other claimed phenomena are sometimes associated with weeping statues such as miraculous healing, the formation of figures in the tear lines, and the scent of roses. These events are generally reported by some Christians, and initially attract some pilgrims, but are in most cases disallowed by the upper levels of the Church or proven as hoaxes.
Reported weeping statues are most often of the Virgin Mary and are at times accompanied by claims of Marian apparitions. However, to date only one single example of a combined weeping statue and apparition (namely Our Lady of Akita) has been approved by the Vatican and the rest have usually been dismissed as hoaxes.
Hoaxes and scepticism
Authorities of the Catholic Church have been very careful in their approach and treatment of weeping statues, and generally set very high barriers for their acceptance. For instance when a statue of the popular Saint Padre Pio in Messina, Sicily was found to have tears of blood one day in 2002, Church officials quickly ordered tests that showed the blood belonged to a woman and then dismissed the case as a hoax. Even at the local level, Catholic priests have expelled people who claim weeping statues from their local Church.
Skeptics, point to the fact that making a fake weeping statue is relatively easy. At some skeptic conferences "do it yourself weeping statue kits" are on sale now. Skeptics have provided examples of weeping statues that have been obvious hoaxes.
Weeping statues have also been dismissed by rationalists as a purely psychological and/or fraudulent phenomenon. The witnesses are said to be deluded by their own state of mind or strong group suggestion. In this altered state of mind, they believe they see something that isn't really there.
Another possible explanation attributes the so-called tears to condensation. The tears that statues appear to weep are said to actually be beads of condensation from microscopic cracks on the surface of the statues. Unpublished reports of the testing have supposedly been able to verify this theory, but peer reviewed scientific research is rarely, if ever, carried out into the phenomenon.
A number of weeping statues have been declared fake by Catholic church officials.
In 1995, a Madonna statue appeared to weep blood in the town of Civitavecchia in Italy. The local bishop said that he himself had seen it weep. The blood on the statue was later found to be male. The statue’s owner, Fabio Gregori, refused to take a DNA test. After the Civitavecchia case, dozens of reputedly miraculous statues were reported. Almost all were shown to be hoaxes, where blood, red paint, or water was splashed on the faces of the statues.
In 2008 church custodian Vincenzo Di Costanzo went on trial in northern Italy for faking blood on a statue of the Virgin Mary when his own DNA was matched to the blood.
List of weeping statues
A very small number of weeping statues have been recognized by the Catholic church, e.g. in Syracuse Sicily the 1949 shedding of tears from a statue was recognized by the Catholic bishops of Sicily on August 29, 1953. Our Lady of Akita was also declared as worthy of belief by the Holy Office in 1988.
The following is a list of the more publicized claims. The veracity of these claims is difficult to establish and many have been declared hoaxes by Church officials.
Syracuse, New York
human tears — unverified
Naju, South Korea
tears of human blood, rejected by local bishop
Catholic News 
April 1997 till present
statue of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart sheds a red liquid - unverified
statue of Pio of Pietrelcina shed a red liquid, but was rejected by the Vatican
wept scented tears, apparitions, declared as fake
appearance of scented oil, blinked and claimed a cure — not verified
tears of blood, called a hoax on the Paula Zahn TV show
March 2006 onwards
tears of blood, appearance of oil, honey, milk — not verified
January 2006 till present
Borġ in-Nadur, Birżebbuġa, Malta,
tears of blood, appearance of oil, salt- unverified
Weeping paintings are a related phenomenon, but to date not a single case of a weeping painting has been approved either by the Roman Catholic or Coptic churches and most instances have turned out to be hoaxes.
As with weeping statues, the tears exuded are often said to be of a substance which appears to be similar to blood. A painting of the Virgin Mary is said to have exuded moisture from the eyes and the fingers at St. Nicholas Albanian Orthodox Church in Chicago on December 6, 1986. The event gained international attention and drew many onlookers to the church. The moisture ceased in July 1987, but resumed a year later at which time 19 other icons were said to have also started weeping after being "anointed" with the painting's moisture.
A painting of Mary on plywood was said to have wept on March 10, 1992 in Barberton, Ohio; annual pilgrimages celebrating the event were still in practice as late as 2002. Another painting of the Virgin Mary which drew many visitors to Christ of the Hills Monastery near Blanco, Texas in the 1980s was said to weep myrrh, but was uncovered as a fraud in the 2000s.