Founded in 1885, the American Society for Psychical Research (ASPR) uses this gorgeous townhouse as its headquarters. ASPR “seeks to advance the understanding of psychic phenomena.” The Beaux-Arts style, 8-story townhouse overlooks the infamous Dakota. Measuring nearly 10,000 square feet, the townhouse has 18 rooms, 9 fireplaces imported from Italy; at least one vintage restroom; and an old–possibly original–elevator. It is listed at $15 million dollars.
This is the 4th time in as many years that ASPR has listed the property. In 2019, it was listed at $17,995,000. The price was lowered in 2020 to $17 million. Last year the price was slashed again to $15,750,000. This is quite the gem!
Best-selling mystery writer Dame Agatha Christie was distressed. On December 3, 1926, Christie kissed her only child, Rosalind, goodnight. She and her husband, Col. Archibald “Archie” Christie, had argued, and Christie left Styles, her Sunningdale house, in her Morris Cowley roadster needing to clear her head. The next day, the wrecked car was found abandoned and Christie missing. The mystery surrounding her disappearance has never been solved. However, there are several elements of the story that are worthy of discussion.
Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller (9.15.1890-1.12.1976) was born to an American father and a British mother and grew up in England. She is decidedly British. Her father died when Christie was 11 years old. Christie has stated that his death ended her childhood. Until then, Christie was homeschooled. This ended. She found the village school too confining. Her mother sent her to Paris; however, she soon returned to find her mother, Clara, ill. The pair spent 3 months living in Cairo. The visit had a profound and lasting effect on Christie.
In 1914, Christie married Col. Archibald “Archie” Christie. She soon found literary success. In 1919, they had their only child. The family of three eventually settled into Styles, a house named from her first published novel The Mysterious Affairs at Styles. Agatha uncovered Archie’s extramarital affair with Nancy Neale. Archie was heading for a weekend with “friends,” when Christie left the home.
Day 1. December 4, 1926: The Morris Cowley was found crashed into a hedge by the chalk pits, near the Silent Pool, a popular nature park. The Silent Pool is supposedly haunted.
The Silent Pool is a spring-fed lake located in Albury, Surrey, Southern England. The online pictures show a lake in a lovely shade of green. One wonders how a serene lake could be linked to a horrible folktale.
Long, long ago, the woodcutter’s daughter named Emma was bathing in the pool. She was a young lass of great beauty. She was bathing in the “all together” (an old phrase for nude). The equally young Prince John, the youngest surviving son of King Henry II and Duchess Eleanor of Aquitaine. He was riding by on his steed (a really old word for horse). John saw Emma and advanced, still on his horse. The scared Emma backed further into the water. Unfortunately, Emma could not swim. Her calls for help were heard by her brother, who quickly attempted to save her. Both drowned. John rode away, leaving behind a feather, and possibly his cap, with the family crest attached.
The woodcutter found his two dead children and the feather. Although the feather and crest incriminated John, he was never held accountable. He went on to rule England as King John from 1199-1216. The spirit of Emma is said to haunt the pool, appearing nude at midnight.
Legends embellish the hauntings at the pool. Stories claim that the birds do not sing and the pool is bottomless. Both are false. People enjoy the wildlife in the park. The birds do, in fact, sing. The wildlife is active. Further, the lake is actually quite shallow in areas.
The story is pure fiction. Martin Tupper made up the story in his book Stephen Langton, a Romance of the Silent Pool (1858). Tupper wanted to create a fantastic story about the pool in order to attract tourists and make the nearby town of Albury famous for something—anything. He succeeded.
The Silent Pool isn’t the only aspect of Agatha Christie’s disappearance linked to paranormal activity. Mrs. Christie believed her home Styles to be haunted, calling the house “spooky.” The house is now divided into apartments. There aren’t any substantive stories regarding hauntings online.
For four days, police enlisted the assistance of volunteers to walk the areas around the chalk pit where the roadster was found. Theories began to circulate. One theory was that Christie was suffering a mental breakdown due to Archie’s affair and Agatha’s mother’s death. Agatha remained close to Clara and was devasted when she passed.
Day 5. December 8, 1926: Agatha’s brother-in-law confirmed that he had received a letter from Agatha, where she stated that she was heading to an unnamed spa.
Day 7. December 10, 1926: Police expand the search. Now over 1,000 officers are searching.
Day 8. December 11, 1926: One of Agatha’s favorite terriers is brought to the chalk pit. Authorities hoped that the dog would lead them to her corpse. The dog “whined pitifully.” No body was recovered.
Authorities now report that Christie wrote three letters: 1) to her personal secretary to cancel an event; 2) to her brother-in-law; and 3) to Archie. Only the letter to the secretary survived, as the other two were burned almost immediately.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle enlisted the help from a clairvoyant, who held one of Agatha’s gloves. The medium proclaimed that the international best-selling author had met with foul play.
The working theory now was that Agatha dressed up as a man and made her way to London.
Day 9. December 12, 1926: Media were reporting that the clues of Agatha’s disappearance were contained in her unfinished manuscript The Blue Train.
Day 10. December 13, 1926: Somewhere between 10,000-15,000 people were now actively searching for Christie. Spiritualists held a séance at the chalk pit. They, too, were not so optimistic on Agatha’s return.
Day 11. December 14, 1926: The latest theory was that Agatha was hiding in London with no desire to return.
Day 12. December 15, 1926: Agatha found! Mrs. Christie was noticed by a banjo player who alerted the authorities. Agatha was, indeed, at the Harrogate Hydro or Hydropathic Hotel in Harrogate. She registered under an assumed name: Tressa/Teresa/Theresa Neele, spelling dependent on the source. The name was similar to Archie’s mistress’s name of Nancy Neale.
Day 13. December 16, 1926: The police update the public. Christie checked into the hotel unable to remember how she arrived. She had cash on her, as she enjoyed dinners, activities, and visiting the library where she obtained a library card. She was suffering from amnesia, though.
When Archie arrived to pick up Agatha, she made him wait.
Fifteen months after the incident, Agatha sued Archie for divorce on March 17, 1928. Thirty months later, Agatha remarried. Her new husband was prominent British archaeologist Sir Max Mallowan CBE, 14 years her junior. They remained married until her death in 1976. Archie also remarried. To Nancy Neale.
Christie refused to discuss the incident. She eventually took her version of events to her grave. Her eternal resting place is St. Mary’s Churchyard, Cholsey, South Oxfordshire District, Oxfordshire, England. Max died two years later. He is buried alongside Agatha.
Tonight, my heart is breaking as I learned of the death of my friend Chris Sutton. Chris was one of my earliest supporters. We met through Scarefest and continued our friendship long after I parted ways. He was diagnosed with lung cancer, but I felt confident that he would beat it. Alas, he did not.
The paranormal sells. The Toledo Museum of Art’s Supernatural America: The Paranormal in American Art runs from June 12, 2021-September 5, 2021. Curators assembled nearly 160 objects with possible links to the paranormal. The items include paintings, mixed media art, photography, clothing, and objects. This exhibit marks a return of viewing the relationships between art and the paranormal.
Probably the most famous painting in the exhibit is Death on the Ridge Road (1935) by American painter Grant Wood (1891-1942). The painting’s interpretation begins with the influence of the rural car crash of Jay Sigmund, Wood’s friend. Sigmund’s index finger required amputation from the crash; however, there were no fatalities. Sigmund would publish a book of poetry titled The Ridge Road, seemingly processing the traumatic event through writing. Critics have written extensively about the meaning behind the painting. Over the years, it has become intertwined with death due to its use as an illustration in the 1935 essay “…And Sudden Death” by J.C. Furnas, where he writes graphically about the increase of highway deaths occurring across America in the 1930s. American composer Cole Porter (1891-1964) purchased the painting for $3,000 sight unseen. It is on loan from the William College Museum of Art.
To be sure, I’m unmoved that this painting is linked to the paranormal. It isn’t about a death on the road. Even the painter’s mother was ill, there isn’t evidence that he was painting about her impeding death. It seems that the interpretation is more of the conflict between rural and urban living or the painter’s sexuality. However, displaying the painting draws in visitors. That’s a plus.
The second famous painting is Strange Shadows (Shadow and Substance) (1950) by Gertrude Abercrombie (1909-1977) which is closer to a paranormal theme. Abercrombie was a surrealist painter who was labeled a magic realist. A vast number of her paintings were self-portraits, incorporating magical motifs. Here the “Queen of Bohemian artists” conjures up a moody self-portrait with objects associated with the paranormal. This is worth viewing!
The most sought-after artist for people in the paranormal field will be Agatha Wojciechowsky’s Untitled (1963). Agatha (1896-1986) was a medium healer and an artist. She knew early on that she had a gift. In 1951, Agatha worked with her spirit guide Mona and took up automatic writing. Agatha would enter a trance-like state and draw. Eventually, she would begin using watercolors. Agatha was an ordained minister in the Universal Spiritualist Church and active in the New York Spiritualist community. Here is a short film where Agatha enters her trance and paints: http://collection.folkartmuseum.org/people/2219/agatha-wojciechowsky. Please watch.
The exhibit is a traveling exhibit heading to the Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Kentucky and then the Minneapolis Institute of Art.
Even if the museum’s exhibit is a tenuous attempt at linking the broad subject of paranormal to artwork, it is a start. I look forward to other museums following suit.
≈ Comments Off on Valdosta (GA) Ring Camera Footage Captures a Reflection–Not a Partial Manifestation
On February 20, 2020, a supposed Reddit user uploaded a video he claimed to be of his Valdosta, Georgia home’s Ring security camera, hanging in his carport, capturing a ghost manifesting in his driveway. The are several large holes in his assessment.
The video clip, with extensive editing to zoom in on the light source, was posted on YouTube and, expectedly, went viral. The video has received over 18,000 views. The online account, The Hidden Underbelly 2.0, boldly states that this is a “partial manifestation.” Case closed. However, it’s not a manifestation.
Debate continues on what was captured on the footage. The security camera is set up at the back of the carport, an open garage with side walls but not a closing garage door. Parked outside the carport are two vehicles: a truck and a car. A light source shifts from the truck, on the left, to the car, on the right. Some speculate that the “ghost” is jumping from truck to car. I did not see that. I saw a light source moving from the back of the truck across to the front of the car.
In the paranormal field, a manifestation is when an image is clearly discernable. A full body apparition’s manifestation would be where witnesses can clearly make out the figure. A partial manifestation is when parts of the body are clearly visible. These are sometimes called “semi-formed ghost.” The video does not show a partial manifestation of a ghost.
The “story” told by the Reddit user is that he was notified that the security camera was tripped. He reviewed the video and found the “image.” Generally, when a security camera is tripped, lights go on. Here, the lights were already on.
The camera’s placement is also problematic. The camera is affixed to the back wall of the carport. Carports are 20-21 feet deep. (The purpose is to house cars.) The camera displays out from the back wall and shows the side door to the house on the right. It also shows the two vehicles parked in front. They appear to be roughly 10 feet past the carport. According to Ring, the security camera’s motion detection zone is a range of 270 degrees side-to-side and 30 feet forward. The image is passed the front of the cars; therefore, out of range for the motion detector to go off.
When the motion sensor goes off, Ring may push a notification to the owner. Instead of walking to the door and looking outside, the owner loaded the video. This seems odd. It is easier to look out the window or open the door to see the culprit rather than watch the video. However, the owner may not be home. Then one would question why the lights are on.
We may never know what the homeowner was thinking. I cannot locate the supposed Reddit posting. None of the articles actually link to that initial post. Instead, everything is linked to the YouTube account, whose identity is unknown; however, he does answer questions as if he was the owner.
The carport was well lit. The cars reflected community lights. This is probably a case where the camera captured a car passing, someone walking his dog, or a cat heading home. (Personally, I think it’s a deer.) It should not be hailed as the definitive evidence of a “partial manifestation.” Because…It’s not.
Andry Plantation: 10 Facts Before You View Haunted Towns
Season 2 of Haunted Towns, titled “Voodoo on the Bayou” sends the Tennessee Wraith Chasers to the largest slave revolt in American history. (Note: It’s not the largest on North American soil. That distinction goes to the 1739 Stono Rebellion commencing on September 9, 1739—when America was comprised of 13 colonies). The team heads to the Andry Plantation where the “German Coast Uprising of 1811” began.
10 Facts to Know Before You View:
Louisiana was not part of the Union at the time of the revolt. It was known as Territory of Orleans. It was admitted to the Union on April 30, 1812.
The revolt was coordinated by Charles Deslondes (1780-January 15, 1811). He worked at the Andry Plantation.
Manual Andry built the Andry Plantation in 1793. The main crop was sugar cane. The main house is 3,982 square feet with a separate guest house in back. The plantation is also known as “Woodland.” It makes researching confusing as there is another more well-known and well maintained plantation with the same name.
The main house was built in the French Creole style. The plantation was abandoned in 2004 and is a fixer upper. It was listed for sale in 2016 for $550,000. The owners at that time had the plantation in their family since the 1920s.
The revolt lasted 3 days. It commenced on January 8, 1811 and ended on the 10th.
The path led to New Orleans and included 10 plantations.
Reports vary as to the number of slaves involved. The number sits between 200-500 joining over the 3-day revolt.
Again, numbers vary, but records show that between 20-100 slaves were killed. The heads were placed on poles and displayed. Fifty slaves were captured.
Early Jazz pioneer Edouard (Edward) “Kid” Ory was born in the guest house on Christmas Day 1886.
Do Better, Travel Channel: The Orb that Didn’t Transform into a Ghost
Travel Channel is undermining the paranormal community. The new series Paranormal Caught on Camera is a prime example how. The series debuted last week. There were serious errors and omissions in the researching for that episode. This week the misrepresentations continue in Episode 3. Travel Channel televises some truly compelling paranormal shows. Unfortunately, Paranormal Caught on Camera in not one of them.
Case in point: The video of an orb transforming into a face in a 2016 video. Elaine Hamer, mid-fifties, sought to capture a meteor shower around October 2016 at her Blackwood, South Wales, UK home. She was testing her camera phone at 1 AM on a Saturday morning. Her sister was assisting in the recording. Elaine noticed an orb floating in her dining room. She continued filming as the orb moved throughout the room. The orb transformed into a blurry mist and then appeared to rush the two women. The women scream; the video stopped shortly thereafter.
Elaine’s son-in-law, Jason Hughes, and self-professed Spiritualist uploaded the video to his YouTube channel. (Watch it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxJjfh4FgTU) The story was picked up by a local newspaper and was covered for a hot minute. Some 90,000 views (and 91 thumbs up versus 41 thumbs down) later, the video is now the property of a licensing company.
The video clip was briefly profiled in Episode 3. Afterwards certain people in the paranormal field attested to its authenticity and proclaimed it real and undisputable proof of a ghost. Jason was interviewed via video link to corroborate the proclamations. Sadly, it’s not undisputable.
First, at least one expert based her assessment on the erroneous fact that the video was shot in the daytime, stating that capturing orbs in the daytime is so difficult, thus it must be proof. The video was shot at 1 AM in the morning. At night. In a house. The orb could have easily been a flying bug or dust. Without a proper investigation, no one will know for certain.
Next, the segment fails to specify that the video was shot on a camera phone. Instead, the producers lead the audience to believe it was a digital camera by using the word “camera” instead of “camera phone.” Arguably, this is an important distinction. For one reason, it casts doubt on the story that the then 56-year old woman needed help using the video function on her phone. (Yes, it’s plausible, yet somehow not really)
Finally, the producers and Jason don’t disclose that Jason is a Spiritualist. He’s a believer. There’s nothing wrong with that. The issue is that everything he says will be biased toward his belief that the video is real and that the video captured a ghost. At no point is the video debunked. It is taken at face value, which is not criticism or assessment. It’s going along with the script in order to be on a T.V. show.
I’ve no doubt that the video is real. Yes, a real person videoed on her camera phone what appears to be a white circle moving across a room. That’s not the point. The point is whether or not the orb was an orb (meaning spiritual being taking the form of a ball of light) which transformed into a ghost. After watching the video online a few more times, I’m more convinced that the “ghost” was a reflection. At one point, it looks like a reflection from car lights entering through a window. Without knowing all the circumstances pertaining to the video and conducting subsequent investigations, no one will know for sure. Therefore, it is extremely premature for the experts and the producers to claim this is absolute proof of a ghost. It’s not. Not even close.
A new recreational trail built by the National Park Service is expected to make a long-lost historical site accessible to hikers. The Dun Glen Hotel was lost to a fire in 1930; however, it remained a popular, albeit inaccessible, hiking destination for history buffs and paranormal investigators. Soon, this may change.
The Dun Glen (Dunglen) Hotel was dubbed the “Waldorf of the Mountains.” Alcohol flowed freely in this 4 ½ story, 100-room hotel situated on the New River, across from the dry town of Thurmond, Fayette County, West Virginia. Thomas (Tom) Gaylord McKell built the hotel intending to take advantage of the highly profitable adjacent coal mines and railroad. Opening in 1901, the hotel boasted three floors of guest rooms, a wrap-around verandah, and basement showrooms. And the wealthy guests arrived.
Within a few years, Tom McKell opened the New River Banking & Trust Company on August 11, 1904. Sadly, McKell died shortly thereafter on September 7, 1904 at the age of 59. His son William McKell took over operations.
On July 22, 1930, a devastating fire broke out and destroyed the hotel. Although no guests were injured, George Richardson and Stephen Thomas suffered minor burns. According to the Raleigh Register, the fire consumed the building, including the Earl Nichols grocery and soda counter, located in the terrace basement. Faulty electrical wiring was blamed. Damages totaled $100,000, roughly $1.5 million in today’s dollars. William McKell did not rebuild and abandoned the property.
Today the property sits within the New River Gorge National River park. The park service owns and operates the town of Thurmond as a national historic location. However, the Dun Glen area was left to nature. The new trail has been enthusiastically received. Next summer I will travel back up to Fayette County to check on the progress. I’ll keep you posted.
DragonCon 2018 is in the books. My two panels were well-attended providing lively discussions related to paranormal investigations. I spent the last two days with 85,000 of my closest cosplay buddies at Atlanta’s largest fandom convention. It was fantastic.
The Paranormal Track is housed at the Sheraton Hotel and provides close contact with some of the best paranormal people working in the field. My first session was a 6-member panel discussing researching paranormal activity ranging from private residences, well-known active locations, client interviewing, and the future of academic paranormal research. Each panelist expanded upon unique researching techniques they employ, specific to the location or subject-matter. It was reassuring the number of people looking for the correct/proper way to investigate. The second panel was equally engaging.
To be sure, there are a lot of women paranormal investigators. I met them at the second panel focused on “Women in the Paranormal.” Of the estimated 52% of Americans who believe places can be haunted by ghosts, the majority of believers are women, according to the Chapman University study (2017). Yet, women are not that well represented in the television paranormal series. Indeed, of the 12 current productions, only 3 shows involve women, with 2 leading the investigations. Of course, these productions are tied to advertising dollars, and, admittedly, women like to watch men on tv. That’s the para-tainment path.
However, women work in the boots-on-the-ground paranormal teams who respond to private citizen concerns. They lead investigative teams; they host podcasts; they blog. They won’t appear on television soon. They’ll be the ones with the crazy, hard-to-believe stories from the general public. I hope to return in 2019 to share some more of mine.
Thank you, DragonCon for allowing me to present and to attend your insanely popular convention celebrating nearly every realm of fandom. PS. Please invite me back!
Reports Commissioned by Major Christian Churches Support the Paranormal
Several denominations of Christian churches have continuously commissioned reports seeking to reconcile people’s belief in the paranormal and Christian teachings. The studies were conducted by the major denominations—not the “Prosperity Christian” churches that do not report to a higher governing body. (Note: That right there should be cause for concern; however, that discussion can be for another blog.) Some Christian churches enjoy diminishing the role of the paranormal. Further, some sects outright condemn it, which is quite ironic since the Bible fully supports the paranormal.
Paranormal experiences have always existed. Always. The 1st recorded experience occurred in the 1st century B.C. Athenodorus, ancient philosopher, rid a house of a pesky ghost.
Likewise, the Bible is full of paranormal episodes. The most simplistic is this: Jesus performed miracles, miracles are acts of the unknown, unknown events are paranormal; therefore, those miracles are paranormal events. But there are other examples. Angels and demons are discussed at length in the Bible. There are several accounts of people seeing ghosts—most notably a dead Jesus. Here’s a link to a site that has the events organized by book: https://verticallivingministries.com/2013/06/18/chart-of-all-the-supernatural-events-recorded-in-the-bible/.
A follower of Christ cannot condemn the paranormal while praising Jesus. Healing is a paranormal activity. There are three examples of healing: Spiritual, Faith, and Psychic. They are not isolated categories and often overlap.
Spiritual: Basically, one asks the Lord for help.
Faith: Healers ask the Lord for help on behalf of someone. In order for the healer to be effective, both the healer and the one seeking healing must believe that the healer possesses the power to heal.
Psychic: The healer is not necessarily associated with the church; however, s/he possesses the power to heal. Mediums fall into this category.
All three types are paranormal events. Again, if a church offers healing, for example laying on hands, then that church supports the paranormal.
The problem is not the paranormal community but rather these denominations. They fear monger in order to build up their coffers without acknowledging they actually believe. They fear losing congregants so they cast out the paranormal believer. They don’t fear the unknown; they fear the empty pews. When churches embrace this belief their membership will increase.
Up through the late 70s, major Christian churches did not have a problem with the paranormal. Benedict XIV heavily researched the paranormal. He felt that “prophecy … can occur among people who are not saints and who need not even be particularly good.” The Anglican Church appointed a commission in 1937, which was finalized in 1939. The report was never officially published; however, portions have been published. One part notes that people do recognize and feel the recently deceased. Further, this feeling should not be dismissed but embraced so long as it does not “distract Christians.” Finally, the report states that the Church should interact with “intelligent Spiritualists.”
In 1976, The United Presbyterian Church of the USA commissioned its own report. Findings were that parishioners’ interest in the paranormal was because the Church failed to effectively teach psychic matters. Not surprising, a few members strongly stated that individuals should not practice on his/her own.
The most supportive results came from the Church of Scotland where in 1922 members sought to understand paranormal phenomena. They found that although consistent scientific proof did not exist, it did not rule out the existence of paranormal activity. Specifically, the church stated that pastors used healing through ESP (Psi) with congregants. Further, the prayers and the answers were evidence of paranormal phenomena.
Churches should not cast out believers. Instead, they should support these people and provide accurate teachings on how the Bible does support paranormal phenomena. Simply put: If you pray for healing, you’re praying for a paranormal event. Period.
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