Saturday, September 27, 2014

Those Too Coincidental Coincidences

I love honest skeptics. Michael Shermer, a very prominent member of the Skeptic movement (founder of the Skeptics Society) has written a very shocking but - to me at least - refreshing account of a recent personal experience that has shaken his skepticism "to the core."

In case you've missed his story, you can read all about here at the Scientific American website.
Briefly, he recently got married to a lady who had been raised by her mother and grandfather. Her grandfather was the father figure in her life, but died during her teenage years. One of her grandfather's heirlooms that she possessed was a transistor radio that had quit working decades earlier.

Michael took it apart in a stab at repairing the radio but was unsuccessful. Afterwards it was placed in a desk drawer in the couple's bedroom. However, a few months later Michael and Jennifer said their "I dos" at their home, surrounded by friends and family. Jennifer had a touch of the blues because her grandfather was no longer alive to giver her away at the ceremony. It was then that the couple heard a romantic song playing quietly in their bedroom. Upon searching for the source it was found to be the long dead radio returned to life - only briefly, however, for it "died" again the next day.

But it was enough to comfort Jennifer and assure her that her grandfather was there with them and did put in an "appearance" at their wedding. The couple shared the story with their friends and family.

Michael admitted this unlikely event shook his skepticism to the core (I'm he won't convert to belief in paranormalism, though). However, it is more than invigorating to see so prominent a Skeptic take something like this seriously, and more importantly to write:

And if we are to take seriously the scientific credo to keep an open mind and remain agnostic when the evidence is indecisive or the riddle unsolved, we should not shut the doors of perception when they may be opened to us to marvel in the mysterious.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Memories Of Home

Wow! How is it been that long since I've posted something here?

There's another book I've been eyeing at It is The Tradition of Household Spirits: Ancestral Lore and Practices, by Claude Lecouteux. Looks like something I would really enjoy. And one of the editorial reviews is quoted (by Brian Walsh, for as saying:

In the end Lecouteux makes the point that as modern families give up their attachment to place, they are also losing powerful ethereal presences that energize not only buildings but also generations of people.

For some reason, and for some time now, I have been dreaming of my childhood homes. There were really only two. The apartment my parents lived in at my birth was soon given up due to lack of space. That was when I was a year old. Of course I have zero memories of that place.

They then rented a two bedroom home which we lived in from 1961 until spring of '67. Then my folks bought their first and only home. Unfortunately my parents divorced in 1971. But that house was in the family until my Mom married her last husband (who died several years back) and sold out.

I've been compelled to go back and drive by those two houses (within a few miles of each other) a couple of times in recent years. In fact, I recently downloaded pictures of the houses that I found through Google.

I did all that because something about my past, my childhood homes, the memories of what once was, keeps beckoning to me. The recurring dreams began before I revisited. And these dreams are so vivid that I recall details about the interior of the homes that I wasn't aware I remembered. I'm quite sure I could walk blindfolded through either house - unless the interiors have been changed.

So now I often find myself sitting and staring at the pictures of my childhood homes as the memories come flooding back. Why do I have this psychological need to do this? Why does my sleeping mind keep digging up these long forgotten memories? And it isn't a painful thing at all. Not really. Maybe bittersweet is the best way of putting it.

A Dr. Seuss quote keeps pounding in my mind: "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened." And I do. And I know that somehow, so much of the man I am today goes back to the boy who was nurtured over the years in those two houses, which were once my beloved home. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Who The Heck Was William Fuld?

The year was 1972. My parents had recently divorced and things were so different. No longer did we go to church four times a week. No longer, in fact, did I have a family. I and my brothers chose to stay with Dad and Mom moved out and was soon remarried.

That summer I had been mowing lawns for money and decided to blow a little of it at a local dime store. I chose to buy a Ouija Board. Mom would have gone ballistic, but Dad - although he chided me about it at first - was soon sitting across from me with the board on our knees and our fingers on the planchette. We had no Patience Worth breakthroughs, but we did have a lot of fun. (No doubt enhanced a bit for my dad by the alcohol he had "backslid" into after the divorce)

Now I had heard some gruesome tales about Ouija boards from my cousin. He said he "knew someone" who had one and used to use it with him. My cousin told me the words "Satan, come to me" were printed on the back. No only so, when that "someone" later decided to destroy his board, he broke it over his knee and watched amazed as smoke rose up (as Art Linkletter used to say, "kids say the damnedest things").

I couldn't buy all the wicked things I had heard and read about Ouija boards. After all, I bought it in the toy section. It was a toy, made by well known toy makers Parker Brothers. There were no chants directed at Satan on the thing. And I thought it was beautiful. But I did wonder who that William Fuld guy was who was touted on the box.

Interestingly, it was many years later that I was able to research about Fuld and the origins of the "talking board." He was a businessman and entrepreneur, not the occultist I had suspected he was.

Conservative Christians - and I suspect most conservative theistic folks - would probably think of the "mystifying oracle" as evil, or at least a part of the "dark side." And, strangely, William Fuld did meet a rather unfortunate end that some folks might think significant. The newspaper reported:

Baltimore - William Fuld, 54, toy manufacturer, and inventor of the Ouija board for "spirit communications," died Saturday afternoon from injuries suffered when he fell three stories from the roof of his toy factory.

Mr. Fuld was superintending the replacement of a worn-out flagpole. An iron support pulled from its moorings and Mr. Fuld toppled over backward.

He didn't die right away, but suffered a brain concussion, five broken ribs, broken legs and a broken arm. What a way to go. Sad, don't you think?

I later got rid of my Ouija board because I felt guilty about having it. I felt I might be dishonoring God. Years later I got another one and my then girlfriend and I "contacted" a spirit who identified itself as Diamond. That incident kind of freaked us both out a bit so I got rid of that one, too.

I've had more nightmares about demons in my lifetime than any other subject. I don't think of myself as superstitious, but I do find Ouija boards creepy. I don't think I ever see one that I don't think of "Captain Howdy" and the film The Exorcist. And I think of William Fuld, too.