Finding Faeries

I never get tired of dictionaries/encyclopedias/guidebooks about mythological or cryptozoological creatures. That said, there are no shortage of books like that out there to read. What IS a different, and offers a unique take on the subject, is “Finding Faeries: Discovering Sprites, Pixies, Redcaps and Other Fantastical Creatures in an Urban Environment” by Alexandra Rowland.

“Finding Faeries” explores creatures of folklore and what happens when those legends migrate to new lands and urban environments. They discuss everything from faeries to black dogs, and Thunderbirds to dryads. Rowland does an excellent job blending tales of the past with the realities of the present. Their writing style is informative and entertaining, and throughout the book are wonderful illustrations by Miles Äijälä. Just when you think you are done; you are given instructions on how to go out in the world with a fresh set of eyes to find the magic around you.

“Finding Faeries” is actuality quite the achievement. Entertaining and informative, while being sensitive to the assorted cultures involved and emphasizing the importance of environmental conservation.

You can learn more here.

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HooDoo Cleansing and Protection Magic

Today we’re talking about “HooDoo Cleansing and Protection Magic” by Miss Aida. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I can now say Miss Aida has written a practical, accessible, and diverse book that anyone can use.

This book has made me want to do a top down spiritual overhaul on myself and my household. Miss Aida has offered such a variety of spiritual cleansing options that even a lazy lady like myself have found things to try: treating your personal aura, how to physical and spiritually clean your household, dealing with potentially cursed objects, what to do when things go wrong, and more. Everything is written in a welcoming, conversational tone.

If you’re interested in a little DIY spiritual cleansing, “HooDoo Cleansing and Protection Magic” by Miss Aida is a must own!

You can learn more here.

Shop your local indie bookstore <---This is an affiliate link to IndieBound, which supports independent bookstores throughout the United States. If you use this link to purchase the book, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Do you enjoy The Magical Buffet? Considering supporting The Magical Buffet on Patreon! For only $5 a month you’ll receive monthly tarot/oracle forecasts, classes, and behind the scenes updates! https://www.patreon.com/magicalbuffet

I Know What I Saw, with a Giveaway!

In the world of urban legends and cryptozoology it’s hard to proclaim anyone an “expert”, however if I was to try, Linda S. Godfrey would be one. Since 1991 Godfrey has been chronicling the stories of people who claim to have encountered the unusual. With Godfrey, nothing is off the table: goatmen, dire dogs, werewolves, big cats, creatures from other dimensions, and more are open to discussion. What sets her apart is that she does her best to attempt to fact check the stories and present mundane options for what occurs in them. Godfrey openly acknowledges that there is an obvious lack of scientific evidence for these things. The author isn’t a skeptic, she’s reasonable.

Her latest book, “I Know What I Saw: Modern Day Encounters with Monsters of New Urban Legend and Ancient Lore” is a fun, fast paced romp through the world of urban legends. You’ll read over a hundred different stories, grouped together in ways to compare them and tease out underlying connections. Godfrey also ponders which came first, the stories or the creatures? It’s fun to consider this chicken versus egg scenario, along with a world still containing unsolved mysteries.

Does this sound good? Well guess what? I have a copy of “I Know What I Saw” to giveaway to a lucky reader! We’re doing the Rafflecopter thing, so check out the widget below! This giveaway will run until Saturday, July 20, 2019 11:59pm eastern.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can learn more about the book here.

Shop your local indie bookstore<--- This is an affiliate link to IndieBound, which supports independent bookstores throughout the United States. If you use this link to purchase the book I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Notorious New England

“Notorious New England” by Summer Paradis and Sandra Vivian Graul opens with a definition of “Dark Tourism”.

Dark Tourism – noun – Dark tourism is the act of travel and visitation to sites, attractions, and exhibitions that have real or re-created death, suffering, or the seemingly macabre as a main theme.

And their book, subtitled “A Travel Guide to Tragedy and Treachery” certainly fits that description.

“Notorious New England” includes over 100 sites in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. Some locations are classics, such as The Lizzy Borden Bed and Breakfast in Massachusetts, but there are also many lesser known historical sites like Madame Sherri’s Castle in New Hampshire and The Witch’s Grave in Maine. There are also sites you may not have considered like Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut and the grave of Christa McAuliffe, the teacher who died in The Challenger explosion. “Notorious New England” is definitely a travel guide of tragedy.

Paradis and Graul treat all the locations with the utmost respect of the law and spiritual decency. Being paranormal investigators, they make sure to include notes on any supernatural occurrences. The book is loaded with full color photos, always a plus. Also, they include all kinds of travel tips for going to the locations, including great places to stop for lunch and other random businesses in the area of note.

“Notorious New England” is a bizarre mix of history, folklore, the paranormal, tragedy, and tabloid fodder. For me it inspired a lot of reflections, and a desire to road trip New England.

You can learn more here.

Strange Frequencies

Can you build a golem such as the ones found in Jewish folklore? That’s the question that launches Peter Bebergal’s new book “Strange Frequencies: The Extraordinary Story of the Technological Quest for the Supernatural”.

“Strange Frequencies” follows Bebergal as he travels to Seattle to learn about and build automatons. He spends time in Cambridge to discuss stage magic with actor/magician Nate Dendy who plays Ariel in the American Repertory Theater’s production of “The Tempest”. He attends a traditional Spiritualist séance in Lily Dale, NY with photographer Shannon Taggart. Bebergal explores EVP (electronic voice phenomena) and experiences machines designed to facilitate enlightenment. Throughout these adventures Bebergal explores the origins of the DIY/Maker movement and the effect it has had on the exploration of the spiritual.

“Strange Frequencies” is an amazing exploration of the technological influencing the spiritual and the spiritual inspiring the technological. This is a must read.

You can learn more here.

Finger Prints and Phantoms

It’s hard to reinvent the wheel when it comes to “true tales of the paranormal”. And I’m not here to tell you that “Finger Prints and Phantoms: True Tales of Law Enforcement Encounters with the Paranormal and Strange” by Paul Rimmasch does that. However, I’m happy to tell you all the wonderful that it is.

“Finger Prints and Phantoms” has loads, 26 to be exact, of assorted stories of a paranormal theme. Rimmasch, a crime scene investigator by day, has a real knack for storytelling. It seems like he’d be a good guy to join for a beer. Now although his book doesn’t reinvent the wheel, Rimmasch’s background, and access to the police, does allow him to give the reader a unique perspective on the day to day life and workings of a police officer. And THAT was just as interesting, if not even more, than the stories contained within.

If you enjoy tales of the paranormal, and would like a bit of insight into police life, I would recommend checking out “Finger Prints and Phantoms” by Paul Rimmasch.

You can learn more about it here.

Calling All Earthlings

You guys. I don’t even know where to begin. I was given the opportunity to watch the documentary “Calling All Earthlings”, a film by Jonathan Berman. This movie has it all, aliens, Howard Hughes, free energy, the FBI, Tesla, the military, and a death…or possibly murder.

“Calling All Earthlings” explores a mid-century UFO cult led by one-time Howard Hughes confidante, George Van Tassel. Van Tassel claimed to have combined alien guidance with the writings of inventor/physicist Nikola Tesla, and other controversial science, to build an electromagnetic time machine he dubbed “The Integratron.” Was he insane? Or could the dome really break through the boundaries of space, time, and energy? FBI agents worked against Van Tassel and the alternative community that formed out of his work. Would he finish the Integratron before the government finished him?

The film examines the roots of the Peace Movement, Burning Man, and even the FBI’s notorious COINTELPRO program. The verité tale of Van Tassel and his dome is told by relatives, neighbors, skeptics, believers, scientists, healers, artists, and historians. The film features the “stewards” and owners of the Integratron, the Karl sisters; Dr. Kevin Starr, the preeminent historian of California; Eric Burdon, Singer for The Animals and War; and the legendary Drs. J.J. and Desiree Hurtak.

I say this in all seriousness, why hasn’t this story been made into an actual movie as opposed to documentary? The story of George Van Tassel has all the makings for a fantastic Christopher Nolan film! Here’s the trailer:

Interested? “Calling All Earthlings” is available on Video on Demand in the following platforms: iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, AT&T U-verse, DirecTV, Dish Network/Sling TV, Hoopla, Sony Playstation, Swank, Vudu, Xbox, Youtube Movies, In Demand (Comcast, Cox, Spectrum, etc.) and Vubiquity (Frontier, Verizon Fios, etc.). Hopefully it will be available on one of the streaming services like Netflix or Hulu in future!

Hollywood Obscura

There’s nothing not to love about “Hollywood Obscura” by Brian Clune. The subtitle says it all, “Death, Murder, and the Paranormal Aftermath,” and Clune does deliver. Familiar and more obscure Hollywood deaths abound, each of them worthy of a book all their own (and many of them do already have books all their own!). However Clune does a great job of summarizing each death’s backstory, popular theories, and media coverage. Classic names like Benjamin “Bugsy” Seigel and George Reeves share book space with Thelma Todd and the Los-Feliz Murder Mansion. There may not be a lot new to discover if you’re a fan of the genre, but for someone new to the Hollywood death scene, it’s a great introduction.

“Hollywood Obscura” may be of interest to those interested in the paranormal. Each story ends with the “Paranormal Association.” Just take note that these play out as folklore and rarely feature paranormal investigation. Think more along the line of “and some say his ghost still walks the halls to this very day.” Personally, I have no problem with paranormal legends and folklore, but since I know I have some readers who are heavy into the scientific side of exploring the paranormal, I thought I should mention it.

Loaded with tawdry Hollywood gossip, murder investigations, and hauntings, make “Hollywood Obscura” by Brian Clune a fun read.

Learn more about “Hollywood Obscura” here.

An Honest Liar

Today a documentary about the life of Randall James Hamilton Zwinge released into theaters. You may know Zwinge better as James Randi or The Amazing Randi. Upon reflection, a documentary about Randi is long overdue. However, after watching the film “An Honest Liar” any documentary released prior to this one would have been woefully lacking. Filmmakers Justin Weinstein and Tyler Measom managed through goodwill and happenstance to be on hand to capture real truth from a master magician, thus a master of diversion and manipulation. Or as Randi says, “in other words, bullshit.”

“An Honest Liar” could easily have been twice as long. We’re talking about a subject who at the age of 17 years-old ran off to join a carnival, and who now at over 80 years-old has never sat still. The film briefly touches on Randi’s childhood, then dives into his successful career as escape artist/magician The Amazing Randi, and we see how that segues into his career as professional skeptic. If you find that Randi’s arc follows in broad strokes the life of Harry Houdini, you’re not the only one who finds that parallel. The coincidence is brought up by magician and skeptic alike throughout the film.

It’s odd that I never knew Randi as The Amazing Randi. I always knew it was part of his background, but until “An Honest Liar” I never saw him escape a straightjacket, a pair of handcuffs, or even a length of rope. To see him so young and roguish, for me, it was like being introduced to a stranger. Then thanks to some excellent archival footage and interview legwork I got to bear witness to stuff that to me was almost legend: Randi vs Uri Gellar, Randi vs Peter Popoff, and Project Alpha, as well as other investigations from that era. Finally the film gets to the only James Randi I’ve really ever known. Long white hair, long white beard. The consummate skeptic, proud atheist, and founder of James Randi Educational Foundation (amongst many other things). He has a keen intellect and a razor sharp wit.

Then, due to a strange twist of fate, a deception that had been lying dormant in Randi’s life being revealed, I come face to face with a James Randi I’m not entirely comfortable with. Gone is the man who is certain of how the world works and who brushes things that disagree with him off with aplomb. In those few moments I am face to face with the fully realized human being that is James Randi.

Weinstein and Meason captured a master escape artist from every angle with “An Honest Liar”. If you get a chance to see it, do so.

To learn more and/or help get the film in more theaters visit: http://anhonestliar.com/wp/

The True Story of the Bridgeport Poltergeist on Lindley Street

By William J. Hall

Laura Goodin was distraught. She was exhausted and concerned, fearing she was nearing the end of her rope. “Why us? Why us?” she repeated in her characteristic loud and less than pleasant, voice. It had been her question for many days now but something about it was different that time. Her tone seemed more reflective than before. She lowered her head into her hands and sobbed.

Laura was a plain looking, overbearing, heavy set women with 1970’s horned rim glasses and a stodgy wardrobe. She was socially inept, though filled with love for her family and eager to provide well for them. She was a loyal and supportive wife and devout in her faith. What little personal strength she had exhibited early in their ordeal clearly had begun to wane.

She lifted her head from her hands and continued, “Everything of value in our home is gone.”

This thorough suffering became immediately obvious as I listened to hour upon hour of private, intimate interviews with the family that had been undertaken and recorded as part of a serious scientific investigation. The Goodin’s story is a perplexing one. All they sought was solitude, away from the reporters and the hordes of people who insisted on hanging on in the hope they might witness some inexplicable event, which they could take away with them and exploit for personal advantage in its retelling. The Goodin’s made no money from the haunting and they shunned fame and self-promotion. They had nothing to prove to the world. Day after day, month after month, they quietly plodded along, side by side with the unexplainable terrors life kept feeding them. This is their story—their real heart-touching, life-changing story.

The year was 1974. The world had experienced “The Exorcist” less than a year before the horror that had been the Goodin’s reality, at last went public. There were the husband and father, Jerry, the wife and mother, Laura, and their ten year old adopted daughter, Marcie. They lived in a tiny bungalow on Lindley Street in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Jerry supported his family working as a low wage maintenance man at Harvey Hubbell, Inc. in Bridgeport. Laura was a stay at home housewife.

Due to her olive skin color as a full blooded five nations Indian, Marcie was picked on relentlessly at school. The bullying peaked when she was beaten up by another child and, as a result, found herself in a body brace. This incident only further fueled her mother’s destructive, if well meaning, overprotective instincts. The little girl’s frustration and loneliness boiled within her as she struggled to quietly hold it all inside. The parallel with events in the movie, “Carrie”, is uncanny.

According to experts, those kinds of frustrations and enforced inhibitions are the essential elements for inviting a poltergeist into one’s midst. The phenomenon is reflected in objects being moved and damaged, and people being roughly handled by an unseen force. One theory suggests that a child or teen who, without any physical action, unconsciously disrupts a setting, such as a home, by unleashing energy born from his or her pent up, boiling anger. Other paranormal experts suggest that these entities come to occupy areas through a parallel world. Some suggest that the mere circumstance of such an intense emotional phenomenon produces or invites an evil spirit to inhabit the home. Still others say it is a mixture of both spirit and psychic energy. The discrepancy among these theories continues to be the subject of much debate.

One aspect that distinguished this phenomenon from other similar situations was that it morphed into a very public matter. During November of 1974, the bizarre antics of the little house leaked to the public and attracted crowds that swelled to over 2,000 onlookers. Lindley Street was barricaded and traffic was backed up for a mile or more in all directions. A catch phrase developed and spread among the spectators up and down that street, and very soon across the continent: The house on Lindley Street is haunted!

Newspapers, radio, and television stations throughout the U.S. and as far away as Australia and Israel told of the strange things happening there: police officers reported seeing a 300-pound refrigerator float up off the floor and rotate, objects flying off walls, an amorphous, misty figure appearing to a house full of people, a talking cat, and even little Marcie being forced through the air until she hit the wall behind her.

Unlike many alleged ghostly events that had occurred in isolated, rural houses with only the report of their residents, these incidents had more than seventy-seven credible witnesses, among them a police lieutenant, a police captain, two fire chiefs, police officers, firefighters, two priests, neighbors, extended family, a seminary student, reporters, and others. In addition, approximately four hundred onlookers reported seeing the phenomena from outside the home. Well-known paranormal investigator Ed Warren said at the time that it was the most well-documented haunting in 100 years.

A major question remained, then: Why didn’t this case move the reality of the paranormal into a position of legitimate study in mainstream science?

After three days, the Bridgeport Police Superintendent Joseph Walsh announced that the incidents were a hoax created by the resident Goodin family’s ten year-old daughter Marcia and the case was closed. Police badly needed an acceptable explanation to placate and disperse the crowd camped near the house. Its mere presence was disruptive well beyond that block. It continued to block streets for miles around, causing mischief and property damage while holding valuable law enforcement resources hostage.

But behind the scenes, the inquiry into the events at Lindley Street was far from over. Police continued to offer the family protection from the phenomena even after the case was deemed closed by the police. The police captain also required officers, who had been on the scene, to assist in a scientific investigation conducted by two agencies: the Psychical Research Foundation, which got its start at Duke University in 1961, and the Spiritual Frontiers Fellowship. It seems obvious that the authorities clearly didn’t believe their own ‘hoax’ explanation. Police and firefighters who witnessed these bizarre events stood by what they had reported at the time.

The study for which they were interviewed concluded that the events were the doings of a poltergeist – literally, meaning “noisy ghost.” Poltergeist activity typically consists of strange noises, footsteps, moving objects, and the destruction of property with no visible physical cause, most often occurring in the environs of a prepubescent child. Ed Warren and a priest on the scene also attributed this particular series of events to a demonic presence in addition to the typical poltergeist manifestations.

So there I sat—a skeptic at heart looking at folder after folder of undeniable proof. In addition to the multitude of recorded and transcribed interviews from 1974 and 1975, there were official data sheets describing each event as it had been witnessed. Each incident was charted, describing what happened and where everyone was at the time. It is very unusual to have such precise and thorough documentation in which multiple witnesses from varying physical perspectives had their testimony charted individually. It allowed for mutual corroboration of the minute details, which substantiated there was no misinterpretation of the facts. The witnesses approached the phenomena logically, often not considering the paranormal as the source until eliminating other possible causes.

In my mind, the investigation did not dare end there. I began retracing the steps of those involved. I contacted several of the witnesses with whom I had interviews from 1974 and 1975. I also discovered numerous new witnesses. There were children of the witnesses from all those years before and electrical engineers, employees who worked in the records department of the Bridgeport Police, friends of the family, Jerry’s co-workers, and, whenever possible, surviving family members.

It is a heartbreaking story about the unwelcome forces that came to dominate every aspect of this poor family’s life – a family whose members only wanted the freedom to establish and maintain a quiet, fulfilling, happy life. They had not sought either fame or notoriety. They accepted no compensation for their story. They shunned the public view and abhorred having been hurled into the court of public opinion.

©2014 William J. Hall, author of “The World’s Most Haunted House: The True Story of the Bridgeport Poltergeist on Lindley Street” published by New Page Books a division of Career Press, Pompton Plains, NJ. EAN: 978-1601633378 List Price: US $15.99

About William J. Hall:
William J. Hall was born and raised in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where the events of this book took place. He watched the news coverage of the Lindley Street haunting on television when he was 10 years-old. Hall is professionally equipped to recognize trickery. After more than 25 years as a performing magician, he knows how to create and recognize illusions. He is experienced in researching the unexplained, from folklore and urban legend to fortunetelling, the pyramids, and other mysterious tales. His syndicated 1990’s column “Magic and the Unknown” ran for six years in multiple local papers in his home state. Hall has two sons and resides in Plainville, Connecticut.