Superstitions in the United States

Everyone has some superstitions. Depending on the culture you or your family grew up with, where you live in the world, spiritual beliefs, etc., they can vary greatly. So, when an odd press release came into my inbox regarding superstitions in the United States, my interest was piqued.

Turns out a clever publicist for the Potawatomi Hotel and Casino put together a little report about superstitions in every U.S. state as a tie in for St. Patrick’s Day. Sadly, my email filter shunted it to a spam folder, so by the time I discovered it, St. Patrick’s Day had passed. On the other hand, as I explained to the publicist, my readers would have an interest in this subject matter regardless of time of year. You are interested, aren’t you?

Yeah, you are. And although this is hardly scientific and certainly doesn’t cover all the superstitions out there (but does cover a lot), it is still an interesting read. According to their report, their methodology was:

Using the Google AdWords platform, we analyzed search volume trends for more than 200 terms related to superstitions associated with both good luck and bad luck. The results represent the most disproportionately popular terms in every state. In February 2021, we also surveyed 1,016 Americans between the age of 18 – 75 to ask them about their belief in superstitions. 60% were female and 40% were male and the average age of respondents was 38.

A brief overview of what they learned was the most popular superstitions in America are: throwing salt over your shoulder, bad luck comes in threes, lucky rabbit’s foot, Friday the 13th, and ladybugs being a sign of good luck. 65% of Americans are superstitious. 83% believe in good luck, 50% believe in bad luck. 37% of Americans believe Friday the 13th brings bad luck. 34% of Americans believe St. Patrick’s Day is a luck day. Nearly double that amount (60%) say they wear green on St. Patrick’s Day.

You can see the full report here.


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eDNA Proof of Bigfoot?

It may surprise you to know that I receive press releases regularly from the Discovery Channel. I rarely share the info because most of the time it is just alerting me to the start of their assorted paranormal-esque show’s seasons. However, occasionally one of them catches my eye, which is what we have here. Last week I received this press release from Discovery:

NEW YORK (March 3, 2021) – The EXPEDITION BIGFOOT team collected surprising DNA evidence while in the field searching for the most famous and elusive cryptid, Bigfoot. Throughout their two-month journey, the team – Bryce Johnson (expedition operations), Dr. Mireya Mayor (primatologist), Russell Acord (ex-military/survivalist) and Ronny LeBlanc (Bigfoot researcher) – used the latest in advanced technologies to narrow their search within the designated target zones, beginning in Kentucky and then switching mid-expedition to Washington State. As the investigation intensified, possible evidence that Bigfoot may be in the area began to surface – vocalizations, unexplained structures commonly described by Bigfoot witnesses and massive 16-inch footprints that no man could have left behind.

During filming deep in the wilderness of Kentucky’s Appalachian highlands, eDNA collected from soil under a massive tree structure found by Dr. Mayor and LeBlanc produced surprising and exciting results. Environmental DNA (eDNA) is the genetic material naturally left behind by animals in the environment. Scientific analysis of these samples helps generate a snapshot of any living creatures. This revolutionary new tool is increasingly used to confirm the presence of elusive animals.

“This scientific expedition may have finally taken one of the world’s greatest mysteries out of the pages of legend and lore and into reality,” said Dr. Mayor.

Miroslava Munguia Ramos, project manager at the UCLA California Environmental DNA program, has analyzed the eDNA sample from the tree structure. Following are her observations.

• “We received soil samples from your team and took a few months to get them processed. What we’re looking at are the unique organisms that we were able to identify. Our software does what’s known as metabar coding. So, it’ll match up all the DNA sequences that we were able to detect and try to cross reference them with the thousands of genomes that have been published and it’s pretty common that when we’re looking at environmental DNA samples, we detect humans, because there’s going be human traces almost everywhere.”

• “But what I found very interesting was that, yes, we have detected human DNA in these areas, but we’re still seeing different primate DNA. There wasn’t just one human primate, there are several different primates, some sort of primate relative that exists in the data.”

• “Pan troglodyte is a species of chimpanzee, which you would not see in the areas you’re at. It’s a real head scratcher. It’s important to note that the higher the detection, the more confidence we can say that whatever organism, whatever taxonomy we’re looking at was apparent in the area. And in this case, we’re looking at the Pan genus, or the chimpanzee genus…. there’s 3000 reads.”
• “The technology is constantly improving, it’s getting more accurate, and now it just really comes down to making sure we have enough samples and we’re confident that whatever we’re studying is a unique species.”

Dr. Mayor expanded on this unique discovery.

• “Finding what appears to be a very large structure, seemingly created with intention and requiring great strength as well as foresight, is interesting. It is not unheard of for primates to stack sticks or rocks, although for me, the jury is still out as to what that was. There is no guess work in science. It is great is that eDNA was collected from that site. That may give us the answers we are looking for.”

• “The process of describing and confirming a new species is difficult. DNA is absolutely essential in the scientific community to prove that something is a new or recognized species. You have eyewitness accounts from tens of thousands of people who say they have encountered Bigfoot, some coming forward with blurry videos and photographs. But that is just not going to cut it. What we need is indisputable genetic evidence to really put this mystery to rest. And there’s no doubt in my mind that we are headed in the right direction.”

When it comes to “big” discoveries, such as definitive “proof” of a paranormal creature’s existence, I won’t be hearing about it only on the season finale of “Expedition Bigfoot” on Discovery+. That news will be EVERYWHERE IMMEDIATELY. Now, that’s not to say that this isn’t interesting, and credit where it’s due, Discovery didn’t pitch this to me as THE proof. Still, I can’t help but feel like they want us to be overly excited about something that’s more of a, “Huh. That’s interesting,” type of thing.

If you are interested, “Expedition Bigfoot” is currently streaming on Discovery+, with the season finale being Sunday, March 28, 2021.

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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.

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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.

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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.